Bad Advice: A Waste Of Resources

There is literally no way your brain can comprehend how little sleep you get with a baby. Seriously, I went for the better part of a year only getting sleep in 2 hour chunks (max!), and even I can’t comprehend surviving that. I heard once that after 24 hours of sleeplessness you start to enter a psychotic state, so was I just hallucinating those newborn months? It would explain a lot.

This, only I was also leaking things.

Reminder: many people will tell you not to drink coffee if you’re breastfeeding.

Another reminder: 95% of babies will totally be fine if you drink a cup of coffee while you’re breastfeeding. Sometimes you just have to pick your battles. And by “battles” I of course mean “ability to stay upright at the park.”

I’m trying to emphasize just how unbelievably tired you will be in order to explain that you’re going to make bad decisions. There was actually a time when I genuinely thought that if I threw enough money at the sleep problem, it would magically get fixed. Spoiler: it didn’t work.

cats love money

My spirit animal

So, with the benefit of painful hindsight, here are the things that are absolutely a waste of time, money, and what little energy you might be able to scrape together.

Diaper Warmers

In our new baby class the nurse told us that we needed to get a special tea kettle that could be kept warm, but not hot, and then cut paper towel rolls into thirds, so that we could dip them into the always-warm water and gently wipe our baby’s butt, before using a hair dryer on a low setting to dry it off. No, seriously, she actually told us this. She was serious.

I’m not denying it; they ARE the cutest part of a baby

Obviously, that’s completely insane, and makes the concept of a special tool that just keeps regular wipes warm sound practically… well, practical. But then you remember this is basically the equivalent of running warm air over your toilet paper to keep it toasty all the time till you need it. I mean, would a nice, warm butt feel luxurious? Sure, probably. Do I need to bother with all that noise? Absolutely not. And then I read about the baby who got so into having her wipes warmed that she screamed bloody murder when they were out and about and had to change her diaper with those peasant room temperature things.

Don’t turn your offspring’s butt into an entitled princess. Don’t invest in wipe warmers.

baby royalty

But Mooooooom, didn’t you see my crown??

Side Note: you should absolutely invest in the wipes that are literally just water though, with no fragrance or soap or anything. Because dude, why would anyone’s bits and bobs want perfumed soap all up in their business? There will be so many fewer diaper rashes, I promise.

Glue For Your Infant’s Head

My miniature monster has always looked like the sex he was assigned at birth, based on his external anatomy. (Can you tell I live in Berkeley?) And while I honor and validate whatever future choices he makes about his gender, statistically speaking he’ll probably want to stay a boy.

I digress. The point is, I get that if you have a girl sprocket who doesn’t look like a girl, it might get irritating, having every stranger you meet assume she’s a he.

That does not mean you should start gluing shit to your child’s head. 

I’m here to say, categorically, that no matter how safe this glue is, literally gluing a bow onto a non-consenting infant isn’t okay, no matter what your gender hangups are. That’s where I draw the line. No glue. I cannot emphasize that enough.

There are plenty of other ways to waste perfectly good glue.

 

Changing Table

Look, I’m not telling you what to do (yes I am), but don’t bother with a changing table. Do you have a dresser of about the right height, so you won’t be hurting your back when you spend all your time at it? Great. Stick a changing pad on top. Congratulations, you have a changing table!

I can’t think of a funny caption for this. It’s a dresser. Used as a changing table.

A Butt Spatula

Yes. This is a real thing. Don’t worry; you’ll get used to spreading cream on someone else’s anus with your bare hands in no time.

butt spatula

And if you do get one, please keep a separate one for the kitchen. That’s all I ask.

Fancy Baby Clothes

You’re going to ignore this one. I know you will. But I’ll still say it, because it’s so painfully true. This shit will be worn for a hot minute before suddenly you can’t even get your little chimichanga’s head through the hole. There’s a booming business in beautiful baby clothes that cost more than an adult’s – and I’m sure if everyone actually resisted it the entire economy would collapse – I’m just saying you don’t actually have to take part.

On the other hand, financial disaster is generally something to be avoided. Forget what I said, little Bernice definitely needs an exact replica of one of Scarlett O’Hara’s massive gowns for her 6 month photo shoot.

I mean, I’m not gonna lie; she was killing it.

 

Cloth Diapers

Controversial, but true for us. Hey, I loved cloth diapers! They were so cute, and made me feel like I was saving the world, one less diaper landfill at a time. People would actually stop me in the streets to congratulate me on what a great human being I was. Plus, who doesn’t like to imagine that she’s secretly time-traveled to the Victorian Era, only with less typhoid?

Check out how happy this baby is!

But. After three weeks of the World’s Most Persistent Diaper Rash, we sheepishly asked the doctor if maybe we should be using disposables instead, and she looked at us like we had asked if maybe water would help this dehydration problem. We switched over, just for a few days we told ourselves, till everything clears up.

My bundle of broccoli, who had up to this point been pretty severely behind on his gross motor skill development, was standing up within 24 hours. Turns out, having an enormous wad of fabric around your hips makes it hard to do things like “stand” or “crawl” or “move,” and an enormous wad of stuff pressing into your crotch makes lying on your belly and learning how to use your arms and legs really uncomfortable.

TL;DR Cloth diapers hurt my kid’s butt and kept him from learning basic motor skills. Eff those things. Eff them all to heck.

A Speaker For Your Vagina

This one is actually pre-shoving another human out of the most sensitive part of your body. And it’s exactly what it sounds like. In case playing music directly to your torso in the hopes of going to a Julliard concert in 20 years wasn’t weird enough, now you can make your own vaginal sound system!

I’m going to assume after the words “vaginal sound system” I don’t need to say anything else.

Did I mention it goes IN YOUR VAGINA?

Your Own Sense Of Freedom, Personal Space, and Dignity

Obviously.

Just lean into it.

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Bad Advice: Your Brain on Baby

Remember when we all learned that our brains are like eggs? Easily broken, and delicious when fried?

Seriously, that commercial has me wanting breakfast right now.

I digress.

The point here is that babies = drugs. Or maybe it’s pregnancy = drugs? Anyway, something during the process of childbirth is basically equal to drugs. Okay, maybe the analogy isn’t perfect, but it definitely screws up your brain, and it makes you nostalgic for the 80’s.

No? Just me? Moving on.

parachute pants

You have to admit, it’s a classic look.

Right from the get-go, you’ve got Pregnancy Brain. Everyone talks about it, and I’m willing to bet serious money that you don’t really believe it’s true. Sure, maybe pregnant women are distracted, or not getting enough sleep, or just using the fetus as an excuse why they forgot to turn in the quarterly budget, but let’s get real here: these are not actually happening as a biological process. We just like to perpetuate stereotypes of women once they start reproducing, or some garbage like that.

Oscar in a trash can

Not that there’s anything wrong with garbage

Obviously, you know what’s coming. The old switcheroo! I tricked you! Ha! Pregnancy Brain is tooooooootally A Thing! 

You’ll forget why you walked into rooms, where you put your mail, what your neighbor’s name is, and probably your own too. Without doing any research, I can tell you that science has no idea why we would evolve the memory of a goldfish, and they definitely haven’t found a cure yet. I guess maybe cavemen didn’t really need to remember which root was good dinner, and which would kill you? Or all the blood is literally being drained from your head to your torso? Or it’s a complicated combination of hormonal responses going on in your body, preparing you to bring new life into this world?

ET phone home

Or maybe it’s aliens!

Whatever. The point is that being pregnant sucks anyway, and losing your ability to function as a capable adult is just the icing on the cake.

Eventually, inevitably, that little succubus is coming out somehow, and you officially graduate from Pregnancy Brain to Mommy Brain. That’s where you’re just dumb. Forgetful, yeah, but also incapable of putting coherent thoughts together. Even if you’re one of those assholes with a baby that sleeps through the night early on, you’re going to be stupider.

Jerk.

First off, you’re suddenly on an insane learning curve, trying to figure out all the crazy stuff you’re suddenly expected to somehow just know (Can you tell the difference between regular diaper rash and a yeast infection?), and I’m pretty sure that means your brain goes into emergency evacuation mode. Everything that’s suddenly unnecessary, like algebra or the Battle of Hastings, gets dumped to make room for knowledge about fourteen subtly different bottle designs. You’re basically getting a master’s degree, only instead of a fancy diploma you get poop. Lots and lots of poop.

Fear the pooping face

But there’s also something else, something biological going on here. This time I imagine the effect is as strong on people who come by their spawn some way other than growing it inside their torso, because I’m pretty sure it’s Mother Nature’s way of making sure you don’t actually run for the hills like you say you’re going to after a full day of having a creature literally on you all. the. time. So it’s probably part of bonding and suddenly reshaping your entire existence, but seriously dude, your ability to carry on witty cocktail party conversation is going to go down the tubes.

Cocktail party conversation

“Did you read that New York Times article about terribly important grown up things?”
“No, but I know all about lanolin!”

Then, there’s the atrophy. If you make the hilariously idiotic choice to stay home with your tadpole, then you’re going to discover something: babies are boring. So are toddlers. But they’re also impossibly difficult to entertain.

Now, I’m not talking about the first few weeks, when they sleep, like, 20 hours a day, and there are also plenty of easy-going little urchins who just enjoy watching the world go by, or so I hear. But for the rest of us, your existence is completely centered around trying to somehow fill the nine or so hours that stretch in front of you like an eternity before your partner (HOPEFULLY) comes home and takes the monster off your hands. So there’s no space in your mind for contemplating philosophical issues, or planning the next Great American Novel, because you’re frantically trying to come up with something else to do once the 18 month old gets tired of chewing on the cat’s tail. And then another thing 5 minutes after that.

Okay, I’m not a monster, even I think this looks cute. I mean, the little kitty is so fuzzy and floppy! Awwww

I know, I know, it’s best for babies to self-direct play, to learn to be bored, and all that. But have you MET babies? They will not let you ignore them. They will be attended to, hand and foot. They are the masters of the house now. Every stay-home-parent I know has devoted enormous portions of their day to figuring out things to do for their tiny runt, and let me tell you, we’re all exhausted. I mean, physically we’re all wrecks, but also mentally. It’s a fiendish combination of utter boredom and constant creativity, with stakes that feel disastrously high. (If I don’t take Ermaline to baby and me accordion lessons she’ll grow up without the ability to appreciate music!)

Imagine where the future may lead!

With all that going on, it’s hard to do things like maintain a rigorous intellectual life. Or a lazy intellectual life. Or any intellectual life. Which is why your brain literally atrophies, and suddenly you’re unrecognizable as your former self. You’re devoting years of your life to developing another person’s brain, and it’s almost entirely at the expense of your own. Being a parent will actually make you stupider.

Basically, what I’m saying is you should probably do something really, really, really nice for your mom for Mother’s Day. She gave up her grey matter for you.

losing grey matter

Literally true

Bad Advice

I have a couple of friends who are thinking about reproducing, and to them I say: STOP! TURN BACK! RUN FOR THE HILLS!

Just kidding.

Sort of.

I will cut you

Get used to this face. No seriously, newborns make hilarious faces.

Having kids is this weird paradigm shift that you genuinely can’t comprehend until you’re already in too deep to turn back. And the weird thing is you go in knowing you don’t know what you don’t know, but you’re still somehow surprised by how surprised you are. 

You can do all the internet research you want, have a million nephews and nieces, hell, you could even have been a kid once yourself, but there is really and truly no way to prepare yourself.

That being said, here’s some advice for how to prepare yourself!

(Disclaimer: my kid is super weird. Your results may vary.)

demon baby

Don’t be fooled by this picture. IT WILL SUCK YOUR SOUL OUT THROUGH YOUR EYEBALLS

Crib, stroller, car seat

Obviously, you should have this stuff. I’ll go ahead and tell you right now that I don’t know anyone who used the crib for the first four months – minimum – after their kid was born, but when you finally do want a crib you’ll be way too tired to go out, get one, and put it together, so just do your future self a solid and get that shit set up pre-contractions (or adoption paper-signing, or however it is you get that tiny lovable dictator).

Ditto on the car seat, especially since you can’t leave the hospital without one, and ain’t nobody wants to install a car seat after going through labor. Trust me.

Wait a minute, if your kid doesn’t sleep in a crib, where does he sleep? The short answer is: on you. All. The. Time. Which sounds lovely, and sometimes it is, but sometimes you feel like if you can’t move freely for five god damned minutes you’re going to start throwing things, and you should really make sure the most convenient throwing-thing isn’t the baby. For those times, some genius made the Snugabunny. It folds. It’s light and portable. It’s cuddly and soft and a good height for sticking next to your bed/the couch/everywhere you go. Babies LOVE its warm embrace. It was a sad, sad day when we realized our goblin was too long to fit anymore.

Oh, and if you pull the short straw and your kid screams for hours on end because of acid reflux, the Snugabunny and its kin are apparently the only thing that will help. I mean, that’s the word on the streets. Our goblin never had any real physical troubles… they were all in his head… sigh…

Just shut up and get one

This is a physical manifestation of your sanity for the next several months

THE STROLLER IS KEY. Do you have a real grownup who wants to buy you something nice? This is where to take advantage. Get thee to a baby store and try out all of them. Stick a backpack full of books inside to replicate the weight of a screaming toddler. Hell, the place we went to had creepy baby-shaped sandbags for just that purpose! Try to get through doors, over curbs, and dance the tango if that’s your plan. The point is, if there’s ever a time to do your homework, this is it. Then shamelessly ask a relation to spend hundreds of dollars on it for you. Upgrade for the hand break and run-flats like we did! Yes, that’s right, our stroller has run-flats. Feel no shame, for this is an investment you will treasure.

Run flats for the win

You can’t tell me you want to face this while juggling a crying baby.

Babywearing

My kid hated this with a passion, so I don’t know… probably ask someone else.

Oh! One thing I do know! There are tiny little baby-wearing cults sprinkled all over the country (this is my local chapter), and they will let you try out every option under the sun. AND TELL YOU HOW TO USE IT, which is kind of important when you suddenly realize everything will kill your baby. And they’ll rent options to you till you and the grub decide on something together that you want to spend the moolah on. Or maybe you’ll just find out your kid is an asshole like mine who knows when Mommy’s hands are free and is having none of that noise.

baby wearing

They know what’s up

Swaddling

Prepare yourself for genius. This is where I shine.

First off: ALL BABIES WANT TO BE SWADDLED. Remember how s/he was so tightly packed in your abdomen you felt like your stomach might just burst open, alien-style? So does your baby, only s/he thought it was the bomb. Even if your tiny beast tries to get out, fight back. Embrace the swaddle. Swaddle so tightly that you start to feel a little bad. I promise, your future self that doesn’t have to deal with a sobbing baby will thank me.

This is your new bible

This is your new bible

Secondly: Swaddles are crazy hard origami projects that can go wrong at a moment’s notice. Forget that shit. If it’s cold, you can swaddle-as-hard-as-possible with a blanket, then stuff the goblin like a burrito into something like this. There shall be no escape.

If your muffin’s hands are still escaping their confines, then grab yourself a rectangle of cloth (cut up an old tee shirt, and you’re good to go) or a blanket and pin that sucker’s arms this way. It’s the single most important innovation ever discovered by parents. I cannot emphasize how much better your life is when your kid has limited access to his limbs.

Thirdly: No, seriously. If you don’t feel bad you’re not doing it right.

Soothing

Holy shit, you’re going to need a yoga ball. WHY DON’T THEY SEND YOU HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL WITH ONE? The world may never know.

The only balls you'll want to be near for quite some time

The only balls you’ll want to be near for quite some time

Anyway, you probably want this one when you’re preggers anyway, because there are going to be times when it’s the only thing you want to sit on/lean on/look at.

But then the succubus inside you will claw its way out. And s/he will be cranky about this whole situation.

What situation?

All of them.

What you will do is hold the monster and bounce on the yoga ball so hard and so high that you’re nearly flying off it. You’ll bounce for hours, until you can’t feel your legs. You’ll try to bounce across a room to get to your phone where you stupidly left it out of reach. You’ll compulsively bounce so much that you might forget what sitting on a regular chair feels like.

But your baby won’t cry.

And in that room where you’ll be trapped like some sort of purgatory for people who were very rude to their high school history teacher, bouncing eternally and wondering if you’ll ever not smell like yogurt again, you’ll want a white noise machine. It doesn’t much matter which one, as long as you don’t make the mistake of getting one of the cute stuffed animal ones. They turn off after 20 minutes, and that is unacceptable. You need something that will be loud and continuous. Imagine the sound of slowly losing your mind. Or being stuck in an old TV that only plays static. Or, apparently, what it’s like to grow for nine months in someone’s internal organs. That’s what your kid wants. I straight up got a headache from how loud ours was, but it was how he wanted it.

Pro tip: radio stations between channels work well too, and in a pinch there are some youtube channels that will just play you white noise till you lose your mind/fall into blissful sleep

Pro tip: radio stations between channels work well too, and in a pinch there are some youtube channels that will just play you white noise till you lose your mind/fall into blissful sleep

Bonus: if you somehow manage to put the sucker down and creep out of the room successfully, a white noise machine helps mask the sound of the Game of Thrones episode you’ve collapsed in front of.

Oh, and read this book before that sucker gets to the outside world. Or watch the matching movie (last I checked it was streaming on Netflix). You will repeat this man’s teachings like a secret mantra. It’s the only specifically recommended method or book I’ve ever heard from any nurses or doctors, and they ALL recommend it. Science!

Entertainment

Babies are actually pretty boring, and just want to watch the world burn… er… absorb the world around them, so you don’t need all that much. We took these with us literally everywhere we went, and it was all we needed for a looooooooooong time. On the other hand, they made our lives so much easier we took them with us literally everywhere we went. I guess the lesson here is you don’t need much, but you do need something?

Freddie the Firefly is every baby’s favorite toy. Walk around and check out what the savvy parents are doing. They’ve all got one of these too. Because they are the shit.

Freddie the Firefly

Worth its weight in gold

Side note: there are a bunch of other creatures these guys make, so go with what you like, but we’ve also got the moose and nobody loves that the way they love that god damned firefly.

Mobiles are great, but you know what makes them so much better? When they attach to everything. Stop being a chump with that giant thing over the crib, and clip this on to the car seat, the stroller, hell, even a baseball hat would be easily adorned by one of these. When you can’t see very well, and you’re still unclear on the concept of “limbs,” this is high entertainment. Your first car ride without crying will thank me.

The only way we ever drove more than three blocks without tears

The only way we ever drove more than three blocks without tears

We called this the baby boom box, and I once kept our ball of terror from crying for a full hour long car ride with this thing on loop.

Warning: these will be the first of many mindless songs you memorize in your new life as entertainer-in-chief. Hey, at least they’re classics!

Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy

The day he figured out how to make the music play on its own? MIND. BLOWN.

Boobs

If you’re using formula good for you! Do what’s right for your family! I just can’t speak to it, since I had a critter hanging off my boob all day, every day. I’m sure there are all sorts of sneaky tricks and ideas for the formula set.

If you are feeding another human being using liquid that squirts out of your glands (seriously, why don’t more people notice how weird nursing is?), then you’re going to want a vibrator.

A water-proof vibrator.

Pretty much everyone I know got clogged ducts at some point. Not only do they hurt like a mother (ha, see what I did there?), feeling like there’s an actual giant hard curdle stuck in your internal plumbing, but if you don’t take care of them you can get infected, and that leads to all sorts of bad stuff like visits to the ER.

So definitely take care of yourself!

With a vibrator! In the shower!

Let me back up: there are a lot of ideas about using cabbage leaves, or nursing your baby while hovering over him/her like Superman (the theory is you’re using the power of gravity to help get it out), and I’m sure there are plenty of hippies who want to sell you herbal remedies.

Those ideas are all bullshit. What you want to do is get a shower as hot as you can stand it, and let the girls get nice and warm (this might be the first shower you’ve taken in days, so enjoy yourself!). Once you’re all cozy and relaxed, turn that vibrator up to top speed, and use it to push those clogs out. Start at the base of your boob, and roll it all the way to the nipple, pushing/massaging/smashing as hard as you can stand it. Then do it again and again. If you’ve got an extra stubborn clog, just push the vibrator against it and leave it there to sort of vibrate the whole thing to pieces. Then massage/push/mash some more. If you wind up with milk spraying the walls of your shower then you’re doing it right. You won’t actually feel the moment when you’re free of that sucker, but in about half an hour you’ll be a much happier camper.

Whatever else you do with that vibrator is your own business, but don’t get too excited: between hormones and childbirth you’re probably not going to be even remotely interested in anything other than boob-massages for a while.

Which reminds me…

Boob Massages!

Want to get Baby Daddy (or Baby Mommy) involved in the nursing process? Here’s what you do: he sits down. You sit down, leaning against him. You clamp the wee one onto your nipple. Then, while s/he nurses, Daddy massages to boob the baby’s on. To make sure the milk all comes out? To stimulate flow? I’m honestly not sure if there’s a real reason for this, but our nurse told us about it, and all I know is that it was the most relaxing part of my day. Pretty sure the theory was to help supply, but all I know is that he felt involved, and I felt like falling asleep.

Note: this is a BAD idea if you’ve got the above clogged duct situation (okay, it’s actually a good idea, using the baby as a natural suction to help dislodge it, but it hurts so you should probably do the squishing on your own). Or if you’re super engorged, unless you want to waterboard your little bundle of sunshine.

Car Stuff

In theory, babies love car rides. Who hasn’t heard of the exhausted parent resorting to driving in circles in a parking lot, just to get their grub to sleep? Babies + cars = success, right?

You know where this is going, especially if you’ve ever met our contrarian nemesis. He hated the car, and would cry as if he was in physical pain if he had to go anywhere. I learned to drive with one hand on the wheel, and one hand twisted all the way around behind me to hold his binkie in place, because he hadn’t developed the motor skills to get it when it fell out. It hurt my shoulder, and was probably super dangerous, so I don’t recommend that particular strategy.

Eventually all the tiny tyrants I know grew out of that stage, even – gasp! – my own. It helps to have the distractions I mentioned before, especially the little mobile that can clip on to the handle of your car seat, giving the monster something to do besides slowly drive you insane.

But babies do cry a lot, probably even the ones that like car rides, and sometimes you’re on the freeway and can’t pull over to check that his arms haven’t suddenly fallen off. That sounds like an overstatement, but once you’ve got a newborn and realize the entire world is out to destroy them, well, the idea of missing limbs suddenly doesn’t sound far-fetched.

That’s when you need a special rear view mirror. They’re safe in the even of a crash, but more importantly will hopefully prevent that crash, because you’ll be able to look in your rear view mirror, see that your beautiful bundle of joy isn’t actually dying or possessed by Satan (hopefully), and drive on safely.

Grooming

First off, babies don’t need baths all that often, so if you’re too tired, or your little bundle of problems hates the water, or you just would rather watch more RuPaul’s Drag Race, well, now you’ve got the perfect excuse! It’s not great for their delicate skin! Alternatively, if your tiny bundle of goblins enjoys water, go nuts. It’s good for their sensory development!

Basically, there’s no right or wrong way to schedule these things. Live your life guilt-free.

The one exception to this rule is cradle cap. CRADLE CAP. A new mother’s nemesis! It’s a condition that isn’t normally medically worrisome, but makes your sweet-smelling grub look like s/he’s developing leprosy, or at least strange lizard-skin.

baby elephant prancing

It’s too gross to show a picture of. Here’s a baby elephant instead!

Like I said, for most kids it’s harmless, but the second you have a child there’s a deep, dark monkey part of your brain that Must. Groom. Now. that gets activated. And guess what really drives that instinct crazy? Scaly flakes on your baby’s head. And since we’re the most advanced monkeys on the planet, we’ve invented special grooming tools for this exact situation! Huzzah! Isn’t technology great?

My trick was to keep the wailing wonder swaddled, and prepare a pitcher of nice warm water right next to the sink. Then, after a thorough brushing, which he hated, he’d get a head massage with shampoo and soothing warm water poured over his head. The combo of still feeling secure and getting his head warm and massaged was pure bliss for him, and it was effective treatment for the gross crust on his head. Your mileage may vary.

baby elephants are the best

No seriously, have you considered adopting a baby elephant instead? I bet they never get weird skin conditions purely because they exist

So, now that you’ve got your kid’s head looking like, well, a head, let’s take a look at the rest of him/her/it (I’m not here to judge).

When you do feel like bathing your spawn, you’ll quickly discover that wet babies are hella slippery. And you only have two hands. And you’re putting your progeny in water, which is apparently really, really not good for breathing in.

What I’m saying here is that you need a baby tub. It doesn’t even matter much which one, from what I can tell, as long as it keeps that sucker in place. We had a fancy tub that I thought looked cool, and it was slippery and awful and it gave every mom I’ve known with it gray hairs. So don’t do that. I dunno, this one looks pretty good?

BUT!!! Once sitting up independently is happening I’ve got the only tub you will ever need again! Cheap? Check! Adorable? Check! Protects that precariously-balanced noggin’ from randomly tipping over because babies are dumb? Check! This thing travels (it’s inflatable) and will give you no end of cute baby pictures. Our benevolent overlord was so attached to it that when he outgrew it we had to let it slowly deflate over the course of several days, till eventually – I kid you not – he was taking baths sitting on a fully deflated ducky.

rubber ducky bath tub

Your new favorite inanimate object!

Finally, you’ve got your tiny monster bathed, and hopefully not covered in too much head gunk, so you’ve just got one more thing that you need to worry about. Okay, one more trick I’ve got to tell you about. There are a million things you’ll be worrying about, for the rest of your life. Welcome to parenting, when even trimming nails becomes a major, terrifying life event.

Confession: the first time I trimmed my piglet’s nails, I also trimmed off the tip of his finger.

Let me repeat that: I CLIPPED OFF THE VERY TIP OF MY BABY’S FINGER.

It was just skin, and he was fine after five minutes, and newborns are like Wolverine, and have freaky healing powers, so by the next day you literally couldn’t tell anything was wrong, but still. I will have nightmares till my dying day.

Seen here: your baby

After that fiasco, I finally listened to my mom and got nail scissors. They’re blunt, so you literally cannot injure anyone (I tested on myself first), and work like a charm. You’re not thanking me now, but when your gremlin grows tiny kitten claws and begins to scratch everything in sight, you’ll be glad you’ve got a system that doesn’t feel like high stakes surgery.

Getting Outside

Most creatures that didn’t evolve to live in a cave enjoy sunlight and fresh air. Most parents complain about how the only thing to stop the constant wailing is to go on long walks outside.

There was a time when I hated those people.

You see, my little burrito hated sunlight, fresh air, and happiness. Okay, maybe not that last one, but when he screamed bloody murder every time we stepped foot outside it certainly felt that way. So not only were we not sleeping, we also hadn’t seen the outside world in weeks. Maybe months. It had to stop. So we got him these hella cool shades. And then he rocked them every time we went out of the house. It didn’t magically solve everything, but it meant that we could go for 20 minute walks and get a little sanity back (as long as we stayed on the shady side of the street).

There is literally nothing cooler than a baby in sunglasses.

Also, since he was, well, willing to go outside I’ve been using this sunscreen on him, and I love it. It smells good, is safe for the littles, and goes on smoothly enough that I just lie to him and tell him I’m giving him a massage.

No seriously, lie your Kraken down, declare it’s massage time, and get that sunscreen everywhere. And then feel smug when you’re at the park and all the other toddlers are running away screaming from sun protection, while yours happily plops down and enjoys it. Being a mom at the park: it’s secretly all about being smug whenever possible.

Keep it to a classy, Obama-watching-the-world-burn level of smug.

Okay, that basically all I can brain-dump out about those first hellish magical months. Stay strong, take showers whenever you can, and remember that eating is important. And, if you possibly can, try to keep a sense of humor about things. It’s the only way to survive.

A Real Pain in the Ass

In the summer of 2011 my boyfriend and I were living in a little apartment in Brooklyn, when he got offered a job in San Francisco, starting in a few weeks. So we packed up our worldly possessions, our cats, and flew across the country (side note: NEVER FLY WITH CATS). 

angry cat

I will destroy you.

My parents graciously took us all in, and were so excited to be invaded that they decided to take everyone out for a shmancy dinner at the Cool New Restaurant in town. Sweet! Free food!

Now, you should realize that my parents had, ya know, met the boyfriend before, but they were suddenly confronted with living with him. And he was on his best behavior, which had to be exhausting. So I’m sure I was the most relaxed person in the group as we slid into the reclaimed wood booth, ready to order our gourmet California-Italian hybrid cuisine. Which was when I discovered that you should never, ever try to slide your butt over reclaimed wood. Especially if you’re wearing a skirt.

spintery wood

See where I’m going with this?

So, there was a splinter in my butt cheek. A really big, painful one. Stabbing me. In the butt.

I’m sure there are people out there who would have handled the situation gracefully. Who would have just smiled and dealt with it, so as to avoid embarrassment on all sides. Tragically, I was born without a sense of propriety. Or dignity. Or a general sense of how normal people behave in awkward situations. So instead I yelled out, “OW, MY BUTT!” at the top of my lungs, and proceeded to explain to everyone – including the mortified hostess – that there was a giant splinter poking me in the ass.

Luckily, I get my lack of social graces directly from my mom, who immediately realized that this was a job for her, so she whisked me off to the bathroom to get that sucker out of there.

Note: for the next half an hour, my boyfriend was stuck sitting and making small talk with my dad and uncle, while all three of them tried to avoid discussing the fact that I had a splinter in my butt.

The problem with going to Cool New Restaurants is that the coolness extends everywhere. Including the bathrooms. The interesting art installations and well-curated mood lighting would probably have made peeing one of the most relaxing experiences of my life, but when you’re bent over, hiking your skirt up, and trying to explain to your mom where the splinter in your ass cheek is… it’s just not as romantic, is what I’m saying.

“Wow, it’s really in there!”

“YEAH, I KIND OF FIGURED!”

“No, I mean, I don’t know how I’m going to get this out.”

“You don’t have, like, a first aid kit in your purse or something?” (apparently in my head my mom is prepared for everything)

“Hold on a second, I’m sure the restaurant has something…”

So she left me in the mood-lit bathroom, complete with throbbing cheek, while she went to inform the closest waiter that her daughter had a butt-splinter, and did they possibly have a first aid kit on hand?

No, they didn’t, but for some reason they did have tweezers. Why? I’ll never know. But at least now we were armed and dangerous, ready to attack this thing!

Only, the mood lighting wasn’t exactly helping. At this point we were both deep into MacGyver mode, and decided that the obvious choice was to try to arrange all the tiny candles sprinkled around the bathroom into some sort of butt-spotlight. When that didn’t work, the only thing left for it was for me to hold a tea light dangerously close to my ass, while my mom poked at me with tweezers.

votive candle

It was every bit as romantic as you’re imagining.

Which is when the eleven year old boy burst in.

Picture this: two women are huddled together in a bathroom. One of them is bent over, hiking her skirt up above her waist, and holding a candle to her butt. The other one is crouched down, with her face mere inches away, closely inspecting that butt.

I have no idea what that kid thought was going on, but I’m pretty sure he wished my mom had remembered to lock the door. He went running out as fast as he could, probably mortified and deeply confused, and my mom went after him, desperate to explain that actually that was her daughter, who had a splinter, and the light was bad, so we needed a candle, but it was okay, and why are you still running? Come back! There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation to all of this!

Eventually, we had to give up. That splinter was not. Coming. Out. In fact, I think we just managed to push it in deeper. So we went back to the table, probably saving all three of them from the world’s most awkward conversation, and decided to have dinner. I just sat very gingerly on one cheek for the rest of the night.

Stop! Thief!

That time when you get your toddler a beautiful fruit salad. You set it down in front of him, and he starts STUFFING honeydew into his face. Score! You sit down, and start chowing down on your vegetable salad (with some tuna on top for protein).

Suddenly, the fruit salad is no longer acceptable. There is much pointing at the grownup salad you were feasting on.

[Editor’s Note: the wee kraken mostly conveys meaning through a series of strange sound effects, the signs for “more” and “all done”, and pointing. He’s still surprisingly expressive, and the dialogue has been tweaked to reflect that.]

**sigh** Fine kid. Here’s a spinach leaf. See? You don’t like it.

Oh, but I do, Mommy. I do. More please!

**hands him more salad**

What is this delightful substance sticking to the leaves? Tuna, you say? Oh please, may I have some more?

**finds a few chunks of tuna for him**

There appear to be nuggets of golden deliciousness in here Mama!

You mean the kernels of corn that stuck to the tuna?

I do indeed! I would like more of that as well, sweet mother of mine!

Fine. Here. Are you happy now?

I would be happier with more. 

More?

More. 

How much more?

I’m not going to lie, Mommy. I want all of it. 

This… is an adult-sized lunch.

IN. MY. TUMMY. 

…and that’s how I somehow wound up without any lunch, while the toddler practiced scooping up corn with a spoon.

A New Entry

The handsome husband has requested that I blog about something. But he refuses to give me any good ideas, despite being given the title “Blogging Guru,” so I’m going to have to make it up as I go along.

Which is to say that he is really hot, and Beyonce, I got you. I put a ring on it.

Put a ring on it