now let’s see if I can fit homework in before the kid wakes up

I don’t like saying I’m solo mom because it sounds so…self-serving. Hello self, would you like a cup of tea? Perhaps a foot rub? But from 7 am to 7 pm (or so, depending on the day) it’s just me and the baby. That’s a lot of hours. That’s the number of hours in the Pinball song from old-school Sesame Street. Did I mention that I found an MP3 of that song, and that it’s by the Pointer Sisters? Dude, that song gets stuck in my head all the time. Onetwothree FOUR FIVE sixseven eight NINE ten eleven twelve.

Anyway, so it’s just me, the kid, and the Pointer Sisters for twelve hours every day, so you’d think I’d insist on some Me Time once Not So Cranky Dada gets home. The problem with that is a) I’ve forgotten how to do Me Time, what with all the spending nine months cooped up in the house worrying that something would happen to the impending baby and then the taking care of said baby, and b) I know that Not So spends those hours working hard to support us and I feel like he needs some Him Time, and c) I have the self-esteem of a…person who has very low self-esteem, and right now the only thing that makes me feel worthwhile is taking care of the kid.

All those things together and we get a night like last night. I’ll set the scene: I’m putting away laundry in the baby’s (woefully incomplete) nursery; Not So is downstairs doing dishes. Happy Fun Baby and I are playing this game where I announce each clothing item (“Oh my goodness! Could it be…pants?“) and he grins and bounces and generally is adorable. Suddenly Happy Fun Baby starts to laugh, and it’s the funniest sound I’ve ever heard in my life. He doesn’t usually give us more than the occasional giggle – I think it surprised him. Still, he was cracking right up (and yes, I realize I just changed tenses in the middle of a paragraph. Let’s all take a moment to mourn the loss of my grammar skills and move on), so I called Not So. Of course as soon as he came up the baby merely smiled tolerantly at me and the laughing episode did not repeat. Not So went back down to finish the dishes and I finished putting away the laundry.

I assumed Not So knew we were awake, and upstairs, and adorable. I hung out in the nursery with the baby for another half hour or so, thinking Not So would surely come back up (and feeling increasingly guilty for making him do housework, which is clearly my job because hello, SAHM?). Finally I went down to check on him and found him hanging out on the couch with his laptop. “Don’t you want to come play with the baby?” I asked.

He jumped up right away. “I was just decompressing,” he said. We played with the baby in the nursery for a while, and then the baby got kind of sleepy and cranky. Not So went back downstairs. I brought the baby into the bedroom (one of the incomplete aspects of the nursery: no crib) and snuggled him to sleep, which left me…upstairs, by myself, with a sleeping baby. Not much I could do other than sit there and watch HGTV, and after a day of doing pretty much just that, it wasn’t too appealing. Except, and here’s the thing: during the day there’s no one else here, and at night I could, in theory, at least be sharing space with my husband. I ventured downstairs (after clearing all the pillows off the bed and fretting obsessively about SIDS, as per my usual) and asked Not So about his not-coming-up-ness.

“I’d love to spend time with you!” he said. “I’m just not ready to be down. You guys seemed kind of down.”

“I’m not down!” I said. “I was trying to get the baby to be down. I’m up! I just didn’t say anything because I thought you might be having some You Time.”

“Well, I do like a little Me Time. That’s why I take a bath every night. It’s nice to have an hour when I can just relax, read a book, decompress.”

“Yes,” I said, all internally snark-a-riffic all of a sudden, “that does sound nice.” Then I went back upstairs to make sure the baby hadn’t spontaneously discovered rolling and rolled off the bed – but I did get some kissin’ from Not So, because it doesn’t do to wear our passive-aggression on our sleeve.

That was last night. Today I got a call from a tipsy Not So, wanting to know if it was okay if he hung out with his coworkers at the bar for a while…although he could come right home if I needed him to. I didn’t need him to, did I?

I looked at Happy Fun Baby, all crashed out in his Boppy, and I thought about how much I wish I could take a night off without someone needing me.

“Of course you don’t need to come straight home,” I said. “Have fun.”

Onetwothree FOUR FIVE sixseven eight NINE ten eleven twelve.

it’s no wonder nothing gets done around here

Number of rainy days in February: lots.
Number of times I left the house: few.

It’s lovely outside today. You might think we’d be going for a walk, but you’d be wrong. As usual, I’ve assessed the effort vs. possible reward and come to the perfectly reasonable conclusion that it’s much better to stay home and make some pudding. One could argue that I need a walk far, far more than I need anything resembling pudding. To that I say HA! And then I mention the cuteness of my child, because no one can criticize while gazing on a face like this:

my baby

And how can I be depressed while looking at a face like that? Yet here I am, parked on the couch, contemplating pudding. Not just a little bit of pudding, either; my plan, if I could be so bold as to label it a plan, is to make an entire box of Cook and Serve and then go back to the couch, where I will eat all four servings. Possibly I will pour all four servings into one very large bowl; this idea fills me with joy.

The main thing standing between me and a tub of pudding-related bliss is, ironically enough, the amount of effort it will take. Less effort than going out, yes, sure. No one needs to get dressed in order to prepare pudding. Getting dressed: a whole planet of unpleasantness all on its own. I used to have a good relationship with my clothes. We were quite friendly, my clothing and me. I’d flirt with cute skirts and chat up sweater sets. Certain brands could inspire torrents of illicit longing (Calvin Klein and Kenneth Cole still hold a special place in my heart). Sometimes I’d pick up an outfit on a whim only to discover in the harsh light of morning that it wasn’t nearly as flattering as it had seemed at the store, but for the most part my separates and I had a mutually supportive existence.

That was before. Before baby? Before pregnancy? Being pregnant at least was a dress-up party in and of itself. Fat and waddling, sure, but fat and waddling in cunning maternity duds! Maternity duds have a special language; they say to the world I am not obese, I am creating life! You must surrender your bus seat to me and claim that I have a “glow”! Ha! There ought to be cunning post-pregnancy duds: special clothes for the time between giving birth and actually resembling the person you were before you had a person in your uterus. There are nursing clothes, sure, but why must nursing clothes be either massive and unflattering or cost the same as a small car? If there’s any time in a woman’s life when she won’t be able to afford designer clothing it’s when she’s on maternity leave (or, in my case, beginning the strange and new career of SAHM). It’s not like the baby; people like buying clothes for the baby. The baby, I’ll hazard to guess, has more clothing than he could possibly need. But mama? Mama is wearing one of the two tops she owns which do not make her look like a turnip, paired with either some floppy sweats or a sad pair of maternity jeans that make her look like she’s working on Baby #2. Mama is not a fashion plate.

At some point I’m sure I’ll once again have a relationship with my clothing which does not involve a futile attempt to cover as much of my misshapen, flab-ridden body as possible, but until then: pudding. Yes. The baby’s asleep right now so the timing could not be better. Then again, there are all sorts of other things I ought to be doing while the baby sleeps. Things like school, or dishes, or cleaning up the cat vomit at the foot of the stairs. All these things are at least as important as the pudding, although far, far less delicious (esp. the cat vomit) and the baby, he wakes often and unpredictably. How can I possibly justify twenty minutes of standing in front of the stove? There are bills to pay, lists to make, calls which must be placed to the advice line at Kaiser in which I am somehow supposed to utter the words “I have Post Partum Depression” and then fling myself at the mercy of the Insurance Gods. (I spent a disproportionate amount of time last night trying to figure out the proper cutting response should the advice line nurse try to argue with me; I’m pretty sure normal people do not do this.)

The baby just decided that sleep is some obscure form of baby torture, so I guess the point is moot for now. Crying baby! Immediate need! No time to dilly-dally! Still: I wish I had some pudding.

you darn kids with your loud music and strange clothes

I hate our neighbors.

I had such high hopes when they moved in. Nice young couple with several cats – what could be wrong with that? One of their cars was festooned with left-wing political stickers, and their other car was a BMW. And their other other car was a truck with a camper. Hmm. But okay, we don’t drive so it’s not like we minded that they took up the whole driveway. And they have kids – three grammar-school aged kids. Yay, I thought, they won’t mind if the baby makes a lot of noise (I was eight months pregnant when they moved in).

Noise, apparently, is not an issue which concerns our neighbors. The children, who seemed so sweet, seemed to have no concept of time or space. Ten p.m. and the kids were outside in our shared driveway, shouting and kicking a ball. Kicking a ball into the side of our house, that is. Bang. Bang. Shout. Bang. And the hate began. Why were three grammar-school aged kids outside at ten p.m.? Didn’t they have a bedtime? And the kicking of the ball into the side of the house – it wasn’t once or twice, or even just one or two isolated occasions. It was every time they were outside. Finally one night when they were playing on our lawn (we do share a driveway, but dude, our lawn is so clearly our lawn) Matt opened the door and looked out. The kids stopped like deer in headlights and immediately said “I’m sorry.” Okay, so you know you’re doing something wrong…why are you waiting to get caught? Matt said something about how it’s really loud when they kick the ball into the house, and the oldest boy said “We won’t do it again” in this really rehearsed tone, like he already knew. That ended the kickball portion of the festivities, thank jeebus. (But I swear, one morning they woke me up because they were whacking the oak tree with a stick. Whacking a tree. With a stick. *shakes head*)

Adding to the cacophony were two dogs, added about a month after the neighbors moved in. Aaw, I thought. What cute Beagles! Sure, the dogs made dog-like noises when they were outside, but they were really only outside during the day when the kids were home. Happy children playing with happy doggies. What could be sweeter? Then one day the neighbors left the dogs out on the deck while they left for the day. The dogs spent the entire time they were gone – close to 6 hours, as I recall – whining and yowling. Whine, yowl, whine, yowl. Still, I was willing to give the neighbors the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they didn’t realize how loud the dogs were when no one was home with them. Certainly they would not knowingly subject their neighbors to such unending noise. Then they began leaving the dogs out at night. All night. Whine, yowl, whine, yowl…occasionally one of the neighbors would come out and shout at the dogs but that only added to the noise. So much noise. And the hate, it grew.

(To be fair…they seem to have gotten rid of the dogs, and the kids are only there part time, so it’s not as bad as it seemed like it would be during the first couple of months. But still.)

Today it’s the parents who are incurring my wrath. There is a new vehicle in the driveway. A truck, which can only be described as a “beater.” The husband’s got the hood open and is doing something engine-related, if I’m to judge from the revving noises coming from just outside my window. RNNNnnnnn. RRRRNNNNNNNnnn. Rnnnn. And a couple of backfires thrown in for good measure. This has been going on for a half hour. I’m trying to soothe the baby into a nap while the neighbor is running a repair shop. (Granted, the noise doesn’t seem to bother the baby at all – but it bothers me, and that makes it hard for me to be soothing.)

Now, it seems, the husband has given up on the truck and has moved it out of the driveway. Onto his lawn. There is a truck parked on my neighbor’s lawn. Wow. I’m having flashbacks to the trailer park, and it’s not even the holidays.

Matt thinks I’m overreacting, and maybe I am – but I’m always hyper-sensitive to other people’s space, and when I was a kid I would never kick my ball into the neighbor’s house (for example) or, as an adult, leave my loud, untrained animals outside all night when other people were trying to sleep. Some of the noise is forgivable (including, if I’m in the mood to be reasonable, the revving of the truck – it’s the middle of the day, after all, and it is their driveway too) but much of it seems like bad manners. Do you teach your kid to respect other people’s space, or do you just ignore it when they run amok? Are you considerate of the noise level at night, or do you just pretend your neighbors don’t exist?

baby blues

We here at the Cranky household have been…well, cranky, and by “we” I mean “the baby.” He so clearly needs a nap, but does he want to nap? No he does not. He fights against the idea of a nap with every fiber of his wee being, balling up his fists and scrunching up his face and demanding unreasonable things of his parents. Figuring out what he wants is somewhat akin to a game of Russian roulette. Does the baby want to be bounced? Rocked? Snuggled? Swaddled? Put down? Beware: one false move and you will anger Happy Fun Baby.

Currently we are in the bedroom, where the internet is inexplicably spotty. Why is the internet spotty? The important thing is that the baby has abruptly grown bored with his routine of screaming and turning purple and is now cooing adorably and grinning at me. Nothing has changed, of course – this is the prerogative of Happy Fun Baby, who is at the moment both happy and fun. Is anything cuter than my baby’s smile? Notice I say “my baby” – he is so much cuter than other babies, and conveniently located just to my left.

He outgrew his first outfit this week. When we first brought him home all of his clothes were ridiculously big; only one pair of jammies and a couple of little snap-front tee shirts fit him. I realized the other day that not only do all his other jammies fit now, they’re a bit too short. We busted out the 3-6 month stuff yesterday, thinking it would be nice and roomy, given that he’s only 2 1/2 months (and thus clearly not big enough for 3 month clothes). And then this morning Matt brought him downstairs dressed not only in three month clothes but in big boy three month clothes – cords and a polo shirt – and he looked so grown up I could barely stand it.

so grown up!

Right now he doesn’t look grown up at all. He’s so small next to me, with his cranky face and kicking legs (Happy Fun Baby has decided he hates everything again). He’s wearing these striped footie pajamas with a little bear on them and, even though they are size 3 months, are so adorable I just died.

the hive mind

My hives are finally getting better. It’s about time. I’ve had them for just over a week and I have complained about them, vociferously, every single day. I don’t know if it was the Benadryl, the Aveeno, or the constant threats of suicide that finally did them in, but I’m not sorry to see them go.

I don’t like that I get hives, but in a way it’s almost gratifying to have such a palatable physical reaction to something. There’s no arguing with hives. It’s not psychosomatic or exaggerated for attention. As the child of a hypochondriac, I think about these things. Maybe my migraines aren’t really migraines, I think. Maybe when I say my back hurts it’s just the normal aches and pains everyone has and I’m just blowing it out of proportion. But when my body erupts in bright pink welts and tiny fluid-filled blisters, well – that’s just that. It might not be bad enough to cause my throat to swell and require a shot of epinephrine – which, to be honest, I would not like at all – but they’re still quite obviously unpleasant, and not a figment of my imagination.

(Yes, thank you, I am aware that I should be telling this to a therapist.)

I’m glad the kid doesn’t seem to have inherited this particular droplet from mama’s gene pool. His skin marks really easily, just like mine, but thus far he doesn’t seem to have allergies. I know, two and a half months is a little too early to say for sure, but hopefully he’ll be the kind of kid who can frolic through clouds of pollen and not get so much as a sniffle. When I was a kid I was allergic to all sorts of things. Cats, dust, Strawberry Shortcake dolls – all made me sneeze and wheeze, but since my dad wasn’t the sort of person who liked doctors I never had any of it diagnosed or treated. When I was in high school (and living with my mom) I had a pretty serious breathing problem and was diagnosed with asthma, but since the emergency room doctor phrased it oddly (“allergy-induced asthma symptoms”) I didn’t think I had actual asthma until a few years later. And it wasn’t until several years later that I realized I was horribly allergic to the mold on the trees where we lived when I was in high school – which explained why I’d get so dizzy and out of breath when we had to go running in the woods for P.E. class. They’d make me run anyway, of course – they thought I was faking. Oh how I wish I could make my high school P.E. teacher feel bad about this now.

Matt was a really allergic kid, too – tubes in his ears and everything. Part of me is sort of jealous that he actually got treated for his allergies. No one was telling him he was faking it. Then again, I feel that way about a lot of things.

So, so glad the hives are going away. I would be very happy if I never had to deal with this again.

lookin’ for clues

We’re watching Blue’s Clues this morning, since we have the posh Digital Cable and can finally appreciate the brain-expanding goodness that is Noggin. Only it isn’t the real Blue’s Clues. There is no stripey-shirted Steve. There is only “Joe.” I do not believe in “Joe.” When Steve talks to the screen, he seems sincere, if unnaturally childlike. “Joe” comes across as rather smarmy, like the uncle who insists he’s really good with kids because he took three ECD classes when he was in college. “Joe” says “You’ll help us, won’t you?” and instead of sounding engaging and friendly he sounds like he’s trying to convince the kids that scrubbing the kitchen floor would be really fun. I do not like “Joe.”

Ellison, however, is not picky (at least where the Joe/Steve continuum is concerned). He’s in his bouncer, kick-kick-kicking his little legs. He has the cutest, fattest little legs. There are fat folds where there aren’t even folds. I just want to eat them up. Ditto his arms, his cheeks, his scrunched-up neck…basically I want to eat the kid. Is that so wrong?

Last night I was talking to Matt about the baby. “I just want to keep him forever,” I said.

“You get to,” Matt said. “He’s always going to be your baby.”

“No. I get to keep you forever. Ellison I only get for a little while. Then he’s going to belong to himself.”

It’s not that I want to infantilize him…but I’m going to miss all this when he’s big enough to be on his own. I waited so long for a baby and I love watching him grow, but a pause button would be really, really nice.

seizure? I barely even know her!

benadryl

I finally broke down yesterday and decided to start with the Benadryl. Anecdotal evidence from other breastfeeding mothers outnumbered alarmist internet information like this:

Diphenhydramine is secreted in breast milk. Because of the risk of stimulation and seizures in infants — especially newborns and prematures — antihistamines should not be used by nursing mothers.

Seizures – seriously? Yet here I am, taking Benadryl anyway. I am the world’s worst mother. I did bottle feed him all last night, and is there anything sadder than standing over the bathroom sink at 4am, wobbling from sleepiness while pumping drugged milk into a bottle to be poured down the drain? I decided hesitantly to breastfeed today…and Cranky Baby doesn’t seem to be affected at all. Unlike me, of course. I’m a walking zombie today. Benadryl is like a fluffy pillow wrapped around my head. A nice, warm, fluffy pillow. Wouldn’t it be nice to lie on a fluffy pillow right now? Yes, yes it would.

The itching is slightly better but more importantly the hives finally seem to be healing. They’ve gone from huge, spreading welts back down to small, dark pink dots. There are still some areas that are all one big itching welt of doom, but my arms look like arms again. I am very much looking forward to the time when I don’t want to scrape my skin off with a bit of steel wool, but I’ll take what I can get for now.

Cranky Baby is all snuggled on his Boppy right now. I haven’t been playing with him as much as I should – the pillow around my head makes it hard to be really interactive – but he seems pretty happy. Maybe he will want to take a nap with mama. What do you say, kid?