Monday, September 29, 2008

Boob Milk Renaissance

Okay, with a title like this one I know I'm asking for links from a million weird Google searches, but I just thought I had to comment on what seems to me to be an unusual trend going on in the world.

Readers, I believe the news cycle is experiencing somewhat of a boob milk renaissance.

Now some of this is might not be all that new to some of you. But, from my perspective, there have been an unusually high number of stories that have gained currency in the past few weeks involving mother's milk.

Now this is a subject that I have gained way, way more experience in that I had ever thought possible just a year ago. It's become part of the fabric of my life, as well as part of the fabric of my bed, clothes and couch, if our couch were made of fabric and not pleather.

In short it's become somewhat of an obsession around BBD Manor, and not just for The Golden Child. First, when she started nursing we, of course, were crazy for her to suckle off the breast. Now we are equally crazy to get her to suckle off the breast, and, as already noted, take a sippy cup. This is working, somewhat, sometimes, okay. But it gets everywhere, and sticks to everything. In a way it's made my bond with my wife that much more intimate, but in a way never foreshadowed on The Love Boat.

But, anyway, back to the main topic at hand. The boob milk renaissance.

The first story that caught my, and many other, eyes was the story of a restaurateur in Switzerland, who was eager to create a menu featuring human breast milk. According to website http://www.swissinfo.org/ "The Storchen restaurant, in Iberg on the outskirts of Winterthur, had advertised for mothers to sell their breast milk for the special menu. But breastfeeding counsellors had labelled the project unethical." Hmm, is there a group I am unaware of out there. People for the Ethical Treatment of ... People?

The restaurant is owned by a man named Hans Locher, and he planned to serve up mommy milks in soups, antelope steaks and in the Swiss delicacy "Z├╝rcher Geschnetzeltes – bite sized pieces of meat in a creamy sauce," according to the website.

Not to just rip someone else's copy, but I have to add this detail: "Locher found inspiration 35 years ago by concocting some dishes using his wife's surplus milk following the birth of his daughter. He finally decided to go public with his culinary novelty after noticing a lot of recent mothers in the neighbourhood."

Wow! He noticed a lot of mothers in the neighborhood. Who needs more than that? This raises all sorts of interesting questions. Such as: how was he planning to approach said women? Wouldn't their own children then go hungry? He sees a bunch of new moms around and immediately thinks of food? What sort of efficient, and reliable milking system is this guy thinking of putting in place? Is this kosher?

Authorities shut Locher down, not surprisingly, saying, in typically straightforward, Swiss fashion that "humans are not on the authorized list of milk suppliers."

You might think that that would be, as they say, that. But it was not to be. Picking up the thread People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in the U.S. then took Locher's idea and tried to push it here. Their mission? To get Ben & Jerry's to replace cow's milk in their ice cream with that from lactating women.

Of course this screams of a publicity stunt, and it is, but at least it's an effective one. The press release was written by Tracy Reiman, executive vice president at PETA. And this is some of what it said: "If Ben and Jerry's replaced the cow's milk in its ice cream with breast milk, your customers-and cows-would reap the benefits ... Using cow's milk for your ice cream is a hazard to your customer's health. Dairy products have been linked to juvenile diabetes, allergies, constipation, obesity, and prostate and ovarian cancer." It goes on, in a similar vein.

Of course all this makes me think of another short story that I read when I was in high school. In the last entry I name-checked When It Changed, by Joanna Russ. But the Ben & Jerry's issue raises to mind a story written by Piers Anthony called In The Barn. In this story a man wanders into some alternate reality where women have become enslaved and are milked like cows. Of course a bunch of crazy, somewhat pornographic stuff happens in the story that I won't get into in a family blog. Anyway, that's what all this reminds me of. (Both stories, by the way, are in the excellent short story collection Again Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison. I recommend.)

Obviously the idea of replacing all the milk B&J use with human milk is quite absurd. After all, if this took place dairy farming would quite suddenly transform into a much more glamorous, but almost certainly illicit, profession driving up supply and legal costs. Then there's the other issue of whether women who smoke, drink and eat Doritos would still be considered "organic."

Finally, the last story that's arisen recently is a bit less fun. As you may have read, China has seen an epidemic of tainted formula, that has so far sickened 54,000 children and killed four. This epidemic has taken place because working women in China have fewer and fewer opprtunities for breast feeding their children, food regulation is non-existent and formula is seen as a status symbol; as it was here when I was a child.

In a twist, those women that are breast feeding are now selling their extra milk, making far more, in some cases, than they could actually working. Who would've thought that in the modern, gleaming, industrialized China that wet nurse would become one of the hottest career options? I guess there are still some things technology can't improve upon.

In response UNICEF and the World Health Organizations have recommended, yup, the good old breast for babies up to six months. It really is best, after all. Just not in my soup.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Parents Magazine, I'm Peeved

Well, I've got a bone to pick with a certain parenting magazine my wife reads. I won't keep you in suspense any longer, it's Parents magazine. My issue is that parents with penises and testicles are almost entirely absent from the pages of this magazine. In turn, though, you will find plenty of adds filled to bursting with smiling moms holding towels, holding babies, holding themselves. But dads? Nary a one.

And although Hillary Clinton once said it takes a village to raise a child, I don't think she meant this kind of village, one without male chromosomes. In fact the world presented in the pages of this glossy kind of remind me of the great short story When It Changed, by Joanna Russ, only with more ads for multi-grain cheese puffs.

Readers, I know this is not the first time I have launched a broadside at this magazine. I guess I have become kind of predictable in my grouchiness, but this time I offer a little more in the way of analysis for why I am irritated so.

First of all, last I checked, guys are parents too. Yes, we may leave the seat up--not always on purpose either, by the way--and we love our man caves and could probably spend entire afternoons playing the guitar, not always that well, along to old Grateful Dead bootlegs. (Okay, the last point is only specific to me, but I count too.) But we're parents. We care, we try, we even change a diaper now and then. How the hell can a magazine called Parents not feature what we are told over and over again by our religious leaders is the other main pillar of the nuclear family, the father?

Readers, this time I come to not merely vent about Parents magazine. I come to dissect it.

Specifically, I am looking for actual men in the magazine. Not just articles about men, but ANY men, even men in ads. I just leafed through the entire October 2008 issue and this is what I found.

The First Picture of An Adult Man: It's on page 65! That means, yes, that there were 64 entire pages of magazine before the average woman will even see a male personage. Dude, some magazines aren't even 64 pages long. That's a lot!

And who, pray tell, is this uber-man, who carries so much burden for us all, who must represent American maleness so totally? Why it is none other than Ty Pennington, "design expert" (really, that's what the ad says) pitching for Similac baby formula, by Abbot Labs. Oh, that rascally, irascible Ty! What can't he fix?!

Following that the next picture of a male is on page 98, in an ad for the movie "Soccer Mom" starring Missi Pyle and Emily Osment. The guy in question is a sneering, goeteed Euromess who is not credited on the CD box. Why? Because he's not even really a guy! Or so says the ad copy: "When Becca's (Emily Osment) losing soccer team needs a new coach, her mom, Wendy (Missi Pyle) decides to masquerade as the famous Italian soccer star 'Lorenzo Vincenzo' and take the job. Can she now lead Becca's team to the regional finals before her increasingly crazy double life comes totally unglued?"

Oh, if only we had Netflix! (Sadly, I also feel we are entering the Disney knock-off stage of our lives all too soon.)

After that the next picture of an adult male is page 106. Amazingly this is the first picture of a male that actually corresponds to a story. True, it's not much of a story, but it's something. The guy in question is a handsome, shaven-head fellow of indeterminate race standing outside what you imagine is his home with his attractive, presumably African-American, wife and child. The article itself is a short Q&A that poses this question:

"Q: We have built up a good amount of equity in our house. Does it make sense for us to take out a home-equity loan?

A: Are you goddamn kidding? Have you been watching the news at all, or picked up a newspaper in the past two years? There's a housing and credit crisis going on! Partly it's going on because people borrowed against the values of their homes, bought all kinds of stupid stuff and then couldn't repay the loans! Jesus!"

Actually that's not what the answer said at all.

Following this the next pair of XY chromosomes shows up on page 150 in a four page photo essay about dressing up the family for Halloween. I have no complaints about this as Halloween rules. Also, a male is featured on three of these pages.

Next up, we don't have just one guy, but five, except its an ad for Snickers, on page 163. The ad is for the "feast" campaign featuring a Roman, a Pilgrim, a Polynesian, Henry the VIII and a Viking. I have no choice but to endorse this campaign because the hilarious New York City based actor and improviser Jeff Hiller plays the Pilgrim, and I met him at a birthday party thrown for Randi way back when she lived in the East Village, and he was a super-sweet guy and is fantastic. So, kids, eat more sugar.

After this veritable cornucopia of maleness there's a bit of a dad drought until page 198 when there is a photo of a metro-sexual looking dude helping some kids, presumably his, pick apples. He's got a messenger bag on, though, so maybe they're not his kids after all.

Finally, the last picture of a guy, and it's not even a dad, just a guy, is for an ad on page 205; the ad shows a dopey-looking blond dude removing a stain from his shirt with Oxiclean. "Oops" the ad copy says. Indeed.

So there you have it, in a 224 page magazine dedicated to parents there are just 11 pages that feature men, and one of those is simply a soccer mom in drag! Worse still, of those 11 pages only four are connected to any actual article. Note, none of these ads are ABOUT being a male parent, they just feature pictures of male parents, I mean models.

Anyway, I think you get the idea.

To get to the bottom of this I went to the magazine's masthead. To my utter non-surprise of the 41 editorial staffers listed, just five were men. Where's the ACLU when you need them? And if they won't help I'm calling my mommy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Who's Reading BBD? Inquiring Minds Want To Know!

One of the pleasures of writing this blog is seeing who actually reads it. I don't have a ton of readers, but they--or I should say you--come from all over the U.S. and even all over the globe.

Another pleasure is seeing HOW people have found the blog. The answers are varied. Most, as you might guess, are people interested in parenting issues. But not all.

I know this because my Sitemeter service not only tells me how many hits a day BBD gets, but from where. It also tells me what searches people do on various websites like Google that lead them here. Don't worry, it doesn't link up names to this info, so I still don't know who is making the various searches, or reading from where. And I wouldn't try to find out. And if I found out, which I haven't, I wouldn't post it here!

But it has been an eye opener to see the Google requests people have made that have brought them to BBD. To show this I have included, below, my favorite searches people have used to find BBD, often by accident I suppose. I have included comments where I deem appropriate.

1. "Baby Daddy Shirtless." Yes, someone did a Google search and logged onto BBD in the hopes, so far in vain, of seeing if I am anywhere shirtless. Sorry to disappoint, although there are many photos of me resting my rump on a couch. I am sure your imagine can fill in the rest.

2. "Wesley Snipes Doctor Tar Baby." I have to admit this one caught me by surprise. What amazed me is how specific it is. Incidentally it relates both to my post about vaccinating Stella, and the one where I described selling my comic books. In the former I talked about how Baby Tylenol is like tar, and in the latter I dared compare myself to the star of "New Jack City." What this guy was actually looking for I can only guess.

3. "Sarchuk Blog New York." I include this one because it relates to the Passiveaggressivenotes.com debacle, where some of the posters wrote my name wrong, and started ripping on this "Sarchuk" guy, entitled yuppie that he is. Yeah, you go get that Sarchuk!

4. "Do baby daddy get mornind sickness too." To my great relief, the answer is no. And yes, they wrote "mornind."

5. "Yay." I love the simplicity of this Google search, it's almost as if someone needs an online verification of what feeling good could look like. It might be something like this post.

6. Big Tits "Annie K." Sorry Anne K. Nodes, someone clicked on my blog after doing a weird Google search. And they started a trend, too, as you are about to see ...

7. "Breast Milk Vampires." Relates to this post ...

8. "Young Mother Breasts Suck Milk Vampires." I think SOMEONE has a very specific fetish ...

9. "Titty Sucking Vampires." Okay, as they say in journalism three is a trend ...

10. "Free Long Bouncing Boobs Milk." This Google quester is Greek, by the way. For whatever that's worth. I don't have any idea how BBD relates to this at all.

And finally ...

11. "Hungry Monster Video Game By Tandy." Yes! A callback to one of my favorite entries, wherein I describe, in way too much detail, my attachment to a terrible handheld Pac-Man knockoff from the early 1980s.

As more funny Google queries come in I will post them. I am always amazed by how far people will go to find something on the Internet that meets with their very particular area of interest. I am sure that when they click on BBD it's quite the letdown, especially if they wanted a Titty Sucking Vampire. Or at least one that isn't still in diapers. I hope.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Bottle Let Me Down

Hey everyone, look! It's Stella rejecting a bottle!


The Bottle Museum, from left to right: Toxic, toxic, hated it, hated it, non-toxic and hated it, a "transition" sippy cup, and a full blown sippy cup.









Stella is a particular baby, and knows very much what she likes and dislikes. Baby bottles, it must be said, fall into the latter category.

There are reasons for this, and plenty of blame to go around. I will take full credit for the failure we've experienced in getting The Golden Child (as I've recently taken to calling her) to drink from the plastic boob substitute that is such a common prop of the baby world.

But, lord, it's frustrating. Most mornings, around 8:00 a.m. or so you will find me there, on my couch--no surprise to followers of this blog--sitting with Stella in my lap. If I'm feeling extra patient that morning I will wait a good long time before trying to get her to actually feed from the bottle. I will try all kinds of tricks to fool her into thinking she likes the bottle. I will let her hold it. I will put some booby milk on the nipple first. I will pull it away after she starts with it so that she doesn't get tired of it. For the most part these tricks do little or no good, and before not too long she is doing what she usually does: taking her little hand and slapping the bottle away, over and over again, no matter what I do.

Okay, I'm guilty, as charged. It's my fault. We waited too long to feed her from the bottle to begin with, and now she's set in her ways, possibly. Here is what happened.

We were enthusiastic proponents of breast feeding right from the start. Neither Randi nor myself were breastfed, so we thought it especially important to give the little one this extra dose of parental care, or so we perceived it. To do this, and make sure she gets used to the booby, we would have to hold off on bottle feeding for a few weeks, so she takes to the mammary, which is not always as easy as it might sound.

We wanted to start on the bottle, for sure, but only after a few weeks. This delay, we thought, would head off the dreaded condition known as Nipple Confusion, which occurs when babies confuse the bottle and the boob. No good can come of that, we thought. Also, we didn't want to fill the bottle it with formula, because that would make no sense if we were breast feeding. So we wanted to pump the boob milk into the bottle. To do this we would need a pump. We registered for one, but no one ever bought it. And that was where it stood.

The first few weeks of Stella's life are kind of a blur to me now, only four months later. She slept pretty much not at all, and "cluster fed" from Mom's Dairy almost 24-7 for weeks. She was quite literally ALWAYS on the boob. And if she wasn't she'd scream bloody murder. Eventually we stopped thinking all that clearly, which is a normal result of sleep deprivation. I knew I had to buy a pump, but didn't do it for a few days in a row that somehow started to become weeks. Randi didn't buy it either, as our window for getting her started on the bottle already began to close, almost as fast as it opened. From about three to five weeks is when the window is open, and if you miss it, whoa unto you.

Eventually, right at five weeks, Randi bought a small, manual pump. It squeezed out barely a trickle of milk for all the labor it required, which was plenty. Then we had a second problem.

All out bottles were of the variety that had the crappy plastic chemical that allegedly leaches into the milk, somehow harming babies. Why do they still sell it if it's so harmful? I don't know, and I've forgotten, at this moment, the name of the chemical, but this left me having to get a new bottle. Of course, I forgot one day, and then forgot another day ...

Finally I went into the Babies 'R Us at Union Square in NYC, and wandered over to the bottle section, and looked for the chemical free, low-flow bottle, as specified by the Brooklyn Baby Mama. I picked it up, it only cost a few bucks. Then we tried it the next morning. Of course by now even more time had passed.

The results were mixed. One morning Stella pretty much drained the bottle, and I was overjoyed. Moreover I felt oddly powerful, as if I had the gift of life in my hand. Then other mornings she rejected it completely. And there were more mornings like the latter than the former. And there was no rhyme or reason to any of it. So we tried more bottles.

Randi next bought a transitional sippy cup, which is designed for older kids. Stella took to it like a champ. She even grabbed it out of my hand and pushed it to her mouth, draining several ounces of milk in just a few minutes. I was blown away. Then the next morning, flushed with confidence, I tried it again. Nothing, in fact she resented the whole procedure. After that she held the sippy cup in her mouth, chewed on it, and even blew on it, but never drank from it with the same gusto as that first morning.

Readers, I am ashamed to admit that after not terribly long this ongoing bottle war started to make my nerves fray, and I would get seriously cheesed off, as they say in Jolly Old England. If she rejected the bottle after fifteen minutes of constant, upbeat trying I would often have to put down the little one and walk away, frustrated out of all proportion to the indignity visited upon me.

"Why?" I'd ask, pointlessly. "Why?"

Sometimes I would argue with my non-verbal baby.

"Okay, okay!" I'd say to her, as she rejected the bottle once again, spitefully, I'd imagine. "You win again, fine. Don't worry, I won't try to feed you, with the same milk that comes from your mother that you can't get enough of. Fine!"

Reader, is this pathetic or what? A grown adult, an editor at that, arguing fruitlessly with a child that he helped raise, and groom? How could ANY of this be her fault? Of course it wasn't.

Randi kept trying new bottles, hoping we'd luck into the winner.

The latest one is a hard plastic sippy cup. Stella seemed to take to it, more or less. But this is also far from foolproof. It leaks, leading to feeding sessions where both I and The Golden Child are wetted with fast-drying boob milk. Yuck. Another morning, I tried to wet the plastic tip in the bottle, spilled it, and boob milk poured from the top, and doused me in the seat of my pants as I sat on the couch. Double yuck, and what a way to start the day. Stella actually ate pretty well that morning, god only knows why.

Now we have something like a bottle museum in our hallway, of four or five different bottles, some clear, some with nipples, some are sippy cups. All bear mute witness to my lack of planning, lack of execution and lack of follow through. Some probably have the dreaded chemical, some do not, but it hardly matters because Stella rejects them all.

Recently we've tried going back to the very first bottles in our collection, which have a soft, pliable nipple. I figured, maybe she's just missing Mom, so let's try something that at least has one thing in common with the ultimate caregiver. But she's rejected that too.

It's enough to drive a man to drink, and not milk.

But tomorrow morning is a new day, with new opportunities to try and coax my daughter into bottle feeding. Soon she will be taking solid foods and maybe all this will have been in vain. Let's hope so.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept. 11, 2001

It's hard to believe it was seven years ago this morning. I was working for my dad at the time, in Carlstadt, NJ. I was broke, single and had just gotten back from Burning Man, where I had a fairly weird, and not-at-all typical or fun time. I was the guitarist in a band, Connecticut, and was doing a lot of improv comedy. I was 29 years old. I didn't even know Randi, although she was doing improv too, and we had probably been in McManus's a few of the same times together. (McManus is, or was, THE bar where improvisers, and the occasional comedy celebrity, would hang out after shows. Of course several of the former became the latter over time.)

I lived in Hell's Kitchen, and took the bus out of Port Authority every morning, to get to work by 9:00 a.m. That morning nothing was unusual, at least to my groggy head. I got on the bus, which rolled through the Lincoln Tunnel, as usual. Strange to think that if I had looked out my window that morning I would've seen one of the Towers burning. But I didn't.

Instead I got off at Patterson Plank Road, as I always did. As I was getting off the bus I heard the bus driver's radio engage: "All tunnels have been closed."

Hmm, that's weird, I thought, as I walked to work.
_______________________________________________________________

After a reminiscence like that it's kind of hard to get up the mojo to talk about how well Stella slept last night, which she did, or that I slept well too, which I did. I went to bed at 8:20 p.m. upon Randi's suggestion when I fell asleep as I spoke to her. She roused me. I had immediately dreamed of a Burger King Chicken Sandwich that was most unusual.

"It had a personality," I said to my wife. She broke up laughing, and I did too.

"Babe," she said, full of concern, "you need to get some rest." And off to sleep we went. Stella was, amazingly, already there, and would stay there most of the night.

Yeah, it's a different world today than seven years ago. I have a theory. The theory is that decades are cultural events as much as time events. The cultural baggage of the prior decade often carries into the new. The Sixties didn't end on January 1, 1970. They ended, possibly, at Altamount.

The 1970s, which I can speak about with more authority, even if I was young, didn't end until Reagan was put into office in 1981. The 1980s didn't end until Nirvana hit #1.

And the 1990s ended on Sept. 11, 2001.

Until that point we Americans were in one of our periodic bubbles of self-containment and satisfaction. A certain smugness had set it in some corners, particularly in regards to politics. The 2000 election was marked by Al Gore losing, when he should've won in a landslide. Times were good, the prior eight years were prosperous. But conservatives hated him for obvious reasons, and those on the far left hated him too. There was said to be "not a dime's worth of difference" between him and George W. Bush, and many echoed those sentiments.

I did not. And now we see how different things could've been.

It's the political season again, which is why I'm bringing up this subject in the context of a post about Sept. 11. Because it's become, in many ways, a political day. What we did in response. What we DIDN'T do, too.

To see the latter all you have to do is drive by Ground Zero. It's still there, waiting.

But, for now, Stella is asleep in her crib, and the presidential race is tight, and I genuinely believe that Americans have all the information they need to make an informed choice for who should lead us. If they don't have the information it's not hard to find. In some ways presidential elections are the silly season, but the consequences are not silly at all.

Well, I don't have a lot more to say about that, but years later Sept. 11, is still an uneasy day. I didn't lose anyone close to me, thank god, but I did lose someone I knew, a little, through business. It was real, it happened. But it's also a work day, and a parenting day, and our lives have to keep going. So they have.

Seven years ago we were told to help fight the terrorists by shopping. In retrospect what a perfectly horrible, but apt, description of the lack of shared sacrifice across our nation, at all levels. Some paid more than others, a lot more. And it wasn't all in taxes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Our High Needs Baby

Yeah, it's kind of like this, only five months later.



Right now I am yawning in my mind. Another sleepless night, following another sleepless night, following another sleepless night. Stella's acid reflux is more or less under control, but she still is waking up about five times a night, out of nowhere, for no reason. We think she has to be tired, and she is--constantly rubbing her eyes--but she refuses to stay asleep. Being the parent of a High Needs Baby is no picnic.

What is a High Needs Baby, you might ask. It's a good question. Even most other parents have no idea what it's like. To these parents I say: you should thank God above that you don't know. You have no idea.

The term High Needs Baby was coined, I believe, by Dr. Robert Sears, a kind of touchy-feely pediatrician who is a leading mind behind the attachment parenting movement. Attachment parenting, as far as I understand it, is a movement dedicated to serving the needs of the child first and foremost at all times. Letting a child cry it out is verboten in the attachment parenting world. But it goes well beyond that. Some AP parents don't even have their kids wear diapers, because they are so close with their baby that they can see from the looks on their little ones faces when they are about to let loose. I can imagine many a brown shirt has resulted from the process of forging this mystical bond with the baby along the way.

Anyway, there is more about AP stuff. But I think you get the picture. Very organic, very close, very un-traditional in some ways, although in others it harkens back to what parenting might have looked like hundreds or even thousands of years ago; if they had $800 strollers in the Bronze Age.

We kind of do it, but not all the way. Randi breastfeeds loyally, we use cloth diapers most of the time.

Anyway, that's my take on AP parenting. It means, though, above all, that you try to attend to your kids needs BEFORE they throw a hissy fit, and when that fit comes you can't just walk away when you get frustrated, you have to work through it with your baby.

Boy has that come to bite us in the ass.

As I've noted, time and again, Stella just does not like to sleep. We had a blissful three week window before her first round of vaccines where she slept eight hours a night. That mythical time ended with the shots, and has never come back. It has even gotten worse recently.

Sunday afternoon, for various reasons, we couldn't put Stella on her usual nap schedule. (Note: This schedule is more like an attempt at a schedule. It works sometimes, and not other times.) In my car that dusk she SCREAMED for about an hour straight. There was nothing we could do about it, we were in traffic en route to the Holland Tunnel, but it was nightmarish. Nothing worked, nothing could soothe her. It was torture.

Then we got home, and she slept like crap that night. Yesterday was another nightmare for Randi, as she wouldn't sleep all day. Then when I got home she screamed well into the night, no matter what we did. Then, last night, she woke up time after time after time. The only thing that soothed her, temporarily, was when Randi put her boob in her mouth. Then she would go to sleep for a moment, catch herself, and jar herself awake, crying. I walked around our apartment with her, which often works, and she screamed and cried in my arms for an hour. The only thing that worked was when I bounced her on my knee. Then she fell asleep. At this point Randi picked her up to take her to bed. Wrong move! She awoke, and started to cry furiously, busting out of her swaddling blanket, and rubbing her own head with her baby nails until she scalp was raw. More screaming ensued.

Readers, this is our lives. If you haven't seen me, or I'm behind on my e-mails, this is why.

Nothing works. She won't take a bottle. She won't go to sleep. She won't stay asleep. She refuses to play in her jumparoo (a plastic horse-type thing that bounces up and down) unless we look at her and play with her. She would rather cling to, and fuss, with us than sleep. She DEMANDS from us all the time. She DRAINS us, all the time. I look in the mirror, and on the left side of my head is a fat streak of white hair that I didn't have five months ago. I feel like crap pretty much all the time, and taking care of our child is ALL we do. And if it's bad for me it's 100 times worse for Randi. I, at least, get to go to work. I never thought I'd say that with such relish.

We plan our weekends pretty much around her nap schedule. Because we can't deal with her screaming bloody murder all night, and we are unable or unwilling to simply let her cry it out.

But at least there's a name for it. Stella is a High Needs Baby.

Randi is the one who found out this term. According to Dr. Sears here are a few of the traits of a HNB: My comments next to each one.

1. "INTENSE" Hells yeah!
2. "HYPERACTIVE" Maybe not so much. When we can finally get her to mellow out she's a delightful kid, and very sweet. But it can be struggle, oh my god can it ever be a struggle some nights to get her there.
3. "DRAINING" If you could see Randi and I right now you wouldn't have to ask.
4. "FEEDS FREQUENTLY" I should call Randi Iron Tit.
5. "DEMANDING" Hells yeah!
6. "AWAKENS FREQUENTLY" And awakens CRYING!
7. "UNSATISFIED" Yes, nothing works well for long.
8. "UNPREDICTABLE" Things work with Stella ONCE. Then she's moved on. We have to invent new sleep strategies practically every day.
9. "SUPER-SENSITIVE" Get this, she can be dead asleep and she SENSES when Randi merely walks into the room. She's like Daredevil.
10. "CAN'T PUT BABY DOWN" Not if she has any say about it.
11. "NOT A SELF-SOOTHER" Well, duh.
12. "SEPARATION SENSITIVE" Actually she likes being held by other people but she DOES NOT like to be by herself.

Yes, I know, we asked and wanted this child, and we love, love, love her to death. And there are strategies for dealing with all these things, some of them even work on occasion, and at least she wasn't born with webbed feet, and we're not horrible parents, exactly, for feeling this way and ...

Parents, unless you have a HNB, as I've said, you just have no idea. It is the best of times and the worst of times. At 3:00 a.m., when you haven't slept really at all in four months, and your darling daughter is screaming in her crib as she flails around, for the third time since midnight, and your wife has had it even worse than you, and you pick up your DD, and walk with her, and she arches her back and screams, and almost goes to sleep and then some drunk jackoff leaves the local lesbian bar singing at the top of her lungs and your baby's eyes pop open like The Bride of Chucky and none of the hard work you just did matters at all, and now you're looking at a half hour AT LEAST before she calms down again, and you really don't want to have to wake up your wife, who is still somehow, miraculously asleep through all this, and she deserves some rest goddammit, but you don't know what else to do, and then she pees?

Yeah, you might not know. And I envy you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How Time Flies

Wow, as of today Stella Rae, the Brooklyn Baby Baby, is four and a half months old. I thought it would be fun to do a little photo essay showing her growth, relative to me. Fortunately we have many, many shots of me sitting on my rear on the couch. Apparently the sheer magnitude of time I've spent on this couch dictates that at least for some of that I would be holding my daughter. That in turn dictates that for at least some of THAT my wife would have a camera.

So, kind of like "33 Short Films About Glenn Gould," you have roughly the same photograph of me with her, tracing her development. To me she already looks like a different child; it's kind of crazy.

There are a few lessons I can draw from this photo series. One is that I only own about three shirts, and one of them is a hideous, juvenile garment that screams "Serious X-Men Reader. 'Nuff Said." In truth I don't even like the X-Men all that much. I bought the shirt for my older brother's birthday, 20 years ago! But he hated it as he thought it was too juvenile. So, in typical fashion I took it back decades later.

Another lesson I can draw is that I awake with some serious bedhead.

Another lesson? I must really, really love our couch.

Also, our daughter, despite the coughing (she's gone on a new jag of them just recently), the constant colds, the lack of sleep, the fevers, is totally kicking ass in the development world. Look at that bottom photo. That's a happy baby. She didn't get like that totally by accident. Kudos to my wife.





This weekend was a fun one, by the way. Sunday we visited my mother, Stella's bubbie, and slept over. (Stella kind of hated being in a new environment and let us know it.) Monday we went down to the South Street Sea Port for my mom's 79th birthday and treated her to lunch. It was a beautiful day, and even though the lunch, at Pacific Grill was frankly kind of terrible, it was lovely to be able to do that for someone I care about so much. My brother Stu came down too, which made Stella very happy as she loves her uncle.
But you've got to love my mom. She always tells it like it is. At one point the waiter came by and asked her if she likes her steak sandwich.
"No, to tell you the truth," she said. "It's really not very good at all." By this time, of course, she had eaten nearly all of it.
"I wouldn't have told him if he didn't ask," she explained. "It's not HIS fault, he didn't make it, but he DID ask."
The only reason we took her down there was so that she could see The Waterfalls, specifically the lovely one under the Brooklyn Bridge. She hadn't seen any of them yet, and I wanted her to, as it's a once in a lifetime event.
(For those from out of town The Waterfalls are literally that. An artist has erected massive, artificial waterfalls in New York's East River. The grandest one is right underneath one of the uprights of the Brooklyn Bridge. It totally changes the relationship you have to this icon of modern engineering to see water spouting from it. I wish I had a good picture of it, but I don't. But in a month they (there are four) will all be gone for good. At night lights radiate through them, but I've never seen it because we are home with Stella Rae, trying to get her to sleep.)
On a related note I am eternally glad Randi and I both saw The Gates in Central Park before they were gone (we went when it was snowing, it was beautiful) and that we ponied up the money to see Matthew Barney's magnificent, astonishing and overwhelming Cremaster exhibit in the Guggenheim; the latter is certainly the greatest art experience I've ever had, and I doubt it shall ever be topped.
My mom, of course, loved seeing us, and was thrilled to see The 'Falls. And we were thrilled that she was thrilled. Then, after not too long it was time for home. And, amazingly, the little one slept almost all night. Why? What did we do wrong?