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I can breastfeed, yes I can!
Would you breastfeed here or there?
Would you breastfeed anywhere?
Would you could you in the park?
Would you could you after dark?
I can breastfeed at the park,
During the day or after dark.
I can breastfeed on a boat
I can breastfeed while we float.
I can breastfeed in a car
I can breastfeed near or far.
I can breastfeed while I sleep
Never waking to count sheep.
I can breastfeed while I eat,
I can breastfeed while I tweet.
I think breastfeeding’s pretty neat!
I will breastfeed while I can,
To do the best for my little man,
For at least a year, that is my plan.
Why did no one tell me that babies were portable? I was totally prepared for the months of self-imposed isolation, the trapped-in-the-house feelings new mothers get, and missing out on all the fun things I used to do before I had a tiny being to keep alive 24 hours a day. I told myself “Look, you’ve had some good times. Lots of good times. Now you will just look back at those times longingly and repeat over and over how rewarding being a mother is and lie lie lie when people ask if you ever miss going to the movies or out to dinner or hanging out with friends.”
But instead of being trapped with my baby, my baby is trapped with me. He has to go where I take him. He’s trapped at sushi restaurants, on a boat, at my mom’s group. He’s stuck going to vineyards and tourist attractions and Mystic Pizza. We dragged him along to the casino, the mall, the lake. We go together (like a ramma lamma lamma…).
Surprisingly, this works out rather well. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but Baby Evan is a pretty cute baby. When I take him places he manages to charm almost everyone into acceptance. I’ve never had anyone say “Oh you brought your…baby.” (Maybe if I went to a bar?) I’ve gotten so used to wearing him in the sling that at a wine tasting this week when people were looking at me and pointing my first thought was “Is there something on my face?” instead of “Wearing a baby is still sort of novel and causes attention”. But once they get over their surprise I get nothing but positive feedback. That baby store where I bought the sling should be paying me a commission for the number of times I’ve referred people to them as The Place for all your baby-wearing needs. I’ve never had to leave a restaurant because he was fussing or crying – he’s very easily distracted by a little knee bouncing or giving him a new perspective on a room. He’s actually much grumpier and hard to please on the days we DON’T go anywhere and he has to stare at me and the ceiling fan all day.
I think we’re just at that magical age where he can be awake and alert and entertained but is still trapped by his own immobility. He doesn’t mind be carried everywhere because he has no other choice. This is not going to last forever – I doubt it even lasts another couple of months – so I am going to enjoy it while I can and keep on being That Woman With The Baby…so I don’t become That Woman Who No One Even Knew Lived In That House Because We Never Saw Her Until They Brought Her Out Strapped To Gurney And Carted Her Off To The Asylum.
***Now I know you’re secretly thinking to yourself “She only thinks no one minds! God I hate oblivious parents who bring their baby to totally inappropriate places! I bet that kid is a spoiled little nightmare.” I’m not so oblivious to think that everyone loves my baby all the time or that just because no one’s told me to get lost they all think I’m awesome. I’m sure people disapprove. There’s even a chance I ruined someone’s dinner by using baby talk through their whole meal and maybe saying the word “poopies”. Considering the absolute fanciest, most crowded place I’ve taken the baby so far is Chile’s, I think I can safely tell those people to go screw themselves.
I’M NOT PREGNANT. I finally reached my I Absolutely Must Know point when my previously sleeping-through-the-night baby turned into a pooping, wiggling, screeching baby who got me up at 2 am to change his disgusting diaper…only to fill it again the second I lay him back down. TWICE. The thought of having two of these monsters was just too much. Thank God for fancy digital pregnancy tests. I was so bleary and tired at that point interpreting pink lines would have been as impossible as interpreting Sanskrit. NOT PREGNANT.
On the down side, I guess this means I’ve just been feeling fat and crappy because I’m fat and crappy.
Yesterday at my dentist’s appointment my hygienist told me I was due for some x-rays. I was actually due at the LAST checkup but since I was eight months pregnant they had to hold off. So after a bunch of chatting about the baby and her new landscaping she took me upstairs and stuck me in the lead vest. Just before she pushed the button to start she laughed and said “Oh I guess I should ask if there’s a chance you might be pregnant.” I was all “HA HA HA HA wouldn’t that be funny? And by funny I mean awful?” I assured her my baby-making factory was still closed down and she could safely shoot me full of radiation.
But when I got home, I Googled “is it safe to get an x-ray while I’m pregnant?”* Because…what if I am? I mean, I’m totally NOT. No way. I’m on birth control. And exclusively breastfeeding. And that thing you have to do to get pregnant? It doesn’t get done very often. But I’m not great at remembering to take my pill. And the baby isn’t nursing every 2 hours any more. And the thing did get done. Suddenly I miss my period. It’s absence no longer feels like a blessing, but rather a huge hole in my certainty that Baby Evan will be an only child a little while longer.
It doesn’t help that E’s brother and his wife are visiting and she said “Hey remember how the last time I was here you were all ‘I think I might be pregnant but the test came back negative I’m so confused – let’s get some martinis!!!’ and then it turned out you totally were! And now you have a baby!” Then my brother-in-law was all “Wanna hear about how I was an accident? I’m only 14 months younger than my sister!” I didn’t really hear any more after that, as I was too busy throwing myself out the window at the thought of babies 14 months apart.
I supposed the only way to ease my mind would be to take that lone remaining pregnancy test in my medicine cabinet. But when it comes back negative I’m going to feel a fool for acting like a 16-year old about this. OH EM GEE am i preggerz?!!?!? 4 real! maybeeeeeee lol! Ugh that hurt my head. My fear is extra ridiculous because we always planned to have more kids. Baby Evan is such a social little baby it I don’t think it would be fair to him to grow up an only child, especially as a military kid where you have to leave your friends behind every couple of years. Plus being pregnant means I’ve still got 9 months before I have two kids. It’s not like the stork’s going to drop a newborn on my doorstep tomorrow – and if it tried I’d shoot the damn bird right out of the sky.
If I am pregnant, expect this post to disappear. My (imaginary) kid is already doomed to enough therapy without reading about how he was a mistake on the internet. Plenty of time to share that info when he’s a teenager.**
*Good news, x-rays aren’t that bad. E is actually more radioactive than a dental x-ray and this first one came out with the right number of limbs.
**My imaginary baby is a boy, although I really wanted a girl. Oh look another reason to delete this!
It is amazing how being a parent changes the way you look at something as simple as walking.
My mall is the worst designed mall in the entire world. Instead of flattening out the land before construction they just built the whole thing uphill so every 40 feet there are 2-3 steps. On both floors. I never noticed what a stupid design this actually was until I tried to walk it pushing a stroller. To accommodate the pushers – and probably to comply with the handicap-accessibility laws – the kind mall designers built one single ramp for each set of stairs (actually, four sets of stairs, two on each side of the mall).
In theory, this system works fine. The ramp is wide enough that two normal-sized strollers can pass, so even on a busy day you aren’t stuck waiting and can get from the As Seen on TV Store to the sketchy Asian import/”relaxation” store*as fast as your tacky crap buying heart desires.
But in practice, people are idiots. Lazy idiots who see the ramps as the best way to avoid walking up steps instead of a necessity for people who can’t navigate the stairs. Lazy fat idiots who walk two across so you end up standing in line for your turn to push the stroller down the ramp. Lazy fat deaf blind idiots who move at a glacial pace and don’t even notice the moms glaring and sighing in frustration. I tried just running them over with the stroller but that was about as effective as trying to move a tree out of the way with your car. I commented to the girl with the stroller waiting in front of me how rude I thought this was, and she said “It’s even worse for me since all the old women use the opportunity to scold me for being a teen mother. This isn’t even my kid – she’s my sister!”
It took becoming a mother for me to realize that while children can be inconvenient, they aren’t intentionally difficult or rude. I always thought little kids were the most annoying part of parenting but it turns out it’s other adults that are the real pain in the ass. Where can I go for good old fashioned hold-the-door, mind-your-own-beeswax, take-the-stairs, smile-at-your-neighbor living?
*The mall also sucks as a mall, with about half the store fronts empty or containing temporary displays. Unfortunately it’s where our Old Navy and H&M are so I can’t avoid it entirely. Plus, again, AIR CONDITIONING.
Clearly the listeners of our local top 40 station need to have their eyes checked, as they did not vote this baby as the cutest kid in Eastern Connecticut. But the day at the mall was not a total loss as I bought “Make Way for Ducklings”, some super cute fall baby clothes at 30% off, and THE CUTEST HAT EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.
The prizes for the Cutest Kid Contest were stuff like passes to the local water park and $500 at a furniture store so it didn’t end up being much of a loss. The Kids Expo itself sort of sucked too unless you wanted to sign your kid up for dance or gymnastics. I don’t think we’re going to bother with any more contests unless you count the one I’m about to hold for myself right here:
I got a call from the radio station this morning – after voting had closed – that said we had qualified as a finalist in the Cutest Kid Contest! I suspiciously asked him if he was just inviting everyone who entered and he assured me no, you had to have enough votes to get a call. It means we have to show up at the Kid’s Expo at the mall tomorrow, at least for an hour or so, because we “must be present to win”. As much as I love my own baby, our horrible mall combined with hundreds of children is pretty much my personal version of hell. Ah well, at least I know the baby likes crowds and going places. Plus the mall has a Gloria Jean’s which means delicious delicious, super bad for me, chocolate filled frozen coffee treats.
Thanks for your votes guys! I’ll let you know what happens tomorrow afternoon. You can check my Twitter feed if you need to know, like, RIGHT AWAY…but unless you’re my mom or E’s mom (Hi Carol!) I can’t imagine being that invested.
Sorry there was no post yesterday, but I was too busy STANDING IN LINE FOR EIGHT HOURS. Deal or No Deal (aka Opening Random Boxes with Howie Mandel) held an open casting call at Foxwoods Casino, which happens to be less than 7 miles from my house.
So my thought process went like this “Hey, I don’t have anything else to do. I could really use $500,000. It’s Connecticut, how many people can possibly show up? The casino has air conditioning so spending a few hours there is better than sitting in the sweat box that is my house. I’ll just pop the baby in the sling and we’ll breeze right through”
Here’s what happened: EIGHT HOURS OF STANDING. 7,000+ people. I held the baby in the sling or in my arms the entire time. I ate exactly nothing and drank 1 bottle of water. When we got to the front of the line, a casting director gave me 20 seconds to talk about myself and then sent me home. I made a stupid joke about how when I got in the line I was still pregnant. I don’t think he was impressed. I forgot all the clever things I was going to say and had a boring answer for “What would you do with the money?” I am much funnier and more clever on the internet than I am in person. Don’t bother watching for me on NBC at 4 pm.
Here’s what else happened: Baby Evan was ah-maze-ing. He took three naps and nursed twice. The nice people around me held my place in line so I could go find a chair (or a quiet corner) to feed him and change him. No one said a damn word about a nursing baby in a casino and several people had polite conversation with me and had no idea he was attached to my boob. He made approximately 500 new friends and was called “SUCH A CUTE BABY” 40,000 times. Random strangers begged to hold him. He did not scream. He did not cry. He only threw up a tiny normal baby sized amount. I think he had a pretty good time. The best part was just how much it reinforced in my mind that my parenting choices were working and I am raising a happy, social, well adjusted baby.
If I do get to open some random boxes I will totally be plugging this blog on national tv and then fill it full of ads for $700 high chairs and Gucci baby shoes. But don’t worry, I’ll remember you from when I was still unknown and send you a coupon for 10% off.
I am lucky. So so super duper lucky. Four-leaf clovers spring up everywhere I walk, horses throw their shoes at me, and rabbits volunteer to cut off their own feet in my honor. I have a beautiful house, everything I could want to live a nice, comfortable life. E’s on shore duty right now so he’s home for dinner almost every night (and sometimes for lunch too). His job in the Navy means he doesn’t ever have to worry about being laid off or losing his health care or having his hours cut. Because of the stability he provides, I’m able to stay home with Baby Evan and be the kind of full-time, cooking-baking, playdate, go-to-Target-at-10-am mom I imagined I would be. I won’t miss his first words or first steps or first solid foods. I don’t face the challenged other breastfeeding moms deal with when it comes to pumping and storing milk or weaning earlier than they would have liked. I’m so lucky, there’s a chance I’ll win that Powerball tonight without even buying a ticket.
I wish I had a job. An out of the house, paid with real money job. Nothing fancy or prestigious or that requires lots of skills. I want to work at Target again, like I did when I was 17, hanging up clothes and organizing the sock aisle and folding hundreds of jeans. Or I could answer phones somewhere and sit in a chair and read US Weekly when I wasn’t busy. Maybe I could work at greenhouse and wear shorts and water plants and carry around bags of dirt all day. I am qualified for all of those things. I don’t mind making $10 an hour.
But the logistics of finding employment, convincing them to hire me, showing up at the same time every day, planning my schedule around both E’s and Baby Evan’s schedule, having back-up childcare just in case and finding back-up back-up childcare just in case is daunting. Maybe when the baby is a little older. Maybe after the next baby. Maybe when all the babies go off to school. Maybe when the babies go off to college. Maybe by then the gap in my resume will be 18 years long and no one will hire me.
Why do I care so much? Why do I feel so useless just because I don’t get a paycheck? How incredibly ungrateful do I sound for all that I already have? Having a second income would let us do a lot more, but we don’t need it to pay the bills (as long as the bills don’t get much higher). And the amount I could make as a cashier or receptionist or plant-waterer would barely cover childcare on the days I needed it. How many moms are at work right now wishing they were home with their babies with nothing more pressing to take care of than a load of laundry and planning next week’s meals (Monday: PB&J. Tuesday: Ham & Cheese. Wednesday: PB&J)? How many moms are hiding in a bathroom stall with their breastpump? How many moms feel guilty for not doing exactly what I am lucky enough to do? I feel guilty too, guilty for wishing I could get a break. Guilty for wanting to do something not involving my baby. Guilty for the things that I have. Guilty for not really, truly, totally, completely appreciating every single second. So many people have more to worry about than I do, so why can’t I be happier? Not that I am unhappy. Just restless and hot and tired and losing some of the patience I work so hard to maintain. I just need a change. And my husband back.
Maybe I will buy one of those Powerball tickets.