Thursday, May 9, 2013

One year

It has been one year since your transplant.

One year ago from this moment, I was sitting with your Dad in the OR waiting room. You were almost two hours into surgery, so you were almost definitely on the heart-lung machine, and the heart was on it's way. In fact, there is a good chance that right now is almost exactly a year from when I looked out the window and saw the truck that I am certain was carrying your new heart. Your Dad had run to Boloco, the amazing burrito place across the street from the hospital, to get a Nutella milkshake, a mango smoothie, and a Nutella "snack wrap" (which is simply a whole wheat tortilla filled with about a quarter cup of warm Nutella: an amazing, yet unholy thing), and he had swung by the cafeteria to get french fries and a handful of other unhealthy foods in hopes of tempting me to eat something - anything - while we waited. The chairs in the waiting room were actually incredibly comfortable, and we were able to more or less take over a little nook of four chairs and a few low tables; it was pretty brutally clear who was waiting for a child having a BIG operation, even though no one really talked to anyone else.

Waiting rooms are funny things. Most often, they are fluorescent-lit, sterile, cramped, and populated exclusively with uncomfortable furniture that often bears suspicious stains and tears, often marks clearly left by bored children. You usually have to sit practically in the lap of someone who you want nothing to do with, often even someone with whom you feel awkward even sharing air. As with many of the facilities at Children's Hospital, this one was not the norm; the lighting was mellow, the space was very open, and privacy was easily found by simply sitting a little ways away from anyone else and speaking softly. We eavesdropped on a few doctors' reports to other families - nothing dire or dramatic - but generally just wrote, stared off into space, and volleyed email and phone messages from people we were actually willing to talk to. I remember feeling like I should have been in more of a panic, or at least not in a state of eerie calm. I couldn't eat the Nutella wrap, or finish my fries, but that might have owed at least a little to the fact that it was a Nutella wrap and a tepid pile of fries.

That afternoon, I had a tough time settling in to really thinking about you. Part of me refused to process the reality that when I had snuggled, hugged, and handed you off to that insanely over-enthusiastic, baby-happy anesthesiologist, it could have been the last time I held you. A well-meaning nurse just doing her job made it abundantly clear that if things went bad, we would have a chance to say goodbye. (I still don't know what that means, and I really don't want to.) I focused on the moment as much as I could, and on mundane things I could control. Your Dad and I wrote on our blogs. We chatted with friends and family. We made it a project to make each other eat and drink. I had a lot of coffee. We mostly stayed a lot calmer than I think anyone expected, but then again, we were so far into being creepily okay with horrible shit that maybe it was on par.

I didn't think about a month after the operation. I definitely didn't think about a year, or two years, or five, or ten, or thirty later. I couldn't let myself get excited about the possibility of actually having you in my life permanently because every moment up to then had felt almost stolen. (I guess there's some irony to the fact that we only really got moments after then because of a lost life, but that's a whole other can of worms.) All I could let myself think about was the next time a doctor or nurse came to give us a progress report, and what drama was happening in the clusters of chairs near us until then. We were told when the heart arrived. We were told when it was in and working. We were told - by your surgeon - when everything was done and you were heading up to the ICU to get settled in. In the meantime, almost everyone else in the waiting room got their news, was escorted to a recovery room, or wandered off for food or sleep or some other basic need to be met.

When we got to see you in the ICU, hours from now and a year backwards in time, the first thing I noticed was your perfectly pink toes. They were cool, because you were still coming up to a normal temperature after they dropped it way down during surgery, but they were the healthiest color a foot could ever be. That was the moment I started to let myself believe that you were actually going to be here for longer than some hypothetical, medicalized amount of time. Your cardiologists would tease me, for sure, but of course, my eyes next shot to your monitors where the numbers - totally normal numbers for a child your age and size - looked foreign and bizarre in place of the totally abnormal numbers we'd come to accept. 100%, not 80%. 128, not 152. Pink, not a bluish purple that I never realized was wrong.

Even now, when I see the scars from any of the lines or tubes that went in or out of you, or when I feel the bumpy protrusion on your ribcage where things didn't quite heal evenly, I'm rattled back to the feeling that you are not guaranteed. That's a reality, and a horrifying one. A year ago, I couldn't let myself believe that I would be sitting here - a year from then - thinking about that almost unbelievable day. How many parents can say they were starting their third coffee of the day at the moment their child's heart was removed and likely jarred up to join a medical research library?

Right now, I'm sitting at my desk at school, abusing the good will of the students in the Poetry Club to get some personal writing done. I'm in a fairly comfy desk chair, there's a somewhat damp but pleasant current of air trickling through the window, and I have a few students in the room writing alongside me. You're home with your Dad, who I imagine is probably fairly burned out by this point in the day. His knees have been pretty terrible lately, but I know you made it grocery shopping this morning, so you've had a more or less normal day. I guess I did, too. Normal is finally normal again, as much as it ever can be.

Part of me feels like we should do SOMETHING about the fact that today is the day it is, but any kind of celebration feels unjust. What kind of sociopath celebrates the day that one child's life was saved because of the loss of another? I've had a handful of people already tell me that today is a "happy day," and it's made me flat-out nauseous. I'm not happy that this had to happen. I'm sure happy that I will get to scoop you up as soon as I get home, give you a big hug, and then probably have your saliva-wet hand shoved into my mouth (because you think that's hilarious). I'm happy that you will hurl books at me until I read them to you, not that I take much persuading. I'm happy that if we go out later, you will inevitably flirt with anyone who makes eye contact with you and probably garner tons of compliments and flirtations back. I'm happy that you will fall asleep snuggled up with me, chuffling softly and possibly drooling just a bit into my armpit. I'm not happy that I get to do this, and someone else doesn't who at one point just over a year ago, perhaps could have.

This is a strange day, Hudson. I just started training for a 5K this week, and I'm supposed to go running tonight, but I'm feeling like being even .6 miles away from you - like I was at work all day - is somehow insulting to the memory of that other little life that transmogrified into yours. We were supposed to go out tonight, too, but I'm pretty sure you and I are staying home and chucking books at one another (rather, I imagine you'll do most of the chucking and I'll catch them and read them to you). It's been a strange year, Hudson, and I'm glad I'm in a place where I can actually accept looking ahead to more of them.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A poop story

This past Saturday, your wonderful Auntie Kat took me out to get our nails did (I am SO abusing the fact that she is from New Jersey to actually feel good about how my dry, crappy hands look), then joined us for a glorious adventure to a local taco joint (where you devoured something like three servings' worth of puffs, refused to keep one of your shoes on, but were otherwise a genuinely delightful dining companion) and to get ice cream at our favorite soft serve place. It was a really nice day, and you seemed to very much enjoy both the new scenery and the attention almost as much as your Dad and I enjoyed pretending that we were normal adults who ever left the house to do normal adult things. Kat, knowing she had some kind of a head cold thing, made a valiant effort to keep her boogery self to her self, to a point of refusing the massive snuggle-hugs you like to give her. Your virtually non-existant immune system, however, didn't stand a chance, and by midday on Sunday, you were oozing snot and generally wilting.

Now, I feel it is worth celebrating the fact that - aside from actually dying twice, nearly dying those other two times, and needing your heart replaced - you have not been sick once in your fourteen months of life. Not even the sniffles. There have been diaper rashes, yes, and you've been prophylactically treated for all sorts of nasty shit with all sorts of nasty drugs, but you have not actually gotten sick. I've spent months psyching myself out about what would actually happen when you did. Would even the tiniest hint of a head cold send you into the hospital with pneumonia-like symptoms? If your fever topped 100.9, would our next 24 to 48 hours be spent screaming in a local ER that just won't provide the quality of care we've grown accustomed to you getting in Boston? If you caught one of the 24-hour stomach bugs that so regularly sweep through my school, would we end up at the Cardiac ICU pumping saline and your anti-rejection drugs through an IV that you would use all your non-vomiting energy to attempt to pull out? Bottom line: would we end up taking a helicopter ride, whether we wanted it or not?

Nope. Your first non-ER, non-lethal illness has gone down like pretty much any other kid's. On Sunday, you were kind of stuffy and listless. This continued into the night, and you were basically just uncomfortable after hours of lying down with your poor little head filling with boogers. All that day, night, and into Monday, your face was a constant stream of clear, thick snot. Your Dad and I began almost competitively leaping to put a cupped hand under your chin every time you sneezed to catch the literal handful of boogers that goobed out of your nose...because we do that any case, it was clear by that evening that something had to be done.

I decided to be proactive and try out some of the at-home remedies that so many of our crunchy hippie friends (both on and off the internet) have recommended. I got you a tub of Baby Rub (which sounds far naughtier than I think the good folks at Vicks intended), made sure we were stocked up on juice and apple sauce, and ran the shower for ten minutes to get the bathroom nice and steamy before plopping you into the tub. You seemed squirmy in that classically Hudson pre-pooping way, but I figured it was just congestion making you antsy. I made a critical misjudgment.

Bath time has become a very happy, fun time. You love splashing - and I mean LOVE it - and we've collected a really excellent collection of toys that you chew on, toss out of reach then scramble to reclaim, and generally use to get tub water anywhere it shouldn't be. I will admit, too, that I get profound pleasure from giving you silly hair with bubbles. That night, I plopped you into the tub, gave you an array of favorite toys to play with, and sat back to watch you smiling, giggling, and generally being happier than you had been all day. Your Dad took ten minutes to sit down on the couch and check his email, and I sat on the bathroom floor by the tub to bask in your happy smile. With no warning whatsoever, your face squished up in that way that it only can when you are straining for a poop, and the tub slowly filled with horribly yellowy chunks. I yelled, "NOOOOO!" and your Dad started laughing from the other room.

His laughter, however, was short-lived. I summoned him for an assist, as you were bawling in that half-assed way that tells me you're really just annoyed, but you COULD be upset enough to cry if we don't fix whatever is wrong, and you had started angrily splashing about in your own feces. I plopped you, poo-covered, wet, naked, and now extremely happy and high-energy, on a clean towel in the middle of the floor. You immediately decided that what you wanted most in the world was either a hug from Dad, or to stick your face on the extremely hot space heater that I had been blasting to get the bathroom extra steamy. I frantically scooped watery poop down the drain, silently damning our landlords for not anticipating our needs and installing an extra-wide drainage pipe, while your Dad failed somewhat spectacularly to shift your attention to something less fatal or unpleasant. The tub finally emptied, I hurriedly scraped it as clean as I could, and I filled it with just enough clean water to scrub you down.

Hudson, I must inform you at this point that I did a fairly half-assed job cleaning you off. Your Dad and I were both grumbling and moaning about the fact that we - and most of our bathroom - were basically covered in some amount of your poop, so I figured it only barely mattered that you probably still had a vague patina of the same. It was late enough, and you were wound up enough, that the evening was basically lost at this point. I somewhat lazily tried to feed you some dinner, changed your diaper, crawled into bed for a snuggle, was forced by you to read the same three books aloud at least three times each, and then turned off the light. As you sweetly nuzzled your face into my chest, snortling with echoing congestion, one beautiful, fat arm clasped around my neck, I got the slightest whiff - under the intoxicating cloud of baby soap and your still-lovely smelling skin - of poop.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Batman: Year One

I don't know how soon you're going to wake up - naps are precious, and as happens too often, you've already stirred once - so I must be quick. I've been carrying around a lot of guilt, and I am feeling the need to absolve myself of some of it. I feel awful that I haven't been writing more; I have so much to say to you, and so many stories to tell, but so little time and energy. Actually, sometimes I do have the time - rarely, but sometimes - and I occasionally have enough energy to do something more than just lie around and watch terrible television, but I just can't motivate myself. Sleep deprivation is surely partly to blame...right?

This year...oh, man. Your Dad and I have been catching ourselves and going "holy crap..." every now and then. We've been parents for a whole year, and that is just surreal. You're huge, and I can say that with clinical certainty; you hit the 90th percentile for weight, which is just bananas for a kid who dropped down to the 5th percentile for a while there. You have these amazing little curly tendrils next to your ears, and a rapidly thickening head of gorgeous blonde hair. You've got five stabbity little teeth, and basically the most amazing smile I've ever seen on anyone, anywhere, ever. Just perfect. You give hugs on command, and wet, awkward, incredible open-mouth kisses. You snuggle our cat - perhaps, now your cat -Tanuki like nobody's business, and he genuinely seems happy to let you.

Still, I wait for naps with bated breath, and sometimes nearly find myself in tears with excitement when it seems like you might really be asleep for the night. I have to stop feeling guilty for needing breaks; you are exhausting, even (especially) when you are being adorable and affectionate. You've started doing this cool thing when you get hyper-excited and scramble frantically to hug someone - usually your Dad - while I am pretending to chase you. It's okay to be tired, and it's okay to just be lazy sometimes.

Parenthood, so far, has been a series of compromises. I didn't get to have the birth I wanted, or the first days and weeks with you that I wanted, or...well, it seems moot to complain any more. You know how things went down. I'm proud that I've never blamed you - not even a little, and I've never blamed your Dad or even myself for the general crappiness that happened during our first year together. Even still, I carry around a lot of guilt for the fact that your Dad and I didn't get to do so many of the fun and arguably normal lovely things that people typically do in their first year of marriage. Yes, we were home for our first anniversary, and we were able to go out and enjoy ourselves for a night, but we basically spent the whole year entirely focused on you. Again, no blame is being cast - none - but I do beat myself up more than I should for the fact that we didn't get to celebrate ourselves and each other the way we should. I need to get over it.

I'm feeling whiny, which I guess I ought not feel guilty about either. I don't want to be one of those crazy, jerky types who just lets herself revel in her guilt, but I do feel like I need to accept it as a way of moving on. I need to accept that I'm taking a break from writing for a little while, and that I am no less dedicated or loving a parent, wife, or human being for that matter by doing so. This afternoon, I realized while we were playing with play-dough that I had made a giant, yellow wang and you were poking the tip curiously. Let me sum up by saying that there is no cause for guilt for lack of being able to laugh at myself.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our microwave is possessed by Satan.

Several months ago (wow, it's embarrassing to admit that it's been that long), our microwave stopped working properly. It didn't stop working...not all the time, at least...but it began to display a troubling pattern of sporadic non-functioning. Sometimes, it would run for a few seconds, then just shut off. Other times, it would keep running, but it would beep continuously, sometimes even past the moment when we frantically yanked the plug from the wall. From time to time, it would not actually do much in the way of heating up food, but it would continue to make noise and produce light for as long as the timer was set. Several other permutations of non-working developed, but as long as we verbally and aggressively threatened to replace it, the microwave mostly did its job, even if it took half a dozen tries to partially heat a muffin. Then, I made a terrifying discovery.

The microwave will work perfectly - and I mean perfectly: the expected amount of heat is produced in the anticipated amount of time, with the stop and start buttons functioning correctly - as long as we punch in the time six minutes and sixty-six seconds. I tried it out on a whim, and was strangely unsurprised when it worked. This bastardly microwave has seemed to be taunting us for months, intermittently operating as a microwave should and refusing to do anything but beep incessantly. Jerk microwave. We've started heating up your food in that sucker, and even still...even with you squirming in your chair and furiously pounding your fat little fists on your tray...we haven't gotten a new one. Why, you might wonder, do we keep an essentially non-functional appliance on hand that may actually be possessed by some demonic presence when $45.00 and twenty minutes of our time would easily provide us with something new, usable, and...well, not possessed by some demonic presence.

Simple. We just don't give enough of a crap. Hudson, when you almost never get more than three hours of sleep at a time (and when three hours is a luxuriously long stretch of time to sleep), then you either spend eight hours by yourself chasing an increasingly mobile and energetic not-quite-yet-toddler - or work an eight hour day then come home to said not-yet-toddler and a cranky, overtired spouse, THEN you can decide how much of a crap it is worth caring about a microwave that usually does close to nothing when there is any alternative to replacing it (even if that alternative is "suck it up and eat it cold"). The desired amount, you will find, is not a lot.

You have just exploded in the last few weeks. Your hair started growing in tufty, wavy tendrils around over ears. Every now and then, I catch you turning your hands over and over and studying the movement of your chubby fingers. You can more or less crawl backwards, and smoothly transition from sitting to scooting and back to sitting again, though I'm not sure if you are quite aware that crawling is something that can move you forwards, too. You can stand leaning on a table or chair or person, or holding someone's hands, and bounce in place with furious strength. We were scared for a few weeks that you weren't interested in solid food at all, but then we realized that you were just sick of us feeding you; you want to do it yourself, and when you do, you'll eat pretty much whatever we put in front of you. You can pick up tiny puffs and beans and pop them into your mouth, and at least 60% of what goes in there stays in. You babble the most confident, assertive sounds that have ever not been words, and I had a dream last night about you suddenly speaking; I don't remember what you said in the dream, but I know it was two words together, and I almost cried I was so happy to hear them.

The fact that you are stomping, scootching, rambling, and yowling your way towards words is a source of no small amazement to me. Completely barring the gross reality that you nearly didn't make it to a point where you were making sounds, it still catches me off-guard that you are so rapidly and obviously growing into a little person. It clearly takes a lot of your energy, and I hate to admit it drains a great deal of mine. There are days when we go out and do nothing but go to the grocery store, and I am too tired to even return phone calls; even on the best days, your Dad and I end up in puddles on the couch. We can justify the effort it takes to go out for a meal, a drink, a snack, or even a walk when it has a tangible result. We ate! We drank! We felt more sane! You were happily occupied for any length of time! Result! Shopping trips have become somewhat trickier to justify, as you can't yet move yourself around as much as you want to, so you occasionally get antsy...or alternately, you require us to dance and leap around like crazy people in places where dancing and leaping are generally not done. Like the underwear section at Target. Or the dairy section at the grocery store. Or standing at any intersection waiting for a walk signal.

Buying a microwave, aside from being a logistical challenge for one person attempting it alone and an excruciatingly boring way to spend time together as a family, is just not worth the time it would take. I would rather stare off into space, glassy-eyed, for forty minutes while you nap than take that time to run to Target and buy a microwave that is not fueled by some demonic presence. Sometimes you don't give us a choice, and we have to spend potential shopping time letting you hurl plastic cups across the floor, or hover with a hand behind your butt as you bounce gleefully in place standing next to the window. Satan may have possessed our microwave, but you have utterly, unconditionally commandeered our time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Brace yourself...

In my life, I have made some decisions that I knew would be received with open arms and excitement by everyone I told. I chose to go to a highly-competitive liberal arts college in a beautiful part of the world that had a great reputation; family members kvelled, and high school friends supplied me amply with high-fives. I opted to stop dyeing my (apparently very pretty naturally blonde) hair bright red and grow it out; even my former allies in weird hair activity smiled and nodded their approval. Ryan and I decided to get married, and when he (finally) asked me formally, I said yes; if anyone disapproved of that, I've never heard a word because everyone we told seemed positively thrilled.

Then again, there have been some decisions that were clearly unpopular, even if few to no people flat-out opposed them. Rather than repair a sensible tan Honda Accord that I never particularly loved when it was going to cost over half of its value to repair, I traded it in and bought a bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle; more than a few eyebrows were raised. Instead of going straight to graduate school after college, I decided to take a few years to "establish myself," which meant nose-diving into financial instability while working a series of crappy retail jobs; even I had some doubts about that. I took a job an hour from home in a school that I knew was struggling, in a position I was only qualified for on paper, with immediate coworkers who made a very questionable first impression; we know how that turned out.

I've found that as a parent, this middle ground no longer exists. If I make a decision, it is either unequivocally the right thing to do and I should never have even considered doing something else, or it is wrong-wrong-wrongity-wrong and I am damning myself and my family to a lifetime of pain and suffering by even considering the horrid choice in question. We are lucky not to live amongst people who are overly judgmental about fringe social issues. When I dress you in a blue onesie, no one close to us gets angry about the fact that we are reinforcing society-crippling, identity-molding gender stereotypes and forcing male social standards upon you (blue just happened to be the color of the onesie that was clean, and you can grow up to be whoever you damn please). I think some of that is our choice of the people with whom we associate, but I'd like to think that part of the acceptance our choices have received is owed to society growing up a little and accepting that there are actually different ways to do things. (Right?)

For the most part, I feel like we don't have anyone breathing down our necks about even more mainstream issues. For example, your stroller has been sitting in the backseat of my car for almost a month because we carry or wear you everywhere. No one has tried to convince us that you will be a helpless, spineless, eternally dependent Mama's boy who will forever live in our basement...just because we don't put you down often enough. I am, however, terrified about the reception of one choice that you have essentially made for us.

Since we got you home from the hospital, you basically haven't slept for longer than a few hours at a time. I think we can count the number of times you have been asleep for longer than three and a half hours straight on one hand, and the number of times you've stayed down for more than two and a half hours is only slightly less numerous. A normal night for us has you waking up about once an hour, sometimes every hour and a half. I love you, Hudson, I truly, madly, deeply do, but I'm pretty sure I contemplate putting you in a laundry basket and locking you in the bathroom at least once a night. A few weeks ago, your Dad and I started putting some serious work into making your crib a palatable place to be. Seriously: I wanted to crawl into this thing and sleep there instead of in our own bed. Still, you had no interest, and even though you still sleep only sporadic chunks at a time, you don't scream uncontrollably and panic when you wake up as long as you're in our bed.

Your Dad and I made the executive decision to just go with it. We're buying a king size bed, and moving the crib out of the room to make space for our upgrade. This way, you can sleep snuggled with me and we will all have space to be comfortable together. Hopefully this will lead to you actually sleeping, and if it doesn't, then at least your Dad and I get to be a little more comfortable despite our sleep deprivation. In the over three months that you have been sleeping in our full-sized bed with us, you have neither suffocated nor perished where does anyone get off telling us that you are sure to die if you share our bed?

I knew that as soon as I made it publicly known that we were getting a new bed that flak was going to fly our way. I was sure that one way or another, someone - close, distant, or stranger - would jump to the defense of innocent children everywhere by confirming the danger of our choice. Someone did. It wasn't rudely stated, aggressive, or even particularly wordy, but it was definitively disapproval. I wasn't prepared for how upset it made me. We have needed to make so many compromises and sacrifice so many choices that being judged for this one feels like a slap to the face. I am confident that you are in no danger, and that this is the right choice for our family. No one has the right to tell us how to take care of you.

Hudson, there will always be people who disagree with even the tamest, sanest decisions you make, and it is just a fact of life that you will sometimes be upset when they do. I hope you have the fortitude to politely ignore them, or the guts to tell them to shove off and keep their nose out of your business. I'm doing my best to do the former this time, because I'm just not ready to do the latter, but I will be quietly prepping myself for a civilized fight. It sucks that I need to, but I guess that's just the penalty of being even slightly public with one's choices.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fair warning?

There are a number of things that new parents are not told, and I'm beginning to wonder why. Hudson, don't let yourself think for a moment that I feel anything but the deepest, most profound, earth-shaking love for you...but right this moment, I kind of want to put you in a Rubbermaid storage container and leave you in a corner for a few hours so I can get some goddamned sleep. Much like how no one can really describe the pain of labor, I don't think anyone could have accurately described this terrible blend of love, frustration, guilt for feeling frustrated, and general exhaustion before I experienced it myself. Sleep deprivation is just the tip of the iceberg.

1. Acne that would put the worst of prom photos to shame. Your sweet little face has been kind of gross since roughly three months of age. I mean, come on...aren't babies supposed to have this soft, beautiful, porcelain skin? Shouldn't I just want to kiss and snuggle your adorable face without fear of popping one of your zits? It's gross, and baby photographers definitely do a lot of editing.

2. Violent, borderline sociopathic kicking and punching. So far, you haven't caused any real damage, but I feel like it's just a matter of time. When falling asleep, you've taken to basically attacking whichever parent is trying to lovingly snuggle you down. When you're playing, the punching has recently started to blend with open-palm slapping, which I guess is an improvement...?

3. Sudden jackknife-style body stretches that nearly fling you off my lap. Or the couch. Or out of your high chair. Or off the bed. I don't know why doctors don't scream this at new parents every chance they get, so here I go: "Your child will regularly appear to attempt suicide. He or she will do so with voracity, enthusiasm, and a shameless disregard for your desire not to scream and panic every time."

4. "Helping" with your chubby, not-yet-well-coordinated little hands in such a fashion as to threaten to shove a bottle up your nose, rice cereal into your eye sockets, or any number of toys into any other orifice you can get near. Babies in movies and on TV reach hesitantly for a toy, then gently grasp it in their chubby, cute little fingers while cracking a satisfied smile. In reality, you grab frantically for quite literally anything that you think you might possibly be able to grab. This results in a number of messes, especially while we're attempting to get solid food into you, but especially when you decide to grab something you really shouldn't have, and WE make a mess trying to stop you.

5. Nipple attack. Okay, given that I'm not breastfeeding, one might think that this is a moot point, but you have actually threatened more damage to your Dad's nips than mine, and that's not to say you haven't been rough as hell on me. You seem to take genuine pleasure in the act of grabbing and twisting at, shall we say, the most protuberant part of the chest, which is certainly your favorite thing to fall asleep on, but there is no way of stopping you. It's like your hands are furious little magnets.

6. Teething: A Crappy Thing That Lasts Forever. According to a number of medical professionals, you have been "teething" for upwards of six months now. Yes, there are two little chompers in there now, but those made their appearance when you were seven months old, and we've been waiting for teeth to pop out "any day now!" since you were just about two months old. The drooling is non-stop, your discomfort is persistent, and while it's still adorable when you try to nom on my fingers, sooner rather than later it is going to get messy.

7. Clothing labels are complete and utter fantasy constructed by "the man" to trick you into feeling weirdly bad about your baby either being too skinny or too fat. Right now, you are wearing clothes meant (according to the labels) for a three month old AND for a nine month old. A few days ago, you even wore something intended for an eighteen month old. I just assumed that having a bunch of clothes in different sizes (according to the labels) would mean that we had enough clothes to get you through those ages. Not only did you outgrow most everything almost instantly, but...

8. No one can accurately describe how much stuff comes out of a baby's body. Sometimes it's poo. Sometimes it's pee. Sometimes it's some icky combination of half-digested food and not-digested formula. Sometimes it's a charming melange of all of the above. I was not prepared for the volume and frequency of what your little system can produce. Still...

9. I more or less completely accept all of it. Yeah, I have pants that might have some coffee spilled on them...or possibly pee...and I still wear them to school. Our kitchen floor would probably send the CDC into a panic, but I still just brush off spoons that fall on it and go back to eating whatever I was eating. Sometimes you pee absolutely all over me. That's just a thing that happens. Whatever.

10. I've kind of turned into one of "those people." Sometimes I tell horror stories and offer unsolicited, vaguely pushy advice. Damn it, I even make biased statements at experienced parents that somehow suggest that I am an authority based solely on the fact that I'm a parent. I don't even know when this started to happen; maybe I can blame hospital culture for instilling in me a compulsive need to over-share with anyone who sits still long enough for me to make eye contact?

Hudson, I know parenting advice is a far-flung need for you. Hell, it might even be completely moot, but this is just as much for me as for you. Apparently number eleven on this list is "You forget humongous chunks of things, bad and good, and eventually decide to do it again because by age two or so your kid is adorable AND he sleeps enough for you to stay sane." Let's hope that is true - at least the last part - and that I heed my own advice.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Semi-deliberate hiatus!

Fun fact: teaching full-time in a position I LOVE takes up about two thirds more time than teaching full-time in a position I only mostly liked. Also, Hudson, damn it, you really, really need to start sleeping better. I think we're on the right track, but it is absurd. While I flummox to catch up on grading, spend as much quality time with you and your Dad as possible, and keep myself at least relatively sane, perhaps you should spend some quality time looking back at what I've already written for you? (Either that, or make me a sandwich. By the time you're reading this, you must be old enough to make a sandwich, and I'm sure I would enjoy one.) I promise new material soon, or at least a completed post of any of the dozen drafts I have in progress!