Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A very Bumpus-y Halloween

Here are some shots of Bumpus as - what else - on his first Halloween on the outside! Plus his first swing experience today. I'm pleased to say he enjoyed both!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Festive Season

We are heading into what I will from now on call The Festive Season. Halloween through New Year's is pretty much non-stop holiday stuff. And as of right now, I'm totally into it.

I sent an invite for a Christmas party I'm going to throw on the 23rd of Dec. Last year's party was slightly marred by the fact that I was very pregnant and too worried about falling or otherwise straining myself by setting up a tree or properly decorating. Not so this year! I have every intention of going all out. If I could afford it, and wasn't afraid the local homeboys would come into the yard and steal them, I would get some of those animatronic light up deer for the front. But I can certainly do wonders with some basic lighting.

Mom Guru and I are getting together with some other parents tomorrow for one of the LA suburbs' charming little small town Halloween parades. Bumpus' costume is WAY too big so I will spend tonight trying to take it in (or may just do a quickie job with safety pins tomorrow-!). I will also spend tonight making devil's food cake cupcakes from my favorite 1930's recipe. The supermarket was out of spooky shape sprinkles and I forgot the food coloring for the frosting, but I'll make it work somehow! I am inordinately excited about baking again. I missed it a lot.

Bumpus will never remember his first Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas outside of stories, pictures and videos. But already his very presence has made this holiday season very special for me, and for this I am truly thankful.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Today I decided to take the poor neglected dog out in a recalled baby sling for a nice hike. She seemed to enjoy it, although as you can see Bumpus looks a bit skeptical.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My "no duh" moment

Lately I find myself getting caught up in weird assumptions that, once debunked, make me wonder, what the heck was I thinking...? Is it getting older? Is it sleep deprivation? Or am I just getting less flexible and creative in my thinking? Or have I always been this way?

For example I spent weeks - weeks, I tell you - agonizing over how to afford to fly this French couple to teach at my event, since they were attending another event in the US a week before and didn't think they could easily re-enter the US a few days after returning to France. It was a sea of emails back and forth and lots of worry on my part that I would have to sheepishly tell them I couldn't afford them after all (for some reason flights were twice the cost when buying just one way or multiple cities) before a very simple and obvious solution appeared to me - just fly them to the other event and then back from LA and they pick up the very cheap internal US flight (originally before I hired them they would have had to buy their own flight to and from the US-France, so this made them very happy). Why this didn't occur to me when they first told me about their plans for this other event I have no idea. It's the baby. I blame the baby. :)

So along those lines, as I was lying in bed last night fuming over my neighbor's totally irritating Halloween party, the idea suddenly hit me - I have the Baby Kennel for nights and weekends already; why not just make my "free day" a weekend day? No new paperwork, no getting used to a whole new place and their policies, no being locked down to set days or times. I was thinking the other day about what exactly I'd do with a five hour stretch of time during the week; with all my friends working, I could see myself just wandering around aimlessly. But on weekends, I can see friends for lunch, movies, shopping, hiking, skiing, or just stay home and sleep or hang out in the hot tub. And I can switch back and forth between Saturday and Sunday as kid-friendly activities (kid's birthday parties, Babywearing groups, etc) arise, and when they don't (hair cuts, strenuous hikes).

I think it just didn't occur to me because I still think of weekends as family time, but for me all the time is family time, and if anything as a band singer I spend more time technically working on weekends than not. I like the flexibility of it, how I can plan week to week. I think the hard part is going to be setting up a day even when I don't have plans - making it a set thing that I MUST use one day every weekend whether I need it to go do an activity or not. That it's ok to spend $50 to have someone watch my child for five hours so I can just hang out and read or nap or sit around and play on the Internet. That this is my "free period", that I earned it, and it's ok. It's going to be hard to convince myself of this, but I think I can do it!

Friday, October 26, 2012

7 month photo outtakes

So my neighbors are having an unbelievably loud and obnoxious party and I can't sleep, so just for the heck of it, here's some outtakes from my seven month "shoot":

Thursday, October 25, 2012

7 months

Almost forgot! Seven months yesterday!

Learning curve

Today I went to a Babywearing meet hosted by my Mom Guru friend and they showed me how to do this wrap - can't remember the name of it; double half calf and a sow cow? Something like that. Anyway I am completely in awe of these women who can take a simple length of cloth and turn it into all these amazing carrying positions. A hat, a brooch, a pterodactyl? I can't even remember how to use my Beco for back carrying!

Since I am thinking of getting B into some occasional daytime care and don't want to spend my entire life pumping (also I'm secretly terrified of his teeth coming in and my poor wasted nipples being chomped - ouch!) I have decided to at least make some effort at baby food making. I have two cookbooks and a steamer/purée machine; today I took them all out and started reading and mentally preparing. Why is it I'm so reluctant to do something for the first time? Is everyone like this, or is it just me?

I know when I've even done it once I'll feel better - it sounds very simple, just steam, purée, freeze. I can do that. But will I do it? More and more friends, especially those with multiple children, tell me they can't be buggered with all that, thus the Baby-Led Weaning; it's just simpler to have Baby eat what you eat. And since mostly what I eat is slop anyway (bean stews, lentil soup, etc) that won't be a problem in this house. But I have to say the whole non-breastfeeding food thing is daunting to me. The mess, the accoutrements, the time spent. You can see why I'm not exactly falling all over myself to get started, despite my earlier enthusiasm. Still, just like with the breastfeeding, I feel like I need to at least try. I cook all my own food from scratch anyway, what's a little carrot purée?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Time off

Went to the Ghetto Daycare for a tour. And you know what - it was great! Sure, it was in one of LA's shittiest neighborhoods, but it was an island of gleaming white stucco and impeccable gated grounds in the midst of the marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores. The interior was very similar to the Baby Kennel. And apparently there's no minimums - just $50 a day and that's it. You set your own days and hours. I'm a little suspicious - how is it they can be this flexible but nobody else is? The lady I spoke to didn't seem to know much about their pricing and policies so part of me thinks if I do sign up there they'll turn around and say I do have to commit to two days a week - and the resultant $500 fees. But as of right now it looks like it could be pretty ideal.

I'm torn as to when/how to start. Part of me doesn't want to do anything until the start of next year - then I think I should start now at one day every other week and then move on to one day a week in Jan. Just thinking about what I could do with a free day now and then - a whole five or six hour stretch to myself...! I could nap, shop, see movies, meet people for lunch, even, dare I say

It makes me really excited just to think of having a special time during the day once a week or every other week where I'm not obligated to go anywhere or do anything and Bumpus can play with new toys and interact with other babies. I feel like at nine months old (by Dec) I've put in my time, no? I've been with the boy 24/7 all this time, it's ok to get a day off now and then, right? Right???

Plastic Crap

Today I am going to visit a cheap daycare. I kind of don't want to even keep the appointment - between you and me, I have pretty much decided not to seek out part time daycare because I simply can't afford it. But I'll go to this place today largely because I'm curious and partially to get out of the house!

Yesterday I saw my walking friend who has a baby and a seven year old, and she had lots of great ideas as to free stuff to entertain and socialize the boy. So maybe it is just a question of getting us into various play groups and things rather than paying for child care. Again, it's not so much that I need time away from B as it is I don't want him to be bored and unstimulated at home.

So no matter how good I think I am at planning my social calendar I am going to have to ramp things up - WAY up. I figure I'll need a morning and an evening activity just about every day to keep me sane. So I joined a bunch of meetups but still need to join more, and will start taking advantage of some of the free activities my friend mentioned.

I so get it now. Kids need tons of activities. And tons of toys. The louder, brighter, and more hideous, the better. They need to just be thrown in a pit with other kids and tons of plastic crap. This is what they want. Well, this is what boys want, anyway. Sigh.

My octagon gate thing arrived today, so I can turn one room into a playroom for The Bumpus where I don't have to worry about him getting hurt. Friday I pick up a little baby holder with wheels thing he can truck around in. Between those things, the bouncer and the playpen, we should be covered as far as baby restraints around the house. Starting to feel less out of control there.

Yesterday we walked with an older friend who always mentions how she "just never had the guts" to have a baby on her own but wishes she had - then last night I got together with my old writing group, and one of the women there told me she tried the whole artificial insemination thing many years ago when she was 40 and just couldn't get pregnant due to fibroids and scar tissue on her ovaries. It's amazing the stories that come out when you bring your baby around!

Monday, October 22, 2012

I ain't scared of you

Today I had to channel a little Bernie Mac in my Hall of Fame meeting. As some of you may recall, I am on the Board of Directors of this Hall of Fame for my kind of dancing, and we had our big gala event last month, and it was a disaster, largely due to our awful insulting MC, who we unfortunately had made a board member before the event. So I knew today we would have to face him as we evaluated how the event went, and we'd have to call him out on his behavior. The women on the Board all agreed with me privately - but much to my chagrin, only one of them was present at the meeting. The rest of the meeting was like this good old boys' network of yes men and enablers. I was horrified as everyone went around the room and said how much they enjoyed the event and how well they all thought it went - as I had feared, we were being hung out to dry (that's the women). And I felt myself caving in on myself - I don't mind admitting I was scared of this guy. He's a real jerk - an old school chauvinist who cuts women off when they speak and has this very imposing personae. He's big and loud and a real bully.

But then I remembered this great story about comedian Bernie Mac and how he had to perform for this tough room and walked right out on stage and said, "I ain't scared of you motherfuckers!" And somehow this gave me the strength to stand up to this guy and say what needed to be said. He of course offered no apology and tried to turn it around on me that it was my fault that none of my people supported the event. Typical male ego, ugh! I have zero patience for it, zero. Which is probably why I'm (happily) single.

At any rate we went round and round and accomplished nothing at the meeting and I left as usual wondering if I should quit. I know you're sick of hearing this. I'm sick of hearing myself talk about this. Luckily we don't meet again until Jan so I can decide if I want to resign or not. By then I will probably need to get a sitter for Bumpus for the meeting(s), too. It's hard to feel authoritative with a baby on your boob.

So I drove home with my stomach in knots and a massive headache, then had to put on a tight uncomfortable wig and sing at a Halloween party for five hours for peanuts while I handed over every penny I made to pay my super-expensive new babysitter for the night.

This day can just go take a flying leap, seriously.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Baby Led Sleeping

Yesterday I had a lovely long hike using the jogging stroller, then went to the farmer's market. It is so true that having even basic things to do to get yourself out of the house makes such a difference. In the meantime, my search for part time daycare has come up pretty empty - I even went through one of those websites that lists every facility in the city and checked their websites one by one, and called the ones that didn't have enough information. What I'm finding is that 99% of them don't take children under 2. And those that do require a minimum of two full days, usually at a cost of $600 + a month. I am going to tour a Catholic-run place that seems to offer more flexible schedules, but I'm a little concerned about it because a) it's in a horrible neighborhood, and b) when you call, the phone message talks mainly about their "treatment program" which makes me wonder if this isn't actually some sort of center for teenaged drug addicted mothers to drop their kids...not that there's anything technically wrong with that, but still...if you had the choice, would you choose to leave your infant at a place that doubles as a drug rehab? Probably not.

So my Baby Kennel is still in the running as 1st choice. I always find it oddly gratifying when your first idea turns out to be the best idea. One good thing about all this research, though, is I found tons of amazing preschools, when the time comes!

It's been posited to me to just engage a sitter to come over and watch him while I go hang out - but that does remove the whole point of wanting him to have new experiences and interact with other kids, which will get more and more important as he grows. Believe it or not, this really is more about him than me - otherwise yes, just having someone come over would be far cheaper and more convenient.

I was thinking yesterday about how when my event rolls around how great it'll be to have that time for work - those intensive computer projects that drag on for hours and require total concentration, like editing this year's Hall of Fame video. Yeah, kind of can't have a toddler running around during that. So even if I choose not to enlist extra care right now, I will need it in a few months for sure.

In the meantime I joined a couple of local meetup groups for moms, so maybe getting me out of the house once or twice a week to do fun local things will help me. Anyway with the holidays coming up I'm hoping to keep fairly busy.

My yard is done! It's been a dream of mine for years to replant it, and now it's done. Of course now it just looks like a few spindly little plants sticking out of bark - but when it all grows in, ah! And all succulents, so they'll stay green no matter what. So pleased with it.

On the sleep front, I've kind of been doing my own version of Baby-Led Sleeping, and it's been very interesting. One night he conked out at 6:30 and I built him a little fort on the couch to sleep in; some nights I take him to bed with me at 9 (like last night when I wanted to watch the documentary about Ethel Kennedy), some nights at 11 or later. And you know what? He sleeps exactly the same no matter what - up a few times to eat, then up for good around 8:30 AM. I guess it shows nobody knows nothing when it comes to babies' sleep. Just go with their cues and you'll be fine!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scrambling and adapting

Thanks, ladies, for all your helpful comments on my last post. You immediately alleviated any guilt I may have had surrounding how lame I felt that I needed to enlist child care just because I need a break. Apparently everyone does, even people with partners who (in theory) share child care. So, thanks for that!

I googled looking for Mother's Day Out programs but couldn't find any in LA - however, I bet they exist here, you just have to dig a little harder. They are probably at churches that don't have websites or call the program something else. So I've called in the cavalry - posting all over and texting everyone I know with kids. No results yet but I'll just keep trying. I did talk to some places today but they all either don't take babies, have a long wait list, or are way too expensive.

Worse comes to worst there's the Baby Kennel who would be my preference - as I know them and trust them, and the days/times they offer me are perfect. But I have to somehow come up with another $500 a month. Ouch.

Still I picture myself this winter trapped indoors with a crying toddler and it fills me with dread. Day in, day out. Ahhhh! I definitely need to ramp up my sociability - I can do more groups and gatherings for sure; but even now with all my nights out, yoga, swimming, hikes, etc etc, it's STILL not enough. Which begs the question - will anything ever be enough? Will I ever feel like I have a balanced life where all (or most) of my needs are being met? I don't know.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A little help

It dawned on me yesterday that I just might want to get Bumpus into some kind of program. Like, a daycare/nursery school-type program. Not all day every day, just one or two days a week for a few hours. It sounds ridiculous coming from one who technically does not work and so does not need someone to take the baby during the day...but I think it's ok to admit that I don't know what I'm doing, I need help, and most importantly, I need a BREAK.

I've noticed how nice our days are when we have activities - like yesterday when we went to a mommy & me movie, then to swim class. But at night I find I just rotate him endlessly between his playpen with his toys, and his jumperoo. That's it, just back and forth all night. He seems ok with this - he can entertain himself for hours, which is great. And of course there's plenty of mom hugs/nursing/playing in there, too - but honestly, what exactly do you DO with a baby for twelve hours??? I'm kind of at a loss.

So my Baby Kennel (my name for it) offers daycare at $500/mo at his age for two days a week, up until the age of two, then the price drops considerably. I don't think this is anything I'd do right now - maybe not even until after the next event a year from now. But it's something to think about - that he can interact with other kids, play with new toys, have new experiences, AND I can have two whole days a week to myself, which would be so amazing.

I hadn't intended to have him in any kind of preschool until he was three or four just because of the cost - but I really think he could benefit from doing something else a couple of days a week. He does get bored now - he needs stimulation, he needs new things to do. And there's only so much I can provide for him, really. Days like this where I don't leave the house and we just sit around all day are brutal.

So, it's something to think about. Luckily I have the freedom to make this choice or not, any time. But boy does a five hour nap sound good right now!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Shmeep Training

So I had gotten it into my head that Bumpus needed to be put to bed earlier. Looking back now I think this was because A) he got sleepy & cranky when I had him out at a couple of nighttime functions, and B) I saw online that babies who are put to bed really early (6-7 PM) tend to not wake up at night (ie, sleep straight through to the morning). Bumpus still sleeps as he always did - one marathon sleep for about four - five hours at first, then up every two - three until we get up between nine and ten. I would love to have an unbroken stretch of sleep longer than four hours just once. So, sleep training.

And you know what? Kinda not working for me. Every night has been completely different - but all have involved hearing my baby scream his head off to complete hysteria in his crib, finally caving in to go pick him up, only to be stuck comforting him for an hour or two, since that's how long it takes for him to come down when he gets that worked up (which I normally never let happen for obvious reasons). And then only to have him sleep exactly the same as he ever does, with the added unpleasant bonus of him waking up for the day a couple of hours earlier since he went to bed earlier, which does NOT go with my schedule. Like, not at all.

See, sleep experts always assume three things - one, that there's a working partner who needs his or her sleep and their rightful place in the family bed. Uh, no. Two, they assume I want to be up at 6-7 AM every day. Hell no. And three, that I have to sleep train the baby because I've got a job to get to. No, again. So if a baby Bumpus' age needs 10-12 hours of sleep a night and some naps, and normally he has two-three decent naps during the day and sleeps from 10 PM to 10 AM, isn't that enough? So technically I don't actually have a sleep-deprived baby, I just did the math wrong.

There's still the issue of not waking up at night - but as a friend pointed out today, most people who do sleep training may have babies who go to bed early, but they still wake up a few times to eat. Some babies just naturally sleep through and some don't. I also have a baby who has a cold, is in a major growth spurt, and has started tons of new skills all at once (babbling like crazy, standing, crawling). All of these things could affect his sleep, make him cranky, etc.

In the end it gets down to this - while trying to get him to sleep, for the last week my entire evening (6-10 PM) was completely consumed with trying to get this baby to sleep in his crib, tiptoeing around waiting to hear his cries, timing how long I should wait before going in to comfort him hoping he'd self-soothe (he never did). Then just to have the same kind of sleep I always have had (except being woken up especially early, good times).

Instead tonight we're having a pleasant evening, me watching Jackass 2 and he playing in his jumperoo. Around ten we'll go to bed, and that'll be it. Is this for everyone? Certainly not. It's all about your own needs and circumstances. But in weighing the options it just didn't make sense to go through this every night just to have a baby who's going to wake me up too early anyway. I say screw it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who IS that?

I'm in the Men's Warehouse parking lot again eating you-know-what (herbal tea this time, thank you very much). Not out of anxiety, this time I'd just been trapped in the house for two days and just needed to go somewhere, anywhere. Krispy Kreme flew to mind for some reason.

My former nemesis texted me today that she found out she is having a boy. She did a very early amino since some of her NT results came back not great (but she said the results that were off could have been because this is an IVF baby). It's funny, she had mentioned she had gotten not great NT results at our brunch but didn't say much else - then today in her texts she said she almost went out of her mind with worry. I wanted to ask why she didn't reach out - but then was reminded how much I hate it when you're having a problem and someone gets mad at you for not asking for help, etc, rather than just offering sympathy and comfort. After all when I was TTC and had all kinds of frustrating things happen I didn't tell her, either. So there you go.

I am happy she's having a boy since she has almost my exact due date, meaning her boy and mine will be only a year apart. My Mom Guru friend thinks she's having a boy, too, also early next year. It's so cool to think of all these little boys running around growing up together.

Which brings me to the topic of...who the hell's life is this? Sons growing up together? Halloween parades? Play dates? Getting to know friends I've already shared an adult life with all over again, in a whole new way? I so often catch myself in the mirror holding Bumpus and wonder who's cute kid I'm babysitting. This can't all be real, right?

Is it just because I waited so long and had so much disappointment that I feel this way, or do all happy mothers feel this way - that this level of joy and satisfaction with your kids is something only other people get to experience?

And we're even sick, and things haven't been so great for me emotionally lately, yet I still feel really good about The Bumpus.

Honestly I just can't kiss and hug him enough. Sometimes I think I'll squeeze him so tight a substance resembling guacamole will come out of his ears.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


...and now we're both sick. Bumpus has a runny nose and cough, but no fever, and is in good spirits. I am debating on whether or not to take him to a doctor - but I figure with these conditions, there's not much they can do for him. If he had a fever, became lethargic, etc, I would take him in. But until then I think this is one of those "ride it out" scenarios. Dr. Google says unless certain things go on (like mentioned above) all I really need to do is clear his nose and run a humidifier. It'll be ok, right? Right???

By the way, if I'm ever tempted to have a coffee drink again, please slap it out of my hand. That iced coffee yesterday brought me to a full on panic attack - nausea, heart palpitations, throat closing, the whole bit. That's why I stopped drinking even iced tea in the weeks before my event, I find for me even small amounts of caffeine + already elevated stress level = panic attack. I freaked out for hours, and none of my usual self-soothing methods worked. Ugh.

I was worried about my already planned outing last night, but I went, and it was good for both of us. I was able to calm the F down while distracted out with friends, and Bumpus got to bed by 7:30 and slept until about 2 AM (at which point I brought him into my bed to feed and then just left him there). This is what I want - Bumpus sleeping in the evening, and happy sitters just hanging out and making sure he's safe.

Today although I'm officially under the weather I feel worlds better. I ordered a standing tray-type thing that's portable for B to hang out in (will be great for traveling to MA at Thanksgiving), and will get on the baby proofing/reorganization of the house. Changing times demand creativity, you know? And thankfully B is delighted by his jumperoo for literally hours, so at least for now I have something to keep him in one spot!

Now to try getting The Bumpus to bed early all by myself, agh!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Starting Over

I'm sitting in the car in a Men's Wearhouse parking lot, eating two Krispy Kreme donuts and an iced coffee. I'll have it be known I've had maybe two iced coffees in my entire life and am a little concerned it'll make me jittery. But I just needed...something. So for right now the #1 donut combo was it.

I'm having a rough day. Woke up to rat bites in my last two avocados on my kitchen table, which means the rats are back. Which means I feel all grossed out in my house again.

And now it's become apparent that this boy is advancing so rapidly that almost none of my current methods to entertain/contain/soothe him are going to work anymore.

I can't leave him on the bathroom floor to crawl around as I shower anymore because he now: pulls himself up to standing and then falls full on his back, clunking his head on the toilet; can open the garbage can and inspect its contents; is fascinated by the electrical outlet; and wants to eat the plumbing.

He is seconds away from crawling out of the crib and into the bed (with resultant rolling onto floor). Even without this, he can pull up to standing and then of course fall straight back, cracking his skull open.

I can't have him on the floor with his toys anymore because he can crawl into the fireplace quicker than I can jump up and grab him. Also pulls up to standing and falls back, cracking skull (do you sense a theme here?).

I can't have him in the swing much longer because he's now lurching forward, and soon will be able to flip it over.

The pack 'n play and jumperoo are still good, thank God. But he can't stay in those for long. And still manages to pull himself up in the p 'n p and fall over, cracking his skull on some toy I thought was safe.

All of these new developments happened in the last couple of days. And last night's attempt at getting him to bed at a normal time was an utter failure - spent hours nursing, rocking, ignoring, whatever, only to give up and plunk him in the jumperoo where he then fell asleep standing up (only to wake up when I pulled him out of it).

To top everything off the poor little guy has a full blown cold - runny nose, bad cough, etc. So he's already uncomfortable, and here he's making all these developmental leaps, and I'm trying to get him to bed earlier because he seems over-tired, and he's mangling my nipples again, so I'm in pain and sleep deprived and miserable. And all of my usual tricks are now irrelevant and useless, and I don't know what to do. I feel like I'm starting over with a newborn, but one that won't stay put.

And I just went to the post office and discovered a big red bite on one cheek, so obviously some bug or spider was in the car and bit him.

Before I had a baby I always pictured six months as being a really nice age. Maybe it will be once we get past this transitional period. But right now it just sucks.


Monday, October 8, 2012

My favorite baby gear, 0-6 months

Hey all - since I've been actively clearing out my nursery I've been keeping a mental note of what baby shower items actually ended up being useful and which did not (so far). I thought I'd pass this info on for anyone who's as overwhelmed as I was in picking out gear, and wants to keep things simple.

Keep in mind these choices are very subjective based on the mom, the baby, what kind of climate you live in, if you breastfeed, if you co-sleep, what kind of diapers you use, etc. So these items assume you're an exclusive breastfeeder, have a warm climate, co-sleep, use disposable diapers, and don't have a lot of help around the house.

Feeding stuff:

If you're a breastfeeder, you'll need a pump. But you'll also need pump accessories. You'll need bottles or bags for freezing, and believe it or not, a pumping bra. When I was pregnant I saw a box with a picture of a woman wearing a pumping bra and blithely working on her laptop and I thought it was the dumbest thing I'd ever seen. Now six months out, let me tell you, pumping bras are AWESOME. Unless you want to spend twenty minutes shoving plastic cups on your boobs with both hands while hunched over awkwardly as your baby screams and rolls off the bed, GET ONE.

I have worn silicone nipple protectors under every bra every day and am convinced it's why I haven't had any nipple issues. They are deliciously cool and protect raw nipples from chafing against cloth.

Sleeping bras - awesome! Just yank one over a boob and bam, fed baby. Believe me, you're not going to want to deal with clips and attachments when half asleep, and going nude just means leaked milk all over the bed (and chafed nipples).

Some form of breastfeeding pillow. I used a borrowed Brest Friend, but the Boppy is good, too. I called it my Baby Tray because I could just pop the baby on it and he'd nurse and then sleep while I was delightfully hands-free to eat or work on the computer. Again, try awkwardly cradling your fifteen pound squirmy infant for some of these marathon hour+ nursing sessions and you'll see how useful a well crafted piece of foam with a removable cover can be! (Get additional covers).

Hooter Hiders or similar item for nursing in public (NIP). Unless you're a whip-it-out kind of gal, you'll want something to cover up with, and blankets tend to slide off. This item has a strap to put over your head. Hands down the item I have used the most from my shower.

Baby holding:

As a single mom, you'll need items to hold your baby. I found the best thing was to have a different one in every room - a swing, a bouncy seat, a pack 'n play (aka play pen), a crib. Make sure at least some of these items are easily moved from room to room. Most of these were best after about 2 mos.

Until and after 2 mos, carriers are essential. My favorite was the Becco because it felt the most sturdy and safe, and I didn't feel the need to always have another hand on him. Also the little hood was great sun protection (it's no fun having to bust out a hat and sunscreen every time you leave the house).

Carriers are magic baby calmers/sleepers, especially for newborns. I'd also recommend the Moby and ring slings. It allows you to get work done around the house on those first weeks when they may not like the swing or bouncy seat. And all carriers are great for outdoor activities - shopping, hiking, lunch with friends, etc.

When you're baby is ok with a stroller (mine wasn't until about three-four months), I'd recommend the car seat/stroller frame combo like the Gracco snap 'n go I have. I swore I'd never be one of those women lugging around a heavy bucket car seat - but here I am, lugging around a heavy bucket car seat. Why? Because babies fall asleep in the car, and believe it or not, you're not going to want to wake them up just to transport them into the house. Transferring a sleeping baby from the car to the store to home, where they continue to nap while you have lunch and do chores, is one of life's great joys. A removable bucket car seat makes this possible.


I probably used five onesies and two pairs of socks during my baby's first five months. This is largely because a) it was summer, and b) he's a boy, so super cute little coordinated outfits are not so easy to come by. But I found I really needed hardly anything to clothe the little guy. Hats were essential for sun protection, however.


Swaddlers were super important for sleep. He's outgrown the need now, but little babies startle awake a lot. I just loved my swaddler that had a little zip up bag to put him in and then flaps to cross over his arms. Any other kind he just wiggled out of.

My guy doesn't really love pacifiers, but there were a few occasions when they really helped him sleep (and gave my poor nipples a rest). So I always try to have a couple on hand.

My free white noise app on my phone was HUGE in helping him sleep the first couple of months.

We haven't really used blankets yet due to the season, but oh boy are those basic little flannel receiving blankets useful! I have one on hand at all times for poop/pee/spit up emergencies and they've saved countless pants, rugs, and upholstered furniture. I go through 1-2 a day.


I use Seventh Generation disposable diapers and wipes bought on We've never had the slightest issue with diaper rash or anything else except one time when I used some super perfumey wipes.

I have not yet used my changing table or pad, but sitters have. I just change him on my bed.

I have a cute 1940s diaper pail. I wouldn't so much recommend using an old one over today's technology, but I find it aesthetically pleasing.


Gate check bag for your stroller and/or car seat if you plan on flying. When you see the condition of the bag after a flight you'll be glad all that didn't happen to your car seat.

Toys that interest him/her - always good to throw on a blanket on the floor for some good ol' fashioned tummy time. Great for distraction during meltdowns or when bored in a swing or play pen, too.

Baby sized nail clippers - you can never know how important it is to keep your baby's tiny little razor-like fingernails trimmed until you've been scratched by one, or watched your newborn claw his own face. I trim his every few days. It's not pleasant but absolutely necessary.

If you're like me and find yourself in loud situations with your baby, hearing protection is important. Since the baby headphones I got were far too large and tight for anyone under probably three or four years of age, I opted for a soft headband-type deal called Smuffs I found after some googling.

What's in my diaper bag?

Diapers (at least two)
Mat for changing
Spare onesie
Receiving blanket
Hooter Hiders
Wet bag for used diapers and other messes
Sunscreen (baby friendly)
Toys, if going somewhere where he'll be bored and need to play

Ok, I think this covers it. Feel free to chime in with your own favorite items!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Bickersons

So today I went to visit my former nemesis at her fabulous home for a home-cooked brunch. I had protested that I'd been spending way too much money lately so she offered to cook which I thought was very nice.

Umm...didn't turn out so nice. She and Mr. Perfect have, after a year and a half of marriage, turned into The Bickersons. She always bossed him around a bit, but now - good Lord. I couldn't even get a word in edgewise because they were so busy arguing over every stupid detail. Every time I tried to deflect and start a new subject they'd start in on the same thing - whether or not to let the dogs out, how to make the pancakes. It was so uncomfortable!

And not to be too mean but the food was a bit of a disaster. And I love me some brunch, and I came hungry. So I don't mind admitting I was bitterly disappointed when I discovered all that was on offer was mealy undercooked pancakes that looked like a five-year-old made them, and white bread toast with fake butter. Argh!

At some point the husband just disappeared and I never even got to say goodbye to him.

Why are other people so weird?!

Once again I felt like I was positively fleeing to my own house, where things are as they should be. I had a lovely afternoon planting my herb garden and tidying up, sorting Bumpus' too small clothes to give away, cooking and cleaning. Honestly, I've never been more grateful that I'm not in some craptastic relationship!

Big boy jammies

Yesterday was the first time I was late returning to the Baby Kennel to pick up B, and it sucked. I had seriously underestimated how long it would take to drive to Long Beach, get my hair cut and colored, have dinner, and drive to Pasadena. I estimated four hours; it took five. So when I called to say I'd be a half hour late, I was a half hour late even after that, and they called while I was driving to see when I was showing up because the baby was hungry. Oy! Well, they did a pretty good job of not making me feel guilty when I got there. I immediately nursed him and took his cranky butt home rather than to the baby shower I had meant to catch the tail end of.

Since he was sleeping when we got home around 8:30 I just put him right in the crib, and had that other-worldly feeling of "oh my God, the baby's asleep without me and is in no danger...what the heck do I do now?" My hope was to have him sleep through the night, but it was not to be. He woke up hysterical about an hour later; I took the opportunity to change his diaper, put on some covering jammies he hasn't worn yet (see picture), and nurse him back to sleep. Then he slept a few hours while I watched bad Saturday night TV and in general didn't know what to do with myself, since I am NEVER not "on call" when we're home.

The funny thing was there were a lot of parties last night and they echo all around these hills, and there was some chick speaking Spanish on a mic somewhere and it sounded exactly like Bumpus fussing, so I kept running into the bedroom thinking he was up when he wasn't.

In the end he didn't sleep any better than he ever does. I took him into the bed finally after nursing once because my experience was every time I put him in the crib he would sit up and smash his head against the slats and then cry. There's got to be some decent bumpers out there that are safe and fit and aren't too thin!

Still I am going to keep trying to put him to bed early. I hate the thought of depriving him of needed sleep for my own emotional needs. And now he has another in a series of colds so I want to make sure he gets plenty of rest, since there's not much else I can do for him.

Yesterday I went out and bought tons of herbs for my soon to be herb garden. The Home Depot had a surprising collection - pineapple sage, various mints, lemon thyme, herbs that taste like apples and cinnamon. Yummy! If I can pull this off and not kill them all I might consider starting a cutting garden, too. Always been a dream of mine.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Food, sleep, and other new stuff

So after last night it's become quite clear that I can't take Bumpus to singing gigs with me anymore. He's developed enough now that he gets all riled up by the attention and noise and can't just conk out like he used to, with resultant screaming when he gets over tired an hour later. It's just as well. I stress out over him when he's with me out at night, and am in constant terror of people's judgment. I've already heard of one person I know pointing at me and the baby at some dance and saying "now that right there is bad parenting," but he's so nuts that I just laughed. However it would really hurt me if someone I cared about said that.

I've heard enough people talk about the "over tired" phenomenon that I am starting to think that's what's going on around here - he does get cranky in the evenings again after about 7 or 8, and wakes up a lot during the night. It's like having a newborn again! I've read online this is a sign your baby is ready for a bed time - that they really should be put to bed around when the sun goes down and then they will magically sleep through the night, as counterintuitive as this sounds. So I will try it. Part of me was kind of bummed thinking about not playing with him at night - but I had to remember he's not here to entertain me!

I have no freakin' idea how to get him to just go to sleep in his crib on his own when so far he's always gone to bed with me when I go to bed...but if he's truly tired it might not be too hard. Last night when I got home from the gig I nursed him and put him down to sleep in the crib - in about 20 minutes he was asleep, and slept about 4-5 hours. I may have to get a monitor now!

I also tentatively started him on food. I gave him a little piece of avocado in a silicone mesh feeder. He seemed curious about it, much like he was about the pool at first - not thrilled, exactly, just quiet and contemplative. He did keep going for it, though, which I guess means he didn't hate it. He did love banging the metal tray of his vintage high chair, however. That was a big hit!

He is babbling like crazy now, loves to practice moving his jaw up and down like he's chewing, and almost sounds like he's talking.

Last night a friend of mine brought her seven-year-old boy to the dance and he was a pain in the ass all night. Based on what school teachers have told me, seven is a really bad age for boys. So maybe my friend with the sullen kid and this friend from last night are actually just experiencing a normal phase for boys! It's hard to imagine my sweet baby being like that but I guess I'd better get used to it - it's going to happen one day. Agh!

On the home front, I am all excited about this sun tea jug I bought on Etsy. I want to plant an herb garden and make lovely herbal teas all winter. This is something I think I'll actually follow through with, because I just love tea, and in this climate it's doable. Lemon verbena, lavender, mint, pineapple sage, yum!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wait, don't wait!

I just deleted 2,000 photos off my phone in order to make room for a software upgrade, and various app upgrades. It was fascinating to see evidence of the last four years of my life - all my travels, dog stuff, house upgrades, and of course pregnancy & baby stuff. It really made me think.

It made me think about what I'm going to tell any potential "thinkers" who may contact me about trying to have a baby on their own, now that I'm a Contact Person for Los Angeles. A question I see asked so often by women in their early thirties or younger is "should I wait?"

I've had mixed feelings about having waited until 39 to have a baby. For me I feel like it was the right choice to wait until the last minute - I could have no unresolved feelings about "but what if Mr. Right was just around the corner?" or feelings of having unfinished business in the world (career, travel, etc). But having a baby older does have its drawbacks. As you know my pregnancy got complicated at the end, and this was very likely due to my age. I also had difficulty getting, and staying, pregnant, which was almost entirely due to my age, and cost several thousand $$ more than it might have cost a younger, more fertile person.

Then there's the "what comes next" issue, which for me and most of my fellow bloggers is the possibility of baby #2. For me I'm still in the 99.9% against camp; but it's again largely due to my age. If I knew getting & staying pregnant wouldn't be such an expensive crapshoot at my age, and if I could space the babies out 5+ years or so, I might do it. But at 40 I don't have that luxury. At 34 or 35 I would (and might have had a less traumatic pregnancy/birth experience the first time around).

Part of me also wishes I hadn't wasted my entire thirties going on endless Internet first dates that went nowhere. I could definitely have lived very happily without the memory of all that rejection and heartache. Wouldn't it have been better to spend my 30s family building rather than aimlessly dating and getting involved in disastrous real estate investments? Maybe these young women are onto something.

But I'm trying to put my 40-year-old brain into my 30-year-old body. During those years I still had the fantasy that I'd meet some awesome guy. I still hadn't gotten a handle on my anxiety and depression. I still ran my business every year like it was the last year. In other words - I just wasn't ready to be a mother.

And I know now that I am not, and probably will never be, ready to be the mother of two. Still I see the loss and disappointment around the blogosphere lately around baby #2 for people and it breaks my heart. You ladies are rock stars for throwing your hats in the ring again, I have to hand it to you. I wish I could be that certain and just forge ahead, damn the torpedoes, like I was for Bumpus. But mostly these days I think about how nice it is just the two of us, and how lucky I am I even got to have one at all. That's where I'm at.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I'm a CP!

So since my SMC membership stuff was sorted out, I got on the Forum and started poking around looking for local activities. As I had heard in the Choice Mom meeting I went to some time ago, there is a pretty active Pasadena group. I also emailed the Sherman Oaks contact person (CP) and she immediately wrote back welcoming me and encouraging me to join the Pasadena yahoo group. In the meantime I saw a post from the Single Mother by Choice founder Jane Ma.ttes asking for people to volunteer to be Contact People for their area, and threw my hat in the ring.

We had a lovely chat last night. It's always so weird when you've been reading about/hearing about a person so much and they seem like this huge celebrity to you, and then you get them on the phone and they apologize that they need to turn their TV down, and you think, "they watch TV? Oh my God, I watch TV, too!" Anyway she was delightful and seemed to feel like my email was very serendipitous, since she'd been concerned about the lack of a central-LA contact for some time (LA is funny like that - as you may know, there's no "there" here). So I am now the Contact Person for LA!

What that means is whenever someone emails SMC wanting information about groups or just needs to talk to someone local, they get forwarded to me. So I am kind of like the welcoming committee for anyone who reaches out at any stage - thinking, trying, motherhood. And I can start putting events together if there's any interest. So excited about this!!!

I know how much I would have killed to have someone to meet with when I was trying, and then pregnant. This kind of reminds me of my high school experience - the first year I was totally isolated and miserable; the second year it dawned on me to get involved in some school activities and clubs, and bam! Instant friends. Sometimes you have to make the effort and reach out, you know?

And last night Bumpus went right to sleep and slept normally and hasn't kicked or punched me once. What gives?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mommy is not a toy

I'm going to stop assuming that my observations about and issues with having a six-month-old baby are in any way unique. Every time I think I'm going through something that couldn't possibly be normal, I check out my blog roll or log into my "birth groups" on WTE or Baby Center and behold, find tons of posts just on the topic I'm dealing with, written by equally befuddled mothers.

The new thing we all seem to be going through is suddenly becoming punching bags for our babies. He was always a master kicker, but now I'm amazed I don't have black eyes, missing teeth, a broken nose and bald patches, for how much this child physically abuses me. At long last I've had to give up wearing my beloved hoop earrings, not because they could injure me by being ripped out (they snap off quite easily), but because I'm tired of retrieving them off dirty floors and putting the dirt in my ear hole. Picking the baby up is a tremulous experience for me now - is he going to head butt me? Is he going to yank my hair out? Is he going to slap me in the eye so hard I'll see stars?

Honestly the daytime stuff isn't that much of a big's the nights that are starting to become a real problem, and I don't know what to do about it. In the past I would put him to bed with me, I'd turn out the light and nurse him and within five minutes he'd be fast asleep. Every time. Now for the last couple of weeks it takes hours for him to settle down - and I mean hours. And he doesn't just lie there telling himself stories like he used to - now he punches and kicks me, and rolls all over the bed quite violently. Forget nursing - he's not interested, or if he does nurse he just rolls over taking my nipple with him. Last night as he slapped my face for the millionth time as I struggled to hold him down in the dark for the second hour, I thought, "something's got to give - we can't go on like this!" Unfortunately when I put him in the crib he just cries to get out.

So here's the question - do I put him to bed in the crib earlier and just let him cry it out, as I stay up in another room? Do I wait for whatever demonic phase this is to pass? Will starting solids help him sleep? His waking patterns are more or less the same, it's the crazy pre-sleep energy that I don't know what to do with. And as he does all this he's absolutely thrilled with himself - big smile on his face, just happy as can be. Help!