I’m taking a quick break from packing for our weekend away to say hello, dear reader. We’re going to visit the Huxtables–two of our best friends from college, so named because he’s a doctor and she’s a lawyer–and couldn’t be more excited. The Huxtables may need rebranding now that Bill Cosby has turned out to be a creepy rapist. That doesn’t necessarily do nice things to my childhood.
Anyway, our Huxtables live in Baltimore, and we’ll be flying with the kiddos for the first time in almost a year, and for Little Liebchen’s last time as a lap infant. Who knows how they’ll do on the flight? Das Big Boy should be fine, especially because he can watch this on repeat:
He also has nerd apps on an iPad (his OT introduced Write My Name and I Write Words for working on letter formation, and he loves them.) I’ll pack his favorite Cars characters, some small new surprises, the books that are hot right now (A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Road Hog, George and Martha, Dig) and he should be good to go. It’s harder to predict LL’s behavior. Last time around, I could just shove a boob in her mouth and she’d nod off to sleep. But she’s big now, and likely to shout “I want more boob milk!” or “I want da other boob!” which could be a bit much. I’m not opposed to publicly nursing a twenty-two month old, so yes, boobs are on the table (remember that game from high school and college? It was a favorite! Now that I’ve been pregnant or nursing since early 2010, pretty sure I don’t have to lean down as far to get them there). But I hope to see what other tricks work with her. She likes to color, so I’ll have art stuff, stickers, and a few new toys. But let’s be honest, a squirmy toddler in your lap just isn’t that comfortable. Let’s hope she doesn’t get all shrieky and kicky. If she does, I’m so buying drinks for the people near me and especially the people that are me.
Once we’re in Baltimore, the weekend will be a melange of cute kids, gabbing, overeating, lazing around, ambling, fun kid activities, board games, and wine. I’ll update you to let you know if it actually unfolds as I envision it, or if the Husband Hausfraus torture poor Rudy with synchronized toy snatching.
It was a lovely day for the Husband Hausfraus, or at least for the Hipster and her offspring. Herr Husband was at work. But we three walked to Trader Joe’s, had lunch at Sweet Corner, made a UPS truck out of an Amazon box (that had ironically arrived via Fed Ex), and capped it off with a delightful wine-fueled play date with ‘Burban Bestie and her babes.
But the day was not without a teachable moment, which I feel duty bound to share.
Sometimes, when Hipster Hausfrau is walking around her idyllic suburb, she starts to feel a little boss. It began at TJs, where they were playing “Tell Me Something Good.”
Who doesn’t want to dance when they hear that song? And one great thing about children is that they totally legitimize singing and dancing in the grocery store. What a great mom, people think, totally unafraid to make an ass of herself in order to keep those babies happy. To be fair, what I really wanted to do was cut loose with some hair swinging, getting low, grinding it out stripper dancing, but I held back. Almost entirely. And then my smugsbyness continued on the walk to lunch; this may have been related to my outfit choice which involved skinny jeans, legwarmers, and some gray go-go type boots with little heels. I confess that I may have been checking myself out in store windows.
After lunch, at which the children earned accolades for their behavior, I was basically feeling like hot shit as I strolled home.
And then the weight of the food I had purchased to feed my family outweighed my children, thereby causing the stroller to tip back in middle of the street, such that my children and groceries were flat on their backs and I was flat on my face. Yup. I totally bit it. Blame the heels on the boots.
But anyway, the kids were totally fine, the groceries were totally fine, and I was totally fine. Not even embarrassed because when I’m in a good mood, things like this immediately strike me as hilarious. But oddly, the woman who had pulled up as I was crossing the street just sat there. She, her daughter (about my age), and two grandchildren (about my kids’ ages) waited patiently as I checked on my kids, adjusted my groceries, and dusted myself off. I waved an apology, and she nodded.
But then she drove off. Didn’t roll down her window to ask if I needed help or even if the kids and I were ok.
What the fuck is up with that?
I would have gotten out of the car to make sure the mom was ok. Isn’t that what friendly, busybody-small-town living is all about?
Asshole, I muttered. And not that quietly. It’s a word I know Das Big Boy already has access to, because I am usually careful about my swearing until I’m not, and he once informed me that a truck was fixing some assholes in the street.
But then I realized this was a teachable moment.
“What do you think that lady should have said to us?” I asked DBB.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“When she saw that we had fallen, I think she should have asked us…” I looked at him expectantly.
“Are you ok?” he asked.
“Exactly.” I told him. “Are you ok? Do you need help?”
So that’s my lesson people. I guess it’s two lessons. If you think you’re hot stuff, the universe will remind you to take it down a level. But also, if you see your fellow man (or mom) in trouble, help a sister out. Don’t ignore her because you’re worried she might be embarrassed or you’re in some all-fired hurry.
Check on people.
Make sure they’re ok.
Show a little love.
Tell me something good.
Remember how I was all smugsby about how delightful my life was? Like, immediately after I posted that I got sick. I’m also one of those people who never really gets sick (I like to come down with major health issues instead, then have them seemingly go into remission. Ask me about my thyroid and my colon some other time). But I was fever-chills-unable-to-get-off-the-couch-sick for three days (thankfully it was Saturday, Sunday, Monday, so I was able to pull it off with some big assists from Herr Husband and my parents). Then I was sort of half-assed sick with a disgusting chest cough and general malaise for an additional week. Oddly, and thankfully, it appears HH brought this illness home from a trip to Mobile, and bestowed it upon me but not the Kinder, which is good given DBB’s pulmonary history and all. Anyway, I felt craptastic and looked worse. I finally started feeling better yesterday, and good thing, too, because today Little Liebchen and I had PEANUT CHALLENGE!
Yes, this sounds like a cage match for cute small children like LL (who, btw, is completely full-blown walking. It’s how she locomotes now, and has been for several weeks). But, no. It’s what you have to endure if the first peanut product you feed to your baby-led-weaning baby is spicy peanut noodles, and she goes just a bit blotchy around the mouth. Then you mention this offhandedly to your pediatrician, hoping he’ll encourage you to fish a peanut butter cup out of your purse (come on, don’t even pretend there isn’t one in there) so you can feed it to her, prove she’s fine, and be on your merry way. Instead, he sends you to an allergist, who does a skin test, which the baby passes, then a blood test, which she passes, then still insists she do a PEANUT CHALLENGE, wherein the doctor thinks you will feed your baby what your baby considers to be ungodly amounts of peanut butter (but which you, ESA, Mo, or several other folks wouldn’t blink twice at eating off a spoon).
So here’s how that goes: They take LL’s vital signs, then bring me a spoon with 1/4 teaspoon of peanut butter on it, tell me to feed it to her, and leave the room. I coo and offer it to LL. She pushes spoon away. Repeat. I manage to wipe some in LL’s mouth, and she acts as if I have fed her fish paste or an old sock (except she loves the latter). She won’t let spoon near her mouth again. I hand her spoon. She throws it on the floor, and begins to chant, “Boob, boob, boob,” in her adorable little fratty spring break 1999 way. I summon the nurse. The doctor tells me, “Don’t hand her the spoon. You hold it.” Does this woman have children? Did she baby led wean them in my tried and true (if by true you mean failed): “You eat broccoli while I eat fries and your brother eats Goldfish method?” I didn’t think so.
They go to get me more peanut butter.
“I’m going to wipe it on my boob.” I tell the nurse.
“Do you want me to just leave it on the knife then?” she asks. This strikes me as odd, but hey, I’m the one about to slather peanut butter on my boobs in a doctor’s office. She gives me peanut butter and leaves.
I pop out the preferred boob, and wipe peanut butter on my nipple. (Come on pervs, come and find me!). “Boo-oob,” I tell LL in my most tempting voice. She latches, then gives me a filthy look, and we undergo an epic battle where I manage to get her to eat some of the peanut butter and she manages to terrify the entire office with her screams, then pull peanut butter off of my nipple with her fingers to wipe it on my shirt.
The doctor comes in to check her vitals. “Try to keep the peanut butter on the paper on the table,” she suggests. Now I have friends with peanut allergic kids and the last thing I want to do is kill someone. I’m very allergy sensitive (it goes with my having expected people to be germ sensitive). But seriously. Does the doctor understand the battle of wills going on in here? Has she met a baby?
So we wait fifteen minutes, and they bring in a half-teaspoon of peanut butter. More of the same ensues, with peanut butter winding up all over my outfit, once she figures out she can pull it out of her mouth with her hands and still swallow breast milk.
Same vitals, etc. The good news is she’s doing fine and showing no signs of allergy. The bad news is we and the room have become peanut butter death bombs. The worse news is that the nurse returns with two TABLESPOONS of peanut butter. “Last dose!” she chirps.
I laugh. I really like the doctor and nurses in this practice, and I think they’re great. Warm, responsive, knowledgable. But not realistic. “There is no WAY she’s going to eat that,” I tell her. “If you guys want to tie her to the table and force feed her, you can try. But I don’t think she’s going to eat it.”
So the doctor releases us, deciding they’ve done enough. But releases us actually means we have to sit in the office for an hour. Thankfully, there was a sixteen-month-old boy there waiting for an appointment, so we got an unplanned playdate out of the deal (and we didn’t even kill him!). And the verdict was that she’s good to eat peanuts, ramping up slowly (which doesn’t seem like a problem, except now she’s allowed to have peanut butter cups and peanut butter crackers so she’ll want to eat 9 million tablespoons of the stuff).
And I left looking like this.
Yes, the wee Husband Hausfraus have been struck by a poopstorm. A Poopocalypse (Now). Poopmageddon. Poopnado.
Das Big Boy and Little Liebchen are in the midst of a GI event. Thus far, it’s only caused frequent, explosive diarrhea (as opposed to the diarrhea and vomiting model so many of our friends’ kids have been rocking). KNOCK ON WOOD. Seriously. All of the wood.
In general, I’m able to keep a sense of humor when my life turns into one long succession of particularly grim diaper changes. It’s like when LL was a newborn and they would both cry at once and I would laugh at myself because it seemed like something out of a sitcom. Like that, only with poop. Did I mention that there was a lot of poop?
But this morning was a little sad because poor DBB had a fever and just felt crappy (figuratively in addition to literally). He lay down and watched two consecutive episodes of Sesame Street. For those of you who know him, this is a clear sign of how sick he was. In general, it’s almost impossible for him to sit still (unless he’s being read to–books are magic for him). I think it’s a preemie sensory thing, actually. After all, he was supposed to be in a delightful amniotic sea the last three months of his gestation. Instead, he spent six weeks cramped up in a popped balloon and then three months being poked, prodded, shuffled and splayed. So now he’s a superwiggler. But not this morning. He was downright lazy. He had a low fever, which I ordinarily wouldn’t treat, but he was so clearly unhappy that I wanted to try drugging him to see if it helped. Problem? I had no drugs. (Well, none of those drugs. But he seemed like Xanax was the last thing he needed).
So I put out an AMB (All Moms Bulletin) to my local mama pals (the group mentioned in yesterday’s post), and several wonderful ladies offered to help me out. Ladybird, who has two kiddos of her own, dropped off the (dye-free, of course) Motrin (not Tylenol, because I swear DBB’s body can tell the difference) and wouldn’t even take my money or complain about my annoyingly precise demands. Awesomeness.
I feel really lucky to have friends I can turn to in a shitstorm. It’s what everyone wants, and it’s nice as a stay-at-home-mom who’s been in the ‘burbs for a couple of years to know that I’ve built a community of folks to whom I can turn. In a way, it’s closer to college than anything I’ve had since. My friends are nearby, and I can ask for help when I need it.
This brings me to my final mushy point before I tell more poop stories: Ask your friends for help. I didn’t know how to do this when DBB was in the NICU. So HH and I hid out in our fox hole, and were lucky that our friends knew how to help without our asking: sending six red velvet cupcakes to us at the hospital, sending a peapod giftcard so we’d remember to eat, faking reasons to come to NYC or the way Upper West so they could visit us and DBB (then Das Fetal-Baby) without making us feel pressured, writing us emails or leaving us voicemails without expecting to hear back. Lots of other well meaning people asked what they could do and we said, “nothing,” as if we had it all under control. We didn’t. We were just in such a shitstorm that we didn’t even know what we needed. I learned from that the importance of knowing how to ask for help. And I learned that friends really want to help, so that when people ask or offer, it’s ok, even a good thing, to accept. It makes both of you feel good. So Ladybird, thank you. And I look forward to returning the favor. But hopefully not during a shitstorm, because I certainly don’t wish that on you.
The highlight of today went thusly:
I was upstairs with LL trying to get her down for a nap. She finally fell asleep and I gently deposited her in her crib. When I got downstairs, I found DBB in the living room standing very still.
“I need clean socks,” he told me.
I looked at him. “You’re wearing footie pajamas. Why do you need socks?”
“I need to go poop in the potty.” I got closer, “Oh, you made poop,” I said. “Do you want to go make more in the potty?” Note: Das Big Boy often likes to ask to use the potty after he’s already done so. In his diaper. He will also tell you before he’s going to poop or pee, but if you offer the potty he simply says. “No. I want to poop in the fireplace.” And then does (in a diaper).
As we walked to the bathroom, I began to suspect what awaited me. As if she did, too, LL started to wail upstairs. When DBB and I got to the safe zone, I took off his pajamas to find that poop had indeed run down to his feet. He was less than pleased, so I comforted him as I cleaned him up and then deposited him, now quite cheerful, on the potty.
I scampered upstairs and had started nursing LL again when I heard water, or at least something wet. Oh no, I thought, is he pooping on the floor? But it went on too long for that. I started downstairs, thinking Maybe he’s washing his hands. Yeah. Maybe.
I arrived to an overflowing toilet. I tried to keep LL out of the bathroom while I grabbed towels to block the flow of water. She responded with a poop of her own. I lifted the back off of the toilet tank to stop the water from running. DBB thought it looked fun, lifted the tank lid and dropped it back on the tank such that the lid broke. As I tried to contain the poop, water, and hysteria, I tried calling HH to share the fun news from home. But he couldn’t hear me over the chaos. In an exasperated tone, as if he were the only one having a busy day, he told me to call from the home phone. So I sent him this picture with the text “And flooded bathroom.”
“That is not good,” he replied.
“I’ve noticed.” I wrote.
I put DBB in the bathtub, mopped up the bathroom, and changed LL’s diaper. She has diaper rash, of course, which I am treating with the hippie mom approach of breastmilk and coconut oil, so that when she doesn’t smell like cat poop she smells like an umbrella drink.
I think the total shitstorm count was LL: 7 DBB: 5. Could be worse, I realize.
Let’s hope it doesn’t get worse. Let’s also hope it gets better before I’m supposed to be drinking actual umbrella drinks in St. Thomas. Six days from now. Don’t hate. I’m pretty sure I got poop in my hair today.
I’m still feeling a bit odd blogging about myself in the midst of the Newtown tragedy. But I also don’t think I can say anything productive about it. We’re all heartsick and shaken and devastated, and (I believe given that I know my readership), fortunate to be experiencing this horror from a distance. I could do some political railing, but again, I know most of my friends agree with me on issues like gun control (one of the advantages of living in a liberal bubble), and I also know I’m not going to change the minds of those who don’t agree. So I guess what I’m saying is I don’t really want to talk about it, but I felt like something had to be said before I began nattering about my more typical inanities.
The Husband Hausfraus have officially moved back into their own home, much to the delight, no doubt, of the ever helpful and gracious and welcoming La Gigi and El Papa. They put up with us for ten days and even made it seem like they enjoyed having us there! Das Big Boy loved the time with his grandparents, and Herr Husband and I were grateful to be cared for (and fed) so kindly and generously! It’s nice to be back in our house–now with heat!!–and Das Big Boy was definitely excited to see all of his toys and books again.
This morning Das Big Boy attended his music class at Boston Children’s Hospital. It’s a special class run by the HOPE (Home Oxygen Parent Exchange) Program, the brainchild of best-doctor-ever Larry Rhein. It’s a music class for NICU alums and pulmonology patients who have to be hyper-vigilant about germs. For families still experiencing some sort of cold/flu season lockdown, it’s a lifeline: a place the parents know is safe, where the children can engage in fun and developmentally appropriate activities, and a place where parents can talk to folks in similar situations. Our first two winters “on the outside,” it was a godsend. And now Das Big Boy has transformed into one of the kids I used to watch with a hopeful heart! As we know, he’s been struggling a bit socially of late, but with the exception the occasional barrage of “Mommy!” shouts and one brief exit to calm down, he had a really good time. He was super excited to sing “Five Little Monkeys,” the countdown aspect of which bores him as his favorite number is five. He banged on his drum and invited himself to play the teacher’s guitar after class. All in all, a success, according to Herr Husband.
Tonight we had a new bedtime story for the first time in a while (which sadly meant we didn’t get to hear Das Big Boy doing the voices for Interrupting Chicken): the always delightful One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Usually, Herr Husband and I jockey to read the most fun parts:
“Oh, what a bed! Oh, what a house!” (25).
“At our house, we open cans. We have to open many cans. And that is why we have a Zans” (37).
“This is no good and I know why. A mouse has cut the wire. Good-by!” (53).
But tonight we invited each other to read these parts. Aw, shucks! Maybe ’cause it’s bedrest date night. Which looks not that different from any other evening, except there’s a full movie watched, usually with snack food. (And get your mind out of the gutter. Pelvic rest continues until I’m trying to induce labor–should we get to that point, and should I be able to convince Herr Husband that it sounds like any fun at all…).
And on that note, I wish you sweet dreams, sweet ballerinas.
I’ve just emerged from my (twice a week) shower, and it was delightful. Showers are more pleasing when you put them off. Trust me, I am an expert in this field.
Now: a confession.
I’m practicing a sports superstition technique that I employed when I was on hospital bedrest with Das Big Boy. At the time, I had no choice. I had to beg for sponge baths and to have my hair washed. (That first shower after four weeks was, in fact, amazing, fyi). So shaving my pits wasn’t really possible. But then I decided not to shave my armpits until Das Big Boy was out of the NICU. Similarly, I didn’t drink wine until he came home (guess which was the greater hardship). I also forbade Herr Husband from shaving his face. I didn’t cut my hair. It was our way of showing solidarity. The results were alarming. Actually, my armpit hair was less scary than our head hair. And it turns out armpit just quits growing at maybe half an inch.
This overshare puts me in mind of another. Confession #2. I sometimes lurk on pregnant lady fora. I’m not a contributor, but I like reading about other people’s braxton hicks, or mothers-in-law, or weight gain. A recent popular topic on the January Due Date message board on What to Expect.com has been hair maintenance of an, ahem, other sort. The concern is as follows. Many of the women can no longer reach or see to safely maintain the downstairs carpet. I’m not going to say what ladies, pregnant or other, should do with their nethers. And I’m certainly not going to discuss mine. I may be fond of the overshare, but this isn’t college. It’s a good thing blogging hadn’t been invented when I was in college because I probably would have wanted to start a blog called Pubiestyles with Hipster H or some such atrocity. But I digress.
Now what I do find concerning is that the reason these women are so concerned with keeping things tidy is because they don’t want to gross out medical personnel during delivery. Really!? You’re worried that a few strays are going to gross out hospital staff? These are people who are going to stick their hands into your vag, poke your cervix, possibly wipe up your poop, and pull out a baby of your bleeding self. You think they’re going to be put off by an untamed mane? They’re doctors and nurses! Do you know what they see and do on a daily basis!? Suffice it to say I think these people are worried about the wrong thing. With these attitudes, I’m just not sure they’re ready for motherhood…
Speaking of people who ARE ready for parenthood, I want to send out some big love to my friends whose second twin was discharged from the NICU today after a twenty-nine day stay. So, so happy for you guys, and sorry that your congratulations got tacked on to the end of a pubic hair rant. Probably not the first of these you’ve had to suffer from me, but still…
And, just in case the title of the post makes you need to hear this song, as it did for me, I give you Stevie: