Miriam bounces

Apparently, these baby jumperoo contraptions don’t come in a muted, mid-century modern design esthetic. Believe me, I looked. And looked. The baby-toy-making people must have done exhaustive research and concluded that only bright-colored garish, crazy-looking plasticky toys will amuse babies, because it certainly seems true. Miri loves this thing. She reaches, she grabs, she stares, she bats at things. And today she’s just figured out how to bounce around, so double the fun! So I’ve set aside my design sensibilities for the time being, since this crazy thing amuses her so much. After all, she’ll only be a little thing for a short period of time…then I’ll have decades to enjoy my Eames chair.

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This is not a jogging stroller.

C'est n'ici une poussette de jogging.

C’est n’ici une poussette de jogging.

It might look an awful lot like a jogging stroller, it might be sold as a jogging (or “light running”) stroller, some people might even jog with it. But it isn’t, it’s an all-terrain stroller. This is because before I had a baby I swore I would never own a jogging stroller, and now I own this, so therefore it is not a jogging stroller. To my child-free self, jogging strollers were an abomination; unnecessary monstrosities. I saw 4,5, and 6-year -olds with two functional legs riding in them, they were parked in the aisles of my favorite restaurants impeding normal human traffic (blocking the french toast buffet!), and 90% of the time the person pushing them was NOT jogging. If I ran for office, I would run on the platform that if you are pushing a jogging stroller you must never be moving slower than 5 mph. Plus, I don’t jog and I will never jog (if I could get a bumper sticker for my car that said 0.0, I would). So it would be ridiculous for me to have a jogging stroller. It would be like walking around all day in a bike helmet and cleats but never riding a bike.

But then I had a baby. And I took that baby with my dog on walks, walks across bumpy sidewalks, gravel, and through the park. And my adorable, practical, but tiny-wheeled stroller just didn’t handle it all that well. Frankly, I was afraid I’d either tip Miri out of the stroller or give her whiplash. So I realized I wanted an all-terrain stroller. Which, unfortunately, look remarkably similar to jogging strollers. I did buy the smallest, lightest all-terrain stroller I could find. And I’m going to admit that I freaking love this stroller.

This stroller is a metaphor for that whole list of things that I swore I would never do when I had kids. I’m fully aware I will eat that list and then some, and I’m okay with that. I hope some of the more general statements on my list might hold true, like:

  • I will not take my antsy toddler to a boring crepe restaurant for breakfast (The Ridgeback customers, I’m looking at you).
  • If my child steals bacon from a friend’s plate I will make her apologize and I will buy friend more bacon.
  • I will vaccinate my child as often and against as many things as is legal (Vashon Island, I’m looking at you).
  • I will take not take my seven-year-old daughter to a black-and-white Swedish subtitled movie instead of an animated Disney musical because she’s only SEVEN. Sorry Mom.
  • I will never go to the zoo, i.e. Depressing Animal Prison. Yep, already did this. But I vow to NEVER take her to Sea World, i.e. Horrifying Depressing Fish Prison.

Discovering who I am turning out to be as a parent is almost as interesting as discovering what kind of little person my daughter is becoming.

Letters to Miriam: Three months old

Dear Miriam,

Today you are three months old, it is officially the end of the “fourth trimester.” I think this means that if the human species hadn’t become bipedal and grown such enormous heads, you could have remained the womb comfortably gestating until now. Judging by your reluctance to attend your own birth, I think you were testing this theory. Nonetheless, you’ve finally emerged from your newborn days and we’re starting to see a real little baby now, with enchanting glimpses of your little girl personality. You sleep through the night, from about 10pm till 9am, with one wake-up at 6am for breakfast then right back to sleep. I’d love to take credit for this but I’m pretty sure we are just lucky. However naps are for chumps, you say. It’s not too hard to get you to fall asleep, but after thirty minutes exactly your eyes pop back open! Your days have some semblance of routine, but in order to prevent my boredom (thanks!) you change it up a bit each day. Especially just as I get used to something or think I’ve got it. A few weeks ago, it was bottle refusal (remedied by I leave the room), now it’s occasional breast refusal. Still figuring that one out…

When you are awake you love looking at us, smiling, and examining your toys. You found your hands and love trying to fit your whole fist in your mouth. You are suddenly very vocal…trying our every vowel sound. You’ve starting noticing the dogs, and the other babies in our PEPS group. My favorite thing to do is talking a walk with you in the carrier and Ardie, you always fall asleep and stay asleep all snuggled up like that. I try not to trip while I’m constantly checking to make sure you have space around nose to breathe. I’m still nervous and new at this too, remember.

Without further ado, results of todays photo session:

Ok, what's the big idea? Smile?

Ted! Photobomb.

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I'm hi-LAR-ious!

Words of wisdom

I have no wisdom actually, I’m just a new mom muddling through the days and nights…but there a few things I’ve learned lately or things that I try to remind myself when I’m trying to cling to a little island of sanity. Some of these little things have become mantras, muttered through tears or clenched teeth or with a sigh, just to help me get through the moment.

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1. Crying is the only way that babies can communicate their needs. Sure, that little red face with furrowed brow looks pretty angry and if my husband spoke to me in that tone, I’d take it personally and have some choice words for him. Sometimes I have to take a step back from the crying (oh, the ear-piercing shrieks and breathless sobs can rip your heart out of your chest) and remind myself simply, “She needs something. I’ll just try to figure out what it is. And if I can’t figure it out…”

2. This too shall pass — everything passes, everything is just a phase. I am the first one to jump down the rabbit hole of thinking that this is it, she’ll never stop crying (waking up every 2 hours, refusing her bottle, refusing the breast, etc). But with babies EVERYTHING is a phase. You WILL sleep again, and so will your baby. I constantly remind myself that everyone in my freshman college class was  potty trained, no longer slept in their parents’ beds, and didn’t scream for an hour every night before bed. So somehow, everything passes and works itself out eventually. It has to, right?

3. Cavemen did this. / Stupider people than me have done this successfully. All this baby stuff is incredibly overwhelming. First of all, you’re just trying to keep another human alive, who is completely dependent on you for EVERYTHING. That should be enough. But no, on top of that, there are dozens of “right” ways to do it, and if you do it the “wrong” way the wheels fall off and your baby will become hyperactive/sleep-deprived/psychopathic/bad at math/a Republican. There are dozens of theories and everyone has advice or admonishments for you, and even if you wanted to read a complicated book and how to do this you wouldn’t have time or you’d fall asleep by the end of the first paragraph. It’s so easy to question everything you do: should we wake baby up? Should we turn off the TV? Is her diaper too tight? Do I sing to her enough? It will drive you CRAZY. But stop and look around. Babies are somehow getting raised to adulthood all over the world. And have been for thousands of years. Neanderthals did it in caves with no electricity, running water, or iPads, and saber-toothed tigers knocking on their doors (did caves have doors? Hrm). So you too, can do this. With nearly everything challenging I’ve been faced with in life, I remind myself: Stupider people than me have done this.

4. Whatever works right now, for our family, is what works. Or as I recently heard, every mother does it differently and every mother does it right. Stop questioning and judging yourself. If somehow you your baby to sleep by playing GWAR, chanting in pig latin and dancing in a sequined leotard, its okay. It worked, end of story. It might not work tomorrow, or even later today, but it worked and that’s what works for you right now. Just go with it.

5. Begin as you wish to continue. This has been harder for me to follow in these early infant days, but it’s something I keep trying to remember and I’ve tried to apply to other areas of my life.