Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Casper, Month 9



Every month I am shocked again that, somehow, a whole month has passed. Here we are at time number 9 of feeling this exact same way. 9 month dude. 9.

You love eating and standing. You love when daddy comes home from work. You love looking at yourself in the mirror. You love to scream. You love the swings at the park. You love animal noises and tickles. You love peek-a-boo and hiding under a blanket. And you love your mom most of all. I’m flattered, if a little sick of the whining. If only I would carry you around all of the time life would be perfect and you would never have to sit alone on the floor surrounded by toys (THE. WORST.).

This month you grew a lot of hair -- a mass of straw. Just the type of hair we imagined that you would have. It seemed to appear suddenly over the course of a few hours. One day, I went to work, leaving my mostly bald baby with his nanny and I returned that evening to a child with a full head of blond hair.

You’ve developed a weird snorting hiss that you perform, paired with arm flailing and clasping hand
motions, when you get very excited. It’s both adorable and the nerdiest thing ever.


You remain stuck when it comes to crawling -- you push with your feet and snow plow your head into the floor then push yourself up with your arms, but alas, never at the same time. After two or three tries you collapse onto your belly frustrated. You’re adept at army crawling around in a circle and can drag your body forward across mom and dad’s bed -- usually to grasp dad’s iPhone (Aka “black rectangle”).

Early in the month I captured the following tale of woe for posterity...

It was morning -- 8am, but you’d been up since 6:20. You’d just enjoyed a breakfast/bath of pineapple and were sticky enough to warrant a shower with Dad. Sticky enough that I decided to strip you down in the bathroom rather than get pineapple juice all over your room. Off came the onesie, the diaper cover, the snappi -- Dad joked, “hope there’s no poop in this diaper!” -- obviously this jinxed everything. Poop. So much poop. A cloth diaper filled to the brim with orange mush speckled with undigested apricot skins. For a moment I was frozen, unsure how to proceed.

For those unfamiliar with the cloth diaper routine allow me to describe how a normal poop should go. Baby is on the changing table (aka, "the floor" because we live in a small NYC apartment and obviously don't have enough room for an actual changing table.) -- dirty diaper is folded up and moved to the side. Baby is re-diapered. Soiled diaper is taken into the bathroom and clipped to the Spray Pal then hosed down in the toilet with a diaper sprayer so all poop can be flushed. (Yes, we do this for every poop. Yes, I assume Mother Earth herself will greet me upon death and personally escort me to heaven as thanks for all of the non-biodegradable diapers that I did not deposit into a landfill.) Diaper is then squeezed out into the toilet (again with SprayPal on the assist) and deposited in diaper pail. The SprayPal step is, technically, optional -- you could hold the diaper while spraying but this causes poop water blowback to hit you and I prefer as little poop water on my person as possible. It’s also possible to forgo spraying and dunk the entire diaper into the toilet but then your hand is literally taking a swim in poop water. Dad and I are big fans of the SprayPal

Back to the story. Dad springs into action, removing the diaper full of poo from my hand (“oh god there is poop on my hand!”) and proclaiming that we will spray the baby's butt off directly into the toilet. This is… unconventional... and possibly dangerous. Baby butt, being an uneven surface and unpredictably wiggly; the spray back could be lethal. BUT! This it still sort of seems like a good idea. In fact, it *IS* a good idea.

You were not on board. I held your legs up and pointed your derriere down into the toilet bowl then dad started spraying your bottom side off while your tears sprayed your face (at least that was helping a bit with the pineapple juice?). After that it was into the shower with Dad -- something you only sort of tolerate on a day when you’re not already tearing up from your butt-only, pre-shower shower.

It was a tough morning for everyone involved. When you recount the details under therapist induced hypnosis 20 years from now try to remember that I had to touch poop.

You and I made another trip to California this month. You, once again, rocked your 4th roundtrip plane flight -- sleeping through half of it in both directions. Your cousins, Dalanie and Zayden, were much more impressed with 8 month old you than they had been with 2 month old you. You got many tickles and peek-a-boos. Grandpa Horst  called you “Little Putz” and carried around to meet their dog, Annie, who licked at your feet and Gino, one of Grandma’s horses who, somehow, didn’t freak out when you stuck your entire hand into his nostrils. Grandma Kay rented you a cabana at the pool in Vegas -- we all used it but it was decidedly for you. She has never even considered renting me a cabana.

We had a couple of playdates with my cousin Mallory’s daughter Rosalyn who is 3 weeks older than you. There was tandem chewing and frustrated failed attempts to crawl. Rosalyn made me much more aware of your personality. She is a serious little girl -- all scowls and resting bitch-face (the cutest possible resting bitch face). I had to work hard with silly faces and cootchi-coos for just one smile. This is never the case with my little golden retriever of a baby. You also tried so hard to get Roz to jabber and smile with you -- you did all of your best dadadas and screams. You bounced and squealed all to very little reaction. Seeing the two of your together reinforced that you are huge, huge goofball. Not because all babies are, but because you are.

I’ve set myself up over the last few months with expectations of a touching end to each of these posts. It’s not that I don’t have it in me this month -- I love you more and more and more. But I’ve nothing new to to say. Perhaps I’m getting used to things and can no longer be shocked by this overwhelming love.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Casper, Month 8


Hello my 8 month old boy! My Big Chompers. My Poop Machine.


I recently reviewed your newborn pictures and discovered something alarming. You were not that cute. You had baby acne and baby-patterned baldness. You didn’t know how to smile. This raises serious questions about my own objectivity since I distinctly remember wondering how my newborn got so adorable. I also remember your father commenting at 5 weeks the he was afraid you had peaked for cuteness. In retrospect, this is insane. So while I want to report that, at 8 months, you are the cutest and always getting cuter, I cannot honestly assess the situation. To my eyes you are dangerously good looking, but in reality you might be a troll.

Your nanny, Kenesha, says you are "very advanced at eating." I'm sure that's code for, "a little piglet." You love food. You devour sweet potatoes, grilled zucchini, bagels, blueberry pancakes, cherry tomatoes, cheese and avocado toast. In most cases you take the Cookie Monster approach to eating -- fistfuls of noms head toward your mouth, 10% consumed, 90% turned into directionless projectiles. Sometimes it seems that all we’ve done this month is eat and bathe.


We’ve been taking the baby led weaning approach to food (a poor name for “give your baby food and let them eat it” -- we are by no means weaning you off of breast milk) and I cannot recommend it highly enough. However, I am no longer able to quietly snack around you -- as soon as you spot anyone eating, you unleash a chorus of whines until all food is shared. What a little communist. On one occasion you dive bombed your dad’s hamburger. Another time you stared so hard at a stranger on the subway as he munched on peanuts that I felt I had to apologize for the death glares being sent his way.

Eating adult food is messy business so we prefer to feed you out on the patio clad only in a diaper and a bib. Our bib of choice includes a handy trough where the food that didn't make it into your tummy can commingle into a half chewed soup. At month's start you didn't know about the trough but by early July you had discovered this exciting repository of back up food. You are happy to reconsider all trough options from plum coated in avocado to pineapple basted pasta.

You are now capable of sitting in a highchair at restaurants which has opened up scads of brunch options for your dad and I (no longer restricted to the occasional NYC venue big enough to house your stroller). Your happy to accompany us for the small fee of a croissant here, a fried potato there.


You’re not talking yet but, perhaps in preparation, your mouth has become very active (even when not eating). You’ve learned to smack your lips to produce a satisfying popping noise. You move your little mouth around like a ventriloquist dummy -- all motion and no sound. You bababa and dadada.  No mamamas yet, which I hear is to be expected.



You’ve become a screamer -- gleefully screeching like a little baby car alarm. I constantly have to reassure others that you’re not upset, just loud. I worry that our neighbors are unamused.


When I come home from work you attack me with opened mouthed drool-y kisses. Your lips banging against my cheek, head shaking back and forth, “Ah! Ah! Ah!” you shout.


All of the kisses are for mom but the guffaws are all for dad. That dude cracks you up without even trying. In the morning while you’re nursing in bed you crane your head back to gaze at him and giggle till the milk dribbles out of the corner of your mouth.


You are full of motion. You, "throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care." You flap your arms about in glee. Your little fists playing open/shut them on repeat. Drool streaming down your chin and soaking the front of your shirt. You absolutely Do. Not. Care.


You like to hold the outsides of my palms while I clap. You LOVE when I grab your palms and help you clap. Everything is worthy of celebration.


You’re showing your first real interest in books beyond tasting the corners just in case books turn out to suddenly be edible. You reach out while we are reading to grab at the pictures and slap your palm at the characters faces. Your favorite book, by far, is Carry Me. Your dad and I joke that you view the 10 pages with pictures of babies being carried in different ways (in a pack, on your back, etc.) as more bible than story. A convenient list of suggestions for ways your parents might consider executing the sacrament of carrying. You reach your own arms up out of the jumperoo or your crib -- jazz hands screaming, “Carry me! Carry me! Carry ME!”


My constant lesson is to focus on appreciating you as the baby you are today rather than panicking that you won't ever be this little ever again. It’s difficult at times. I don’t quite understand moms who want their baby to meet his milestones early. Being an advanced crawler doesn’t seem worth rushing through babyhood. I am much more worried about not having time to savor your babiness than I am concerned about having a gifted child. As much as I loved you as a newborn I am consumed with you as a chubby bundle of baby. I want to eat you. I cannot kiss you enough. I whisper in your ear as you nurse, "You're my baby. Mama loves you. Mama loves Casper."

Friday, June 20, 2014

Casper, Month 7




Month 7 has been all smiles from both of us. I’ve finally eased into work (gone are the moment of panic when I think about leaving you) and motherhood. You continue to be a happy, flexible, easy to love baby. But the main difference between last month and this month -- the one thing that probably makes everything else seem great -- is that you are sleeping.


We had to force the issue -- after 2 months of frequent waking we felt we had no choice. Sleep training is controversial. Many parents think it’s cruel to let a baby cry all alone. I was worried about this as well. It’s tough to hear your baby cry, but just because something is hard doesn’t make it wrong. The key question is at what age is a baby assumed to ask for things that he does not need? Certainly most people acknowledge that 2 year olds are always demanding shit they don’t need (candy, permission to hit, etc) and most agree that a 1 week old never asks for anything save necessities (they need food, sleep, cuddles and diaper changes and ask for little else). I think that you, at 6 months old, were asking for food and cuddles at 3am, but you didn’t need them. What you needed (and what I needed) was sleep. Letting you cry it out helped you to learn to put yourself to sleep and that has been a most valuable lesson for both of us (and dad too!).

Truthfully, the sleep training wasn’t that hard. We moved your crib from our room to your nursery on the same night that we started sleep training (hoping that some of your sleep issues were due to smelling me across the room and thinking "Hey, mom is here! I would love a snack!"). We didn’t have a hard plan on night one -- we thought we might go in and comfort you at some point or we might leave you to cry on your own as advocated by our pediatrician. In the end, as tempting as we were to go in and rock you, I felt like having me comfort you would only make things worse -- so, we went cold turkey.

You didn’t cry anywhere near as much or as hard as I had expected. In my imagining, crying it out meant listening to you wail until you had no energy left and passed out. In reality, the cries had fits and starts, you would work up to wailing and then get distracted by your crib mirror or thump your legs and whine for a few minutes before rubbing your eyes and slowly drifting off. Having a video monitor was immensely helpful for my own peace of mind.
You often sleep through the night now. Sleep through as in: down at 7:30 and up at 6am with no wake ups in between (or at least none where you cry loudly enough to wake your parents, if you’re in there awake and playing by yourself that’s fine too). Often you doze back off for another hour or two in the morning (almost always in bed between dad and I, one hand on each of us).

There are, of course, exceptions. You’ve been teething and we did have to go in for midnight tylenol dosing a couple of times over the past 2 weeks. Last week you started sleep rolling onto your belly which often wakes you up -- you seem very angry that someone came into your room and rolled you over (“Who was that jerk!?!?!”). For some reason you won’t roll yourself onto your back choosing instead to scream for 30mins and then fall asleep exhausted with your face pressed straight down into the mattress which leaves your dad and I to stare at the back of your head via the video monitor, wondering if you’ve dropped dead.

Your dad’s paternity leave came to an end this month so we’ve replaced him with a nanny. We joke that we had to pay someone to be your friend since you’ve made zero effort to go out into the world and make friends of your own. Kenesha’s strong suit is telling us over and over how cute you are. She also seems adept at reading you books, taking you to the park, feeding you and wiping your behind; but it’s the never-ending baby praise that won us over. Smart nanny work. You’re always excited to see her walk through the door -- your face lights up with a grin and, as if the joy is too much to take, you turn your head and smash your face into my shoulder before peeking up at her again. It’s comforting to leave you with someone you so clearly like to be with -- I hope stranger anxiety doesn’t set in an ruin this good thing. I miss you while I’m at work and spend my time waiting for meetings to start checking the baby tracking app for updates from the nanny. Your dad and I text each other during the day to alert one another to any opportunity to spy on you via the video monitor when you’re asleep in your crib. On the subway I daydream about you -- you at the park, you making a huge mess while eating. It’s not unlike the way I used to daydream about your dad when we first met. I’m amazed that you exist out in the world without me.



And yet, I find myself really glad to be working. I feel freed and refreshed by getting out of the house, having challenges that are not baby related and seeing other people. Three days a week in the office feels like a perfect balance for us and I feel so lucky to have a flexible career that allows me to make tradeoffs between being a mom and being a breadwinner. 


Despite thighs that seem covered in rolls you remain a little guy -- only in the 15th percentile for weight and still rocking your 3-6 month onesies into month 7. You’re moving up in height though -- all the way to the 83%.


It has been a month of milestones.

You’re eating real people food -- pineapple, yogurt, sweet potatoes, kiwis, beets, avocados -- all of it has been used as paint, makeup and occasionally sustenance. It is a glorious mess. You’re a joy to watch, making breakfast and mid-afternoon snacks an occasion for uproarious laughter. The morning poops, on the other hand, are only for groans, gags and tears. So gross, Buddy. So. Gross.

The first of your teeth, your left bottom one in the middle, cut through your gums on 6/3 followed almost immediately by its neighbor on the right. You required a few doses of baby tylenol, many mesh feeders filled with frozen fruit and lots of cuddles to get through the pain. Now that both teeth are half up, jagged little sawtooths, your mouth is a danger zone. We’re banning chewing on mom’s fingers. You have recently starting to signal that you are done nursing with a hard chomp and my boobs are becoming Casper-shy.


You’ve started sitting up unassisted -- I wrote down 6/6 as the official milestone date but its been a slow progression over the last few weeks. People tell me that you are now in the ideal baby stage -- capable of being set down to play and yet incapable of going anywhere unassisted but I still find you too wobbly to leave unwatched on the floor for fear of head bumps.

Despite the stinky poop, the wails at 3am and the biting of my nipples your dad and I think we have gotten lucky with you. You’re such a happy baby. People comment on it constantly (when they aren’t telling us how pretty your eyes are). For us you are the baseline -- the only baby we have ever known. I often assume that all 6 month old babies are, if not just like you then, at least variations on the theme of golden retriever in human form -- all drool and dopiness, ready to be everyone’s friend. But folks tell me that not all babies are so affable and then I wonder if biology is trying to trick me into having a second child -- I’ll let my guard down thinking I’ll get another easy happy little ball of giggles and end up with that other type of baby -- whiney, angry, clingy.


I was prepared for motherhood to change me. Prepared for less me time. Prepared for (or at least resigned to) less sleep. I was not prepared to have my pop culture world rocked. For years I have harbored a lowbrow love for MTVs 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. The parade of train wrecks exactly the kind of accident that I could never look away from. Until now. I tried getting into the latest round of girls unexpectedly in the family way, but, this time around, reality TV felt too real. The moms too unprepared. The babies too helpless. The situation suddenly eliciting more watery eyes than eye rolls. You are turning me into a sentimental mess. I recall the day sometime in the mid nineties when I caught Grandma Kay tearing up over a Kleenex commercial and worry for my future.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Casper, Month 6 (HALF A YEAR!!!! OMG. WTF?!?!?!?)


Here you are, the baby I was looking forward to -- plump and goofy and ready to be friends with everyone. You are easy with the smiles. A lover of fake sneezes (ahh! ahh! ahh-choo!) and boogedy-boogedy-boos.


You’ve discovered your feet and found them to be delicious. I once caught you with both feet pulled up to your mouth, motor-boating your toes. You are finally able to consistently find your thumb and I foresee a day in the future when we have to smear that awful tasting goop all over your nails.


The nickname that seems to have stuck is, “Doodle”. “Doodle Bear Casperoo” (aka, “The DBC”) when we're feeling verbose. “Grosser,” still gets tossed around when appropriate, as does, “Lil’ Nakes” and “Nakerson”. We’re a family who loves nicknames so we’ll keep switching this up but I like that you have a standard now -- you are my little Doodle.


This month I actually found myself wondering if you might turn out to be too attractive and then I mentally slapped myself for falling under the influence of crazy mama hormones.That said, your dad and I have had actual conversations about our worries that you could grow up to be very attractive and we would have no idea how to deal with this. Nerdy awkward dork? We feel prepared for the challenges that plague that kind of kid. Popular and handsome? We’ve no tools for that.


You are still working hard on the back to belly roll. We know you can do it, having found you at least once in your crib on your belly, but I don’t think you know that you can do it. You spend a lot of time on your back twisting your hips and then looking up at us forlornly. On April 25th you rolled from back to belly while holding my finger and pulling for leverage. You do this a lot but your dad says that it doesn’t count as actually rolling over. That dad is a stickler.


On April 23rd you became mobile. Unfortunately the specific motion that you chose was leaping the 4 feet from the changing table to the floor. I had looked away for the cliched one second (to wash the poop off of your onesie, obviously) when I heard *BANG* *CRY* and I knew exactly what had happened. I ran into the bedroom expecting to find you at the base of the dresser, having finally mastered rolling from back to front. But there was no baby to be found there. After a millisecond of wondering where exactly you could have gone (rolled under the bed? under the dresser? jumped up and walked over the the liquor cabinet for a much deserved shot of bourbon?) I found you face down to the left of the dresser. (see my super awesome diagram below).



Only you will ever know how you managed to move in this direction. I’m pretty sure you didn’t stand up and belly flop off the edge of the dresser but I also don’t think you rolled over. After much discussion with Grandma Kay and Dad we think you torqued your hips and caught the side of the changing pad with a foot and then used that leverage to heave yourself over the edge. You were fine, by the way. Shockingly fine. I picked you up, you nursed for all of 2 mins and then you popped off all, “Hey! What’s up! That was crazy!” I checked and rechecked you for marks but there was nothing.


It would come as a huge shock to my pregnant self that this has been my most difficult month as a mom (and not just because of your suicide dive). I had built up a lot of dread around the newborn months, sure I would be a hormonal mess still recovering from major surgery with bleeding nipples and severe sleep deprivation. And then months 1-3 turned out to be mostly a joy -- not even the weeks on end of subfreezing weather could get me down! But just when I thought I was out of the woods and psyched to enjoy spring with an adorable baby you surprised me again.


From around 10 weeks through to 4.5 months of age you were a sleeping machine -- 6, 7, even 8 hour stretches of conked out sleepy baby would pass from 11pm onward. It was glorious. And, because I didn’t want to brag or jinx it, I said nothing to much of anyone. And then it stopped. So much for the power of not jinxing. You woke up twice a night. You woke up every 3 hours. Every 2 hours. Every 1 hour. You want the paci. You want the boob. You want to drive me to an early grave.


In one particularly irrational moment during a midnight crying jag (mine, not yours), I thought, "I should just stay up. I should not go back to sleep and thus avoid the awful moment when you wake me up again." This seemed like a good idea that was totally workable. I felt I had stumbled upon the answer: Just never sleep again.


Your remaining saving sleep graces are: 1) You can put yourself to sleep if we lay you down drowsy and 2)  You go back to sleep pretty easily after waking in the middle of the night. Pop in the boob, suck for 3mins, back to dreamland. I also go back to sleep pretty easily, so though being awoken multiple times a night to baby distress is… distressing... I’m still (in theory) getting a decent amount of sleep. Things have improved from the low point a few weeks ago but you’re still waking 2-3 times a night and your future may hold some crying it out. You have been warned.


I am lucky to have mom friends who tell me that it is ok if I do not love every moment of being a mom (despite all of the Facebook shares claiming otherwise, you are not legally obligated  to cherish every moment). I am doubly lucky to have truly enjoyed and cherished my time with you. Until this month. Casper, you are clearly going through some baby shit and, I get it, but I really need some sleep.



In light of the above Dad and I really needed a vacation, so we took you to Jamaica for a week (in fact I am writing this from our bungalow!). I can highly recommend traveling with an almost 6 month old. You discovered splashing and were all grins as we floated you around the pool. You tried your first food, a piece of pineapple, over the breakfast table one morning. You took many naps in the big bed, went for your first hammock ride and made friends with all of the hotel staff.


Half a year is unreal. Impossibly, it seems like I just brought you home and, at the same time, like you have always been in my life. Shortly after you were born Grandma Kay mentioned that being a mom was a love affair and she was right. My love for you often feels like a new discovery and I have to hold myself back from trying to explain it to others as if I'm the first mom to ever love her baby. I have to wonder occasionally if this love qualifies as an abusive relationship. Even after your worst nights when I'm teary and tired at 2am I look into your goofy face at 7am and all is forgiven. I let you get away with clawing my face until I bleed. I don't really mind when you pee on me. Babies are the ultimate deadbeats and mamas the most pathetic of victims. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Casper, Month 5

Happy 5 month birthday Doodle!
This month you have desires. When these desires are not met you have complaints. In the past, your complaining was all encompassing, the world as a whole disappointed you, and there was no way to fix it. You were so sad. Now your parents disappoint you. When you want to be walked around (always) and we insist on sitting the cries are no longer forlorn, but angry. You make an awful grunting noise and then the whimpering starts. You want to stand. You want to grab my nose with your drool covered fingers. You want to lie on the changing table and kick as hard as your little legs can. You want to baby rape my face with french kisses that send your tongue deep into my nostrils. You do not want to take a nap. You do not want to put on clothes. You do not want to sit in the car seat. You do not want to cuddle on the couch.
For all of this you are, generally, our happy little guy. You’re an easy audience for silly noises, tickles and bounces. Your open mouth toothless smiles turn me to mush over and over again. You are a sucker for your daddy -- he is, perhaps, as much your goofball as you are his. We ask you, “How did you get so cute?” No answers yet.
When you were a newborn my favorite Casper face was your pursed lip “oh” face -- your little mouth puckered into a tight “O” as if you would start to yodel at any moment. Inspired by you I’d sing, “ooooo” to you at different pitches. Now your face is a ball of grins, smirks, pouts and scowls. My new favorite Casper face is your "surveying" face. Your lips pursed in a tight line, your little nose held up in the air and your eyes scanning your empire (mostly finding it wanting).
I’ve thought you were on the cusp of rolling from back to belly for weeks but you seem forever stuck with only your bottom half flipped over, your torso twisted and your face a combination of confusion and frustration. Your legs have mastered the kick and your hips the twist but your arms and head won’t get with the program, so you lie there stuck half way between up and down.
At the end of a day when your parents had failed to meet your expectations over and over again your dad held you seated on the edge of the dinner table and said, “This is my Casper impression, ‘WAH WAH WAH!’” Your little face shook in shock and your lips started to quiver. For perhaps the first time ever, you were scared! I grabbed you and hugged you close and surprisingly the crying ebbed. I have whispered, "Mama's got you, you're ok," countless times over the past 5 months but suddenly it felt like the words had sunk in. I had you and so you were ok. This was the first time that I felt I had comforted you and that love was coming from you to me (instead of only in the other direction). I am a new kind of mom. No longer just your own personal cow I have just started to become your sanctuary.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Casper, Month 4

Dear Casper,

You are our little Goofball; our little Disaster; our Doodler. The Grossest Baby in the World.


Even though you are only 4 months old I can no longer remember having a newborn. At Mommy/Baby Yoga I marvel at the 7 and 8 weeks olds and then I marvel at how I could forget so quickly. But surely you were never so tiny! You are solid. You have lost all of your newborn floppiness. We are no longer afraid of breaking you. We joke about how fat you are but despite your copious rolls you’re still well below the 50th percentile for weight. You’re above the 50th percentile for height so we’re hoping some Wundrow genes snuck into our baby and someday you’ll tower over mom and dad.


When dad and I left the hospital with you we were given a pamphlet on all the ways not to shake your baby and we had followed the rules up until this month. Shake the baby is suddenly a fun game. I hogtie your ankles and wrists in my hands and roll your body back and forth. I grab you by your hips and shake your little bum. Dad rolls you up in a towel and lets you fight your way out. You love being roughhoused. Your dry skin defies all “baby soft” cliches so in the evening your dad and I strip you down to lather you up with coconut oil and Aquaphor. We call this “the four hand massage” and we like to joke about the day in preschool when we get a call about your propositioning 2 other kids for the same treatment. (“First I get naked and then Sally puts the oil on my balls!”). Afterwards we let you squirm around naked on our bed. Nothing makes you happier. You’re twisting your hips and pushing your butt up off of the bed and will soon be rolling over from back to belly. For now you make do with mom and dad forcefully flipping you over which you find hilarious.


You’re so active that it seems even when asleep or nursing you can’t quite calm down. My chest is covered with tiny baby scratches from your hands grabbing, kneading and clawing me during all meals. At night I hear you across the room beating your legs against the mattress. We’ve been waking up to your flailing arms escaped from the swaddle, and fear the day we can no longer lock you down for the night as our little Casperito. You’re a master grabber with a singular goal: put this in my mouth. My fingers, burp clothes, your entire fist, my nursing pads and all of your toys seem equally delicious.


You have lots to say. You’ve discovered babbling and screaming. In the morning, after a 10 hour rest, you’re in your best mood. You wake us to the happy coos of you chatting with your baby friend (aka the mirror in your crib). When I walk over to your crib, I get a big smile followed by my own verbal update on your night. After I free you from your swaddle you use both of your hands to grab my cheeks and begin making out with my face. Your little tongue vigorously spelling out “FEED ME!” over and over on my skin. I try to get the boob in your mouth before you decide you’re starving to death and the screams begin. After a couple of minutes of panicked nursing you pull off with the biggest grin, ready for our morning conversation. You goo and gaa, oooh and aww, squeal and squeak. It goes on and on punctuated by quick sucks. It’s endlessly adorable but I feel like a bit of fool sitting there with my bare boob hanging out in the morning air getting cold.

I am a less sappy mama this month as you and I do more playing and less gazing at one another. You are becoming the fun, silly baby I was looking forward to while pregnant and though I am sad to have said goodbye to the newborn you I am thrilled with our new games. With less time to contemplate the magnitude of motherhood and more time spent giggling I am left with no pithy yet touching ending for this post. We are laughing too hard to be poignant.
video

Friday, March 07, 2014

Lil' Data

This is a different kind of post about Casper’s first three months. Less lovey-dovey. More facts and figures. Less cuddly, but easier to hold.

Since shortly after his birth I’ve been tracking Casper’s eating and excreting via the Baby Connect App for iOS. In the hospital we were asked to record this information on a piece of paper (like cavemen!) which the nurses would check periodically. We could not abide such prosaic data collection. Luckily I had researched baby tracking apps before my water broke (‘natch). When we were discharged we were asked to continue to record this information for a week primarily because Casper had lost almost 10% of his body weight since birth. And then… I kept tracking him. I have a hard time stopping data collection once it has begun. 

Data is often useful and fun!  (Yes, I said, "fun." #coolkid). I use Casper's data to gauge things like which boob he ate from last, just how bad the coming poop is likely to be and to extrapolate how much sleep I might get tonight. I've managed to extract a few fun facts that are great for shock value over brunch and which will most certainly be hurled at 13 year old Casper during one of our coming parent/son battles. Watch this space.

So.... On to the data! 


But first! Data caveats: I stopped my excel import on Feb 17 since I had to cut off at some point or keep reimporting forever -- this gave me exactly 3 months of data. I have not, however, stopped using the app (who could stop?) so the graphs from the app itself represent more data (most pictures were taken on the morning of Feb 24 when Casper was 14 weeks and 2 days old). I’ve also used the app data for some figures when adding up the numbers in the app proved easier than parsing the csv export.




So yes, data is fun. And I find all that follows to be fun but... data is also scary, especially in aggregate.


New parents, avert your eyes! I’m about to reveal the total number of diapers changed in just over 14 weeks of Casper’s life.



Total Diapers Changed: 785. (roughly 8 per day).
The fact that I see this number and think “huh, not too bad.” is evidence of the kind of crazy thinking inspired by postpartum hormones.

As you can see Casper has recently decided that pooping is super uncool. Sadly, every few days he's forced to debase himself (and the entire family) with a huge poo. This leads to much groaning by mom and dad. For each diaper Baby Connect gives you the option of recording quantity, color, "open air accident" and diaper leakage. We rarely used these features until February when we needed them for passive aggressive data collection purposes. ("Young man, this disgusting mess is going on your permanent record!").
 
Total poopy diapers awful enough for mom or dad to manually apply a “large” label: 22 (18 of which resulted in diaper leaks.)
I would have very much liked to include a mommy/daddy diaper off here but sadly my husband is much less of a data nerd than I. When he changes diapers (which he does a lot of including all of the 5am diaper changes) I’m left to do most of the recording on my own. Thus the “caretaker” log is riddled with data errors. Alas. Perhaps this is for the best lest we start comparing our diapering score and end up divorced. For what it’s worth all of the nursing has been done by me.


(click through for full size image)




Total time nursing: 224 hours 45min otherwise known as 9.36 DAYS of my life!


This stat shocked me much more than the diapers. To think that I have sat on the couch or the bed, boob in baby’s maw for almost a week and a half is amazing. Thank god for my iPhone. I have no idea what moms did while nursing before the invention of the smart phone. I know that the “right” answer here is “just gazed lovingly down at their baby.” But I suspect the REAL answer is “watched TV and tried not to die of boredom."


The app also makes it easy to remember which boob was offered to baby last so we consistently alternate to try for evenness, the baby could still show a preference for one boob over the other by eating longer on the favorite boob. Casper, however, shows no favorite loving both righty and lefty equally.


Longest amount of nursing in one day: 11/18 -- 338min (5 hours 38 mins).


I’m tempted to call this log user error -- certainly Casper could not have nursed as frequently as recorded here, especially since the data shows that he basically nursed from 8am until 6 pm with almost no pauses. And yet.... the more I stare at the excel the more I'm convinced that there is no error and my baby was just super into eating. For all his effort he likely didn't get much reward. My milk almost for sure had not come in yet so much of this was just time Casper was spending telling my body to hurry up and FEED ME!!!!!. A more average day in the first few weeks of Casper’s life involved 3 hours on the boob.
We never bothered to record Casper’s sleep. Considering how worried I was before he was born about never sleeping again this is, in retrospect, a bit strange. Perhaps I was too afraid to stare this data in the face. You can, however, use the data I have to extrapolate night time sleep blocks since upon waking Casper is always immediately changed then fed and (thank you to the baby gods) goes right back to sleep. This is how I know that we are regularly getting 7 hours sleep stretches in the past few weeks. This is also reflected in our eating intervals which show consistent growth over time. This data is especially encouraging when you consider that during the day Casper still eats every 90-120 minutes so almost all of the interval growth is due to extended nighttime sleeping.
One wonders what might influence the up and down nature of a baby's eating. Sure, doctors claim this is mostly due to "growth spurts" but shouldn't other possibilities be considered? Like, for example, is Casper influenced but the full moon (is he, in fact, a werewolf?!?!?) ?
Guess not.

After this exercise in data analysis I'm sure all readers are wondering exactly what the point of all this is. I’ll admit to a slight case of paranoia that someone might challenge me on my parenting skills and I’ll respond with data to back up the case. Look! I am, in fact, a good mom who totally feeds her child (this is never going to happen, and if it did a punch in the face would be a more valid response than, “But look at this excel graph I have!”). Mostly my data obsession is nonsensical. 
When my brother laughed out loud as I recorded information on my son's poops I could offer no clear reason to explain exactly why I am doing this (blog fodder?). Data collection has become religious. Data is comforting. It makes tangible what might otherwise be amorphous. The recording of facts its own sacrament. Like church, data offers comfort, direction, sometimes misdirection and often, indifference. Despite how important collecting data on Casper has felt I know that so much of what I have gathered here does not matter. And yet, I can't stop. The weight of existing data that isn’t being recorded often feels needlessly heavy. It implies importance for things that might actually be inconsequential.

Of course, nothing feels inconsequential when you have a baby. I know that Casper's every new discovery has already been discovered by every human baby to proceed him and yet a celebration still seems in order. This data shows what it's like to have a newborn. He poops. He eats. He pees. He sleeps. Nothing new. And yet his mom is mesmerized