Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An Affair to Record

I think it's quite common for new parents to have a love affair with their DVRs.  No longer able to go out and explore the world like you used to, you instead squirrel away at home curled up with your baby and Tivo'd episodes of trashy reality shows. Late night rendezvous with back-episodes of The Following.

My love affair started very early on. I had a tough time breastfeeding. The first couple weeks were especially brutal. The relationship and magical bonding I had imagined would happen between my daughter and I were replaced by my relationship with my pump, breasts pushed up again my desk (to hold the pumps in place) leaving my hands free to click the mouse and forward to the next episode of True Blood.

People can tell you that breastfeeding is hard, but it's one of those things you have to experience for yourself before you can truly understand. The way I handled my seesawing emotions was to try and block out the fact that my husband was getting all the bottle cuddle time with our daughter and I was left alone pumping for their next bonding experience. I spent more time with my pump than my daughter those first few weeks. Rather than cry my eyes out about it I tried bonding with vampires in Bon Temps instead to cope with the rejection.

Parenting books will tell you it helps to look at pictures of your baby to help your milk let down. That never did it for me. I needed to focus on something else. I couldn't get enough of The Newsroom. I almost looked forward to our time together  - late nights, sitting in the dark, the flicker of the screen, headphones in. I pumped and got swept up in Alan Sorkin's grandiose idealized journalism. I was sad when I got to the end of the season.

Maybe it's the age we live in, but even once my daughter and I got the whole breastfeeding thing figured out - I never liked to sit in a room alone, staring into each other's eyes. Don't get me wrong. I find those moments with her incredible. Nothing is better than knowing you can soothe your child. Having my baby cuddled up close to me. Her little hand always reaching out and for some unknown reason poking at my armpit. I love those moments. But I also liked catching up on TV that there is no way I would ever get to focus on if she was fully awake. Just me, Em and The Carrie Diaries.

Thank God for DVR. Without it I'd be stuck watching infomercials like Pretty Women - not to be confused with Pretty Woman the film - Pretty Women is a skin care line Cindy Crawford hawks at 3am. It airs every night along side Hip Hop Abs.

Then our DVR started to have a meltdown. Maybe I was asking too much of it. Maybe I was too clingy. My husband and I would look forward to those moments when the baby went to sleep and we could curl up with individual cups of Ben & Jerry's and catch up on How I Met Your Mother. But the DVR was no longer interested. Instead, it would crash. Freeze up. We tried a fresh start - a reboot of our relationship, just to find us stuck in the same place over and over again.

Finally enough was enough. We called DirecTV and ended it. Well, we had them come out and replace it for a newer, sexier model. And oh how sexy it is. Sleek, button less front panel with environmentally friendly sleep mode after four hours of non-use. (Meaning no bright colorful buttons to entice tiny hands.) Of course ending our old relationship meant giving up all we'd been through together. Including years of old recordings, such as Smallville's final series episode and old movies randomly recorded off TCM never to be watched.

Yet, I must admit there is something liberating about starting fresh. With a brand new empty hard drive we can start a new love affair. Free of baggage and full of promising recordings in our future.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

First Tastes

One of the best things about being a parent is getting to see a person do something for the very first time. Something as simple as clapping can fill your heart with such awe it's like watching someone walk on the moon. And you get to experience that amazing feeling over and over again. And then there is mealtime. Each flavor is a completely new experience and sometimes it's not one they like so much. This video captures the moment kids try new foods for the first time - in slow-mo. It's awesome to watch the though process on their little faces.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Good Morning

Every morning on my way into the office I walk by the receptionist for the company next door. Usually as I round the corner she looks up, notices it's me and looks back down at her computer. It's not that she isn't friendly. I think of it more as there was this window of time where we probably would have greeted each other and that window has closed. On those rare days when one of us does acknowledge the other with a smile or a greeting, I feel a little lighter heading into the office. It's not like a "good morning" from this woman makes or breaks my day, but I guess "good mornings" in general can cheer you up.

That's why I thought this video was so interesting. It's totally true! I would say I generally fall into the "avoid contact at all cost" category most of the time. But watching this made me think I should try a "good morning" or two.

Parenting: Tag Team Wrestling Style

Parenting sometimes feels like tag team wrestling. Even the objective can be the same - put your opponent to sleep. Last night's match was the longest and most exhaustive I've ever experienced. While I am not sure it rivaled The Undertaker vs Mankind in it's theatrics, it did in the way it challenged my mental fortitude.

Em has her fourth ear infection in a row. We're about to reach the danger zone. I'd heard of tubes before but I thought it was simple in-office procedure. Stick a straw-like tube in the ear, drain it and be on our way. But turns out it's surgery (!) and the tubes stay in for years (!). I am determined she will not have tubes.

The plan was to have her sleep upright in her car seat to help with the draining. Car seat sleeping has worked in the past. But the combo of it's hot as hell and she's got a fever didn't go too well. Not that the car seat had a lot to do with it, but we all ended up being up every hour and a half.

I consider myself very lucky that I don't have a colicky baby. I've gotten the occasional glimpse of what that might be like and it scares the hell out of me. There is nothing more heart-breaking than when your baby cries out in pain and there is nothing you can do to comfort her.

It also doesn't help when it's three in the morning and your husband is simultaneously wondering aloud what's wrong. Is it her ear? Does she have a temperature? What could it be? Is she hungry? Maybe you should feed her? Hold her? Bounce her? Walk around? Look in the fridge? Turn the air on? Is it her ear? You are on the same team so you don't want to lash out. But it's taking the last of your willpower not to scream - "Shut the f up! You aren't helping!"

But thankfully you are on the same team. This is when it's time for tag team action. Your opponent is tough. She packs a lot of punch behind her 18 1/2 pounds and you are about to go down for the count, but you manage to get to the ropes and tag your partner in. He takes over and you crawl over to the nearest soft surface and collapse.

These are the moments when you are in awe of the amazing strength single parents possess. Because when it's three of you on the couch at 2am staring at some trippy ass shit on BabyTV - like random pictures of peacocks, followed by swirly colors and someone drawing fruit in the sand it's already surreal and you feel like you're living in a David Lynch film. But if you had to do that alone...how do  you climb back out of the rabbit hole?

Friday, May 17, 2013

World War Zzzz's

No matter how many times you're told when you're pregnant to kiss a good night's sleep goodbye once the baby is born, you can never be fully prepared for what that actually means. There are some things you can intellectually understand, but you can't really, fully comprehend it until you experience it. New baby sleep depravation is one of those things.

It is so linked to my idea of being of parent that whenever anyone asks me how parenthood is going I always say the same thing "Great! If Em would only sleep through the night everything would be perfect." I've always considered myself a morning person, but 4:30am is early even for me. The only real benefit of getting up several times a night has been that I've been able to catch up on all the shows I missed. 

It doesn't help that babies love to keep you on your toes. Every time you think you've got the schedule figured out they surprise you. It can sometimes feel like your mini-human is waging psychological warfare. And then they play a card you really weren't expecting...they sleep. 

There is something almost more disconcerting about this the first time it happens. Your body and mind have reprogrammed and aren't prepared for actual uninterrupted peace. You are used to going from a seemingly deep slumber to shooting straight up out of bed at the slightest whimper. But what do you do when all you can hear is the steady breathing of a sleeping baby? If you think - well, you probably sleep - then you've never been a first time parent. What you do is stare at the monitor and get up twenty times to put your hand on your baby's back to make sure she's still alive. 

Em has slept ten hours straight for two nights in a row and all I keep wondering is what's wrong with her. Absolutely nothing - that's what. But it's such an anamoly that my body and mind don't know how to process it. What should be super exciting, is instead totally exhausting. I simply don't remember how to relax. I have no idea how not to be awake at three in the morning. I'm afraid to get used to the idea because I'm pretty sure this isn't going to last. I feel like I'm being punk'd. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Parental Fashion Choices: Office Edition

This morning, my husband and I were discussing the acceptability of wearing a velour tracksuit to the office. I hadn't noticed until we were on our way to daycare drop off that he was going to work dressed as a Russian gangster. Neither of us have had time for a haircut in ages and his is starting to have that guido pompadour look. Coupled with the brown velour Puma top he chose, I would have never guessed he worked in advertising. When I pointed this out his response was - it's not like I'm Don Draper.

I'd like to say being a parent hasn't had any effect on my wardrobe, but that would be a bold faced lie.

Being a working/breastfeeding mom means I need access to "the girls" (god, I hate that phrase) at all times. So unless I'm alright with stripping down naked a couple times of day at the office, dresses are generally out of the question. I need easy access that also provides appropriate coverage. I have the benefit of having a private office. But said office also has giant windows that look out on a construction site. An interesting and completely unsexy show for the hard hats across the street.

For the most part it hasn't been that bad, except the time, one of the partners at the company decided the best way to get my attention was to sneak up on me from the balcony that runs along the outside of the building and tap on the glass. While it does exemplify the ability to multi-task, I'd still rather my boss not see me topless strapped to a milk machine typing on my laptop. Thankfully I'd chosen to wear a cardigan that day (and every day since).

Besides boob access, there is also belly coverage to think about. Because despite good intensions, I have not lost those last few (okay, maybe more like fifteen) pregnancy pounds. I've still got nine weeks before my daughter turns a year so I'm not going to consider it a failure in will power till then. My husband packed on a few sympathy pounds as well, so this can apply to both moms and dads. Sometimes, comfort trumps all - that's when you are in danger of dressing like Run DMC in the boardroom.

Function versus comfort versus professionalism. I say "versus" because on most days it really feels like you have to choose. When you don't always even have time to brush your hair, being the cutest most stylish person at the office is generally out of the question. Still, I am happy to say that at least I'm not the one who resorted to wearing sweats to work. But then again, there is still time. After all, I've only been a parent for less than a year.