*Especially Donald Trump.
The sea of modern baby gear can be quite daunting to the new parent. What is all this stuff actually for? a baffled, gestating couple may ask. I present this primer of common baby gear to assist your transition to parenthood.
Amber teething necklace: A means of allowing your older relatives to question your fitness as a parent because they fear a choking hazard: “You take it off when she sleeps, right?”
Blanket: a swath of fabric you set your baby upon to keep floor filth off of her, until she starts to move, then it’s futile to attempt fending off filth.
Car & infant car seat: depending on the disposition of your infant, this is either a torture device or a means of parental salvation.
Crib: a place to dump clean, unfolded laundry so it won’t get pet hair on it while the baby sleeps in your bed.
Doll, soft bodied, organic cotton with natural wooden teether: an expensive item your baby will ignore in favor of trying to eat paper towels.
Doula Dog: a creature who lives in your house and thinks he could do a better job caring for the baby than you. (“No, no! You’re supposed to lick her butt!”)
Diaper Bag: a semi-permanent receptacle for heavily soiled items because you will forget you put nasty things in there.
H cup: a bra cup size you once thought mythical, but have now attained.
Nasal aspirator: snot sucking technology the hospital sends you home with. Other parents tell you there is a better version that allows you to suck snot using your own mouth without getting a mouthful of baby snot. You will keep meaning to buy it but won’t own it the first time the baby can’t breathe and eat at the same time.
Nursing pillow: a milk-soiled half donut of a stuffed fabric to which you will become unreasonably emotionally attached.
Pacifier: a means of entertainment, this device is self-hiding; when you need a diversion to distract you from a crying baby, you frantically look for it.
Pajamas, footed: a thing you use to mock your baby‘s attempts to keep her feet cold. (see: Socks, baby)
Socks, baby: things your baby uses to mock your attempts to keep her feet warm.
Stroller: a purportedly portable device that requires an advanced degree to fold up and put in the trunk.
Swing, baby: a means of parental salvation; deploy when you finally can’t stand the rotting-milk-and-sweat smell of yourself and decide to take a shower.
Wrap-style baby carrier: an intelligence test administered after birth to see if sleep deprived parents can follow diagrams and wrap a fifteen foot length of fabric around them in a way that won’t lead to the smothering of their baby.
Here’s a somewhat complete list of what I did today.
- drank first cup of coffee around 5:15 am
- finished newsletter for a client
- edited blog post for my favorite client: The Center for Parental Leave Leadership
- kissed husband as he was leaving
- showered/got dressed
changed baby’s diaper and fed her
- woke up big kid
- moved diapers from washer to dryer
- threw a PEAR and a peanut butter sandwich in big kid’s lunch bag
- loaded 45 pounds of school fundraiser PEARS in the car
- loaded baby, baby gear, laptop and planner into car
- drove opposite direction from school to deliver 25 pounds PEARS to a pregnant friend
- drove kid to school while listening to Heard it Through the Grapevine on repeat so baby wouldn’t scream
- chatted and ate other people’s snacks outside school (hard boiled eggs, cheese and salami — yum!)
- coordinated getting cranial sacral therapy for the baby after getting rear-ended last week
- realized baby has a cold
- drove to friend/favorite client’s house, did second round edit on blog post & fed baby
- realized I have a cold
- drove downtown to deliver another 5 pounds of PEARS and meet old work friends for coffee and changed a poopy blow-out diaper on a Starbuck’s chair (that’s what happens when there’s no diaper deck, people!)
- delivered 15 pounds PEARS to another downtown location
- drove back to school
- checked blood sugar and calibrated my continuous glucose monitor
- checked email and texts while baby slept in the car
- rescheduled a recurring meeting
- sent text begging friend/neighbor to let the dog out because nobody had yet (oops — sorry, Charlie!)
- watched school Michaelmas play
- cried (as I always do when seeing children perform anything)
- drove exhausted children home
- ate plate of nachos & a PEAR
- changed baby’s diaper
- shared photos and video from play on Instagram and Facebook
- fed baby
- made a grocery list
- vegged out on the inter-webs while baby slept on me
- made coffee
- cleaned the kitchen (because gawd)
- removed bra
- remembered to email link to favorite nursing bra to another mom
- brainstormed article ideas
- wrote this blog post
She’s happy and smiley so often, when she does gets upset — from a gas bubble or teething — she gets a confused look on her face, like she’s thinking, “This isn’t right! I’m a happy person! Why am I not happy?” Sometimes you can get her to smile at you in the middle of a crying jag, before she realizes she’s still pissed.
She’s muscular, just as Nora was. But she’s far more interested in moving around than Nora. She scoots around with her feet and if she’s lying back and wants to see something, she’ll repeatedly try to sit up, basically doing little baby crunches. She loves her Bumbo chair and sits it in on the table top while the rest of us eat dinner, watching us and sucking on her hands.
When you lay her back on her changing table, her face lights up, “Oh! There’s my beloved light switch!” She coos through her frequent diaper changes. She pees a lot.
She adores her dad and her big sister, showing all her gums and crinkling her eyes when she sees or hears them. “Everybody loves Alma Bea!” we all say to her, many times a day.
Nora loves to be responsible for watching her while I shower or pee (I’ve committed to peeing by myself as often as possible). Nora looks for excuses to pick her up and comfortably carries her all over the house until her arms get sore, then hands her off to me. A few weeks ago she told me that she should be Alma’s primary care-giver because she’d do a better job and she loves her more than I do. I nodded solemnly and told her I’d consider it.
I was worried Alma didn’t like her swing anymore. When I set her in it, she fusses unless she’s already asleep. But I found if you put some Marvin Gaye on the turntable, she chills out as fast as she ever did.
Charlie, the goofy hound mix, still comes running to check on her if she coughs. Though he mainly ignores the crying now. You know what would actually be helpful, Charles? If you didn’t howl and bark bloody murder every time you heard the diesel engine of the UPS truck. It always happens during her afternoon nap, which would be her longest one if he’d shut the hell up.
During the day, she mostly cat naps. Rarely do naps last more than an hour now. But she’s a good sleeper at night, so I’m not complaining.
I’m the opposite of complaining — which turns out is bewildered. I can’t believe this is all going so well.
Baby Alma was cradled into my left arm and Nora gave us a push. The swinging of the hammock almost always puts Alma to sleep.
Nora’s seventy pound body was wedged into Alma’s stroller. (Partly because she thinks it’s funny and partly because I broke her lawn chair a few weeks ago when she made it part of an obstacle course and was timing me to run it.)
Nora was giggling, I can’t remember if it was from the book, or sitting in the stroller or what. But suddenly there was a baby laugh in my left ear.
The first baby laugh.
Alma smiles all the time. She smiles more easily and joyfully than Nora did. But so far, her giggle has not quite been there.
I looked down. Her eyes were closed.
She was giggling in her half-sleep state.
“Nora, do you hear that?” I said, “She’s sleep-laughing!”
This made Nora laugh more, which made Alma laugh more, and now she was awake. It was obvious: her big sister’s laugh delighted her.
Nora crawled in the hammock, licking my arm to make me shriek, which made her laugh, which made Alma giggle.
It was one of those moments — right when it’s happening, you know it will evaporate at any second.
I wanted it to last forever. Like when I was a kid and my mom would tickle me with her long fingernails and I could barely stand it — but would beg for more if she stopped.
Finally, the giggling subsided, with Nora and I lying back, happy drunk on the baby’s laughter.
It’s just before 8 a.m. and Nora and I are fighting about pancakes.
My offer to make bacon and eggs was politely declined by Ben and Nora. They are sick of bacon and eggs.
“What else can we make?” Ben asked.
“I can make almond butter and banana pancakes,” I said. We have a nice, ripe banana.
“They’re not almond butter pancakes,” Nora said, making a face. “I use almond flour.”
And thus begins the bickering. I want to use a solid recipe: banana, eggs and almond butter in known ratios. Nora wants to use the recipe she invented, almond flour, banana, eggs — and feel her way through the measurements.
Left to myself, I could knock out these pancakes in less then 15 minutes. Allowing Nora to do it herself means I don’t know how long it will take and I can’t be sure of the results. I just want a fucking pancake.
I’ve been up since 5 a.m. I couldn’t get back to sleep after nursing the baby and peeing, so the baby and I got up.
I drank the last of yesterday’s afternoon pot of coffee, changed Alma’s diaper and made faces at her for a while. I worked on my article for Prevention magazine that’s due soon.
I’m not in bad shape, or so I thought. The rims of my eyelids are not burning. I am not nauseous.
I start looking up recipes and Nora looks over my shoulder.
“That recipe only has four and a half stars. Mine has five and a half,” she says.
I relent. She can make the pancakes. I don’t have the energy to negotiate a compromise. I interfere just enough to get a quarter teaspoon of baking soda in there.
I signal to Ben, who is rocking the baby, that I need to speak to him in the other room.
“I must be either more tired than I realize or not getting enough time to do my work, because this pancake thing is making me crazy.” After an abbreviated work/life integration discussion, he agrees to take the girls somewhere for a full hour and half later today. Even though it’s Sunday and I’ve agreed not to work on Sundays.
Walking back to the kitchen I hear Nora saying to no one in particular, “I love to watch the butter melt.”
How could my petulance not subside after hearing that?
Ten minutes later I am eating one of the best pancakes I’ve ever had. It’s nutty and sweet and firm.
2 large eggs
1 ripe banana
1 big pinch salt
1-1/2 cups almond flour (or almond meal)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Butter for the pan
Take out two medium mixing bowls. Put 1-1/2 cups almond flour in a bowl. Add a large pinch of salt. Into the other bowl, crack two large eggs. Then mush up a banana in a separate bowl. Then whisk the mushed banana and the eggs together. Put a quarter teaspoon of baking soda in the dry bowl. Then whisk up the dry bowl so someone doesn’t get a big hunk of baking soda or salt in their pancake. Put an eighth of the flour mixture into the egg bowl and whisk until combined. Sprinkle in more flour until it feels the right consistency, whisking in between each addition. You might not use all the flour. It will be a little thicker than a normal pancake batter.
Heat the stovetop to medium and drop in a pat of butter. Put a half cup of the batter in the pan. Stay by the stove and peek under sometimes to see if golden brown. When crispy and browned, flip. When other side crispy and brown, put on a plate and eat with syrup, butter or anything you’d like. Continue this process. You’ll probably get about four pancakes out of it. It’s not hard to double the recipe.