So that crazy hippie baby store I CANNOT SHUT UP ABOUT was used as the site for a local tv bit about a new totally unnecessary parenting advice service. This woman had a baby and read a bunch of baby books and somehow managed to turn that into a money making business where people pay her to summarize those books and watch Harvey Karp’s video with them. Because your life is so incredibly busy that you can’t just order the books on Amazon or YouTube the Happiest Baby on the Block clip. OR maybe YOU CAN JUST READ MY BLOG. I’m just saying. I’ll even let you pay me if it makes you feel like I’m more qualified. I have very reasonable rates.

Anyways, you can see the inside of the store I CANNOT SHUT UP ABOUT in the video clip. Oh, and also, MY BEBEH. And me. Plus my friend Merin and her baby too. (We’re in the last 15 seconds.) Merin was there for a real reason (a tummy time class with her adorable daughter) but I was just trying to whore my baby out for the camera. And it totally worked.

The clip is on the local news station’s website and won’t post here so you’ll have to use this link. Hopefully they don’t take it down in a couple hours!

P.S. They cut the part of the video out where you saw the  male host wearing pants covered in sailboats. They also cut the conversation he had with his co-host earlier in the show where she said “If I bought my husband those pants, I don’t think he would wear them” and the male host said “That’s because HE’S STRAIGHT”.

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My friend Sara just sent me a link to the absolute most awesome thing you have ever seen.

All the Single Babies Video

My new goal in life is to teach my child to do this. I know Kanye would approve.

At Baby Evan’s 2 month check-up, the pediatrician made a passing comment that all the baby drool is the first sign of teething. I think he may have confused my stunned expression with a death threat (or maybe it was when I said “take it back or I’ll kill you” – I see now how that may be confusing) because he quickly amended his statement to “although it may still be months before it really starts!” Ever since then I’ve been on constant tooth watch. Every time Baby Evan was the least bit cranky or squirmy or his sleeping pattern changed or he wanted to nurse more or he wanted to nurse less or he stuck stuff in his mouth I thought “Oh here we go, teething.” And every single time his gums remained unbroken. UNTIL NOW. Dum-dum-duuuuum.

Yesterday morning at breastfeeding support group I was commenting on Baby Evan’s sudden desire to nurse ALL NIGHT* and my sudden desire to move to Ouagadougou (wow, my spellchecker knew that one!) – alone – when he suddenly clamped down on my finger and I found his first tooth. Subsequent attempts to SEE the tooth have resulted in the kind of bloody murder screaming usually only found in bad horror movies right before the girl in her underwear remembers running UPSTAIRS is always the wrong decision. So there will be no pictures of the tiny, sharp little monster that has turned my sweet baby boy into a hell demon. If you want to come hold him for a minute though, I’m sure he’ll be happy to gnaw on you so you can feel it for yourself.

We have a tube of generic baby orajel which seems to dull his pain enough that he can be distracted with toys or the dog, but I’m going to need a lot more. Like, gallons and gallons more. If I’m looking for a remedy more in the “crazy pants hippie” direction, wearing Baltic amber close to the skin is supposed to help dull teething pain and my favorite maternity store sells amber baby necklaces. I already have my share of teething type toys but poor Baby Evan’s tiny mouth isn’t quite big enough for most of them and we’re still not quite ready for solid food so teething biscuits are out. So it looks like I’m going to need some teething tablets. Do you think they still sell this kind?

cocaine-toothache*Last night I was trying to put myself back to sleep after YET ANOTHER nursing session by reciting all the poetry I know in my head. I was pretty proud of myself for getting half way through Longfellow’s Hiawatha until I got to the part where he kills the Jabberwocky. My sleep deprivation, let me show you it.

Here’s today’s riddle:

What’s the difference between these pants I bought at Target last week with the stretchy waistband and my regular old maternity jeans?

Nothing! They’re the same! The new pants are canvas and only cost $12 but a stretchy waistband is a stretchy waistband is a stretchy waistband. The real riddle is how come I feel so much better in my new Target pants than I do in any of my old maternity jeans? I think it’s just because I bought these pants in the regular women’s department and they don’t say “maternity” on the label. Which is totally insane. It’s not like anyone else can see the labels. And yet because I am wearing non-maternity pants today I feel about 20 lbs lighter than usual.

Actually, I’m only 3 lbs away from my “pre-pregnancy” weight. You  may think those quotation marks are unnecessary, since pre-pregnancy is a medical term for “the time before a fertilized egg implanted in your uterine wall and then you ate the entire contents of the frozen food department at Costco” but it’s not as simple as that. Pre-pregnancy my hips still fit through most standard sized door frames. Pre-pregnancy I didn’t rub holes in my jeans with the power of my thighs. Pre-pregnancy my boobs were still closer to the arctic circle than the equator, but now they’re determined to have a tropical vacation even if I’m not going. The weird changes my body went through – and is still going through – are a lot bigger than just weight gain and loss. I’m starting to doubt my old jeans are ever going to fit again, even if I lose those last three pounds times ten. My days in the misses department are totally, completely, officially over. I am now a women’s section shopper.

When we first moved to Connecticut, we found a rental house through the Navy Housing office. It was tiny and uninsulated and impossible to heat and we totally loved it. It was owned by a cool old guy named Fred whose family has owned the land for 250+ years and had planted dwarf apples trees on a dozen or so acres. Our house directly faced the orchard. I spent the whole first year in the house perfecting my apple pie and working weekends in the red barn where Fred ran a pick-your-own-apples business. It was an amazing experience and I met a ton of interesting people. One those people was Miss Happy, Fred’s girlfriend (I use the term for lack of a better one, both Fred and Happy are in their 60’s) who is the most fascinating person ever. She has a degree in piano from Julliard. She used to work for a publishing company in NYC that sent her all over Europe to discover talented new writers.  And now she owns a vineyard here in Connecticut. This weekend was their annual Harvest Wine & Food Festival which we’ve never attended before but will definitely not miss in the future! They had a dozen food vendors, live music, all the wine you could want (Thanks for the bottle, Happy!) and tons of people chilling in the grass having a great time.

I don’t care if my breastfeeding offends you. I don’t care if your child sees my nipple while I’m trying to get the baby latched on. I don’t care if you think I should use a cover. I don’t care if you think it’s “gross” or “nasty” or “immodest”. I don’t care if you complain. I don’t care if you glare at me. Simply put, your objections sound like a personal problem to me. We can talk about it if you want, but don’t expect me to stop nursing the baby while I school you.

With all the pro-breastfeeding talk and ad campaigns and information out there, you’d think breastfeeding was something people actually supported. It turns out it’s not breastfeeding. It’s just breastmilk. Sure babies should drink human milk – it’s just such a shame it comes from those dirty, disgusting boobs. The worst part is it’s often women, even other mothers, whose delicate sensibilities are so offended by the sight of nursing. Women who themselves have been driven to bottles, either intentionally or subversively, by the sexualization of the word “breast” or the formula industry. (A whole other topic – from shady marketing techniques all the way to influencing government agencies to tone down support for breastfeeding.) Women who are so ashamed of their own bodies that they can’t stand even a glimpse of a breast doing what breasts are supposed to do. You know who was breastfed? JESUS. And I bet Mary didn’t use a Hooter Hider.

“Well then, go ahead. Of course you can nurse in public,” most people will say, “Just be discrete. There’s no need to go flashing your boobs around everywhere.” HAVE YOU EVER ACTUALLY SEEN THAT HAPPEN? EVER? Before I had a baby, the only person I had ever seen breastfeed, anywhere, at any time in my life, was my own mother feeding my baby brother. And you know what? I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER IT. I was seven when he was born and her nursing affected me SO LITTLE that it doesn’t even exist as a memory in my brain. Now I attend a breastfeeding support group, where 8 to 12 women all nurse their babies at once and not a single one of them uses a cover…and I can still count the number of nipples I’ve seen on one hand. Next time you see someone feeding her baby in public, try looking at her face instead of her chest. It’s not that hard, and might keep you from seeing those nipples you’re so worried about.

Part of the stigma of breastfeeding is the straight-to-the-baby delivery system. Our culture is obsessed with food preparation. It’s just how eating is done. You buy food at the store, you bring it home, you mix it and you heat it. Formula is prepared the way we’re used to, the way we’re comfortable with, the way we’ve been raised to understand. Food preparation is so ingrained in our society we think things like unpasteurized milk and the raw foods diet are crazy. But why force a mother to add or subtract or mix or heat something when the perfect food at the perfect consistency and the perfect temperature is available on demand? IF SHE WANTS TO BREASTFEED, let her do it. (And you know what, if she wants to bottle-feed, just keep those opinions to yourself as well. I’m sick of that debate too.)

Believe it or not, my right to feed my child is an actual right. Your right to be offended is not. (Link to breastfeeding laws by state here.) EVEN IF the baby looks “too old” to be doing that. EVEN IF he’s old enough to ask for it. EVEN IF it makes you uncomfortable. EVEN IF you hate babies and never want to have any. EVEN IF ANYTHING.

The next time you see a mom nursing in public – and I challenge you to find one – tell her you admire that she’s doing the best she can for her baby and you support her. I guarantee you will make her day.

Our house is old and full of character, hardwood floors, big windows and high ceilings. Unfortunately, now our house is also full of baby crap, and I don’t mean in the diapers. One of the things that had not yet been moved/covered/replaced/changed to accommodate the baby was our beautiful, shiny hardwood floors. We had them refinished early in my pregnancy and figured that was probably good enough. I’d just sweep up the dog hair and run the Swiffer over them once a day. They don’t get that dirty. I mean, they’re not spotless but they’ll be fine. THEY WERE NOT FINE. The amount of dog hair that drifts across the room on any given day is ridiculous, not to mention the cat hair and the dirt all of us track in. I had been putting the baby down on a blanket or a towel but now that he can roll those aren’t really big enough. “You know what we need?” I said to E, “We need a really big thick towel that covers the whole middle of the floor and has a sticky back so it doesn’t slide everywhere.” “Let’s go buy a rug,” said E.

And so we did.

IMG_3582It was $25 at Target (75% off!) which was just too good to pass up. We also got one for the nursery for $12 so now I’m not tempted to put Baby Evan down in the crib for play time. I think he really likes his new rug…

IMG_3568…even though it confused him a little at first. It’s much better for scooting than the slippery floor. It is NOT, however, thick enough to prevent crying if the baby accidentally falls on his face because you thought he was sitting up on his own but he’s really not. Not that anyone here would ever do that. And by anyone I mean me. Maybe we should have gotten something a little bigger, since His Rolliness cannot be contained.

IMG_3576Pay no attention to those cords behind the baby. We’re terrible childproofers.

We love books at our house.

Even the cat gets in on the book-love!

Even the cat gets in on the book-love!

When my mother came to visit for my baby shower she brought all my kids books (or at least MOST of them – my sister got to keep the ones with her name in them EVEN THOUGH SHE DOESN’T HAVE ANY CHILDREN. AND SHE’S IN AFRICA AND CAN’T READ THEM ANYWAYS. Plus I think she hid my copy of Eloise somewhere. Luckily they still sell the version with the fold out elevator scene. Otherwise, even being in AFRICA couldn’t save her). Anyways, included in my children’s book collection was East of the Sun & West of the Moon, one of the greatest fairy tales no one has ever heard of. My copy is written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer – who is better known for his Little Critter books. (Although he also wrote Frog, Where Are You? Which I also own. In case you didn’t already guess that.) My copy is from a 1987 printing and is in terrible shape:

IMG_3556But this story? It’s amaaaaaaaazing. As are the illustrations. Let me tell you about it. So there’s this farmers daughter who enjoys being beautiful and rich and is, well, kind of a snotty bitch. Then her family’s luck turns and she’s forced to do stuff like hunt for quail which totally ruins her manicure and all her suitors are like “Sorry we don’t do chicks with bad cuticles.”  Then on top of THAT her father gets sick. Her mother sends little miss snotty on a journey to this magic spring to get some magic water. The girl is all “whatevs, it’s not going to help, and this spring is all gross anyways”. Suddenly a talking frog appears and offers to help her out by clearing the water in return for promising to grant him three wishes. I could have told her what they were going to be ahead of time but apparently she lives in a land where no one’s ever read a fairy tale before.

IMG_3557

So her pops drinks the water and gets better and they all get rich again and the chick totally forgets she promised this frog he could come visit her. And then – shocker! – he shows up like “Yo, girl, how you doin’?” She tolerates him for like a week until the frog says he second wish is that she marry him. Now, I can’t really blame her for being a little weirded out by that (how exactly does THAT honeymoon work out?) but her reaction is to throw the poor frog against a wall and kill him. Murders in children’s books are so awesome. So she’s sitting there wondering WTF she’s going to do with this dead frog when all of a sudden he turns into a handsome Youth. Gasp, a Youth! And then some demons drag him off to a land east of the sun and west of the moon to marry, who else, the Goblin Princess.

IMG_3558So the chicky suddenly realizes she’s been totally buggin’ this whole time and she’s really in luuuuuv with Youth. So she sets off on an adventure to find the land east of the sun and west of the moon. P.S. The adventures involve a UNICORN. Because what’s a fairy tale without a unicorn? So anyways she eventually make it to the Goblin Princess’ house and talks her way in as a maid but knows she has to find Youth fast because maybe all those stone statues that look just like people aren’t such a good sign.

IMG_3559Luckily, the Goblin Princess forgets the number one rule of villany – don’t ever tell the heroine NOT to clean behind a specific door. It’s like saying “THIS IS WHERE I HIDE STUFF”. Duh. So the farmer’s daughter finds Youth frozen in a block of ice and sets it on fire to thaw him out. Then she uses her badass quail hunting skills to kill the Goblin Princess (murder count: 2) while Youth just stands around looking all damp and helpless:

IMG_3560So the Troll Princess turns to wood and all the other trolls turn to stone and all the stone people turn back into people. And the peasants rejoice! Then the maiden and the youth become king and queen of a totally equal and non-patriarchal society and live happily ever after.
IMG_3561Awesome, right? Apologies for the poor picture quality, I was too scared to pull the book apart even more by trying to scan it.

I lie to my pediatrician. At every appointment the doctor or his nurse goes through a whole list of questions regarding our home life with the baby. They asks: What does the baby eat? (Actually, they usually ask how many bottles of formula he gets and I have to remind them I’m breastfeeding.) How many wet diapers? How long does he sleep? And then they ask: Where does he sleep? and I lie. I look my doctor right in the face and say “Oh my baby sleeps in his crib”.

Now, I have no idea if my ped supports co-sleeping but he always nods in approval when I say “in his crib”. I doubt I would get the same nodding if I said “He sleeps in our bed”. Maybe he has a secret button under the counter for people like me that sets off an alarm at CPS headquarters so they’re already waiting by my car to take the baby because OMG TOTALLY UNFIT. But the truth is, where my baby sleeps is not really a medical problem and therefor not something a pediatrician is trained to discuss. Most people’s knowledge of co-sleeping is limited to that story they heard about someone who accidentally rolled over and smothered their child or the mom whose six year old STILL sleeps in the bed… and dad sleeps on the couch. Those are not the norm. I would bet good money there are thousands of people across the country who are secret co-sleepers just like me. If you want more (positive, well-researched) information on co-sleeping I highly suggest www.askdrsears.com or The Baby Book also by Dr. Sears.

The truth is, co-sleeping means a lot of different things. I’ve technically been co-sleeping since the very beginning, since the baby has always slept within an arm’s reach of me. It wasn’t until we achieved success at breastfeeding in the side-lying position that we started bed-sharing. And it is AWESOME. I think learning to nursing lying down is the single most important key to successful breastfeeding (once you get past basic mechanical issues, I mean). Unless you have a partner who is willing to get up and fetch the baby and then get up and put the baby back to sleep EVERY TIME, save your sanity by practicing the side-lying position until you get the hang of it. Here’s my tips: Lie so you’re truly belly to belly, the baby should have to tip his head back and stretch out his neck to latch on. He’ll be tucked into your arm pit, not lying on your arm. And if you’re a roller like I am put a body or king-sized pillow behind your back so you don’t accidentally pull your nipple away if you drift onto your back because, ideally, you’ll be back asleep long before he’s done nursing.

The major concern with co-sleeping is safety, but it has never felt unsafe to me – it just feels natural. There are scary stories out there involving smothered babies and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome being more common among those who co-sleep. The supporters of co-sleeping actually believe it REDUCED SIDS because a baby uses the mother’s breathing patterns to help regulate his own. To prevent accidentally rolling onto the baby there is NO CO-SLEEPING if I have taken anything stronger than a Tylenol. No alcohol before bed, no sleep aids, no drugs, nothing to help me relax. My ability to wake up if I sense something is wrong with the baby is vital to a safe co-sleeping situation. Since I’m not a heavy sleeper to begin with, it took a few nights of bed-sharing before I got used to not waking every time Baby Evan sighed. (He’s surprisingly still when he sleeps though, no tossing or rolling. When we get to that stage of toddlerhood we might rethink the bed-sharing.) Now I sleep just as well as I ever did before the baby.

The other half of this equation is E, but to be honest, he’s really not involved in the co-sleeping. He didn’t even know I had brought the baby to bed the first couple nights! When Baby Evan was smaller I always kept him between me and the actual co-sleeper bassinette*. Now that the baby is a little less helpless I don’t mind putting him in the middle although I still put a pillow between E and Baby Evan. I also unswaddle the baby’s arms so he has the ability to push a blanket or pillow off him JUST IN CASE. (Here’s my other co-sleeping tip: Buy a huge bed. We went to a king-sized mattress after two years of sleeping on a full and cannot even imagine trying to bed-share with anything smaller. Sure it’s a little less cuddly but we weren’t cuddiwee sweepers to begin with.) I actually think E – even though he is a heavy sleeper who doesn’t hear the baby at night – is almost as physically aware of Baby Evan as I am. I’ve seen him roll in his sleep but it’s always away from the baby and when he tosses the pillows around he’s never even gotten close to a smothering situation.

Finally, I have to say I just really enjoy sleeping with the baby. He’s so cute and warm and snuggly when he’s asleep. I know it’s not for everyone – I had no idea it was even for me until I tried it – but for now it is what works best for our family, despite my lying to the pediatrician.

*Our Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper never worked quite as advertised because we have a bed frame with rails and I couldn’t get it flush against the side of the mattress. But with the side lowered and the leg extenders I can still reach Baby Evan without having to get up. I wouldn’t say you HAVE to have one – a regular bassinette or a pack’n’play bassinette next to the bed would work just as well – but we love ours.

I got my first blog topic request – which is super timely as I am facing a total lack of interesting things to say this week. Finally getting all the junk off my kitchen counters is just not that inspiring. So today I’m going to talk about sleep for Shannon in PA. She has a 4 month old and is currently obsessed with sleep. This happens a lot when you have a new baby – you wonder if you have the only child in the whole world who (fill in the blank – doesn’t sleep, nurses 10 hours a day, poops neon green, farts like a fat man at a German food festival)(The answer is no). I know Shannon is hoping I will tell her the answer to all her infant sleep problems is just a few weeks away. So here you go: Shannon, I promise you that in six more weeks your baby will be sleeping 13 hours a night. Ok, now stop reading Shannon. Stop and go look at pictures of unicorns or something. Now that Shannon’s gone, I’ll tell the rest of you how Baby Evan’s sleep schedule works.

Since he was born, Baby Evan has slept on almost every surface imaginable…except for in his crib. When we first brought him home he slept exclusively in his vibrating seat or his swing (both by Fisher Price in case you’re keeping track of what products I recommend). After a while we started putting him down in the cradle my father-in-law built so he would get used to sleeping on a flat surface. Around 6 weeks E and I stopped sleeping in shifts on the couch and moved the baby upstairs to our bedroom where he now sleeps in a co-sleeper. Naps are still usually in the swing or in the infant carrier after a ride in the car. But when he’s really tired during the day, he’ll sleep almost anywhere, including that one time he slept on a table, especially if he falls asleep while nursing.

There is a LOT of advice out there on how to get your newborn or infant to sleep. Cry it out (abbreviated CIO on mommy message boards) is one of the most common methods, popularized by Dr. Ferber (hence using it is called Ferberizing your baby – which sounds more like turning your baby into a creepy talking doll with a beak than a sleep training method to me but whatevs)(I’m feeling very linky today)(And also full of parentheses). Dr. Ferber is a fancy doctor of sleep in Boston or something. I don’t own his book so I don’t know exactly how it works but I’m told it involves letting the baby cry for gradually longer amount of time until he eventually learns not to cry at all. Now, no offence to people who have used this method, but it sounds to me like using CIO is just teaching your baby that you don’t care if he’s crying. I also doubt my ability to ignore Baby Evan’s cries for long enough for this to be effective – I think my record is 20 seconds before I ran out of the bathroom with my pants unbuttoned to comfort him. And how is listening to a baby crying supposed to help ME get any extra sleep anyways?

What I’m trying to say is we haven’t done any real sleep training. We’ve sort of mashed together several different schools of thought to figure out what works best for us, but it’s pretty much Dr. Sears attachment parenting with a couple of Dr. Karp’s five S’s thrown in. But this only works for us because we have a pretty easy going baby and I don’t have a job – if you’re a working mom with a high maintenance baby I recommend not reading this since it will only make you want to punch me in the face.

At five months our schedule looks like this: 8 pm Baby Evan gets a bath in the sink, mostly to get as much dog hair off him as possible. After the bath he gets his last meal of the night, somewhere between 8:15 and 8:45 depending on when his previous snack was. All his meals still come directly from the boob so we get a little cuddle time in too. Usually around 8:30 we go upstairs and rock in the glider while I read him a book (last night was Make Way for Ducklings, the night before we did There’s A Monster At The End Of This Book and That’s Not My Reindeer).

After the books I wrap him up in a swaddle (THIS IS THE SECRET TO SLEEP. SWADDLE. SERIOUSLY, DO IT. We had to buy a bigger size a month ago and he breaks his arms out of it around midnight but it keeps him asleep through his 10pm and 11pm REM cycles, which means I avoid at least one extra feeding. I’m probably the only person whose baby is still swaddled at 5 months but I have no intentions of quitting). Once he’s all wrapped up I turn off the lights in the nursery and sing Baby Evan a song while I rock him to sleep. It usually takes one time through “The Book Of Love” (my baby loves Peter Gabriel) and about thirty seconds of shushing before he’s totally out.  By now it’s somewhere between 8:45 and 9:00 pm. I put him in the co-sleeper in our bedroom, turn on the monitor and then go back downstairs for some baby-free time until I go to bed at 10.

When Baby Evan wakes up around 2:30 am for a snack I roll him into bed with me where he stays until he wakes up for breakfast. Mornings are the most unpredictable – some days he needs to be fed again at 4 and goes back to sleep, sometimes he makes it until 6:30, but he’s usually up for the day before 7. I’d say this nighttime schedule has been the same for about a month now, with no signs of changing in the foreseeable future. I’m totally ok with the current bed-sharing situation and cannot imagine trying to breastfeed in the middle of the night if I insisted on going into the nursery every time. I’m usually sound asleep again before he’s even done and almost never remember bringing him to bed at all. E is also ok with it since it means he never has to handle any night feedings. (His current work schedule is crap and involves him being gone for bedtime but when he was home he did that whole nighttime routine himself EVERY NIGHT so no accusations of slacking off on his part.) Once Baby Evan outgrows his co-sleeper we’re going to have to rearrange a little bit – maybe use the crib, maybe just go to full-time co-sleeping, maybe try to end the middle-of-the-night feedings. We’ll just wait and see how it goes, since the only certain thing when it comes to babies is EVERYTHING CHANGES. As soon as you have a routine or a schedule or a plan, it changes.

If you’ve made it this far and you are NOT Shannon, I am really impressed. If you are Shannon, go buy a swaddle and good luck with everything. And thanks for the request!

*This is the made up song I sing when the baby won’t calm down. It goes “sleepy baby go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep. Sleepy baby go to sleep so mom can get some rest” and it works almost every time. I think it’s the ultra-soothing hypnotic tone of voice I sing it in that helps – although maybe he’s just impressed into silence by my musical genius.

I love email! It's like talking to other grown ups without having to worry if the baby is screaming! Contact me: bebehblog@gmail.com
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