Your Baby Is A Special Snowflake (And So Are You)

I pointed out in my last post that the worst advice anyone can give you is that “you’ll just know”.

It’s kind of like Googling your symptoms and deciding all of the people who say not to worry are right over the ones who think it’s probably cancer.

There are tons of things no one can really help you with because your baby is not like other babies and you are not like other parents.

There are many things people simply can’t recommend even if they worked amazingly for them. I think it’s hilarious there are even reviews on baby items since it varies so much.

So as much as you want to put all of those well researched items on your baby registry, be sure to buy individual items versus bulk and GET A RECEIPT.

Seriously, your baby can be allergic to your own breast milk. It may take four or five different bottle nipples before they settle on one that works (mine is on his third.) This goes for pacifiers as well (you know, IF YOU’RE OK WITH THEM.)

They can have reactions to certain diapers, wipes and creams.

They may love to be swaddled. They may hate it.

They may sleep up to six hours at night. Or they can be like mine and sleep two to three. They may still get day  and night confused (again, like mine.)

The list goes on and on.

But before I discount all of the advice you can give or take, new moms do have some insight on things that can be really helpful.

I say this because plenty of moms gave me useful tips and lists that I wish I’d paid more attention to. And at the very least, most, if not all, moms will understand your frustration, fears, and worries and try to be supportive.

Anyway, if you need help with your baby registry, please feel free to hit me up. I have ALL kinds of OPINIONS on what *I* think is best (and can share what I think you don’t need and why.)

-Carly

 

Meet Our Readers

Happy 2015! It’s a whole new year and we’re a whole new show. Sort of. It’s definitely a new year, and we have some fresh faces ready to bring you through the dragging gray of late January with tales of their Worst New Year’s Eve. Wednesday, 1/28, Gallery Cabaret, 7pm. The year might have changed but our time and place remains eternal, or until they kick us out. Bring your whole new you or old salty self to the show.

Jac Jemc

ms_jacjemcJac Jemc’s first story collection, A Different Bed Every Time, is newly out from Dzanc Books. Her novel, My Only Wife was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. She is the poetry editor for decomP and nonfiction editor for Hobart. 

 

 

 

Liz McArthur

ms_lizmcarthurLiz McArthur was born, raised and then set free from St. Louis to attend Columbia College. Since graduating a million years ago, Liz has been writing/performing/improving/stand-uping/sketch comedying all over the place. If you have a time machine, you can see Liz perform with OneTwoThree, Chemically Imbalanced Comedy or hosting SMUSH open mic at Stage 773. Currently you can see her performing with Bye Bye Liver, the Chicago Drinking Play at The Public House Theater. There’s more but she’s not even sure you’re still reading this, so now she is just going to list things she likes for her own records: potatoes, Mike Patton, the dude she’s married to, her cats, and the way her bedroom is currently arranged.

Sarah Joyce

ms_sarahjoyceSarah is the nerdy half of GlitterGuts and otherwise spends her days working with technology in a school. She takes pictures and makes things and reads more than she writes. 

 

 

Fruzsina Eordogh

ms_fruzsinaFruzsina Eordogh was born in Budapest and escaped the evils of Communism at a young age by way of an Italian refugee camp. She grew up on New York City’s Roosevelt Island, where she played street hockey, buried a pet in a traffic circle and never learned how to drive. She now resides in Albany Park with her mate and her cat and makes a meager living writing about technology and Internet culture for a variety of media outlets. On most days she doesn’t get dressed until after 1pm. Leisurely activities include thrifting, playing video games, and watching way too much anime. 

Erin Watson

ms_erinwatsonErin Watson is a Southern person living in Chicago and on the internet at torridly.org. She is very enthusiastic about poems, Sleater-Kinney, and affordable housing policy, among other things. New City named her one of the best emerging poets in Chicago in 2014. It’s unclear what, exactly, she is emerging from, so do her a favor and imagine that it’s a really awesome cocoon.

 

Being Funny is Terrifying

I think I’m funny. But like, mostly unintentionally funny with a dash of I can tell a good story and a hefty helping of I say dumb things in a chemical state and people laugh sometimes. I’m taking this comedy class called Feminine Comique. It’s so good and it’s so scary. It’s a few beyond scary. It’s fucking terrifying.

It’s raw and weird and it’s the best part of my week, except for the last Wednesday of the month (see you next week? I promise my stories are better than that half-joke).

The first day I felt like an unpeeled grape. Oh my God, everyone is so much younger and cuter than me, I thought, quickly followed by Oh my God, everyone is so much older and cuter than me. Fuck. I should just go home. I want a drink. I have no theater or improv experience hurrghhhh – But that’s kind of why I did this, because I know I need help being on stage. I can be a little stiff. I talk too fast. I rely on my notes – I never go off book. I never did improv or theater because I never wanted to, and thought they weren’t something indoor kids like myself did. But I want to be a good storyteller, and storytelling is all about performance. Plus my therapist tells me being uncomfortable is good for me, and yeah I’m real uncomfortable actually trying to be funny. Being funny means looking at yourself, then trying to sell it in a way that’s loose and hilarious. I kind of want to throw up just writing that out.

But I keep coming back. Because it’s awesome. Kelsie is a great teacher. One part summer camp counselor, one part cheerleader, and two parts professor, she’s great at honing in on parts of your content and style that work while constructively criticizing what doesn’t. She pulls out parts of your personality and delivery and explains how they could be funnier, cleaner, tighter. It’s really helpful and great to watch, because everyone in the class makes you laugh in their own way. I sound obnoxiously positive because that’s how I feel: from the sex kitten drawling you guyyyssss to the arty older lady shrugging off breast cancer to the sleek professional rolling out with “So I’m a frequent 911 caller” – all of this punching the idea that girls aren’t funny right in the dick.

My hand does this weird thing when I do a rant.

I bumble and bluster. I make kinda racist jokes about my dude being part-Chinese, me being kinda Jewish, my family being dysfunctional, how I used to be a Live Action Roleplayer, and okay that last one’s comedy gold. I am so not great, but the tiny little bit of great I am for 13 seconds makes me feel like a baller. I am Kanye West, I am Amy Poehler, I am Ilana and Abbi. I am amazing because said some words about my height or corporate culture or pancakes and someone laughed at it, and that is pretty great. I am ragingly insecure and have the teeniest dram of skill, God knows what I’d be like if I was super-talented and confident. I don’t know if the world’s ready for that much pure, annoying energy.

So uh, come to the class show in February? I’m pretty sure I’m 22% funnier than I used to be.

-Rose

A Little Something for Uncle Gerhard

My aunt and uncle were jerks, I thought. Lecturing us about our bad attitudes and terrible posture over lunch, but hugging us tight and whispering in our ears that they loved us when they’d send us home with all of the leftovers and sometimes a $20 bill each, folded and pressed into our hands, on holidays.

March’s Theme is Booty Call.

It seemed appropriate to post this late at night.

You know what we’re talking about. Let us know if you’ve got a good one. Or your friend does. Or your “friend”. You know, the one that comes by with a six-pack after 11.

-Rose

(Not) Lookin’ Good

My parents have a crazy amount of magazine subscriptions, some “reward” for redeeming points of one kind or another.

There are several fashion type rags, “Glamour”, “InStyle”, “Vogue”. I’ve picked them up, looked at whichever actress was featured on the cover, and then put them back down.

The thing is, I could care less about most of the content. Is it wrong that I have no interest in which mascara is going to make me look like an anime character or what piece of clothing I need to really make my spring wardrobe pop? I am not trying to get “bikini ready” or “lose that holiday weight” or figure out which kind of cropped pant is more flattering on my petite frame.

Maybe it’s the fact that despite the fact that I dropped 30 pounds already, most if not all of that was water weight from being pre-eclamptic. I still have a belly, huge thighs and unsightly stretch marks.

I’m wearing maternity clothing and even though there’s not an eight month old pregnant belly around to hold up the band on these jeans, I have no desire to try and pull on the pair of Lucky Brand skinny ones from yesteryear.

I had to buy underwear three sizes bigger than normal to go over my C-section incision and guess what? THEY ARE AMAZING. GRANNY PANTIES FOREVER. No more self consciousness about my muffin top with those low rider hipsters.

My other new best friend is dry shampoo. I have zero interest in blow drying my hair. I don’t care if it’s below freezing outside. NOTHING A HAT CAN’T FIX.

Make-up? WHY?

Shoes other than the moccasin ones that look like slippers? I DON’T SEE THE POINT. And besides, they’re black, which means THEY GO WITH EVERYTHING.

The last time I did more than brush my hair, put make up on and wore a non-maternity dress was when my mom scheduled a professional photographer to come to the house a couple of weeks ago for a family portrait since my brother was in town from Vermont.

I got so freaked out about my stupid, unkempt eyebrows that I cut off half of one and then in a panic, tried to even it out my cutting a half off the other.

SEE, I’M NOT GOOD AT THIS ANYMORE.

-Carly

Mindful Spirits

I just finished Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, a Southern Gothic, heavy metal ghost story. I barreled through the plot like the main character’s cherry red Mustang, clicking my e-reader device furiously into the night and feeling that sweet pain when you don’t want a story to end but can’t stop reading because you like it so much. It hit a lot of notes for me on both a genre and personal level. The tropes are familiar (aging rock stars! the occult! family dysfunction! Goth chicks!), but so well-written and fun they never feel corny or cliché. It’s also really scary, starting off uneasy then dropping suddenly into something much worse.

This wasn’t supposed to be a goopy book review. Heart-Shaped Box got me thinking about the nature of ghosts, an idea that hovers in the background of my mind next to 90s teen sitcom plots, then gets shoved front and center when I read or see something spooky and affecting. It also got me thinking about beautiful old cars and chicken-fried steak. But mostly ghosts.

In Heart-Shaped Box, the main character notes that the ghost’s power lies in getting in his mind, that it’s as much him as the specter sitting in his living room. If he can keep the ghost out of his head, he wins. The idea that ghosts are both mental and supernatural makes sense to me. Souls of the departed, sure. But really, a spirit is something internal made otherworldly and powerful – your insides taking form and hovering in the mirror, on the bus, in the corner of your eye when your thoughts start to wander and skip.

Sometimes they’re sweet, light particles that float through office windows on late, gray afternoons. I am watching Sinbad in Ida’s apartment. I am maybe six or seven. She is my Aunt Louise’s mother, who’s not really my aunt (she’s my mom’s friend) but she pretty much is so I call her my aunt. My aunt calls me in to visit with great-aunt Ida and I am scared by her pale, thin face and glowing eyes, she looks half on the other side. We talk about something and she gives me a macrobiotic cookie. The cookie is weird and I’m still nervous, but she’s nice to me and it’s a real kind of nice, which brings my shoulders down. I sit on the corner of her bed and she tells me about her special diet, how it’s supposed to be good for cancer. I don’t know exactly how cancer works but I know she’s going to die. And she does die, and they have me sing something in Hebrew at her funeral, and I remember rehearsing, “This is a song Ida would like.” in my head. Like, not liked. She’s dead but she’s still there, and as I sing the ghosts of funny old Jewish ladies protect me, Ida and great-grandma Sophie who I never met and all the rest, lined hands and lively eyes and Rosie, come over here.

And then there there are the ones not dead, just long gone but vivid as ever, that girl from 7th grade and your dad who you haven’t talked to in over a decade and that guy you were with for a fairly miserable eight months. Long gone but alive (you keep them alive). Her face was smooth and impassive save for a little smile when she told you they were walking away now and then they did, but you kept trailing them and then she turned around and bellowed, you jumped and they snickered. His movements were quick and jerky as he walked through the house, saying he was leaving. You could not see his eyes, he moved too fast, but if you could they would be hazel and strange. You’re watching a movie on your former boyfriend’s couch and he’s telling you how all girls have daddy issues. All of them. Sometimes in the early morning or late at night you feel their cold hands on your shoulders, creeping up to your cheeks and chin, filling your mouth so you can only scream inside your head.

The only way to get rid of a malicious ghost is to confront them head-on, again and again, throwing words and movements and therapy at the poltergeists of the past and present. Until then, they remain. Behind the door, at the bottom of a bottle, threaded throughout everyday interactions like gray tendrils. If you can’t make them go away, all you can do is not let them in. 

-Rose

Uber, Schmuberlist

I just finished writing my first uberlist.

An uberlist, the idea of which was introduced to me by my friend Danielle, is a list of things you want to do in a given year. You make your list. And then complete each item before year’s end.

My list is 115 items long. It took me no time at all to write, like, the first 70 items, and then coming up with the last 35 was the actual worst. I very nearly cried, I swear. I’m going to revise some of the items to be more specific or more achievable, but there are some items I think are pretty perfect.

Like “Conceive of and execute costume for A & C’s Halloween party – theme this year is ‘inappropriately sexy'”.

And “Either stop complaining about Lena Dunham or give up hate-watching ‘Girls’ and just watch it because you occasionally enjoy it because LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO HATE-WATCH ANYTHING EXCEPT ‘HOUSE HUNTERS'”.

Motherly Instinct

“You’ll just know” is possibly the worst advice anyone can give you about parenthood.

Sorry, but you don’t know anything and while sure, there will probably be very obvious things that will be instinctual. But everything else? Nope.

One day I’ll tell you how I unintentionally starved my newborn because all of the advice I’d been given about breastfeeding was to not let him take a bottle for three weeks.

Hats inside? Not necessary.

Scratch mitts? Still not sure how long I “should” keep them on as I weigh what’s worse: him scratching his face off or if I’m somehow impeding his need for tactile development.

Swaddling? So, do I keep doing it for his “comfort” even though he punches his way out? And for how many months?

Is he eating too much? Too often? Is he sleeping too much? Is he TOO fussy? Is it bad he has hiccups? Is it bad that he groans and strains a lot? Should I change his formula? Should I give him more breast milk? Should I try a different bottle nipple? Is it bad that he’s probably too long for his 0-3 month sleepers and is that hurting his toes? Am I not burping him enough?

I. Don’t. Know.

I hate the idea that I’m supposed to. I hate the idea that no matter what I do (ask a friend, Google, contemplate calling the pediatrician everyday), even they can’t provide a definitive answer.  And maybe it’s just me, but I’d sort of like concrete explanations.

I have to push down the feeling that I’m doing everything wrong.

Because I’m not.

At least, I don’t think I am.

-Carly

24/7

A day is twenty four hours that I keep track of by when the baby is awake, eating, pooping or sleeping.

It doesn’t actually matter what hour it is, whether or not the sun is up or down, what day of the week it is.

When he’s sleeping, sometimes I sleep. I berate myself when I find myself, eyes drooping, scrolling through my Facebook feed making sure to like and comment so you don’t think I’ve fallen into a completely selfish (though simultaneously selfless) suck hole.

Other times, when I have energy and I’ve squeezed in a meal, I look at the pile of clean clothes and feel like that’s as good as it’s gonna get because folding and putting away is not a priority.

I actually changed the sheets today and washed the comforter. Free laundry (and soap) makes a huge difference.

I try not to let the wipes get down to less than ten, knowing if I let it get too low, that’s when the baby will crap twice and pee on himself.

I refill the diaper drawer, empty the diaper pail, try to bring dirty dishes up to the kitchen (though I leave them there for my mom to wash).

I stare at the dirty bathroom sink and floor, the carpeting that needs a vacuum, the bedroom that could use a general tidying and then push it out of my mind

It doesn’t matter if I’m still in my pajamas at noon, as long as a shower happens at some point.

This is my life. Exhilarating and tedious all at once. A sort of endless, non-vacation that is highlighted with moments of a peaceful or active baby.

I have no interest in my former life because it’s just not a reality. And truthfully, as much as I miss having nothing to do, having no real responsibility, having the option to do whatever I want whenever I want, it doesn’t actually seem better than what’s going on now.

It’s simply different; other.

And since I don’t mourn it all that much, it’s hard for me to relate to any of it. It’s not that I don’t care or that I don’t want to hear about it. I just don’t yearn for it, can’t envision it anymore.

We took the baby to his second doctor’s visit and when I asked the pediatrician a question she said I should ask my friends. This bummed me out.

While I know a lot of moms, I wish my closest girl friends had babies. I feel weird sending emails to girls I’m not super close with, instead finding a distant solace in Facebook Group Pages filled with strangers’ comments and questions.

A friend said having a baby was one of her loneliest moments even though she was never alone.

I totally understand.

-Carly

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