Monday, January 31, 2011

Since Friday morning

Cups of coffee: 6
Diapers changed: probably about 30
Facebook status updates: 7
Times I've gone outside: 1
Library knitting pattern books perused while Ben held baby: 4
Ravelry patterns "favorited": 8
Blocks of tofu: 2
Bags of recycling: 5
Neighbors chatted with: 2
Showers: 1
Kindergartener-sized sailor dresses: 1*
Thank-you cards scrawled, months late: 5
Hours of sleep: 13 (better than usual!)
Lecithin capsules: 9
Episodes of Golden Girls: 1.2
Knitted sweaters resurrected: 1
(Rows frogged: about 60... sigh.)
Hours spent removing ornaments from X-mas tree: .5
Ornaments remaining on the damned tree: about 15

* Bee won't fit into it for like five more years, but I had to have it for her. Why I'm obsessed with dressing my daughter like a Kennedy when I myself rarely make it out of my plaid pajamas is still unclear, although, now that I think about it, this is probably one of those instances of the question containing the answer.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tired. Crappy.

If you have a baby, do you ever find yourself slipping the words "why won't you ever let me sleep?" sweetly into the silly and otherwise nonsensical songs you make up during endless sessions of bouncing and rocking your kid to (if you are very lucky) sleep? I do. I just really, really want to get more than three hours of sleep in a row. I want it bad.

Thankfully Bee brings tremendous, indescribable joy to our lives, which compensates for the serious and debilitating sleep deprivation and inability to care for ourselves (I just want 3 minutes to put on some lotion and clean my ears!). Outside of the happiness she brings, though, this winter has been fairly disagreeable. I've had one infection after another, along with inexplicable stomach pain, since the day Bee was born. I can't eat wheat without feeling like I just took a cannonball to the tummy. I never leave the house. And speaking of the house, ours is a complete mess, because when I get 45 seconds of hands-free time, I usually use it to brush my teeth, not clean the kitchen counters.*

And, oh yeah, our dog died. It happened so fast, with Ben driving the poor creature to the emergency vet 45 minutes away in the middle of the night yesterday. I wish we'd had a chance to buy her a couple of pork chops and reminisce first, or at least give her a few days of not letting the screen door hit her on the ass every time we let her outside. That dog and I loved antagonizing each other every day, and I'm sad that she's gone. Ben, of course, is more than a bit heartbroken about having to put the dog to sleep; he was the dog's especial favorite, her rock in the stormy sea after agreeing to "watch" her for two homeless kids until they could come back for her (that was twelve years ago). Bella was rightly devoted to Ben, and he, being a gentle man with a gift for caring for creatures great and small, took exemplary care of her. Despite my near-constant bellyaching about the dog's habits and smelliness, she was a good dog.

We are really looking forward to spring.

Left: Pup.
Goodbye, friend.

* It is no better, and probably slightly worse, for Ben, who also takes care of Bee and gets almost no sleep (sometimes even less than I get), plus has to drive nearly an hour to work and back each day, where he is expected to function like a productive member of society. He does get to drink hot coffee each morning and converse with grownups each day, but those are minor points. I prize my 20-second commute in flannel pajamas at least as much as the talking-to-other-grownups thing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cylon mittens will destroy you!

BacoKnitter's pattern for Battlestar Galactica mittens is about to become a priority, I will tell you that right now. Look at those mittens! Things of beauty! The backs ("So say we all") might have brought a little tear to my eye.

The fact that I am truly terrible at intarsia gives me pause, but... what the hell, I might as well give it the old college try. Better yet, the old art school try! One great thing about having gone to art school is that you become quite fearless about crazy, impossible projects. Intrepid, even!

At practically this very moment, I'm trying to convince a couple of friends (you and you!) to do a little mini-knitalong with me, for support. Of course, I'll understand if they opt out; that pattern* be crazy, yo!

Another day, I'll provide updates on things like My Mysterious Abdominal Pain and my baby's sleeping habits (I know, can you even wait?). For today, I'll leave you with a photo of mommy's little Cylon:

* Search for it on Ravelry. The pattern costs three bucks: the deal of the millenium.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Crash course

Our eleven-week crash course in parenting is, like pretty much any intense and intensive course of training, both a) taking its toll on our physical well-being and b) producing some results. Ben and I are red-eyed and achy-backed, and I've got a list of trivial but annoying infections a mile long, which is what happens when you've already got a shitty immune system and then you stop ever sleeping.*

The phrase crash course is such a good one, evoking a violence utterly suitable for describing what happens when one undertakes to learn something quickly and through total, nearly-unbearable immersion. No matter how much we love and adore our sweet baby, as new parents our expectations of parenthood are in near-constant collision with the reality of mothering or fathering. Our ability to prioritize any of our own personal needs is being crushed to smithereens around us.** Basically, our old life is dashed against our new life. We crash and fall down. The imagery is brutal and apt.

But when I consider all that we've learned about our kid and ourselves in the last eleven weeks, I start to feel like kind of a star pupil. No, wait, that's not even close to right. Star pupil? More like the "most improved" student (for overachievers like Ben and me, that's a painful thing to admit). Does every new parent feel that way? We go from knowing nothing about babies to knowing quite a lot about one particular baby.*** I don't know how transferable to other kids our newly acquired knowledge is (including any future additional kid we might have), but here are some things we know about our own baby right now (all subject to change):

  1. Bee will fall asleep and stay asleep**** if allowed to nurse until she opens her cute, squishy baby mouf and smiles a particular grimace-like smile.

  2. She does in fact prefer a dry diaper. (I know, who wouldn't? But I'm told some babies don't care much one way or the other.)

  3. A certain unsustainable positioning of the papa's arms is required when Ben rocks Bee to sleep.

  4. Sometimes Bee thinks she is hungry, but does this back-arching thing that tells us that she actually wants to sleep, not eat.

  5. Only bouncing will soothe her when the crying climbs to an "I'm being murdered right now"-like crescendo.

  6. When partnered with bouncing, staccato chanting works better than singing.

  7. Mama can take a shower for 7-10 minutes with Bee in the nearby bassinet, but for absolutely no longer than 10 minutes.*****

  8. If there is any chance in hell of Bee sleeping by herself in the crib for more than 0-5 minutes, she must be compactly swaddled in one of three blankets purchased by Ben for this purpose.

  9. NEW THING! She likes having lotion rubbed on her little face.

There. Nine things. We know at least nine somewhat important things pertaining to our baby. That's almost a thing for each week Bee has been with us, which, considering how hard-earned many of those realizations have been, seems, at this point, not half freaking bad.

* Not really a complaint, but a statement of sad fact.
** No more movies, grown-up conversations, free time, sleep, letter-writing, vacuuming, acts of basic hygiene, facile errand-running, or eating hot dinner (only cold dinner eaten with your non-dominant hand). At least not for a long time.
*** We're not optimistic enough to believe that knowing anything about one baby means you know much about other babies.
**** In our arms, of course. Not alone in her crib. Of course not.
***** Bassinet parked about ten inches from the shower curtain, with mama peeking out every 40 seconds.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Bee's cabled cardigan!

Every kid needs a good scratchy wool sweater, and this is Bee's. I started knitting it for her years* before her birth, and managed to finish it mere days before Bee appeared in this world. I used this pattern by Britta Stolfus Rueschhoff -- not a breeze exactly, but so lovely, I think, when finished! The buttons are yellow plum, hand-carved by this artist.

* You know, on and off. Then I spent about a year putting off the assembly and the weaving-in-of-ends (the most mindless and boring stage of sweater-knitting), followed by months of searching for the perfect buttons. And that, Dear Reader, is how you knit a cardigan in six short years.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Sage raglan

I knit this tiny greenish raglan sweater for Bee over the summer, when I was still pregnant*. I used a favorite pattern, but added loops and wooden buttons to expand the neck opening a bit. Bee wore it to two New Year's Day parties with some purple pants and she looked pretty fly.

* You didn't think I'd made it after her arrival, did you? Because I haven't showered since last weekend. So, nope, no time for knitting.

Another opportunity to use
my "time travel" tag

I'm no theoretical physicist, but, being a little obsessed with phenomena of time*, I love this news story from NPR. LOVE!

* This study isn't about time travel, but it does throw me a bone.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Parties & babies & sleep,
plus a Small Victory

Ben and I took Bee to a record-breaking two parties yesterday (our previous record being zero). For introverts like us, attending two New Year's Day get-togethers seemed like a fairly formidable enterprise -- especially because one was a potluck and we barely have time to make one nutritious evening meal for ourselves over here these days, much less put together something elegant, delicious, and portable for forty neighbors. So, for the first time ever, Ben and I were the people who came to the potluck and Didn't Bring Anything! But that was the second shindig, and I'd like to blog about the first one: the baby party!

It was attended by six couples and seven extremely cute babies. I know you want to know the babies' names, so here they are. (Don't ask me what the adults' names were.)


Our girl, whom I've been calling Bee in this blog, was in good company among this crew of kids with simultaneously antiquated and modern monikers -- this being, of course, the aesthetic of choice when it comes to naming one's child in 2010, if one is of the socioeconomic class into which Ben and I fall. What can I say, I like this genre of name too.* Edith, Astrid, Esme... bring it on! At least there weren't any Gertrudes. I don't think the aesthetic goes so far as to include that one.

Bee proved herself a party animal like her 'rents by snoring through the entirety of both parties. Although, wait, she did awake briefly at the baby party to seek nourishment, and was the object of admiration by other parents due to the ease with which she breastfeeds... and I have to admit that Bee is kind of a champ at that.** Those other babies were more or less a mess when it came to eating -- unable to latch on consistently, fussed while eating, and generally didn't seem to know what they were doing (come on, babies! get it together!). Anyway, Ben and I certainly didn't show up looking to compare our baby to all those sweet Zoes and Calvins, but if I'm honest -- we did come away thinking, "well, at least we have that going for us."

But we've got our own special blend of chaos over here, believe me. Bee doesn't sleep the way we are given to understand that other babies sleep. Yeah, not even close. Desiring comradery and reassurance, I keep hoping to meet a set of parents who say, "Yes, our baby also insists on being held all the time or she won't sleep!" -- or, "Yes, as soon as our baby's butt touches the bassinet or crib mattress her eyes fly open and she acts like she just drank a double tall Americano!" But instead, when we describe Bee's need to sleep only in our arms, we just get shocked, sympathetic expressions of "That's horrible!"

Unwilling to let Bee cry it out,*** Ben and I have just been going with the flow. Our girl is still so young, and she needs what she needs. If one of the things she needs is the warmth and comfort of a parent holding her while she sleeps, well, I'm Mommy, and providing warmth and comfort is one of my jobs. (The parts of the job involving helping her develop her independence can be put into action when she's not eight weeks old, for Pete's sake. That's how I feel about it.) And she does sleep all night, just not without one of us (or her grandma, during grandma's glorious recent visit) holding her in our arms.

Here's what I hope and think is on the horizon. I think that Bee will slowly start feeling able to sleep by herself as she gets bigger, and that the comfort and love we are giving her in this early, difficult stage are only going to ensure that she trusts us and always feels safe -- which I hope will help her begin sleeping on her own. And, good news! Last night she slept alone in her crib for almost two hours!

Left: Party clothes! Bee wears a pants-and-tunic get-up instead of footed pajamas for the first time ever.

* Although we didn't quite go that route...
** You don't gain half a pound a week by not knowing how to eat comme il faut! Also, I discovered that not all moms can devour a complete meal with their left hand while nursing, something I can now do in my sleep (and likely have).
*** Ah, good old crying it out, known on the interwebs as "CIO" -- because there's nothing like an all-caps acronym to create the illusion that this is actually a legitimate technique.