Monday, May 29, 2006
So David gave Mark a crash course in how to drive a standard shift on Saturday. It was very successful. Neither of them killed the other. No one drove the car off a cliff. The engine stayed in one piece. And Nancy and I took William to Sears to have his very first formal portrait taken. He did very well for a little guy, and we got some great photos out of it. I dressed him in the little orange outfit with a tiger on the front--the one that he was supposed to wear home from the hospital, until I discovered just how small a new baby can be (I could have fit two of newborn William in the outfit). He looked darling, if I do say so myself. And luckily, there were no meltdowns during the photo session---of either me or William. And thanks to a couple of strategic wardrobe changes at Sears, we managed to successfully avoid any unfortunate diaper incidents, too. Grandmas and other relatives: those pictures should be back in another 10 days or so, so hang on. They're worth waiting for. Nancy and I had a hard time choosing which ones to order because, of course, they were all cute.
But in the meantime... here's Mark holding William:
And a shot of David feeding William a bottle (as William guzzles down the bottle with gusto I've never seen before in someone so small)...
Thursday, May 25, 2006
It's activity mat time!
I tried out the activity mat a couple of weeks ago, and William was not impressed. Of course, at about three weeks old, I don't know how much of the mat he could actually see, so I guess his response was to be expected.
However, I put him on the mat earlier this week, and it was a completely different experience. His eyes widened as he looked all this neat! stuff! hanging! over! him. An alligator! A butterfly! A round red squishy thing that plays a tune that Mommy can't quite remember! He can't quite manage to control his arm and leg movement, but it looked to me like he was trying to bat at some of the little hanging toys that dangled from the activity mat's arches. He also opened and closed his mouth, in a baby version of "hey, this is kinda cool!" and he moved his eyes around, trying to take it all in. It managed to occupy him for more than a few minutes--eons in baby time. Millennia, even. I think he definitely gets an A in activity mat time.
William's also working on an A plus in Tummy Time. After he goggles at the neat hanging stuff, I flip him over and see what he does. He sort of bobs his head around mostly and attempts to gum the mat beneath him, but he does usually manage to get his head turned to one side, then the other, in sort of a bob-and-weave technique that would make any boxer proud. That's my boy! He can move his head around in a haphazard fashion! Next stop, Princeton!
But seriously, it's amazing to see how much his responses are changing in such a short amount of time. He is growing and changing before our eyes, and his cognitive responses are changing, too. It's like the ultimate science project. He's staying alert for longer periods of time, and while I don't know exactly what he perceives during those periods of time, he seems to be more curious about the small world around him. Of course, the alert periods are still vastly outnumbered by the "feed me! feed me NOW!" sessions and the crying jags and the poopy diapers, but they give me hope.
Monday, May 22, 2006
David and I celebrated by eating gooey chocolate brownies, while William hung out in his bouncy chair, having no clue what was going on.
He also weighs 9 lbs, and almost 9 oz now. I swear, you can see him grow right before your eyes. He grew overnight a few days ago, and you can look at him and just tell that he's bigger. We took some photos of him on Saturday, when he turned four weeks old, so I need to download them and post a few. He gets cuter every day too (not that I'm biased or anything). He's about to outgrow his little newborn outfits. Which makes sense, I suppose, now that he's a month old. I'm pulling out some of the 0-3 month clothes (clothes that were huge on him just a week ago) and am trying them out. Some of them actually fit. David says the growth curve for infants is very steep, and I completely believe it. It's a good thing that the growth rate eventually smooths out, or we'd have a six-foot preschooler on our hands in a few years.
Yes, David and I bought a new car, a family car, this weekend. We are now the proud owners of a shiny new silver Honda Accord. It's really nice. And oh, it's so spacious. Such a change from my little Protege and David's Integra. And, David points out, has XM satellite radio built in. We were pretty certain we were going to be getting a new car, but we both hate negotiating car prices. David was planning to use USAA's negotiating service, but then when we finally found the car we wanted, the dealership started playing hardball (you knew they would) and telling us they couldn't hold the car. Knowing that my role in this whole process was to be the bad cop, I held firm in telling the dealership guys that we weren't interested in their offers. But David finally took me aside and told me that we might as well go ahead and negotiate because we couldn't risk them selling the car we had found. Not when David's upcoming call schedule would preclude us from being able to drive around and look for new cars. So I said, fine, whatever.
The salesman and his manager sat down with us to negotiate, and of course, William chose that time to begin crying. When he gets hungry, as you faithful readers know, there is no negotiating with him. It's feed him or else. His little face turned red, and he began flailing his arms. Too late for the binky. Too late for a nice turn around the lobby in the stroller. But I couldn't exactly go off with the baby and leave David alone with these sharks---er, salesmen. I was worried that David would be too nice if they tried to convince him to do something that he might not want to do. I'm a reporter by profession; it's hard to intimidate me. People often assume that I look like a nice person and try to convince me that I don't really need that piece of information or that I can't talk to this person. That's pointless, of course, because I'm used to standing up for myself in such situations and I don't back down. So I knew what had to be done. I hitched up my chair next to David, draped a baby blanket over my shoulder and gave William his mid-afternoon snack, and we agreed on a mutually acceptable price. The salesmen never even blinked at what I was doing.
If you had told me even two months ago, that I'd be simultaneously debating prices with a car salesman and nursing my son, I'd never have believed you. Would it be too much of an understatement to say that parenthood brings all sorts of new experiences that one cannot anticipate? Not exactly how I envisioned buying a new car, but you know, you do what you have to do. William was happy--and more importantly, he was quiet---and we got our new car. Man, it's a nice car, too. Definitely worth the weird way we got it!
Friday, May 19, 2006
Early one morning during William's first week of life, David picked a crying William out of the Pack n Play and cuddled him to his chest. He brought him back over to the bed, where I was still lying, andI heard him croon, softly, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" to his little boy. It was so sweet that I began to cry. (Of course later, I thought about the song itself and said, "Hey, isn't that a funeral song?" but I digress. It was still an incredibly sweet and tender moment.) It made me feel like we really were a family, somehow.
Sometimes when William gets all riled up and red-faced, David will pull out the big gun: he sings "Rockefeller Skank" by Fat Boy Slim to Wiliam. It almost never fails. William nearly always stops crying and stares at his daddy in awe. The lyrics go something like "Right about now, the funk soul brother, check it out now, the funk soul brother," but of course, David's version is about "the funk soul William." It is, bar none, one of my favorite things to witness. The song is kind of catchy, too, so I usually find myself sort of humming and bobbing my head along. This is inevitably the sort of story that David and I will feel compelled to tell over and over again as William gets older and will eventually inspire him to get embarrassed by his silly old parents and beg us to never tell it again. I'll make a note to tell his future prom date. Y'all remind me if I forget.
On another note...A long time ago, I read something that claimed that all Southern women eventually turn into their mothers. Well, I don't know if that's absolutely true per se, I do find myself doing and saying things that eerily remind me of my own mama. In fact, I think I look more like my mother, the older I get. I have a picture on the fridge of me, Mom and Diane, and Mom and I have the exact same smile, and our eyes are squinted in the sunlight in the exact same way. I even find myself hearing her voice when I say "Bubble for Mommy" when I'm burping William, which is exactly what Mom used to say to me and to John when she would burp us.
But I think I may have to admit that I have accidentally discovered what may be the strongest evidence yet. This week, I bought a container of Wet Ones. Voluntarily. And not only that, I put them in my car. I am now Prepared for Emergencies. If that doesn't prove that I'm slowly turning into my mama, I don't know what does. Next thing you know, I'll try to convince somebody who says he's thirsty to chew some gum.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
So I cast about for ideas. I wasn't feeling creative, so I figured, tell him a story that someone else came up with and hit on "The Three Little Pigs." Well, they really should offer a refresher course on songs, nursery rhymes, and children's stories for people like me because I told him what is quite possibly the worst rendition ever of "The Three Little Pigs." I couldn't remember what the three little pigs built their houses out of! I remembered the straw, and of course, I remembered the brick since it was what defeated the big bad wolf, but for the life of me, I couldn't think of what the second little piggy built his house out of. I finally decided that William wouldn't know if I was making things up, so I just said, "Dirt! The second pig built his house out of dirt." About the only parts of the story I really did remember were "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down!" (which I acted out) and "Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin." Of course, I'm not really sure I said those parts in the right order, but I digress. I never could think of what that blasted second pig used to build his silly house.
David immediately said, "Sticks. He built his house out of sticks" when I casually asked him if he happened to know what the pig built his house from. Geez. Why did he remember this and I was the one who completely blanked out? I guess that David does try to keep up with what's current with the preschool set, given his job and all, but that tends to run more along the lines of Blue's Clues and Dora the Explorer these days.
And whose bright idea was it to have a story about pigs building houses anyway? Stupid fairy tales.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Monday, May 15, 2006
When William was only a couple of days old, I started out by reading the perennial favorite "Good Night Moon" to him, while we snuggled on my bed. When I was little, I always loved looking for the little mouse on each page, so I'm looking forward to teaching William to do that when he's big enough to really follow along. In the meantime, however, I point out the mouse to him anyway, for my own amusement.
We've read an eclectic variety of other stuff since then: a couple of Baby Einstein books, an article about the new documentary on Al Gore from the New Yorker, part of an article about the Democratic Party's woes in the Economist, and today, a Sports Illustrated article debating whether or not Barbaro can win the Triple Crown this year. I'm not sure if any of these made much of an impression on William, though. I will say one thing, though: it's sort of exhausting when I read the big magazine pieces to him because I always feel compelled to fill in all the details of things that the authors assume that their readers already know about. William, of course, doesn't yet understand that the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont States are the three races that make up the Triple Crown, and he wasn't around for the 2000 presidential election, either. Let me tell you: nothing is quite as absurd as trying to explain the electoral college to a tiny baby. But hey, you never know, what these kids are going to pick up, right? :)
Maybe I'll downshift back to "Good Night Moon" again for awhile. Or hey, we have a new copy of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" around here somewhere, and if there's anything that William instinctively gets, it's eating!
Happy Mother's Day!
Here I am with my little boy, out in front of our rose garden. He doesn't look too happy, does he? :) I'll try to post some other photos from this series later. We just wanted to have a few pictures to mark our first Mother's Day together. It was a pretty uneventful day, given that William is only three weeks old. However, David got me the most beautiful vase of huge, fragrant white lilies with violet roses and other flowers, and he made me pancakes (yeah, pancakes!) for dinner. What a great husband. William honored the day by spending lots and lots of time with his mommy.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Yes, we had another long sleepless night here. He slept from 10 to 12, and then not again. We were up with him literally all night long. I got one short nap around 5 when David sat up and held him for about 30 or 45 minutes. David got a couple of catnaps when I was feeding William during one of his many nursing sessions. Then David took him this morning for about 1.5 hours to let me nap. Then William nursed, then David took him back out to the living room again for another hour or so. I was so grateful to David for doing that, especially while he's on call, but I just had hit the point where I couldn't function, I was so bleary. William's been nursing most of the day, too. He doesn't eat a lot at any one time, but woe to me and David if we remove him from the breast. David likes to paraphrase a line from "Little Shop of Horrors" when William is hungry in the middle of the night: "Feed me, Mama! Feed me all night long!" Ah, life imitates art once again.
Right now, William is lying on my lap, which is acceptable to the little prince because he's being held. But if I were to, oh, put him in the swing or bassinette, I'd hear an earful about it mighty quick. He's so cute in his little blue-and-white-striped onesie and matching hat that it's hard to believe that he can be such a terror when he gets all worked up! Even his little feet turn red when he's upset and angry and crying. Okay. I'm going in. I'm going to see if he'll let me put him down. Wish me luck!
Friday, May 12, 2006
What's interesting to me, I've discovered but didn't write in the column, is that older women tend to wax eloquently and nostalgically about how great it is to have children and how I should cherish every moment, etc. etc. Younger moms usually look at me sympathetically and say things like, "It gets better, I promise" and "They really do start sleeping better soon." I guess it's easy to forget that the first months of motherhood are sort of like bootcamp (but with nursing bras instead of camouflage fatigues) when your kids are grown. Luckily for me, Mom and Diane (my mama-in-law) both remember what it was really like to have babies, and they're being incredibly supportive (thanks, y'all). I guess David and I and our brothers are walking, talking proof that babies do eventually grow up. I'm definitely not ready for William to grow up yet. There really is so much to look forward to. For example, I can hardly wait until he starts to smile. Or wants to play peekaboo. But as I've written before, oh, to have more sleep!
In fact, that's what I should be doing right now! William, bless his tired little heart, is snoozing away in the Pack n Play, after accompanying me on a series of errands today. We're both pretty exhausted, I think. It takes three times as long to do anything with an infant along--I have to fit in nursing and diaper change breaks--and that makes me tired, but I'm sure that any extended outing is exhausting to a nearly three-week-old infant. On the upside, at least I got my errands done. I got a few new items of clothing for the old post-partum bod, picked up a couple of things for William, got some info and prices from the portrait studio at Sears, and bought chocolates for David. Not bad for a newbie mom and baby son on their first journey out of Twentynine Palms together without Daddy.
I have to admit that I did start to cry in the Sears parking lot. It was near the end of the day, I was so tired, and William had been crying for at least 15 minutes and nothing was calming him down. I had fed him, changed him, given him his binky. He was even in his carseat, which is usually the closest thing we have to an ace. But he must have just been hot and tired, just like I was. A very nice older woman pulled into the parking spot next to me as I was collapsing the stroller to put back in the trunk. She said something bland and kind about it being hard to maneuver with so much stuff with a baby, and tears started to well up in my eyes. She asked me if I was okay, and I began to cry. "Yes," I managed to get out. "Are you sure?" she asked. "Yes, I'm just tired," I said. "Are you sure you're okay to drive?" she asked. "Yes, I'll be fine," I said. And I got in the driver's seat, cranked the AC to make sure William was getting some cool air, and sobbed for a few minutes. Am I a mess or what? I'm so lucky in so many ways, having a healthy baby son. But when I'm tired, it just seems to make me lose all perspective for a little while. Eventually I calmed down, and we drove home, uneventfully. We came home to David, who was glad to see us both. We were pretty glad to see him, too. David changed William's diaper, I fed him, and he went down for a nap. I got a lovely hot shower and dinner. David's ensconced in front of the TV, watching the latest episode of "Dr. Who." It's just a nice quiet Friday night, with our little family. I guess (cue the music) there really is no place like home.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
On a completely different note, I just wrote my very first column for the paper that I work for, The Desert Sun. William's going to be famous! He'll get written up in the paper before he's even a month old.l The features editor called the other day and asked me to write a Mother's Day column about becoming a mother and motherhood in general. I wrote some last night, with one hand, while holding William, and then some more this afternoon--in between feeding sessions, and then finished it up a few minutes ago. I hope it goes over well. I am really psyched to get the chance to do something like that, so I'm crossing my fingers that it's okay! I'm definitely not an expert on motherhood, but that's something that I wrote about. Check out the website on Sunday to see what you think. If you hate it, please don't tell me, though.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
William, however, is nothing if not a baby who lives on the edge. David and I test-drove two new cars today down at the Honda-Toyota-Acura dealership down in Cathedral City, and Prince William got to come along for the ride. Okay, technically, he only rode in one car (a Honda Accord), but it still counts. We realized a few days ago that David's car may be too small for a family of three, one of whom may only weigh eight pounds but requires many more pounds of stuff, including a car seat. And the car seat really just doesn't fit well into the tiny backseat of David's two-door car. And when it does barely fit, it shoves the passenger side seat so far toward the dashboard that no one who is eligible to ride in that seat without a car or booster seat would be able to comfortably sit in it anyway. So we figured we'd start researching new, larger cars. Today was our first venture out onto the car lot with a real purpose in mind. We wanted to check out a few cars, see how they handled, see how big the trunks were (to hold all of William's stuff, heavy packer that he is), and just get a sense of what we're interested in. William is tough to impress, though. He slept through his test drive. Oh well.
A recent development may be speeding up the car-buying process, too. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
By the way, I want to give a quick shout out to all the friends and family who have so generously showered us with baby gifts. David and I are truly thankful to all of you. Thanks to you, William is clothed, warm and entertained. For example, here's a snapshot of the bambino enjoying the groovin' new swing that my friend Miller and her husband Nathan recently sent to him. It affords him the opportunity to spend some quality time in a sitting position with Mr. Froggy, a gift from my doctor, Toni Marengo. I'm working on getting all the thank you notes out in the mail.
Monday, May 08, 2006
So it was an eventful day for us. We also attended the breastfeeding support group at the hospital after the appointment, then detoured by the post office and Jack in the Box on the way home. I'm learning quickly that it's best to consolidate all errands into as few trips as possible, so as to reduce the baby-wrangling necessary to accomplish said errands.
Of course, I may have tried to cram too much into one day today. When we finally arrived home, I sat down at the kitchen table to wolf down my burger while William dozed in his carseat on the floor next to me. I told him that I'd take him back to change and feed him as soon as I could eat. Ha. I paid for that. When I finally carried him back to the bedroom, I noticed that he had baby poop spilling out both sides of his diaper (darn Pampers!) and onto the carseat and all over his socks and legs. Aaack! I tried, really tried, to clean him up, but he was a mess. No, he was a Mess. I pulled off the socks and tried to wipe him off a bit before taking him out of the seat and putting him on the changing table. Then when I got him on the table, I discovered that he really did have poop up and down his legs. Of course, as soon as I got the diaper off and made a dent in that little problem, William peed all over the place, creating a big pool underneath him. Of course. A Mess, multiplied by the power of...well, you know.
I finally realized that even a big handful of the super-sensitive Huggies wipes were not going to solve my problem, and picked up the little poopy guy and rushed him into the bathroom for an impromptu bath in the sink. He was a little bemused at the new environment--I could just see him wondering what on earth this crazy woman was thinking, putting him in this cold sink. Whatever the infant version of Dorothy Parker's famous "What fresh hell is this?" was clearly broadcast all over his little face. See, I was all worried about the water being too hot, so I'm afraid I may have erred on the side of the water being a tad too cold. (Sorry, little man! It was a command performance, and I wasn't really prepared, you see. No time to calibrate the instruments or finetune any other analogies.) After enduring Mommy's fumbling attempts to clean him off---and oh no! wash his head! The horror, the horror!--William was glad to take refuge in the dignity of his Peter Rabbit hooded towel. Oh, the drama. Oh, the humanity.
We'll have his official first bath in his little bathtub, complete with baby wash and toys (and Daddy) later this week. Today was just a dress rehearsal. Er, or an undressed rehearsal, as it was. I'll be sure to test out the water and make sure that it's at an optimal temperature. And I'll bring along the camera, too.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I was cheerful enough to sing songs to him during his most recent feeding this morning, around 9:30. (We covered an unusual span of music, ranging from the ABC song to the farmer songs such as "Old McDonald" and "Bingo" to "Verdi Cries" by Ten Thousand Maniacs to "My Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music to "Away in a Manger." I was getting a little desperate for new material there at the end. I tend to resort to old faithfuls like "Row Row Row Your Boat" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" when I'm tired but he's awake and I feel compelled to entertain him with something. However, I was trying to go beyond the basics, in case he's getting bored with them. If anyone knows of any good songs to sing to babies, please let me know. I've half-considered singing old sorority songs to him, in moments of "what other songs do I even know the lyrics to?")
David just suggested that since we "got so much sleep" that we hold a "Veronica Mars-a-thon" this afternoon to get caught up on all the Tivo'd episodes of one of our favorite TV shows. I quickly agreed. Our Tivo is nearly full of all the shows that we mean to watch and then somehow don't get around to. I figure, we have a better excuse now than we used to, though. But it still doesn't mean that I don't miss a little easy TV watching. Bring on "Veronica Mars"!
Saturday, May 06, 2006
I'm hoping to record my thoughts and feelings--and maybe a few amusing anecdotes--about what it's like to be a new parent. I'm very fortunate to have a wonderful partner in this whole endeavor, my husband David. We've agreed that we're happy to have William in our lives now, but every once in awhile, one of us will look down at him and, in response to the huge wave of Responsibility that washes over us, think, "Oh my, what have we done?" Not that we aren't thrilled to have him here, but wow. We are responsible for the entire life of this tiny little helpless person! But I guess everyone has to start out being a new parent at some point, right?
William is a wonderful baby, and we're really looking forward to watching him grow up. Okay, we're really really really looking forward to him sleeping through the night first, but then it's going to be a lot of fun to watch him discover things like flashing lights on a Christmas tree and the joy of building a tottering tower of blocks. And of course, David can't wait for William to play kiddie soccer and discover comic books. In the meantime, we're just getting to know him, and I guess he's just getting to know us, too.