Overtired is the Time Warner/Comcast of baby states

This is what an overtired baby looks like.

This is what an overtired baby looks like.

If you have ever talked to a parent who has a baby or has had a baby in recent memory the word “overtired” or “overstimulated” probably popped out of their mouth. If it didn’t, it was probably flashing in bright neon lights in their heads as they were manically trying to concentrate on what you were saying as they calculated the time since the last nap and how long they could stand there smiling and agreeing that yes, their baby is freaking adorable. (Please note: parents can’t hear this enough. It’s sad but true. It is our greatest weakness.)

For those who don’t have baby experience let me give you a quick rundown of what the heck it is I’m talking about.

“Overtired” is a synonym for “overstimulated” or, in full disclosure, it might as well just be called, “up too long and now you’re in for it.” It has nothing to do with the intensity of playing, how long they’ve been in a light room, or how many toys they’ve been exposed to. It’s so simple and so hard all at the same time: it’s just about time. Babies have a limited amount of time they can be awake before they become overtired and if you haven’t experienced this you might think, “oh cool! Overtired sounds great! They must sleep like angels!” Unfortunately…nope. Science is against logic on that one. Allow me to explain. First, it helps to think of babies not as little humans but rather as little bundles of human instincts. When babies become overtired their little instinct-laden brain goes, “oh my gosh! There must be some reason it needs to stay awake! Maybe a predator or something is coming! Let me help. I’ll shoot massive amounts of adrenaline to keep you awake no matter what, especially when you’re juuuust about to fall asleep.” [Paraphrased.] Which translates to a lot of crying if you don’t get the kiddo down to nap before they hit this state because they want to have been asleep, but now their brains won’t let them. This turns into crying for the parents, and so on, and so forth. The cycle is nearly endless.

In other words: it’s the worst. And in dealing with a state of overtired it dawned on me that it closely resembled something else that’s without question the worst: Time Warner/Comcast. I think we can all universally agree that this company is simply the worst. John Oliver has a perfect explanation so I won’t launch my own explanation of why exactly they’re the worst. Plus you already know this. I have yet to meet someone who, when asked about Time Warner/Comcast goes, “oh my! I don’t know what you’re talking about! I have had nothing but wonderful experiences with them! They provide all the services I need at a completely fair price.” Because that person clearly doesn’t exist. Whenever I even mention that company every person I have ever encountered, be it friend, family, stranger on the bus, random person across the room hearing the words “Time Warner/Comcast” that person immediately goes, “Oh, Time Warner/Comcast? They are THE WORST.” Because they are. The worst. Which is why I would like to now share with you why overtired is the Time Warner/Comcast of baby states.

1. Encountering it is inevitable

Weird_Science_Facepalm_01It’s an American adult rite of passage. At some point in your adult life you will encounter Time Warner/Comcast because you want something silly like the Internet or television. Even if you manage to eventually squeak your way out of it and find alternatives, at some point you will deal with them in an apartment complex that forces it, or you’ll try them first in your home. Worse, at first you will think – foolishly – as we all do, “They provide television and Internet and I want to watch television and cat videos. How bad could this arrangement possibly be?” That bad.

The same is true with an overtired baby. You can plan and balk at all of us before you have kids of your own that you will watch your baby like a hawk, find your particular baby’s overtired signs, and will soothe him to sleep without fuss…but you’re wrong. Because eventually you’re going to do something really stupid and selfish like go to the grocery store, take him to a doctor’s appointment, or fix dinner. And in the blink of an eye, your baby goes from happy to slightly tired, and then another blink, boom: overtired. It happens that fast. Unless you have a team of lactating ninjas surrounding the baby around the clock, your baby will become overtired at some point.

Eventually you learn to read your particular baby better and put him down for a nap before he hits overtired. Sometimes you may find that you can find other providers for television and Internet that bypass Time Warner/Cable. But at some point in your life you will have to deal with them, just like an overtired baby.

2. There is no reasoning possible

jon stewart whyBabies, being the little bundles of human instincts that they are, are extraordinarily deficient in reasoning skills. Time Warner/Comcast execs/customer service representatives, for reasons I cannot possibly begin to fathom, are are also extraordinarily deficient in reasoning skills. No matter what you do, what you say, or what you beg for there is no reasoning possible. The baby will scream and cry, and the representatives will keep you on hold for hours at a time, or try to convince you there is no possible way to get what you want without some outrageous bundle.

Which brings me to…

3. There is clearly an easy solution the other side won’t ever see

what is wrongYou can tell your baby that if he would just allow himself to go to sleep his misery would be over. You can tell your cable company that if they would just allow smaller packages of television programming at reasonable costs people wouldn’t be leaving them in droves. But, as we all know, neither of these things is apparently possible.

The solutions are clear and simple, yet the only people who see them are the ones who have no power over the situation.

4. There will be tears involved

meltdownThe sun will always rise in the East, and eventually you will cry after dealing with an overtired baby or Comcast/Time Warner for too long.

These things are the way of the world.

Accept them.

To my sweet home…

About two years ago my husband and I packed up our apartment on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago after my husband finished his Tax LL.M. at Northwestern and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.

ferris_driving

We made (and reconnected with!) some amazing friends while in North Carolina. We had a baby. Our life marched on as life always does.

Only, there was this one thing that nagged at us.

When we were honest with ourselves, we had left our hearts in that city on the lake.

blues_sunglasses off

Sure, the politics are crooked and the winters are long. And yes, there are parts of Chicago that are unimaginably dangerous and horrific (though the parts that aren’t are incredibly safe). But the thing is, it’s a beautiful, amazing city. The street festivals, farmers markets, Midwestern kindness, public transportation, sports, museums, arts, walkability, parks, restaurants, and vibrancy of the city stuck with us in a way that was simply unshakable.

ferris_art institute

And then, after two years in Charlotte…Chris found a job doing exactly the type of work he wanted to be doing in Chicago. We talked it over and realized it is just too perfect to pass up.

Which is why…

…I am here to announce…

WE ARE MOVING TO CHICAGO!

blues_dancing

Wait, what?! Yup, you read that right, folks. Charlotte has been great, but Chicago is where are our hearts lie. Chris starts his new job on April 20th, which means that we will be moving in the next few weeks into the city. Whenever I Google, “how to move with a 6-month-old” the general answer tends to be something along the lines of, “don’t” but we are forging ahead. This past week I went up with the little one (by myself, self fist-bump) to find an apartment, and I did! Wicker Park, here we come.

So…we’re doing it. Into the deep end we go!

ferris_deep end

Thank you, Charlotte, for the memories. Chicago, we will be seeing you soon.

blues_miles to chicago

Hit it.

Notes from five months

I suppose since I just wrote my four-month review yesterday a month ago it’s time for the five-month look-back.

mangoes

This is Connor’s first reaction to mangoes. I love this picture so much I can’t even put into words how much I love this picture.

Quick highlights of the last month include:

  • Sleeping through the night
  • Our first trip away from home since November (aka, our first trip away from home since Connor became a semi-sentient being)
  • Starting solids and loving them (well, you know, for the most part.)
  • Mom and Dad learning how to clean up solids from every skin surface possible
  • Brinkley (our dog) becoming Connor’s most favorite thing in the entire universe. You’ve got good taste, kiddo.

What else is happening around our house, you ask? Well…

He doesn’t smell like a newborn anymore.

smelling rabbitNewborns have a very distinct and special smell. Did you know that? I didn’t know that. Or maybe I had heard that and thought that the moms saying it were all sleep-deprived weirdos who had finally lost it. Not that that couldn’t be the case, but seriously, the smell is real.

Only, it’s not real anymore. Connor doesn’t have it. And he will never have it again. That smell is crack and I truly, truly believe it’s one of the reasons why moms willingly have more than one child. My friends have informed me that it’s even less socially acceptable to go up to newborns in public and inhale their precious newborn odor than it is for random people to go around touching pregnant bellies.

Dang it.


Babies are weird.

hkghstI suppose the nice way of putting this is that “each and every baby is their own perfectly perfect individual snowflake.” But I am here to say it: snowflakes are weird and so are babies.

For all of the textured toys and books and games we have for Wee Connor nothing gets him so enthralled as the embroidered pillows we have on our couch. When I dress him all hell breaks loose if I try to put his right arm through the shirt first, but left then right is fine. Which means, apparently, my son is part horse. He absolutely takes pacifiers but recently his favorite thing recently is to either take the pacifier out and chew on the edge of it or to jam his thumb in the middle of the pacifier, getting the thumb stuck there, and then waving the pacifier around in shock that his thumb now has a giant green thing on it. Also, did you know that there is an entire line of blankets and toys that have mock tags all over them? It’s because of one thing: babies love tags more than they love toys. And you know what? They’ll still love the manufacturers’ tags on the Taggy blankets more.

My point is this: babies are weird. Don’t feel bad if what works for every other mom on the Internet (or, worse, what your mom swears worked on you) doesn’t work for your baby. Let your baby’s freak flag fly. It’s good practice.


Evaluate and calibrate.

dw fixingBefore you have a baby, you have a fairly decent idea of your lifestyle. You know a few things: what kind of house or apartment you live in, whether you walk or drive to your daily activities, and a general idea of how you live your life. You – appropriately – register for and buy things to fit the knowledge you have as well as do the best you can with the knowledge you have to raise this mysterious little tiny human.

And then the baby actually shows up.

There’s a lot of stuff you know know you need right away, and other stuff you don’t know what exactly you’ll need. For instance, we got an Uppababy Vista stroller because it had a bassinet feature (which Connor hated, please see above re: babies and weirdness) and could be used straight from birth. After a lot of hauling around, struggling to fold it, stopping using the infant seat in and out of the car because it became really heavy really quickly, and realizing that the thing in general is way too freaking heavy to do that kind of lifting and maneuvering in small spaces, it became clear we needed a lighter stroller now that Connor had enough head control to sit more upright in a stroller. However, five months ago, I never would have known what kind of lightweight stroller I would want. I wouldn’t know what features I liked, what features I didn’t like, and I would have absolutely bought the wrong one*.

The same theory applies to the non-tangible stuff, too. Sometimes you’ll try things for sleep or naps that just plain old don’t work. The point is really that in both in physical stuff and mentality, the most important thing I can say is to do a lot of evaluation and subsequent calibration. Making adjustments based on what’s working and what isn’t is the most important thing you can remember to do. Otherwise, you’re stuck trying to stick a baby peg in a square hole. So if you don’t know exactly what you’re going to need, my advice would be this: wait until you’re more sure. You’ll know what you need when you need it. And if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it up.

Evaluate. Then calibrate.


I am not strong enough for a video monitor.

sleeping video monitor

Did he fall asleep mid-twerk? Seriously, he sleeps like this all the time.

The moment I started using our video monitor as an audio monitor Connor’s sleep skyrocketed. Here’s the thing about video monitors: they’re fascinating. They give a never-before-seen glimpse into what it is your baby does all night while you’re out watching DVRed episodes of The Mindy Project. (Spoiler: they get into the most ridiculous sleeping positions possible. Spoiler number two: Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal.) The kicker, though, is that video monitors make it really tempting to go in and get your baby too soon. When babies sleep they move around, they rustle, and they can even wake up for a bit, flail around, and then fall back asleep again. Sometimes they wake up and need to be changed or fed and then they actually really cry. With an audio-only monitor you only know about the latter situations. However, a video monitor lets you in on what’s going on all the time in that little world of theirs and can trick even the best of us into thinking the baby is truly awake when really he might just be putting himself back to sleep. It’s almost irresistible to go in to the baby too early with a video monitor. “Oh shoot, well, he’s awake. Might as well go change and feed him…” No! That’s not the answer**! The answer usually is to let him see if he can fall back asleep. But sometimes you just want to head the misery off, even as they’re getting older and learning new skills like falling back asleep. We realized eventually we were robbing Connor of the ability to fall back asleep on his own and started using the video monitor as an audio one, and haven’t looked back since***.


It’s going by way, way too fast.

This is a mere 20 days. Twenty! That's not even the same baby!

This is a mere 20 days. Twenty! That’s not even the same baby!

I hate that I’m one of those parents who say things like this.

I hate that every pregnant person I see I now am one of those jerks who offers no actual valuable advice except, “Cherish the time! [Indistinguishable gibberish about babyhood flying by]!”

The problem is, it’s true. Time does go by extra fast. There are very few times in your life that are measured so exactly by months, and it’s a shocking realization to wake up one day and have this smiling, laughing little person with his own actual personality looking up at you instead of a screaming little Winston Churchill lookalike that you had no idea what to do with five months ago.

The other day I looked down at Connor and whispered sweetly in his ear, “stop growing up now, okay?” He looked back up at me, touched my cheek with his tiny little hand, and laughed straight in my face.

That about sums up parenthood right there.

And I still love it.


*I bought this one: the Summer Infant 3D-One. Infuriatingly not available on Amazon. It has an awesomely easy one-handed fold, a huge canopy, stands while folded (!!!!), and an easy recline feature. I tested out all the umbrella strollers with a baby in my arms and this one beat them all out for me, hands down…or…hands full of baby. Same thing, really.

**At least, for our baby. Your baby might be different. In fact, there’s a 100% chance your baby is a weird, beautiful snowflake just like my baby is a weird, beautiful snowflake. Have fun with that.

***Pun intended. I make these kinds of jokes now. It’s my lot in life as a forever uncool mom.