Thursday, February 23, 2012

Past the Boob and Blanket

In less than 6 weeks time, my little boy (he’s no longer a baby) will turn 1 year old. I’m sure I will have a very emotional post when that time finally comes. Since we aren’t there quite yet, I’d thought I’d give a run down of the items in the past year that have made Life with Baby a wee bit easier*. I could lie and say that I’m doing this for you all, but really, I’ll most likely use this post as a reference point for when I get invited to future baby showers. But you know, feel free to find it useful if you want.

NOTE: Some say that all the gear you need for a baby is a boob and a blanket. I’m not saying that’s not true. I AM saying it’s not 1850 anymore and if you can afford it and it makes your life easier than why the fuck not?


Gerber Burp Cloths

I got a set of 4 of these for a baby shower gift. While I had other burp cloths, these absorbed more and dried faster than any other I had around. Since Henry was a reflux baby and we dealt with A LOT of spit up, we went through these pretty fast and I ended up buying another set of 4 to lessen my laundry load. While I have lost one or two in the last year, I still use them regularly for the odd puke\spit-up\drool. In fact, there appears to be one wadded under my ass at the moment. Ow.

Muslin Swaddle Blanket

OK, I was totally about swaddling. I had swaddle gear galore. I had thick swaddle blankets and thin swaddle blankets and fleece swaddle blankets. I even shelled out for (what turned out to be) the completely useless Miracle Blanket. About 3 weeks after Henry was born, I got a muslin blanket as a gift. It Was\Is Awesome. First of all, the spring Henry was born ended up being very warm and I didn’t want to swaddle him in anything that would make him too hot. The muslin is very thin and also very breathable. It also wraps well. You know when you over stuff a tortilla and the tortilla just collapses? That’s what a non-proper swaddle blanket does. The muslin just seems to “stick” to itself making it perfect for swaddling. Plus, when Henry threw up on this blanket, because it’s so thin it would dry really really fast. It also turned out to be a great blanket to cover him in the summertime when he was past swaddling.

Trumpette Baby Socks

These were another baby gift we got. I was astounded when I found out how much these 6 pairs of socks cost when I went to go buy another set. I ended up shelling out for another set because these socks, unlike all the other fucking socks I had tried to put on my son’s feet, actually stayed on. Oh sure, I could have bought Socks On but I couldn’t help thinking that those things make your kid look like their wearing an orthopedic foot brace. As an added bonus, I got so many compliments on these socks on a daily basis that I felt like Style Mom of the Year even though I was wearing Haven’t Been Washed in Two Weeks jeans and a scrubby pony tail. Quick note – there will be a point in your baby’s life that he will pull off socks. There isn’t a miracle sock in the world to help you then.

Cable Television

I don’t care if you are a normal television watcher or not. Until your sweet baby starts sleeping 5 hours at a stretch at night, you WILL find yourself up at 3 in the morning (and 5, and 7 etc.). I’m not saying that cable television will give you quality programming (you’ll be too tired to appreciate it anyhow) but it will give you an option of 90’s sitcoms or bad reality shows or some cheesy 80’s movie and not 4 channels of infomercials pimping miracle bras and laundry soap.

3 – 7 MONTHS

Baby Gym

To this day, this and the activity center below have been the best purchases so far. While we only ended up using the gym for 3 ½ months before Henry started crawling, it was 3 ½ months of pure joy. He loved it under there. If you are currently holding a 3 month old baby thinking to yourself, “I would love to get the dishes done and maybe check Facebook” then get yourself a baby gym. We put him under there and he’d happily play and coo and do whatever it is babies do for over an hour at a time before he started fussing for some parental attention. Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t keep him there all day – maybe once in the morning, once in the afternoon – but it gave us enough time to do whatever it was that we needed to do. *Sigh* I miss the baby gym.

Life Factory Teether Ring

This was yet another gift we got. I remembered when I received it I was all “oooh, a rubber ring….yay…” but seriously, it was Henry’s absolute favorite by the time he reached 4 months. It’s really inexpensive too (unlike the rest of the items on this list) so there should be no reason why you shouldn’t have one.

Ella’s Kitchen

I think I mention Ella’s Kitchen packet food more than I really should. I could really just put down “Organic Pureed Food in Packets” and be done with it because I’m sure there are other products just as good. In all earnestness, I really had these grand intentions to make and puree all my own baby food. “It’s a lot of work,” I said, “but it’s cheaper and it will be worth it.” Fuck That. When you have a baby, the less work you have to do, the better. To be honest, I did TRY at first. I made a huge batch of carrot and parsnips, then some pumpkin, and I think potatoes. You know what happened? Henry wouldn’t eat them. I spent 3 hours cooking and I ended up throwing it all away. It was after that that Ella’s Kitchen became a staple.

Bright Starts Around-We-Go

OK, listen. If you live in the UK, this is a really pricey item. We were very fortunate that we found one 30 miles away for twenty pounds (on Gumtree). The one we have also is broken in the fact that the electronics on it have so much sand in it from the previous owner in no longer functions. All this doesn’t matter. We picked this up when Henry was around 5 months and we are still using it. It’s safer than a walker and it also keeps him entertained (and contained) while we do other things. Very important feature once baby starts crawling. Knowing what I know now, I would have happily paid full price for this if we hadn’t found it used.


Aqua Pod

Once Henry grew out of his little baby bath (I was tired of cleaning the all counters and floors every day after he had his 5 minute bath – he’s a splasher), I was really sort of scared of transitioning him into the big bath. Babies are slippery when wet and I had this envision of washing his bottom and him slipping out and being underwater and even though I was right there I couldn’t grab him because babies are so damn slippery when wet and he’d drown and it would be all my fault for washing him in the first place and I’m going to drive off a cliff now. So yes! We got the Aqua Pod from Mothercare (I’m sure they have something similar in the States) and now life is very happy during bath time.

Fisher Price Ducky Rattle Stacker

Even before he grasped how to stack the rings on the pole, Henry loved playing with the rings as rattles. He still does. This is one of those toys that he plays with so much, sometimes I hide it so that he plays with some of his other toys.

Touch and Feel Books

It really doesn’t matter what the story is or who makes the book or whatever – touch and feel books are where it’s at…according to Henry. I’m grateful that he already seems to be drawn towards books but the Touch and Feel ones are the ones that he returns to over and over again. He doesn’t so much as “touch” and “feel” the books as he does scratch them, but you know, whatever. The ones we do have that he particularly likes are the “That’s Not My….” Series. We have “That’s Not My Dinosaur” and “That’s Not My Penguin”. I’m sure once he turns 21 I’ll be able to find him, “That’s Not My Beer” and “That’s Not My Venereal Disease”.

Sleep Sacks

They call sleep sacks ‘Gro Bags’ here in the UK. It’s the same concept; it’s a sleeveless sleeping bag that the baby wears. We’ve been using the Gro Bag ever since we stopped swaddling and it’s been working out really well. While I know we all didn’t grow up with sleep sacks ourselves, I look at how much Henry tosses and turns at night and it truly makes me wonder why we all weren’t freezing our asses off growing up. We currently have a Gro Bag that fits 0-6 month olds. Henry is just squeezing into still. As I was dressing him tonight, I may have teared up a bit thinking that I’ll have to soon replace it. Shut up. Mothers cry at stupid things.

0-18 YEARS


Need I say more?

*I hope this doesn’t need to be said (but I’ll say it anyhow) but I am not getting paid to endorse any of these products. I swear. If I was getting paid, I’d be too busy booking my holiday to Italy to write this silly blog post.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Little Big Things

One of the great things about being a parent is watching your baby develop. It really is fascinating to experience. One day your baby has no idea how to do something, or doesn’t have any interest in doing something, and the next day – blam – your child is all over it. Andy and I like to think that while he’s sleeping, the little neurons in Henry’s brain attach – albeit slowly. This may or may not be what actually happens. I’m not a scientist, though I was a big fan of Mr. Wizard.

While I was away for 9 days back in the States, it appears the Henbot went through a bit of a growth spurt. All of a sudden, he grew out of most of his 9 month clothes (and all of his 6 month clothes). He now weighs 20 lbs and is 29 inches long – approximately 13 lbs heavier since birth and 10 inches longer. That’s amazing. Can you imagine being 35 years old and growing 10 inches in a single year? Notice I didn’t mention the weight because that so still totally happens. Anyhow, I realize that his height and weight are a bit on the small side. He was in the 5-10 percentile for height and weight at birth but now he’s in the 25 percentile. So yes, he’s small, but he’s growing fine.

It wasn’t just the height and weight changes in this last growth spurt. A lot of those little neurons appeared to attach in his brain. The biggest feat I think occurred is the stacking. For months now, when I played blocks with Henry it was always the same. I’d stack some blocks, he’d knock them down. Repeat this process 50 times per day for 4 months. We had a running joke that Henry was Anti-Stack. “There shall be NO STACKING in this house!” All of a sudden this week, I stacked some blocks, he’d knock them down THEN he’d try to stack them again. He wasn’t very good at it mind you, but he was trying. He also started stacking the ring tower with great success. As with learning, he’s trying different stacking combinations. He has 4 plastic cars that stack and fit together – sometimes, he’ll try to take one of these cars and stack it on the blocks or rings. It’s quite funny; especially the face he makes when he realizes it’s not working.

Another big thing he does now is push cars around on the floor. Well, he pushes anything with wheels, not just cars. He’ll be pushing along and will ram his car into me while I’m sitting on the floor. This is his way of saying, “move”.

My family will remember that I attacked the crane machine at the bowling alley when I was back. The two stuffed animals I took back home with me – an owl and a parrot – are quite popular with Henry who has never been big on stuffed animals before. The first time I played with him with the owl and parrot, I made “hoo hoo” noises. Now I just have to say “hoo hoo” and he’ll go searching for one of them to give to me.

Henry’s eating habits have also changed. One day this past week, I was trying to feed him some Ella’s Kitchen packet food with a spoon. He kept batting away the spoon. I admit I was a bit frustrated, so I just gave him the packet and made a sucking noise. It didn’t take but an instant before he was sucking his food from the packet leaving me some extra time to do some dishes. I admit this has to be one of my more preferred development since he’s starting to become a very picky eater. He was never very keen on baby food from a jar but now he wants absolutely nothing to do with it. The only pre-packaged food he’ll eat is the Ella’s Kitchen vegetable purees and baby brekkie. While it’s for the best that he doesn’t eat much pre-packaged food, there are sometimes when I’m stressed on what to feed him since what we’re having wouldn’t be suitable for babies. This unsuitable covers the unhealthy (pizza) and the impossible (salad with lettuce and hard vegetables he doesn’t have the teeth to chew). I will note that at this time his favorite foods are: blueberries, chicken, bread, cheese, yogurt and my Quorn based (vegetarian) spaghetti bolognese.

Not Henry, but he's totally doing this now.

Last but not least, this growth spurt has left us with quite a mess. That is to say that Henry is into everything. If there is a room full of toys in the dining room\kitchen with everything dangerous tucked away except the trash can (because I’m cooking and using it), he will go for the trash can. If I leave him in the room upstairs that is technically an office\wardrobe but has since morphed into his play room, he’ll take out all my folded shirts and socks. You can not leave this child with a box of Kleenex...or paper towels…or anything paper-like that you want to keep intact. He does get very excited when he manages to get into some paper. His arms start waving and he does a “hee-hee-hee-hee” and he’s tearing the paper to bits and sticking little bits in his mouth.

This is Henry.  This is Henry's face when he's getting into something.

It's not Christmas yet, little man.

I’m really glad I have a blog to write these things down. The bits I mentioned, well, I suppose they all seem very little in the grand scheme of things. As a parent though, they’re huge. It’s your kid growing and becoming a little human one little step at a time.

Which reminds me…no, he’s not walking yet. Soon though…soon.

Monday, February 6, 2012


It has been over 5 days since I’ve seen my little badger. I’ve come home to the States for funeral and due to costs and my little badger’s penchant for wiggling non-stop during his waking hours, he did not come with. It’s this weird double feeling being away from him for this amount of time. Half of me feels strangely unburdened with schedules. There is no set feeding time. No set bath time. No struggling with naps. No struggling with daily meals and food on the floor. I have the luxury of sleeping in – somewhat, as my body still wakes at 6 expecting cries from another room. I try to appreciate these things as best I can as this week is quickly coming to an end. However, every extra minute I can sleep in or have a decision to leave the house on a moment’s notice is dampened by this sense of sadness that my little Henbot isn’t there giving me waves and big smiles.

I miss him terribly.

It’s strange how being away from him I gloss over the irritation of being woken up 3 times a night because he’s had a bad dream or has just gotten in an uncomfortable position. I laugh at the poop explosion that my husband relayed back to me without fully appreciating how horrible it would be to try to clean it all up without any help.

What I do think about, when I allow myself to dwell and get sad, is how when I hold him his little fist grabs the material on my shoulder to “hold on”. I think about him pulling up to a standing position and smiling at his achievement. I think about him sitting in his stroller, sitting upright and looking around. Mostly I just think about the smiles.

Being away, I seem to have a really hard time looking at babies. I can talk about kids and babies to anyone who cares to go there – but I have problems looking at them. Each baby I see morphs into Henry. If it’s a little baby, I think about what Henry looked like when he was that small. When it’s an older baby, I think about how Henry will look like when he reaches that age.

I always thought of myself as being independent. I don’t believe it occurred to me that after Henry was born I would be anything but relieved to have free time all to myself – to “be myself” as it were. But the fact of the matter is who I am now encompasses “mother”. I am a mother. I’m still me but I’m more than just the “me” that I used to be. And while it’s 8 in the morning and I have yet to shower or feed anybody but myself, the mother in me longs to mother someone. Well, just one person - the one little person who has my eyes and hands and legs – and stubbornness.

Miss you peanut.