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July 2007

June 2007

Four

Tomorrow is our four year anniversary. Guess what we are doing? Baptism class. Woo hoo!

Actually, we have spent a lot of time discussing our anniversary, as it is a perfectly legitimate excuse to stash the kid with the grandparents and go out for a bit of fun. Since we are old and boring, fun usually consists of 1) eating too much at an Italian (if I pick) or sushi (if Phillip picks) restaurant, 2) three Daily Shows in a row, 3)  buying something horribly expensive like gadgets (if Phillip picks) or decorative household items (if I pick), or 4) discussing our various work-ish projects, all of which involve computers and software programs and if anything I have become more like my husband over the past four years (technonerd) than he has become like me (obsessive cable news watcher).

We decided to stash the kid with my parents which means going out in their town. Which is not a town so much as a giant mall with some houses speckled around the outskirts of the parking lot. Our dinner choices include Red Robin, TGI Fridays and the Ram. (I hear you East Coasters do not have Red Robin. I weep for you, since you have not beheld the holiness of the Red Robin steak fry dipped in delicious Red Robin ranch dressing. Oh, divinity!)

We're also thinking we might see a movie. You'd think, what with this being our first big chance to Go Out, we'd choose something worthy. Like A Mighty Heart which a friend of mine raved about and then, at the end of her raving, said: "I THINK it's a true story!" But no, Phillip and I want to see Knocked Up. Because we are fourteen. And one of us happens to be in love with Paul Rudd.

Wait! This is an anniversary post! What is this Paul Rudd nonsense? Who needs Paul Rudd when one is married to the Devastatingly Handsome Chinese Man?

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In this picture he is thinking about how much he misses me.

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In this picture he is thinking, "Gee, these chips are the best birthday present ever and I'd definitely share them with Maggie if she were at all a devotee of the Lays Potato Chip like myself."

(I am not a fan of the Lays Potato Chip, aka Fried Salt.)

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In this picture he is wondering why he's dating a girl with such an awful haircut. Oh right, it's because she's AWESOME.

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In this picture he is wondering why the hell he is holed up in a fricking SNOW CAVE with this scruffy guy when he could be toasty and warm in his apartment watching TV with his awesome girlfriend.

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In this picture he is thinking, "I asked her to marry me and she said yes. OHMYGODWHATISGOINGTOHAPPENTOMYPERFECTLYPLANNEDOUTLIFE?!"

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In this picture he is thinking, "This is what happened. It's pretty cool."


Pictures? Who wants pictures?

In lieu of a post that could be summarized thusly:

When the formula people sent me free cans in the mail I thought, "Gee, that's nice of them, but I'm going to breastfeed so they wasted their marketing money on me." But now I know that the formula people are evil marketing geniuses, because they didn't send those cans of formula to me just so I could try them out. They sent them to me so that in the middle of the night, when I am fairly certain a part of my anatomy is going to turn black and fall off, I will think to myself, "WHY AM I DOING THIS WHEN THERE IS A PAINLESS FOOD DELIVERY SYSTEM RIGHT IN MY CUPBOARD?"

I am going to post some pictures. Because I owe you some pictures. Also because I am dealing with the turning-black-and-falling-off situation fairly well (I think) and the first item on my coping plan is DO NOT OBSESS ABOUT THIS.

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How many hands does it take to dress a baby?

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Six weeks

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I'd smile, but I have a cramp in my neck.

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Jack in the Box. HAR HAR HAR

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THAT'S a smile.


Last day of spring

So this smile thing is not working out for me. I thought I'd taken 100 photos of every smile, but on second glance they look more like the beginnings of a grimace. Or the 'concentration' face. You know what I'm talking about. Too bad I can't have you all over to the house when my mom is here, because she has extracted more smiles from the boy than Phillip and me and God put together. Something about being mere inches from his face, the high-pitched gooey voice, the kissing and gobbling of his fingers. My mother is the person telling me to prop open books in his bed so he has something to look at when he wakes up from a nap, buy him a moving mobile instead of the homemade streetfair version we have hanging above his bed and to talk to him constantly. I'm all, he's a month old. He sleeps all day. When he fusses we pick him up. But noooo, now I get right in his face and babble and suddenly the crying stops and he SMILES. Okay, sometimes I still have to pick him up, but I feel like the dumbest and/or worst mother in the world. My baby likes stimulation and attention! Who'da thought!

And yes, you did read "NAP" in the above paragraph.

I took the advice of Arwen's Mom (thanks for your inexplicable continuing interest, Arwen's Mom!) and I've started rocking the baby to sleep after he eats during the day (when he seems sleepy, instead of "please put me on my playmat") and waiting until he is boneless. I knew all about this boneless thing, but I had not thought about how it could work to my advantage. Now I wait till he is boneless, then I wait a little longer. I look at the clock. Then carefully oh so carefully I put him down in his box and stand over him with my fingers crossed. Half the time it works and when it does, it is AMAYYYYZING. A sleeping baby! Who is not sleeping on me! There seems to be a period in the morning where he's likely to nap and then a late afternoon timeframe. He's even napped in his CRIB. I am getting half hour to forty-five minutes of Me Time once or twice a day. It's not perfect but I'll take what I can get!

Then again, there was this morning, when he wanted to eat every two hours and would not settle down in between. The two of us finally passed out from exhaustion around eleven- the first morning I did not successfully get in the shower and eat breakfast until much later, and then only because Phillip was working from home.

But now? Nappy nap nap!

Oh, and he naps in a box. We have this glorified cardboard box, gussied up with nylon and foam padding. Its official name is the Eddie Bauer Travel Bed, but really, it's just a cardboard box that undoes itself and zips flat. I'm not sure what we thought we were going to use it for originally, but now it's open on the coffee table. I put one of his soft blankets on the bottom, filled it with a few toys, and that's where he naps in the daytime. Because I am too lazy to march up and down stairs if he doesn't go down right away.

Ugh. Now he is awake. I am not a magician, people.

In non-baby news (of which there has been decidedly little, by which I mean none) I am reading a pretty funny book called I Love You, Beth Cooper. I ordered it on Saturday and it arrived on Tuesday. (I love you, Amazon.com!) I know I could get books at the library, but then I have to wait and have you met me? I am not much of a waiter. So anyway, I've been reading a string of loser adolescent boy books lately (King Dork, Joe College) and I'm not sure what the attraction is. I generally wasn't a fan of loser boys in high school. (Or any boys, really. Because they were all losers. But I'll save this point for the inevitable Oh My God My Ten Year Reunion Is This Summer freak out post.) I would like to will write a novel some day and when I'm not dreaming up some horribly profound and meaningful generational saga or something light and goofy and geared towards fifth graders, I'd write something about loser adolescents. Only from a female perspective and with a lot less swearing.

Oh! And there will be a baptism on July 29. We have to go to two baptism classes, even though we both believe we know absolutely everything about everything and think baptism CLASSES are a little MUCH. And by that I mean, one of them is scheduled for the evening of our anniversary and BOOOOO. But we are looking forward to the actual baptism. I hope he fits into the dress (the gown all five of us wore for our baptisms, complete with bonnet, but I won't make him wear the bonnet) and that he doesn't pee in the water. My church baptizes the babies naked (I've seen one baptized the way I was, on my back in the dress, and those parents were probably scandalized by the nakedness or something, just like my mother is going to be). And if you know me in person, you are invited to the big shindig afterwards, where we will stuff our faces full of dim sum and pass the baby around the tables, like the coveted plates of honey walnut prawns.

Perhaps that is baby news as well. See? THERE IS NOTHING ELSE TO TALK ABOUT. Are there any of you left who do not have babies? I AM SO SORRY.

Well, it's time to give the baby a bath. He likes his bath. Sort of. After he decides that we are not going to submerge him or squirt shampoo in his eyes or scrub him with the scrubby side of the sponge that sits right next to the faucet. And I am working on those smile pictures!


This is what Linda Hershman would call an utter waste of time and talent

Good morning, Internet! It's 6:30 here on the West Coast and I've been up for three hours. That sounds bad, but it was actually a pretty good night. The baby is hanging out with me in a borrowed bouncy seat (our third and best one so far) and he's making as much noise as my friend's three-legged pug. (Yes, a three-legged pug. Poor dog.)

Anyway, I thought I would take this cheerful moment to tell you all about what we do in an average day, even though there is no average because MIL was here for two weeks straight and I could pretty much do whatever and go wherever I wanted. But I will give you my best guess because you guys will undoubtedly tell me that I am doing fabulously, AND that I look like Gisele Bundchen. Because I have, like, the OPPOSITE of trolls. Kisses!

Without further ado, A Day In The Life Of Mister Jack

We'll start around 9 in the morning, because he usually wants to eat around 9 or 10 ish and I rarely go back to bed after this feeding. (And I'm lucky if I get to go back to bed before this feeding, but anyway. Good place to start.) He eats, he burps, he gets walked around upstairs for forever to try and get the bubbles and/or poop out. (And I have now lost every reader who does not have a kid.) And then I start trying to figure out how to take a shower. I know that some people are okay without a shower. I know that some people do not wash their hair every day, because this is good for their hair. I am not one of those people. I can be up all night, but if I am able to take a shower, all is well in the world. And my hair? Needs to be washed about four times a day, but that's another post.

Some days I can accomplish the shower with ease, other days I am in and out of there in two minutes so I can pick up my unhappy baby. Since his most awake time lately is about 5 to 10 am, he's rarely unhappy and content to sit in his car seat or the bouncy seat in the morning. (Like right now. Very happy. Except for the hiccups. Damn hiccups.)

Then I start trying to figure out how to eat breakfast. Breakfast is almost as important as the shower. Remind me to tell you sometime about the Great Forgetting to Eat Disaster of June 16, 2007, in which I become dehydrated and shaky and feel as though I am going to die. Sometimes breakfast is one of the sugary baked goods that keep appearing on my counter, sometimes the baby is really happy by himself and I cook some eggs and pretend I am doing South Beach again. Hee.

I can usually stuff my face before it's time to feed the baby again. Eat, burp, bounce, repeat. And right about now is when I bust out the Moby because Jackson, if he is not in a cheerful mood, becomes quite the indignant offended baby when he is put down. So I stick him in the Moby, because he wants to be held and I want to hold him.

So begins a long stretch of laundry, dishes, decluttering, blog reading, emailing, phone call returning (because people only call me when I am feeding the baby and can't get up to answer), TV watching, reading, cat napping, looking at the floor and bemoaning my lack of initiative with the Swiffer, plant watering and bed making. All this in addition to the feeding, burping and bouncing.

By late afternoon I'm a bit stir crazy and that's when we walk to the grocery store, or the ice cream shop by the lake or we run some errands in the car (although I have yet to drive anywhere with just me and the baby.) At the very least, Jackson and I walk out the front door, down the little walkway and over to the driveway to get the mail out of the mailbox.

He's at his most alert in the early morning and gets progressively sleepier and sleepier, right about until Phillip gets home, when he is (lately, at least) Mr. Crankypants. I don't know if his indigestion builds up all day or if he saves up the hard stuff for his dad or what, but by the time Phillip walks in the door, I am often ready to pass off the baby and escape. Not all the time. Sometimes we sit on the couch and put the baby between us and gaze at him adoringly. Barf.

Then we attempt a nighttime ritual. Sort of. Dinner must be eaten somehow as Phillip gets even crankier than me if he doesn't have something in his stomach. There's usually something edible in our fridge, thanks to the people who keep bringing us food. (Mainly MIL. Want some fried rice? I've got heaps.) Sometime after we eat, Jack gets a bath. This is Phillip's job. He fills the tub with water at the absolute perfect temperature. He gets all the little wash cloths and soap and towels and the little hairbrush we use to scrub his head and then I stand in the wings with the hooded towel, ready to retrieve the dripping baby and rush him upstairs for a fresh diaper and pajamas. Then he eats. Then I read him a story which is pretty fun now that he's actually looking at the pages. Then I rock him to sleep. Then I put him down in his bed and I get ready to go to bed too. By this time it's around 10 and right when I'm ready to get in bed, the baby has figured out that his parents have put him DOWN in his BED and he is expected to SLEEP and now he must phone the U.N. because this is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY.

That's when Phillip picks him up and takes him downstairs and works his crazy daddy magic while I go to sleep.

This is what I think happens when I'm asleep: Phillip bounces Jack until he's sufficiently placated. Phillip sticks Jack in the bouncy seat. Phillip bounces Jack with his foot while he plays games, I mean, works on the laptop. Around midnight Phillip gives him a bottle and puts him to bed. This is really our only calculated survival tactic. We started giving him one bottle a night when he was about two and a half weeks old and it's been AWESOME. That bottle means I get to sleep more than 2 hours at a time when I'm at my most tired (end of the day) and makes sure I can get through the rest of the feedings when Phillip is at his most tired (early morning). I'd have no problem giving him a bottle sometime during the day as well, but that means more pumping and I'd rather eat fistfuls of dirt than pump more than absolutely necessary.

For some reason Phillip can get Jackson sleepy enough to put him in his bed without him waking up again. I don't know how he does it. Jack wakes up around 3 to eat again and I almost always lift him out of his bed, as opposed to my bed where he usually ends up after his 3 am snack. I think the trick is rocking and walking and bouncing to sleep, but my endurance for that sort of thing is in short supply at 3 am and it's much easier to stick him in bed with me. Not that that means he is sleeping. Sigh.

He'll eat again around 6 and after that he is up. Good morning! Most of the time I'm super tired and Phillip is waking up for work and feeling sorry for me, so he'll watch Jack for a little bit so I can get a little more sleep. But then Phillip is off to work and Jackson and I are on our own. Aaaand repeat!

Now that MIL is not here every day, I'm planning to get out a little more. I have people to visit and places to go. I have a lake that must be conquered by my post-partum butt. Phillip wants us to meet him downtown for lunch. My parents are here (yay!) and all the grandparents must have their visiting hours. So getting out- that's the first thing.

The second thing is I need to make sure I'm putting the baby down during the day. I KNOW he can sleep alone in his bed. I've SEEN it. And while I would wear him all day if possible, it's probably good to give him some alone time. This week I'm going to try putting him down when he's in a good deep sleep and see what happens. My mom thought he was in a deep sleep, but when she put him down to nap on the bed, he woke up 5 minutes later. I'll try his bed and the playmat and my bed and the Pack n Play where he's supposed to be sleeping at night. I am not going to be all Sleep Nazi on him, I'm going to think of it like I think of tummy time. Something he doesn't like that must simply be endured, even if it's only for five minutes.

Now it's 7:30. The baby is sleeping on my chest in the Moby. Phillip is taking a shower. I am appeasing my stomach with spoonfuls of peanut butter. I don't know how I'm going to take a shower. I need to catch up on my email. It looks like November outside. I wish it was Saturday. I'd hand my sleeping boy off to Phillip and go back to bed.

Next time on MIghty Maggie: A smile! Captured, digitized and posted for all the world to see!


The plethora of things I'm doing wrong

We're having some sleep issues over here, Internet.

The baby is five weeks old. During the previous four weeks I was content to say, "There is no schedule, there is no routine, there is just doing what works and he's too little be spoiled anyway." For some reason the 5 week mark has me all anxious. Are we holding him too much? Are we supposed to have some kind of nap schedule during the day? He's eating differently, why is he eating differently? He used to like being held that way but now he only wants to be held this way. Why is he so gurgly for so long after eating? Why doesn't he nurse to sleep like all the books say? The baby slept on my chest half the night, is that bad? Should we start a nighttime routine? How do you start a nighttime routine when your baby keeps changing what he does and wants every couple of days?

Right now the baby is on his back in the Pack n Play next to my bed, fidgeting and talking to himself. This, after Phillip held and bounced him for an hour and I held and bounced him for a half hour. Who knows why it's okay to put him down now?

After he eats he'll pass out in that drunk-on-milk state for about five minutes. Then he starts gurgling and swallowing, like he didn't get it all down. We put him upright and burp him and bounce him and that seems to help, but it goes on for quite a while. Sometimes he spits up. Sometimes he spits up a whole hour after he last ate.

I know all of these things could be entirely normal. On the other hand, I have no idea if these things are entirely normal.

After a month of allowing myself to do whatever feels right, I'm starting to feel like I have to start actually being a parent. Teach him how and where to sleep. Make sure he has a routine. My mother-in-law has been hanging out here during the day for two weeks and if the baby isn't eating, he is sleeping in her arms. I have no problem with this. I haven't ever "put the baby down for a nap" because I love holding him. I don't even know how to put the baby to sleep by himself. If I'm not holding him I am perfectly okay with someone else holding him. But do I need to put him down now? Make sure he knows he's not always going to have a cozy pair of arms to nap in? (Like this is going to work- my mother arrives stateside tomorrow.)

AND the baby almost always sleeps with us. Before he was born I thought he'd sleep in the Pack n Play until he started sleeping longer stretches, then we'd put him in the crib. But I don't want him to sleep in the crib. I love having him in our room, at least for right now. I love him sleeping next to me. I still haven't figured out how to feed him in bed (I've given up altogether actually, and now we go straight to the comfy chair in his room and this works better for both of us) but if he's fussy or awake, it's just so much easier to comfort him if he's right next to me. I know he can sleep by himself because occasionally he does, so have I messed him up having him sleep with me all the time? He even spent most of last night sleeping ON me.

Now the baby is straitjacketed in the Moby. I can get him to sleep about 80% of the time if I slide him in the wrap, but it's not terribly useful if I want to, say, take a shower.

I didn't think I would be this way. I totally thought I could be one of those moms who does cry-it-out. I'm tough. I'd whip that baby into shape. But it's not even that I can't whip the baby into shape- I have absolutely no desire to make him do anything. Sure it'd be nice if we could reliably get him to sleep or if he had an eating pattern or if we had an idea of we want our nighttime routine to be, but I mostly don't care. I might care more next week, or the week afterwards, but right now I am totally fine if the baby spends 23 out of 24 hours in someone's arms. When do I need to start caring? Last week?

I am not okay with this gurgly thing though. I feel like all the time in between feedings (if he's not sleeping on Grandma, is Grandma magic?) is spent trying to get the bubbles out. Of course it's worse at the 11 pm feeding and the 5 am feeding. But not every time. It doesn't seem to be anything I'm eating. I don't think he has reflux. I think at first it's about the bubbles and then about needing to be soothed.

I don't know. I'm tired. This post probably makes no sense. I'm afraid I'm doing the bad habit thing. Then again I don't believe in the bad habit thing. And he's still little. Gah.

Happy Friday. My parents fly in tomorrow and they are not going back. I am so excited.


How much do you think I could get for him on eBay?

Thanks for your comments the other day. You are all fabulous lovely people. Liars, but lovely nonetheless.

But let's move on to the next crisis, shall we?

The baby seems to have missed reading the ground rules I posted in his room. The ground rules are as follows:
1. Contrary to what Dr. Sears would have you believe, Mommy is not a pacifier.
2. Daytime is for playing, nighttime is for sleeping.
3. If you're going to be fussy, be fussy when there are people around to help, not when they go home.
4. Breastfed babies do not spit up and get gas.
5. If you're hungry, please ring the bell.
6. The management prefers if you fill your diaper immediately before we change you, not immediately after.

I think I got, oh, three hours of sleep last night, and those were not consecutive hours by any means. Maybe not even consecutive half hours. And not because I have a fussy shrieky colicky baby. No no no, I have a baby who is simply AWAKE. And when the prince is awake, he prefers human contact, preferably in the form of holding and bouncing and vigorous patting. Plopping him down between his parents in their bed is not good enough, even when he can smell their rancid nighttime breath and one of them is holding his arms down and the other is keeping the pacifier jammed in his mouth.

The boy is a perfect sleepy adorable angel during the daytime, when his grandmother is here to help. OF COURSE.

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Are YOU going to play with me? Maybe YOU? Or YOU?

Also, yesterday I had to use spot cleaner on the carpet in my bedroom.

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Whatever, it wasn't me. I am too tiny and cute to produce that amount of disgustingness.

There was an article in Newsweek not long ago about breastfeeding. Maybe you saw it? About "exposure" and laws protecting it or hindering it and how mothers "feel" about breastfeeding in public. The article even went on to say that the reason fewer and fewer babies are breastfed (according to the article, at least) is because mothers (mothers!) are too American for their own good and are caught up in the sexualization of breasts. And I was all, WHATEVER. Mothers quit breastfeeding because it freaking HURTS.

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You are lucky you are my baby, because anyone else who chomped on me like that would get a swift kick in the shins.

Holy crap, I think my kid just smiled. Like a REAL SMILE. When does that happen? Is it too early? Of course it's too early. But STILL. I smiled at him and then HE SMILED AT ME. Shoot, the no sleep is SO WORTH IT.

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One month old, people. ONE MONTH OLD. Fat the Bunny better watch out.

(Phillip is hovering over Jackson saying, "Did you accidentally smile at Mommy? Accidental smile? Are you going to smile at Daddy? Daddy doesn't want to sell you on eBay- smile for Daddy!")


Feeling sorry for myself is not my most attractive quality

Yesterday I went to visit a friend who had a baby one week ago. Said baby is the same size as my child, although my child is already one month old. She came out with the cord around her neck and let's just say my friend did not have the easiest time of things. Friend is doing quite well, considering, but visiting her made me feel about two inches big for having the gall to complain about anything. One month later I am feeling almost- almost!- back to normal. My baby is gaining weight (like crazy). I am going out and about, I haven't had to cook myself dinner since the beginning of May, my husband is still getting out of bed and getting me a glass of water at 3 in the morning and I have no end of lovely people wanting to watch the baby so I can take my holy shower.

But this is my website, which means I can write about whatever I want, including shallow whiny rants about things I have no business complaining about. So here I go.

DEAR UNIVERSE: CAN I PLEASE HAVE MY PRE-PREGNANCY BODY BACK?

And Internet, the pre-pregnancy body was nothing to write home about, certainly not worth a blog entry. My whole life I have been the chubby dark-haired girl with the glasses and the nose and the decidedly un-slender appendages. I have always been friends with skinny blond things and girls who know how to dress and wear their hair. Some time ago I made my peace with being the Fat Friend who could never borrow clothes or shop in the same section. I attempt to make up for it with my delightful personality and splendid sense of humor. I did manage to talk the Devastatingly Handsome Chinese Man into dating me, but still. My little sisters wear sizes I wore in the sixth grade. 

One day I decided I was going to lose some weight and lo, the angels appeared and seas were parted and it actually worked. I lost weight. Enough to necessitate new clothes. Enough so that I went and bought an Actual Swimsuit to wear on my trip to Hawaii, a swimsuit I wore in public, in front of people, people who could see.

And then? THEN I GOT PREGNANT.

Pregnancy? Not so bad. The only pregnancy symptom I had, in fact, was quickly growing out of everything I owned. I hated it. I may have written about it a time or two. I may have sent a moany email or three to internet friends who could commiserate with me. But about the time I started to look pregnant instead of pleasingly plump (this is what my grandmother calls fat. Isn't she sweet?) I snapped out of it. Sort of. "Self," I said sternly, "you are pregnant. You are growing another person. It is recommended, nay, required that you pack on a few pounds." And oh, I did. Hello weekly gallon of ice cream!

I wonder what I'd look like now if I hadn't told myself it was perfectly acceptable to devour that gallon of ice cream (and the garlic bread and the Hershey bars and the doughnuts people were continually bringing to the office.) I can spend an entire feeding session berating myself for these indulgences and then berating myself for feeling sorry for myself because BOO HOO. Like I was unaware that ice cream does not equal spinach.

My baby is a month old. I was not expecting to fit into my Hawaii swimsuit or the handful of sun dresses I bought last summer at this point. There was a reason I saved a lot of my "fat" clothes. What I didn't expect was that I'd be far from squeezing into my fat clothes, that I'd have to make emergency runs to Target and Old Navy to stock up on things I could wear in public. I can't live in my yoga pants and maternity tank tops forever. During the 80 degree week (and I don't care what you crazy Southerners say, 85 is HOT) I went and bought a pair of shorts in a size I have never worn before. EVER. And then I went home and died.

Nine months on, nine months off. Breastfeeding works miracles. Soon you'll be able to get out more and push that kid around the lake in his stroller. BLAH BLAH BLAH. I feel miserable NOW. Sunday morning I nearly threatened my husband with divorce for not waking me up in time to sit inside the closet and decide which of the four things that fit me would be acceptable to wear to church.

When I think about the hardest thing about having a new baby, this body image thing takes the cake. I know that means I am blessed with a fabulous kid, few feeding problems, a fantastic husband, enough sleep and lots of help. I know I have absolutely nothing to complain about. But then I go to get dressed in the morning and some of those mornings I could seriously crawl under the bed and sob. Except that is where I store my skirts and summer tops and I am working on forgetting they are there. My mom says hating what you look like is why women get post-partum depression and I almost believe her.

Okay. Sorry. I had no intention of sharing all of this with the INTERNET, but my other topic choices lately are incredibly un-bloggable (and oh, how sad for you!) and I have to write about SOMETHING. Right?

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The genes say: you won't have scrawny chicken legs forever, kid.


Naming the boy: the conclusion

Jackson's social security card came in the mail yesterday. I stared at it for a long time because DUDE. I got to pick out someone else's name!

Actually, it was a joint effort. An effort that entailed Phillip refusing to consider any other possibilities and me taking about, oh, nine months to grudgingly accept that fact.

Phillip never really liked the names I liked. My favorite was Elliott. Loved Elliott. The first time I suggested it to Phillip he looked thoughtfully at me, paused, extended his pointer finger and said, "Elll. Eeee. Uttt." This could have ruined my favorite name, but I kept pressing. "It's unusual, but not too unusual! It makes him sound smart! It's a Seattle name!" But pretty much everyone (and by everyone, I mean everyone of the male persuasion) would, upon hearing my preference, say, "Sounds like a wussy name to me." But it wasn't until I started hearing of a few girl Elliotts here and there (BESIDES the Scrubs Elliot who admits she has a BOY'S NAME) that I gave it up.

We originally planned to keep the name secret until the baby was born, the better to stave off potentially disapproving grandparents and friends with no manners. But we could not make a decision. Nothing sounded right. After a while we were desperate for input. If someone asked us if we'd thought of a name, we'd immediately throw out the contenders and lap up the response.

Everyone liked Jackson except me.

When Phillip first suggested it I said, "Everyone will hate that name." Phillip didn't care. Phillip was all about his future little Hong Kong martial arts movie star. (An Asian-American friend asked us recently if Phillip's parents came up with Jackson, because our friend's parents have friends from China named Jackson.) Then we were having dinner with my parents around Christmas time and my dad was churning out possible baby names (which is weird in and of itself because my dad? thinking of baby names?) and one of his suggestions with Jackson. Phillip pounced. "I love that name!"

And now my dad is taking credit. So is one of my brothers, although I can't remember when he had anything to do with it.

I liked James too. I could see myself playing with a baby Jamey and attending James' law school graduation. It was classic and dignified and not at all trendy. Phillip said it was boring.

He rejected Owen and Noah because he knew other babies with those names. He thought Joseph and Samuel were all right. He hated Milo. (I love Milo! Phantom Tollbooth anyone?) My brother used Max before we could. In short, I was not offering any contenders.

I set about resigning myself to Jackson. If all of my friends loved it (or at least said they loved it) I could love it too. I could rid myself of my last-names-are-not-first-names bias. I could learn to love martial arts. But I think I caved because I really like 'Jack' and Phillip said I could call him 'Jack'.

Guess which parent consistently calls him Jack, and has never ever called him Jackson?

Good thing I love it now. It fits, somehow. At the very least, he has a piggy bank with JACKSON painted on the side, so it's a done deal. Oh, and the social security card.

The middle name was a free for all. I always thought I would name my kid after some beloved literary character, or a special relative. I never thought I'd be randomly throwing out every saint's name (because I am a dutiful Catholic, people) and seeing how well they went with Jackson. And again, my two favorites were unacceptable. We couldn't use Michael, Phillip's dad's name, and we couldn't use Samuel. Think about it. For a while I thought I would go with Henry (yes, by now the middle name was entirely mine to decide) but Henry didn't feel right. And you are thinking, "It's a MIDDLE NAME. People don't even NEED middle names. GOD."

I was halfway through labor and still not sure what his middle name was going to be. I still liked Henry. I was considering David. I really like the story of Gideon, but I didn't want to do that to my kid. Then there was Gabriel, the name of an archangel and the cutest sweetest little boy I ever had the pleasure of babysitting eons ago. Phillip wasn't big on Gabriel, though, so sometime in the middle of the night we were staring at our new baby and trying to figure out his middle name.

"David or Gabriel," I said.

"Ooh, I like David," he said.

"I don't know," I said. "Maybe. Maybe not."

We tried calling the baby by both names to see if he responded. He ignored us.

The nurse came in one last time to see how we were doing before she left us to sleep. "Everything okay?"

"We don't know his name!" I said desperately. "Is he Jackson David or Jackson Gabriel?"

"Oh," the nurse said without any hesitation whatsoever. "Jackson Gabriel."

Yes, my dear boy, we let the nurse name you.

I started this post with the intention of telling you what Jackson's (unofficial) Chinese name is, now that my father-in-law has given his decree and my mother-in-law has jotted the characters down on a Post-It note. But I'm very tired from a day of sitting and I'll have to save that, as well as my thoughts on how to retain some sort of connection to his Chinese heritage (I have no clue) for later.


This is where the clever title goes

I can't figure out how to go outside. How does it work? I've been sitting here for an hour going over all the possibilities in my head and I still can't figure out how to do it. Jackson and I have yet to drive anywhere on our own and I'm not quite ready for that. I can put him in the wrap and go for a walk, but what if he gets annoyed with the wrap and wants out and then what do I do? I could push the stroller just in case, but that's a drag. I could just put him in the stroller to begin with, but then I can't go to the grocery store if I want to buy more than a box of cereal. My friends will yell at me if I walk around the lake (about 3 miles) and what if he cries when I'm halfway around? I need to buy some summer clothes, but that requires driving AND the stroller AND potential fussiness when I'm too far from home. And oh God what if he gets HUNGRY?

I'm exhausted just thinking about it. I'll probably go outside to water the flowers and get the mail and after that I might do the dishes and we'll save all the outing logistics for when Phillip gets home.

Getting outside is important because it's pretty dull staying home with a three-week-old. We do a lot of sitting. A lot of marching up and down the stairs to change our clothes and diapers and scenery. We attempt to sleep, but one of us is not particularly cooperative on that point. He prefers to sleep in the wrap, or in my arms while I am standing up and bouncing him and, preferably, singing a personalized version of 'Mr. Sandman', which goes, ahem:

Mr. Jackson
Please go to sleep!
Though you're the cutest that I've ever seen
You're pretty cranky and fussy right now
I'd like to sleep tonight somehow!

And repeat. For some reason, even though I'm an excellent singer, this doesn't really work. It does, however, give me something to do and occasionally drowns out the endless string of "Eh! Eh! Meh! Ugh! Eh!" that makes up Jack's brand of Why Can't You People Take Care Of Me Right Fussiness.

That face looks like this:
Dscn3105_2
You people can't really be my parents? Right?

He's not always fussy. Sometimes he looks like this:

Dscn3143
Jackson 'Kermit' Cheung