Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chatty McChatterson

Carter suddenly has a lot to say these days. He's always been pretty quiet, but for the past several weeks it's a constant stream of "da-da-da-na-ga-da-da-da" and the like. In fact, I think his burgeoning vocabulary now contains three distinct words - "dada," which he may or may not actually connect to my husband, "mama," which I have still only heard twice, both while he was upset, and "duck." The latter still has the "ck" sound missing, so it's really "duh," but I think it counts.

Case in point: he was in the bath two nights ago, gnawing on his beloved rubber duck and softly saying "duh-duh-duh-duh" over and over. I pointed to the duck and said "DUCK." He looked up at me with a huge grin that had to mean "SHE UNDERSTANDS ME!" Then he looked back down at the duck and said "DUH."

Look out, Harvard class of 2031 - here comes The RooRoo!

Snackity Snack

Carter finally got the hang of finger foods last weekend. I had started chopping up an assortment of steamed or soft-cooked foods (broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, pasta, tofu, etc.) and laying 'em in front of him at each meal in hopes that he would start trying to feed himself instead of just picking it up, squishing it in his palm and dropping it on the floor.

On Saturday, I had a little stash of snacks laid out for him on the tray of his highchair, but I didn't harbor high hopes that any of them would actually make it to his mouth. So when he nonchalantly picked up a cube of - god, I have no idea what it was now - Cheese? Pasta? - and popped it into his mouth, I nearly screamed in excitement. The next day, more of the same - I met a girlfriend for coffee and brought along a variety of finger food snacks for The RooRoo, in hopes that squishing them would keep him somewhat entertained so that Mommy could have five minutes to talk to her friend without interjecting every other sentence with baby talk. I dumped some out on my palm and sat him in my lap, and off he went - picking them up and shoveling them in his mouth like he'd been doing it all his life. Mind you, a good portion still ends up on his bib, in his lap, or all over the ground, but he's FEEDING HIMSELF! Yeehah!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Recently (and by that I mean for the past two days, but hey, it still counts) life has begun to seem more manageable. Although my days and nights are still filled-to-bursting with activity, I haven't had those overwhelming moments where I throw up my hands and curse the gods for not allowing more hours in a day. Instead, things seem...easier.

Part of this newfound sense of freedom can probably be attributed to the fact that my evenings this week have not been consumed by making baby food (okay, save for a much-needed batch of pureed beets the other night), with the seemingly endless cycle of steam-puree-store occupying me until I pass out at midnight, delirious from exhaustion. Last week I was a pureeing fool and packed the freezer with Carter food, so I am fairly well-stocked for the time being. In fact, two nights ago my husband said "LOML, you need to stop making his food. Between purees and breastmilk, there is NO room in the freezer." Then last night a woman came by to pick up 100 oz. of frozen liquid gold and happily freed up some space for more. More, more, MORE!! Wahahahaha!

I am relishing these evenings of downtime, as they are rare. Of course, this is my fault. During the midst of one of my gripe sessions, a mommy friend once pointed out that I make motherhood harder than it needs to be. I've been thinking about this lately, and wondering - am I simply a masochist? Perhaps.

Masochist Mommy Example #1: I make 95% of the food that Carter eats, with the exception of some boxed cereals (although he mainly eats homemade oatmeal, barley and quinoa cereals) and carrots (which I began buying jarred when he first started solids because of the nitrate issue, and just kept buying 'em). Otherwise, the bulk of his diet - peas, green beans, squash, sweet potatoes, apples, mangoes, peaches, pears, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, blueberries, lentils, black beans etc. - are cooked/pureed/frozen by yours truly. The rest of his diet includes bananas, avocados, tofu, cheese, yogurt, wheat toast, and organic "o" cereal from Trader Joe's (a new addition). I have also started setting aside bits of whatever veggies I make for us each evening to puree them for him the next day, so now he's had spinach, onion, mushroom, kale, etc. We are slowly branching out into new proteins and trying to introduce finger foods, although currently he prefers to simply pick up the food and squish it in his palm rather than put it in his mouth. If I pick it up (pieces of toast, cheese, tofu) and bring it to his lips, he'll open wide and eat it, but he doesn't seem interested in feeding himself quite yet. Soon enough, soon enough. Simply put, making all his food, time-sucker that it is, makes me happy. However, lately I will occasionally give him one of the back-up jars of Earth's Best Organic that I keep on hand - this morning it was Pear Apple Oatmeal, which was a big hit - to save myself some time. It's all about achieving balance, right? No need to be Crazy Type A Pureeing Mommy 24/7. Ahhhh...that's me breathing a sigh of relief.

Masochist Mommy Example #2: I use cloth diapers. Now, I am not a Diaper Nazi, and I don't have some kind of militant platform against disposables, mind you - we used them for four weeks when he was first born and we use them at night. But for as long as I've been thinking about children, I've been hoping to cloth diaper. In fact, I spent months obsessively researching the different cloth diaper brands before buying - reading reviews, comparing prices, determining the best bang for my buck. And I've been happy with my choice so far - I don't find them particularly time-consuming because we've been using them since he was four weeks old - I just toss them in the wash every three days and TADA! Clean, fresh, and ready for baby. But every so often, I'll be up late on a Tuesday night, scrubbing poo out of dirty diaper liners in order to ensure that he has enough for the next day (I only have six of the gDiaper pant/inner liner combo) and at times like that I realize how convenient disposables are. Ideally I'd like to make it at least a year using cloth, possibly longer - but I'm not going to beat myself up if I switch over.

Basically, I am finally learning that being a working mom is hard enough without self-flagellation to deal with. I'll always feel guilty about not spending more time with him - the curse of the working mother - but I needn't waste a moment of the precious time that I do have steaming peas and scrubbing diapers. I'm that much closer to achieving balance, and as a result, things seem more manageable.

Better yet - things seem pretty damn fantastic.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teething Torture

Carter was a little under the weather for the past couple of days with a fever and runny nose, so yesterday I stayed home from work with him. It came on suddenly and punctuated our blissful, relaxing weekend with worry. I took him to the pediatrician, suspecting that he could have an ear infection because he was so fussy and seemed to be in such pain. Fortunately, I was wrong - just a regular cold. Today he's much better (no fever and the nose is better), but the fussiness hasn't dissapated.

I suspected he was teething, and the doctor confirmed as much yesterday. I'm armed with both Hyland's Teething Tablets and Baby Orajel, ready to do battle with the evil little teeth that are causing him so much pain. Frustratingly, he won't let me anywhere near his mouth in order to mount my attack. Not only is it an epic struggle to get anything onto his gums or into his mouth to make him feel better, I can't even get a finger in there to determine which part of his mouth is bothering him. He was up FOUR times last night, which is sheer torture after having him sleep through the night for so long. It's like he's three weeks old, and I'm an anxious new mother riding the wave of postpartum hormones all over again. The really aggravating part is that when he wakes up, I nurse him and he conks right out again, so I don't know if he's waking up because he's really in pain, or if he's just waking up because he knows now that if he cries, Mommy will come. For the past week or ten days, he was waking up once, around 3-4am, which was hard enough after getting used to weeks and weeks with ten hours of uninterrupted sleep from him - but now it's three and four times in one night?!? STOP THE MADNESS!

Last night while he was in a tranquil post-bath mood, I managed to get a finger in his mouth. I couldn't feel anything sharp on top, but I might have felt something on the side, further back on the gums - could he have a MOLAR coming in?? How is that possible? I thought molars didn't appear til the first birthday or later! Though it would certainly explain the fact that my precious, mellow-yellow baby has been possessed by a DEMON.


I'm feeling a wee bit stressed.

Perhaps the wisest bit of advice I ever received about parenthood is that whenever you think you know something, whenever you pat yourself on the back, whenever you get comfortable - IT ALL CHANGES. Sure, you work hard to establish your routines and set your schedules and figure it all out, but ultimately, parenthood is flying by the seat of your pants and rolling with the punches. Anyone who says differently either has a lot of help that I don't or is on some kind of mood-enhancing substance (and if that's the case, please share).

Life is hectic, crazy, and busy-beyond-recognition with one baby - and yet we want two more! This begs the question - ARE WE INSANE? Yes, yes we are. Because no matter how much I bitch, moan, and long to sleep in, have properly painted toenails and ten spare minutes to guiltlessly primp in the mirror, I wouldn't change a thing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Milestones and Whatnot

Carter started crawling a week or so ago - real crawling, not the commando army-style business he'd been doing for ages - which was exciting unto itself. Then, not two days later he pushed himself to his feet and STOOD for the first time!

Alas, I was not there to see this. He'd stayed home with my husband last Friday so that Daddy could take him to an afternoon doctor's appointment, and my husband called me at work to excitedly inform me that Carter had just crawled over to his beloved little Russian table in the nursery (a gift from Babushka), grabbed it, pushed himself to his feet, and stared proudly at himself in the mirror (the boy loves a mirror - clearly he inherited mommy's vanity).

Since that day, all he wants to do is be on his feet. He'll crawl over to me and "climb Mount Mommy" as I call it, grappling his way up to my shoulders, pushing up on his little feet, wobbling excitedly about his accomplishment. He'll balance precariously against anything you set him in front of - sofa, chair, mirror - and is now trying to pull himself up on anything and everything. He will rarely allow us to set him down on his bottom, and will instead arch his back and kick his legs to try to stay upright.

Other recent developments include more teething. All the signs are there - every night for the past week he's begun waking at 3:30 again, wailing. I've been too delirious with exhaustion to let him cry it out, so I'll just take him into bed with us, feed him, and then put him back down. Last weekend was another nursing strike (just in time for Mother's Day - how festive!), with Carter breastfeeding only first thing in the morning and at bedtime. I found myself giving bottles all weekend, and even then he wasn't taking in nearly as many ounces as he normally does on a typical daycare day. On both Saturday and Sunday, I found myself away from the house (and therefore, from my pump), with a hungry baby who refused to nurse. What to do? Well, necessity is the mother of invention (literally - ha!), so each time I made like a dairy cow and (sorry for the TMI) hand-expressed until I had enough for a bottle. Let me just tell you, nothing says Mommy like milking yourself in the backseat of your car. After several days of night wakings and boob refusing, I finally reached into his mouth to discover a sharp edge of tooth on top. AH-HA! He hasn't let me reach in there since, but the advent of top teeth would certainly explain his recent shenanigans. Bring on the teething tabs, stat!

Last but most definitely not least - Carter finally said "mama" for the first time. A couple of days ago, he had a traumatic bath experience during a particularly trying evening. He hadn't slept well at school so he was already exhausted, but nonetheless eager to test out his newfound leg strength by attempting to stand up and climb out of his bathtub. As I held him upright and attempted to get him back on his bottom, he stepped up on the center ledge of the tub and his foot slipped. This scared him, and coupled with his exhaustion and crankiness at being made to sit on his bottom, it sent him into (very out of character for our mellow boy) a fullblown wail. I lifted him out of the tub and into his waiting towel, and he looked at me, flung his arms open and yelled "MMMMAAAAAMMMMAAAAAAAAAAA!" Then he clung tightly to my chest and started nursing. My husband and I looked at each other, and had a moment of "Did you just hear that??"

Despite the chaos, I was euphoric. He said my name! And he knew it meant ME! After weeks of endless "da-da-da-das" (to which my husband invariably replies "Yes, my son?" although - sorry, honey - I somewhat doubt the Roo Roo actually connects "da-da" with Daddy...though perhaps that's the green-eyed monster talking), Mama finally got some credit! My friend over at Little One Big World once said that her little one only said "mama" when she was upset, and in retrospect, the only time Carter would make the "m" sound was when he was fussing. I would wonder - Is he trying to say my name? Is Mama going to get a little shout-out one of these days? And I WAS RIGHT!

Thanks, kiddo. I mean, I DID carry you around inside me for 41 weeks and all. Sheesh.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To My Mother

Until I became a mother, I never realized how hard you worked, how patient you were, and how much you did for us.

Until I became a mother, I had no idea how strong you really are, how capable, how selfless.

Until I became a mother, I could not truly understand how much you love us, how much you wanted to give us, and how much you protected us from the world.

I look at my own baby, and now it's all so clear.
I am so lucky to have learned from the best.
I love you so much.

Happy Mother's my mother, and to all the mommies out there.

A Mother's Day Ode (Hacked, of course)

Hello everyone, this is not Paige but rather her husband, who's managed to hack her password.

I'd like to take this opportunity (as I'm sure she'll change her password once she reads this) to publicly thank Paige for everything she does as Carter's mommy. If you've read any of this blog you know how much time, thought, energy and love she puts into caring for him. He is a wonderfully happy little boy for whom Paige has created a warm and loving home.

I also want to thank all you other moms out there. Not just for all the work you put into raising your own children, which has perhaps the worst "importance to thanks" ratio of all the jobs (just barely nosing out the job of the guy who makes sure that our 5700 nuclear missiles don't accidentally go off), but for the advice, support, encouragement and love that you all give one another. Thank you for reaching out to one another and helping each other with this most important job: mommy.


Paige's Husband and on behalf of all dads.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Wet Nurse of West Hollywood

I recently realized that of the ten children in his daycare, Carter is the only one who is breastfed. Granted, half of the kids are over 1, so perhaps some of them were breastfed as infants, but the others are exactly one year, ten months, eight months (a little girl one day younger than Carter), and two months, and all of them drink formula.

I'm proud that my little boy is still breastfed. Nursing did not come easily to us, and it was a battle in the beginning. Eight months in, I'm now a breastmilk donor, pumping more than my baby can drink and giving away 100 oz. at a time to milkless SoCal moms on Milkshare. Since February I've made four donations to various women, for a total of about 425 oz. or so, and my freezer is overflowing yet again. I look back on the excruciatingly painful first month of nursing, when the pain and my postpartum hormones left me in tears after almost every feed, and I realize that I fought for this milk. I fought to be able to feed my baby, to be able to provide him with the best nutrition. And now not only can I feed him, I can feed other women's babies, too. I feel triumphant.

Although I hope to breastfeed until Carter is at least a year, lately I've started thinking about how much easier our daily routine will be once he weans. No more schlepping the pump to and from work, no more five pumps a day (once in the morning, three times at work, and once before bed), no more cleaning endless attachments, storage bottles, regular bottles, and nipples - endless nipples. Although I love breastfeeding, it's nice to imagine a world free of pumping. On the same note, although I love making his purees, it's liberating to think of a time in the future when he can eat what WE eat, when I am not using every spare moment to steam-puree-store his fruits and veggies.

Until then, I will remind myself to relish every challenging, exhausting day of watching my baby grow.

And growing he is - and CRAWLING!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Walk to Remember

Every day, I spend my lunch hour visiting Carter at his daycare. It's right down the street, a mere five-minute drive from my office, which is a huge part of the reason I chose it in the first place. When I walk in the door, he turns around from his perch at the circle table, or lifts his head from whatever corner of the room he has rolled/crawled into, and when he sees me his whole face lights up.

At that moment, there is nothing but us - me, grinning like an idiot and rushing like a crazy person toward my little boy, and him smiling and waving his arms up and down, as if to say "Pick me up, Mama! UP UP UP!" In these first few moments of eye contact, I am so concentrated on him that I simply will not look away, will not break our gaze - so much so that I once almost bulldozed a little girl from the preschool next door who happened to be standing in the path between me and my son. This was during the evening pick-up, and let me tell you that her mother did not seem pleased. She was there picking up Carter's classmate, the preschooler's sister, and probably didn't enjoy witnessing a wild-eyed blonde run headlong into her daughter. However, this is the same mother whom I overheard saying "No more breastfeeding! I want my body back!" about her 6-month-old, so we clearly weren't destined to be buddies regardless.

At these visits, some days we read, some days we roll around on the floor, and some days we just cuddle and bounce around. Today, however, the weather was so glorious that I decided we had to go for a walk. Never mind the fact that a quick search of my car revealed neither appropriate footwear (I usually keep flip-flops on hand for the impromptu lunchtime walk) nor a hat to protect me from the evil sun. The lack of a hat may seem trivial to some, but to them I say HAVE YOU MET ME? Because if you have, you know that I am pretty much the palest person you have ever seen, your albino friends notwithstanding. Sure, I may slather the world's greatest sunblock on every morning of my life, but I am certainly not foolish enough to scoff in the face of sun damage/skin cancer/premature aging/certain death with deliberate, wayward hatless roaming.

I was fine with traipsing about in my heels (a very old, very comfortable, very broken-in pair, fortunately), but I wouldn't dare to wander far without adequate sun protection. The ancient, decrepit, hugely tacky visor I usually keep in my car for such occasions was nowhere to be found - what was a super-pale mommy to do, I ask you?

Just when I was seriously considering tossing a reusable Whole Foods shopping bag over my head to fashion a makeshift fedora of sorts, I saw it. A long-forgotten umbrella, rolling around in the backseat! Woop!

So there we went - Carter in his Snap n' Go and me in my 3+-inch wedges, tottering along the streets of Burbank beneath a black umbrella with "Suddenly Susan" splashed across it in bold while letters. It was quite the picture.

Incidentally, my husband and I are both mystified as to how we ended up with said umbrella, given that neither of us has ever worked on that show or know anyone who has, but I wasn't about to argue. Carter fell fast asleep and I enjoyed the warm afternoon, smiling at passers-by from beneath my unattractive-yet-functional sunshade.

Perhaps I can bring back the parasol. Hot damn! Maybe that will be the million-dollar business idea that will subsequently land my little family on easy street! Then again, with only redheads, our aforementioned albino friends and little Asian ladies in the market for parasols, perhaps I shouldn't quit my day job.

Monday, May 3, 2010

This weekend was excellent, and can be best summarized by the food: Friday night - sushi and cupcakes (a surprisingly delicious combo - but then again, what doesn't go with cupcakes, I ask you?); Saturday - blueberry muffins and margaritas (not at the same meal, although I could probably get behind that combo, too); Sunday - yogurt-covered pretzels, falafel and quinoa (ditto the aforementioned statement).

On Friday afternoon, we had a little office party in honor of someone's last day. What was going to be a mellow mini-cupcake celebration (we have a thing with cupcakes in our department - the direct result of working down the street from one of the most glorious cupcake shops ever. Trust me. I've done the research) turned into a work-be-damned margarita extravaganza when someone discovered an old-yet-functional blender hidden in a kitchen cupboard. A quick trip to the drugstore and BAM - chips, guacamole, tequila and cupcakes = instant fiesta!

Sitting there and nursing my frosty beverage amidst my mildly tipsy coworkers (let me remind you that I work in the entertainment industry and yes, we are all a bunch of debaucherous hooligans), I had a small pang of nostalgia. The first sip of that slushy alcoholic goodness transported me right back to my pre-baby life, which was a blur of social activity largely revolving around rallying groups of girlfriends for frequent pilgrimages to the local Mexican joint to pay homage to the tortilla chip gods. It's the same feeling I had a few weeks ago while driving home through Hollywood on a Friday night and seeing gaggles of 20-something hipsters lounging on patios outside overpriced bistros, preening themselves and sipping their various Happy Hour libations. For just a brief moment, I longed to join them, to while away an evening with cocktails and conversation without a care in the world.

Then my baby squealed in the backseat and met my gaze in the mirror with a drooly grin, rubber giraffe in one hand, beloved red donut block in the other, and just like that, there was nowhere else I wanted to be.

At home I relayed Friday's office margarita shenanigans to my husband, and told him about my momentary longing for those carefree days and boozy nights of yore. Later that day, after a virtuous trip to Whole Foods to stock up on organic produce and nontoxic baby wipes, he told me that he had to run to the drugstore for a moment. A few minutes later he was back, smiling and toting tequila and margarita mix.

That night, our precious boy was fed, bathed, cuddled, cooed over, smothered with kisses, nursed, and tucked soundly into bed. And with my baby sleeping peacefully, this mommy went to the kitchen and enjoyed a richly-deserved margarita, extra strong, no salt please. And that night, I discovered that even the most raucous girls' night can't beat puttering in the kitchen, slightly tipsy, pureeing baby food while the LOML relaxed on the couch and the LOOL slumbered in the nursery. Life is infinitely different now, yet so vastly improved.