Monday, March 21, 2011

Did I say that?

I've never been the type to be afraid of tempting fate. I just don't think, for example, that commenting on the longevity of your house's water heater will bring about a flooded basement, or that celebrating an uninterrupted bout of pleasant weather (whatever that is...) can mystically conjure up snow. Call me a rationalist, but I just don't think it works that way.

But every now and then, I wonder.

The other day, I gratefully and happily reveled in Bee's improved health, and made merry re: our recent handful of advances toward someday having a normal life again (you know, with sleep and stuff). I wrote about how the tide had (maybe, possibly, we'll see) turned, because our girl seemed so much happier and healthier lately. In my excitement, I may even have, um, announced that spring was on its way... to Minnesota... in mid-March... Because that ever happens. (I blame my loopiness on the fact that I'm very tired, and constantly hungry.) I was enjoying my glee! Hope is a knave, and so am I!

The very next day after this gale of optimism and revelry, my poor Bee started puking. It was her first stomach bug, so naturally I was all, OH MY GOD MAH BAYBEE, and PARENTING, UR DOING IT WRONG!! And Bee clearly felt like crap and there was very little to be done about it. Now, since I'm the only parent in the history of humankind to have a baby with a stomach bug, the world was coming to a fiery end. At least, that's what it felt like, just the tiniest bit.

I know, I am really going to have to buck up, or else this parenting racket is going to mop the floor with me.

A few days later, our sweet Bee was feeling better and Ben and I began to feel that we might possibly be able to resume our normal daily routine (it's a shitty routine, but, hey, it's ours). Simultaneously, I came to the point in my elimination diet (the one whose purpose is to sleuth out Bee's food allergy, because I breastfeed her) where it was time to start reintroducing foods into my pathetic diet* to see what would happen. Well, the bad news is that Bee had a negative reaction to the very first thing I reintroduced. The good news is that we're pretty sure we've identified her allergy! [Insert hymn of praise.] And if I can think up a way to make it not brutally boring, I'll tell you more about that, Dear Reader, another day.

In other news, my BFF, Ari, is coming to visit next week! Although I'll be sure to show her quite a dull time compared to our youthful shenanigans of yesteryear, it will be a true treat to have her for a visit.

* For those players marking their bingo cards: corn, tomatoes, dairy, eggs, garlic, chocolate, iodized salt, meat, nuts, and wheat are currently out. Yes, for the time being, I'm one of those freaks who can't eat anything. BUT, on the bright side, if you want to lose all of your pregnancy weight and then some, I suggest (not really!) becoming one of those freaks who can't eat anything.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"No winter lasts forever;
no spring skips its turn."

Apparently the cogent and methodical approach to problem-solving that I like to call Complaining About Stuff on My Blog continues to be fail-proof, because, Dear Reader, things are getting better: Bee almost never cries inconsolably anymore, and we get to see her giant, toothless smile all day long, and, thanks to the BabyBjörn, we can accommodate her need for near-constant closeness without getting blood clots in our forearms.

And spring is coming to Minnesota, thankyouandAMEN. Temperatures in the 20s and 30s have got me feeling pretty tropical after our long, dark winter, and Bee and I have been out tromping around town almost every day lately. We're still bundled to high heaven, and she's stuffed into the Björn, bear-eared snowsuit and all, but it feels good. She's fascinated by just about everything we encounter outdoors and while checking out library books and on visits to the grocery store. The other day, Bee chattered hilariously the entire time as we walked from home to the local pharmacy, evidently having the time of her life, then fell into an amazed silence when encountered with the array of interesting objects lining the shelved walls of the pharmacy. (Jars! Bottles! Homigod, boxes!)

Bee is happy and effusive these days, and Ben and I are as thrilled as two people can possibly be on four and a half hours of sleep per night. We still have our little troubles, of course -- there's still the mysterious and enchanting food allergy to puzzle out, and the small matter of Bee's outright refusal to sleep anywhere but in our arms. (The latter is really getting old, I am not going to lie. An acquaintance recently mentioned, offhandedly, that her six-day-old baby was sound asleep in the next room, and it occurred to me that I can practically count on my fingers the number of times our 4-month-old has been "asleep in the next room.")

Nonetheless, things are looking up. For the first four months of Bee's blessed little life, people would urge me to enjoy the baby's first year, because it all goes by so quickly, and I would think, "PROMISE?" Because every hour was a struggle, and every day seemed full of more shrieking than the day before, and I didn't get any better at keeping Bee from sobbing, because, you know, that's the nature of inconsolable crying. And I would feel guilty for not enjoying every moment. I loved her like mad every moment, but enjoyment was reserved for rare minutes of calm nursing and peaceful lap-napping. No, enjoyment was not often an option -- more of an occasional treat, like fritters, or some really nice yarn.* Plus, it's been kind of a heartless winter here, and I NEVER GOT TO GO OUTSIDE!

The tide began to turn a couple of weeks ago. Right around the time that the winter started to seem slightly less HORRIBLE AND NEVER-ENDING, Bee's truly awe-striking meltdowns and wail-fests began occurring far less often, and her reflux seemed to just about disappear as she started being able to hold up her head. So, more and more of our girl's mirthful personality has emerged, and now I find myself spending incredibly joy-filled days with Bee. (High five!) I don't mean that every second is daisies and dewdrops, necessarily, but what a difference it makes to see her so frequently happy, and to know I can successfully reassure her now when she does cry, as babies will and shall. I don't mind telling you that it's so much nicer than just being crap-out-of-luck with a SO VERY SAD baby who sobs and screeches comfortlessly for several hours per diem. (Readers, that desolate wailing broke my heart every day for four months, and I am so very happy to see it, and whatever was causing my Bee such discomfort and unhappiness, disappear. Oh, and the winter. I'm happy to see that disappear, too.)

Here's to happy changes, and to a season of fewer meltdowns, and more melt.

* What? You say you don't reward yourself with a fourteen-dollar skein of Japanese wool after doing something awesome? À chacun son goût, I suppose.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

So begins the peaceful reign of King Björn.

Ben and I have been looking forward with a kind of desperate optimism to the day when Bee could hold up her wobbly little head and be toted around in one of those frontpack carriers loved by yuppie parents like us. Myself, I've kind of been fantasizing about carrying a baby around in a BabyBjörn since 2002 or so, when I met Ben and straightaway made up my mind that he and I would be getting married and having babies at his earliest convenience. But back then, I imagined trotting around Fifteenth in Capitol Hill with our happy hipster baby, maybe getting a muffin at Victrola on the way to doing whatever hipster parents do in Seattle (you can tell I'd really thought through the logistics of that fantasy). Fast-forward nine years, and Ben and I now live in a part of the country where it's too nipple-freezingly cold to take an infant outside in a Björn most of the time, and we're too old to be hipsters (or, for that matter, yuppies), and, anyhow, our little girl is a strong-willed, stately little creature who resolved, early on, that she could not possibly abide being carried around in a glorified backpack.
So, faced with a baby who hated the BabyBjörn, Ben and I examined the facts in front of us, drank a bunch of coffee, and ruled that the BabyBjörn would be set aside until such a time that Bee could hold her head up dependably, at which point she might, Jesus willing, be interested in riding front-facing (as opposed to the rejected inward-facing position for newborns) in the Björn. We had no intention of forcing it, but we'd noticed that she does like to get the lay of the land while being carried in our arms a million hours a day, so Ben and I figured this position -- available only to big girls who can hold their heads up -- would be perfect for letting Bee survey her world.
Well, here's the paragraph where you totally know I'm going to reveal how VERY WRONG we were, as always, and then make some peppy jokes about parenthood beating the living crapola out of Ben and me. Except, guess what! Guessguessguessguessguess! We* were actually right for once: Bee utterly loves being carried around in the Björn now, and will happily let us roam about with her strapped to our frontsides all freaking day! For longer than we generally want to be roaming about with her strapped to our frontsides!  O miracle! The earth grew glad! AND, we are told by friends, the pediatrician, and Dr. Internet that colicky babies often start feeling a lot better around the time when they can hold their heads up (and better still once they can sit up), because lying flat exacerbates their reflux. So maaaaybe that will happen and our girl will stop, you know, screaming all the time? Like I said, a desperate optimism.
In other news, I’m going to hold the record for number of times a simple pullover sweater (Ravelry link) gets frogged. Maybe I need to switch to a new hobby, something where carelessness is a virtue. Any ideas?
* Actually, Ben was right. It was his theory. The ones that end up being correct are pretty much always his.

Monday, March 07, 2011

This post is totally not annoying at all.

The vicious beatdown that is new motherhood continues this week with this really fun thing called an allergy elimination diet. Here's how it goes! It's totally fun! First you find out that your poor four-month-old baby is allergic to something you're eating, and that it's causing her an unknowable amount of gastric pain. Delightful! That doesn't make you feel ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE or anything! Then you discover that the doctor has essentially no clue what the allergen might be, and that's just, you know, really encouraging. So you stop eating soy, because, according to the doctor, that's as good a place to start as any. And this is all super-great because you already don't eat eggs, dairy, meat, wheat, or gluten -- so, what's one more ingredient to avoi--OH WAIT SOY IS IN EVERYTHING.

Buuuut, two totally awesome soy-free weeks later, nothing has changed and your poor little baby who never did anything to anyone is still clearly in pain and crying piteously around the clock. Do you feel like kind of a failure as this baby's keeper and protector? Only COMPLETELY. (I told you this was fun!) So, then you eliminate all major allergens from your diet, because that's just a really good time. Why not? Goodbye, tomatoes, citrus, nuts, chocolate, salt, and corn. (Still no eggs, dairy, meat, wheat, or gluten.) Soy is back in the game, but now CORN is the ubiquitous villain appearing in everything that isn't, you know, an organic banana.

And then you compose a cynical, mocking blog post in which you totally feel sorry for yourself, alienating all four of your regular readers and getting on even your own nerves.

Well. Something nicer tomorrow, dears.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Steady, unsteady

I continue to study and memorize a succession of fickle formulae for successfully consoling Bee when she cries. Variables include:

type of motion
(e. g., today, bouncing = good, swaying = bad)
location (indoors? outdoors? living room closet?*)
personnel (sometimes, only daddy will do -- sometimes, only mama)
attire (onesie + pants - socks? onesie + PJs? just diaper? snowsuit +/- hat? which hat?)
sound (singing? silence? NPR? piteously begging the baby to stop screeching?)

Fundamentally, our day-to-day answers to the problem of poor Bee's near-constant meltdowns are ever-changing, because what worked two hours ago no longer brings about the hoped-for result, and the same neighborhood stroll that lulled my girl to sleep yesterday afternoon, for example, finds her, today, howling for its duration, inducing neighbors to stop shoveling snow and look us over to make sure the child is not being murdered, because that is totally what it sounds like. The neighbors are always sympathetic, of course, once they visually confirm that murder is not taking place, but for a moment, you know, they're just not sure. (Bee's wails are truly shattering in the quiet of our sleepy and peaceful neighborhood. She frightened off a family of crows a few days ago.)

Music sometimes soothes our Savage Bee, although not usually for more than a few minutes, and that "music" must generally be one of many repetitive, homespun lullabies** performed by her mama or dad. (You'd be surprised how often one relies on Christmas carols.) And Ben and I must never omit the endless bouncing and/or rocking and/or pacing: these grueling measures*** must be taken each night and prior to every scarce nap, or else Bee will not be convinced to close her eyes.

So, ours is in some ways a fickle baby, but in some ways she is quite a steady one. She is unwavering, for example, in her ability and inclination to let us know that she's uncomfortable or unhappy (isn't that a nice way to put it?). And she keeps a fairly predictable schedule... we might hate the schedule, but we can't deny that it's a schedule. And she is inexplicably soothed -- mysteriously and instantly, every single time -- by being placed on her changing table. Seriously, it brings a grin to her face in the midst of even the most dreadful of meltdowns.**** And Bee's personality, when we get to see it, is -- praise be! -- essentially a mirthful and cheery and radiant and sweet one, and I like being able to count on that.

Next time, if you're very, very good, perhaps I'll tell you all about how my baby has a FOOD ALLERGY and we can't figure out what it is. You're welcome in advance.

* No, we don't lock our kid in the closet! Is that what you thought?! See, we have a very large walk-in storage room off of the living room, with shelves full of apparently fascinating things that will sometimes visually overwhelm lull Bee to sleep if one of us walks in there while holding (bouncing/rocking/whatever) the wailing baby. Sometimes it worketh, and sometimes it worketh not.
** Often unrhymed and tuneless, which Bee apparently doesn't mind: one of the many ways in which she is reassuringly unjudgemental.
*** Ben actually pulled a muscle! (I'm positive he wants me to tell you that.) And for reals, I am often physically incapable of providing the degree of arduous physical reassurance Bee needs, because I have average, normal woman-arms instead of, you know, these.
**** We suppose it's just that she likes to have a clean rear end (who doesn't?) and therefore has happy associations with the changing table. But the transformation, lovely readers, is often miraculous. Bee can be crying herself hoarse, and then, presto! Instantly consoled by placement on changing table! (Thanks, random lady from Craigslist! Are you selling any other furniture with magical properties?)