10.31.2004

Trick or Treating with the Animals

A and I are not big Halloween fans. We love the candy, but we've never been really into the dressing up part. This year, we were so excited to buy Buddy Boo's first Halloween costume that we bought it in late August after hearing all of the good costumes for babies and kids sell out quickly. (The costume we bought Buddy Boo did indeed sell out mid-September. Who knew?).

We decided that traipsing through our neighborhood with a 5 month old all dressed up but unable to walk, talk, or even hold a candy bag for very long (not to mention sporadically needing a diaper change or feeding) wasn't the best idea. So we headed to the zoo, where there was a scavenger hunt for kids and kiddie activities along the way.

This proved to be a fun Halloween adventure for both Buddy Boo and us. It was like venturing into a whole new world for us, filled with overwhelmed parents, beaming but not-too-helpful grandparents, confused infants, screaming/awkwardly running toddlers, competitive kids and bored teens. Families of all sizes were everywhere - to the left, to the right, or blocking our way as we tried to get to the next scavenger hunt stop. They were all dressed up and checking out each other's Halloween costumes. Buddy Boo's costume turned many heads and fished many a compliment, and we realized as we were there how appropriate his outfit was for the venue: a fish costume in the zoo.

Buddy Boo's first Halloween adventure was also his first trip to the zoo as well. We were so excited to show him all of the animals. We saw monkeys, polar bears, elephants, orangutans, tigers, fish. Halfway through, we gave up on the scavenger hunt and just focused on the animals. Buddy Boo was fascinated by the orangutan.

Afterward we headed to see some friends as Buddy Boo fell asleep in the car, tuckered out from the day's adventure. A and I talked about how holidays are so different now. With Buddy Boo in our lives, holidays not only hold more meaning, they now offer a newness that sparks more anticipation, more excitement as we prepare to celebrate them as a newly expanded family. Being a mom rocks!

10.30.2004

It's all about routine

Buddy Boo is a great, easygoing baby. Much of that is because we've become accustomed to what makes him fussy and what keeps him happy. We like to try to stick with doing what makes him happy. :)

What makes him happy the most is what makes most babies happy: routine. His bedtime routine being the most important of all.

Most of our friends know by now not to call us between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Why? Because that is the sacred nighttime routine time. If we venture off this routine in any way, a good night's sleep could be lost.

This is generally how it goes:
5:45 - 6:15 Nurse Buddy Boo while A gets dinner
6:15-6:30/6:45 Eat dinner and feed Boo rice cereal
6:45 - 7:15 Either give Boo bath and get him ready for bed or just get him ready for bed (change diaper/change clothes/dispense reflux meds/eczema treatment/turn on waves CD/turn on night light/etc)
7:15 - 7:45 Boo gets one last light snack (sometimes)/rock slightly/recite GHMILY book one, two or three times
7:45-8:00 Boo drifts off to sleep, we tiptoe out to have some wine

If we vary from this routine, if the phone rings, if damn political canvassers (sorry M & D) show up at our door during this time, we could very easily be doomed. We'll go out to eat with him once in a while during this time period, but as long as we follow the routine and start it before he gets sleepy, we're good to go. Now, we have ventured from this routine and survived the night quite well, but we'd rather not chance it. It took us a while to figure out what routine worked for Boo, so we're not going to throw away all that hard work (and crying-filled nights - both him and us) for minor reasons.

I can't imagine how this routine will be pushed even earlier as he gets older and starts to sleep earlier, but I imagine we'll go with the flow and adjust as needed. It's what we do. We're parents. Sometimes the phrase seems so foreign, as if it shouldn't describe us, but it does.

So odd how babies are just like most adults - we too often feel safe when we have routines. We take the same route to work each day. We get ready in the morning in the same order. We stop by the same coffee shop for our morning coffee before work. We workout at the same time of the day (well, those of you that do workout).

Routines help Buddy Boo feel safe, and thus happy. And we'll do everything we can to make sure he is both.

10.28.2004

WOHM, WAHM, SAHM: Why Can't We Just Be "M"s?

I don't want to debate the pros and cons of stay-at-home-moms versus work-out-of-the-home-moms versus work-at-home-moms. I really don't see the value in that debate. What works for you, won't work for me, and vice versa.

What's on my mind today is simply the dilemmas we all face as moms in making our decisions. I, for one, have always believed I would be a WOHM. There was no question in my mind. Even after Buddy Boo was born, even as we bonded from that very moment he was placed on my chest, even as I watched him grow and develop in absolute amazement during my maternity leave and as I grew as a person more in that short period of time than I've grown in all my years. I knew, I wanted to continue working. I had to. I didn't know how not to work.

Then the doubt began creeping in. How can I work and take care of my baby? How on earth can I deal with sending him to daycare? How can I schedule in at least three pumping sessions at work when I rarely am able to schedule in breakfast or lunch? How can I schedule in two feedings in the morning, get his bottles ready, make sure he has enough diapers, wipes and burp cloths for the day, make sure all of my pump parts were ready to go for the day, and get myself ready too?

Then the guilt. I'm allowing strangers to raise my child. I'm not going to be able to pump enough milk after returning to work and will have to (gasp) supplement with formula. I'm going to miss his most precious developmental moments. (All guilt I have let go of now, by the way).

So yes, eventually, there were times -many times- when suddenly I found myself wondering what the hell I was doing going back to work. Could we live with me as a SAHM? Could I live with myself as a SAHM?

Pre-Boo, I worked my share of 60, even 70 hour weeks. Now I no longer work more than 40/45 hours per week. I just can't do it. I won't. I'm lucky in that the majority of my work involves writing, which I can do from home. But do I want to continue, or is it time for something new?

So back to the WAHM, WOHM, SAHM deal. I have a GREAT respect for SAHMs. I don't know how you do it. Because that comes with its own challenges, not just financially for some, but mentally, physically and emotionally for all SAHMs I know. Some people have this idyllic image of what it is like to be a SAHM, and perhaps it is those folks who have more trouble once the reality of staying home really kicks in. Those who have a more realistic picture of what it means to stay at home seem to have a better time dealing with its challenges, and enjoying its rewards. WAHMs almost have the best and the worst of both worlds, from what I've heard. WOHMs, I know we're all just trying to keep our heads above water. We have awesome days where we feel organized like we're Super Mom, and then we have days when we can't believe we actually have clean, matching socks on and managed to vacuum the floors even once in the last month. (Note to all: the best advice every mom has given me is to accept the fact that you have to let the housework go. It's ok. And I've come to realize, it really is ok. Dirty dishes are less important than time with my son). And single moms - good Lord! How I have great respect and admiration for you single moms out there. Single moms are all Super Moms in my eyes. I seriously bow down to your amazing abilities. If awards were to be given out, I would personally give them out to every single mom out there.

We're all Moms. Whether I eventually decide to work in a job that is less demanding with less hours, or whether I eventually decide to stay home and start my own business, or whether I decide someday to take a break from my career and stay at home, I know it will be a decision that will benefit my family. Because it will be a decision I believe in, and stand behind, and will make me happy. My son needs me to be happy with my place in life, so I can set a good example for him, and so he senses happiness in me and my husband.

WAHM, SAHM, WOHM - I say Bravo to you all. Bond together and end the debates. You are all heroes in my eyes. Now if only the decision were easy to make...

10.27.2004

Formula Does Not Equal Bad Mama

So my son is getting one bottle of formula each day now in addition to breastmilk. The Bad Mama Police haven't come to get me. My son is doing just fine with the formula supplementation.

For months I agonized over the day formula would enter our lives. The Bad Mama guilt trip would plague me. All of the exclusively breastfeeding moms would shake their fingers at me and point out all of the benefits of exclusively breastfeeding until my baby is driving. My son would miss a point on his SATs and would blame me for introducing formula at age 5 months.

Bullshit. I exclusively breastfed Buddy Boo until he was five months old, which, for me at least, is a huge accomplishment. I've gone through way too much stress and (recently) pain to mention of late when it comes to breastfeeding, and it's time to ease up on the nursing and pumping. I was lucky. Many women can't breastfeed exclusively for that many months, can't breastfeed exclusively, or can't breastfeed at all. These women are still the best moms in the world. They still love their sons and daughters with all their heart. They don't deserve the guilt trip that society can place on them, and they certainly don't deserve ANY guilt trips from other moms. And I've come to realize, I don't deserve the guilt trips either.

We are all moms who love our children. None of us know what we are doing when we begin, but we love every moment of figuring it out and we are all doing the best we can.

I'm done feeling guilty. I hope you are too.

10.25.2004

Airplanes, Hotels and Formula...Oh My

New York City is without a doubt the most invigorating city in the world. The whirl of the cabs, the deli guys yelling to the delivery guys across 7th Avenue, the pick-up-your-pace foot traffic forcing you to play Frogger on city sidewalks. It's the lights, the skyscrapers, the people. It's the city people love to write about that makes it difficult to write anything new. It's this marvelous madhouse of Manhattan that we decided would be the perfect destination for Buddy Boo's first big travel adventure. .

4 am Saturday we woke up and started getting ready for our trip. (Truth be told, we started getting ready mentally three months ago - online research, posting questions on message boards, gathering advice from travel-savvy moms; we started packing Wednesday night). Boo knew something was up. He was very excited the night before. Little Bro picked us up - on time, I might add, Bravo! - and we loaded up the minivan with two suitcases, Boo's carseat, Boo's new lightweight stroller, a tightly packed hiking backpack/diaper bag, and my laptop. We got to the airport at just the right time. There was one guy checking in at the e-ticket booth alongside us, but after we checked our luggage (both suitcases could have been carry-ons, but with only four hands between A and I, we thought it best to check the luggage), we turned around to see a nice long line forming. Good timing indeed.

Boo's new stroller is very cool. It's a red (why are most boys' items an ugly navy blue? so boring) Combi Savvy Soho. So compact, I actually love to fold it up and carry it just for fun. Just because I can. The Graco we have is awesome, but the new stroller will take him well into the toddler years and is easy to maneuver through crowded city sidewalks. It also has a great bag underneath, side pockets on top for a cell phone and change, another back flap pocket for extra pacifiers, burp cloths, etc, and a built in stereo system if we wanted to pipe in Muppet music to enhance his ride.

Checking in was no problem. So easy, I think, because we were prepared for the worst. We took stuff off and put it back on as we went through the security screenings almost as if we had done so a million times. We expected the worst so it felt great. Waiting for boarding, Boo got hungry. Breastfeeding session in public #1 was in terminal D-1. No problem, no hassles.

We boarded early, which was heaven. My husband, A, installed the carseat near the window and I sat in the middle for easy feeding. Boo was in sensory overload - the buzz of the engines, the constant chatter around him, the faces and bodies zipping back and forth, the new smells of airplane air, forthcoming breakfast, and a hundred individual body scents. He was so excited on this trip. He made a few of friends on the plane: smiley lady across the aisle, seasoned NY woman in front of us, the flight attendant who kept cooing at him while I was breastfeeding. He slept at the right times, laughed when it was playtime and only fussed a little bit when he was getting sleepy and didn't want to miss all of the excitement. He was the perfect little traveler.

Deplaning, getting our luggage, catching a taxi - everything went smootly on our way from Newark to Manhattan. A installed the car seat easily into the taxi and off we went. I highly recommend flying into Newark - so much easier than dealing with the madness of JFK (flying out is another story...). It also helped that we booked a direct flight. For all the moms wondering which seats they should book when traveling with babies (front, back, bulkhead), in my opinion, it really doesn't matter. Just make sure you book a separate seat for your little one - we had more room to change him, feed him, a separate place for him to sleep - it makes a huge difference. But that's just my opinion.

Boo fell asleep during the cab ride to the hotel. Once we got there, he was ready to take in the city.

What a great city to explore with a baby. He loved all of the walking we did - to Central Park (twice) and all through Midtown. I understand why New Yorkers are so proud of Central Park. It is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. It is where the families really live. As we pushed his stroller up and down the paths, Boo started mumbling so he could hear his voice vibrate - cheap entertainment! We also passed by stroller after stroller, double strollers, rollerbladers, joggers, kids playing on the huge rock formations, couples having a picnic lunch, big well groomed dogs and small yappers. And of course the tourists (can you take our picture? Sure, can you take ours?). I love, love, love Central Park. And E did too. We never did find the zoo in the park, but he'll probably appreciate it more on his next trip there anyway.

We stayed between 6th and 7th avenues and 53rd and 54th street - it was perfect. We walked to all of the main television stations (you can take the girl and the boy out of television, but you can't take television out of our blood). We saw Ann Curie and Al Roker on the Today Show plaza (A kept jokingly saying "kiss my baby!"). We saw Greg Gumbel as he prepared to go live for Sunday's CBS Sports show. We went shopping on 6th, ate at diners on 7th, and Boo slept through the multi-sensory adventure of walking through Times Square.

During this trip, there were a few times Boo had to be fed while I tended to some business. The first time, I left Donald Trump's presentation early so I could nurse my son ("You're such a good mom," I was told by a fellow PR person to my left. Read: "Are you crazy? This is The Donald speaking!"). A tried to give Boo formula (Enfamil) and apparently Boo would have none of it. I panicked: we had to eventually give him formula. My supply went down after returning to work and even with pumping every moment I could, I knew that eventually a bottle of formula would be needed. I brought the hand pump on the trip, but after using the mega electric monster four times a day, no hand pump could work as efficiently. So we headed to three different stores and finally found some other formula.

The second time I had an evening event (praying he would take the formula - mama was really looking forward to a glass or two of wine). Boo took the new formula (Similac) much better. Hooray!

The third time formula came into my son’s life was when A and I both had to attend a celebration dinner. Our dear pal J agreed to babysit, bless her heart. Now this was on our third day and Boo was getting a bit fussy. He has also started to become weary of people other than us holding him. So we were nervous for J. We tried to have everything set as best we could, and just prayed he wouldn’t scream the whole time and not take his formula. Well, poor J. He took his formula, but didn’t seem to want to be the happy, calm baby he normally is for us, for her. He was in a new place without his parents with new people. We feel terrible. We know he wasn’t as terrible as he could have been, but it’s still hard. We are ever SO thankful though (gift is in the mail, J!). While J was babysitting, A and I had a fabulous, luscious dinner at Gramercy Tavern. Our group had a private room, wonderful cocktails, wine, a succulent lobster appetizer, perfect salmon entrĂ©e and some magical sort of peanut and chocolate parfait dessert. It was grown-up heaven. We hadn’t eaten out at a truly magnificent restaurant without our son. We'll take him anywhere, but sometimes it's just nice to have grown-up time.

New York City is a great place for kids. No, we didn’t go to any Broadway shows. We didn’t eat at Nobu or Le Cirque with him or go anyplace with him that required me to actually think about what I was wearing (i.e. shirts that could hide spit-up). We didn’t hit the clubs at night and we didn’t use public transportation that much. We did enjoy exploring the city on foot and found a lot of family friendly restaurants, shops and attractions.

Here’s the thing: you have to move fast. We, as tourists, were completely appalled and annoyed by other tourists and slow New Yorkers (yes, we’ve come to realize there are a few) who would dawdle down the sidewalks, stop to look around immediately as they stepped onto a curb, and those that seemed to do the stop-and-start constantly. If you know how to walk and take everything in without the stop-and-start, without the dawdling, then everything is great. It was invigorating to be in a real walking city again. They say our hometown is, but nobody lives downtown, and very few people I know take the bus on a regular basis. We love our cars. Especially with a little one. It was so nice to be able to zoom about the city on two feet (plus four stroller wheels).

We know our son won't remember this trip. We'll have pictures, but we think he enjoyed it as much as a baby could. We want to expose him to as many experiences, cultures, foods, places as possible. We want him to see the world. We want him to be happy and healthy and to live a life that is well-lived. And we love that we are here to help him to do that.

Traveling with a baby is the best. It opened our eyes to a New York we had never seen. It made traveling so much more fun and adventurous than it normally is, and we never even knew that was possible. If you have a baby and are hesitant to travel - just do it. The drawbacks are very few; the rewards -for you and baby- are plenty.

10.07.2004

Love

I love, love, love, love, love my son. So much. It amazes me how much I love him. I love to watch A interact with Buddy Boo, because I can see just how much he loves, loves, loves, loves, loves him too.

We also love to talk about how much we love him. We talk about it a lot. I mean, a lot. I don't think it will ever cease to amaze each of us how much love we feel for our son. Sometimes it just hits us. Bam! There it is. More love than we ever thought possible. More love than we ever thought we were capable of. More love, more love, more love.

This is what life is about, baby.

This is what unconditional love is about.

I love my son. I love him!!!!! (giggle giggle)