Archive for May, 2010

Phase Two

May 28, 2010

This is it, our final weekend of Parenthood Phase One, the one where Kristie stays home with Blanche all day, sending me photos and videos throughout, and dreading this coming Wednesday: her first day back at work and away from Blanche. In reality, Kristie and Blanche have been ‘together’ every day since early July, and they’ve been at home each day since mid-January, when Kristie was put on bed rest. It’s going to be a very hard day for all parties.

Luckily, I get to stay home with Blanche for the first couple days without mommy, hopefully making the transition easier for baby and keeping mom’s worries under control. I know the second of those hopes is likely an unattainable one, but Kristie (I think) knows I can handle being alone with my baby for a day. I think I can too, but as the day draws nearer I’m less sure of myself. Here are the obstacles that immediately come to mind.

1. Nothing soothes like a boob. Perhaps you’ve noticed, but I ain’t got none. There are several other ways to calm Blanche down, and I’ve mastered some (though you can never really master the art of calming a baby), but the one that never fails I cannot perform. I do give a mean bottle, however, and Blanche does well with them, so here’s hoping those plastic nipples soothe as well as the real ones.

2. It’s OK to be a slacker. I struggle with this. When I’m home, especially on days off from work, I want to be productive. I already have a laundry list of mental tasks for the few days I have approaching. But here’s the thing: no chore comes before a baby, and many of them are difficult to accomplish while watching one. I don’t think she’d particularly enjoy riding along in her Baby Bjorn as I mow the lawn. I can’t imagine she’ll share my love of spending an afternoon rearranging the kitchen cupboards or color-coordinating the towels. So, some things won’t get done. Luckily, to this point she has shown at least a moderate tolerance of dishes, which are daddy’s go-to job.

3. My arm strength and stamina isn’t there yet. This is something that mothers master quickly, and I’d guess I will too. But as of right now, even at 10 pounds, Blanche tires me quickly. Holding, rocking, bouncing–can’t I just set you down and finish my sandwich? I’ve dared, and the consequences can be brutal. By the end of the week, I’m confident I’ll have the tricks of holding, balancing and bracing down. And sculpt those farmer-tanned arms at the same time.

4. I don’t do Days of Our Lives. But Blanche has watched it religiously since birth. We’re aware of the morning and evening ‘fussy times,’ but will there be a midday one if I somehow neglect to tune in? We’ll soon know.

Am I nervous about being a full-time daddy for a few days? (And basically every Saturday from here on out). Yeah, I guess I am. What if I can’t calm her down? What if she won’t look at me out of spite? What if she, in fact, doesn’t like doing the dishes? The potential horrors! In reality, I’m quite confident in my parenting skills and, more importantly, ability to adapt. And whatever hell I’m going through, it certainly won’t compare to the withdrawals mom will be having away from her. Frequent picture and video updates will help.

We’ll all adjust. A year ago, we weren’t expecting a baby. Three months ago, we didn’t have one. Today, we can’t imagine what it was like without her. And three months from now, we’ll have forgotten what the life of a stay-at-home mom was even like.

Really, all three of us are quite lucky.


On the Charts

May 20, 2010

Time continues to fly by, and Blanche has now been with us for over ten weeks. We made it to her two-month doctor’s visit without incident! Don’t you get a certificate or hand stamp from the doctor when you’ve kept a baby healthy that long? Or maybe that’s just what preschoolers get.

Here I am, big baby Blanche, two months old. I am 21.5 inches tall, weigh 9 pounds 7 ounces, and have a substantial buddha belly. Yes, at two months, I am still comparable to a large, but not uncommonly so, newborn.

I don’t really mind being naked, and do pretty well when the doctor pokes, prods and massages my pudgy body. I hang on tight to any finger or object that comes into contact with my tiny fingers. I will squeal a bit if you take my diaper off, but jeeze that air is cold.

I’m used to needles; My foot was pricked every day for the first week of my life, so the three injections I got at the doctor weren’t so bad. Mommy cried more than I did, but daddy was brave. And I got some yummy medicine to make me feel better. (Side note: why is baby medicine flavored? I understand flavoring children’s medicine cherry or grape, but what does a baby care? If anything, baby medicine should be packed with breast milk flavor. I think there may be a market here.)

I love to stand! Because I am such a tall girl. Dangle my legs for a bit on your lap or a table and I’ll push them out so rigidly you’ll think you might never get my knees to bend again. But this picture gives you an idea of how small I still am. Daddy can still manhandle me pretty easily. I’m in the 23rd percentile for height, the 13th for weight and the 2nd for head size. But I’m on the charts! And my doctor was very pleased with my growth.

I make lots of goofy faces these days. Sometimes it’s gas (yesterday my bottom sounded like it was brewing coffee for much of the evening), but I will react if mom does something extraordinarily hilarious. She and I aren’t yet on the same wavelengths, but boy did she think she was funny when we went to happy hour the other night. All in all I’m a very happy ten-week-old. I’m consistently sleeping for six-hour stretches at night, still love my car seat and LOVE baths. You must admit, it is a pretty good life.

My Mommy

May 10, 2010

One of the best things about having this blog is that someday, Blanche will have this as an ever-evolving baby book; one that captures my emotions and our adventures instantaneously and with details you wouldn’t find in a photo album or growth chart. It will be a way for her to learn about not only who she was as a baby, but who her mom and dad were.

I still know relatively nothing about my parents’ lives before me. Over the years I’ve picked up a few details–their first date was a Chicago concert somewhere in Iowa, my mom smuggled booze into her own wedding–but I tell those tales with little or no confidence. With this blog, Blanche will have definitive answers to some of the things she may wonder about, and will get some insight into things she never contemplated.

So for my Mother’s Day post, I’ve decided to give Blanche a picture of who her mommy is. She’s more than just a  breast milk buffet, you know.

Kristie was a particular and peculiar child. She talked to trees, wouldn’t eat donuts without sprinkles and demanded that her dad put the toothpaste on her brush exactly how it looked on TV–you know, the giant swoop. She tormented babysitters and convinced them her brother was possessed, and the only reason she agreed to play t-ball was so she could have a pink glove. Blanche, I hope you are just as quirky as your mother was, with a personality no one who encounters you will forget.

She was a dancer from the start, and I’ve no doubt you’ll be one too. I’m also quite certain you’ll look back at photographs and be horrified of the terrible haircuts you had growing up, though I doubt mom will let you get a crazy perm. But mom’s interests were diverse–she loved to fish (she taught me how to clean a fish) and gave golf a brief try. She decided it was more fun to quit after a few holes, go back to the clubhouse, and use her parents’ account to buy her friends food and candy. Sorry Blanche, we’ve learned that lesson.

Kristie had a dog just like Atlas growing up, so you’ll undoubtedly share your love of naughty dogs. Other things she loved: reading. When she was in elementary school, and I was reading Goosebumps and Matt Christopher books, your mom was reading Charles Dickens and Henry David Thoreau. She loved candy. The lake. Using the biggest words she possibly could.

I first met Kristie when I was a junior in high school. She was a senior, and we met through a mutual friend. It was tricky, since Kristie had a boyfriend at the time, but we set up a date to play Scrabble at my house. I was excited and nervous, not only because I had a huge crush on her, but because I knew my vocabulary was no match for hers. No matter; she canceled. Yes, she backed out on our first scheduled date.

This will be completely obsolete by the time you read this, but we did the typical high school talk on the phone all night thing–talking about anything we could think of, staying up past midnight, whispering so our parents couldn’t hear us, and listening to hear if our parents were eavesdropping. I’m sure they did. I remember seeing Hannibal together and wondering if I was allowed to hold her hand.

My lasting high school memory of Kristie involves my hand-me-down Toyota Camry. It had a tape deck–heard of those?–but it never worked in the time I’d had it. One Tuesday night we got home around midnight from a tennis match in Red Wing, our big conference rival. I got into my car and began to drive home in silence. Suddenly, music began to play. It was a tape of songs Kristie had put together for me and stashed in my tape player while I was gone. For whatever reason, my tape player worked that night, and it never worked again.

Kristie left for St. Olaf and I stayed back to finish my last year of high school. Her quirks evolved at college; she was widely known to speak fish, a silent language she perfected during her month of study in New York. This is also when I first remember her making random noises. I equated some to baby dinosaur shrieks. There may have been substances involved. She also really loved the bizarre petting zoo that came to the St. Olaf campus. I believe the baby Chinese Silky caught her eye.

Your mom and I had a ton of wonderful experiences before you were born (sorry). We spent months learning the public transportation systems together in London, mistakenly ordered a grilled cheese sandwich for dessert in Venice and zip-lined through the rain forest in Costa Rica. We danced into the morning hours at many weddings, saw dozens of fabulous productions, concerts and performances and shared hundreds of blissful evenings as only two young, childless hipsters could. To attempt to list all of the amazing memories we shared before your birth would be tiresome. Ask us about them someday. But don’t worry! There is plenty of room left in our brains for more, Blanche-filled memories.

Your mom is the perfect balance for your dad. If she was like me, everything in our life would be organized, neat, on schedule and stale. Kristie brings spontaneity and has a moment-to-moment brain, and I hope she passes that on to you. When I’m stressing out planning travels, doing dishes or wondering if the clothes on the floor are dirty or clean, your mom is relaxing on the couch, having a glass of wine and reassuring me that everything is going to work out just fine. And it always has. She keeps me loose and pushes me into things before I think I’m ready for them–which is a good thing, because I’d probably still be living in a college house if she didn’t.

On the left is the house we brought you home to! On the right is your bedroom.We wouldn’t have either if  your mom hadn’t made me feel sure we were making the right decision. Now that we have them, and have you, I realize again how right she always has been. Not to say that we haven’t needed my organization and planning skills from time to time…

Your mommy has been the best mommy in the whole world to you, and I’ve never seen her happier than when she’s with you. Often, she’ll be your closest confidant and advisor. Sometimes, she’ll be the sharpest thorn in your side. I can speak only from experience. But always, she’ll love you more than anything else in the universe, and you’d better not forget to tell her you love her too on Mother’s Day.