Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A "wellness room" it is not

Let me begin this post by giving all due credit to my employer. As a young and still relatively small company, they have put forth great effort to making the few lactating mothers' lives easier, supplying not only a private, locked room, but a Medela Pump in Style breast pump, a mini fridge for storing expressed milk, a closet for storing supplies, and a comfy red arm chair in which to recline whilst being milked.

They have also gone to great pains to be as politically correct about this as possible.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Black Plate, Chapter 4: The Moon Riseth

This post is long overdue. Once again, I'm going to pull out the "I was sick" excuse and assume that you'll forgive me.

The last time we left the black plate, it had arrived on my desk bearing brownies, causing me to unleash a torrent of swearing at the poor unsuspecting receptionist/office assistant who gleefully delivered them to me on my first day back from maternity leave.

Before I get into the meat of this story, let me take a pause to explain a bit about how the great plate transference has evolved over the years. At first, it was mostly a matter of sneakiness and speed. The goal was to get the plate back into the hands of the other couple as fast as possible without them noticing until it was too late, which usually meant after the giver of the plate had left for the evening. The problem with this approach is that we all quickly learned the signs of a black plate hand-off... and how to head it off at the pass.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Getting obsessed with songs, inaugural post (One Direction, "Night Changes")

Because this is the first post of this nature, I'm going to have to provide a little context.

One of my most favorite things about myself is that I get obsessed with songs. Not like "yo, that's my jam on the radio!" obsessed, but like "I will listen to this song, on repeat, for days; my feet will march in step to the beat; I will awkwardly rock out at crosswalks (because people in Seattle don't jaywalk!), and in my car; I will sing that shit to myself in the shower, and to the dog" obsessed. That is what I mean when I say obsessed.

If you think it's narcissistic of me to have favorite things about myself, fine. My guess is that you also have favorite things about yourself, in which case, guess what! You, too, are a narcissist. And if you don't, well, then I'm sad for you. Because having shit that you like about yourself, especially when it's super awkward, is actually really fun.

Acknowledging that I get obsessed with songs (and learning to like this quality in myself) took a long time. I was in law school before I was able to accept it, let alone embrace it. This is, in part, because the songs I get obsessed with are SUPER awkward. Top 40 pop songs, cheesy country love songs, indie-music-that's-a-little-too-emo-for-comfort songs, Taylor Swift... that kind of music. Really. And it wasn't until I was in law school that I realized that pretty much everyone else is obsessed (maybe not to the same degree, but still), with the same songs. I learned this on various road trips with law schools classmates. One listening to Belinda Carlisle (Heaven is, indeed, a place on earth, baby!), and Boyz II Men, and Brandy vs. Monica (no, the boy is mine, bitches) on the way to a ski trip. One with my also-an-atheist friend (you know who you are) during which the two of us rocked out to Christmas music in the middle of February in North Carolina on the way home from a moot court competition.

But the moment when it really hit me just how utterly ordinary (and awesome) my awkward music obsessions are was during Mark's 30th birthday indoor tailgate party. Mark and I put together the playlist maybe 30 minutes before people were supposed to show up, and I was basically just dragging and dropping any song that was played at frat parties when we were in college, or that I assumed would have been played at a frat party any time in the last decade (in keeping with my bad taste, I have many!). Finally, we reached the point where we were dipping back into high school territory. As in, the Back Street Boys, circa 1999: I Want It That Way. 

Tell me why... we all think this song is sick! Tell me why... we all know the fucking lyrics! Tell me why... I always want to hear you sing... I want it that way!

By this point, you must know where this is going. Despite the fact that, had you asked my 14-year-old high school self, I would have told you this was the worst fucking song on the planet, I love this song. I loved it in high school. I love it now. When I was a high school freshman, I would secretly listen to it on repeat in my bedroom and sing it loudly in the shower, only to swear to my friends that it was drivel and Metallica and AC/DC were where it was at. And in January 2014, 15 years after this song first came out, I was insisting that we add it to the playlist for Mark's 30th birthday shindig.

Mark was not super thrilled about this idea. Don't get me wrong. He likes the song. He even acknowledges that other people like the song. But he disagreed that it was the right tone for the party.

Holy balls on fire was he wrong.

At around 10pm, the playlist finally gets to the moment. Backstreet was back! Even though I was the only sober person in the room (pregnancy problems, natch), I didn't really notice what was happening until a friend of ours started singing... "you are... my fiii--rrrree, the one... desiii-rrreee." All of a sudden, another friend joins in, and then another, and then suddenly 20ish 25-30 year olds are fucking belting out I Want It That Way. God I wish I'd had a GoPro to record one of the best "I told you so" moments of my life.

All of this brings me to the original point of this post: my current obsession. The plan, my dear readers, is to make this a semi-regular feature whereby I embarrass myself by exposing my terrible musical taste to the world for your enjoyment.

So without further ado, the inaugural obsession: One Direction's Night Changes. Embarrassing for the fact that it's One Direction, a boy band of British origin whose name is not The Beatles. Awesome for the fact that it's super old-school boy band music a la Back Street Boys and N'Sync. God that shit is good.

Listen to it. Love it. Let yourself go. Also, if you think Harry Styles is the cute one, you have horrible taste. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

You need a Nosefrida

One of the truest things I was told about parenthood is this: every parent you know will provide you a list of crap they swear by. Which you will register for / purchase. And then never use.

Here's a sample list of just some of the baby items we just had to have, and then never actually used:

  • The Woombie (a swaddle-type thing involving a zipper)
  • The Swaddle Sack (a swaddle-type thing involving velcro) 
  • The Bumbo (this was convenient for approximately five minutes until Avery realized that she could tip herself out of it, even with the strap on)
  • The Boppy
  • The Baby K'Tan (Avery screamed her head off if you put her in this)
  • The Hotsling (same problem as with the Baby K'Tan)
  • The infant insert for the Ergo carrier (word to the uninitiated: the Ergo is meant for babies who have head control. Before they have head control, using the Ergo requires wrestling them into the infant insert, which is basically like wrapping your baby in a North Face parka, smooshing her against your 98.6 degree body, and then expecting her to be comfortable. I mean honestly, would you be comfortable? There is nothing like watching a 2 week old sweat to make you feel like a shitty parent)
  • The Bebe au Lait (a nursing cover than I used maybe 3 times until I realized that if people had a problem with seeing my boobs in public when I needed to breastfeed my child, that was their damn problem, not mine.)
  • Diaper Rash cream 
  • Baby Oil
  • Baby Lotion
  • Baby towels (those hooded things that are basically just tiny, thin bath towels. We realized pretty quickly that regular grown-up bath towels work just fine and actually keep your slippery, cold, and displeased offspring much warmer and thus quieter).
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'm totally going to be that parent and tell you what you really just have to have (!) for your currently gestating bundle of joy.

You need the fucking Nosefrida.

Do not believe the nurses at the hospital when they tell you that the little blue snot sucker bulb works just as well as fancy baby snot suckers... ahem, nasal aspirators. They do not.

They are also impossible to clean, and when you are wrestling with your wriggling, kicking, screaming 7 month old who would rather drown in her own mucus than allow you to get near her with this thing, they become a total liability for things like:
  • Breaking your baby's septum in your desperation to shove it in there 
  • Impaling an eye
  • Forgetting to squeeze the bulb prior to insertion and thus blowing snot, germs, and God knows what else back into your baby's head
The Nosefrida, a device brought to you by the Swedes (of Ikea and delicious meatball fame), considerably reduces the risks of fuck ups like this. The portion of the device that makes contact with your baby's nose is much wider with a rounded end, make it much less weapon-like than the bulb.

The main problem with the Nosefrida, and the reason I waited so long before caving to this most magical of baby devices, is that it requires you, a human, to place one end of a straw in your mouth, and the other end in your baby's nose, and suck.

For me, this admittedly presented a bit of a psychological hurdle. But a solid two months into the never ending runny nose that evidently (according to other parents), constitutes the first four years of the human experience, I'd had one too many close calls with the snot bulb and I couldn't take it any more.

It turns out that the Nosefrida is not nearly as horrifying as I'd imagined. Indeed, those crafty Swedes made sure that transference of mucus from Avery's nose to my mouth (or even close to my mouth), was not going to happen. First of all, the tube is too long. Second, unless your baby has the world's biggest and most congested sinus cavity, there is simply not enough bodily fluid in there to make it through the straw. Third, the folks at Nosefrida, Inc. knew that selling $15 snot suckers was only going to go so far. They needed a subscription model. So in order to use the Nosefrida and prevent germ transference, you use these little blue foam filters that you're supposed to change every time. At about 50 cents a pop, I decided that 3-4 uses for each one was probably fine...

Naturally, the weird smiling baby on the front of the Nosefrida box is not really representative of how small children react to having their sinuses vacuumed. The reality is something more like this:

But let me assure you, the scrunch-face crying that accompanies the Nosefrida is not even close to as painful as what accompanies the bulb. It's also so much more efficient. Rather than spelunking for snot with the bulb 3-4 times per nostril every 15 or so minutes, you can actually vacuum out enough to give your kid a reprieve for a few solid hours (not to mention give yourself a reprieve from the Darth Vader/pig hybrid breathing that accompanies baby congestion).

It's a damn miracle. Please, learn from my mistakes, people.

So what else do you truly need?
  • Diapers
  • A strong constitution for when those diapers inevitably blow out, because there is no such thing as a blowout-proof diaper.
  • Wipes
  • Vaseline, which works just fine for preventing and treating diaper rash. Our 16oz tub is still going strong almost 8 months in and Avery has never once had a diaper rash (a pediatrician has earned a life time of good will for giving us this golden advice).
  • An apparatus in which your baby will sleep when they are very little or very snotty, such as a swing, a Rock'n'Play, whatever. Bonus points if it vibrates.
  • Pacifiers. So. Many. Pacifiers. Do not be deceived by the people who tell you that it will fuck up your baby's latch/teeth/self-soothing ability/self-esteem. We waited 10 days before conceding defeat and giving a pacifier. It changed our lives. Now, months later, she doesn't even care about the pacifier and we got so much more sleep than we otherwise would have.
  • Dr. Brown's bottles. Yes, you can use the Medela ones that come with your breast pump. You'll be a lot happier if you buy the Dr. Brown's.
  • A baby tub with an infant sling. Mark threw so much shade about this thing, but now it's far and away his favorite piece of baby gear.
  • A slush fund for baby carriers. You have no idea what your baby is going to like, and there is going to be trial and error involved. The magic bullet for us was the Beco carrier. Some people love the Bjorn. Others have babies who actually like the comfort of a sling (I imagine those are the same babies who enjoy swaddling). If you get away with spending less than $300 on carriers, count your blessings.
I welcome other suggestions in the comments from other parents. What was a waste of money? What item saved you in your darkest hour?

Of course, you can take or leave any or all of this advice. Except for the part about the Nosefrida. Just do it. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nanny Cold War: The Over/Under

Back in November, I wrote about what an absolutely gigantic pain in the ass it was to secure good, reliable child care. Looking back, it's amazing to think that it took us another month after that post to finally find long-term childcare. A brief summary is below:
  • November 17: Find out that our daycare has revoked our part-time spot.
  • November 21: Commence nanny interviews
  • November 23: Make an offer to a lovely Italian nanny. Feel pleased about the choice. 
  • November 24: Nanny accepts our offer; we send her the contract and employment forms.
  • December 2, 11am: Less than 24 hours before nanny is due to start, she calls to inform us that she has accepted another position.
  • December 2, 11:02am: Laugh/cry/curse the gods over the fucking nanny. 
  • December 2, 11:03am: Immediately email second choice nanny candidate, beg her to take the job. Learn that she has accepted another position, but mercifully can cover us for the month of December. 
  • December 5: Commence second round of nanny interviews
  • December 7: Make an offer to another nanny
  • December 8: Offer is accepted and contract is signed. 
  • January 2: Nanny starts... yay!
During this time, while I was mired in the chaos of trying to secure child care, there were a number of things that I didn't really think too hard about. Like the fact that having a nanny meant that some other woman was going to spend all day, every day, taking care of my child. In my house. I mean, I get that that is the point of having a nanny, but when it's actually happening, it's hard not to feel a little strange about the extent to which you are actually outsourcing your life.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Scottish Pronunciation of "Vitamins"

The Scottish pronunciation of "vitamins" is insane. Or at least it sounds that way to my American ears. My whole life, I've said and heard "vitamins" pronounced as vie-ta-mins. It never occurred to me that it could be pronounced any other way, until two weeks ago during a call with the lovely Scottish woman who handles my company's UK public relations when she admonished me to take vi-ti-mins. First sound "vit" as in "nit" or "bit" or "sit." Second sound much more like a short "i" than an "a."  Vi-ti-mins. Say it. It sounds crazy.

When I first heard it, at first I thought she was referring to a specific product, one that must only be available across the pond. I was about to tell her that I'd never heard of such a thing when the light bulb finally went on and I realized that she was talking about vitamins. As in Centrum or whatever.

Why, you ask, was my UK public relations team admonishing me to take vitamins? For the very same reason that this blog has been silent for a few weeks. I have been down and out with the worst cold I can ever remember having.