Thursday, February 17, 2011

Stroller as Metaphor

The weather's finally nice enough, and Elijah's finally big enough, so this afternoon we hit the pavement for our first official destination-less cruise around the neighborhood with the umbrella stroller. Sometime during our meander, I realized this bumpy, uphill-downhill ride was significant, a foreshadowing of things to come.

There was a time when I was sure that Elijah was what could be termed a "fussy baby". It seemed like every creak of the floor or passage of time over thirty minutes or so could set off a new howling fit, with him red-faced and me deer-in-headlights-eyed. I think that for him, the transition from womb to world was more than a little bit jarring, and he felt the need to express this mightily whenever possible. At that time, the best way to keep him calm and/or sleeping for longer than it took to watch an episode of Friends was to put him in the Sleepy Wrap. So he pretty much rode around in that, in the house or out, anytime he wasn't sleeping.

(As a side note, I am a firm believer that babies need very few things, most of which can be borrowed or purchased second hand, but the Sleepy Wrap is an exception. Get yourself one. And don't be intimidated when you take it out of the package. Soon you will be able to put it on in under a minute.)

Eventually he began to adjust to life on the outside, and the Sleepy Wrap became more of a convenience than a necessity. I used it while out and about, at the store or on the Metro. Yes, I did (gasp) take an infant on the Metro. No germaphobes in this house, but more on that another time.

A few weeks ago, we began putting him in the Sleepy Wrap facing outward, a development he received willingly, but my back was beginning to speak to me, especially at night, "This kid is getting heavy." Thus, the stroller. And the revelation.

We were out for our walk today, and Elijah was chattering away, kicking his feet, and...not looking at me. We stopped at a bench for some face time (and food time), but then it was back in the stroller, back up the hill. And I felt just a tiny bit sad. The stroller ride is the first of what a know will be many moments of awareness that my baby doesn't need me for everything. Sure, he still needs me for basically everything, but not everything. I am not the only show in town. I had a moment of thinking that I wished his stroller faced me instead of the world, but just like when my dad once briefly tried to convince me to live at home and go to community college, I realize that was not what Elijah needed right then. Fortunately (!) he still needs me to change his diapers, feed him, rock him, etc, etc, etc. But there will be many more "stroller moments", I have no doubt.

So, most wise and seasoned parents out there, what have been some of your "stroller moments"?

Monday, February 14, 2011

You know you're a new mom when... mistake everything, from an ambulance to the neighbors' barking pit bull to the squeaky armchair, for your baby crying.

Friday, February 11, 2011

And they call it binky love

It's been a few months since the occurrence of one of my least proud new mom moments, and yet I can still remember every detail. I was putting Elijah in the car in the pouring rain, standing ankle deep in water that rushed by on it's way to the sewer grate, and his pacifier fell out. I had mention to Kurt that I was concerned that we were down to one lonely binky, that we would be in trouble if anything were to happen to it, but we had, of course, decided, "What could possible go wrong?" Ha. So there goes the last binky, sailing away like a tiny orange life raft, and I will admit it, I let loose with a word that rarely crosses my lips. It rhymes with duck. And I wasn't quiet about it either. Fortunately for Elijah, he will not remember that moment, and plus he was screaming too loud to hear me anyway. This was followed by another not-proud mom-ment at the grocery store, where I gave him a new pacifier directly from the package, bringing the open wrapper to the checkout for purchase. No, it was not sanitized. It was probably covered with chemicals that will later be blamed for the C- he gets on his high school European history term paper.

I didn't plan on having a binky-dependent baby. But after two weeks of constantly keeping my fingers in his mouth, and secure in the feeling that my "breast barracuda" was not a candidate for nipple confusion, I caved. And what a wonderful day it was. If memory serves, that was the day that he first slept for more than 15 minutes at a time. I had plans to wean him from his plastic pal asap, it was just a temporary sanity creation device. But now it's four and a half months later, and he shows no signs of kicking the habit. And I show no signs of wanting him to. Call me a flip-flopper or worse, just don't call me at midnight, because there is a 66 percent chance that I will be sleeping, thanks to the miracle of binky love.

So moms, any less than glorious moments you're wiling to share? Anything you swore you'd never do right up until the day you started doing it?

You know you're a new mom when... find dried baby poop under your wedding ring and your first thought is not, "Ew, that's gross," but, "Hmm, I wonder how long that's been there."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why the Runges were Late: Reason No. 1

We were half a block from home yesterday, on our way to a friend's to drop off Elijah so we could go to Happy Hour when the following conversation occurred:

Kurt: Do you smell that?
Me: No.
Kurt: It smells like tuna fish. It smells bad.
Me: Well, I ate cashews in the car today. They were Cajun flavored.
Kurt: No, it smells like bad fish.
Me: Well, I don't smell it...oh wait, yes I do. It smells like poop. Did you fart?
Kurt: No. Did you? It smells like tuna.
Me: No, it smells like poop. Ugh. That smells really bad. Did I step in poop? (Check shoes.) Nope.
Kurt: (Checks shoes) Oh no. It was me. And it's on both shoes. And the gas pedal. And the brake.

Yep. So, we were late. Again.

Anyone else have a funny lateness story?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sleeping like a baby

The pinnacle of exhaustion came for me as I was walking down the street with Elijah strapped to my chest, praying that the rhythm of our steps would keep him from fussing. I saw a homeless man sitting unsupported on a newspaper box, fast asleep despite the traffic roaring past. A thought rose from the fog of my brain- "I know exactly what it is to be that tired." People may try to warn you, prepare you, but until it happens, until you have seen that hour of the night when you are pretty much sure no one else in town is still awake, you don't know.

Elijah is four months old now, and things are so much better. I no longer keep pillows and blankets all over the house so that I don't have to waste any of his precious few sleeping moments in search of somewhere to lay my head. I wear regular cloths, not the versatile and oh-so-attractive sweatpants/t-shirt combo. I am on the other side of Insomnia Mountain, and the grass really is greener.

My friend Waahida gave me the best advice I have received as a parent thus far: let go of your sleep expectations. At times, it was my mantra. Because the second you start thinking, "If I could just sleep for [four hours, three hours, ten minutes]", the frustration sets in, because chances are, it's not going to happen. Even now, I'll go to bed at 10, thinking, "Great, I can get a solid three hours before Elijah wakes up again," and that will be the night that he wakes up every time his binky falls out. When these toxic thoughts start to rise up in my consciousness, I beat them back, replacing them with sheep or the ocean or anything else that can ease my trip to slumberland. The temptation now is the project myself several months into the future, when, perhaps, Elijah will not wake up every three hours. But maybe he will, so I continue to follow Waahida's sage advice. Besides, why on earth would I want to think about months from now when I've got the best baby ever right here?

So, for all you parents out there, what is one piece of hard-won advice that you would share?

Just please don't tell me that my baby needs a hat. I've heard that one a few times already.