Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Daddy’s little girl, part 3

Immediately after Kaylee was born, I felt a need to buy clothes for her that glorified her parents. I’m not sure why, but it may have been because I was so tired. I probably thought, “Well, I’m exhausted and cranky, but I’ll feel better about parenthood if I put her in an ‘I love Mommy’ onesie.” And then to be fair, I had to buy a “Daddy” one, too.

Here’s an inventory of the parent-praising clothes Kaylee owns:
• “I love Mommy” onesie
• “I love Daddy” onesie
• “Perfect, just like Mommy” onesie
• “Daddy’s little princess” onesie
• Two pairs of “I love Mommy” socks
• Two pairs of “I love Daddy” socks

The first time I put Kaylee in her “Perfect, just like Mommy” shirt, she pooped on it about 30 minutes later.

All right, I can take that. It’s nothing personal. I mean, she’s just a baby. Plus, I got the stain out easily enough.

Then, a couple of Fridays ago, she spit up on the “I love Mommy” onesie at daycare. When a baby erupts there, protocol is to put soiled clothing in a red bag labeled with a biohazard symbol (!!) and send it home with the parents. But Rob, having never been made aware of spit-up protocol, didn’t realize he was supposed to take the red bag out of her bin, and the clothes were left over a weekend to ferment, sealed tightly in plastic.

I can’t be bothered to do laundry more than once a week, so it wasn’t until Sunday that I took a good look at that Mommy-worshiping onesie and realized that it had decided to grow some hair. Tiny little dark-green spots had sprouted on the shoulders, in the middle of all the crusty grossness.

Disgusted as I was, I decided to make a go of cleaning it, discovering only that baby laundry detergent doesn’t stand a chance against that kind of ick. Mentally humming a funeral dirge, I dropped it in the trash can.

“It’s ok, though,” I thought as I headed back to her room. “She still has the ‘Perfect, just like Mommy’ onesie, so that one can boost my ego.”

I took it out of the closet to gaze upon its cuteness – and there, right on the shoulder, was a dark formula stain. Not enough to keep me from putting her in it, but enough to make the “Perfect” statement on the front kind of ironic. Darn.

Plus, I think one of her “I love Mommy” socks is missing, kicked off in the middle of Target somewhere.

But her Daddy clothes?

Don’t you worry. They’re all pristine.


Almost Emily

For the longest time, Rob and I planned to name our first daughter Emily. While I was pregnant, though, I started having second thoughts because of Emily’s popularity on baby-name lists. I didn’t want to send her to school where she’d be surrounded by a swarm of other Emilys day in and day out.

So we settled on Kaylee instead, which seemed like a great solution to my concerns right up until I visited the daycare I would eventually choose for her. In a room of 10 infants, two were named Kaylee and one was named Kylee. (She’s the only Kaylee in her class now, but a recent addition is named Zaylee.)

But I suppose there’s nothing wrong with my daughter growing up around other Kaylees. After all, my two best childhood friends were named Heather.

I spoke to one of those Heathers last night for the first time in several years – we lost touch around the time Rob and I got married – and somehow we managed to fall right back into the easy conversation we’d known since we were 10 years old. (Well, once we were past that awkward first play date when our parents made us play Barbies together, assuming two 10-year-old Heathers were bound to get along.)

Even though we had to update each other on the major changes in our lives – new kids, (much) more interesting careers, etc. – that old Heather bond was still there, and we promised not to go another four years without calling.

So, I guess Kaylee’s name isn’t as important as the friends she makes growing up. If she finds herself surrounded by other little Kaylees, maybe she’ll find one or two that she can still relate to decades later.

Oh, and by the way, I learned yesterday that my old friend Heather now has a daughter – named Emily.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Daddy's little girl, part 2

Rob and I have been alternating nights getting up with Kaylee, and for the most part it’s a pretty good system. Kaylee’s usually kind to us, only waking up for one feeding or so, and we both know whose job it is to go take care of her each night.

Here’s the problem: Lately, Kaylee's decided to torture me. For some reason, every other night, Kaylee either wakes up more often or picks an ungodly hour of the night to decide it’s time to stay awake and play. And since it happens every other night and Rob and I alternate nights, only one of us ever gets the privilege of staying awake with her. The other gets to sleep peacefully every. single. night.

I like to think that Kaylee has learned our system, and she just wants to see me a lot because I’m her favorite parent. It makes me feel better than the alternative, which is that she and Rob are collaborating in some sort of anti-Mommy plot.

Here’s a perfect example: The other night, she woke up at about 2 a.m. for a feeding, and then again at 5 a.m. to play. I was exhausted and desperate for her to fall back asleep, and she did – right at 6:30, when I was going to wake Rob so he could watch her while I took a shower. So again, I got to be tired while Rob got to sleep.

But I think I’ve finally outsmarted her. In the last couple of days – as a result of Harry-Potter-reading-marathon-induced fatigue – Rob and I traded nights. Finally, FINALLY, Rob had a night in which Kaylee woke more than normal and decided 3:30 a.m. was a good time to start the day. With any luck, that means she’ll sleep like a little angel tonight and every other night after that.

I hope so, because I’m not sure my body can take much more caffeine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Daddy's little girl

Yesterday, as I tried to rouse Kaylee from sleep to get her ready for daycare, she gave me the dirtiest look I’ve ever seen on a baby’s face. If she could talk, I imagine she would have said something like, “WHAT are you doing?” and her voice would have been dripping with venom.

This is much like what happens when I try to wake Rob up from a deep sleep. Both father and daughter tend to wake suddenly and in terrible confusion. They’ve both mastered an expression that’s halfway between terror and fury, like they’re afraid that the house is burning down, because that’s the ONLY THING THAT WOULD JUSTIFY WAKING THEM UP. EVER.

Fortunately, though, the similarity stops there. Where Rob will usually grumble, roll over and go back to sleep even as I repeatedly jab his shoulder to try to keep him conscious, Kaylee quickly breaks into a smile that lights up her whole face when she realizes that Mommy is leaning over her.

I’m sure that’ll change when she’s a teenager.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Idiocy in public

I remember a time in my life when I’d roll my eyes at the sight of some parent acting like an idiot for the sake of entertaining their small children. But now that I have Kaylee, I find myself going out of my way to get that cute little smile to appear – public humiliation be damned.

I’ve recently taken to making up songs for her, using whatever lyrics pop into my head at the time. Most of the time, I sing to the tune of “I Want Candy,” which makes me feel like a bad mom because I know at least one of the “artists” to sing this song is Aaron Carter. Not that he’s a bad person necessarily, but I just never thought I’d be singing Aaron Carter songs to my daughter. I justify it by reminding myself that my version of the song is pretty much unrecognizable compared to the original. Here’s the part I sing most often:

I know a girl who’s very cute
She lets me dress her in dumb pink suits
I like to take her everywhere
I hope someday she’ll grow hair

I love Kaylee
I love Kaylee
I love Kaylee
I love Kaylee

Ok, so, look. I know you’re all thinking, “Wow, she’s like a songwriting genius,” and you’re thinking it sarcastically. But hey, it makes Kaylee smile, especially when I do the accompanying dance, which makes my hair fly all over the place.

I’m just glad she doesn’t know what I’m saying yet, because after 20 solid minutes of coming up with new lyrics, my creativity does occasionally start to wane. This morning, for example, this crept into the song:

Hey look there, I see some flowers
I’m glad we’re not driving down Powers

Well, they can’t all be winners.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

So proud

When I picked Kaylee up at daycare the other day, one of her teachers told me, “She’s the youngest one we have, but she’s the loudest. She’s like the ringleader of the little ones -- she leads the charge.”

Aww, my baby is the loudest yeller in the class. I’m so proud.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

And here's number five

I have one last product to add to my list of things I’m glad I own. I only bought it last night, but it’s already brought me peace of mind.

I’ll start with some back story. When I picked Kaylee up from day care yesterday, her daily sheet said she’d had a temperature of 99.1 during the afternoon. Her head felt warm to me, so I decided to take her temperature when I got home. I’d never done it before, because she’s never seemed hot before, so it never crossed my mind that the digital thermometer I’d received as part of a baby-care kit would be so, so frustrating.

I held the thermometer in her armpit and pinned her arm to her side for a good ten minutes before I realized the thermometer had turned itself off without ever beeping to indicate it was finished. The last time I’d looked at it, it read 99.1.

Because the internet knows everything, I decided to consult it regarding baby temperatures, and of course learned that underarm temperatures are the least accurate way of checking for a fever – and that it could give a reading that’s one to three degrees too low. That led to a new-mom panic, where I worried that her temperature could be as high as 102.1, which would mean she was officially sick. Or it could be 99.1, like the thermometer said, and there was no real reason to worry. So then I spent a good 20 minutes worrying about whether or not I should be worried.

The internet also taught me that taking a baby’s temperature rectally is the most accurate method. In the same paragraph, I read that you have to be super careful, because otherwise you could accidentally perforate the baby’s rectum. Um… That pretty much ensures that I will NEVER take her temperature that way. (And this paragraph pretty much ensures that Kaylee will hate me when she’s a teenager. “MOM! I can’t believe you talked about my rectum on your blog!”)

When Rob got home, he talked me down from my little panic and suggested we look into a good ear thermometer. I’d heard those could be pretty hit and miss, so I checked into product ratings and settled on this one – the only digital ear thermometer I found with consistently high ratings from people who own it. We promptly went to the store and bought it, and discovered the joy of taking a temperature in less than five seconds. Yeah, it’s an expensive thermometer, but if it’ll keep me from freaking out every time Kaylee’s head gets warm, it’s worth $50 to me. That I can answer the “to worry or not to worry” question within a few seconds is an added bonus.

Oh, and by the time we’d assembled the SUV stroller, made our way to the store, bought the thermometer and returned home, Kaylee was perfectly fine. No fever, and therefore no more mommy panic.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Four things I'm glad I own

Leading up to Kaylee’s birth, I did my best to anticipate the things I’d need around the house to keep her alive and entertained. I figured out the obvious things on my own – bottles, diapers, etc. – but there were a few must-haves that I didn’t know about at first. And if I had known how helpful they’d be, I’d have bought them the day I found out I was pregnant.

One: Boppy pillow

I inherited this magical pillow from my sister-in-law, who taught us its charms about a week after Kaylee was born. It saved our lives – or at least our sanity.

Fresh out of the womb, Kaylee couldn’t stand to be set down anywhere. If she wasn’t tightly swaddled, her arms and legs would shoot straight out and she’d cry like she thought she was flying apart. I wasn’t a talented baby-swaddler, so even when I did wrap her up in a blanket, she’d kick it off within a few minutes.

Until the Boppy pillow came along. Placing Kaylee in the pillow seemed to make her feel secure and cradled – and unable to kick away the blanket she was wrapped in. The pillow allowed us, finally, to set her down for a while.

Two: Bottle warmer

Rob and I tried to save a little money at first by buying a cheap bottle warmer that used hot, running water to get formula to the right temperature. We figured out our mistake the first time we used it, when Kaylee was belting out her “Feed me!!!!” cry while we struggled to find the correct water temperature – even luke warm registered as too hot – and maintain our composure at the same time. We bought a different one the next day.

Our new bottle warmer, which uses a small amount of water heated into steam, allows us to keep prepared bottles in the fridge at all times, heating them up in about three minutes when Kaylee gets hungry. No messing with mixing formula in the middle of the night, which is helpful when you’re holding a crying baby.

This is the one we bought, but I’m sure there are other good ones out there. The one down side: We now know exactly how funky our tap water is, because it leaves behind a gross brown residue in the bottom of the warmer.

Three: Infant swing

Rob’s mom bought Kaylee a swing/glider when Kaylee was two weeks old. It continues to be a wonderful fixture in our living room. It comes in most handy when Kaylee has reached her whiny, I’m-not-going-to-sleep-no-matter-what-even-though- I-can-hardly-keep-my-eyes-open stage of the day. Because no matter how hard she fights sleep, the gentle rocking of her swing can usually knock her out inside of five minutes.

Tip: Buy one that runs on batteries and plugs into the wall. That narrows your options by a lot, but at least you’ll never run out of power mid-swing.

Four: 3-in-1 travel system

We just broke down and bought one of these yesterday. It’s a car seat/carrier/stroller combo that allows you to carry the baby around in her car seat, and snap the seat into a stroller when you want to wander around Best Buy for a few minutes – or several hours, if you’re married to Rob.

I didn’t originally want a “travel system,” because I figured I could just carry the seat or put Kaylee in a smaller stroller when necessary. I also have several friends who derisively refer to these big contraptions as “SUV strollers” and complain about parents blocking store aisles with them.

But about the third time I tried to transfer a sleeping baby from a car seat into a stroller without waking her up, I realized that my friends (who don’t have children) don’t know what they’re talking about. I found myself staring with not-at-all-concealed envy at parents who were pushing their sleeping babies around the store, still snug in their car seats, while mine whined because I’d nudged her out of a nap to get her onto wheels.

But no more. As of yesterday, I can get Kaylee from the car to the video-game aisle with her dad without waking her up. And I’m more than willing to endure the sneers of the cynical to do it. They’re much easier to take than the wail of an unhappy baby.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Maybe next week, Harry

Rob and I were planning to go see the new Harry Potter movie tomorrow (we’re kind of obsessed with that series), but it’s looking like our plans are going to fall through. This is pretty disappointing, because – as all new parents know – opportunities to go out together without the baby are rare.

The last time we went anywhere without her was also to see a movie, and it was the first time in about five weeks that I’d done something FUN with an ADULT. I’d been excited about the outing for about a week before we went, but by the time we made it to the snack line, I was downright giddy. (You mean I won’t have to change a diaper, burp a baby or warm a bottle ANY TIME in the next two hours? You’re kidding. Wait, I get popcorn too? Score!)

So I get more disappointed than I used to when my grown-up plans fall through – even if those plans do involve sitting in an overcrowded theater surrounded by other people’s children, who might be wearing wizarding robes and yelling things like “wingardium leviosa!”

Maybe we can try again next week. It’s ok, though. I needed more time to work on my “accio popcorn” spell, anyway.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wimbledon, here we come

Kaylee turns two months old tomorrow, on Friday the 13th. Now that she’s getting so old, I figure it’s about time to start training her for her future career as a professional tennis player.

The main step I’ve taken so far is to dress her in a tennis skirt one time. We’ve also watched some French Open and Wimbledon matches together, and occasionally she even looked at the TV screen like she was interested. She may only have been entranced by the bright lights, but I prefer to think she was developing a strategic game plan.

I think this is a good start. She’ll be serving aces in no time. You know, after she can walk and stuff.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Do babies dream of vengeance?

It’s been a week now, and it’s getting ever so slightly easier to drop Kaylee off at daycare in the mornings. The people there genuinely seem to like her, and she doesn’t come home hungry, filthy or otherwise in need of repair. For the most part, I can now leave her there with only slight twinges of guilt.

But not today. Today was rough.

I went to work for a while first thing this morning, but then had to pick Kaylee up from daycare to take her to her two-month well-child doctor’s visit.

The first part of the appointment went fine, with the doctor telling me that she looks just perfect and healthy. Then he sent in his henchman to do the dirty work.

I knew Kaylee was due for some vaccinations today, but I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be to watch her get shots.

She was happy enough when the nurse came in, and she seemed mildly curious when he pinned her legs down. Then he gave her the first shot. The look on her little face went from surprise to confusion to pure, inconsolable anguish.

Never before have I wanted so badly to attack a health care professional. I wanted desperately to punch him in the face and tell him to STOP HURTING MY BABY. Instead, I waited impatiently while he administered three shots, cleaned the wounds and put bandages on her legs, and then I snatched her off the table and hugged her while she screamed in my ear and gave me a look that clearly said, “Why, Mommy? Why did you let that mean man hurt me????”

After the appointment, we sat in the car while she drank from a bottle and fell asleep in my arms. I very seriously considered calling it a day, taking her home and cuddling with her on the couch all afternoon.

Instead, I took her back to daycare and put her in her crib, exhausted from the traumatic morning and sticky from the Tylenol she refused to swallow. I hope she falls asleep again and spends the afternoon having dreams in which Mommy rescues her from the sadistic nurse, breaking his needles in half and chasing him, whimpering, from the room.

UPDATE: Just moments after I posted this, a woman from the daycare called to let me know that Kaylee's screaming and refusing her bottle, and they can't calm her down. It looks like I won't be getting over my daycare guilt today. Tomorrow's not looking good either.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Baby talk

A conversation between Rob and his beverage, today at lunch:

ROB: (speaking to his soda, just after sipping it through a straw) Are you going to squeak like that every time I take a drink?
SODA: ...
ROB: I just realized I’m talking to my Coke.
SODA: ...
ROB: I’ve spent so much time talking to the dogs and Kaylee lately that I’ve gotten used to talking to things that can’t talk back.
SODA: ...
ROB: This may be the first sign I'm going crazy.
SODA: ... ... ...

Monday, July 2, 2007

A big ol' mess

I’ve never had much patience with putting on makeup. I’ve never felt like I do it very well, and given the choice between spending 15 minutes putting on makeup in the morning and spending an extra 15 minutes sleeping, I’ll choose sleeping every time. It’s a good thing, too, because if I were wearing makeup today, it would be a mess.

Rob and I dropped Kaylee off at daycare for the first time this morning, and I’ve had a hard time keeping my composure ever since.

When I woke up this morning, I thought I just might get through the day without crying. I could feel myself slipping right back into the getting-ready-for-work routine, and I was excited to see my coworkers again, even if I wasn’t so excited to return to doing the actual work. I was still ok when we arrived at the daycare, and even when we laid Kaylee down in her assigned crib.

But when it was time to leave, well, that was a different story. I could barely talk enough to say goodbye to the daycare staff, and I cried most of the way to work. And when my boss asked me how it went this morning, the tears started up again.

The daycare staff encouraged me to call and check on her during the day to make myself feel better, but I’m not sure I will. I’m pretty sure I’ll get as far as “Hi, I’m Kaylee’s mom and ...” before I become sobby and incoherent.

I’m now worried that daycare really will cause lasting psychological scars – but not for the baby.

I know this will get easier, we’ll develop a routine, and in a few weeks I’ll be perfectly fine again. But today, I just want my baby.