Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Canadian Beer, Anyone?

For the first time in I honestly don't know how long, I drank until buzzed. Guess how many Labatts it took? One and three quarters. And it was awesome.

We gathered for a potluck at a friend's place Saturday with the kiddos and let them go wild. I guess Ma went wild, too. Afterwards, the women went to a kooky play about teens in the 80s and the dads watched the wee ones. It was great fun; it had been a long time since doing something with friends and minimizing the baby talk (although not completely eliminating it).

Three or four years ago, however, with the same crew of people (minus the wee ones), we would have been sitting at a dive bar, drinking water moccasins, singing power ballads on the karaoke machine, drunk-dialing our friend's parents until 2 am, and assuming it was a taxi that brought us home at some point.

But things change. They all tell you that when you have kids, but it's hard to wrap your head around it. Today, I celebrate when I get 30 minutes to myself to read. And then I feel guilty for not being productive. Two years ago I would have spent an entire Sunday watching some VH1 countdown or a Real World marathon (the old-school ones) and painting my nails. Today I buy versatile and comfortable shoes that I can wear for both work and at home, and I make sure they are a bargain. Two years ago I'd buy a ridiculously uncomfortable pair of the cutest shoes, wear them once, and throw them in a closet without a second thought except to think, "Man, those were cute shoes." Today I schedule out time with friends a month or more in advance to plan around family obligations and work. A few years ago we'd do spontaneous happy hours after work and linger there for hours.

But I'm not complaining. I'm happy. I wouldn't trade my little girl shrieking "A-ya ya!" for anything. The old things still make me pretty happy on occasion, though, like my good 'ol friend, Buzzed. Maybe we'll have to plan a karaoke/water moccasin night a month or two down the road...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Blame Daycare

I learned what they mean by "explosive diarrhea" on Sunday.

I will spare you the horrible, horrible details. Instead, I will simply tell you that the butt issues continued for a few days, along with zero appetite, medium fever, and a little barf. And poor Bear Bear got hit with some friendly fire. Poor, poor Bear Bear.

And you know what? I blame daycare. There is no way of knowing where this little virus came from. It could have been the diaper run to Target. Could have been a nasty little fiend hiding on me from one of my students. Who knows? But I blame daycare.

I've seen it with my own two eyes. Norah gleefully chewing on a colorful plastic noisy thing, drool running down the zigzagged patterns and dripping on the carpet. Then little Caleb shuffles on over, snatches the plastic goodness, and shoves the saliva-covered item in his happy, toothless mouth. Gross.

And it's easy to blame daycare. I don't know how to fix this. She has been sick so many damn times this year, I wish the clinic had a punch card. 10 visits and a free RSV test. I don't know what we're doing wrong. I don't understand it. And I can't take much more of this, seeing my tiny girl so miserable for an intolerable portion of her life.

But upon further contemplation, blaming daycare isn't so easy. Not just because they really do a bang-up job sanitizing, not to mention actual child care. After various twists and turns in my mind's conversation, it always comes down to who put her there.

And I frustratingly remember (the curse of an excellent memory) saying to my mom, back when having children was not on the table, nor even on the menu, that I didn't want to have kids if I wasn't going to raise them.

Well here I am. And I can't afford to stay home. And Ryan can't. And nearly every family I know can't afford it. And I think about it-- what if we really took a hard look at our income/expense? Could we do it? I think about the different options or choices or possibilities. And I choose daycare.

And do I feel  guilty? Well, hell yes I do. But I feel guilty about most things, so it's not like it's something new to me. And daycare has a lot of perks. Socialization with other kids, learning opportunities, instilling adaptability, art, all kinds of things. And this is what I tell myself when I feel extra guilty, or when I'm driving to work on four hours of sleep, phoning the daycare that Norah will not be in again because (as I say with my teeth gritted) "She is sick. Again."

So I blame daycare. It helps me get through the day.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Baby Tricks

We teach our daughter tricks and then make her perform like a dog. There isn't a nicer way to put it. I am hoping it's something everyone does.

For example, Ryan has been teaching her where her nose is. I think Grandma has been working on that one, too. Now that she's aware of what a nose is and where it is located, we love to display this talent to others. "Norah, where is your nose? Where is Daddy's nose? Where is Bear Bear's nose?" And then we clap for her like she's a circus seal.

Lately, the tricks are about her new words. Other tricks include pointing to other things, like her ear, her shoe, etc, and asking her to bring things to people. "Bring Mommy the credit card bill. Good job!"

And then I suddenly flashed back to my parents commanding me to play their friends a song on the piano. I was insecure about my skill level (I sucked), and I was pretty shy. Not a good memory. Time to nip this in the bud, or are baby tricks acceptable new-parent behavior?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fake Mom II

So, back to the ER. There I was, mother of one, apparently overly concerned with the health and well-being of my poor, lonely, only child, and Grandma snaps.

"That's enough. We're out of here."

They had just given Norah a catheter, which was inhumanly cruel, and had come up empty. The staff's suggestion was to wait until she had to pee and do it again. This prompted me to burst into more tears. Grandma snatched the baby from me and repeated herself.

"That's enough."

It was true. They guessed it was probably viral, which means "ride it out," and there was a slight possibility it could be a kidney infection, which is rare in babies. Of course I was fixated on the slight possibility, as that is my MO. But I knew she was right; Norah was tired, hungry, weak, her fever had gone way down, and she needed to get the hell out of there.

After more waiting, we finally got the discharge papers and left, drinking in the fresh, cold air outside the hospital.

Days later, it turns out it was a cold. She got a little booger-y and sneeze-y, but the fever broke on Sunday and she was back to tackling Daddy and chucking blocks over her shoulder. Ok. Maybe a trip to the ER was a little bit of an overreaction. But 105! The doctor even suggested we didn't take her temp properly. I don't know.

Guess it must be the first-time parent. If only I had two; I'd be so cool and collected.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fake Mom

Norah is, of course,  a perfect angel. Gorgeous, smart, cute, funny, everything. However, she does get sick. All. The. Time.

The latest happened over the weekend. It was of course a Saturday, and of course the clinic had booked up within the first five minutes of being open, so we ended up at the ER. Our third visit there, actually, in 14 months. She had a fever of 105. So besides being terrified that something was horribly wrong with my perfect angel, I also had the privilege of knowing what to expect from the ER. A whole lot of waiting. With an angry baby.

My mom had the honor of coming with us. It started out OK. The Infant Motrin had kicked in and Norah was having fun trying to run around the waiting room, terrorizing the sad-looking bunch there. There is no happiness in an ER waiting room. Except for Norah when we gave her a couple of safety brochures.

Then we got into a room and the hell began. Between waiting, Norah was tortured with the usual methods: RSV test, chest x-ray, throat swab, rectal thermometer. She was hot, angry, bored, confused, scared, poked, prodded, tired, and tear-streaked. Grandma and I were all of the above except bored, poked, and prodded. 

Also, we tried desperately to keep her from crying, but it was nearly impossible. We could distract her for maybe a couple minutes at a time. It was also insufferably hot in the tiny room full of mysterious equipment, and we kept trying to crack the door for a sweet relief of breeze from the cooler hallway. But Norah's screams prompted people to slyly come by and shut the door. One gal had the decency to at least pretend her visit was out of concern. "How's it going in here..?" Slam.

And just when we had about reached the breaking point, and I was in tears for the fourth time, some stranger in scrubs asked me, "Oh, is this your first?"

I nodded.

She smiled condescendingly, nodded, and patted my shoulder.

I guess when you have a second child, you don't give a rip what happens. Eh, go play with that knife. You can sleep on the bed alone at 3 months. Have a nice, thick blanket. I'll just run to the store while he/she naps.

But it's not just that people seem to think that first-time moms are overprotective psychos. It goes way beyond that. I get the feeling that mothers with one child are second class citizens in The Club.

The Club is parenthood. You aren't even really aware of The Club's existence until you have a child. After you have a child, you suddenly are invited into conversations with strangers, knowing looks and smiles from other parents, and a use-anytime get-out-of-anything-free card. "Sorry I can't make it to your destination wedding-- kid issues."

But there are ranks within The Club. Standard membership is parents with two kids. Three or more are elite members, unless you have more than four. Then your status drops because people think you're a little cuckoo. If you have them close together, your sympathy rating increases, also directly affecting your status level. "Oh, three under three? You saint!" Parents of onlies are probationary members. It's like you're not even a real parent. Here are some common things parents of one hear on a regular basis:

"Oh, just one? Wait until you have two."
"That's nothing. It was so easy when there was just one."
"Is this your first?"
"Are you going to try for a boy/girl?" (mostly asked to mothers of daughters in regards to having a male offspring to satisfy the husband)
"When are you having another?"

Don't ever try to vent or complain to a parent in a higher position than you in The Club. Oneupmanship is an accepted form of communication. Parents of one child apparently don't know anything, worry about too much, and are also depriving their child of the experience of having siblings, which is sometimes brought up much to our chagrin.

So I learned that during the next trip to the ER, to act cool and nonchalant about everything. Like I've seen it all. Yeah, that's bone. Walk it off. I'm no rookie.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another Bad Mom Day

I was so smug about remembering to bring photos with to daycare today. They were doing a project. Everyone needed to bring photos of extended relatives. I remembered, for once. I forgot dress-up day. I forgot to bring something for trail mix day. But today I remembered.

But I forgot diapers. Grandma to the rescue.

Not only that, but I have nothing in my kitchen that would remotely resemble a nutritious meal. I am considered chicken from a can and an Eggo.

And Norah has about 10 clean socks, but not a pair to be found. New rule = white socks only from now on.

And I forgot to actual continue clipping her fingernails yesterday. So some are short, and some are unacceptably long. I hope I don't have to fill out an "incident report" when I go pick her up in a minute or so because of some poor slashed Other Baby.

Sigh. Let's just get to the weekend. I need to get my shit together.