Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Will I ever be ready to get rid of them?

I have a beautiful wriggling baby, one who's learning to grasp things and roll over, and who will soon be babbling, and who fills my world with absolute joy, and yet I still take them out occasionally, and look at them, and remember August 31st, 2010.

Black and white so you can tell it's Oldey Timey Times and don't think I've managed to get pregnant again without sex. Even though that's how it happened the first time.

It was a day of such intense hope and fear and happiness and love. It fucks me up that there are women who have longed for this sight for years and never seen it. It fucks me up that there are women who have seen it, sometimes again and again, and yet don't have a child to wrap their arms around. I'll be thinking of you all today, and especially the women I read who fall into that latter category: CGD, Augusta, Jennifer, Misfit Mrs., May, Egghunt, Andie and Twangy. I would wish you and your partners fortitude, but you obviously already have it. Ditto strength. Um...cake? Wine? Whatever might help today, I wish you that.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ignorance is...confusing

For some reason, I refuse to read books about parenting. I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm afraid of thwarting whatever natural instincts I've got. (And hell, I've kept a baby alive for ALMOST FOUR MONTHS! Therefore I am THE SHIT! QUOD ERAT DEMONSTRANDUM! Do you like being yelled at IN LATIN?) Or maybe it's that I know there's a ton of conflicting information out there and I don't want to get involved. Or maybe I just spend so much of my life reading and assessing and learning that I just want to fucking BE IGNORANT.

It's worked fine so far. But this is simply because I have the world's easiest baby. (Want to see my certificate from the Baby Grading Department?) Suddenly, however, my baby is presenting parenting challenges that need to be solved. So I could read books, or look at The Internet. Or ask you. I'm going to ask you.

The question I'm currently facing is the transition from family bed to crib.

I chose co-sleeping because it just seemed natural to me, not because I have a strong commitment to a particular parenting style. It's been lovely. However, something has to change about our current sleep set up.

First, Mr. Bunny has been kicked out of bed. The problem is that he's a prodigiously loud snorer. It's like sleeping with a wolverine. (Everyone knows wolverines snore, right?) In the past I just dealt, but with Bun Bun in the bed, I'm sleeping more lightly. I'd often find myself lying wide awake next to a peacefully sleeping baby--you know, sleeping so quietly that I'd check for signs of life--and a monstrously loud husband. I realize this does not compare to having a screaming baby who has to be soothed back to sleep every hour, but how unfair to have a good sleeper and not be able to take advantage of it! So now some nights he sleeps in the guest room, some nights I sleep there and just drop in for her middle of the night feeding (so that he gets some time with her). The important feature is that he and I don't sleep in the same bed at the same time. And while I'm remembering how much I LOVE sleeping alone...apparently my marriage is important or something? So I think my goal should be to sleep in the same bed as my husband eventually.

Second, Bun Bun has begun to get a ton more active and is fighting the swaddle more and more. Lately she's super into grabbing her feet, and will wiggle out of any swaddle for the delicious pleasure of grabbing those toes. So I'm sleeping less well.

The most amazing thing I've ever seen.

So maybe now is the time to transition to the crib? I know through osmosis (since I refuse to read) that around the four month mark is a typical time to think about deswaddling/ moving to a crib. But somehow I've been unable to pull the trigger. During the day, I keep saying, yeah, I'm ready! But then when night rolls around, I somehow find myself unable to deal with the idea of leaving her all alone in another room. Or something? I'm honestly not sure what the issue is.

If you have any advice, please share. Or if you just want to tell me how stupid I am for refusing to educate myself, go for it.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hard on a marriage

Five years ago today I was in a Trader Joe's in Boston, choosing some flowers to decorate my wedding cake. It took me about an hour, dithering over the same three or four limp bouquets, while rabid shoppers elbowed past me. It felt like a massively important decision, but I think my brain was simply overwhelmed by the knowledge that I was getting MARRIED in a few HOURS.

A year ago today I was being inseminated, then musing to you all about how cool it would be to conceive a child on my wedding anniversary. Well, friends, I did. And this morning, we told her the story of how Daddy went to the room to look at some pictures of women who were not mama, and how mama went in an hour later to get her cervix poked.

This focus on Bun Bun on a day that should be about US is a microcosmic version of what's been going on generally. I feel a million miles away from my husband. In some ways it's not unlike my wedding day--all the Other Shit is so noisy, I can't really focus on him at all.

When people repeatedly advised me to make time for the two of us, I didn't see what the issue was. Mr. Bunny and I are homebodies with a minuscule social circle, so having a baby would change little about the day-to-day. Why would we need to do anything special? But now I see. A baby really IS hard on a marriage.

I'm going to be as honest about this as I can, in case there are others feeling this way, even though I'll probably get some reactions that make me feel pitied and pathetic.

In some ways I feel closer to my husband than ever before, but much of the time he barely exists for me. I don't WANT to make time for the two of us. I'd rather be with Bun Bun, or hey, ALONE. If pressed, I'd be willing to make time for him to pick up his fucking socks.

For the first few months, I was so grateful for everything he did, and we had such fun cocooning and enjoying our new life. I loved the way he made me laugh and took care of us. That shit is OVAH. Now I just go about my day hoping he'll leave me alone until I can hand childcare over to him.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time worrying about this. I think it's pretty normal, though not necessarily universal. Instead, I decided to take my mind off the whole thing by making blueberry pie.

It sits out for a few hours to collect itself, so I had to make it early. And I can promise you, it's going to be a winner.

I'm just not going to tell him that I'll be thinking: stick this in yer pie hole, and leave me alone. So yeah. Happy anniversary to us.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


My period has returned. UGH! HATE! UGH!

When I became part of this community, I realized that I was lucky to have a nice, regular period that only occasionally makes me pass out with pain, and I'm grateful.

I am.



I was really hoping to get at least six months. It's a bitch with breastfeeding. I thought Bun Bun was having a massive growth spurt, but no, I've just been starving her as my hormones had a fun vacation in Menstruation Land. (Best theme park ever. Daddy! Daddy! Can we ride the Giant Tampon again?) Basically, exactly the same OH! Now it all makes sense experience Bionic had, because reading about hers had no effect on my tiny brain.

And...there's something about menstruating while breastfeeding that makes me feel a little too Earth Mother Moon Goddess. If only I could simultaneously be pregnant as well, and, I don't know, maybe also deliver a few babies, all while wearing a hempen shift.

And...although this has mainly passed by now, I find that I'm completely conditioned to respond to my period with intense disappointment and misery. I mean seriously, I felt crushed. And I had to actually remind myself that it's OKAY. I have a BABY. Getting my period does not mean I am a FAILURE. 

Sigh. Meanwhile, the abstinence only movement is still in full effect in our household. I KNOW! But if anything, I find the idea of sex MORE horrifying as time passes, not less. Hmmm...

Monday, August 15, 2011

I spit on your happiness!

A while back, everyone's favorite cucurbita Lady Pumpkin wrote one of those all about me posts, and I was surprised to find that we have the same favorite play, Jean Anouilh's Antigone. I thought this was pretty awesome. It's not the best known work of literature in the world. It's not like I discovered, wow, we both like Harry Potter books or something. (Which, by the way, I do.) So when she offered to make an embroidered onesie for Bun Bun, I felt like I really had to choose something from the play to honor the weird coincidence. I chose the most famous line from the most famous scene: I spit on your happiness! It seemed oddly perfect for a baby. After all, Bun Bun spits on my happiness multiple times a day.

At the time we didn't know Bun Bun was a girl, but now the full quote seems even more apt.

I spit on your happiness! I spit on your idea of life--that life that must go on, come what may. You are all like dogs that lick everything they smell. You with your promise of a humdrum happiness--provided a person doesn't ask much of life. I want everything of life, I do; and I want it now! I want it total, complete: otherwise I reject it! I will not be moderate. I will not be satisfied with the bit of cake you offer me if I promise to be a good little girl. I want to be sure of everything this very day; sure that everything will be as beautiful as when I was a little girl. If not, I want to die!

I mean, I want to die is not exactly a sentiment I'd like my daughter to feel. In reality, I'd rather she choose life, even if it is humdrum. But I do want her to have passion, even if it's a petulant adolescent passion like Antigone's, and most of all, I want her to have a whole lot of cake, not just a bit.

And for the record, Pumpkin is quite the needlewoman. Every stitch is perfect. As someone who can't embroider for shit, I think this is MOST IMPRESSIVE.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Are YOU my Mama? Number Two: Interesting Hair

(Number one in the series of ruminations on identity and motherhood)

My main reason for wanting to get pregnant was to get that shiny hair everyone talks about. Sure, baby, whatever, experiencing a magical transformation as life grows within me, bond with husband, propagation of my genetic material blah blah blah...but I wanted that shiny hair. Well, I didn't get it. My hair remained unchanged--a bit coarse, very eager to get frizzy on top at the slightest sign of humidity, increasingly grey with each passing day.

I am, however, getting that thing where your hair falls out after the birth of your child. And because my hair is waist length, having drifts of it everywhere is...what's the word...disgusting. It has also taken on an extra dull and brittle quality, a sort of straw-like texture.

Furthermore, Bun Bun manages to get her limbs caught in it multiple times a day. It's just the right length that her toes snag it when she's nursing, and sometimes while I'm untangling her toes, she'll manage to get a hand caught. And she's not even old enough to grab things yet.

So naturally I'm thinking about cutting it off. The thing is, I think seriously about cutting it once a year. It hasn't been short since I was sixteen, when I chopped it off myself. When my father came home from work he gently asked if I'd like some help straightening it out. You can imagine what a picture of beauty I was.

There are a few reasons I always end up deciding not to cut it. First, short hair has to be kept short, and usually by a professional. That sounds tedious. I can't see myself going to a salon regularly.

Second, hair is a statement of who you are. I don't know what my statement reads to others--probably something like I am hideous--but having long hair makes me feel a bit unconventional, a bit impractical. When I wear it down, people comment on it, and I find it gives me a sense of satisfaction. Something like: I may not be beautiful, but at least I have Interesting Hair.

I've always wondered whether I would cut my hair if I had a baby. Babies are notorious for hair pulling: even if you wear it up, they'll find a way to get you. Do I want to suffer endless hair pulling? It makes me see red to have my hair pulled...

But then I think about that prototypical mother with short, practical hair. Do you know the one I mean? The one who shows up in ads for cleaning products or frozen food, who has zero time for anything at all because she's so busy caring for her family? And real mothers with short, practical hair like to tell me how I'll be sure to cut mine off any day now, as it's just Too Much Work. I can imagine what they'd think if I were to say, But it's my expression of self! They'd think: There is no self, there is only Mom. If you think you have time for Interesting Hair, you're in for a rude awakening. Or else you're just not a very good mom, not willing to make sacrifices for your child.

I don't want to become that mother. She seems impatient with the very idea of her own existence. I think Bun Bun knows (or will eventually know, when her brain is less primitive) that I'd cut off any part of me, head included, if she needed me to. I also think ultimately it's better for Bun Bun if I try to keep my sense of self. Particularly if it gives her something to yank on.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bun Bun's Book Corner

With the last precious days of summer slipping away, we have no time to waste on mediocre reading material. And, let's face it, we babies are confronted with quite a few books that simply don't measure up. That's why it's such a pleasant surprise to get one that really strikes a chord in our plump little breasts.

In My Tree is just such a book. My mother received In My Tree from her friend Augusta. As it happened, the book arrived not long after Augusta lost her precious owlet, and I believe the message of the book was particularly poignant for us as we read it in the shade cast by those circumstances. In My Tree is a touching story of nature, family, and home, as told by a young owl. The book artfully conveys these powerful messages through a simple plot, using language that is not overly complex, yet not insultingly simple. The illustrations are charming and bright, which my underdeveloped visual cortex finds very pleasant. In addition, the author cleverly builds tension with a sequence of cutouts that become progressively smaller with each page, culminating in a delightful tactile experience provided by a felt owl that I look forward to chewing on when I am able to grasp objects a bit more effectively. In short, a  delightful summer read.

My Book of Baby Animals is as consummately a failure as In My Tree is a success. Most damning...

Excuse me. I just shat myself, and shall have to cry a bit in order to get a clean diaper.

Most damning, the title suggests a wide range of baby animals will be discussed, and the book is extremely heavy on puppies and kittens. The experience of reading My Book of Baby Animals is therefore one of disappointment. In a world filled with lemurs, ocelots, pangolins...why focus on the most quotidian of all creatures? Furthermore, it's unclear who the intended audience is for this book. One page might be written for an illiterate fetus (e.g., puppies are full of fun!) while the next requires the reader to engage in high-level counting activities. What sort of baby is this book designed for--one who is simultaneously quite stupid and quite brilliant?

In addition to the book's numerous weaknesses of tone and content, the artwork of My Book of Baby Animals is atrocious, consisting of randomly placed images of animals over dull pastel backgrounds. The sort of effect I could achieve with an hour's lackadaisical Photoshopping. If my mama would help me with the mouse. Because my fine motor skills are lacking. There is really nothing at all to recommend My Book of Baby Animals, and I intend to make my heartbreaking pout, and if necessary even shriek, if Mama ever tries to read it to me again.

So, dear readers, as your primary caregiver is packing your bags for that last trip to the beach, remember: bright smiles for In My Tree, angry tears for My Book of Baby Animals.