Poetry Thursday

Yes, I know it's Friday. I'm on baby time. When I go back to work in a few weeks, I will start knowing what day it is again.

Bathing the New Born

I love with an almost fearful love
to remember the first baths I gave him--
our second child, our first son--
I laid the little torso along
my left forearm, nape of the neck
in the crook of my elbow, hips nearly as
small as a least tern's hips
against my wrist, thigh held loosely
in the loop of thumb and forefinger,
the sign that means exactly right. I'd soap him,
the long, violet, cold feet,
the scrotum wrinkled as a waved whelk shell
so new it was flexible yet, the chest,
the hands, the clavicles, the throat, the gummy
furze of the scalp. When I got him too soapy he'd
slide in my grip like an armful of buttered
noodles, but I'd hold him not too tight,
I felt that I was good for him,
I'd tell him about his wonderful body
and the wonderful soap, and he'd look up at me,
one week old, his eyes still wide
and apprehensive. I love that time
when you croon and croon to them, you can see
the calm slowly entering them, you can
sense it in your clasping hand,
the little spine relaxing against
the muscle of your forearm, you feel the fear
leaving their bodies, he lay in the blue
oval plastic baby tub and
looked at me in wonder and began to
move his silky limbs at will in the water.

-Sharon Olds



I've never given much thought to the so-called "mommy wars" until now. I always assumed that I would continue working. I enjoy my job, I enjoy my financial independence, and I enjoy interacting with my co-workers. I also want to be an example. I want Saul to see that I have a college education and that I use it. This will become even more important if I ever have a daughter. Right now, I'm going a little bit stir crazy at home. As much as I love spending time with Saul, I'm bored out of my mind. I crave adult conversation and I'm looking forward to jumping back into my work in a few weeks.


The thought of leaving Saul all day with strangers is horrifying to me. It seemed natural before he was born, but now I imagine him upset and crying and I know that the daycare workers can only provide so much one on one care for him. I am completely wracked with guilt at the thought of leaving him with people who don't love him while I skip off to work for my own self-fulfillment.

But the fact is, I don't want to stay home. Not only can we not afford it, but I think I would end up unhappy and resentful if I did, and that isn't good for Saul either.

I am frustrated that there are no ideal solutions. To have both a career and a family means that I can't give my all to either one. I had no idea how much this would tear me in two.



Saul is entranced by ceiling fans.

Good news

Saul and I visited the pediatrician this morning for a small matter. While there, he was weighed and measured. He is now 23.5 inches long and 11 lbs 4 oz. Now that he has passed the magical 11 lb mark and is gaining weight the way he should (even though he is still long and skinny), we can start letting him sleep through the night! This is wonderful news because Saul can sleep through the night if you let him, but I have been waking him up at least every four hours to eat. Now, I might occasionally get to sleep for up to 8 hours! All at once! Just the thought makes me giddy!


The mouse

There is a mouse in my kitchen. He appeared for the first time about a week after Saul was born. I saw him in profile and screamed "B, there's an armadillo in the kitchen!" Even though I immediately retracted the word armadillo, I was teased about being crazy for two weeks before B saw him too.

We set out humane traps with peanut butter and wheat thins, but have had no luck. It appears that Bella the Devil Cat is uninterested in chasing mice, probably because she enjoys my discomfort. Last night, I was in the kitchen late to make B a sandwich for lunch the next day. I reached into the corner and pulled out the toaster, and the mouse ran out from behind it. I screamed again, so hard that my throat hurts today.

Today I have decided that maybe our mouse has more upscale tastes, so I re-set the trap with organic mini toasts and Gorgonzola. If we don't catch him soon, I might have to consider more lethal measures. I hate to kill any living creature, but I don't know what else to do. Any suggestions?

On a brighter note, don't I have the most beautiful baby in the entire universe? (I end most conversations this way lately)



My mom is so in love with Saul that she won't even look away from him to have her picture taken. She and Rick became grandparents twice over in the last year and they are loving it. Rick's shirt says "This is what a really cool grandpa looks like."

I am so thankful for my family.

Sisters & cousins

Saul and Landon are two extraordinarily active and violent children. Next year, when they are both big enough to really play, I expect they will beat the crap out of each other.



My niece Tara, nephew Landon, and of course, as my sister now calls him, Saululicious.


Chocolate Stout Cake

I don't know who came up with this genius idea, but I hope they were well rewarded. So you start out with Guinness and butter. Can you even think of a better way to start a cake? When those things are simmering, you whisk in cocoa powder. You add that to some beaten eggs and sour cream and then fold in flour, sugar, and baking soda. You pour the batter into some pans and stick them into the oven. It doesn't get easier then that.

For the icing, you simmer some cream and then stir in a half-pound of good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips. Then you just stick it in the fridge until it's spreadable.

Yum. The cake isn't that sweet, but it's very intense. And I have never met anyone who didn't put a bite in their mouth and then close their eyes and moan.

The new laundry day



Bath time

Good and bad

The good news: at the doctor's office this morning, Saul weighed in at 10 lbs, 11 oz. He has gained almost half a pound since last week. On the weight to height chart, he is at the 10th percentile, but he is steadily gaining weight, so I didn't have to argue my case for not supplementing.

The bad news: I mentioned to the doctor that he was still crying a lot and I thought he had pretty bad colic. She said "nope, he's just teething." Huh? I thought I had a few months before I had to worry about that, but I guess he's precocious.


Oatmeal Potato Bread

I think I'm ready to start cooking again. Since I'm home all day now, and I spend a lot of my time sitting around nursing (No hands! Thank god for boppies!), I have finally started creating a box full of recipe cards like I planned several years ago. So I'm going through all my cookbooks and the stacks of printouts from epicurious.com and pages torn out of Gourmet and Cooking Light. I keep finding recipes I forgot about, or never even tried to start with. I'm getting excited about trying things again, even though I'm supposed to be working on losing all my baby weight. Oh well, I guess a very small piece of delicious lemon cheesecake with almond crust is better than a pint of cheap Bluebell, right?

Several months ago, I picked up a book at Half-Price called Bread for All Seasons. It was an impulse purchase, and I didn't even do more than flip through the pictures before buying it. It turns out that most of the recipes are for experienced bakers. They require many ingredients and special tools and more patience than I possess. However, I found one recipe that was introduced as being one of the first breads that the author had mastered. It seemed fairly easy and fairly interesting and didn't require any ingredients that I didn't have on hand, so I decided to try it.

The dough, mixed in a stand mixer, contains the normal ingredients plus a cup and a half of oatmeal, and a pureed russet potato. You knead the bread for only a few minutes and then set it to rise.

A few hours later, you shape two loaves and set them to rise again. No more kneading is necessary, which made me happy, since I was carrying a feverish, screaming infant in one arm. The loaves are baked for 10 minutes at a very high temperature, and then the heat is turned down and the bread continues baking for another half hour or so.

Oh. My. God. This was very possibly the best bread I have ever eaten. It was moist and dense and flavorful with a delightfully chewy crust. Even B, hater of non whole wheat bread products had several pieces, with and without butter. The only problem is that we ate two loaves in two days. I'm thinking about trying it again next weekend, just to see if I can do it again. Luckily, B's parents will be in town, so they can help us eat it.


So I was a little bit stressed out last week. Saul continued to run a fever through Saturday night and developed a little bit of a cough too, but he has recovered. I have made some adjustments to our nursing format and schedule, and it seems to have resulted in a much happier baby.

On Sunday afternoon, B took over for awhile so I could go to the gym and work off some stress. Away from everything for the first time in days, I was able to do some thinking. I am naturally an obsessive worrier. I think I instinctively realized that Saul wasn't getting enough to eat, and I panicked when the doctor confirmed my fears. But the changes I made have made me feel better. I now feel confident that he is full and happy. When we go back to the doctor on Wednesday, even if the scale doesn't show much change, I am not going to supplement. I have decided that I need to trust my instincts about what's best for Saul, and not let my doubts and fears get in the way.

Basically, I realized that I can't be a good mother unless I stop worrying and obsessing over every decision. I have to just be a good mother, even if I'm faking it most of the time.


My poor, runty baby

I've been saying for the last few weeks that Saul is too skinny. Babies are supposed to be fat. Everyone told me to quit worrying. Yesterday, the doctor told me to worry. Proportionally, Saul lost weight between his two week and six week visits. His length stayed exactly on the line for the 75th percentile, but his weight dropped from the 50th to the 25th percentile. He only weighs a little more than 10 pounds. The pediatrician gave me some techniques to help him eat more and to increase my milk production. We will visit again next Wednesday, and if he hasn't gained a significant amount, we will have to supplement with formula. I feel terrible. I committed to try to breastfeed until his first birthday because I believe that it is healthier for him. But I also enjoy it. It's a special kind of bonding that benefits both of us. If I lose that, I will be very upset. I also feel terrible because the colic? Maybe he was just hungry. I am a terrible mother for not realizing this.

So while I'm still reeling from the fact that I've been starving my child, the nurse came in to give him five(!) shots in his (skinny) little legs. He didn't cry too much, but I did. We went home and I dosed us both with some Tylenol. Then, stressed and upset and guilty feeling, with a fussy, hurting baby, I decided that the best course of action was to make some homemade oatmeal potato bread. No, I don't understand the logic of that either. Surprisingly enough, it was the only time I have attempted to make a yeast bread and had it actually work. Pictures to follow later.

To help Saul sleep last night, I swaddled him in a blanket. I did not unswaddle him for the middle of the night feedings. When I did unswaddle him this morning, he was burning up. I took his temperature and discovered that he had passed the "Call the Doctor" number we had been given. I called the doctor and they told me to bring him in immediately. I grabbed my toast and tea, threw him in the car seat, and took off. It was only while in the waiting room that I noticed I was wearing one of B's army surplus shirts from college, with dried spit-up on it, and holes where you could see my milk-stained nursing bra. I hadn't brushed my hair or teeth, my jeans were filthy, and I was wearing a pair of ridiculous purple crocs. Saul was crying, had no socks or hat, and also had a generous amount of dried spit-up on his onesie. I briefly imagined that the receptionist was calling child protective services.

After an examination, the doctor concluded that he was just having a reaction to the immunizations and that we shouldn't worry. I will monitor his temperature today, but he is already feeling much better. And child protective services haven't broken down the door yet, although I'm expecting them at any minute.

This parenting thing is hard.


Poetry Thursday

Child Development

As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs
and sauntered off the beaches into forests
working up some irregular verbs for their
first conversation, so three-year-old children
enter the phase of name-calling.

Every day a new one arrives and is added
to the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead,
You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor
(a kind of Navaho ring to that one)
they yell from knee level, their little mugs
flushed with challenge.
Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out
in a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying
to devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack.

They are just tormenting their fellow squirts
or going after the attention of the giants
way up there with their cocktails and bad breath
talking baritone nonsense to other giants,
waiting to call them names after thanking
them for the lovely party and hearing the door close.

The mature save their hothead invective
for things: an errant hammer, tire chains,
or receding trains missed by seconds,
though they know in their adult hearts,
even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed
for his appalling behavior,
that their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids,
their wives are Dopey Dopeheads
and that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants.

-Billy Collins

Saul had a big pediatrician's appointment this morning with shots and everything. I don't have time to blog about it now, but there will be a report later. The short version is that yes, he is runty. Too runty. I feel terrible.



I am amazed that Saul already has so much personality. B and I had assumed that he wouldn't be very interactive until he was several months old, but we were wrong. This Thursday, he will be 6 weeks old and will have a doctor's appointment to get his first set of immunizations. As much as I hate the shot part of the visit (I think it hurts me much more than it hurts him), I am looking forward to getting updated length, weight, and head measurements. At his last visit, when he was two weeks old, he was tall and skinny, and his head was runty (only 15th percentile). He still looks tall and skinny, but I'm hoping his head is starting to catch up. It's amazing what makes me worry these days.

BTW, for anyone interested, I've started posting short videos for the grandmas at YouTube.


Last pictures

Baby workout

I am very skeptical of all the developmental toys for kids. It seems that the Baby Einstein company has a vested interest in convincing me that Saul will not be able to pass kindergarten unless we spend hundreds of dollars on their bright bits of plastic and language-delaying videos.

That said, we are very interested in making sure that Saul is stimulated and happy. So after much online research, we bought him a baby gym. It has been a complete success. As long as he's in there, he bats at the toys and coos to himself and kicks his legs around and grins.

Who knew that complete happiness could be purchased for $69.99 at Babies R Us?


Not yet

I read that it is normal to miss being pregnant after a baby is born. Today, I looked at the last picture taken of me before Saul was born (the day before) and all I thought was "how did I manage to stay upright?" I'm so glad I'm not pregnant anymore.


My eyes hurt

Yesterday, we had Sebastian put to sleep. He has had escalating aggression issues since he was 18 months old. It had gotten to the point where he was a serious danger to our neighbors. We tried everything we could think of. We even put him on anti-anxiety medicines. As a last ditch effort, we paid for a consultation with a well-known dog trainer/behaviorist. He told us that we needed to put him down and then offered us our money back. None of that made it any easier, and I still feel guilty.

Yesterday, Sebastian and I played with his favorite squeaky toy, doggie news. Then we went to the park and splashed in the creek. On the way home, he stuck his head out the window and I stopped at McDonalds and bought him some fries and two cheeseburgers. B came home early from work and we all spent some time together. Then we took him to the vet.

He died with his head in B's lap and with both of us petting him.

Other people saw a dog who would plaster himself against our front door growling and barking if a kid on a bicycle went by, a dog who had bitten people and drawn blood, a dog who had to be locked away whenever we had visitors. But to me and B, and a small, select group of trusted people, he was an incredibly sweet dog. He just wanted to sit and stare adoringly into your eyes and shake hands over and over again.

I'm totally at a loss. Sebastian has been my companion for almost seven years; my entire adult life. I have cried so much that my eyelids are rubbed raw. I miss him so much. The last thing I said to him was "I'm so sorry."