Woe be unto all mothers who enter the Hanna Andersson store

A warning tale if you ever find yourself near a Hanna Andersson store

(An entry into “The Motherbury Tales: Parenting as told in rhyming couplets,” an imaginary book I have started composing while waiting in line questioning my life’s decisions)

Perhaps Hanna Andersson can hire my child as a model and pay her in clothes?

As I go to Hanna Andersson to make a return,
I get nervous. My heart will yearn
For ALL the clothes in the store.
I know myself; this has happened before.
Lord give me strength not to buy
Everything that I spy.

This errand comes as I surmise
Both my children have gone up in size.
And, oh my goodness, it’s a new season…
I seem to be losing all my reason
NOT to buy out all their stock
Of their colorful clothes, and even their socks.
Alas, our budget simply doesn’t allow
For me to go and have a cow.
So as I go and make this return
Maybe this will be the time I learn
To play this errand simple and straight:
Go in, go out, don’t hesitate.

Don’t look at the dresses, don’t peek at the tops –
Once you do you know you can’t stop.
Well…just one quick look, it can’t hurt?
(Since both my kids just had a growth spurt?)
Oh Hanna, you have me once again!
All my money, down the drain!
My kids will look like definite winners
(But it’s beans and franks for all our dinners).

It’s this mom gene I seem to now possess
Where I can’t resist buying that dress
And those pants, and that shirt…
Oh, and fine, just throw in that skirt.
As I stand here, my arms full of clothes
To don my kids’ bodies, heads, and toes.
I recite to myself this infamous line:
“I really won’t let this happen NEXT time.”

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Notes from nine months

swinging awayAnother quarter of the year gone already? I think three month intervals of babydom come as more of a shock mostly because they are associated with sizes of clothing (0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 12 months). And while the clothing sizing and age correlation has as much correlation with reality as a Donald Trump speech (why would it be so hard to label baby clothes sizes with lengths? You must measure these things to manufacture the clothes, baby clothes-makers! Label them with lengths like they do in Europe! But I digress per usual.), the nine month age signifies that you are rapidly approaching that landmark time of having survived your first year as a parent.

Recent updates in our house include, but are not limited to:

  • Sitting up from a lying position without assistance. Note: this has actually only happened once and it happened while my friend was in town for a few hours and while both my husband and I were looking away. It has not happened since.
  • More food. I can safely say that Connor prefers Brie to Camembert cheese, and there is positively no humanly way to say, “my baby prefers Brie to Camembert” without sounding like a total douchebag
  • Silence becoming the single most terrifying sound known to man as it typically indicates the baby has found something so profoundly dangerous it has captivated his attention for a very prolonged period of time. All my friends with older children postulate this “silence is terrifying” thing lasts until adulthood. Phenomenal.

And other than that, life has been going on. Living in a large city continues to be the best choice we could have made for ourselves and our family as demonstrated by the fact that most of our pictures are still unhung because we keep going out and having too much fun around Chicago because there is so much to do. It’s a quality problem to have.

In between naps, though, I have managed to jot down my thoughts on the ever-astounding 9 month mark. Enjoy!


Childproofing is easy

Please note all the toys behind this ungrateful child. But no. Ragged dog bone.

Please note all the toys behind this ungrateful child.

No, really! If you’re willing to take an iterative approach it’s easy to figure out what to do to make your home safer for baby.

First, set out some toys for your baby. Next, place your baby in front of the toys. Your baby will immediately turn away from the toys and head exactly toward the single most dangerous item/place in your house. The toys simply act as a divining rod to turn your child in the exact opposite direction of their location. You may then babyproof whatever it is your baby finds.

This approach works every time.


LIDS.

Literally every child's reaction to a box full of dang lids.

Literally every child’s reaction to a box full of dang lids.

I went to a mommy meetup recently. I had a lot of fun and saw a distant future of what it’s like to actually have a two-year-old running around and what kinds of toys children actually like. Spoiler alert: it’s the toy that the other child has.

However, when the host mom brought out a box full of jar lids (salsa jar lids, baby jar lids, olive jar lids, etc.) it was like she was the second coming of the damn toy messiah. Every child ages 6 months to 3 years flocked to this box of lids and played with them like they were the second coming of Christmas.

Lids, people.

Lids.

If you want to make a child’s day, hand them a box of lids and never look back. This will be especially infuriating fun when your child is surrounded by every toy imaginable you have painstakingly played with like a fool in the toy shops/Target/Buy Buy Baby. It is a perfect reminder (because you need so many) that you know nothing, Jon Snow.


Your child’s future résumé does not include baby milestones.

No, he didn't pull himself up. He will eventually. I think he's okay, though.

No, he didn’t pull himself up. He will eventually. I think he’s okay, though.

In order to preserve some level of credibility on this point I conducted a thorough interview (emailed quickly) with a good friend who works in HR. What I confirmed was simple: while there are many things that might go on your résumé/CV as an adult, the dates you achieved your baby milestones are never among them.

(It might be worth mentioning this is in a day and age where “artisanal cheese enthusiast”* and “food iPhonographer” are legitimate résumé excerpts that have been found on actual résumés.)

There seems to be a lot of pressure on parents about their children achieving milestones (i.e., sitting, pulling up, teeth, laughing, talking, walking, etc.) “early” as if what Princeton is looking for is a candidate who walked at 10.5 months instead of 1 year old. “Milly just sat by herself at 4.5 months, honey! Grab that application to Harvard, quick! She’s a shoo-in now!”

Milestone charts are helpful for your pediatrician to be able to tell you if there might be a problem. And that’s it. Babies are people. Small people, but people. People are all different. It can then be inferred that babies are all different. Your child might be “early” on some things and “later” on others. No matter what the case is, it’s not going on their résumé once it’s achieved.


I have responded to your text. In my head.

I’m sorry about that. Forever, I am sorry about that.

I needed to get that out there.


There is a foolproof way to get your child down for a nap

"Oh, you need to move the car for street sweeping, Mom? Cool."

“Oh, you need to move the car for street sweeping, Mom? Cool.”

I bet I heard a bunch of neck snaps to attention with that one! Are you ready? It’s a two-step process. Here we go:

  1. Schedule yourself to be somewhere at a very specific time and place.
  2. Watch your child effortlessly fall into a deep, perfect slumber fifteen minutes before you need to leave.

It. Never. Fails. 

Never. 


It just keeps getting better.

Fine, everyone with kids. It does go so quickly. Yeah yeah yeah, all of you moms and dads out there. It does keep getting more fun. You got me already, lady on the bus whose status of children I have no idea, it is so much fun.

And so, so, so worth it.


*Um, duh? Isn’t that the equivalent of saying, “sentient being who breathes”?

Notes from four months

Connor Four MonthsAccording to various sources on the Internet (so how can they be wrong?!) that all seem to conflict each other, four months, without a doubt, can officially be considered the time that I now have an “infant” or “baby” instead of a “newborn.” Why a “newborn” isn’t considered a “baby” will forever confound me, but it is what it is.

What I do know is that this is the first month in which I feel more like a “parent” than “a terrified person posing as an adult who is forever carrying around a child that for some unknown reason everybody seems to think I am qualified to care for.” I mean, it’s still 85/15% in favor of the latter, but that 15% is a huge improvement!*

Here are some thoughts from four months into parenthood.


I have never rooted for anything the way I have cheered for sleep

tired puppyHere’s the thing about sleep deprivation: it takes a while to compound and get to you. At first we were prepared to sleep only in short bursts. After that, getting up in the middle of the night didn’t seem so horrible because we were only doing it 1-2 times a night, and that was clearly an improvement. But the thing is this: after a few months of getting up unexpectedly in the middle of the night, it wears you down. The lack of solid bouts of sleep with the fear of having to get up at any moment eventually turns your nerves into the equivalent of a nervous chipmunk crossing an 8-lane highway at rush hour.

In desperation I essentially re-read all the books on sleep I could get, to see what the major themes were and what seemed to work and not work with Wee Connor. One thing that everyone seems to agree on: sleep begets sleep. Which means, paradoxically, the more the baby sleeps during the day, the easier it is for him to sleep at night, because once the baby goes into an “overtired” state there’s a biological reflex that pumps adrenaline into his brain that makes him not want to sleep.

Supposedly. I am not sure I have found that to be exactly true, but I’ll still go with it.

yay2What this means in practice is that babies need naps. And I can honestly say that when my favorite football team, the Florida Gators, won the national championship I did not cheer half as hard for that as I do for a random nap on any given Tuesday. If my alma mater Wake Forest somehow made it to the national title Game by some miracle of God (which I would assume would take every other football program in the country coming down with season-long bouts of mono?), it would not compare to the joy I have when Connor goes down for a nap on a random Thursday and stays down for longer than 30-40 minutes (one sleep cycle).

Things are getting better, though. I can tell that we are almost done with the nighttime feedings since they are only happening once a night. He’s going about 8-9 hours at a stretch now, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. A sweet, sweet, light of a full night’s sleep.


My hot beverage consumption apparently has no upper limit

coffeeOne time my mind drifted and I wondered, “what if there was no more coffee in the world?”

I cried.

There have been days when my having a hot beverage (coffee, tea, latte, chai latte) have been the deciding factor in getting enough strength to make dinner or ordering Thai food delivery. Of course, there have been days when it makes no difference because Thai food delivery always sounds good to me.


Diapers and changes are still just as fascinating a topic of conversation as anything in the world for my husband and I, but nobody else.

Diapers are such a large part of having a baby that it’s inevitable you just start normalizing immense amounts of conversation about them. Being alone with the baby all day has led to a new hobby of coming up with diaper-related movie titles changed only slightly. A few of my favorites recently include:

  • Apoocalypse Now
  • Forrest Dump
  • Mission: Impoossible
  • Back to the Pooture
  • Harold and Poomar Go to the Changing Table
  • Gangs of Poo York
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Poosade

You get the idea.

I need to get out more.


I thought I knew what a growth spurt was. I had no idea.

ohmygodOne of the coolest things about babies getting older is that everything becomes more intense. The smiles last longer and are accompanied by laughs. The playtime becomes even better because the toys and rattles become not just things to shake in front of the baby’s face but actual toys. On the flip side of this, the cries are louder and longer, and the growth spurts are soul-sucking.

Babies, apparently, go through a few distinct growth spurts at certain intervals, one being around 3 months and another being around 4 months, more or less. Before these, Connor had gone through some growth spurts/fussy periods, but when the 3-month one hit around the time he was about 3.25-3.5 months old I had no idea what had happened to my smiling, laughing, beautifully scheduled baby. He woke up one day and turned into a fussy, hungry feeding machine for about 3-4 days straight. The first day it happened I was so blindsided that by the end of the day I just started sobbing. When I realized that, yes, he actually was that hungry things got markedly better and worse; better in that I was feeding him all the time in what seemed around the clock and so he wasn’t wailing all the time, but worse in that I was chained to the breastfeeding pillow for what seemed like 24 hours a day.

Once the spurt was over it was like I had my same baby back, only he was actually bigger. Fun fact: babies literally, scientifically grow overnight. By the time Connor was 3.5 months old he already wasn’t fitting into some of his 3-6 month pajamas and we had to size up to the 6-9 month ones. So while my child ate me out of boob and home at least there was a reward of a markedly larger child at the end of it? So…there’s that?


My son has more wardrobe changes than Cher

90s kids, don't even act like you don't wish for this power still to this day. Sabrina4Life.

90s kids, don’t even act like you don’t wish for this power still to this day. Sabrina4Life.

Have you ever commented on a child’s outfit and the mom tells you thanks, and then tells you about the outfit the child was wearing earlier that day? Here’s the reason: sometimes your child goes through so many outfits that you just want someone else to know about the one you were so excited for the child to wear. “Oh thanks! I think that sweater is adorable, too. Earlier today he had on this sweater vest that has a dog on it! And then he spat up all over it. It was a fun 5 minutes.”

Thank goodness we have so many clothes for Wee Connor because otherwise I’d be doing laundry four times a day, instead of my current rate of however much it is it’s too much laundry.


I have discovered the true cause of diaper rash

Diaper rash is a long-debated item on what the causes and cures are. However, I’ve found the cause. Contrary to popular belief, here are a few things diaper rash is not caused by**:

  • It’s not diapers that go too long unchecked.
  • It’s not allowing the baby’s little tushy to dry completely before changing him.
  • It’s not a lack of ointments or creams or anything.

No, friends. The true cause of diaper rash is the possibility of the baby’s grandparents seeing him. Every time I have even pondered the possibility of leaving the child with his grandparents he starts getting a little red on his tush even though nothing else has changed. This is also true of scratches on his face, too-long fingernails (I swear I can check his fingernails before we get into the car and when we arrive at his grandparents’ house 20 minutes later they will be an ungodly length that make me look like a negligent mother), and really anything that has to do with the child’s hygiene or health. I am told this is a phenomenon that will never change.


Do not confuse “I need a break” with “I don’t like being a (stay-at-home) mom”

coffee break baby wearingAs it turns out, I love my new job. Love it. However, no matter how much you may love doing something, if you do it for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there will come a point when you need.a.break.

At first this was a bit hard to explain to my husband who sometimes didn’t seem to understand why I just want to go to the grocery store by myself without the baby. Or why maybe he can take the feeding before bedtime so that I can sit on the couch…alone. For just a second. When moms ask for a break sometimes it may sound desperate, but it doesn’t mean that moms, or stay-at-home moms for that matter, don’t like what they’re doing. It simply means that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is a lot. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less. Luckily for me because my husband actually cares about my wellbeing and his intentions were pure and he was actually asking if I was happy in my new life path he understood immediately when I explained this to him. He has taken the nighttime diaper changes before I come feed Connor, he helps when he gets home from work, and when I need a break to go to the grocery store, he gladly tells me to get out and go now. I am so, so lucky.


Yup, still worth it.

Every. Dang. Moment.


*Yes. I am aware this may be as good as it gets.

**These things may all cause diaper rash in reality. Don’t listen to me.

The guide to the different kinds of baby clothes

Have you ever wondered why there are so many configurations of baby clothes out there? It seems the combinations are neverending: snaps, zippers, buttons, snapping at the bottom, down the front and side, three snaps at the bottom, zippers down one side and so on and so forth?

I always thought it was to pander to people’s personal preferences until I realized the different configurations of baby clothes are entirely based on what you want to happen to them once you put them on the baby. It has nothing to do with ease of use, logic, personal preference, or cuteness. No, friends, there are powerful karmic elements at play when you dress and subsequently undress your child.

Allow me to explain what the different types of clothing configurations will mean in real-life terms.

Onesies that you pull over the baby’s head and have three snaps at the bottom

onesie napYou know the ones. These are the bread and butter of the baby world. The simple snaps at the bottom mechanism mean that your life while the baby is in the outfit is pretty much gravy. Changing is a snap (pun intended, because I’m a cheesy mom who makes cheesy mom jokes now). However, babies aren’t too thrilled at the whole “pulling clothes over their heads” thing. This fuss you will receive thrown in your face is your payment for future ease of use; it evens out. There is a reason these outfits are the ones you see on babies all the time. They are the only ones that are karmically even in the universe.

ALSO, I just learned something about these onesies. You know how they have that envelope fold over the shoulders? Well, it turns out that’s so you can take the onesie off down, instead of pulling it up in case of extreme…circumstances. Don’t say you never learned anything here.

Here’s a video explaining what I’m talking about. Try to not let your head explode.


“Wow, there sure are a lot of snaps to get this outfit closed!” 

Your baby will suddenly now go through more diapers than you could have ever imagined. I am convinced the true cure for baby constipation is a complicated onesie with a lot of snaps on the lower half of the outfit. Your reward, however, is that the outfit will stay on for a very long time.


“This zipper down the front sure does make it easy to get the baby into the outfit and to change him in the middle of the night!”

Spit up. Lots of spit up. Immediately. On the bright side, the zipper that makes the outfit so easy to get into also makes it super easy to take off.


“This is the most adorable outfit I’ve ever seen! Squeee!”

Please note the buttons at the neck area are not fully buttoned. However, I literally cannot put this sweater on my child without literally saying the word "SQUEEEEEE!" multiple times. Because seriously: SQUEE!

Please note the buttons at the neck area are not fully buttoned. However, I literally cannot put this sweater on my child without literally saying the word “SQUEEEEEE!” multiple times. Because seriously: SQUEE!

This is harder to predict, but this sentiment means one or both of the following two things:

  1. The outfit is almost impossible to put on. It is your penance if you would like the outfit to stay on. I apologize for this.
  2. You will never get out of the house with it on.

Also, the more adorable you find an outfit is exactly how unlikely it is that people will comment on how flipping adorable the outfit on the baby is if you do manage to make it out of the house. There have been times where I have all but screamed, “BUTTONS, PEOPLE. I MANAGED TO USE BUTTONS ON A SQUIRMING NEWBORN AND NOBODY IS COMMENTING ON HOW OUTRAGEOUSLY ADORABLE AND OBVIOUSLY WORTH IT THE BUTTONS ARE.” Clearly this isn’t an often occurrence because buttons on a newborn outfit are actually Satan’s handiwork quite difficult.


“Wow, this outfit is SO adorable AND SO easy to put on AND change the baby in!”

Admire this outfit from the changing table, friend, since that’s as far as that outfit is getting. Prepare yourself for every possible liquid exuding from the baby simultaneously and there is simply no way that any diaper is going to hold in the blowout you’re about to witness. Sorry.


So there you have it. These are pretty much all the occurrences I can think of while dressing a child and what the outfits spell out for the immediate future. The fact of the matter is this: babies are messy. They kind of just drip various liquids from different areas of their tiny little bodies all the time. The key I have found is to just remember to take it in stride and that a good stain remover (I like Dreft, the baby laundry detergent maker) handy by the changing table.

And to take pictures as quickly as humanly possible of the cute outfits because, again, I can assure you they won’t be on long.