Good Housekeeping's first-time mom shares stories of birth and
life with a baby.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Bye Bye!

FoxThis is my last blog entry! I'm leaving Good Housekeeping, so the blog has to end. I've been thinking for days about what I want to say, and there's just no way to sum up the last year and a half. So I've made a list:

Top ten most surprising things about having a baby:

10. You do forget the pain of childbirth.
9. You don't ever sleep. Ever.
8. They really do grow up so fast!
7. You love them more than you could possibly imagine.
6. Every baby is the cutest baby in the whole world.
5. Every baby is a genius.
4. Ohmygod, they are so expensive.
3. It is truly impossible to get into preschool.
2. Poop isn't so bad when it's your son's.
1. Hearing your baby say Mommy for the first time takes your breath away.

Thanks for a great 17 months!

Fox and Jennifer   Fox

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

FoxWe're on our way to Florida tomorrow morning to spend Christmas with G's family. We're so excited! Fox will meet his three little cousins for the first time, and I know he's going to be so happy to have other kids in the house. For weeks, we've been telling Fox how much the girls will love to hug, kiss, and tickle him. He's at such a squishy, delicious age right now, like a baby doll come to life.

FoxBut I can't help but be nervous about the effect a major change in routine will have on him. As everyone who reads this blog knows, Fox has never been a great sleeper. In fact, Fox's sleep has been the major challenge of the last year and a half. I have tried just about everything — and given up hundreds of hours of my own shut-eye — to get him to where he is now: able to fall asleep on his own at 7 pm, waking up at 5:30 or 6. When we went away for a night several weeks ago, Fox was so thrown by a strange room that he had the worst night he'd had in months. And while he got back to his regular pattern not long after we returned home, that one bad night was enough to scare me silly. I'll do the best I can — but to all the people in a ten-mile radius of Fox's grandparents' house: I apologize in advance for the 2 am screaming!

Oh, and it's 80 degrees in Florida. Ho ho ho!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mornings Are the Cruelest Times

This morning was good because Fox didn't start screaming "No!" as soon as he saw his babysitter.

Separation anxiety is hell.

Jennifer and FoxThe books all said it would happen around this age, but even so, it crept up on me. The last few weeks, he's been unusually clingy in the morning, wanting to be held constantly (flashbacks of his infancy, when I couldn't put him down for even a second), calling for Momma the instant I turn my back (have you ever tried to brush your teeth with a toddler pulling on your leg and whimpering to be picked up?). And, worst of all, fighting the handoff to his sitter. Even blueberries — his favorite food — barely slow the tears.

Of course I wondered if something else was going on — does he not like her? — but I'm reasonably certain that's not the case. After all, we hired her from a family friend whose son she looked after for five years, and they all still love her. And Fox clearly does get along with her — when I come home at night, he's always sitting on her lap, happily reading a book, and he gives her a big kiss good-bye. No, this is a phase, just a particularly wrenching one.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I Love Holiday Weekends!

Four days with Fox is heaven. So many kisses and smiles! So much cuteness! G's little brother, B, came to stay with us for a few days over Thanksgiving. It was really nice to have an extra set of hands around to help with the toddler wrangling — I got more done in the three days of B's visit (tidying up the basement, cleaning out a closet, sweeping the backyard) than I have in months. And Fox got to show off his tricks to an eager new audience. Fox's latest: taking a grownup by the hand and leading him to wherever Fox wants to go. His destination is usually the refrigerator, but the other day Fox brought G into the kitchen just so they could dance. Then B taught Fox a new game, and we played it all weekend long: You ask Fox to give you a high five, and when he does, you yelp, "Ouch!" and shake your hand like it hurts. Fox thinks it's HILARIOUS. We could make him laugh for hours, just doing it over and over and over and over...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Another Battle in the Sleep Wars

Last night, Fox put a new weapon in his arsenal. He woke up at 3:30 and started saying, over and over, Mommy, mommy, mommy. I've gotten pretty good at ignoring his midnight crying and wimpering — at 16 months, everyone agrees he should no longer be waking up — but this plaintive cry was almost more than I could bear. I put a pillow over my head and my fingers in my ears, and eventually Fox and I both fell asleep.

Then I jolted awake at 4:30: Mommy, mommy, mommy.

When he started up at 5:30, I went upstairs and got him. I'd managed to convince myself that he was trapped in the bars of the crib or covered in pee or hurt in some way. But he was fine, curled up like a tiny bug in striped pajamas. I'm not even convinced he was fully awake. I brought him to our bed for a family cuddle, and then we all got up soon thereafter.

So it wasn't a good night. And I probably should have let him cry until 6:00, which is his official wake up time. But I did the best I could — believe me, it would have been a lot easier to go up there at 3:30 and either soothe him back to sleep or bring him into our bed. Here's why I didn't: I picture him at age three, climbing out of his toddler bed every night and clambering into ours. I imagine him at four, still needing me to soothe him back to sleep. At five, insisting I be in the room while he drifts off. I'm convinced that if we don't work this out now, it will get much, much worse. And then I remember how much better Fox sleeps now than he used to, and I know I can do it. I know I can!

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Lot to Learn

FoxFox's aim has at last gotten good enough that he can reliably dump something in a bucket. It's pretty cute -- there goes Daddy's slipper into the paper bag on the floor! Oops! There goes the spatula, into the recycling bin. But I realized this morning -- as I dug my barrette out of the toy bucket -- that his new skill does have certain drawbacks. I don't think I've seen my hairbrush in a few days now.

Dumping things in buckets is a developmental step; Fox is learning about inside and outside, and practicing his motor skills. For the most part, G and I have been relying on items we have around the house -- like paper bags and spatulas -- to teach this stuff. But for some reason this weekend, I decided we weren't doing enough. Other kids show up at the playground with tons of toys in tow, and Fox always wants to play with them. So I hustled G and Fox off to the toy store, suddenly desperate to buy a Shape Sorter.

A Shape Sorter is exactly what it sounds like: You put shapes through the hole that matches. The toy store had one that looks like a mailbox, with wooden pieces you mail like letters. I couldn't wait to get it home for Fox to try (though first we had to get over the tantrum as we left the store. Turns out that Fox wants a train set). I showed Fox how to put the yellow cylinders through the circle hole, and he got it immediately. He didn't quite understand where the red square was supposed to go -- but we'll grapple with that one later.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Suddenly Stomach Flu

I was away from G and Fox for two nights last weekend -- the first time I've ever spent the night apart from Fox. Wouldn't you know it, he came down with a terrible stomach flu. He started throwing up on Friday night, taking G completely by surprise. Two baths and several changes of pajamas later, G finally got him to sleep. And when Fox woke up at midnight having vomited on the last clean crib sheet, G brought him into bed with him.

My mother came over to help on Saturday morning, and Fox continued throwing up. By Sunday, both G and my mom were feeling queasy themselves. When I walked in so happy to see them on Sunday afternoon, G handed me a listless, slightly smelly child and crawled into bed for the rest of the day.

I wish I could say Fox was all better now, but he's not. The throwing up has slowed down, but hasn't ended completely: He lost his dinner before bed again last night. All his friends are also sick; from what we can tell, they picked up the bug at our library's Story Hour last Friday. I really, really hope they all feel better soon.