Vocabulary for New Parents

The other night, after waking up for a second time to nurse Frida, I was Googling any number of questions I’ve had recently–“When to start sleep routine with baby?” “How long after birth does your body take to heal?” “Sore, burning nipples?” “What’s the meaning of life?” etc–when I realized that there really should be a word for what I was doing.

I know other moms and dads are doing the same thing across the country. You can’t help it. You’re there. It’s 2 a.m. and you’re feeding a baby. Maybe your baby is colicky and you want to find a solution to that. Maybe your baby wakes too much or too little and you want to know what the internet says about that. Maybe you had no freaking idea that your body would be such a mess after giving birth and you hope someone can advise you in that area. And so you multi-task: you feed your baby and you look ask the internet for help.

What is this thing we are all doing? Boobling? Polling an all-nighter? Momvestigating? Readers, help me out here. I’m too sleep deprived to think of a good one.

In my own case, I’ve had a lot of reasons to Booble/momvestigate. Though having Frida has been a joy overall, there have also been challenges–to say the least.

The first was breastfeeding itself, which, in case you’ve never tried it, is not all that easy (at least for many of us). Within the first week my nipples were cracked and bleeding from Frida’s “improper latch” as they say in breastfeeding circles. So I spent many a late nights feeding her while also watching YouTube videos on how to get your baby to latch correctly (it turns out you have to treat your child’s head like a football and gently but firmly and–most importantly–swiftly steer it onto the goal post that is your nipple).

After things in the nipple department got a little better, I developed a bladder infection, which required antibiotics, which affected Frida (or at least I decided they affected her). For the first three weeks of life, Frida was the most docile, sleepy, lovely baby ever. I thought that maybe we were going to have one of “those babies,” i.e. the ones that slightly smug parents smile about and say, “She’s just always been SO easy.”

But then I got on antibiotics and suddenly Frida started to have gas issues. And when you’re a baby with gas, your best way of handling it is to scream and cry. So suddenly we had still-sweet baby, but one who occasionally took to screaming and crying (and sleeping less).

So of course, I started Googling, “How to help with gassy baby” and “Do antibiotics affect baby?” The internet helped a little bit there, mostly in reminded me what techniques we used for Nico when she was gassy. And after seven days my antibiotics regimen ended. I thought we were on the up and up.

Then, I kid you not, that same night I woke up with a high fever and a killer pain in one of my breasts. I mean killer. So as I fed Frida with the other breast, I Googled, “high fever and painful breast.” Every site that came back told me I had mastitis, which, if you don’t know, is a painful bacterial infection of the milk ducts. So, the next day I called my OB and described the symptoms to a nurse over the phone and she confirmed that I had mastitis and called in ANOTHER antibiotics prescription.

The antibiotics worked quickly and soon my fever was gone and my breast started to feel better. But by the next day, Frida was suddenly much worse, gas-wise. We had two nights in a row in which she just screamed for an hour or two without stopping. So, of course, those nights I Googled, “Does my baby have colic?” and “Signs of a colicky baby” and “When will this all stop??”

The internet was inconclusive on this front (apparently colic is only diagnosed if a baby cries for three straight hours, at least three days a week, starting around three weeks of age, which seems somewhat unscientific to me), but it did help me find one page that discussed antibiotics and infants and recommended that both Frida and I start taking probiotics. So we did that (Gerbers probiotics drops for her and a stronger one for me). And, so far, they’ve seemed to help. I’m still on antibiotics, but Frida’s gas is getting better. And my stomach (which was a little achy from the back-to-back doses of antibiotics) also feels better.

This is not to say that we won’t have more issues to come. But last night, at least, Frida fell asleep at 7:30 and woke up only to feed and then fell promptly back to sleep. I still have some pain when I’m feeding her, but it’s starting to feel a lot better. I’ve even downloaded a book to start listening to during my late-night feedings (H is for Hawk–it’s great!). So there is hope. Maybe I won’t need a word for that late night Googling after all…
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A “Magical” Day

We went to Disney World. With a two and a half year old.

Blog post done.

OK. A little more:

To prepare, we gave Nico an intro course on Disney and its enduring influence in our world. This is because the only Disney movie she’s ever seen was Frozen, and Disney hasn’t yet created a Frozen ride.

So we watched five minutes YouTube clips of Dumbo. Five minutes of Peter Pan. Five minutes of Beauty and the Beast. Etc.

Nico’s response? “Pobre Dumbo!” (Poor Dumbo!) We had accidentally showed her the scene where the circus masters take Dumbo’s mom away from him.

The next day, we all got up early and tried to be enthusiastic (to be fair Marta and her mom really were enthusiastic: they’ve never been to Disney World either). We planned to get to the park at 8 when it opened, but we were running late and got there at 8:30.

At which point we entered our first of many lines: a line of cars waiting to pay $20 to park.

The parking attendant took our $20 and handed back our receipt. “Have a Magical Day,” she said with absolutely no enthusiasm in her voice.

We parked and then waited in a line to get our tickets to enter the park, another line to get on a bus to take us to the real park, another line to get a $15 rental stroller because we’d accidentally left Nico’s at home, and then another line to get on our first ride: the carousal.

There were about 40 of us waiting for the next carousal ride. Nico was mildly excited about the horses. I was determined to get one on the outside row so that Marta could get a picture of Nico mildly excited on a horse. Apparently, other parents were thinking the same thing, because as soon as the two gates opened to let us out to find empty horses, there was mad dash, complete with pushing and shoving.

I ran toward one outside horse and another mother grabbed it out from under me. I spotted another one, but a father already had his hand on its mane. I was just about to give up and downgrade to an inner circle horse when that same father apparently found a better horse for his child and took off. I grabbed the outside mare, swung Nico into her saddle, and and scooted in behind her. Success!

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And so it went.

We went on the Peter Pan ride. On the Little Mermaid ride. On the Winnie the Poo ride. All of which are basically variations of the same ride. There is some sort of vehicle on tracks, be it a honey pot or a seashell, and it moves through a recreation of the world from one movie or another. My favorite was Peter Pan because we got to “fly.” Marta and her mom were impressed by how “realistic” the Little Mermaid was. Nico most of the time looked like this:

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or this:

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Not that she didn’t like Disney. She seemed to really enjoy parts of it. But it also often overwhelmed her (crazy I know) and rather than smile under the weight of so much “magic,” she stared blankly into space with a look that we might call funereal. She was probably the most visibly happy when we were in the stuffed animal store and she got to hold different character dolls. Second most happy when we spotted Winnie the Poo and Tigger walking around (she called them Winnie Caca y su amigo).

We followed Winnie and Tigger, as one does, and in doing so we realized they were going somewhere for a meet and greet (apparently this is a normal thing at Disney: it’s called a “character greeting appearance.” For more about this really really odd phenomenon, read this blog post.

So we followed them and realized there was a line to get a picture with them. It was relatively short and we were taking a lunch break, so I suggested we get in line. Nico liked the idea. She almost smiled. So we all got in line. And unlike other lines at Disney (which move really quickly) this line did not budge.

I didn’t think anything off it at first. But then I looked over at Poo and Tigger and saw someone handing them a book and them both singing that book. Marta was watching also. The book owners took their signed books back and beamed. They then stood for more pictures with Poo and Tigger. They got hugs from first one animal and then the other. This happened again and again. And often it wasn’t with kids. There were adults waiting in line to get pictures, to get their books signed, to get long hugs from Poo and Tiger.

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Marta joked that maybe it was some sort of therapy and I realized she was right. The adults waiting in line for their hugs went away from their “experience” with Winnie and Tigger with the biggest grins on their faces. They were genuinely happy. I was almost jealous of how it easy it was for them. Watching their odd joy was my favorite part of the day.

My second favorite moment was when Nico took a nap. Marta and her mom went to wait 45 minutes to board the Haunted Mansion ride and I volunteered to walk Nico’s stroller, with her sleeping in it, around the park. I walked the whole park, from Tomorrowland to Adventureland and back again, and I realized that it really is something. Maybe not magical, but something.

There are four-year-olds in princess dresses and gaudy makeup with tears streaming down their faces. There are families of six, all wearing the same t-shirt (“Franklin Family Christmas” or “First Time at Disney” or “We Love Belle”). There are also riverboats and trains and waterfalls and castles and turkeylegs on a stick and people talking any and every language and it was a beautiful 60 degrees out on the second day of the new year and I was alone for the first time since the Christmas holidays had begun. I wasn’t as happy as those Tigger and Poo huggers, but I was content.

The next day, we all went to a market and community garden in Orlando and Nico was visibly happy in a way she never was at Disney. She smelled everything, including the cacti, and hugged a tree.

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Which is not to say that I regret our trip to Disney. It seems like a rite of passage: taking your child to Disney. And now I’ve had that rite. We can move on to other things.