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Raising kids in a party town.

2 Nov

I hope you had a wonderful Halloween. We certainly did. Our neighborhood held its first Trick or Treat Promenade and the response was overwhelming. Kids I’d never seen before came out of the woodwork of our community, all in the name of free candy. Jake and I had major warm fuzzies strolling down the street with our friends, watching our little ones say please and thank you at each door, and managing the neighborhood-wide sugar crash that inevitably followed. It was sort of like a Norman Rockwell painting-turned-Salvador Dali. Still, it was lovely.

Is it just me, or are kids these days wearing more sophisticated costumes? Sure, there were the standard bumble bees, fairies, monkeys, cowboys, etc. But I had some pretty intense moments on our front doorstep, passing out candy and innocently asking, “And who are you supposed to be?”

Kenneth from 30 Rock.” (9-year-old boy.)

DJ Redfoo from the band LMFAO.” (7 years old.)

The Spanish Inquisition from Monty Python.” (10-year-old girl.)

Whoa. What happened to the sheet with two holes cut out?

Coordinating the masses of trick-or-treaters

The biggest shock of the evening was the ‘hood’s constituency of college students. Not only did they participate, but they rocked it with the kids! For some reason, I assumed they’d be too drunk or high or busy having weird sex to pass out sweets to little kids.

Our neighborhood is a strange mix of equal parts older folks who have lived here for 30+ years, randy college kids, and young families. Basically, the old folks and young families all dislike the college students for passing out on our lawns, screaming “YOU GOTTA WANT IT!” repeatedly while playing quarters in their backyard at 4am, and leaving a trail of red Solo cups wherever they go – but the young families have a little more grace with them since college was only a few years ago, and we haven’t completely forgotten what it means to have a good time. (The memory, however, grows fainter and fainter.)

Jake attended the local university but I didn’t, so my patience with these monkeys is perhaps scarcer than his. Our back neighbors are my main aggravators. Twenty-four kids live in something like 14 square feet, and everything they do is audible at any point on our property. They are renowned throughout the neighborhood as Trouble, and most of the old folks call the Police Department whenever they so much as breathe funny. We’ve only done it once, and it was after they ignored repeated requests to turn their crappy music down in the middle of the night.

In this particular instance, I didn’t want to leave things awkwardly unresolved, so I bought a case of beer, saddled Seabass to my hip, and walked over to make nice. As soon as I stepped foot on their driveway the unmistakable aroma of pot hit me. But this wasn’t just an errant wisp of pot smoke; No, this house was pulsating with weed. I considered making a new entry in Seabass’ baby book: July 13, 2011. Baby’s first hot box!

Undeterred, we knocked on the door and were met by two skinny guys high as kites. They were nice enough, gladly accepted our beer peace offering , and agreed to keep the blaring midnight Eminem sessions to a minimum.

That lasted about three months.

This past weekend, Eminem and Friends made another high-decibel appearance in the wee hours of the night. The next morning, I took the opportunity to remind the neighbor monkeys that they aren’t the only people who exist in the entire world. This time, I went alone.

A Seabass dressed as a giraffe!

We had been gardening that morning, so my shorts and shirt were covered in mud. My hair was nappy – perhaps even matted in places – and my armpits were on overdrive. Still, when the shirtless 21-year-old guy opened his door to find me standing there – NO EXAGGERATION – he put his arm up on the door jamb, eyed me head-to-toe, and said, “Well hello, hello.”

Really? Yes, really.

That arm came down pretty quick when he discovered that a) I’m his neighbor, b) I was pissed, and c) I was ready to stop playing the Nice Neighbor Game and get the cops involved again. By the time I was done with him, he all but dissolved into the floor.  Oooh, did that feel good.

Anyway, that’s why I’m shocked that the rest of the college kids in our neck of the woods were so great on Halloween.

One nearby house looks a lot like the one from Animal House, though I think these guys are probably rowdier than those in the movie. Apparently they’ve been visited by the Health Department a number of times for breeding rats or snakes or weasles or God-knows-what. But on Halloween, they were on the ball with creepy music, plenty of candy, and even guys yelling BOO! from behind trash cans. Another house full of college girls had jack-o-lanterns on the front doorstep as the girls waited with a giant bowl of candy for our little ones to trick or treat. It was awesome. I can’t wait for next year.

P.S. Here’s the official Halloween portrait as taken by Robyn Berry. I thought you might like to compare it to last year’s.



P.P.S. Seabass also made it into the paper! Well, the online version. Here’s the link – we’re the last photo.

UPDATE: We are alive.

28 Jun

I'd smile too if I didn't have a baby on a plane.

At the prompting of a concerned friend, I write this brief post to announce that Seabass and I have indeed made it to Idaho alive.  That is the good news.

You may remember a post from two weeks ago regarding the terror I felt in anticipation of flying with my 13-month-old Seabass.  It turns out I had every reason to fear flying with him: It’s bloody horrific.  Rant: Would you believe that TSA requires babies to remove their shoes during security screening?  He wears a size 5 shoe and they checked Seabass for explosives.  I mean COME ON.

For the first flight, we were seated next to a very nice young woman (a college student?) who read a magazine the whole time.  That is, she read a magazine when Seabass wasn’t yanking on it.  Or screaming.  Or disintegrating with rage when I wouldn’t let him tug the hair of the poor man sitting in front of us.

Yeah, that first flight was pretty much hell on wings.  When the stewardess asked for my drink order, I, like a rookie idiot, requested ginger ale for myself and apple juice for a thirsty Seabass.  Since he was sitting on my lap, I couldn’t pull the tray table down, so I had to hold the drinks in those clear plastic tumblers they hand out.  (note to self: deny the beverage service!)  Double-fisting the cups, I attempted to let Seabass drink from one cup while getting a sip or two out of my own.  Apple juice cascaded down the front of his shirt (note to self: work on cup-drinking) and then he pulled my ginger ale down all over both of our pants.  A whole cup.  The wet spot was perfectly positioned to look as though I’d peed my pants.  Our skin stuck together from the dried sugar.  Oh, oh, I’m starting to twitch just thinking about it.

Seabass wailed during the descent of the aircraft until I donned my nursing cover and let the little dude have a boob.  I was willing to do pretty much anything to relax him at that point. I also let him nurse during our 90-minute layover in Phoenix when he wasn’t running around the airport trying to grab everyone’s laptop, food, or SmartPhone.  (note to self: next time, bring the Ergo carrier!)

The second flight was easier than the first for a few reasons:

  1. It was later, so Seabass was pretty dazed
  2. We had an un-booked seat beside us, offering a little extra space
  3. Our seatmate was a lovely retired stewardess named Joan who took Seabass on her lap and rocked him while I tried to relax.  When I asked her if nursing the baby would offend her, she said, matter-of-factly, “Not at all.  Flop it out and let ‘er rip.”

It was so wonderful to disembark the plane and to see my beautiful mom awaiting us at the baggage claim.  And it’s been POSITIVELY HEAVENLY to be cooked for, cleaned-up after, and pampered the way Seabass and I have been at Oma and Oompa’s house.  So I’m happy to report that being here is worth the pain it took to arrive.

By the by, the little “I’m sorry” goodie bags for my seatmates went over extremely well.  Comments included:

“Well, this is a first.”

“What a lovely gesture.”

“Oh, this isn’t necessary!”

and, my personal favorite,

“Can I have another Kit Kat?”

Vivo El Seabass!

24 May

For Seabass’ first birthday party, I had not intended to go over-the-top.  I mean, he’s only ONE, right?  Right.  And yet…

Lately, I’d been thinking that a Mexican wrestling theme would be appropriate for our little one-year-old Seabass.  Maybe it’s because he’s not so little – he’s actually quite a tank.  Or maybe it’s just because I love any excuse for wearing a luchador mask.  Hm.

Anyway, I started with a 1st birthday party invitation, specifically inviting anyone who had spent time babysitting Seabass during his first year.  (And there were many.)  Then I got cracking on the luchador masks.

From there, I planned a menu featuring our neighbor Sally’s unbelievably good guacamole, soft tortillas, carnitas and black beans with shredded red cabbage, carrots, radishes, tomatoes and cilantro for color.  Plenty of Mexican beer and a simple white wine punch accompanied the meal.

I put a lot of thought into the cake because there were a few key factors to consider:

  1. Whenever I’ve seen a 1-year-old child receive their first cake and frosting, they don’t seem all that interested.
  2. We want to hold off on giving Seabass refined sugar for as long as we possibly can.
  3. But we still wanted to get that classic 1st birthday photo where the kid has cake smashed into his hair, eyelashes, ears, and nose.

The solution?  Strawberry shortcake.  I made the butter cake with 1/4 of the sugar and substituted apple sauce, while the strawberries were tossed in a tablespoon of no-added-sugar strawberry jam and topped with fresh sugar-free whipped cream.  How did Seabass enjoy his first taste of cake?

Nuff said.

Someone else enjoyed the cake, too.  Can you guess who?

Murphy the Mooch.

Yeah, the symbiotic relationship between Seabass and Murphy hit a new peak this weekend at the birthday party.  Murph was everywhere the baby was, with a laser-point focus on anything that resembled food.  As evidence, witness this pair of photos.  Notice a difference?

The whole pinata thing was new territory for me.  And geez, it’s terrifying to watch kids swing a baseball bat.  I remember my own parents holding me back as a child from diving into the torrential downpour of candy just beyond the small child swinging a metal bat.  And now I’m holding my own child back from being brutally mauled in exchange for sugar.  Whoa.

Pinata whacking.


More pinata whacking.


Watching the pinata exhibition. Note the unbridled fear in spectators' eyes.

 It was terrific to see so many of Seabass’ friends and supporters out on Saturday afternoon. 

Seabass' gang of babies playing with...a Negro Modelo box. Huh.

Seabass was in rare form that day.  In short, he was an absolute gem – like someone had lit him up from the inside to shine.  The party was just his style: raucous, noisy, and bustling, with lots of friends and lots of food.  So many people mentioned to me how happy he looked, which made it all worth it.  He did lap after lap after lap around the yard, saying hi to everyone and making sure they were having a good time.  He was such a good host.  In fact, he even helped clean up afterward.

I will forever remember how happy our little guy was that day.  I will go to my grave remembering his happy little giant face.

Vivo El Seabass!

Back With A Vengeance. Part 1. THE HOUSE.

25 Apr

So.  What’s up?  Uh-huh.  Uh-huh.  Uh-huh.  Great!  Okay, now it’s my turn.

For me, the past month has been a whirlwind tour of the many different ways in which one might go nuts: Moving, family-hosting, baby nap-changing/teething/walking (!), the re-appearance of depression, and a new, 800-square foot house.  It’s all in there!  Were I a stronger, more balanced individual, I might call it edifying – even educational.  But seeing as I am who I am, I just call it insane.  In an effort to make up for lost time and bring y’all up to speed, this week, I will break down the many different ways my month has been a challenge.  Lucky you!

Part 1.  THE HOUSE. 

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I know.  This is a blog about the highs and lows of parenting – NOT houses.  But so many of you have shown an interest in what our little place is like that it seemed appropriate.  If not, boo hoo and come back tomorrow.

The first time I ever laid eyes on our new house was during a drive-by with our realtor. 

“Nah,” I said.  “Keep driving.”

The next time I saw our new house was after Jake and I realized we weren’t going to be able to do much better in the town of our dreams.  At the time, it was a rental house for two college boys, and it was a mess: nasty stained carpet, a freakish red wall that called hell to mind, a toilet encrusted with pee, and a kitchen more aptly called a “kitchenette.” 

But the bones of the house were good, and there were aspects that appealed to us very much: a spacious, beautiful backyard traversed by a creek, lots of windows in every room, and hardwood floors under the carpet.  “This might be it,” we whimpered.

As escrow came to a close, neither of us was terribly excited about moving in.  It was going to be a lot of work over a very short period of time to get the house even marginally comfortable.  But March 31st arrived, and we began the intense process of deciding how we wanted to live for the next several years.

The kitchen – unanimously the most challenging room in the house – would have to wait to be remodeled.  Our savings evaporated the moment escrow closed, so we would only be able to take care of the cheapest, most cosmetic aspects of moving in.  We started with painting the rustic wood-plank ceiling white to lighten the living room, dining area and kitchen.  We tried painting it with brushes at first, but it looked horrible.  Then we tried using a roller, but it didn’t get into the grooves.  So then we decided to go with a paint sprayer – in theory, a very good idea.  In practice, a nightmare.

Jake went through five – count ’em, FIVE – sprayers over the course of three days. 

  1. Borrowed from work, was broken.  Returned.
  2. Bought on Craigslist, was too weak.  Returned.
  3. Rented from equipment company, was defective.  Returned.
  4. Rented from same equipment company, was brand new but refused to suck paint.  Returned.
  5. Rented from same equipment company, worked.  Mostly.  Returned and was still asked to pay rental fees.  Refused.

This is the point at which I was sure Jake would lose his mind, but he never did.  I could learn a lot from observing the way Jake handles conflict.

Anyway, with the ceiling now painted, we moved on to painting the walls.  I’d seen a color in a magazine ages ago that I always thought looked nice.  Thank goodness I bought a sample and tried it out first before painting the entire house.  It was a gray that read cold and sterile – and sometimes, purple.  Not cool.  Thankfully, my nice friend April is an interior designer and knows her stuff.  She came over with her Benjamin Moore book and recommended the most incredible color: Manchester Tan.  It is so rich and beautiful, and has a different effect in every room depending on the time of day.  After the first day of painting, I called April.

“Manchester Tan makes me want to weep every time I look at it.  It’s gorgeous.”

“Jaime,” she said, “the goal was to make you weep.  I’m so happy you like it.”

Next came the floor, which was a labor of love for Jake, who has never refinished anything before.  We stained it a dark walnut color – which is absolutely gorgeous, but doesn’t hide dirt, baby-flung food, or dog fur – and slapped on a satin finish coat.  It had to cure for about a week, which meant we were eating our meals in beach chairs from the kitchen for a while. 

And speaking of the kitchen, yes it’s miniscule, but it’s liveable…for now.  We have plans to knock down some walls and create more storage in a year or so.  For the time being, though, we’ve installed a pot rack and crammed all of our utensils into one of the THREE drawers at our disposal. 


My mom and dad are in town right now, and they’ve been enormously helpful at deciding on furniture and decor placement.  I chose the Emma curtain from World Market for its vintage charm.  Someone told me they look like the drapes that Maria turns into the Von Trapp childrens’ clothes in The Sound of Music.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but I like that they evoke a reaction!  My style tends toward the 50s and 60s, so it’s not much of a surprise. 

My favorite room so far is the dining room.  (The chandelier came with the house, to my utter delight.)  I also love Seabass’ room but haven’t been able to get a shot of it yet because he’s always napping in it when I have a spare moment to shoot.

We are settled, comfortable, and enjoying our new place very much.  Thanks for your interest. 

Now I have to get back to baby-proofing all these new cabinets.  Excuse me.

A page-turner for the whip-it-out crowd.

14 Mar

Where all my time has gone of late.

I recently continued my tentative foray into self-publishing with a new miniature cookbook entitled The Little Book of Breastfeeding Recipes: Delicious Meals for Nursing Mothers and Their Wee Ones.  It’s nothing fancy – Martha Stewart, it ain’t! – but it’s a very utilitarian little collection of yummy recipes that my friend Carrie Squires and I put together to keep our sensitive-tummied babies happy.  A little glimpse at the forward:

When I gave birth to our son, I did not expect that my eating habits might have to change, to say nothing of my cooking habits. At the hospital, as the nurses walked me through all the many foods I would need to avoid to keep my breastfeeding boy happy, I nearly wilted. No broccoli? No chocolate? No spices?

Doing my best to avoid the myriad do-not-touch foods on their list, I realized that dry turkey sandwiches and pretzels would comprise the majority of my food intake. At a time when everything changes so violently, when sleep is nowhere to be found, and when hormones are in upheaval, it seemed criminal that I should be forbidden from the singular joy of eating well.

Here’s the part where I have to promote myself without shame:

You need this book.  It is a sweet addition to a friend’s baby shower gift, or bundled up with dinner for a family trudging through the first weeks of new babyhood.  Even if the mother doesn’t end up breastfeeding, recipes like Fresh Herb Potato Salad, Grilled Chicken Eggplant Kebabs with Quinoa, and Harvest Flatbread will be appreciated by anyone who simply likes to eat.  In other words, every recipe is adapted for maximum flavor and minimum baby tummy irritation.  To buy the book, follow this link.  And for those of you feeling lucky, leave a comment by Wednesday, March 16 at 9am and be entered to win a free copy!

Okay, I have my shame back.  But seriously: thank you for supporting this project.  All revenue from the sales of this book is going toward getting professional photos taken of our sweet Seabass!  So you know it’s a good cause.

And speaking of Seabass, thank you, little guppy, for all your good napping that allowed me to write this.  I love you.

Poll Time: Why would anyone have another child?

14 Oct
Cutest Baby Alive

Incidentally, HOW GORGEOUS IS MY BABY???

Jake and I had the chat last weekend.  Yes, THE chat: Should we plan to have another child?

Now, before you get all WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THIS SO SOON? let me explain.  Jake and I are both sprinters.  We don’t tolerate lollygagging.  If we are going to give Seabass a baby brother/sister, I’d rather it be sooner than later for two reasons:  one, I don’t want to change diapers for the better part of a decade, and two, my body isn’t getting any younger.

So, we entertained the idea over a nice lunch, and, unfortunately, Jake and I are experiencing a difference of opinion.  Can you guess who wants what?  That’s right.  I want to keep building our family, and he’s crying uncle.

Each of us has some very good arguments and some not-so-compelling arguments.  In general (and not surprisingly), mine are more emotional, and his are more practical.  Here I share my own, and then Jake gets to defend his reasons in his own words.


I want a girl.  I know, I know.  I can’t control that.  And if it’s another boy, I’ll still be over the moon.  But the thought of having a little girl touches something really deep inside me.  I guess it’s always been my assumption that I’d have a daughter sooner or later.

I’m finally (mostly, pretty much, generally) having fun with Seabass.  And glimpsing this makes me curious to experience more, with a different little bundle of love.

I don’t want to be left out.  One of the greatest gifts of my nascent parenthood is connecting deeply with other moms in the same boat.  The thought of being left behind as they continue having kids makes me sad.

I don’t want Seabass to be an only child.  If he’s anything like me, he’ll be horribly self-involved without having to learn how to share.  And that’s a valuable lesson that’s only fully absorbed in the home.

Four makes a family.  This isn’t true, of course.  Two makes a family, and Jake and I have always been very clear on that.  But something about an immediate family of four just feels nice.  Okay, not my best argument.  Shut up.


We can’t afford it.  With the first child we had state-sponsored health insurance for the birth and the boy’s first year, making him cheap to have.  A second kid would likely run us $5k+, in addition to an extra ~$300/mo in health insurance.
The pain.  I feel the first child nearly broke us spiritually/emotionally.  My wife’s on meds for crying out loud!  I experienced many moments with Seabass screaming like a banshee in which I swore one was it.  I told myself I don’t care what anybody says, I will not be swayed from this absolutely final decision that there can be only one, because it was that painful.  I am a peaceful, mellow, even passive guy, and I was tempted towards violence.  Violence!  That’s not even considering Jaime’s birthing pains.
We’ll have a boy.  Jaime wants a girl.  When will the madness stop?  10 kids?  15?!
We can’t afford it.  Did I mention that already?  We want to buy a house.  We want to send the first boy to college.  We want to live above the poverty line.  Don’t give me that BS about how kids don’t really cost that much.  Jaime can insert here some link to how much a child is supposed to cost in the first 10 years or whatever.
People only have a second kid for the first kid’s sake.  My theory is that foolish newlyweds say they want five kids.  Then they have one and realize how hard it is, and the count goes to two, maybe three.  But why have more?  Just because they think the first one needs a friend, that it will teach him to share.  The second one comes along and they see how hard THAT is, and they run to the doctor for a vasectomy.  Then the two they have that are supposed to be friends and distract each other so that their parents can take a breath end up at each others’ throats until they move out of the house…at which point they become best friends.
C-Bass will be better off.  If we can conserve all our precious resources (time, money, energy, attention) then C-Bass will get to enjoy more of them.  Maybe he can go to a better school.  Maybe we can take him traveling somewhere special, whereas when carting two kids around it’s unlikely we’ll make it further than the local campground.  Knowing how dead to the world we are currently with a  5-month old, imagine us trying to pay any attention to him when he’s a couple years old but his 5-month old kid sister has drained us just like he did.  It doesn’t get better as they get older because there’re just more events, activities, clubs, etc. that will divide our attention between children.
The difficulties will be different.  People say that if we had such a hard time with this kid, then the next one could be easy.  BS.  No kid is easy all the time.  Not even a vast majority of the time.  I remember Jaime being jealous of other moms whose kids were so easy during get-togethers and whatnot, only to find out that they’re waking up with them throughout the night.  Each kid has its difficulty now or later, and it will most likely be something different than what we’ve figured out with this first one.  New pain.

Alright folks, here’s the poll.  We want to know how you all feel about this and how your thoughts play (and played) into your actions.  So please answer the following three questions, and be honest!

Heart Firmly Attached To Sleeve

2 Sep

One of these babies is not like the other.

Have you noticed how boring my posts have been lately?  Seriously: SNORE.  I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I’m happy.

And I’m happy, at least in part, because I’m on anti-depressants.  That’s right, mommy’s on meds. 

I have debated whether or not to share this bit of information with the World Wide Web since I popped my first pill a little over three weeks ago.  While it’s true that I am a drama queen sans pareil, I also have a deep desire to help anyone who might find themself in a similar situation at some point.  The friends who have told me their stories and helped shepherd me thus far are godsends.  So I’ve decided to follow in their footsteps in the hope that someone out there finds in me a sympathetic virtual shoulder to cry on.

I was so naive pre-Seabass.  Colicky babies were born to patient people, and post-partum depression was for Brooke Shields.  During my pregnancy, I had a voracious appetite for books on how to nurse baby, how to put baby to sleep, how to implement a schedule, blah blah blah.  All of the chapters on colick and postpartum depression were for some other mother.  So I skipped those.

But all the books in the world couldn’t have prepared me for Seabass’ arrival.  He screamed – a manly, deep, earth-shattering scream that belied his young age – in a way that gave entirely new meaning to the word “inconsolable.”  Surprisingly, I was hopeful and upbeat for the first six weeks.  This will end, I told myself.  Everyone says it will end some day.  I clung to a chart in the book The Happiest Baby On The Block which shows a precipitous decrease in babies’ crying from six weeks forward.

But when Seabass’ crying didn’t decrease at six weeks, faith in my own endurance started to wane.  I’d heard that one in eight women experience postpartum depression. Looking around the room at my moms’ group, I saw seven happy, engaged babies and mothers.  And then there was me and Seabass.  (Beneath the exterior, I’m sure those moms felt the same sense of panic and unease as me, but to my bloodshot eyes, everyone else looked like they were on the best carnival ride ever while I was still stuck in line.)

One morning, just two hours after Jake had left for work, I called him in tears.  “I can’t do anything right for this kid,” I sobbed, barely holding a howling Seabass in my arms.  “I don’t know what to do.”  When Jake asked me if he should come home, I didn’t even know how to answer.  I just mumbled “Um, um, um” into the phone until he finally said he was on his way. 

This scenario recurred with increasing frequency; I worried that Jake would someday say he couldn’t come home.  When people asked how things were going with expectant smiles on their faces, I tried to be honest without being a wet blanket.  “It’s okay,” I’d moan.  How could I tell them that I wasn’t fit to be a mother?

Getting out of bed to feed the baby in the middle of the night, I felt a resentment like nothing I’ve ever experienced before – not at Seabass, but at life.  Like someone was out to get me.   To make me miserable.  To find my breaking point.  And insult to injury, Seabass was wide awake and wouldn’t fall asleep after eating.  So I lay on the floor of his room trying to get some sleep while he rocked in his swing, eyes wide open for an hour and a half.  When he finally went to sleep, I crawled into bed and promptly started to weep bitterly, hoping Jake wouldn’t wake up.  But he did.  “I’m so worried about you,” he whispered over my shoulder.  “I think you should talk to the doctor about getting help.”

Interestingly, I balked at his suggestion that I was struggling with postpartum depression.  “It’s not depression,” I snarled.  “It’s just a tragic combination of tough baby and hyper-sensitive mother.” 

But on Seabass’ 10-week birthday, I felt cracks in the dam.  The whole week I’d been listless, heaving monstrous sighs and thinking that nothing I’d ever done was right.  Seabass couldn’t do anything right, either.  Every little chirp and minor fuss he made joined a chorus of voices in my head saying that the good life as I’d previously known it was over.  Talking over dinner one night, Jake was gentle but firm.  “I think you need to tell the doctor how you’re feeling, love,” he said.  “Life can’t go on this way.”

Still, I wasn’t ready to “give up.”  It took conversations with two different friends who’d struggled with postpartum depression to get my attention.  I relayed these stories to Jake.  “She went on anti-depressants?” he asked, amazed.  ‘And she did, too?”  Something about knowing that normal, otherwise healthy women had felt the same uselessness and despair changed our perspective.  Suddenly, postpartum depression didn’t seem so improbable.

I wanted my doctor’s opinion, though.  After hearing an account of the previous weeks, he suggested I consider anti-depressants and gave me a short but thorough explanation of how they work.  I started the medication the next day and haven’t had a single regret.  I suppose I could let myself feel defeated or incompetent about the whole situation, but honestly, I’ve been too engaged in enjoying Seabass to feel much of anything besides gratitude.

A new mother does not envision herself taking medication for this sort of thing.  She does not set up her registry to include diapers, receiving blankets and a six-month supply of Lexapro.  And many women probably muscle through depression in early motherhood without giving anti-depressants so much as a thought.  It’s very possible that they are stronger women than me.

But exciting blog posts be damned.  I’m sticking with boring and happy.

Good Stuff #3: Grandmas, Biological and Otherwise

8 Jul

Grandma Lewis

If it weren’t for the fact that Seabass’ Grandma Lewis is in town right now, I may have been found under a bridge somewhere with a shopping cart and a pet rat, claiming I shot JFK.

Today is a tough day following yesterday’s tough day – and the cumulative toughness is getting to me.  But it’s not getting to Grandma Lewis.  In fact, I don’t think she even registers toughness.  Seabass can cry in her ear from sunup to sundown and she takes it in stride.  “His crying doesn’t bother me,” she says.  I swear she’s a lunatic, but I’ll take it.

This is her first grandbaby, so the lengths to which she’ll go for him are really something.  Earlier today, I had to hand the wee screaming C off to her in order to prepare a slap-dash lunch for friends coming over.  She picked him up and the yelling traveled from the kitchen back to his nursery where it trickled down to a bare whimper and eventually to silence.  A few moments later, I walked back to witness her trick for quieting him and found her bending at a back-breaking angle over the crib to let him suck her knuckles.  I think she would have kept doing it so long as he would have kept sucking.  Apparently, she was more than happy to do it.  Almost like it was a privilege.

It’s still difficult to picture myself as a mother, so imagining myself as a grandmother is nearly impossible.  But I see in both Grandma Lewis and Oma Johnson an insanely high threshold for pain that appears to be biologically specific only to grandmothers.  When Oma Johnson stayed with us for 3 weeks in June, she was up and at ’em every time Seabass so much as blinked funny.  (I’m pretty sure she could hear him blink, even on the baby monitor.)  “Mom, don’t worry about it – I’ll go,” I’d say.

“You sit.  I’ll handle this.”  And then she’d sashay off to coo and rattle cute nonsense into Seabass’ ear while I was left to eat my flavorless breastfeeding gruel or whatever in silence.

Oma Johnson

It’s not just biological grandmothers who have this super-human endurance, though.  A dear friend who lives two doors down and is like a second mother to me just loves – LOVES – baby C and will walk up and down the street with him for hours just so Jake and I can have an adult conversation that doesn’t cover the color of the baby’s poop for once.  One time she did this up and down the alley next to our house for 30 full minutes while C  let loose with a full-forced, purple-faced, tongue-waggling shriek, just so we could eat a meal in peace.  “Did his crying bother the neighbors?” I asked after she returned.

“Nah,” she said, shooing us with her hand, as though we were crazy to be bothered by infant death screeches.

The next day, one neighbor asked what I was eating to make C cry like that.  Another shared that they had to turn their TV volume to the maximum to drown out his crying.  So much for walking the alley.

But that’s just it: the grandmas don’t care.  It’s like they don’t hear it.  Seabass could be Rosemary’s baby, and they’d all find him charming and “feisty.”

All I have to say is thank goodness.

Good Stuff #1: HUSBAND

1 Jul

I have a single friend who recently revealed that she is thinking about having a baby via a sperm bank donation.   At the time she told me, I was still pregnant.  I hadn’t yet experienced any of parenthood’s highs and lows. I think my response to her at the time was nothing more than a hearty good luck and a smile.

Just two weeks into motherhood, though, I called her up and had her come over under the guise of showing off the baby.  My real motive, however, was to exhort her not to go forward with the sperm bank plan.  And why?  Because having a baby without a father is downright kamikaze.

Although I’ve always believed that children need the love and security of both a mom and a dad, practically speaking, if it weren’t for the love and security Jake has shown toward me, lil Seabass may have ended up on someone’s doorstep by now.

Hyperbole, of course.  Mostly.

I’ve had Seabass alone during the day for about three weeks now, and I can’t describe the sense of relief I have when Jake comes home from work.  The sound of his key in the lock at 5:30pm heralds the first full breath I take all day.  It means that the baby will calm down in new, different arms and hear a new, lower voice.  It means there will be fresh energy restored to our home.  It means there will be a shoulder to cry on when I’m bouncing on the exercise ball and trying to breastfeed but Seabass just refuses to eat.  And it means there will be new ideas to try when every response to “WHAT NOW?!?” has been worn to the nub.

So, I gave my whole opinion to my crazy friend, half expecting her to look at me askance and ask when I’d become June Cleaver.  But she didn’t.  She sincerely thanked me for the tip.

It may have had something to do with the fussy, grunting, back-arching Seabass in my arms.  Just a guess.