Thursday, November 3, 2011

Schlepping With Baby

Before I became a mom, I scoffed at the idea of pushing around a stroller and carrying a giant ugly diaper bag. When I worked retail at a gift boutique downtown, I'd see these poor women lugging baby gear and getting the wheels of their enormous strollers caught on everything in the store. I'd just roll my eyes, pitying their struggle and follow behind them, picking up items they knocked off the displays.

Ugh, I'm never going to have a stroller when I'm a mom.” I told my co-worker with an elitist tone.

Hey, pre-parent Melinda, “You're an IDIOT!”

I have come to my senses since then and bought a very modest yet completely impressive stroller that I use almost every day. It's small and easy to maneuver as there are just some things a modern mother needs. Also, the bottom basket easily holds two six packs of beer which makes shopping at the liquor store, or walking home from New Belgium a little easier.

Recently, I have taken a few overnight trips with Liam. The monumental task before leaving was to assemble all of the baby gear and wrangle it all into a reasonably sized suitcase. My first attempt at preparing myself, a baby, and a dog to go to Grandma and Grandpa's for a few days took me 5 hours, half of which Liam screamed through because the one day I needed to get something done, he decided to cry instead of nap. Ugh. By the time I arrived at my parents house, I was out of juice, luckily, grandparents tend to like their grandchildren and they gleefully took him off my hands for a little while. Since that trip, I've curtailed my prep time to a mere one hour. Now that I know what I'll actually need, it goes much faster. (i.e. leave the portable bath at home but bring extra diaper wipes!)

Another item that was indispensable when Liam was a newborn was the self-bouncing baby seat. He was pleased with that for some time and even napped in it for his first 6 weeks. Then suddenly our family began amassing baby seats. At one point in our living room alone were 4 places for Liam to place his little baby butt. He has since outgrown the infant seat, preferring the gigantic, obnoxious, hideously unfashionable baby entertainer with a jumper seat. This is another item I swore I would never own, yet here I am, eating crow.

I have to thank my mother for the final item that I'll mention here, my diaper bag. She bought me the Cadillac of diaper bags. It's artfully constructed from laminated canvas with a tasteful pattern on the front in a messenger bag style with a zip out diapering station. Super sweet. I am the envy of all my friends . . . not really . . . maybe just the ones who change a lot of diapers. It's simple and functional enough that even my engineering husband commented on the ease of use. Neat.

So, to all of you moms out there, the next time you fold up that stroller and swing it into the back of your SUV, know that I'm there too, straining my back alongside you as as we haul around all that kid crap we thought we'd never need. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

You know you're a new parent if:

  • you've ever uttered the phrase, “It's only a little baby pee.”

  • going to the grocery store is the highlight of your day.

  • you've wondered if it's appropriate to bring your baby to a bar.

  • naptime isn't just for kids anymore.
  • you can't remember what life was like when you were fully rested.
  • experiencing the world outside of your house is like walking on the moon.
  • you buy both Red Bull and Pampers in bulk.
  • taking the dog for a walk seems like too much of a hassle.
  • your major accomplishment for the day was taking a shower.
  • the only thing in the entire world that you have ever imagined wanting is sleep.
  • you find bits of baby poo stuck to your favorite shoes.
  • tiny little smiles melt your heart in a big way.
  • you've ever had to coordinate drinking a beer with feeding a child.
  • at the end of a very difficult day, coos and smiles make it all better.
  • you can change a diaper while asleep, literally.
  • things like percentiles begin to make sense.
  • you begin clipping, saving and actually using coupons.
  • most of what comes out of your mouth is baby gibberish.
  • you are constantly doing laundry. (I mean it, constantly.)
  • you worry about things like rashes, allergy bumps and dry skin. (Gross.)
  • your baby isn't the only one who is crying these days.
  • you'd give your pinky toe for your baby to sleep through the night. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

For Whom the Dinner Bell Tolls

Feeding a baby seemed like a pretty simple task before I became a parent. Baby cries = baby hungry = feed the baby. As I was soon to discover, there are many facets to this seemingly natural task. First, let's discuss nursing.

That's right, breastfeeding. I had heard tales of failed attempts, extreme pain, inability to latch, something called “nipple confusion”, low milk production and skin left cracked and bleeding. Sounds great. Sign me up. My hopes were high but my expectations were realistic. Luckily, my son could suck the copper off a penny if he tried, so latching wasn't an issue. After a few days we got the hang of it, and to my surprise, nursing was going very well! Liam was back up to his birth weight in one week. Soon though, the routine set in and the reality of becoming a milk machine substantiated itself. Having a baby attached to you every three hours is quite draining. Literally.

So there's nursing during the day, when you are marginally alert, and there's nursing during the middle of the night, when you feel as though someone has replaced your brain with mushrooms and swapped your reality for the vacuum of space. To be awoken at 3am by the sounds of your sweet baby wailing is something akin to waking up to a barrage of artillery shells going off around your bed. I usually stagger to my son's room, assess his crying, (hungry, tired, grumpy, gassy etc.) and if hunger is the culprit, it's time to nurse. After a few of these nocturnal feedings, by sunrise, I feel a little inhuman.

Burping is another activity I thought little of until I spent a good portion of my day doing it. Burping is equally as important as feeding because you don't want gas bubbles causing pain in your little one's delicate system. Liam is an expert burper (and farter in case you were wondering.) After each side, I hoist him on to my shoulder and vigorously pat his back. Josh is so good at burping Liam, in fact, that sometimes I just hand him over and he burps the moment he enters his daddy's arms. At first these burps were nothing more than that, clamorous escapes of air. Recently, however, they have been accompanied by excesses of mucus and milk. That's right, spit-up. He can heave it down his front, smear it across his face, and catapult it over my back, dripping the milky remnants onto the carpet. He's truly an artist. A Jackson Pollock of regurgitation.

But beyond the episodes of my petite gourmand there lies the incredible satisfaction of nourishing my child. To look down and see his little milk mouth brings a smile to my face. I've been richly blessed by my nursing experience and I can't thank God enough for how rewarding it has been. Through the fog of late night feedings, the monotony of burping, and the crossfire of spit-up, I know that it's all worth it. Even when he splatters his breakfast all over himself, me, his clothes, the burp cloth, the couch cushions, the pillows, the floor, the dog . . .  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just Like Riding a Diaper

Last week I literally got back in the saddle, the saddle of my bike that is. Just a short pedal to the mailboxes at the end of the road, it was exhilarating nonetheless. It had been about ten months since I stalwartly climbed into the seat of a bike, and regardless of my misgivings, it was just like riding a bike.

This is quite unlike changing diapers. Now that my son, Liam, is over a month old, he is filling diapers like a champ and I've been changing them like it was my job. Before he arrived, I hadn't changed a diaper since I was a babysitter eighteen years ago. The idea of diapering was not a daunting concept, just a foreign one. I thought, “How bad could it be, really?”

It was bad.

The propensity of pee and poop that comes out of my child is nothing short of monumental. How such a small, sweet boy could produce such a foul and heavy diaper is beyond understanding. Additionally, I had little clue as to the amount of fluids that would make their way outside of the confines of his diaper. In the movies you see little boys streaming out geysers of urine; it happily splashing all over them. I thought that this was a dramatization.

It was not.

My son is a pee fountain. He christened both Josh and I on his first night home. If you're not in there with a wipe the moment the diaper is lifted and the cool air wafts against his body, he will pee on you, or more likely himself, dousing his face with its gummy smile. Then, from nowhere, he'll gaseously launch poo all over the changing table and secretly onto the only dress that fits me right now. About an hour after this happened, while getting into the car bound for the grocery store, I looked down only to discover my son's deposit. Gross.

While learning the art of diapering has been quite the enterprise, I know that one day this too will be routine. And while my ride to the mailbox was seemingly unadventurous, it was one step towards finding my way back to normalcy. That is if normalcy is ducking streams of baby pee.        

Friday, July 29, 2011

. . . after the ellipses

Four weeks in to motherhood and I'm already wondering what the h*ll I've gotten myself into. There is no amount of mental preparation, counseling, or books that can equip one for the utterly selfless act that is becoming a mother. Because this is my first foray into the alien world of parenting, I've decided to put my English degree to work and write about it. Through the haze of sleep deprivation, I will attempt to dispatch my thoughts, however incoherent.

If you are curious, or perhaps offended by the title of my blog, I understand. I will argue, though, that these three objects commingle rather well; one often propagating from another. “Babies,” refers to my dear son, Liam, who entered this world on July 1st, 2011 and who'll be the topic of many posts. “Bikes,” act as broker to the new road I'm traveling. (As cliché as this allegory seems, it works, so suck it.) And “Beer,” represents the reward, not only at the end of the journey, but in stations along the way, at the end of a hard day, and best enjoyed with family and friends.

In this literary undertaking, I'll aim for transparency and candor. I hope to share a bit of my life with you and to entertain you with tales of my fumbling towards parental sufficiency. I realize that some people consider blogs passe and exercises in narcissism, (including myself to a certain degree) but as a reformed housewife . . . I'll need something else to do besides homemaking and childrearing. So, I invite you to hold my baby, pedal along side, and clink your beer glass against mine. Welcome and cheers!