Parenthood

Before and After

Sometimes I ask myself if I miss the days before having a kid. Or more accurately, do I wish I was childless now.

It happened again last night on the drive home for our show.

I got pregnant a couple of months before our debut, so I don’t even know what it would be like to stick around and drink more and see where the night took me.

Which is what I used to do. Stick around. Drink more. See where the night took me.

I felt like a wet rag packing up my things for the drive home to a nameless suburb, lamenting my early wake up call and reciting my absurd commute time and schedule to a new friend.

I can be acutely aware of being without freedom. I feel the resentment rise and then I tell myself as calmly and plainly as possible that “this is no longer about me” and it becomes easier to accept.

Because it really isn’t about me at all.

The practicalities have overtaken everything. The ones that probably should have pre-kid. The voice that would tell me it was OK to show up to work tired and hungover is silent, replaced by a louder one that chides me into calling it a night at the earliest time possible.

Upon further examination, I realize that my kid is less a barrier to my fun than the distance I am from many of the things I love and care about. Though I suppose, the kid is the reason I’m so far away to begin with.

When I decided to have him, I also knew it most likely would not be in the city. Not out of choice, but out of necessity.

We probably could have made it work. Perhaps it would have been fine. But I’m mostly assured after having an unexpected C-Section and  a newborn that living with three people to help was better than one. And while I know I could have asked friends in the city to help and they would have, it’s not the same as your parents making unexpected trips to Target to buy you a table for your breast pump to make things easier.

In a world where I’m paid enough to live in the city with my kid (a number that feels astronomical at this point in time), I could see people after my kid went to sleep or invite them over to my easily accessible apartment.

(My utopia would be living in a commune like setting near all of the people I loved. Every new, cool person would build their own house in the next plot of land. There would be plenty of privacy, but also a community building where people just came and went. There would always be potlucks. There would always be a few people sipping wine or having a nightcap and chatting. There would always be kids running around and exploring. We would help each other with as much as we could, especially the important stuff like child rearing and elder care. And of course, orgies. [Haha…] Wait, am I describing a cult? A polygamous cult? Possibly. Oh well?)

Thinking about it more, I remind myself of those nights in my 20’s and early 30’s. The nights I pushed myself to go out. The ones when I stayed out too late. The ones I hardly remember.

But It’s not hard to forget the absolute loneliness and emptiness I felt coming home to no one.

It’s also not hard to forget that most of those nights were not all that worthy of being remembered or fondly looked back upon.

Not necessarily because of the activity or the company, but rather the undercurrent of desperation to make something of things, to want it to be more.

If I could have stayed last night for one more drink or on to another bar would that have been better than getting in my car, driving an hour to my house, talking with my partner about how the night went and going to bed?

It would seem so because in the moment, that’s what I wanted to do.

In the bigger picture, though, I know that in the old days, every time I was out, I was looking out of the corner of my eye, aware of the strangers around me and hoping maybe they would become something more to me. Even when I was with friends whom I loved dearly, I knew they would never be mine, all mine.

I know now that the rush I feel in meeting a new person and wondering if they will become my friend is that same initial reaction I used to have. Only now I know the limitations.

I know the limitations because even when I was single and untethered, the effort and time it takes to really be in someone’s life is a difficult task. Sometimes it felt like I was spreading myself too thin. I kept meeting people and wanting to swoop them all up and carry them with me. And of course they would slip out and become small blips on my social media radar.

All of that time I kept wanting to be wanted. That’s the twinge inside of me whenever I’m around someone new or old. “Want me.”

But what I really need is to be needed.

Sometimes that’s scary. Sometimes I resent it. Sometimes I want to run away. But I know in the end, I’d be running away to find it again.

There is a baseline now, a foundation, a layer, that’s been built. It’s the longest piece of a triangle. Every thing above it is a little shorter, takes up a little less space, demands a little less attention.

It grounds me. It humbles me. It reassures me.

It is part of me.

And I wouldn’t give it up to go back in time just to see where the night might take me.

 

Advertisements

Baby and His New Pair of Shoes

IMG_8657I wanted to take my kid shoe shopping.

Technically, this was not his first pair. But they were in terms of actually using them for purposes other than pure decoration, which all baby shoes are until they can walk in them.

I decided to suck it up and spend a bit of dough at Stride Rite. I figured, they were reputable and would have a good selection and besides, it’s important to have a comfortable pair of shoes, especially for someone who has only been walking for a third of their life.

Also, since Stride Rite is a kids shoe store and not a big box store, I envisioned someone measuring his feet and going in the back to find us the ones we liked and helping me put them on and determining if they fit right. I can’t remember the last time *I* bought shoes this way since I usually end up at Payless’ BOGO sale convincing myself it’s fine to walk out with four pairs.

I imagined the store would be fairly empty, even though it was a Saturday. Mostly because the shopping center by my house is doing pretty badly. Stores rarely have anyone in them and businesses come and go so much you have to look them up online to make sure they’re still around before heading out.

Which is what I should have done with Stride Rite.

Then we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed several people heading into the store. I thought to myself, “why are so many people shoe shopping today?”

My question was answered when I realized the sign on the door for 50% all merchandise was due to the store going out of business.

And so, in this teeny, tiny building, dozens of people were rifling through boxes. Some jerk had their stroller inside and kids were standing around a little dumbfounded as parents threw on shoes asking them if they fit and if they liked them.

I was by myself, which was bad move on my part. I’d been in such a hurry to get this adventure going, I told my partner to stay home, drink coffee and relax and we’d be back to pick him up for lunch later.

So yeah, there we were, my kid wanting to walk around and make friends. I was eyeing the stacks of shoes trying to guess his size? 3? 4? NO IDEA.

Finally I arrived at 5 ½, which seemed to work. Then I saw a sales person measuring a bunch of kids and asked her if she’d take my kid’s.

He is a 6…WIDE she announced, so look for 6 ½…if we have anything left.

I’m not going to lie. I thought it was hilarious that my kid’s Fred Flinstone feet were WIDE.

OK, so 50% is a good deal, right?

Well, sure, if the two pairs you found in his size did not retail at $52 and $44.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

The most expensive pair of shoes I own right now are the $40 winter boots I bought at COSTCO this year.

And yes, I would spend more money on my child in a heartbeat, but not on footwear that he will grow out of in approximately three seconds.

Also, no wonder they are going out of business! Seriously, who is buying their less than two year old a $50 pair of shoes?

In my frazzled need to run out of that store screaming, but NOT empty handed, I bought him both pairs. So yeah, I still spent $50.

Though I suppose it was worth it.

I took him to the park the other morning and let him roam around. He kept looking back at me with an experssion on his face like “is this OK?” All of the open space seemed endless.

He walks up the driveway and down the sidewalk like a character in a video game trying to figure out where they can go.

He loves this new world without walls, gates and closed doors and he associates that freedom with those shoes.


-Carly

Anger Issues

I’ve worked with a lot of babies over the years.

Some of them I connected with, others not so much.

I always assumed if I ever had a baby, we would be simpatico.

That has not really turned out to be true.

My baby is not a cuddler. While he expresses happiness when he sees me (over half or the time), he only wants to be picked up and moved, not picked up and held.

He is not a hugger or a kisser or a nuzzler (unless he’s basically asleep).

He likes getting his way. ALL OF THE TIME. He can’t communicate with words, so he growls, head bangs, slaps, hits, whines, cries and yells.

I am not cool with any of it. I can barely keep my cool when it’s happening.

And this makes me feel terrible.

All of my road rage, cynicism, defensiveness and controlling behavior come to a head when my kid is being what I perceive to be, a jerk.

When the truth is, he’s being a baby and I should have nothing but endless patience, tolerance and love for him.

I’m not going to blame it on lack of sleep or hormones. I will partially give myself a break and say I do feel a mild amount of general anxiety and stress that probably makes certain situations worse than others.

I think I always assumed I was going to be a no b.s. kind of parent. I also thought that having this attitude would come into play a lot later down the road.

I was under the very wrong assumption that my baby was not going to be one trying to roll off the changing table, throw food on the floor, have an actual tantrum in his high chair, insist on touching every single thing that he should not touch. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve watched plenty of babies who didn’t do any of these things. My new charge is basically an angel.

I’m not saying my kid is bad. My kid is willful, strong, determined, curious, active and he is a not totally formed human being with an undeveloped brain and an inability to use words.

I need to learn to appreciate his relentlessness instead of feeling the slow burn of rage when he continues to do something after I’ve said “No” in five different tones, tried to distract him and physically remove him from said thing.

I need to stop rolling my eyes when he’s upset over something trivial.

I need to keep it together more in front of him so he doesn’t perceive his mom as an angry, unhappy person.

I need to stop expecting him to be something he’s not and enjoy him for what he is.

-Carly

Baby Sh*t

You don’t need half of it. And a third of it you can buy used.

If having a kid has taught me anything, it’s that consumerism is horrible and manipulative in ways I didn’t care to face until now.

Buy Buy Baby exists only to over charge moms who believe they need these things for their new babies. I mean, it’s called BUY BUY BABY. And it totally makes sense that we’re duped into buying tons of pointless, borderline useless items at inflated prices.

Having things for your baby is the sum total of pressure: social, psychological (one day I’ll talk about what happens to a person whose hormones are totally out of whack and is sleep deprived), maternal, financial, educational. You name it, every way in which you can feel inadequate is perfectly exploited when it comes to buying things for your baby.

And no matter how many times another mom who just had a baby tells you “You Do NOT Need These Things”, you will still buy and ask for so much pointless shit.

Or shit that will last MAYBE three months. Baby swings, Baby jumpers, Baby walkers, Baby activity mats, Baby chairs. Do you know A Baby? You know how they, like, gain weight and inches and learn how to move? Yeah, well those things render most baby things UNUSABLE after a very short period of time.

Not to mention the fact that they outgrow clothes sometimes in One Week. Seriously, my kid wore 3-6 month sized clothes for maybe eight days.

Maybe.

I had bags and bags of clothes that were worn a handful of times. And yes, some of those items were lovingly sent to a friend for her new baby. A lot of them were dropped off at Goodwill. And still more of them are sitting in a closet waiting to be sorted through and hypothetically being brought to a consignment shop for trade so I can get other gently used items. (HAHAHA, who am I kidding that I will actually do this?)

Lets talk about baby clothes for a minute. Look, I realize that there is a huge problem with the clothing industry. I should definitely shop more consciously and locally and recognize how much cheap, overseas labor is making it possible to buy a shirt for $3.80 that I’ll only wear once to a bar because I’m still sporting maternity clothes held up by belts and other layers and can’t be seen in that shit when I go into the city to a real place with actual people.

However.

When you are buying a whole new wardrobe every season, every year, and you’re on a budget (and lets not forget that my kid doesn’t even know what he’s wearing yet), you are not willing to pay $10 or more for an item.

Fine, *I* am not OK with spending that much.

Instead, I wait for places like Carter’s or Kohl’s to have coupons and then will buy en masse to replace all of the things that don’t fit.

I do this mostly because these stupid coupons force you to spend X amount of money. And everything is priced in such a way to make it impossible to hit that number on the nose, so you’ll inevitably overspend.

I kid you not, yesterday I went to Carter’s with a 25% off $40 coupon all ready to purchase five pairs of pajamas that are usually $8 (after an inexplicable 50% off sale that basically never ends) and they were NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.

An item that has been at that dumb store every other time I’ve been in there is suddenly gone. Instead, they had $20 pajamas that were 50% off, meaning now I’d only be able to buy four.

FUCK YOU, CARTERS.

Also, those assholes were trying to sell me six pairs of socks for $14.

In a fit of rage, I went to Walmart immediately afterwards and spent $10 on twelve pairs of socks.

And yeah, I felt like a jerk buying things at Walmart because I know their low prices come at the expense of a lot of hardworking people. But I know for certain they weren’t paying that Carter’s salesgirl more than minimum wage either.

Medela is one of the #1 brands selling breast pumps. They run about $200-$300 a pop. In theory, they should last at least a year.

The measurement markings on a few of my bottles have almost completely rubbed off and one of the collars to the nipples broke. You can’t buy individual bottles. Also, if you buy new nipples, they don’t come with collars.

You get one set of tubing, which after awhile, gets gross. Medela does not provide a cleaning kit, nor do they sell their tubing at stores. I had to buy mine on Amazon.

When I went to email them to see if I could get new bottles to replace the ones with faded measurements, I was armed and ready with photos. But there’s no direct email address. Instead, you have to send a message through their website, which not only doesn’t allow attachments, but also has a character limit. They replied saying I needed to call customer service and if it was deemed worthy of replacement, would have to send in the used ones (and also provide proof of purchase, which, like, isn’t having the product proof??)

Maybe this doesn’t sound like a totally unreasonable request. But I’d like to tell a company that makes breast pumps, MOMS OF NEW BABIES DON’T EXACTLY HAVE TIME ON THEIR HANDS TO FUCKING PACKAGE UP THEIR DAMAGED PRODUCTS (WHICH THEY STILL ACTUALLY NEED TO USE EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE SOMEWHAT DYSFUNCTIONAL) AND MAIL THEM OUT.

So Medela can also FUCK OFF.

Now, on to diapers.

This is the one thing I decided not to bargain on. Don’t ask me why, but after finding Pampers superior to all other diapers while nannying, I chose to use them for my kid. They are basically the most expensive ones (alongside Huggies.)

And mostly, they live up to their cost.

However. I decided to try their “cruiser” variety after the baby started to crawl. I figured it might stay on a little better, blah, blah, blah. I bought a small pack and liked them.

I need to now interject with Target’s coupon. $10 off $50 on ANY COMBINATION of diapers and wipes.

A box of diapers costs $24.99.

WELL PLAYED, TARGET.

So when I bought two boxes and a small package of wipes (for $1.79), the coupon came up invalid. Thankfully the cashiers (because this happened on two different occasions), still let me have the discount. But you KNOW the intention is for someone to go way beyond $50.

Anyway, I had this annoying coupon and decided to buy a box of the cruisers. Cool, right?

No.

You get 16 less diapers for the same price of Cruisers as their Baby Dry line.

SIXTEEN.

Even though I’ve made the (probably dumb) choice of going with Pampers, they were not going to railroad me into buying them just because they fit a little bit more securely on my baby’s ass.

FUCK NO, Pampers.

So yeah.

Baby products are evil and I probably should just stick my kid in the lowest priced diapers, wrapped in a sack and give him Kleenex boxes (the non-brand name ones) and toilet paper rolls to play with. Because he would be fine.

And so should I.

-Carly

The Long Goodbye

My closest friend moved out of state a week and a half ago.

My partner asked who my next closest friend was and I couldn’t think of anyone.

That was depressing.

Lately, being in the suburbs with a baby has made me feel really out of it.

I can’t say for certain that I resent any of it. It’s just facing the reality of the situation and not knowing how to reconcile it.

I miss being invited to things yet know my answer will be “No” about 90% of the time. Not because I don’t want to, but because it’s hard to say “Yes” the way I used to. Even then, I was fairly particular about what would get me out of the house. But now I’m absent from things like going away parties and birthdays, events I would have made more of an effort to attend.

I think what I really long for are the days I could grab coffee or a meal with a friend. It’s those friends that seem so far away now. I suppose I could try to strike up email relationships with them, but it’s not the same. I’m not even able to do that with friends who’ve moved away that I was once close to.

Unemployment is not what it used to be. I won’t say that being a parent is a “full-time job”, but it isn’t fun and games and Netflix binges and eating in bed and sleeping in until eleven and impromptu diner food with a friend. Perhaps Stay At Home Motherhood is not for me, though I know time is flying and I don’t want to miss out on these months.

The loss of my friend has brought new light to the isolation of suburbia and parenthood that I have often managed to ignore, covered up by being in the company of my partner and parents and a few friends out here who make things survivable.

This in combination with walking around the house, following my son who insists on moving everywhere, touching everything and trying to injure himself at all costs, has made everything seem smaller and more confining.

I wish there was some padded room where he could climb and not commit suicide where I could also be social.

Maybe this is just my veiled way of asking you to invite me over to your somewhat childproofed home. Especially if you live in Northwest Illinois.

-Carly

The Reverse Commute

Seven years ago when I found myself unexpectedly camping out at my parents house, sleeping on a twin mattress in my brother’s old room, I made every effort to get into the city.

Nothing could stop me. Not a storm. Or a Cubs game. Or some other event that would surely back up the expressway. (Though back then I didn’t have GPS saying “No, seriously dude, it’s going to take an hour and fifty two minutes to get to your destination and you’ll be averaging nine miles an hour.)

I had a free place to stay in one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. I left my car parked there while I hopped on busses, trains or in cabs to get from bar to party to bar.

I was fresh out of a longterm relationship (re: dumped), lost a perfectly good job at Northwestern University and no longer had a home (one that I had spent the past three years building).

In other words, I was looking for a release and Chicago had everything I needed.

This is no longer the case. No, the distance from my parents’ house into the city hasn’t increased. I actually have my own car now, which I didn’t seven years ago. I still have close friends, some of whom I used to see on a weekly basis.

But I have a kid. This kid likes to sleep. Sometimes. This kid is getting his teeth. This kid needs to be entertained. He needs to eat. He needs a diaper. He needs.

I also pump all of his milk, which means I either have to get home to do this, or bring everything with me and do this at a certain time, either in my car or the nearest electric outlet. I also can’t spend money without thinking of that kid.

Forty five miles does not sound long. But with only one direct route into city limits, one in which rush hour traffic or a minor accident will cause travel times to double, it feels a lot further away.

Last week, after finally catching up with one of my nearest and dearest friends, I made the mistake of not keeping track of the time. Stuck on 90 in bumper to bumper traffic with a hysterical baby, two hours overdue on pumping (read: very painful boobs), I swore I wouldn’t do this again any time soon, at least not without considering these factors more carefully.

Yeah, it’s my fault for not planning better. I could have left earlier. I could have brought my pump with me. I could have drugged my baby for the ride home (JUST KIDDING, GEEZ). I could have not have taken him with me at all! (This is also a good time to mention that yes, I have free childcare from my parents, but I do my best not to take advantage of their time and energy.)

This is just one example of why my interest in venturing into the place I formally called home and loved with most of my heart is waning.

Yes, I had a great time a couple of weeks ago when I hung out with my former roommate and friend, eating the impossible to find in the suburbs Thai food, dancing with people who were born the year I started high school and ending the night at my favorite karaoke bar.

But my near empty wallet reminded me of how much I used to spend without thinking on meals out, Uber rides and rounds of shots.

The exhaustion (OK, hangover) from the night took two days to get over. And maybe that wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t need to clean, do laundry and keep this baby alive.

And no, those things in it of themselves are not difficult, especially when I have help and two of the three are things every person needs to take care of. But the last is an extra added thing that makes the difference.

I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite. Yes, i ask a lot of my friends when I invite them out here. I’m not oblivious to the royal pain the ass it is to come into the suburbs. I know it’s not fun to have to account for three hours of total travel time (sometimes more!) To be totally honest, if you’ve made the trek out here one time, that is enough for me. I hope you know how much it means to me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want to be there for your shows, your birthdays, your get togethers. I do. I really do.

Just not enough to put myself through the stress of what seems to be a simple thing, but is actually a very layered event in which the timing has to be perfected and is wholly unpredictable.

I hope you understand. I hope you know that my not being able to make it is not a reflection of how I feel about you.

-Carly

Mother’s Day Weekend Guest Post

We’d like to welcome guest writer and former reader Tori Szekeres for today’s topical post. Thanks, Tori! More about her at the end.  -Rose

My mother is really open about sex.

It was never to the point where she’d slip a condom into my bag if I were going out – she encouraged me not to make the beast with two backs until I had a ring on it – but as a kid, she made it clear she was a sexual being and someday, I would be one too.

As a result, she would embarrass me because she would talk about that part of her relationship with my Dad sometimes. I didn’t want to think about my parents doing the horizontal mambo, and as I grew up, I didn’t want her to think about me getting my freak on.

But as we edge ever closer to Mother’s Day, I want to tell you about an accidental gift she gave me last Christmas.

We were going to the ultra chi-chi Sundance 608 Theatres in Madison, WI on Christmas Eve to see Wild with Reese Witherspoon. We sat in our seats, popcorn and bottles of water at the ready when the trailers began. A cover of Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” began to play, and a young twenty-something sat nervously in a reception area in a corporate office.

“Mr. Grey will see you now,” an assistant said to the young woman.

Uh oh uh oh a no no no no, the music said. I found myself whispering, “Oh my god.” It was the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer! I haven’t read the books, nor am I into kinky stuff, but I know the story. Who doesn’t? “What is Mom going to say about this one?” I thought.  My mind raced. Would she ask if I was into S&M? This is the woman who has encouraged me in front of my entire family not to engage in anal sex – anything was possible.

Just then, she turned to me and said, “This is like The Love Machine by Jacqueline Susann.” I nodded and the trailer ended. We watched the movie without incident.

Thanks, Mom. For this and everything else.

-Tori

Tori Szekeres is a stranger from a strange land. You may have heard of it; it’s known as Wisconsin. She ventures into the city from the Northwest Suburbs to do stand-up and storytelling with venues such as Zanies, Guts & Glory, Just Dickin’ Around, the kates, Beast Women Rising, Flabby at the Abbey, and Serving The Sentence.

Mother of a Son

When I found out I was having a boy, I was a little disappointed.

Mostly because I was looking forward to dressing my girl up in fun clothing. We had a “perfect” name picked out. I’m sure somewhere not so deep down inside I hoped I could somehow make her a better woman than I sometimes think I am.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize that maybe it would be easier. Or at least challenging in a way that I could handle better. This all remains to be seen of course, and I’d rather not describe things in terms of difficulty.

I didn’t want to put my boy in all blue or sports themed onesies or shirts that claimed he was “handsome” or a “ladies man” or “Daddy’s Little Tough Guy Pro Athlete All-Star Dude”. But his drawers are filled with gray and navy pants and socks with footballs on them and it’s fine. For now.

Recently, I’ve been around a lot of toddlers. I’ve definitely been zeroing in on the boys, trying to figure out how my little guy might turn out. Basically I’m scared shitless.

There is a hyper masculine four year old who is constantly going on and on about how girls are not allowed to do this or that, how girls don’t have muscles, how girls must like Wonder Woman. He actually orders a girl he’s friends with to sit and watch him and yell “Go Insert Boy’s Name Here” while he pretend fights his friend (who he also bosses around). He insults other kids by calling them “Mom” and berated another boy for using a pink crayon.

And. I. Just. Can’t.

I cringed as I overheard a dad telling a little boy who asked him why he was putting his daughter’s hair in a ponytail that girls have long hair and boys have short hair. I was sad when a sweet five year old who sat and colored with me, decided one day to make a gun out of Legos and declare he was a cop. He contorted his face into a menacing scowl and ordered me into jail.

A woman recently wrote a listicle on HuffPo about being the mother of three boys and the reasons this is great. One of them being that she can set an example for how women should be treated. While I appreciate the sentiment, this won’t work in the real world unless her sons see actual examples of men treating women right.

I can tell my son he should respect me and that women and men are equal in terms of their human worth, but I doubt very much that he’ll see this in practice in situations outside of the house. He’ll benefit more from seeing a healthy, balanced relationship between his parents than a mother who lectures him on feminism.

Not to say that the latter isn’t important. Of course I will do everything I can to guide him into being a feminist.

But even my own words and actions can have a gender heavy tone when I put him in a shirt with a fake tie on it or joke that perhaps he’ll be tall and play basketball.

I want my kid to be whoever he wants to be because that’s what he decides for himself, not to please me or society.

I hope I can provide that kind of environment.

-Carly

Accomplished

This piece from Claire Zulkey (writer, host of Funny Ha Ha, and all around cool lady) about the things we achieve with our kids made me want to share some of my “triumphs”.

I can absolutely relate to the amount of effort and worry that comes along with your first solo trip with your baby. It took me FOUR MONTHS to put him in the car and drive by myself. It was less about not wanting to do it and more because I have three other people who can help, most notably a partner who is at every doctor’s appointment and available for errands and such.

That dumb diaper bag really does need to be filled with everything from toys and a pacifier to food (even a thing of formula and a bottle of water just in case I somehow spill my breast milk or something happens and he needs to eat more) and a change of clothing. A burp rag. A blanket. Wipes. Diapers (five million). Plastic bags for dirty clothing and diapers. A changing pad. And this is nothing compared to what’s in store when he needs things like snacks or different shoes or layers or other items to entertain him.

I fretted over what I would do if he started crying while I was driving. Like, what if I were on some road where you couldn’t pull over (OK, this is far fetched, but if you’ve been on 90 with all of the construction, it’s a little more plausible. Fine, not really.)

In a couple of weeks, we’re driving to North Carolina so he can meet my partner’s family. Maybe we’re crazy, but the airport and a plane ride (and the cost and not having a car to use while we’re there for a week) didn’t seem like the better option. While I’m trying to GO WITH THE FLOW about the whole thing, I’m not so secretly terrified he’s going to cry the whole way and we get stuck in some horrible motel in the middle of nowhere. Though really, if that’s the worst case scenario, we’ll be in decent shape.

There are other, smaller things that I’m perfectly happy to admit I patted myself on the back over.

  1. Sticking a thermometer up his butt
  2. Holding his arms down while he got vaccinations
  3. Cradling him while he was having his blood drawn
  4. Letting him cry (for a little while) himself to sleep
  5. Cutting his fingernails (and accidentally nipping his finger for which I felt like I’d shot a baby bunny point blank in the face)
  6. Giving him a bath

And I know there will be other times (some of which I’ve tried to prepare myself for [like when he gets really sick for the first time]) that will probably warrant even more self-congratulations. Not because this stuff is hard, per se. It’s just new. The other worldly love and bond that some people describe they have about their children, I feel is what’s at play when you get through tiny moments with your brand new baby.

Imagining my kid with a high fever or a terrible cough is knowing that I will feel an actual tug on the inside, something squeezing my gut and heart at the same time, ever so slightly.

So when I do something I consider scary because failing at it would mean anywhere from discomfort to the death of my child, it’s a feeling of competency that I’ve never experienced.

-Carly

90 Day Guarantee

The baby turned three months old last Friday.

Everyone, from friends to websites, said this is when things would finally become less crazy.

But like most of the advice or Facebook forum chatter about where you and your baby will be at a certain time, I haven’t found my experience to be exactly like any of them.

Here’s where I’m at now, three months later.

  • Our baby does not sleep through the night. The longest he’s ever gone is four hours. He naps, now for longer stretches, but no two days are alike.
  • Babies aren’t not always peaceful sleepers. Ours use to moan and groan while trying to digest. Now he turns himself 90 degrees in bed and often falls asleep by turning his had back and forth a thousand times.
  • We have only recently been trying the “cry it out” method. I swore up and down I’d be able to do this before giving birth, but it was a lot harder than I thought. Even now, we only do it once a day and don’t let him go more than ten minutes. And yeah, we both go back and forth on whether or not we should be doing it now or later or at all. (Update: I’ve been writing this post in draft form and yesterday did some research. Apparently, most “experts” say three months is too early, so guess we won’t be doing this anymore.)
  • I don’t care what he wears as long as it fits and is weather appropriate. All of my bullshit about not wanting him in super masculine outfits or those items that start with “Daddy’s…” or “Mommy’s…” has gone out the window. It’s on sale for 80% off? It’s a gently worn hand me down? Cool. He’ll take it and it’ll be fine (and thank you so much.)
  • Sleep is the only way I’ve survived and it’s also the reason I haven’t had to count on things turning around at three months. Due to some latch issues, I’m not breastfeeding. Instead, I pump five times a day and that gives him enough breast milk for the day and then some. I didn’t even know this could be a thing until he was having problems. Do you know how awesome it is that anyone and everyone can feed the baby and he still gets breast milk? Not to mention, I can go upwards of eight hours not having to pump, so even though it’s inconvenient at times, it’s not terrible. I don’t assume anyone can do this, but it’s an option I didn’t know about and am thankful for it.
  • Smiling is everything. The baby makes eye contact, follows our voices and even genuinely laughs at things. He is finally entertained by the activity mat and the dumb plastic mobile thing on his baby chair.
  • I only now see the point of “outfits”. I honestly did not understand putting him in an outfit for the day and then changing him into pajamas at night. I suppose it helped that we didn’t really leave the house for awhile due to the weather (and possibly my paranoia over the flu and measles.) So yeah, our baby wore one outfit (unless he soiled it) that was changed every 24 hours and that worked fine for the first few months.
  • Holding his neck up is also everything. We are almost at the point where we can put him in those assisted chairs and we definitely aren’t as crazy about making sure his head doesn’t flop off his body. Part of the reason to be excited is his development, but it’s also being able to put him more places. Though that’s assuming he’ll like the bouncy chair and excersaucer thingamajig.
  • OK, but back to the sleeping. I give every mom who breastfeeds a huge high five. In some ways, I’m sad it didn’t work out for us and I know I missed out on a bonding experience. But I’m 100% certain the sanity that’s been mostly maintained (after the first couple of weeks where I’d cry multiple times a day and worried constantly) has made all of the difference in how I feel about my kid, my relationship with my partner and parents and my overall opinion on how the first three months have gone. Not to mention, I’m sure I have a bit more patience and rationale. Even on days when I get four hours of sleep I’m a moody beast.
  • Sometimes relating to other moms is great…and sometimes it’s not. On one hand, it’s a really awesome thing to suddenly be a part of this weird club of motherhood. On the other hand, I sort of hate people. I’ll admit that I get kind of annoyed when I see some stranger on a Facebook forum post about how far along her kid is at an age younger than my own. I also have no problem admitting I think my kid is the cutest baby on the planet and obviously a genius. No, I don’t think these things are fact, but in my mind they are true. I have the double experience of viewing parenting as a nanny and now as a mom. It’s basically impossible not to be judgemental. For now, I tell myself that anything I THINK I’m going to do later is merely an unfounded hypothesis.
  • The time has gone too fast and yet it’s impossible not to talk about the future “when he can do” this or that. I think sometimes we assume because our kids hit certain milestones that they become easier in some ways. But one new thing leads to a bunch of other things that have to be considered.

He’s changed so much and I’m amazed at the difference between newborns and infants (apparently they are considered “infants” at three months.) I can’t wait to see what the next three months brings.

-Carly

P.S. I post a lot of smiling baby pictures on Instagram. Don’t be fooled. He can be a serious fussy face.