Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Worms

You've figured out by now that I'm a big dork, right?  Sure I wear cute clothes and I'm no longer sporting braces and a suburban mall version of "the Rachel" cut, but my inner nerd still lurks behind my renovated exterior.  I'm sure it won't surprise you to hear that we're big into books around our house, and while I'm hoping to spare my children the pain of an awkward adolescence, I still want to share with them my love for the written word. 

Here are five of our current literary favorites for the two-and-under set:

Foodie Babies Wear Bibs
When you have a Dad who works in the restaurant business, you're expected to become a foodie.  I'm pretty sure that Chris' ultimate nightmare is having a child who only eats Mac 'n Cheese and Wonder Bread, so this book was a must purchase.  I figured this was more of a gift for Daddy than the kiddos, but it's turned into one of the Muffin Man's favorite bedtime reads.  The illustrations are sort of Midcentury Modern-esque, and the story is quick and charming.  If your kid is a hipster who likes to eat kale and shop at the local farmer's market, this book is for you.

We received a board book version of this classic tale as a gift when the Little Lady arrived, and it's since become a favorite on our reading rotation.  Rose seems particularly taken with the tale of plucky little Madeline, so I've started reading it to her each night before she goes to sleep in the hopes that she will sleep for longer than three hours at a time.  Sometimes I gaze at the illustrations and fantasize that instead of putting two screaming children to sleep I'm enjoying a enjoying a dry martini at Bemelmans Bar.  Hey, a woman can dream.

Little Owl Lost
Last year I got Noah a Zoobean subscription for his birthday, and this was one of the books he received.  The story, about a little owl who falls out of his nest and is searching for his Mommy, is absolutely charming, and the illustrations are quirky and weird.  This book is so popular in our house that it's starting to fall apart, and there have been nights when Noah has requested I read it six times in a row.  I'm pretty sure I have the story memorized word for word, so if you're looking for a free audio book I'll be happy to record my dramatic rendition on your voicemail. 

But Not the Hippopotamus
One of my dearest friends from high school sent us a big batch of Sandra Boynton books as a gift when Noah was born, and I didn't really understand what a great gift this was until recently.  I never had any of her books when I was growing up, but the illustrations are really funny and the rhymes are some of the best around.  Noah always wants to skip to the last page of this story, so at this point I'm just hoping it's because he's enamored with the armadillo and not because he's worried he'll die before finishing the book like Harry in When Harry Met Sally.  He's a little young to have a morbid fascination with death...RIGHT?! 

Mitzi's Mitzvah
If you happen to be one of the Chosen People (or just married to one) you can sign your kids up to receive a free Jewish-themed book every month courtesy of PJ Library.  Honestly, they send some of the best books around.  Mitzi's Mitzvah was the pick for Rosh Hashanah this year and it's quickly become one of the books that I'm asked to read most often.  Noah gets really excited every month when he gets to open the big white envelope containing his new book, and once he gets it open (which takes about 30 minutes) we have to stop whatever we are doing and read the newest arrival.  I haven't yet figured out if he's most excited by the fact that he gets mail with his name on it or if it's because he likes the books so much.  Come to think of it, if he's anything like his Mother, the real reason he gets so excited is probably just because they're free. 

What are your favorite bedtime stories these days?
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Real Deal on Breastfeeding

So, you're planning to breastfeed your baby?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

You're not planning to breastfeed your baby?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

You're thinking of breastfeeding and supplementing with formula once and awhile?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

I completely support your decision to feed your baby however you choose to do so.

You know why?  Because breastfeeding is no joke.  It's not always easy, and contrary to the popular belief perpetrated by all the celebrities who like to post #breastfeedingselfies, it is not always a beautiful thing.  It can be beautiful and amazing and wonderful but it can also be incredibly frustrating, terribly painful and just an all around pain in the ass.

I'm glad that Mommas who happen to be famous are sharing photos of themselves breastfeeding, but what I really wish is that someone with a household name would share some breastfeeding photos that show the less attractive side of nursing.  Because while it's nice to look at modern day Madonna and Child images, I think it would be more helpful if a celebrity shared a few snapshots of the other very real parts of breastfeeding.  No, they aren't pretty and they won't make for a beautiful photo op, but they are part of the reality, and it would be nice for women to see that they aren't alone when they feel more Medusa than Madonna.

At first, breastfeeding hurts.  It doesn't matter if it's your first kid or your twelfth kid, the first two weeks are absolute Hell.  Your nipples will crack and bleed.  Every single time your baby latches it will hurt so badly that you will actually cry.  Eventually, your nipples will scab over and toughen up, but you will be horrified when the scabs come off and you realize that your nipples are scarred.  The scars never go away; for the rest of your life your nipples will look as though they did three tours in 'Nam, and you may have the PTSD to go along with that.

You will sweat enough each night to fill a child's inflatable pool.  Night sweats are not exclusive to breastfeeding Mommies, but they tend to go on for a longer period of time if you're nursing.  After you have a baby, your body needs to get rid of all the extra fluid its been carrying around for nine months, and apparently the most efficient way to do this is to cause you to sweat buckets while you sleep.  Make sure you have at least three extra sets of pjs within arms reach of your bed, because you will end up changing at least that many times each night, if not more.  You will be soaked, your bedding will be soaked, even your Husband or Baby Daddy might be drenched.  Your side of the bed will have its own little climate zone which will be similar to August in Miami: hot, humid and not somewhere you want to visit. 

Nobody ever has the right amount of milk (if there is someone who does, I have yet to meet her). You'll either have too much milk or not enough.  Both of these situations suck.  If you make too much milk, your night sweats will be horrible, your baby will gag and choke because your milk sprays into her mouth too fast, and you won't be able to leave the house for three months because you soak through a nursing pad every five minutes.  Eventually your kid won't want to nurse anymore because he associates your boob with being gagged, which will make you cry.  If you don't make enough milk you'll end up having to pump every second that you're not nursing, and you'll have to take millions of supplements and drink gallons of milkmaid tea.  Eventually your kid won't want to nurse anymore because he doesn't get enough milk from you boob, which will make you cry.  You will personally fulfill the old adage "crying over spilled milk", and it's not pretty. 

Your baby will probably be sensitive to something in your diet.  The only way to figure out what's making your kid fussy/farty/projectile vomit-y is to cut out everything except water.  Nursing happens to make you really, really, REALLY hungry and being unable to eat everything you see in your line of vision totally sucks.  It's entirely possible that your kid can't handle dairy or eggs or leafy greens or legumes or, God forbid, chocolate or coffee.  Heck, your kid might not be able to handle all of the above and you will want to throw yourself in front of a moving car rather than live another second without coffee and chocolate.

You, and only you, are on night feeding duty.  Until some enterprising scientist figures out how to make men lactate, you're stuck doing every single one of those night feedings.  At first you'll think this is a wonderful thing and that it will cause you to bond even more deeply with your newborn babe.  After a week or two you will realize that getting up every two hours to have a small human mash on your sore nipples for 45 minutes totally sucks and you will cry.  You will also develop such an irrational hatred for your non-lactating spouse that you will seriously consider smothering him with a pillow during one of the many, many late night feedings.  It's at the point that you find yourself debating whether or not to commit manslaughter that I suggest you put down the pillow, take a deep breath, and make peace with giving your offspring a bottle.  Sure breast may be best, but I suspect that having a few ounces of formula is far less detrimental to your kid's psyche than having a Mother serving time for smothering Daddy-o.

In the end all that matters is that your baby gets fed when he's hungry.  Do whatever works best for you and makes you the least homicidal.  And if anybody gives you sh*t about however you decide to feed your kid, I give you permission to punch them in the throat.