Baby & Body: 11 & 12 month updates

We did it! We kept her alive for a whole year! And she’s even turning out kind of awesome! I say all the time that she is actually the best little baby ever. She’s hilarious, bright, tough, laid back, and really fricken’ cute. We know that we won the baby lottery and gush about it all the time. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Physical growth hasn’t been as “leaps and bounds” lately as it had been for the first 9 months or so when every weigh-in is a shocker. Mainly because once they start crawling and walking they burn more calories and don’t plump up as much. As of her last clinic visit on May 1 (for her 12-month vaccinations) she is 28” long, and 20 lbs 10 oz.

The major developmental milestones from the last (9 & 10 month) update have pretty much carried over, with walking and talking being the biggest elements. Walking was funny: at 10 months we were convinced that she’d be on the move any day – and for sure be independently walking before she turned 1. Way back in Mexico, she was standing all the time and starting to let go of the furniture or come to a standing position in the middle of the room, and it seemed like she was soooooo close to taking steps. But no. She cruised, she stood, she wobbled, she lurched, but she did not properly walk any hands-free steps until the 11th month, and then she hung out in the two or three steps and fall down phase FOREVER. Finally, at 12 months and 3 days, she toddled down the hallway of her dayhome (12 steps!!) into Charlene’s waiting arms. Not mine or her dad’s, or even Grandma’s, but Charlene’s. It was such a long time coming and evidently, she just couldn’t wait ONE MORE HOUR for me to pick her up for the weekend. At least Charlene took video, which was very cute footage because Sloane seemed so pleased with herself.

Speaking of Charlene, Sloane absolutely loves her dayhome and I’m so happy, because it was a decision I really sweated. Before finding the dayhome she is at, I wasn’t totally satisfied with any of the options I had looked into and looked at. Every tour made me want to cry at some point, and I’d always feel awful driving away. When I left Charlene’s, I didn’t feel like crying at all – so I took that as a very good sign. While I was leaning towards the more homey, cozy, feel of dayhomes (and the handful of kids as opposed to, like, 90) I had my hesitations about them being maybe too unregulated. Luckily, what we found is a bit of a hybrid. It’s a house, just a few blocks from us, but it’s overseen by a company that hires, trains and regularly checks in on the caregiver and environment. They provide all the resources, toys, curriculum, planning, admin support, groceries, etc. so that the caregiver’s only job is to focus on the children. Our caregiver was a pediatric nurse in the Philippines and is super sweet with the kids. She is also incredibly organized and structured, so you feel confident that she has a solid grip on caring for up to 6 babies at a time. Plus, they use this AMAZING app called Tadpoles that sends photos, videos and daily reports to our phones, so we can see what she’s doing throughout the day. It’s so awesome to see every snack, meal, nap and activity photo-documented.

And speaking of speaking, Sloane’s vocabulary keeps growing, so far it includes:

-that? (what is that?)

-That. (I want that)

-THAT!THAT!THAT! (GIVE ME THAT RIGHT NOW I WANT TO EAT IT ALL NOW, I SAID NOW BITCH, NOW!)

-numnumnumnum

-quack quack

-Nenna (Gemma – but many things are Nenna: bunnies, furry pillows)

-up up!

-down

-ta (please and thank you)

-cup

-boobas (yup, boobs, also accompanied by hand gestures and a general air of desperation)

-titty (surprise, this one means kitty)

-dada

-momma

-mum mum (baby rice crackers)

-papa (my dad….and my mom – she’s a bit confused on this. They are both Papa)

-night night

-goo gurl (good girl – accompanied by clapping)

-ball

-puppa (puppy)

-diaper

-uh oh

What else? She still wants to touch everything. She likes to feel things of different textures and is particularly fond of trees, pinecones, sweaters, doorknobs, Gemma, Velcro, and textured paintings. Where she could take them or leave them before, she has now gotten into stuffies. At bed/nap time she’s always snuggled her “bunny lovey” which we now have 3 of – 1 at home, 1 at dayhome and 1 at Grandma’s – to avoid a potentially catastrophic loss. She’s also just now discovered the other ten or so animals inhabiting her room. One of her favourite games is what we call “Ark” which entails dragging all of her animals into the boat (baby bathtub) in her room, and climbing in herself, of course. She likes to high-five, cheer, blow kisses, wave and give real kisses now…which vary between slobbery, open-mouthers and dry pecks with loud “mwah!” sound effects.

The only thing new with me is that my boobs started to seem like they were sort of coasting towards retirement. Since I was returning to work a couple weeks before Sloane turned 1, nursing has gone down to 2-3 times a day (always morning and bedtime, and sometimes a bonus “happy hour” session if she asked for it). I’ve had isolated days of lower supply before, but currently it’s a more sustained “bottom of the milk carton” kind of feeling. Which stands to reason – I’m only needed twice a day instead of the ten (or more) times I started out at. At the same time, she isn’t really fond of drinking whole (cow) milk…so we’re trying to make sure she gets lots of calcium, fat and vitamin D through other sources. The clinic said as long as she’ll take her D supplement and eat “a little bit of cheese and yogurt” it’s fine…which made me laugh because when it comes to Sloane’s eating habits, especially yogurt and cheese, there is no such thing as “a little bit”. 

Baby & Body: 9/10 month updates

Ignoring my now typical tardiness, I believe we left off with the rapid succession of sitting up to army crawling to proper crawling and lastly to pulling up to standing, back in late December and early January. Looking back at texts and pictures to confirm the timeline (because I seemingly can’t cast my mind back a mere 6 weeks) it seems that by mid January, standing had become the norm along with cruising the furniture. By far, her favourite pastime in this era is cruising the coffee tables, couches and ottoman, looking for remotes, iPads, game controllers, Kindles and iPhones. If I unleashed her in a Radio Shack she’d be happy for days. Actual toys? For suckers. Books, at least, have retained their appeal and she loves pulling them all off the shelves and flipping through them on her own. It is one of my favourite sights.

Although everything I’ve read suggests that, at this age, baby babble is just that – phonetic babble that is not intentional language or use of words – I beg to differ. This is the month she started using mom (momomomom) and dad (dadadadada) in the proper contexts and specifically directed at us. Also, more rarely, hihihihi, byebyebye, kitty and cup. She made the meanings very clear by complementing the words with her other new obsession: pointing. She used this funny crooked pointer finger – never quite straight, but accusatory nonetheless. She particularly enjoyed when we would reach out and touch our finger to hers, E.T style. Moving closer to the 10 month mark, she started pointing at objects saying, “that?!” as in, asking us what the object is called. And trust me, she wants to know what EVERYTHING is called. All day long. That is a cat. That is a doorknob, that is a carbon monoxide detector, that is a scratch on the coffee table, that is the metal thingy that the door knob latches into. That is mommy’s wine bottle.

We enrolled in another session of Rhyme & Reason this month in which she actually fell into the proper age group (8 to 18 months) whereas last time she was added to the group at just 5 months old due to low enrollment in her own age category. Of course, this was far less “successful” than the first time around when she was totally engrossed in the songs, stories and hand motions. This time, she just wanted to roam, manhandle other babies and get into everything. At any rate, she left each class happy and exhausted, so it has to get chalked up as a win, even if I largely felt a bit silly sitting in a circle, clapping and bouncing by myself

A sad thing about her new inability to stay still was that around the second week of January we had to cut out letting her come sleep in our bed after her first early morning feeding. She was just too wiggly and wily and wouldn’t settle back down with us. She was constantly scaling our bodies and trying to hurl herself headfirst off the bed, instead of drifting off holding our hands. Sadly, I had to start putting her back in her own crib for an hour or two more of solo sleep. Otherwise, sleep was smooth and naptimes really stabilized with a 10 or 10:30 morning nap and a 2:30 or 3 afternoon nap.

And then we went to Mexico. We left at the very end of January when she was just over 9 months and the flight took a little more work than it used to to keep her happy and quiet. She just wants to stand and crawl, which makes it feel a bit like a 5 hour alligator wrestling match with all the thrashing, grabbing and splashing (of sippy cups). Overall though, she did quite well and received many compliments on her good behaviour from relieved fellow travelers.

Puerto Vallarta really agreed with her, even though it was at times a bit of a pain in the ass for us (narrow, cobblestone roads; a lack of serviceable highchairs). She loved the swimming pools and the hot tub (it was a cool one), especially with the inflatable duck floaty that grandma and grandpa picked up for her. The mere sight of Ducky resulted in so much flailing and screaming that we had to strategically hide it and carry it around out of her sight so she didn’t lose her mind if we weren’t immediately headed to the pool. She loved Mexican food including chorizo tacos, queso, guacamole, and could absolutely pack away the refried beans. She always enjoys restaurants and people-watching so the whole cadence of our aimless days spent wandering around, snacking, drinking and sightseeing suited her perfectly. It didn’t hurt that she was being squeezed, cooed at and fawned over everywhere we went by all the friendly old ladies and young gay men (and a few young gay men in friendly old lady drag.) As much fun as she had, she also slept exceptionally well, but a bit un predictably. With extra long morning and afternoon naps and solid long nights. I was often finding myself waking up significantly before her, for maybe the first time ever, which was a nice feeling to be able to wake up on my own without having to bolt right out of bed and get to work.

There were a few lows among all these highs. She was sick a couple of times, with a minor cold the first couple days of our trip that didn’t seem to faze her and then a more chesty, rattly cough the last couple days that really knocked her out for an entire day that she spent the vast majority of napping. Luckily the gym had a wet sauna so we went there pre-bed and got a lot of…stuff…out of her. That cough went away and then about a week after we got home it came back. Sick babies suck because there’s nothing you can really give them to feel better, other than a humidifier and snuggles. The only upside to come out of this last round of sickness was the one morning when Andrew didn’t have the heart to put her back in her crib and she ended up being calm (weak, haha) enough to come sleep in our bed for a couple hours.

More to come in separate posts about feeding, Mr. T, and another random rant. Soon. For reals.

Baby & Body: 8 month update

Today* is perhaps not the day I should begin to draft this update, as the babe was up at 3:30, 4:45 and finally 7:15…and I am feeling, how shall we say, less than charitable towards parenting at the moment. Teething, developmental leaps, holiday schedule disruptions and nap transitions all suck for sleep.

Let’s take those menaces one by one, since that’s the only way my brain can function enough to type at this point. Especially since coffee has been making me a bit too anxious lately to be worth the much-needed caffeine jolt.

Teething – as previously mentioned, the bottom two came in without much ado, but the next ones (assumed to be top two) are not coming without a fight. After realizing that I had given her a single bedtime dose of Tylenol more nights in a 2 week period than I hadn’t, I grabbed some hippie shit from the pharmacy to make myself (and hopefully her, of course) feel better. The Camillia liquid does seem to help, while the Hyland’s gel doesn’t seem to make much difference. Wrapping a crushed ice bundle in a washcloth and securing it with a hair elastic is her current favourite teething toy and provides good daytime relief. All her problems (like all of ours, I’d say) seem worse as she is trying to go to sleep, so that’s when we break out the medicinal guns. Or we wake up at, say, 3:30 with a whiny baby grabbing at her mouth and ears.

Developmental leaps – first came actual, proper, crawling on hands and knees, then came trying to sit up on her own. I mean, she has been sitting up without assistance for a while but I’m talking about getting to a sitting position on her own. This, she clumsily started and then perfected in about 2 days. It’s enjoyable in that it gives her more independence and options for positions to play in. The downside is that for the first week or so the urge to sit up was so compelling that she would do it constantly – including when she should have been lying down to sleep or when she first stirred upon waking – thus fully keeping her awake instead of allowing her to lounge and resettle. Anyways, this was all very much towards the tail-end of the month so I’ll save the next steps for the next update.

Holiday disruptions – having visitors, having lots of places to be in a day, and plans that extend beyond bedtime are all sleep-killers. Sloane has always been one of those “sleep begets sleep” kind of babies. Meaning that when daytime naps suffer, so too does her nighttime sleep. Which sucks, sure, and I know for most people that nighttime sleep is the holy grail, but honestly, the daytime naps themselves are just as important to me since this is when I get to do fun things like showering, eating and housekeeping. Without naps the whole operation crumbles  Which leads into…

Nap transition – around this age, babies start to transition from 3 naps to 2 naps. I’ve always had a tough time counting Sloane’s naps because she’s always had a bit of a weird morning routine (due to mutually agreed upon laziness) and I’ve paid more attention to her sleepiness cues than the clock when I’ve put her down to nap. This sort of non-routine routine has historically worked well for us. On a good day (which until the last few weeks was called a normal day) she would typically:

-go to bed at 7:30 pm

-wake somewhere between 6 and 8 am to nurse

-fall back to sleep in my bed for a couple hours, typically waking around 9 or 10 am.

-awake for 2 or 3 hours and nap (11 or 12pm?) For an hour or two

-awake for 2 or 3 hours and nap (3 or 4pm?) For an hour or two

-bedtime again.

I guess if you count the first going back to sleep after nursing as a nap, then she was pretty much on a 3-a-day schedule. Which was regular enough for my own flexible needs, but irregular enough to make it tough to plan a bunch of activities or meet-ups with other people, day after day – which was a challenge over the holidays with visiting family and various events. A situation compounded by the fact that she was sometimes skipping or “cat-napping” (or crap-napping?) one or more of her usual nap times. Making me question whether she needed a bedtime adjustment and/or to consolidate the 3 naps into 2 longer naps with longer awake times between them. Sometimes that worked out great and other times not at all, which I think will be the case until she eventually adjusts into the 2-a-day habit. An adjustment that just wasn’t happening with people rattling about the house and us running all over Hell’s half-acre. We’ll see how she goes as life returns to normal…for a few weeks until we go to Mexico for 2 weeks. Oh boy.

What else? Food…the slow mo intro to solids has picked up momentum. While she’s still nursing 4 or 5 times a day, she’s also now eating solids at two meals – it varies a bit. She will now eat almost anything you put in front of her or in her mouth. I have a few frozen purees that I pull out from time to time and do buy the odd pouch or jar of food (gasp! I know) but for the most part, she is eating what we’re eating, either in whole or in part. Or sometimes in semi-mash. I feel like this entire feeding topic may be a whole other post so I will leave it at that for now.

As for me, I have nothing to say for myself that you haven’t already heard. This may be the worlds longest post-partum plateau and I’m okay with it. Teeth have definitely added an element of danger to the nursing game these days, although she is yet to properly bite me. Yet. There were a couple light bite downs that were not great, and an overall general scrapiness that is not totally delightful. But, it’s OK so far. I’m still not feeling terribly energetic these days, and to that end it seems about time to get back on top of taking some of the supplements that have helped in the past. Maca being one that really helped when I was in the first trimester. And still more water. If I could get a weekly saline IV drip, I would.

One of the best things about this month is that Sloane has started to act like she really likes me. I mean, I know I’m her mom and she is bonded to me because she needs me…but now it’s like she really likes me – getting so excited when I enter a room or come home and reaching for me or crawling to me for some love at regular intervals. It’s nice to know the feeling is mutual. And big baby smiles go a long way when you are so tired you put the milk away in the pantry.

*as always, today is not really today, as it takes me a few to write a post. So fear not, this zombie day is behind me and baby has actually resumed napping properly since we have returned to normal post-holiday life.

Baby & Body: months 6 & 7 update

In not blogging for just over a month I missed an entire month’s update and cruised right on by the next one too – hence, the combined update. And you know, I can’t even be bothered to be apologetic about it because life has just been too damn much lately between travelling two weeks in a row and being sick twice in a row (one quick but brutal stomach bug, one bastard of a cold).

While Sloane thankfully missed out on the stomach virus, she was the one who gave me the cold, and a sick baby is no fun at all–less so when you are sick yourself. She’s been sleeping like crap because she can’t breathe through her nose (which means she also can’t suck her thumb to self-soothe) and (I’m guessing from my own symptoms) she’s also had a sore throat and headache. Good thing grape flavoured baby Tylenol turned out to be her poison.

Sickness aside, big changes these past two months include the arrival of the first tooth on November 6, followed up by the second one a couple weeks later for a cute little bottom middle set. Teething this time around didn’t seem to cause a lot of grief as both teeth sort of popped out as a bit of a surprise to me. At her 6 month check-up and vaccination appointment (which was actually right on her 6 month birthday) she weighed in at 17.5 lbs and 26 inches tall. I’d guess by now she is up to about 19 lbs and at least an inch taller.

She also became a highly proficient roller and wriggler and went from okay to leave unattended for a few moments to “can’t take your eyes off her for a second” in a matter of days. Like most healthy, red-blooded babies, she has a death wish and is magnetically drawn to hazards big and small. Current dark obsessions include pulling the floor lamp to the ground, yanking the CO detector out of the wall and/or sticking fingers in the now empty socket, scouring the ground for loose change and buttons to choke on, reaching fragile limbs into the mechanism of the gliding chair, rolling towards the top of the stairs, grabbing at cat whiskers, and sleeping face down in the mattress. Close to the 7 month birthday mark she made big strides towards crawling with a sort of rudimentary army-crawl, belly-slither technique that greatly increased her speed in reaching her death trap of choice. Fun!

Long story short, time inside the house can be a bit of a nightmare at the moment – with not a lot of safe space for her to explore before I have to redirect her from danger. Rescuing her every 20 seconds (and often pissing her off in the process) makes for an awfully long day and lots of running back and forth between rooms if I’m trying to do anything else. Imprisoning Safely securing her in a Jolly Jumper or Exersaucer is the only relief, but she only tolerates jail safety for small blocks of time. Although I’m not overly excited about returning to work, I won’t lie: there have been several days in the past couple of months where I have waxed nostalgic for my out-of-the-home job (what a break! how civilized! soooo easy! The grass is noticeably greener at my office!) Time outside the house is loads of fun though, as she’s always happy to be gawking at things and socializing with every passerby. Particularly if said passerby is a boy/man. She loves dudes and beards, so this whole hipster era is really working out well for her/us. We flew to Toronto to visit my brother and his kids and Sloane was happy as a clam to be out Bjorning or strolling all day long, riding the subways and streetcars and hanging out in restaurants. Similarly, when we took her to Banff shortly afterwards, the hotel, pub and outdoor swimming pool life suited her perfectly (until she got sick – and with the exception of the first night in the terrifying, rickety, possibly-haunted, hotel-provided crib).

The other big development was our slow-out-of-the-gate introduction to solid food. Because of her healthy size and appetite for boob, I had incorrectly assumed that she would be stoked to eat some real food at the recommended 6 month mark. Nope. She just wasn’t that into it. If I tricked her into getting some food in her mouth, she would begrudgingly swallow it, but she had no real interest and wouldn’t eagerly open her mouth for much. I have to say, this didn’t bother me in the least. If she had been being selective or picky it may have (I have issues with picky eaters and dread having one) but because she was just altogether uninterested, I figured she just wasn’t there yet. Every other milestone she’s hit of her own volition and in her own good time, and I figured when the time was more right she’d let me know. I still kept offering solids (kind of half-assedly) but it was more of a token effort to keep up the exposure than to actually accomplish any feeding. Then, right around the 7 month mark, she was suddenly into it. She’s still mainly a boob girl, but will pretty much try anything I give her and is definitely more excited about it all.

As for me, I’m tempted to take a pass on commenting at the moment. I went through a phase where I was feeling really good about myself (maybe the best I ever have) but now that I’m coming off of 3 weeks of travel, sickness and loads of one-on-one time with Sloane I just feel worn out. One of those “sick and tired of being sick and tired” kind of phases where it shows on your face, in your posture and in your attitude – but I know that it is just the sick and tired talking, not a lasting state of mind. Nothing a few good sleeps, a gallon of water, an industrial humidifier, a vat of eye cream, a lb of concealer, a babysitter, and professional lighting can’t take care of.

Baby & Body: 5 month update

This past month has been F-U-N. Really, no sarcasm at all. Like, so much fun. It has also been a shit ton of work, but so much fun. The fun part is that Sloane is starting to become a real person, with a sense of humor, likes and dislikes, a temper sometimes, and little quirks. It’s a lot of fun just discovering what she thinks is fun or funny. Things like oinking or barking at her, sniffing or slurping her neck, pretending to eat her toes, and “pouncing” on the bed like a cat when she’s laying on it. It’s amazing the things you will do to get a belly laugh out of a baby. The work part is that this is basically a full-time job, which is fine because she actually is my full-time job right now (thank god for 12 month mat leave). But it does mean that I’m not doing much else other than interact with her. When I’m with her, that is…I’m still getting out without her for appointments or errands or the odd night or lunch out, so it’s not like I’m shackled to her every minute of every day, but when I’m with her, I’m really with her – if that makes sense.

Although I do have to say, she’s still pretty chill. She’s great in her stroller and Baby Bjorn or her bouncy chair on the floor – so long as I don’t go too long without giving her some attention. Hence the blogging in bed while she is sleeping now, rather than attempting to get any actual work done during the day. I have the rest of my life to check shit off a to-do list every day, and only 7 more months (waaaaah!) to be with her all the time. It’s a small, small window in the grand scheme of things. And as they say, “the days are long but the years are short.”

Back to things I can think about late at night without crying.

Her big accomplishment this month was rolling over, which she did for the first time on the Monday of the Labour Day long weekend while visiting our friend Terry. Also the second and third time. Given a spacious, carpeted room to frolic in, she finally had the space to play. Which made us realize that we had to create more space in our house for her (bye-bye gigantic aquarium, hello foam floor tiles) and also, that a new house altogether sure would be nice. For now though, this new little play space is doing the trick nicely. She rolls every which way and wriggles around to do full 360’s. She’s also taken to sleeping on her side again now that she has a little more space in the Pack n’ Play. Basically, we had been stifling our child’s movement with our teeny tiny home and restrictive furniture. Yay us.

In our defence, we are still taking her out for walks every day (with the odd exception) and she gets lots of play time at Grandma and Papa’s house too. We also started a weekly Rhyme & Reason class with little rhymes, stories, songs, finger/hand plays, and lots of info about development. She loves the activities as well as gawking at all the other babies and moms. She is particularly partial to songs that involve bouncing, jiggling or tickling. We also do the library every week or two and she likes it there quite a bit too. I’m pleased to report that there is an impressive selection of really good children’s books out there that make bedtime story time pretty fun for us (and the cats) too.

So she’s not too hard done by.

Likewise, I’m doing pretty well too. My biggest challenge is still remembering to eat and drink enough to not get tired and cranky. Just in the past couple weeks there have been a few scattered days where my milk seems a little lower than normal (this had never been a problem before, to say the least) and Sloane didnt seem completely satisfied during/after nursing – tugging and fussing (ugh) So I went with the old wives’ tale of drinking Guinness and it works like a charm. If I feel a bit low, I just drink one before bed and wake up fully stocked. But overall, i know that eating regularly and drinking enough water is definitely the smarter way to stay on top of my dairy duties.

In other TMI news, I realized that it has been more than 14 months since my last period. For some reason, it hadn’t really occurred to me before that it would be so long. It can come back any time after giving birth (a breastfeeding girlfriend got hers just 6 weeks later), but it’s not at all unusual for it to stay away until after you wean the baby if you’re exclusively breastfeeding. Just another little bonus to make up for the first few weeks of hell.

One thing that has maybe (?) started happening that I’ve been waiting for (due to warnings) is the postpartum hair loss. It does seem a bit delayed so maybe I’m just in a shedding cycle or it’s unrelated, but I do seem to be, well, shedding a lot of hair these days. It’s not like, coming out in clumps or anything but I’m just brushing out a lot more hair these days. This may be a blessing, given that what is left, Sloane is dutifully attempting to rip out. It really is a good thing they are so darn cute and sweet and smell-icious.

A Cat Confession

Last week I was ranting to my husband about needing to know the statistics on death by cat tripping at the top of the stairs.

This morning I got fired up again when one of the cats left a poop beside the litter box, because apparently the first of their twice-daily litter box scoopings was a touch too late for their liking.

Fellow pet lovers, rest assured: I still love my cats, care for them, and they are not going anywhere. I certainly don’t hate them, but I have to confess that post-baby, I’m not always feeling the crazy cat lady affection like I used to.

Taking care of a baby is a giant, time-consuming, energy-funneling undertaking. And some days, the cats seem like pushy, needy, messy things on my to-do list, instead of the joyful companions they have always been. I know it sounds horrible. But an outside-the-litter-box poop when you’ve just gotten the baby fed, changed, burped, and down to nap is spirit crushing. A cat incessantly head-butting you when you sit down to shove 5 bites of food in your mouth before the baby’s “mom is trying to eat” radar goes off can feel like an unwelcome interruption of the highest order. When a cat swerves under your feet for the 70th time that day, causing you to stumble and startle the baby you are clutching, I dare you not to feel at least a fleeting moment of rage. And the cat hair. My god, the cat hair! It’s one thing to lint roller yourself 5 times a day, but a whole other thing when you are rolling the baby, blankets, beds, carpets etc.

A quick Google search (and lots of personal anecdotes) suggest that these ugly feelings of post-parental pet annoyance are shockingly common. There are literally dozens of articles with titles like, “I used to love my cat and dog, then I had a baby”, “I had a baby and now my dog is driving me nuts” or, “My Cats Were My World Before I Had Kids, Now I Forget They Exist”. A common thread running  through each one, is some variation on the assertion that – at one time – the author’s pet was their baby. Not even like their baby. Their actual baby.

Lately, I can’t push away the uneasy feeling that maybe this is part of the problem. Pets are an amazing part of the home and of a family, but they are not children – nor, I reckon, should they be. But when we welcome pets into our home years (or decades) before kids enter the picture, we throw ourselves into caring for them, and about them, with a zealous passion. We do this because we can – because we have the time, money, energy and space to do so. In and of itself, it isn’t a problem. If you have the skill and the inclination, knock yourself out knitting your cat booties and cooking for your dog. Hell, set him a place setting at the dining room table. But if and when things need to change – whether because of a human addition to the family, financial hardship, or maybe an illness or injury – it’s okay to take them off the pedestal they probably didn’t need to be on in the first place.

The thing is, it’s going to feel like it’s not okay, because it’s such a downshift in the dynamic. When your pet gets demoted from beloved “fur baby” (honestly, is there a worse term?) to barely tolerated bum, you’re gonna feel guilty – and we all know moms specialize in guilt. A big problem for shelters and animal welfare organizations is that at this point, some people begin to feel like they are better to give up their animal than to provide it with what they perceive as second-rate care. Rescue organizations point out that in most cases, this is misguided and the animal is just fine in its current home. We don’t need to surrender our pets just because we can’t keep them in the (spoiled?) lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed. We might if there is an allergy or aggression issue, but that is an entirely different scenario.

Now….I began writing this 2 months ago (so when I said “last night” and “this morning” at the top of the post, it was a bit of a fib). Sidebar: Did you know that Stephen King wrote all 200,000 or so words of The Shining in around 4 weeks? Yes, I feel sufficiently inadequate. WHATEVER, he also did a ton of cocaine at the time. ANYWAYS, the interesting thing is that my attitude has already started to come around. I feel less overwhelmed and irritated by them now and Sloane is starting to enjoy them as well, which totally helps. So if you’re in the thick of this situation now, I’d say give it some time. Like most things with a newborn, it won’t be this crazy forever.

We have to get some perspective and realize that it’s okay to let some things slide without feeling too bad about it. Especially when you have a helpless little human and your own mental health to worry about first and foremost. At the worst of it, our cats were still getting great food, good care, warm shelter, brushing and had treats and toys. They just weren’t getting unlimited attention and their picture uploaded daily to instagram. This is unquestionably better than the life they would have had on the street or in a shelter.

One day when your baby can’t stop giggling at your cat, you just might start to feel it again too, and the cat will have a whole new servant to recruit onto its staff.

PS – Kim, if you’re reading this, I’m not gonna keep posting in time for your morning coffee if you don’t text me gushing compliments every time. Just FYI.

Baby & Body: 4 month update

Why is it that I can only get motivated to buckle down and write these monthly updates when I’m butting up against the deadline of the NEXT month’s birthday? Seriously, something is wrong with me. So once again, I am struggling to remember what happened between months 3 and 4. If you recall last month’s update, I mentioned that I was “jotting down notes for the next update”. Which would be rad if it wasn’t a bald-faced lie. I mean, I intended to jot down notes…

Think, think think. July 25 to August 25 was dominated by the fascinating discovery of toes and tongue. And naturally, the inevitable meeting of the two. Poor kid, please forgive mommy for outing your baby weirdness. It’s kind of cool when they discover a body part for the first time because for at least a week or two it nullifies the need for outside amusement (let’s all take a moment to thank god she is a girl) as they fixate on, say, grabbing their feet, and attempting to insert into mouth. The tongue discovery was particularly amusing since she can’t see it, but spent a lot of time sticking it out, moving it around, blowing bubbles, blowing raspberries and otherwise knocking herself out trying to figure out what exactly this unseen entity can do. With that, came lots more sound making and giggling. Turns out fart noises are as funny at 4 months as at 14 and, well, 40 years, I imagine. Actually, one of the funniest things was when my husband farted in his sleep one night and then I heard a giggle from over in the bassinet. And now I have outed my husband as well. Well done, me! Sloane is also becoming more dexterous, passing things back and forth between her hands, holding objects with more precision and picking things up if they drop.

The most accurate measurements I have are actually from juuuust over the 4 month mark (from her September 5 doctor’s appointment) when she weighed in at juuuust under 16 lbs and juuuust under 25 inches. What I remember most about this appointment was Sloane being pronounced “slow-anne” by the nurse when she called to us in the waiting room (I died laughing for 2 days, including an entire massage appointment when the therapist and I came up with back stories in bad southern accents about poor little Slow-Anne – named after her daddy Slow Andy, of course) and Sloane getting really pissed that the doctor wouldn’t let her have the stethoscope.

What else? Sleep…or lack thereof. Sleep regressions happen at a bunch of different points and it’s basically when a baby who normally sleeps well becomes an asshole. Or, you know, begins waking up at night, resisting going to sleep at night or skipping naps. Thankfully, Sloane has never been a night waker – much like her mom (and much unlike her dad) once she’s down, she’s down for the count. But resisting bed time and skipping naps are right up her alley. With the lesson under our belts from last month, we solved the first issue by moving her bedtime up again by an hour (for an 8pm bedtime) and the napping thing just ran its course after a couple weeks. Most of the time you don’t really “solve” any young infancy issues, you just get through it and realize that absolutely everything is truly just a phase. So happy that nap times are back in effect though, because that phase was a bit of a bitch.

As for me, there isn’t much to report. My body is chilling on a nice flat plateau while my emotions perch on a cliff. I’m definitely still hormonal in the sense that I can’t handle certain topics and I’m still more emotional than usual, although I’m starting to wonder if this now a permanent change. Maybe moms just cry for every baby in the whole world who gets hurt or sick or goes missing. I can live with that. I find that I’m still running warmer than I used to as well (this is polite phrasing for “wakes up soaked in sweat”) and I still have roughly the daily water intake requirement of an elephant. I’m starting to wonder if I should make attempts to fade my c-sec scar while I still can (i.e. while it’s still ‘fresh’) with various lotions and potions? Truthfully, I don’t give one flying fuck if it looks this way forever since it lies well within the bikini zone anyways and even if it were more visible, it’s not very big or unsightly. But it seems like an easy little project. Certainly much easier than starting to work out again. So I may have a shot in hell of following through.