>My Baby’s Okay, Your Baby’s Okay: On Comparison

>We all do this. If you tell me you don’t and never have, I will know you are a liar! We compare our babies. We hear of milestones reached and wonder if there is something wrong with our bundle of joy. Or junior only poops so often, but the baby next door poops more. Or less. Why? What’s wrong with Junior’s bowels??? I think this is normal. Silly, but normal. Because the ages given for milestones in baby books are just estimates and usually represent a range of age. And all babies are different. My baby sleeps through the night and has since he was 2 weeks old. (This has nothing to do with your post, B, other than it was fresh in my mind, and thus just an example.) He does this not because he is freakishly gifted at sleep. He does this because he is a heavy sleeper and sleeps like a rock. Just like my husband. I, on the other hand, am a light sleeper and wake all night, just like Evan did. This has nothing to do with my parenting skills or my baby’s development. It’s just who we are.

So now on to the other comparison: Mean-Spirited One-upsmanship. (Did I spell that right? Is it even a word???)
Of course with this, I am referring to people who will compare kids just to gloat. To literally feed off of that insecurity that mothers naturally have and pick and pick and pick…..
I heard it the whole time at the family Christmas.
“Zach is so fat. He’s almost bigger than Baby X, and Baby X is 13 months old!”
Same person: “Zach doesn’t sit up without any help yet??? Why, Baby X did that when he was just 5 months old!”
or, “Why doesn’t Zach crawl yet? Baby X did by then.”

But what could make this worse? To be the mom of a preemie. Scratch that–to be the mom of a big preemie. Because Zach looks big. He looks older. But he’s actually younger. Gah!
I bit my tongue everytime something else was said. I finally had had enough. And I went off.
Yes, Zach’s fat! I’m glad. I’m so fricken happy he is. Because you know what? It could’ve been soooooo different. And I have painfully and incessantly hooked myself up to a breastpump every 2 hours for the past almost 8 months to give him the best nutrition possible. And look! It worked!
“And no, Zach may not do all of those things yet. But Zach was almost 2 months premature!!!! Zach is a miracle, and really is only 5 months old. So if you do the math, Zach really is advanced for his age.”

It really was infuriating. Competition over who has the better baby just like who makes more money, has the newest car, lives in the nicest house. Whatever. Get over it. Please do not apply your dysfunction to my offspring. Because my kids are completely normal, and your tactics aren’t going to work on me. But the whole thing just reminded me of how we parents do. We torture ourselves, independent of the one-uppers, without provocation.
Our kids are fine.
As for the mean-spirited one at Christmas? It continued the rest of the night, despite my ignoring. To combat it, I made my own little comparison in my head, silently to myself: “Okay, say what you want, but my kid’s way cuter!”


>For Him


There are several songs out there that remind me of my husband. I have a hard time limiting it to just one. And of course John and I have complerely opposite music tastes, so I will hear a song that reminds me of him, and I will tell him to listen to it, then he talks straight through it. There is one in particular that I think of when I mention this, and it always seemed kind of depressing to me. And then my first gray hair appeared in my sea of brunette. And John started to get that little crinkle in the corners of his eyes when he smiled. And I know that we are getting older. It’s no mystery. But we are doing what we set out to do, and that is to grow older together. In a world where marriage is not as meaningful and permanent as it should be, I feel like this milestone is a victory for us of sorts. And now, some things just take on a different meaning. Including this song. On first read, it seems to be speaking of death. Looking at it again, from this side of our decade together, to me it speaks of clinging to one another until the very end. So for my JohnJohn. My beautiful soul of a husband, who will not listen to my music, but will read, the lyrics to Now Comes the Night, as recorded by Rob Thomas. The only thing I can say is that the roughest of hardships have all been worth even the tiniest glimmer of joy that comes with having him by my side.

Now Comes the Night
When the hour is upon us
And our beauty surely gone
No you will not be forgotten
No you will not be alone
And when the day has all but ended
And our echo starts to fade
No you will not be alone then
And you will not be afraid
No you will not be afraid
When the fog has finally lifted
From my cold and tired brow
No I will not leave you crying
And I will not let you down
No I will not let you down
I will not let you down
Now comes the night
Feel it fading away
And the soul underneath
Is it all that remains
So just slide over here
Leave your fear in the fray
Let us hold to each other
Until the end of our days
When the hour is upon us
And our beauty surely gone
No you will not be forgotten
No you will not be alone
No you will not be alone

>Have Baby, Will Travel

>So we are getting ready for our exodus to John’s mom’s for Christmas. How appropriate that we will spend Christmas Eve (The Great Ten-Year Anniversary, incidentally) in the very house where we were married in a civil service all of those years ago. I’m also excited for John’s mom to meet Zach again. The last time she saw him, we could count the number of his weeks on Earth with 2 hands. He’s a completely different baby by now. What am I also excited about? 6 entire days off! I didn’t even have to use any vacation time, just some creative scheduling and no overtime this week. (side note: It’s amazing I have any vacation time, but I do–2 weeks’ worth. It accrues by the number of hours I work, and I have worked that much since my return from bedrest.)
What am I not excited for? The trip. Zach is on the verge of sitting, but not quite there. After a minute or so, he will do a complete face plant. Which means baby bathtub must go. Bumbo must go. Pack’n’Play, of course, must go. John is unloading the stroller from the car as we speak, and I am opting for just the Ergo for our travel needs. And then, just when I was singing the praises of the way we have chosen to feed Zach, I found the only drawback: travel. Between frozen and fresh breastmilk, homemade baby food, and more, I have to transport a lot of stuff that must stay cold. I’m trying to get creative because I don’t think I could fit a standard cooler in the car if I tried. So I finally found the benefit of buying all of those pumps, in that each one came with a day carrier. Plus I bought an extra day carrier. And then there are also all of those little ice packs sent in my shipments of breathine to keep the syringes cold. I knew I kept them for a reason. But regardless, it is a Big Operation.
In the meantime, John is out there right now, cleaning out the car that looks as if homeless people live in it. He just came in and said, in complete amazement, “Ha! The mystery is solved!” As he proffered about a half dozen Avent pacifiers that he insists he found in just one floorboard of the backseat. We had been lamenting the disappearance of the binkies just yesterday. I buy them by the truckload, it seems, but can only manage to find one at a time. And I am OCD enough that I match his pacifiers to his outfits, so this has driven me a little nuts. (I know I may need professional help, but hey, my kid always looks good, right?)
Of course this is all going on when John reminds me that I work at the urban ER tonight, which doesn’t have a cafeteria. And so I have to pack food for my shift tonight, my entire pump because there is no lactation room, and more. So God help me, but there is also a huge stockpot of homemade ravioli cooking away on the stove for both my to-go meal and the big boys’ dinner.
Zach keeps farting, and so I know the Great Poop is coming.
Evan cannot find his car charger for his DS. (Seriously, can’t the kid just read a fricken book???)
And speaking of chargers, where in the Blue Hell is the charger for my camera?

And, holy crap, I forgot about all of those Christmas gifts I have to take.
I should’ve Fed-Ex’d ’em.
Screw that. I should’ve stuck with my ghetto, giftcards-for-everyone philosophy. I mean, did I really need to get John’s stepdad the UK Snuggie because it was so cheesy that I found it hilarious?

I need a bigger car.
I still refuse to buy a minivan.
Screw it.

>Why the Tears?


My hospital has these display cases strategically placed throughout where they show off merchandise available for purchase in the gift shop. Right by our department, they have this display of figurines that has been there for months. Unlike the others that change for the seasons, this one stays as is. I was fresh from the ordeal of having Zachary and newly away from my family since being put on bedrest when I saw this. And my mind filled with the vision of John at home with my newborn.And John staring at a newborn Evan in complete wonderment. And tears stung the back of my eyes, threatening to fall. I have spent the months since then both trying to find these for purchase (not in our gift shop, go figure) and also averting my eyes from the display to avoid the emotion evoked as I pass it about a million times a day.
Today, I found them. Willow Tree by Susdan Lordi . They were at the gift shop of another campus of our hospital. A huge display of them, as a matter of fact.
I stood there staring as tears formed. I don’t know why. No inanimate object has ever brought on such emotion in me, and I felt foolish until the sales lady put a hand on my shoulder and said that there are just some people who are touched by these. I think it is just that I see all I hold dear in these faceless figures. I finally bought several and added several more to my wish list in my mind. And I brought them home, only for John to just not get it. He says they look nothing like us. I think they do in every way. The one above is entitled New Dad and is the one I saw first. I bought it and four others.

Inquisitive Child. I see a very curious Evan, absorbing the world around him. He’s going through some things right now, and we are helping him to navigate some rough waters. But deep down, at his core, this is him. The world just is not good enough for him.

Mother and Son. Me with my Evan. Love and hope. Joy and sadness. I see it all. Just like the figure, he has gotten too big to fit in my arms, and I do not know how that happened. I both mourn for the days behind us and hold blind joy for the days ahead.

Brothers. And in this, I see the grace and beauty with which Evan has accepted Zachary into his life. The hands of the older child guiding the youngest. The bond I can see forming between my two miracles. The harmonics of the symphony that is to be their lives together. My angels. My babies. My boys.

Anniversary. Because before there was an Evan and way before there was a Zachary, there was John and Andrea. And there still is.

And now for the ones I want:

>Found It


Okay, so I’m a bag snob. I usually focus my pickiness on my handbags, but I tend to get pretty particular about any, to be honest. Well, I have a baby again, and this means DIAPER BAG. Which often replaces my purse because to carry both is just too much! But I couldn’t find one I liked. Either they were too feminine and John wouldn’t carry it. Or they weren’t roomy enough. Or they didn’t have any interior pockets for organization. Or they were too expensive (hey, I know from experience that diaper bags take a beating). Sometimes, they were all of the above. Plus I really, really wanted a cutesy one with Zach’s name. And I found it! (And before you think I am all Zach and no Evan, I also bought Evan a personalized backpack from the same woman!)

>Fun With Food


Here lately, Zach has been waking at 6 AM or so, ready to eat. I love it because then it is just the 2 of us. I feed him breakfast, working on his solid food menu, then we do the “let’s get dressed for our day” routine. Of course my cuddly Chubster wakes in a smiley mood, so we have fun.

Yesterday, since he has shown such an interest in our eating and drinking, I decided it was a good time to introduce him to the sippy cup. And we tried rice cereal again. He actually ate the cereal, making me wonder if our misadventures in solids started before Zach was all-the-way ready. Over the past couple of days, Zach has started to love his food, though it takes him a few bites to warm up to it. Still, all of his food is organic and pureed here in my kitchen after cooking in nothing more than purified water. The only thing I buy ready-made is bananas, simply because they turn that yucky color and I can’t seem to get them to the proper consistency. But I also made sure the only ingredient in the brand I buy is water and bananas.
Do I see any difference? Well, yes. When I finally caved and bought some bananas, I saw the price of baby food for the first time in 9 years. About 50 cents per serving. Not bad, but to put it into real numbers, I prepared 36 servings of sweet potatoes for him just the other day for the grand total of 2 bucks. And I know exactly what he’s eating. Plus, by this point with Evan, he had already been to a dermatologist for eczema and hypersensitivity issues. We don’t have any of that with Zach, despite the poor baby’s genetic predisposition. I have to think the breastmilk and wholesome food are to be credited.

Zachy teething on the sippy cup’s spout.

>Flashback Friday

>I was clearing the computer of some old files and found some pics of the boys I absolutely love. My babies. So I thought I would share. The first is Zach at 7 weeks old, before his face had grown to match his big eyes.

This is the Rocker pose. That hair! Nothing we could docould tame it. And the little shirt he had on just added to it. He was about 4 months old here, I think.

And this one. I could have squeezed him to pieces, I think. This is when we learned that in order to sleep well, he must be swaddled. Incidentally, I recently made a run for big baby swaddlers when he suddenly outgrew these!

And my Evan. My rotten little boy. Here he was 5 and had just finished kindergarten. We were at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana.

I think he got these glasses in a kids meal. But despite the classes and the face he is making, I am still drawn most to those chocolate eyes when I look at this pic. And I continue to do so each and everytime I look at him.

Gentle Boy. Evan at 6, the summer after first grade, right before we moved back to the Cincinnati area.
I had just received medical clearance from the diagnosis of a benign brain tumor, and Evan had had a rough year. This was a stray cat he took care of out there, and his soft heart leaps at me from the pic.