Eric and I had a great long weekend with Lorelei over the holiday – it’s the longest stretch of time Eric has had off since right after she was born.

We ate turkey (Eric and me), watched football (all three of us – Lorelei really enjoys football; it’s anyone’s guess whether her interest stems from the bright colors or the dreamy presence of Tom Brady), and shared many cuddles with family (primarily Lorelei; for whatever reason, there was not a great deal of familial demand for cuddle time with Eric and me).

However, as nice as the weekend was, Lorelei was visibly thrilled to be reunited with Dee Dee at day care this morning. Eric and I always get the sense that Lorelei views us – with some justification – as a pair of well-intentioned yet bumbling hacks: “You people are all right, I guess, but is it almost time for me to return to the capable hands of my professional caregivers?”

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Lowering My Standards

October 1, 2010

I have always been an anal-retentive of the highest order. I’m finding it’s not so easy to keep that up when you have a tiny person in your life who drools, yelps, and poops at all hours of the day and night (I guess if it’s someone else’s tiny person, it’s easier to ignore these things and carry on as normal, but when it’s your tiny person all bets are off).

We’ve been doing pretty well sleep-wise, and Lorelei’s on a semblance of a regular schedule (largely thanks to the lovely ladies at daycare), but your time isn’t really your own when you have an infant.

I’m finding that the easiest way to cope with this loss of control is triage: I’m late to things now. I leave the house unshowered and uncombed (the daycare ladies may well be wondering if we even have a shower, as they’ve seen no evidence that I’ve ever used it). And my housekeeping isn’t what it once was – which is a little frightening, given that what it once was was no great shakes to start with. A day we don’t accidentally eat a cat hair with dinner is a good housekeeping day around here.

As long as the peanut is fed, changed, and clothed in something weather-appropriate, if not sartorially dazzling; as long as I get to eat on a semi-regular basis (I turn into something resembling an angry drunk when I miss a meal); as long as none of us is truly filthy to the point of being offensive when we leave the house; and as long as both cats are alive and accounted for, I think we’re doing pretty well.

A Trip to Vermont

September 7, 2010

This past weekend, Eric and I took Lorelei to Burlington for an end-of-summer getaway. It went really well – she’s definitely a great little traveler (which is a good thing, as Eric and I would probably continue to drag her out in any event, and it’s much more fun for the whole family when she’s not screaming like a banshee).

The one small snag was that Lorelei flatly refused to nap on Sunday. The hotel provided a lovely little porta-crib, complete with mini teddy bear, but she was having none of it. I couldn’t get that damn Aerosmith power ballad out of my head (Don’t want to close my eyes…don’t want to fall asleep…don’t want to miss a thing…)

She dozed a little in the Björn as we were walking around town (incidentally, Lorelei has spent nearly her entire life to date cradled in one piece of Swedish craftsmanship or another, between the Björn and her Ikea crib; if she decides to do her junior year abroad in Stockholm, I guess I’ll know why), but popped up like a squirmy jack-in-the-box as soon as the walking stopped. This led to some interesting mealtimes, during which Eric and I managed to pick the least Björn-friendly meals possible (Eric: a reuben sandwich; me: fish tacos). We did a reasonably good job of keeping the top of Lorelei’s head free of sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and shredded lettuce.

Back in the hotel room, since the nap was just not happening, we kept Lorelei entertained with the Foster Family Dance Party – one of us holding her while the three of us bopped around the room cooing and singing and laughing. She loved it. I’m really glad the houskeeper didn’t pick that particular moment to walk in the door – though if she’d been a fan of the Hustle, she would have been more than welcome to join us.

Uncle Dan

September 2, 2010

We have a new love affair of sorts brewing…Lorelei is utterly, devastatingly, head-over-heels smitten with her Uncle Dan.

We first noticed it at Matthew’s baptism at the end of July, when Lorelei was doling out smiles very sparingly, even to her doting parents. But when Dan held her, it was as if she’d reached the promised land.

Yesterday, she had her first course of vaccinations – three shots in her tiny baby thighs, plus one vaccine that was administered orally in a sugary solution. She eagerly sucked down the sugar water (the nurse noted that few babies take to it quite so readily; we should probably get ready to break her of a stubborn Juicy Juice habit in coming years), but the shots were predictably traumatic and painful for all concerned.

She rallied relatively quickly, however – particularly when we arrived in Gilford and Uncle Dan came on the scene. The smiles, the cooing, the coy glances. I swear I even saw her bat an eyelash or two. Any lingering trauma from the doctor’s office just melted away. It was really quite something. Lorelei’s sole Dan-related complaint seems to be that he insists on spending a lot of time with that other baby, the big boy one.

Matthew, alas, is completely immune to my charms. This past Sunday, he burst into tears when I tried to hold him. Yesterday, I kept my distance, but he kept shooting me suspicious glances. I don’t know if he objects to me personally, the fact that I’m associated with that other baby who keeps trying to woo away his dad, or both. I’m not too worried just yet – if he still dislikes me by the time he can articulate his reasons, I’ll be a little concerned – but Dan clearly got in on the ground floor with Lorelei.

Baptism

July 27, 2010

Last year, on July 25th, Eric and I got married at my parents’ house. We never anticipated that we’d be back there exactly a year later – same minister, same caterer, many of the same guests – for a party in honor of our new nephew’s baptism. Or, for that matter, that we’d be bringing along an even tinier guest of our own.

Both babies were very well-behaved during the church service. Lorelei was completely sacked out the entire time, to the point that people began to wonder if they should check her little baby thigh for evidence of a tranquilizer dart. Matthew remained quietly alert, even during the water-on-the-forehead part of the ceremony. He looked rather dashing in his white satin vest and pants, which had been crafted from Alicia’s wedding dress, and a pair of matching satin booties.

We heard just one brief (yet spirited) squawk from him, when the guest musicians fired up their oboe and English Horn for an instrumental duet called “Call at Dawn.” The oboist actually paused for a brief “I’m sorry” before resuming play – Matthew was really quite indignant. Lorelei slept through the musical interlude, but a distinct look of displeasure drifted across her furrowed brow when it started. There’s a reason that children’s music boxes don’t feature instruments that honk like Canadian Geese.

At the party, we took many photos of the cousins. Lorelei is quite a bit smaller than Matthew, but given that she’s literally half his age (6 weeks to his 12), that’s not all that surprising. She didn’t let this faze her, however.

During one photo op, when we were holding both babies next to each other, Lorelei repeatedly flailed her little arms in his face and bopped him with her fists, all the while maintaining a casual gaze in another direction. We tried to appease Matthew (who looked confused and a little annoyed – “It’s my day, lady – did you not see the satin suit and booties?”), but to no avail.

They say that 6-week-olds don’t even know that their arms and legs belong to them yet, but I have my doubts. Lorelei looked just a little too pleased with herself.

Motion has always been my brother’s thing – motorboats, motorcycles, jetskis, you name it. When Dan was a baby, he regularly stood up in his crib, gripped the top railing, and shook it back and forth until the bolts loosened to an alarming, Consumer-Reports-recall degree previously unthinkable for a child that age.

He also would sit on the couch, or in the car, and bounce back and forth for hours while making an “uhhh-uhhh-uhhh-uhhh” sound. This led my German grandmother to shake her head and sadly pronounce that “something ist not right mit that boy.” As it turned out, everything was fine – he just liked to keep moving. Matthew is proving to be much the same way, most at home in his swings and rockers.

While Lorelei is not averse to motion, her real passion seems to be eating and sucking on things. When she’s finished nursing, she does not have that glazed, contented look I’ve seen on the faces of other babies. Rather, she needs to be forcibly prised away (they tell you to use a finger to break the suction, which I’ve tried, but she is tenacious – thank God there are no teeth to contend with yet), at which point she immediately starts rooting around for the next thing to suck on. This tends to be one of my pinkies (a purist, she has so far rejected all proffered pacifiers).

If nothing is forthcoming, she’ll purse her tiny lips into what I have dubbed Cheerio Mouth, giving her a striking resemblance to Jonathan Papelbon in the seconds before he fires off a pitch. Maybe our girl is destined for a career in professional sports. Or competitive eating.

I’d never actually seen A Baby Story until this past Monday – I was flipping channels at lunchtime and caught two episodes. One featured perhaps the world’s most clueless husband (who kept asking his wife, over and over, if she was “okay” as she writhed in pain with each contraction; she kept looking around for something to throw at him). The other was a woman in a very large beachfront house who bossed her husband around and insisted that her best friend be present for her baby’s home birth. “I was so blessed to have Tracey there,” she said. Cut to Tracey, visibly blanching at the sight of her naked friend, prone in an inflatable plastic pool, delivering on all fours. Tracey clearly got more than she bargained for.

Just a few hours later, I was in the process of talking Eric into Chinese food for dinner when I felt something shift in my gut. When my water broke a few minutes later, I knew the lo mein was not meant to be.

At the hospital, they hooked me up to an IV and gave us a ridiculously thorough intake questionnaire that included questions about religious beliefs, musical preferences during labor (snare drums…we’d like lots of snare drums), and my eating habits during the pregnancy. “Any loss of appetite for 5 days or more?” the nurse asked. Eric had the grace to not openly laugh at this until I did. Eric was also asked if a) we were married, b) to each other, and c) if this was in fact his baby. “You’d be surprised,” the nurse said.

The doctor came and checked me, declaring that I was one centimeter dilated (right where I’d been for the past few weeks) and that nothing was going to happen until morning. “Try to get some sleep,” she said, and offered me an Ambien. I couldn’t remember if Ambien was the one that made people dream of groundhogs and Abraham Lincoln, so I declined.

I was not, however, too proud to accept some IV opiates after the nurse casually mentioned that my initial contractions, which blew me away and brought up my dinner (after nixing the Chinese food, I’d opted for a slice of leftover pizza – pepperoni, green pepper, and black olive; in hindsight, probably not the best option), were “just a small taste of what’s to come.”

Over the next 12 hours, the contractions came every 5 minutes but never got any closer together (I was relieved to discover that they never really got much worse, pain-wise, than those first few – then again, I was doped up on IV opiates, so my perceptions may be faulty). Eric managed to catch a few hours’ sleep – I wanted to be left alone during the contractions, so there wasn’t a lot for him to do other than untangle me from my IV pole a few times.

By morning, we’d spanned a shift change and had both a new nurse and a new doctor. Before taking off, the first doctor ordered me some Pitocin to get things rolling. She also told me to push “like you’ve been constipated for a month.” (Truly, the woman is a poet as well as a doctor.)

In any event, I did as she asked for nearly two hours, with Eric grabbing one leg and the delivery nurse grabbing the other as the new doctor, a tiny woman with a commanding presence, wheeled in a large tray of instruments. I could just barely see the top of her head and a whirling dervish of arms as she tugged, injected, stitched, and oversaw command central. Eric said she was like a female Napoleon in surgical scrubs. She and Eric deftly managed to dodge the tendrils of goo shooting out of me as the suction around the baby’s head was loosened.

Incidentally, it was right around this time that Eric realized he’d never changed out of his work clothes, including a brand-new pair of worn-only-once pants – as it turns out, nothing breaks in a new pair of pants like 14 hours in a labor-and-delivery room; maybe the Gap can launch a new “obstetrically distressed” line.

Lorelei finally emerged, squalling (even before her shoulders cleared, I might add – not an image I imagine Eric will soon forget) and perfect. Eric and I both cried. The nurse put her on my chest, and she immediately began bobbing her head up and down on my sternum like a barnyard chicken. “That’s her rooting reflex,” the nurse said. “She’ll eventually make her way over to nurse.” It didn’t take her long – the kid has the nose of a truffle pig.

Over the next 48 hours in the hospital, we had some wonderful visits from family and a wide spectrum of nurses checking in on us, ranging from the laid-back (the one who declared that “The Lorelei is an awesome bar in the Keys”), to the misguided (the one who tried to do a test on Lorelei 24 hours too early), to the clueless (the one who looked right at the “I’m a girl!” sign on Lorelei’s bassinet and promptly addressed her as “little fella”).

We also had a visit from a truly frightening lactation consultant – with apologies to the profession, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s any other kind. She told us that it was imperative that I feed Lorelei promptly at all times – “Even if there is poop running down her leg, nursing should be your first priority. If you let her get too hungry, she will attack you like a ravenous bear.” She also insisted on coming back later to “check your latch.” I didn’t want her checking my latch or anything else. Fortunately, she was in high demand during the rest of our stay, and my latch and I were blessedly left to our own devices.