Her Bad Mother

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Random musings and other nonsense

It has now been fully six days since I last set foot in the outside world. This whole hunkered-down-with-the-sick thing is starting to wear a little thin.

I'm actually feeling a little better, thank you very much, which is sort of surprising given the limited availability of medication and rest. But Baby picked up the nasty cold around Thursday and that reinvigorated our downward spiral into general unhappiness. Or rather, my downward spiral. Baby has demonstrated a remarkable ability to be chirpy in between the miserable little bouts of cough-and-sneeze. It goes something like this: we have a little bout of coughing or sneezing or both, Baby screws up her little face and goes red and makes a big pout and goes w-a-a-a-h. And then sputters a bit. And then looks around for a toy or a kiss or a smiley face, which, when acquired, triggers a smile and then we're good until the next round of coughing or sneezing. Or until Mommy does something totally invasive and heinous like squirt saline drops up her nose and then go at the snot with a wet cloth. (Note that Mommy can't even work the snot-snucking magic because Mommy doesn't want to huff more germs on the precious creature. Note too that Mommy is actually lamenting the fact that she cannot do something so gross as suck snot out of a baby's nose. Clearly, hell does freeze over when one becomes a mother.)

Curiously, the most invasive thing that I subject her to doesn't seem to bother her all that much. The taking of the temperature, so that I can be reassured that there is nothing worse than a head cold going on, is not so straightforward as to involve thermometers balanced carefully under little tongues. 'Cause, you know, that's never going to happen with creatures who want to chew everything that comes within an inch of their mouths. And the whole sterile thermometer-under-the-arm thing doesn't - as I learned some weeks ago in the most difficult way possible (1) - take a temperature that is accurate enough to stake a baby's wellness on. So what's left is the anal probe - the taking of the temperature through the wee poo-hole. Which I would think would be more unpleasant than having someone delicately dab the mucus away from one's nostrils, but hey, maybe that's just me. She just lies there quietly, cooing away at Frog and Hippo, the fellas that hang around the change table (actually, the change mat on the counter by the kitchen sink, which is the downstairs medical headquarters and potty station), paying no mind. (Frog and Hippo are discreet; they keep their eyes averted, as they do during the changing-of-the-diaper. Or maybe they're just squeamish. I wouldn't blame them. It gets ugly down there sometimes.) Go figure.


I need to make an amendment to that post where I got all expletive on the asses of the Baby Experts who diss sleep props. I really shouldn't have been so cavalier (I believe that I said, 'so the eff what???' about the purported negative effects of sleep props) in my dismissal of the hazards of relying upon sleep props. A certain Super Awesome Mom (2) reminded me that a big problem with certain sleep props is that they can get in the way of baby being able to get herself back to sleep if she wakes up in the night (e.g., falls asleep to rocking, then wakes up later and can't get back to sleep because the rocking is no more.) The Experts (towards whom I still reserve the right to get all pissy) call these things maladaptive sleep habits and the Experts, on this topic, are not totally wrong (ahem).

This is, in fact, the problem with the swaddle. Or, I should say, was the problem with the swaddle. Baby generally only wakes up for one of two reasons: she's hungry, or she's bust out of her swaddle. Hungry is self-explanatory: until she can get down to the refrigerator on her own she needs me to help her with that one. The swaddle bust, on the other hand, that's a problem because she can't reswaddle herself. All together now: MALADAPTIVE. But (aren't you glad that there's a 'but'?) we have a figured out the magic of making the swaddle pretty much unbustable and so that problem is, for the most part, a was, as in past tense. (3) In any case, I grant that one has to be careful in approaching the sleep props, for the above reason. Choose them wisely. And be prepared to work that sleep prop for a l-o-o-o-n-g time. But then rejoice at having found something that brings about the precious precious sleep! And while you're enjoying your own delicious cruise into sleepdom, try not to think about what you'll do when the sleep prop is outgrown. 'Cause Baby will be bigger then, and maybe Ambien will be an option. (4)


1. The journey into parenting hell that was our trip to Emergency when it seemed that she had a fever but really kinda DIDN'T but who could tell (as the evil little pediatrician reminded me like ten times) because I the overfunctioning mother had given her infant Tylenol to bring the imagined fever down and didn't I know that you should always take the temperature RECTALLY and NEVER give the infant Tylenol even though her doctor had said when she got her shots, like, the day before that that's exactly what we should do because then evil little pediatricians who think that all mothers who end up in the ER are stupid can't tell exactly whether there is a fever or not and so they have to stick needles in your little baby and make her cry just to make sure that it's not spinal meningitis which they maybe wouldn't have to do if you hadn't given her the Tylenol and so they hint VERY STRONGLY that IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT that your baby has to have the needles and what business do you have sobbing in the corner of the emergency room while your baby cries because you probably brought this on yourself but because WE REALLY DON'T KNOW because of the IMPROPER temperature taking and the TYLENOL we have to go ahead with these terrible tests anyway. And you just SNAP.


So, yeah, I only take her temperature rectally now.

2. I'm biased because I love this particular mom dearly. But she is Super Awesome, and the proof is in her three totally awesome little boys who are CRAZY adorable and so good and sweet that you could just die. So I listen when she speaks!

3. Baby wriggled out of the swaddle last night. Actually, just one side of the swaddle, which, as anyone who swaddles will know, is sorta weird. Don't know how she did it. Trying not to think about it; must have (musta musta MUSTA) been a one off. Won't (WON'T) happen again.

4. Kidding. Duh.


Totally gratuitous picture of Baby, cuz she's ADORABLE and adorable babies make everybody happy...

Aaawww. (Proud, blubbering mother dribbles on keyboard...)

Friday, February 17, 2006

The most beautiful girl in the world

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The best things don't come easy

So, this whole new motherhood thing is, like, really hard.

I know that it's extra-difficult right now because of the whole head cold thing. Which, by the way, I passed on to Baby, even though a) I disinfected my germy self and everything I touched including Baby every two minutes, and b) isn't breastfeeding supposed to make babies pretty much bulletproof anyway? So now Baby has a stuffy nose and a sad little cough and didn't sleep last night and so it has all become more challenging. And it also doesn't help that the Husband has a Very Demanding Job that sometimes (like now) keeps him away for longer than is comfortable for me.

No-one said it would be easy, I know. And I knew it would be rough. But really. Is it this hard for everybody or am I just weak?

That said (and that asked)...

I was putting Baby to bed tonight, after something of a struggle with the nursing, and as I was tucking the swaddle blanket around her little bottom she locked eyes with me and just stared. It was the calmest, stillest gaze, and I can't begin to guess and wouldn't presume to guess what she was thinking, but it was such a peaceful, trusting look and my heart, I swear, it almost burst out of my chest.

And that heart-squeeze was a painful thing (my god the fragility and preciousness of the creature that is Baby! Who will always be Baby but who will grow and stretch and move and inevitably pull away from me!), but also the most beautiful thing that I have ever felt.

Hard, hard work. And so... ordinary. But such the extraordinary reward.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A swaddle blog! Now with new footnote action!

Because ruminating about swaddling is all that I'm capable of during this dark dark time that is THE HEAD COLD.

So, swaddle update:

When last I swaddle-ranted, I swore to just resign myself to the swaddle and shut up about it. And hey, I've kept those promises. Mostly. We are still resigned to the swaddle - it works. 'Nuff said. And here on Survivor: Child Island - where I may not yet be outwitted, but certainly am being outplayed and outlasted - I do what I must to survive.

Anyway, we're at the point now where the swaddling is such a potent sleep cue (1) that her eyelashes begin to flutter the moment the tucking and binding begin. Sweet, sweet the swaddle is that guarantees the sleep...

Besides which, I'm now convinced that swaddling does not undermine my efforts to be a good mother. Because a) it gets Baby to sleep and SLEEP IS GOOD. And, b) I have met the Turbo Swaddlers and they are not us. I am fully confident that even if I swaddle Baby until she is eighteen I will not have parented as excessively as these people.

The Turbo Swaddlers, who have a baby that is fully one month older than Baby o'mine, are a couple that the Husband and I engaged in discussion recently and who, we learned immediately (because I asked, because my self-imposed blog rules about swaddle-obsessing do not apply in the outside world), swaddle their baby. OH GOD YES they swaddle their baby; indeed, said Mr. Turbo Swaddler, they have their baby swaddled about 80% of the day. Awake, sleeping, eating, you name the activity, that child is swaddled throughout.

That, my friends, is extreme swaddling. I am the first to acknowledge - nay, embrace - the fact that some forcible confinement (2) is necessary to baby-wrangling and to child-rearing more generally. But the full-time swaddle? That's raising veal.


1. Sleep cues and sleep props are a topic that the Baby Experts hold forth about at length. For those that don't know: sleep cues, good; sleep props, BAD. Sleep cues are those lovely little hints that suggest ever so politely to your child that the time for sleeping is arriving and they should prepare themselves hence. A bath, for example. The putting on of pajamas. The sleep cue lets the child know that she must now settle herself and drift off quietly to sleep. Sleep cues are good, according to those who claim to know, because they do not get in the way of 'self-soothing' and other such good 'sleep habits.'

Sleep props are those things that get your child to sleep. Period. No hints, no suggestions, no leaving it to baby to work out the whole sleep thing herself. They just get the kid to sleep. Like Ambien would, if it were ok to give babies Ambien, which, for the record, it is NOT. Like nursing, rocking, cuddling, and - yes - swaddling. They are, almost without exception, things that a parent does to or for the child. And so these are BAD because - the argument goes - they interfere with 'self-soothing' and so the development of 'good sleep habits.' (Yes, I AM deploying the scare quotes sarcastically.)

Sleep cues teach the child how to get herself to sleep; sleep props dispense with the middleman and get straight to the sleep. And they are, apparently, (like Ambien) habit-forming and so BAD.

To which I say: SO THE EFF WHAT?

First, the way I figure it, whatever gets the little darling to sleep is good. Except maybe Ambien. Or liquor. Anyway: SLEEP = GOOD. And second, who the hell doesn't need sleep props? Nice cuppa tea, steamed milk, sex, Ambien, liquor - grown-ups are all over the sleep props. I don't know that I, personally, have ever just 'cued' myself to sleep by putting on pajamas and laying down. I, and anyone with whom I have discoursed about sleep, have always relied upon sleep props. (I'm not saying which ones. Let's just say that prior to pregnancy and breastfeeding, it wasn't usually tea. Now, of course, it's all about the tea.)

So there it is, my formal position on the issue of swaddling as a sleep prop. Embrace the sleep prop! But if it makes you feel more comfortable, tell yourself it's just a cue and get on with it.


Yep. That's a baby jail. (What in parent Newspeak is now referred to as a play-yard. C'mon. It's a pen. If you're going to cage your kid up, call it what it is, and deal.) And yep, Baby's in it.

Detained for dealing in sleep props.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day, part II

I couldn't let the day go by without putting out my Valentine to the world:

Because, OMG, she is the personification of love. Sweeter than any box o' chocolates (which, if anyone is taking notes - Honey? - I wouldn't say no to) and munchier than any chocolate chip cookie (of which I have eaten 12 today. Which explains why Mommy's clothes don't fit. But they help with the bad head cold. Really.)

Also, Valentine's Day marks two important anniversaries in our household. For one, it is the anniversary of the Husband proposing marriage (yes, so romantic. There were roses and everything. But then the cat tried to run off with the ring and it almost ended there. Thankfully he wasn't a very fast cat. Smart, but not fast. Sam, requisciat in pace.) And without the marriage, there wouldn't be Baby. Yes, I know that families come in all forms and that's SUPER but I had no plans to breed outside the institution of marriage. I'll have a cat out of wedlock but not a child. That said, however, we didn't get married for the purposes of breeding. It was all for LUH-VE.

The breeding came later, which brings me to anniversary #2 - the conception of the moststupendouslycuteandwonderfullittlebabygirlEVER. Which, yes, means that, like zillions of other people around the world, we HAD THE SEX on Valentine's Day. And we know that it was conception day NOT because that was only day that we had the sex (gah!), but because I was doing the whole fertility-monitoring thing and using an ovulation predictor kit which told us that THAT WAS THE DAY for what the fertility-monitoring types call "baby-dancing" (which is, can I say, a totally unnecessary Orwellian euphemism for a perfectly ordinary activity. And creepy in a sort of low-rent Wiccan fertility ritual kind of way: 'hey baby, let's sprinkle ourselves with patchouli and cavort naked in the woods tonight." Eww. It's sex, people. Call it that.) So, yes, we had the sex. And from the sex came Baby. And someday this story is really going to creep her out. But for now I can celebrate openly.

My apologies if that was too much information, but hell, this is a babyblog and sometimes it gets dirty, folks. Deal.


Further to the super-adorable picture above:

Yes, I cut the feet off of those now-too-small jammies just so I could put her in them and take a funny picture. Bad mother. Told you. At least I didn't paint her green and call her IncredibleHulkBaby. Or cut off the sleeves too and call her Hillbilly Baby.


Mucus update: for those of you keeping track, I am still sick. Why am I upright and blogging while Baby naps instead of, oh, napping myself? Because Baby's Law dictates that if Mommy puts her head down on a pillow, Baby will wake up. I don't know how she knows. She just does.

If someone has the manual for that particular baby attachment - the mommy's-trying-to-nap radar - I'd be much grateful if you could forward it. I need to find the off button.

So this is love

Happy Valentine's Day!

And to celebrate, I have a really gross story to tell - but one that is perfect for V-day because it is, really, about love (aaw). That one about getting up close and personal with Baby's snot, which I promised in the last post but didn't deliver on because I was so distracted by my bad-mother-ness. Anyway, this is a good mother story. Yay!

Last week, I sucked mucus out of Baby's nose.

You heard me right. Sucked it right out. No, I did not do this for fun. Anybody out there that knows me knows that I am the most prissy girl EVER and that I am BEYOND squeamish about absolutely everything and that I can be made to vomit by simply hearing the word vomit. Which, yes, makes motherhood a total set-up for me.

But I OVERCAME. My precious girl was spitting up and trying to sneeze at the same time and she got all choke-y and I freaked out because the snot-sucking syringe was't working and I don't know CPR in anything other than the most rudimentary, sucked-face-with-the-swimming-dummy-in-Grade-7 kind of way. Then I remembered that our public health nurse had said something about how the Eskimos (PC term here, anyone? Help?) clear their children's nasal passages by sucking the mucus out, which at the time had provoked my gag reflex and a thought bubble to the effect of "Uh, NO FREAKIN' WAY EEW EEW EEW!" But Baby was struggling and so I. Just. Did. It. Sucked it up and spit it out. Twice.

And it worked. Super-MEGA- gross, but it worked, and she breathed more easily and smiled and gave me a big wet gassy gurp that was truly one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen.

That, my friends, is love.

(Snot, BTW, tastes kind of salty.)

Monday, February 13, 2006

'Cause it's not as though there wasn't enough mucus in my life already...

... what with the excessive spit-up and drool and all. There's gotta be snot, too. Just to round things out.

And not just baby snot, either (which I got up close and personal with last week; more on that in a moment). Mommy snot.

Mommy's got a BAD head cold and is feeling really, really miserable. Let me say that again, for the record - REALLY MISERABLE. If it's bad to have a head cold when you spend the day in bed reeking of Vapo-Rub and surrounded by damp tissues, let me tell you, it's sheer hell to have one when you can't take serious medicine because you are breastfeeding and you can't even sit down because you are clutching a crabby baby who may be teething at a ridiculously early age and who won't nap and upon whose head your snot is dripping because it's impossible to hold baby and spit rags and blow your nose at the same time.

Nice visual, I know. But, I ask, why should you all be spared when I am suffering?

I could go on, perhaps add something about the milky spit streaming down the half-open nursing top into which I've crammed fistfuls of damp tissues and anti-bacterial wipes...

But I'll stop. Less to avoid offending delicate sensibilities than to stop disgusting myself.

Anyway, I should admit that I exaggerated above. I have taken medicine. Chalk one up for bad mother-ness. But I couldn't go on, I had to do something before my head exploded from all the mucus (okay, I'll stop talking about mucus, but if it really bothers you then I'm guessing that the whole parenting thing might be a bit of a challenge. But, ok, yeah, eww.) So the Husband went to the pharmacy and consulted with the pharmacist (one point for good mother - won't take anything that hasn't been vetted by a professional) who said that Neo-Citran would be okay and safe for Baby because only a little of the antihistamine would get into the breastmilk (take the good mother point away because a really good mother would suffer in order to avoid exposing her baby to even a little medication. But I'm not that mother. In fact, I'm so not that mother that I even wondered, secretly, whether that teeny little bit of antihistamine seeping into Baby's milk supply might buy us an extra bit of sleep. See? BAD mother.)

ANYWAY. For the record, it hasn't really helped. Taken the edge off, maybe. But still, this would be my advice to sicky breastfeeding mommies out there: TAKE THE MEDICINE. It's not crack.

And the way I figure it - and apologies up front to all the crack-mommies out there - if you're not exposing your baby to crack then you're not the worst mother in the world.

And some days, people, that's good enough.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Just keepin' y'all on your toes...

... all three of you.

Changed the name of the blog (for those of you paying attention, from 'the first days of the rest of my life.') Because:

a) We're not really measuring in days here anymore, people. And if we were, I'm pretty sure that I'm well past the first. Hell, some days, it feels like the last. Like today. I have a bad cold, and Baby to take care of, and am restricted in what I can take drug-wise because of the whole breastfeeding thing and it SUCKS ASS.

b) And we're not really talking about my life, are we? Let's face it, my life and my identity as an independent female being forging her way through the universe has been entirely overtaken by MOMMYNESS. I am Mommy, and that is pretty much all there is for now.

c) Hello? Soap opera much? I really should have known better than to put 'days' and 'lives' together in a sentence that didn't begin, "hey, did you ever watch...?" (For the record, yes, on bad-hangover days in the party years. Also watched Arsenio Hall. Liquor, as it slowly and painfully leaches out of your system, will make you do that. Where's he now?)

Anyway. We can talk about my bad mother-ness some other time. Right now I have to go dope up on HERBAL TEA (fercryinoutloud) and get to bed...