Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

"I hate the holidays." This isn't exactly how I feel. I don't like the frenzy of it all. The marathon visitations. Being on my best behavior. No corner to escape, to have a moment for myself. I'm whining... what does this have to do with motherhood?

My parents were married for almost thirty years, but they didn't spend the holidays together very often. The four of us always started and ended the holiday together at home, but my mom would go to her family, my dad would go to his (although, sometimes, he would go with my mom.) I tried to follow my dad sometimes, but the last holiday I remember spending with his family, there was lots of yelling, and I ended up in my great-grandmother's bathroom crying because I couldn't take the fighting anymore. I gave up on that whole dividing time between the families BS after that.

But there were years when the four of us chose stay home together, and that was great. No schlepping to Queens, or Harlem, getting comfortable, only to have to get bundled up and come home. We could eat an oven stuffer chicken, since none of us really liked turkey. We could stay in our pajamas if we wanted. A happy holiday, indeed.

Our family likes to stake their claim for Turkey Day at least a year in advance, and there are no backsies! (I have a fabulous example I could insert here, but I won't.) We're whisking Milady to three states in as many days, and jamming her between us on a double sized air mattress for as many nights. Christmas Day, at least, we've claimed for ourselves, and everybody knows. (And if they don't, they will know by the end of this weekend.) The day before and the day after Christmas I think we're committed. By the New Year's Day, I think I'll need to be committed for a few days.

I know she's a baby and won't remember her first Thanksgiving or Christmas no matter where it is, but I'm not sure if Tallu will ever know the peaceful bliss of being home for the holidays.
My husband commutes a few hours each day for work, so a Thanksgiving at home would be wonderful. He could spend all day with his baby, I could see him for more than an hour and a half before sleep. We could watch the Thanksgiving Day parade in front of a roaring fire, sipping cocoa in our pajamas...who knows what family traditions we would have, if only we had time to cultivate them?

Gobble gobble, everybody!

Eat This!

I read on a forum that some babies prefer to feed themselves. So I put a few pieces of banana in a bowl for Tallu, finger-sized bites. Tallu has dumped the pieces on her tray, and is now licking the bowl and playing it like a tamborine. Whatever banana pieces she didn't drop on the floor are on her little tray. I guess I can't call this self-feeding a failure yet, since this is attempt #1. Thank goodness she's nursing; she's getting plenty of food. Her cheeks are filling out, and the milk thighs are fattening up rather nicely. No teeth yet, but I can feel one on the bottom row, finally! We've had a few rough nights where Tallu wakes up screaming after she's been set down for the night. It's hard to know when the pain is going to bother her, especially when she's not complainig all day, or before she goes to sleep. It's driving her father crazy, especially when she starts thrashing in the middle of the night, like she did again last night (actually 5 am).

I'll keep trying the "solid foods as food, not toys" experiment and report back on her progress.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Para Ti, Zo

Sunday afternoon the three of us went to a benefit cabaret. There were a few children around, but one little girl, CeCe, was particularly interested in Tallu. Tallu started to fuss, and CeCe asked what was wrong. When I told her I had to nurse Tallu, CeCe asked: "Are you a nurse? Is she sick?" so I had to explain what nursing means. CeCe was right there watching, asking what I was doing, where was the baby eating from, how did I have milk? She wanted me to lift my shirt and show her where the milk was coming from. CeCe didn't care that we only met that night, she had to know! It was so noisy in the place, and CeCe was talking near her head, so Tallu kept popping off my boob, so CeCe got to see Tallu latch on and pop off. That wasn't enough for CeCe, but I figured it would have to do, since I didn't even know where her mother was. A few minutes CeCe's older brother came over, and CeCe yelled to him something about me having milk in there, as she pointed to my chest. She wanted me to show him where the milk was coming from, but he huffed, "Look, I already got that lesson in health class."

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Day Off

I do not get to leave the house without my baby these days. It would be so nice to do something by myself, without my baby. I can't take a whole day because of the whole breastfeeding thing. I could go a few hours though. There's only one rule: it has to be absolutely unrelated to motherhood.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Day

Dear Tallulah,

You slept through a defining moment in American History, one that you and I will talk about when you're older. Senator Barack Obama became the forty-fourth president, and first African-American president of the United States of America. You'll learn how it happened when you start taking American History in school, but that's not what I want to preserve for you tonight.

It was not by accident that I took you into the booth with me when I cast my vote. We went to the polls as a family of three, but the women of this family went into the booth together. My mom took me when she went to vote, and since women in the United States have only had the vote since 1920, I thought it was important that I carry you to the booth with me on this, the first presidential election of your lifetime. You should know that we were not the only black women in the polling place. The judge who checked me in was a black woman. (She actually has a son a month older than you.) Every person working the polls for our precinct was a black woman.

Daddy and I were talking about how hasty it was for the newscasters to call states for Obama when not even half the precints had reported. The next thing we know, people are rejoicing. Women are crying, Rev. Jesse Jackson is weeping, the newscasters are speechless. When their voices return, the prevailing refrain is that the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that "a man would be judged not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character," has come to pass. America has overcome.

There was jubilation from many, but not from your mother. In fact, I said to your father that I'd belive this country has overcome when it elects a Native American lesbian who lived on welfare and who's open about the abortion she had, as president of the United States of America. (Your dad is not as cynical as Mommy, don't worry.)

I am pleased Obama won, don't get me wrong. I voted for him, and I would have been very disappointed if he wasn't elected. But his election to the presidency doesn't signal to me change has come, that race is no longer an issue in America. We are overcoming, and this is an important part of a long process.

I'm still struggling with issues of race in America, and you will too, hopefully less than I. It will be tough for the both of us, but know that I always love you, and I'll try to explain the minefield of race, gender, and class as best I can.

The Milk Lady

Monday, November 3, 2008

One More Thing

Tallu has her own way to deal with teething. She clasps her hands and hits herself in the mouth to numb the pain. Or, if I'm holding her, she bangs her mouth into my shoulder. So, my husband read my last post while the three of us were in bed and said, "So, you're gonna start her in the crib tonight, huh?" I couldn't bring myself to let her sleep alone after watching her punch herself in the face for two hours (even after I gave her acetaminophen). I had a feeling if she started screaming I'd be the one to have to wake up and tend to her, and you all know how I feel about my sleep.

We both deserved a good rest. She's napping again in the crib. I'll take that small victory. I don't know when we'll start the night transition. I should know by now not to commit to such bold undertakings in print.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How's the baby?

Tallu is seven months old, and 14 lbs, 14 oz. She's had some congestion for the past three weeks, and she's also been teething. The doctor scheduled her second flu shot for Saturday, but she had a slight fever, so the doctor decided not to do it that day. She's also sitting up unassisted, and babbling a lot. She still doesn't love tummy time, but she'll do it if well distracted.

I took down the bassinet portion of the playpen because Tallu was getting too big for it. This wouldn't be a problem, except she does not like sleeping in her crib at night. It's 2:39 pm, and she's taking a nap, in the crib. She's been down for an hour, and asleep in the crib about half an hour. Tonight we'll start the transition, which is going to be loud, long, and sleepless for me, I'm sure. I brushed up on the No Cry Sleep Solution, which sounds more humane to me than Cry It Out. NCSS is all about routine, routine, routine. I don't like routine, but my husband is tired of being slapped in the face at 5 in the morning by the baby.

Speaking of baby, she's done with the nap. Byee!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

More Children?

I don't know why I thought questions about family planning would stop after I gave birth to my daughter. The next question is: "When are you going to have another one?" I've noticed it's never "Are you going to have another one", because why would you only want one child? My answer used to be that we're having another one in about two years. But after the week I had last week, I'm not so sure.

I agreed to babysit a friend's child- her baby is seven months older than mine. We both figured since he knew me the transition from mommy all day to someone else all day would be easier on him. cried for hours the first day, only stopping to eat breakfast. I would try to console him, but just as I calmed him down, I'd have to nurse Tallu. He's also a breastfed baby, and the sight of my baby nursing sent him into a tailspin. I got him to sleep by taking him and Tallu for a stroll around town. But after lunch he cried some more, and if I was holding my baby he wouldn't come near me, screaming at the top of his lungs.

Tuesday went a little better, but only because my husband worked from home, so my charge had a devoted playmate for a little while. His joy lasted until my husband sequestered himself in the living room to work. My husband, Tallu, and I went to bed exhausted.

Wednesday through Friday he cried and screamed a little less, but was clearly unhappy. It was a hard adjustment for him, going from having mommy's undivided attention and milk on demand, to me having to juggle two babies, and him having to see the other little baby get booby. I was worn, he and Tallu couldn't keep each other company, and Tallu wasn't sleeping much during the day. I was sorry I couldn't help my friend for longer, but I thought it would be better for both babies if I didn't keep him.

His mom and I talked every day, and the one thing that baffled us is how women have children so close in age. I was beginning to wonder I could handle more than one child period, let alone two close in age. I think I'd like to enjoy Tallu alone for a few more years. Maybe when she's going to pre-k I'll be ready for number two. It's not the two to three year gap my husband and I have talked about, but we'll see.