A Friday for Remebering.

Babystar and I are out of town this week for a funeral. It’s not the sad kind, except that all funerals are sad. My Uncle Frank lived to be 91 years old and was in good spirits but also in pain when I saw him last year. In fact, the wake was a little too serious this afternoon because the man who would make everyone laugh was lying in the casket instead of telling stories, joking with the adults, and lovingly teasing the children.


This guy.

I had this lighthearted learning-to-count post scheduled for tomorrow, but instead I am in a hotel room with my sleeping toddler in a town full of memories and so instead here is this.
(Turning forty and then a family funeral is making me soft. We will return to our regularly scheduled sarcasm shortly.)

So. Me. Nostalgia. 

I was a Teen Mom before it was capitalized. I had my first child at the so very young age of nineteen. This was 1996; MTV still played music videos and books still had paper.
There was no Teen Mom television show; there was no 16 and Pregnant. There was no Facebook, no Instagram, and no Twitter.

There. Was. No. Internet. Can you imagine? We still spelled out all of our words. OMGLOL.
Ok, there was a tiny bit of internet. We had America Online and we paid by the minute and the chat rooms were (mostly) full of creepy old men. Computer games were on floppy disks. We still addressed our emails like old-fashioned letters.

There were no DVRs. My son (and later daughter, born in 1999) watched Blue’s Clues on VHS cassettes like every other child of the Nineties. (Babystar watches Blue’s Clues on my phone in Target if she hasn’t had a nap.)

As regular readers know, just as my two children of the LAST MILLENNIUM were headed off to college, I had a brand new baby in 2015.

Back in 1996, the doctors would have called mine a Geriatric Pregnancy. In 2015, it was no biggie. I was an Old Mom, but so was everyone else.

(Um, who coined geriatric pregnancy? Because that person is clearly an asshole who has never met a pregnant woman.)

Raising babies in the 1990s and raising babies now is mostly the same but also ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

We still need to take care of the babies in utero.

I remember the excitement of the sonograms in the 1990s. We had one grainy black and white sonogram at the beginning of the pregnancy to check out the heartbeat and then one later on in the pregnancy to check the fetal progression (and usually find out the sex!). They were very exciting and you got a nice snapshot of a blurry black and white semicircle so you could try to figure out which side was the head.

In 2015, I had SO MANY SONOGRAMS. It felt like they lasted for hours. They were definite twenty to thirty minute ordeals. I remember wishing them over so I could go pee. The technicians checked out every little tiny part of baby in utero, which is AMAZING. Science is amazing! But it also took forever (to me), as I was expecting a quick slimy belly time and ‘ok there’s a baby cool beans’ and then boom, done.

We still need to birth the babies. 


Back in the nineties, my labor was induced with my first two babies because they both went past their due dates. My son was only five days past his due date (and it was a first pregnancy!) when the doctor insisted I head to the hospital for induction. He called me high risk solely because of my age and my poor little baby boy was born jaundiced after over twenty-four hours of labor — including over two hours of active pushing. After he was born, the doctor reached his arm into my body to pull out the baby’s placenta. (Yes, you read that right and it hurt more than the actual birth. Also, I’m sorry for that godawful visual but I LIVED it.) The nurses weighed and measured and bathed and swaddled my son before finally handing him to his father (not me) and I had no idea that there was any other way to do this childbirth thing.

I went to a different doctor when pregnant with my second child. My daughter was induced at ten days past her due date, but other than that the labor was easy. I’m sure it was just luck, because ideas had not changed much in two years and I still had never even heard the term ‘Birth Plan’.

Thankfully, we know much more about childbirth now. I think both the medical professionals AND the parents are much more informed. My doctor and I agreed from the beginning that we would not force baby to come before she was ready. I have heard from friends (and strangers on the internet) that babies are not even really considered late until two weeks past their due date. My placenta was delivered by the doctor. My baby was placed on my body as soon as humanely possible (she had an issue but it was resolved in minutes) and we had skin to skin contact, which we now know is as important for parent-to-baby microbe transmission as it is for parental bonding.

I have read that some parents are choosing to delay the cutting of the cord for a few minutes to help baby transition earth-side. I know that a lot of people are choosing midwives and doulas and home births. I love that there is a conversation between parents and the medical professionals. I love that we now know more about our options and have choices and voices as parents.

We still have to feed the babies.


In 1996, I took my jaundiced son home and a nurse came with us to set him up in what we lovingly called ‘his nightclub’. He had to spend almost every minute under ultraviolet lights with his eyes completely covered and the rest of his body completely naked. We were told to take him out every two hours to baste him. (Just kidding. We had to feed him and clean him and clean the dishtowel lined baking pan in which he laid. Lay? Lie? You know what I mean.) The nurse helped me with breastfeeding but also brought us ready made bottles of Similac from the hospital and encouraged supplementing ‘so mama could get some sleep’.

His bilirubin count came down and he was out from under the lights within a week, but the resulting nipple confusion from the bottles that we were encouraged to feed him made breastfeeding difficult. I know that NOW. I did not understand what was going on back then, so I kept offering the bottle when he had a difficult time at the breast. No one told me to stop.

I was much more successful nursing my second child, but again, I think it was luck. 

With my last little sweetheart, I was inundated with the benefits of breastfeeding before baby was even born. I had a Feeding Plan in place while still pregnant. The nurses at the hospital all checked to make sure baby was latching well, and even kept the baby in the room so I could feed her every two hours (or more) from the moment she was born. I took a breastfeeding class before leaving the hospital, where I asked about pumping so others could feed the baby while I slept. The woman teaching the class told me that was a horrible idea and if I wanted her to, she would be happy to speak with my husband to make sure that he didn’t feel like he had to ‘have a turn’ feeding the baby. (Um, I was just wondering if I would ever sleep again, but the message was definitely received. Hard no.)

About six weeks in, my sweet little baby started having screaming fits at night for over an hour. My firstborn did the exact same in thing 1996: the doctor called it ‘colic’, and it lasted for almost a year. In 2015, the pediatrician put ME on an elimination diet to see if something I was eating was affecting the baby. The baby was indeed sensitive to dairy via my breastmilk for almost the first year of her life. I now think that my poor baby boy had the same issue twenty years ago, but the doctors didn’t know to even try removing dairy from his diet.

Per the doctor’s recommendation, I started my firstborn on cereal at four months and he was eating jars of Beechnut by six months. Twenty years later, I read for hours the benefits of Baby-Led Weaning versus purees. I decided to feed this baby purees because she had no teeth by the time she seemed interested in food at seven months old. I made all of her pureed baby food myself to avoid preservatives and whatever other scary chemicals are in ready made baby food. I know IN MY HEAD that ready made baby food is fine and certainly more healthy that it was twenty years ago but the information overload really got to me so I felt like I had to make all of her food in order to be a good mother. The mommy guilt is strong these days.

We still need to raise the babies.

The internet is a wonderful and terrible thing. I love reading Mommy Blogs and being a part of parenting groups on Facebook. I can now get advice from literally hundreds of people within minutes. Twenty years ago, we had a handful of baby books and our friends and family to turn to for answers. Your friends and family generally won’t tell you the worst case scenario every time, but you can ALWAYS find that on the internet. Dr. Google is terrifying, irresistible, and always available at 2am when that last thing you need to do is freak out over your child’s symptom that is probably fine but might kill them immediately. My 21st century baby often had pretty severe dyschromia, which is like marbled skin tone, as an infant. The internet told me that it was totally normal except sometimes. She might be fine or she might need emergency medical treatment. Of course I called her doctor in the middle of the night who told me to get offline immediately and that I would not be able to miss it if my baby became limp and needed to go to the ER. I have tried with mixed success to stop searching baby’s symptoms, at least when the sun is down.

My firstborn’s first birthday party was a few friends and family bringing gifts and eating a cake that I made from a boxed mix and decorated myself. The cake was kind of ugly but no one really cared and I barely even noticed. Including sodas and paper plates and napkins, I probably spent $50.

Today I would post that cake on Instagram with the hashtag #PinterestFail.

Thanks to Pinterest, (and also thanks to having a much older sister that loves Pinterest), my millennial baby’s first birthday party was gorgeous and themed and crafty and we all drank out of mason jars and the entire house was decorated and we spent HOURS on DIY crafts and STILL spent $500. I love Pinterest but I also kind of despise Pinterest.


I totally let the 90s babies drink soda, but only Sprite because it didn’t have caffeine. I can count on my fingers the number of times my two-year-old has had juice. JUICE. She had never had soda. Maybe when she’s eighteen.

I remember telling my two older kids how big they were on their first birthdays and turning their car seats around so they could see the world. I will rear-face this toddler until she can convince me, via Powerpoint, why she is old enough to forward-face.

I dressed my first two babies in baby clothes. Baby clothes with Winnie-the-Pooh or ladybugs or dinosaurs or cutesy flowers or some other type of childish motif. My 2015 baby wears rock band tees and handmade pants made from organic cotton and purchased from an independent shop on Etsy. (And Cat and Jack from Target because we are basic/AWESOME like that.)


In the nineties, we worried about how much tv to let the kids watch. Now we have to decide if the toddler can play with our phones, our tablets, our laptops. I personally do not let my toddler play games on my phone or iPad but I GET WHY PEOPLE DO. I totally love that she can video chat with her grandparents and other relatives that live far away. It makes everyone seem closer. That helps, this week. And all the time. But also this week.

I used to print out photos from actual cameras that used actual film and send them with Christmas cards to our far away relatives. Now I can send pictures via text or email or social media. The extended family definitely feels more close. Babystar met a lot of new (to her) cousins this week so I suspect the FaceTime will be flowing. Are we the Jetsons? I think maybe we are, so why doesn’t my car fly?

I also FREAKING ADORE that today my phone is also a camera. AND it records videos! Twenty years ago a video recorder was at least the size of a tennis shoe and maybe the size of a pair of heavy boots. I have a few albums of baby pictures of my first two children, and a few videos from Christmases or school plays. I have literally over ten thousand pictures and hundreds of videos of Babystar already.

And I took a few of her playing with her new cousin-friends at the wake today. 


What is it going to be like raising a teenager in another fifteen years? Will we have self-driving cars by then? Please tell me we will have self-driving cars by then.

xoxo 

A Kitten and a Goose.

We have a new member of the family. Meet Tillie.

Yes, we have a kitten. I already love her but what the hell was I thinking!?

Tillie moved in just four days before all of the parties and the people and the everything and I think I was sleep-deprived and my omg-cute-kitty brain overruled my logical brain and now we have a kitten. I’m not sure how much I can blame Babystar. The oldest two kids have been begging for a kitten for YEARS. The husband has wanted more cats since our previous super awesome sibling cats passed away within a week of each other very early in my pregnancy. Well, ever since he got over their passing. They were really cool cats, and he already had them when we met. (RIP Lando and Possum.)

We live very close to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and we often stop in during our walks to say hello to the animals. And apparently it is Kitten Season. Babystar always liked the animals, but on the visit in question, she fell in HEAD OVER HEELS LOVE with a particular kitten. He was gray and white and his name was Frankenstein and he had a sister that was also available for adoption. She sat in front of his cage and talked to him and played with him for so long that I decided to adopt them both. When I asked about them, I found out that a couple was literally filling out the paperwork at that very moment to adopt them both. I saw them; they looked nice. Case closed, right?

Nope.

I made the mistake of texting pictures of Babystar and kitten to the fam. Whoops. The Teenager was up, showered, and at the park to meet us and plead her Kitten Case within the hour. So we stopped in again on the way home from the park for no reason other than to see if Babystar went to the same kitten.

Of course she did.


But Frankenstein already had a family, as I explained once to the ToddlerMonster and about fifty times to the TeenageMonster.

And then we met Tillie. She was in the cage next to Frankenstein, and her name was actually Lily. There were two identical cats listed on the picture, named Lily and Millie. But only one kitten was inside.

Someone had just adopted Millie and left Lily behind.

So of course we decided that the ToddlerMonster would make a fine kitty-sister for her, and we immediately adopted Lily and changed her name to Tillie. (Well, actually they were about to close so it was the next day right when the AWLA opened but immediately sounds so much better.)

Babystar was choosing a collar and toys for her and then running to show her (!!!) while I filled out the paperwork. It was adorable. And they really are like siblings. They fight over toys and attention and already love to play with each other.


But the kitten isn’t on Babystar’s tab. It was time for more cats. Or cat, singular, in this case. If anything, Babystar is the reason we didn’t get two.

Oh, and the Goose. We checked out a few story books at the library recently, and Babystar became enamored with one of them. Goose, by Laura Wall. She asked to read this book over and over and over and she can now ‘read’ it herself. I highly recommend this book, and we bought her a copy from Amazon for $7.20 (it’s still on sale!).


(No, that is not an affiliate link. I need to learn how to do that next-level blogging stuff. It’s just there because it is a cool book. If you buy it and you like it, feel free to mail me a quarter or whatever. Just kidding but for real could someone teach me how to make money blogging?)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,657.41

 

Two the Moon.

Babystar turned two last week. She had been steadily transforming into the ToddlerMonster for the last few months.

She grew several inches and goes down the big slides at the park all by herself.

She has learned cool new tricks like jumping with both feet and manipulating her world into providing her with chocolate.

She can string words together to make sentences. She says things like ‘Where my pink shoes go?’ and ‘I want more blue chocolates.’

She can count to ten. Sort of. She starts at four. And she ends at BLASTOFF. 4-5-6-7-8-9-BLASTOFF.

She picks out her own clothes, and rarely chooses pants. Or she chooses only pants. And her sock game is extremely creative.

She has SO. MANY. OPINIONS. It is really cool to watch her brain develop and it is also extremely annoying.

We celebrated with a birthday party at one of her favorite places — Nook. She did not seem to care at all about the party room with decorated tables and pizza and cake. She was very excited that so many of her friends and family were playing with her at Nook. She kept telling me ‘Everybody play!’

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Party cost breakdown:

  • Weekday party fee at Nook (with member discount) $200
  • Pizza (from next door at Angelico Pizzeria with tip) $120
  • Cake (Harris Teeter) $48.55
  • Star cookies (Trader Joe’s) $5.98
  • Kool-aid Bursts (to make rockets) $4
  • Cardstock (to make rockets) $1.96
  • Plastic cups for snack display table $2.50
  • Astronaut helmets (3) $14.94
  • Space themed rubber duckies (24) $12.98
  • Space themed dinner and dessert plates $27.48
  • Space themed dinner and dessert napkins $17.92
  • Solar system snack display stand $8.99
  • Star table covers (3) $10.50
  • Hanging planets $6.49
  • Gold plastic forks $4.99

We also had a fruit bowl and veggie tray and a variety of drinks, but these were purchased by my generous in-laws, along with all of the graduation party food for the following day. Yep, I had two parties in a row. Thankfully, only one of them was at the house.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $18,586.41

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby’s First Pedicure.

I was well into my twenties before I ever had a pedicure. I mean, I painted my toenails myself of course, but the whole pay-someone-to-rub-my-feet thing came late for me. I guess I was sheltered. (Or more like broke.)

Pedicures are now one of my favorite things in life; Babystar always notices my ‘pretty toes’ and they are usually painted blue.

My oldest daughter was seven when she had her first pedicure. She was at the beauty salon with me and my friends while we were getting ready for my wedding, and she got a mini-pedicure and clear polish.

Because there is a giant age gap between my children, Babystar is along for the ride on a lot of big girl adventures. In the tradition of tagging along for special occasions, Babystar came with me and her big sister to get pedicures last Thursday. Big Sister had prom on Friday.

She sat on my lap during our pedicures and played with the buttons on the massage remote, making some very interesting patterns on my back. The lovely lady that always does my pedicures gave Babystar a little leg lotion and Babystar was fascinated. Which is super weird, because my wiggly toddler usually cannot stand for me to put any type of lotion (or SUNSCREEN) on her little body. She was so excited and proud to be with us, so when she said ‘I blue toes too,’ I agreed. My sweet little still-one-year-old baby held so still while getting her toenails painted blue. And she is so very proud to show everyone her blue toes like mama.


What do you think? Too young? Or ok since it was for a special occasion? Or totally fine and no special occasion needed? My little monster loves snakes and bugs and pretty dresses and stars and rocks and dinosaurs and ponies. But she mostly loves whatever Big Sister and Mama are doing.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $17.018.12

Elephants and Turtles and Snakes and Turtles and Turtles.

Just the other day, Babystar and I took an impromptu trip to the zoo. The weather was perfect and the Toddler REFUSED to get dressed to go to whatever class we were planning to attend that morning. (I am 99% sure it was a baby dance class because we have been trying to go to that at Nook but so far have literally never made it.)

She only wanted to read books in her pajamas. When we came to a book with a zoo (Peek-a-Who by Nina Laden), I asked her if she wanted to go to the zoo instead. She ran to put her shoes on right away. (I explained about getting dressed and she went along with my suggestion begrudgingly.)

I have been to the zoo many times but never with just a Toddler. I let Babystar direct our traffic and it was the best day. We spent more time than you would think watching a waterfall, we skipped some of the more popular attractions, and we watched one of the elephants eat an ENTIRE pile of hay. Babystar hissed some Parseltongue at her snake friends whom she ADORES. And we spent a very long time hanging out at the lemur exhibit, though we did not see a single lemur. There were about a million turtles swimming in the water surrounding the lemur mountain and Babystar waved to all of them. Individually.


I learned about a lot of good ‘stop for snack’ spot that I might otherwise have not noticed.


I highly recommend this exercise if you have the time and a spare toddler.

I packed lots of water and snacks so we didn’t spend a penny, but that is because we are FONZ which is a fancy way to say ‘zoo members’ in the DC area. $80 per year gives us a few cool perks but we bought it mostly for the free parking. Which we bought last fall when Babystar started learning about animals. And I forgot to add it back then, so I’ll add it now.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,291.37