4/27/07

Month 11: You Wanna Share What?!

these are not my boobsThe other day on the Today show, there was a segment on “breast sharing.” My first thought was: do they think that since we have two, we should share one with others? Fortunately Meredith Vieira clarified: the term refers to breastfeeding someone else’s baby. Okaaaaayyy …

I thought wet nurses went out of style with petticoats, but apparently I was wrong. There are actually women today who donate or rent their breastfeeding services to new moms. These new moms, for whatever reason, can’t breastfeed their own babies but still want them to get the benefits of breast milk. (This may be immature, but I can’t help brainstorming possible names for this unique business transaction: Rent-a-Rack? Merry Milkmaids?)

Wow. I had my hands full nursing my own newborn, let alone lending out my, uh, services to others. Between feeding, pumping, hydrating, and repeating, nursing was a round-the-clock operation. I can’t even imagine trying to squeeze some stranger’s baby into that schedule, or wanting to. Of course, then Meredith mentioned that a wet nurse’s services can go for $1,000 a week. Where do I sign up??

Just kidding. I still think it’s sort of a strange arrangement. One of the advocates on the show said she’d done it for a neighbor when that neighbor’s baby needed comforting. Um, wouldn’t you maybe try a pacifier first?

Still, doesn’t that make you nursing moms out there proud to know how valuable your services are in the marketplace? I guess it may be the black market, since there are health risks and legal concerns. Anyway, I’m not advocating it as a job option, just mentioning an interesting news segment.

I found a more appealing way to make some extra cash this week. (Quite a bit less than $1k, I might add, but it didn’t involve taking my shirt off.) I participated in a market research panel for baby food. A bunch of moms and I sat around eating crackers and cheese for an hour while giving our opinions on packaging and snacks and nutrition and stuff. Then we taste-tested some low-sugar, “healthy” food items. They were pretty gross, I’ll be honest. I know they’re bad for us, but hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup taste good, people.

But Miles doesn’t know that. So for now, he’s stuck with plain old sweet potatoes and applesauce. His nursing days are over, but I think he should consider himself lucky that he got the good stuff straight from me. And so should our neighbors! 😉

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Get Tivo. It’s SO worth it. Life with a baby does not allow for regularly scheduled 30 and 60 minute breaks to watch your favorite TV shows. Plus, you can record stuff that’s on later than you can stay up (like “Lost”) and watch it the next day during naptime.

4/19/07

Month 11: Can You Hold My Baby While I Puke?

Traveling with a baby isn’t that hard. Especially when they’re still in the womb. Everyone’s nice to a pregnant lady. People will smile at you, help you with your bags, maybe even let you cut ahead of them in the security line. Once you’re traveling with a squirmy little carry-on, though, all bets are off.

I flew Southwest this weekend with Miles to visit my parents. Wouldn’t you know the seat next to us stayed vacant until ALL the other seats on the plane were taken. I understand. I’d probably do the same thing even now if I was traveling sans kid. Who wants to get kicked in the elbow the whole flight or worse, sit next to a screamer?

Before we even got on the plane, though, we had to navigate the airport. Picture one mom, one baby, three bags, one stroller, and one enormous carseat rolling into baggage check. Then came security. Remove shoes, jacket, baby’s jacket, liquids from diaper bag, baby from stroller, throw everything onto the conveyor belt and schlep through the metal detector.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t fold up my stroller one-handed while holding a 21-lb. baby. Thank god the security guy helped me. (On the way there, not on the way back. And that one was a woman. Thanks, lady. Appreciate it.)

So then we’re waiting to pre-board (LOVE that!) and all these older gents start chatting me up, talking about their grandkids. That’s fine, I’m happy to chat. Except one guy somehow segues the conversation to his ex-Playboy bunny second wife and proceeds to show me photos on his phone. Um, yeah, so about your grandkids?

Some single guy got stuck next to us on the way up. He immediately commandeered the armrest and attempted to sleep. Sorry, no chance with an active 10-mo.-old next to you! Fortunately, the flight was only an hour so my wrestling match with Miles didn’t last too long.

Things weren’t so easy on the way back, though. It was a bumpy flight and I have a weak stomach. (Can you see where I’m going with this?) God bless the high school girl next to us. She not only entertained Miles with her purple fingernails and sparkly rings, but she actually held my baby while I made use of an airsickness bag. Oh, the horror.

On the upside, Miles entertained the troops the entire weekend, barely cried, and slept like a champ at his grandparents’, unlike our experience at Christmas.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Pack a couple extra plastic bags in your carry-on in case, oh, I don’t know, your whole entire row is out of airsickness bags when you need one! Thanks, lady across the aisle. You saved me just in time.

4/15/07

Month 11: TV vs. Real Life

Did anyone catch the premiere of the new sitcom “Notes from the Underbelly” on ABC the other night? Finally someone gets it that this having-a-baby thing is funny stuff. While I thought the show was pretty good, I do take issue with the catchy little opening graphic showing the svelte silhouette of a woman sipping a Cosmopolitan and pushing a baby carriage. “Sex and the City” is over, people. Can we all just move on?

Not all of us are Carrie Bradshaw-wannabes with closets full of designer shoes and “it” bags. Some of us are perfectly happy with our Payless flats and Target knockoffs. I’m especially sick of this whole “hot mama” movement. You thought the pressure to have a baby was bad? Well now you have to look smokin’ hot while having it. You’re supposed to stuff your swollen feet into stilettos, bare your “bump” for all the world to see, and look sexy while you’re gestating a brand-new human the size of a Thanksgiving turkey inside your Pilates-primed hot bod.

It almost makes you yearn for the days of smock dresses and neck bows. Isn’t that what our mothers wore? Lucky them. They didn’t concern themselves with ridiculous products like “Popper Stoppers”, or how to keep their thong from riding up over the top of their low-rise maternity jeans. They weren’t barraged with images of Angelina and Gwen and Brooke and Katie and countless other celebrity baby bumps.

“Notes from the Underbelly” also got me thinking about how these days we’re only offered a pick-your-stereotype menu of mom “types.” There’s the aforementioned hip, urban, post-“Sex and the City” hot mama, or there’s the minivan-driving suburban soccer mom. There’s the wholesome stay-at-home mom who makes her own organic baby food, or there’s the driven career mom with a breast pump in one hand and a briefcase in the other.

I don’t know about you, but neither I nor most of my mom friends fit neatly into any of those categories. What about the work-at-home moms who are happy to bring in enough extra income to cover a week’s vacation at the beach? What about the part-time paralegals/full-time wives and mothers? What about the medical students, the stay-at-home moms who spend hours a week volunteering, and the moms who write novels at night?

But listen, I’m not an idiot. I know it’s just a TV show. People want entertainment, not real life. Who wants to watch some pregnant chick salivating over the Pottery Barn Kids catalog and then scouring the housewares section of TJ Maxx for that perfect green gingham lampshade? Who wants to watch her and her husband sitting in front of the TV night after night because she feels too tired and too fat to go out?

Who wants to listen to endless debates over baby names and how every single godforsaken name reminds the dad-to-be of some annoying kid he once sat next to in Sunday school a million years ago? Who wants to watch the expecting couple spend hours surfing the Internet to compare prices and ratings on car seats?

I get it. Real-life pregnancy and new parenthood is boring. Hot mamas driving Mini Coopers and living in huge LA homes and modeling fabulous wardrobes make for much better TV. But if I see one more goddamned Cosmopolitan or Jimmy Choo, I’m gonna scream.

4/7/07

Month 11: Pregnancy Recap

In honor of my newly pregnant friends (Shout out to L.!) I’m recapping the first nine months of my blog. Ah, pregnancy. What a magical time. Er, yeah, anyway …

Even if you’re in your 30s, you can get knocked up on the first try. During the early stage, before the rest of the world knows you’re pregnant and thinks you’re just getting chubby, you may have the urge to exercise. Or you may develop an intimate relationship with your couch and TV remote. Either way, parts of you are going to get big. Just accept it.

At some point, you are going to have to tell people — maybe sooner than you’d planned. But when you’re ready to, spreading the news is one of the best parts of pregnancy. And you have your first doctor’s appointment to look forward to. If you’re lucky, they’ll give you some snapshots of your little bean … er, baby. (Just take the doctor’s word for it, OK? It will start to look human eventually.)

Picking out baby names is fun (or sometimes, stressful, if your whole family decides to “help”) but picking out maternity clothes can be depressing (or occasionally, hilarious, like when you strap on that fake “belly” in the dressing room). You may find yourself becoming obsessed over the dumbest things.

About halfway through — that’s about 20 weeks for you pregnancy math newbies — you can choose to find out the sex of your baby if you want to. We didn’t. (In retrospect, though, my vibe was right on. People said sweet cravings mean it’s a girl and salty and sour cravings mean a boy. I blame my son for those lemonade and sour cream and onion Pringles binges!)

Random strangers may give you all sorts of unsolicited comments and try to rub your belly like it’s a brass statue of Buddha. Let them or kick them in the shins, your choice. (You’re pregnant, so you get to do whatever the hell you want!) You may become overwhelmed by the terrifying amount of crap you must buy to prepare for your baby. If you have pets, you may start worrying that they will be jealous of the new baby. (They will.)

To pass the time — 40 weeks starts to feel like FOREVER — you might try prenatal yoga, take weird birthing classes, consider hiring a doula, take up knitting or sewing or other hobbies usually associated with retirees, or read a lot of books.

Don’t get too invested in your due date, because it usually means jack. You may go past it, and then everyone and their neighbor will ask you the most annoying and ridiculously obvious question: “Haven’t you had that baby yet?” You might even try all sorts of crazy stunts to bring on labor. Do yourself a favor and skip the castor oil.

Then, at long last, one way or another, you will give birth to your baby. And everything — the past nine months, the morning sickness, the stretch marks, the tent-like outfits, the contractions, the, uh, more unpleasant stuff — will have all been worth it.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Even if you feel like a hideous wretch, take pictures of your pregnant self from time to time. You’ll look back at them later and be glad you did.

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