I’ve added the latest batch of Annie photos to her gallery album, including alternative versions of her week 4 and 5 portraits, some shots with visiting Halls, and quite a number of her flailing her limbs around in various outfits. New shots start here.
Mom moment: On a baby-jiggle/dog-exercise excursion in the rain, deciding when Sous took a dump on a lawn that keeping my head dry was by far the lowest priority. The umbrella ended up upside-down and muddy, but the baby slept through it, and the poop was scooped.
When do I get my third hand?
Thanks to Google’s generous parental-leave policy and his accommodating coworkers, Bryan was able to take a month off after Annie’s birth (and will take another when I go back in July). Today that month has ended, however, and he is back in the office for half-days. Despite this easing into it, my solo-parenting has not gotten off to a slam-dunk start.
I’m tempted to blame it all on The Dog. She has been back in a plastic post-surgical cone collar thanks to a 6-month-old butt-wound infection that apparently her licking is entirely responsible for. Five courses of antibiotics barely made a dent, but put her back in the cone for a couple of weeks to keep her from touching it, and the wound heals right up. We tried to reprieve her this weekend, but she immediately chewed it up again, so she’s wearing that dumb cone until we can’t even see a scar.
Unfortunately, she still has not learned how to navigate the house in the cone without crashing it into furniture and walls, and she still tries to scratch behind her ears, making the sound of a truckload of empty milk jugs clattering onto concrete. She’s noisy, is what I’m saying. Really, breathtakingly noisy, in a house where sometimes the click of a door will wake the sleeping baby. (Other times, sleeping baby is completely unfazed by an accidentally-activated alarm clock blaring at midnight until we launch panicked out of bed to silence it. Go figure. )
Sous also hates thunder. Or maybe not “hates” so much as “is utterly terrified by,” something we can mitigate by swaddling her in her thundershirt.
So this morning it happens to be storming as Bryan sets off for his first day back at work. He has gotten Annie down for a nap, so the house is peaceful as he leaves, but Sous is panting with thunder-distress. I think I’ll just tiptoe into the bedroom for the thundershirt, but of course Sous can’t resist crashing up the stairs behind me. Halfway up I grab her cone to keep it from slamming into every subsequent step, but the damage is done: Annie is awake. Which is to say, crying.
Trying not to make it worse, I herd Sous into the second bedroom to panic by herself. I let Annie cry while I go for the thundershirt. It is not it its usual spot. I rifle through the dirty clothes in case it’s been swept up. No dice. I give up on Sous for a minute and try to calm Annie down with shushing and her latest-favorite pacifier. No luck. So now, an inconsolable baby in one bedroom, and a dog having a panic attack in the other.
I go downstairs to make a quick sweep for the thundershirt (nowhere) and realize I’m ravenous. I know I can calm Annie down by nursing her, but that will immobilize me for half an hour, so I grab the end of a bag of Fritos from the counter and run back upstairs. I let Sous out of the bedroom and tell her she’ll just have to fend for herself. I scoop Annie up to nurse: baby in one hand, Fritos in the other. Sous is trying to make circles around my feet, her giant conehead scraping against the walls. Bryan has been gone for precisely 8 minutes.
Half an hour later, though, the storm is over, and Annie has resumed her nap. And now, nearly two hours after that, I’m starting to want to go back upstairs to make sure she’s still breathing. But Cone-Head is downstairs with me, and I know how that will end.
To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 1 month old.
At midnight, you’ve been sleeping for about two hours, and you’ve got three and a half to go before you wake up. You’re tucked into your borrowed bassinet, bedside, wrapped in a sleep sack that keeps your roving arms from swinging into your face and waking you. The pacifier that helped you get to sleep has fallen by your side. A white noise machine blares by your head, replicating, maybe, womb sounds and muffling the occasional sharp noise. We your parents are asleep in our own bed beside you, plugs jammed into our ear canals so we don’t fixate on your tiny sleep noises. Your father, on guard for your well-being, wakes up every half-hour. I sleep like a rock.
At 3:30, you rouse with a series of tiger-cub growls. Dad (“Hello, Biscuit.”) lifts you up and takes you for a diaper change. We’ve moved your changing station into our bathroom for the night because your grandparents are sleeping in the other bedroom. He cleans you up and brings to our bed, where I’ve buckled on a special pillow for you to rest on while you nurse. You immediately latch on and suck with conviction for about 10 minutes, then you alternately doze and nurse for another half hour. At 4:15 I zip you back into your sack, let you nurse for another minute until your eyes close, and nestle you back into your bassinet.
At 6:30, the sun is up and so are you. We repeat the diaper/nursing routine. You seem hungry, shrieking in protest when the nipple falls out of your mouth. Well, by “falls out” I mean that you decide to execute one of your yogic backbends while nursing and pull your head away into a long stretch, then open your mouth and root blindly for the nipple again, like a baby bird, until I move you back onto it. I chide, “Well if you want it so badly, hang onto it, silly baby!”
Your dad brings up coffee and orange juice for me. When you finish breakfast and your stretching routine, I carry you down and set you in Granddad’s arms, where you spend a happy half-hour, gurgling and flailing your hands, burping on his shoulder and rolling your head around like a vine looking for a surface to cling to. He kisses your fingers and tells you what a strong baby you are.
When smiles start giving way to fussing, Dad pops you into the carrier that holds you against his chest, and we set out with Sous for a walk. We take a left from our house and make a long loop through the neighborhood, up Monroe to Travis Heights, south to Live Oak. Sous sniffs everything she can and stops to pee on piles of leaves. Your dad and I remark on the houses for sale, the quality of remodel jobs, who has new landscaping we like. We walk to South First and check out menus at a food truck we’ve never been to and a restaurant that looks kid-and-dog-friendly. An hour into our walk we have arrived at our favorite taco truck and place a take-out order for the family. The proprietor wishes me a happy Mother’s Day because, oh yeah, it’s Mother’s Day. At 9:30 we are back home, just in time for your second breakfast. I eat my taco while you nurse, trying not to drop bits of egg and avocado onto you.
You visit your granny in the room that has been the guest room but is becoming yours. I lay you on the bed, where you flirt with the ceiling fan and grace us with a few smiles, too. We take some pictures with both your grandparents, and then you head downstairs and I hand you to your Aunt Camei. You have some nice moments, and spit up on her. We pass you around, holding you, rocking you, talking to you. Pretty soon you’re fussy again, so we zip you back into your sack and set you in your swing downstairs to fall asleep, which you do pretty quickly, sucking on your pacifier.
Forty-five minutes later, you’re up again, eating again, being held and passed around again. We say goodbye to your grandparents and aunt, who are headed back to Dallas but will be back in a week to stay with us while your dad goes to California for a few days of work. It’s naptime again. 12:30.
You have a fussy sleep, broken by intervals of crying and sucking, for about an hour and a half, then it’s up again for a diaper change and another meal. It’s a holiday, so we decide to spend the afternoon with all of us in bed, watching The Lord of the Rings movies, old favorites we haven’t called up in a while. I nurse you leisurely for an hour, and you hang out peacefully with us for a little longer. Sous is curled up at the foot of the bed, too. When you start to cry, we put you in your sack and you fall asleep.
You sleep for three (!) hours and wake up just in time to catch all the hobbits exchanging meaningful looks as Frodo takes ship with the elves. Dad goes down to put dinner together. You nurse for half an hour and then we gaze at each other lovingly while you fill up your diaper with thunderous poops.
Your parents eat warmed-up tacos and defrosted chicken soup while you sit mostly-happily nearby in your vibrating swing. At 8 we all head back upstairs for a final round of nursing for you and a couple episodes of This Old House for your old parents. You go to sleep without too much fuss at 9:30, and so do we.