If Dads Ruled the World

Sunday, March 16

On Sunday morning, Clark woke up at his usual 6AM. I got him out of his crib, nursed him, and then brought him back to my bed so that I could cuddle my baby for awhile, and also so I could try to convince Jared to take a turn getting up with him so I could maybe sleep for an extra hour. It worked. Jared very generously agreed to my plan, and got up with Clark while I went back to bed. 

Two blessed hours later, I woke up, wandered into the kitchen, and Jared said Clark had just gone down for his morning nap.  He then proudly announced, "Also, don't worry! I already got him all dressed and ready for church." Uhhhh....


It was such a sweet gesture to get Clark ready for church, but, let's be honest...I'm more than a little particular about Clark's clothes. So I asked, "What exactly is he wearing?" Jared replied, "One of those fancy shirts you buy him. I don't know- it has pineapples and fire trucks on it."

Clark woke up, and when I got him out of his crib, this is what I found. 

In case you can't tell, that's not a shirt. That's a bubble romper, meant to be worn alone. And Jared had creatively paired it with a pair of what he calls "hipster skinny pants".  I laughed and told him thank you, but explained that it wasn't actually a shirt, it was it's OWN whole outfit by itself, so I started to take the bubble off and put another shirt on. Suddenly Jared looked at me like I lost my mind and said, "I can't believe you are taking that off. Meghann, do you have ANY IDEA how long it took me to get that thing on? There are just SO MANY confusing parts and REAL buttons!"

And then I got to thinking about dads. And about how dads are not moms, and that's just fine. 

Dads dress babies in whatever is clean and looks easy, colors and patterns be damned!  Moms just...don't.

Dads let babies have all kinds of crazy adventures that a mommy probably would not. For instance, meeting up with the guys for an afternoon of beer drinking downtown while mommy is at a baby shower. 

Wearing an Angry Birds t-shirt no less.

Dads are brave and feed their babies things that are both completely devoid of nutrition and also choking hazards in a mommy's eyes, like pepperoni pizza.

And dads even let the baby pose with the beer because it's funny. Mommy tends to worry about the people sitting nearby that are judging...um, I mean watching. 

Dads do things like attach the baby walker to a leash so the baby can't get too far before being reeled back.  Mommies just follow the walker around the house all paranoid about basically everything.

Daddies love to give sink baths and teach babies how to splash around  violently and how to work the sink sprayer.  Mommies always just wipe up the mess (but secretly think it's funny, too). 

I could go on and on. Daddies are not mommies and that's ok. In the end, it's better than ok, because everyone knows that dads are cooler and more fun, and I'm fine with that.  And mostly I'm just thankful that my baby has such an extra fun, extra cool dad.

(But really, I did change his church outfit because, let's be serious....)

The Nine Month Post that Wasn't (really)

Tuesday, March 4

I never took Clark's picture with his nine month sticker. Isn't that just terrible? The thing is...we were in PA when he turned nine months, and I had forgotten the sticker in TX. And when we got home, Clark was still sick and miserable and the last thing I wanted to do was force him to sit still for a photo op, and so now it's sort of too late. But hey- here's a regular picture of him the day before he turned nine months old! 

And also! 

And a week later, because these knee socks and little knees should be documented for all of eternity. 

Clark's ninth month has been hard, mainly because he was sick. But he has done so many new things! 

For the record, no, he is still not crawling. Still not interested. BUT! This month he learned how to clap his hands in excitement. Wave excitedly to everyone. Pull himself up on his ONE zoo toy. Imitate a fake cough. And better yet? Immitate you if you crazy yell in his face. He does it right back with a smile on his face. He also can now say DOGGIE, QUACK QUACK, GRANDPA, and CLARK! 

Also, it should be noted that his obsession with eating paper continues. Is this normal baby behavior? Or is Clark destined to work in the paper industry one day? Future Dwight maybe? If there is paper ANYWHERE in Clark's line of vision, he will fixate on it. Magazines, books, receipts, random McDonalds straw wrapper under the couch...he will get a twinkle in his eye, and he will find a way to get to the paper so that he can eat it, thereby forcing ME to remove giant wads of paper from his mouth in a panic, mere moments before he starts to choke (I can only assume). Why??!

Also. Here's what I was reminded of this month: nothing happens gradually with babies. One day they can't do something and the next day, BAM. Professional level at new skill. The other day I put Clark in his walker, and pulled him into the kitchen so I could unload the dishwasher while talking to him. I turned around for ONE second, and when I looked back, he was waving a giant, sharp knife in the air with a huge grin on his face. He looked so pleased with himself! He apparently learned how to walk forward in his walker sometime between 10-11AM. NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE THAT MOMENT. 

In the moments that followed, after recovering from my initial heart attack and moving him out of the kitchen, Clark also learned how to turn corners and also how to pick up the speed in that thing. He's a regular Fred Flinstone with his feet going a mile a minute! I watched him try to jam his fingers into an outlet, not once but TWICE, knock over a floor lamp, systematically remove every GIGANTIC medical book from an entire bookshelf directly onto the floor (they are honestly like six inches thick!), and pick up a glass vase and wave it in the air while smiling at me with the look that says he's about to throw it on the floor just for fun! 


I got the vase just in time. And PS! This all happened before I finished unloading dishes, so maybe in a matter of four minutes? When I was finally done putting dishes away, I immediately picked Clark up out of his walker, walked him straight to the car, and we went to the store to buy baby proofing materials. 

When I told my friend about Clark's shenanigans, she simply replied, "Boys will be boys!"  I'm thinking I see a lot of margaritas in my future, so...IN CONCLUSION, maybe we should finally buy that Vitamix I've been eye-balling, as a matter of necessity of course.

(Too far?)

A depressing story of sickness

This is the story of our trip "home", or as I like to call it, THE TRIP THAT SATAN ORCHESTRATED.  Just kidding.  Sort of, but not really.

Okay, so first, it should be noted that the main reason we went home when we did was for my brother Joel.  He was graduating from the Foreign Service Institute at the State Department, and we wanted to be there for that huge event.  Presenting....United States Diplomat Joel Burger! 

We are so proud of him, and I was thrilled to be there and watch his dream come to fruition.  It's a huge accomplishment, and he worked VERY hard for this.  He's India bound for his first post, and we are pinching pennies like crazy so that we can go visit him in Mumbai.  (Yes, Clark too.  I could never leave him behind, and besides, Joel promised to get him a bindi and some baby harem pants.  So....)

I was in Pittsburgh for two and a half weeks, and during that time, we drove to DC twice.  Also, as trips home normally go, we were traveling a lot...to see various family members, friends, etc.  Generally, we were just in the car or traveling A LOT during this trip, which would have been exhausting but fine except THE SICKNESS.

We were in Pittsburgh for exactly one day before Clark somehow got a double ear infection.  DOUBLE!!  We took him to the local urgent care center, they diagnosed him, and he had to spend the next ten days on antibiotics.  This was my first ever experience with ear infections, or a sick baby at all really, but it turns out that when their ears hurt, they don't want to sleep.  Also?  They are chronically fussy.  So we spent about the next week dealing with poor Clark, who just pulled at his ears and was generally miserable.  And then, about two days after his antibiotics were finished, JUST as we pulled onto the beltway in DC for our second trip there, Clark started vomiting.  And I won't bore you with all of the minute details, but by the time we got to our hotel, we had to immediately turn around and go back to the ER.  Clark had vomited about seven times in an hour and a half.  And I mean projectile vomiting.  He quickly went from totally normal looking to being completely white and floppy.  He couldn't sit up, hold his head up, nothing.  I, of course, completely panicked.  I sat in the backseat of my dad's car holding Clark on my lap and bawling.  I didn't want to put him in the car seat because he was puking so often that I was afraid he would aspirate.  We were staying on Bolling AFB, which if you know DC at all, you know that it's smack in the middle of the most dangerous part of all of DC, Anacostia.  We had to stop and ask directions to the nearest hospital while I was hyperventilating in the back.  And for some reason, it seemed like everyone was talking SO FREAKING SLOWLY.  

We didn't know why Clark was so sick.  We had given him formula right before he started vomiting (a rarity for Clark), and I thought perhaps he was allergic to the brand.  So when we were driving through the ghetto and Clark was puking and suddenly his eyes started to shut and his floppy little body just went limp, perhaps you can forgive the fact that I started yelling at my parents to drive faster, all while rolling my window down to blow frigid air on Clark and simultaneously smacking his little face to keep him awake.  I begged my dad to pray out loud the entire trip, and I just don't even know how to explain how scared I was.  I've never seen a sick baby before, and the change in Clark was so quick and so drastic that I think we were all scared.

We got to the ER and they took us right back.  No wonder.  I ran in like a crazy person, bawling hysterically while Clark was pathetically dry heaving.  A nurse ran over with a bag to catch the vomit but there was no point- the poor baby was bone dry. It was tragic. The people in the hospital were so sweet and kind and reassuring.  They hooked Clark up quickly to get IV fluids and IV Zofran. They examined him, did some stomach X-rays, and after a few hours, determined that he had just contracted a stomach virus that had come on strong and quickly.  We were there for about six hours before they released us.

I don't normally like to complain, but here I go, because I just want to point out that having a sick infant SUCKS.  Having to watch your sick infant in the ER get probed and prodded also SUCKS.  And then having to leave the ER and go back to a hotel room?  In a city about 27 hours from your own home?  Well, it's pretty much the most terrible thing of all time.  I would have given ANYTHING to be able to just go to my own house when we left the hospital.  Put Clark in his own bed, lay out his medicine in my own kitchen.  Lay next to his crib and monitor him all night.  But that was impossible, so back to the hotel we went.

Then, less than 24 hours after Clark got sick, I contracted this terrible stomach virus.  Also in said hotel room.  It also came on quick, and I spent a good portion of the night hugging the toilet, while my mom had to take care of Clark.  And my sweet mom stayed up with me all night cleaning up MY puke, while also making sure Clark didn't puke anymore, OH!, and also bringing him to me every time he woke up so that I could nurse.  Because bending over to get him myself may have induced more vomiting.

And then...HEY!  Not 24 hours after I got sick, my mom got it.  And then my dad!  And guess what?  This whole time, while Clark didn't have the virus anymore, he kept on puking.  For an entire week, my baby couldn't keep solids down.  And you guys?  I've never been so exhausted and anxious in my whole life.  Baby sickness just does that to you I suppose.

When we finally got off the plane and settled back at home in TX, I called our Pediatrician and made an appointment to come in the next morning because Clark still couldn't keep food down, AND, he had developed some nasty rash that was covering his body and it wouldn't go away.  The next morning, our doctor informed us that Clark's initial vomiting was likely so severe that it caused his stomach lining to be inflamed, which is why he couldn't keep food down even after the virus was gone.  Also, the subsequent constant vomiting had caused him to have YET ANOTHER ear infection, which was causing a high fever.  And the rash?  Apparently caused by the stomach virus.

So we came home, and Clark had to start four NEW prescriptions to deal with all of these problems.  More antibiotics.  Prescription skin cream.  Prescription antacids.  Just....UGH.  And now, a week after we first got home, my baby is finally feeling better and back to normal.

People keep asking me how my trip was, and I feel bad, because honestly...I loved seeing everyone.  We did some fun things, and it was great to be around our families.  But the entire trip was overshadowed by this disgusting sickness that we dealt with.  I absolutely loved seeing my family and Jared's family, but the moment Clark first got his ear infection until the day we boarded the plane to TX, I JUST WANTED TO GO HOME.

And now I'm home, and can you believe I'm saying this right now?  But really...


A Shift in Mothering

Thursday, January 30

I recently heard someone remark that it's annoying and unrealistic when other moms act like they are happy all the time.  That moms should all be more realistic and talk about their bad days so that everyone understands that life isn't all sunshine and roses.  I've been thinking about this whole subject basically non-stop since then, and here's the thing...I am genuinely happy and joyful every single day, and I won't apologize for it, or pretend that it's all a ruse.  Maybe that makes me crazy.  Or weird.  Or just plain dumb.  But it definitely does not make me an pretender because I can assure you that my almost constant joyfulness is genuine.  I truly don't get frustrated with Clark (YET!)  Don't worry--I know he's still very young!  I don't get upset with my lack of sleep, or our daily 5AM wake up time.  I don't get impatient with the day-to-day things in my life that are slowed down, sped up, YOU NAME IT, because of Clark.  I can recall exactly ONE time being really, truly frustrated, and it was when we were both sick and couldn't breathe.  And even then, I felt bad for my baby, and the moment of frustration was fleeting.  In the time it took for us both to get in the tub, it was gone.   So then I'm left to wonder...am I some sort of freak of nature?  Why don't I get worked up about things like some moms do?  Or frustrated?  Or ruminate on the negative?  Or even view things as negative sometimes?

Clark is now eight months and 15 days old.  And EVERY SINGLE one of those days that he's been alive, I've looked at him and thought, "I'm so thankful my baby is alive."  Every. Single. Day.  Because here's the thing.  When Clark was born, he couldn't breathe.  I've already told his story, so I won't tell it again.  But when you're on a hospital bed, watching across the room as nurses are frantically shouting at each other while intubating your baby, and he's not breathing, and your husband is completely white with fear, your first thought is, "I can't believe I just spent nine months pregnant and my baby is going to die."  Or maybe that's not what you would think.  But it's what I thought.  And when your doctor tells you very plainly that she isn't sure if your baby will be okay or not, it's all very helpless and terrible.

As we all know, my baby did finally started breathing, but spent a week in the NICU fighting a terrible infection.  My first time holding him, many hours after he was born, was scary.  He was handed to me with about ten tubes of various sorts dangling from his body, and an ever-present machine beeping nearby.  Now listen.  I know that there are moms that had it worse.  There were babies in the NICU that were FAR more sick than my Clark at the time, and I have personal friends with situations that were far worse.  But when you're a brand new mom, and you're talking about your own baby, none of that really matters.  What matters is that your own baby is sick.  Very sick.  When I tell this story, lots of people say things like, "Oh, I can imagine."  But it's like anything else in life, you know? You can't really imagine how terrible it is unless you did it.  How helpless you feel.  I'm not trying to negate people's care or their willingness to try to relate, but I'm just being honest.

AND SO.  Sometimes I wonder.  Did Clark's first moments of life on this earth alter the way I mother? Because I believe it did.  I believe that in the first five minutes of my son's life, my entire future identity as a mother experienced a colossal shift.  Anything that I was going to be no longer was.  Because when you're faced with your baby's mortality immediately, I think things just have to change, and I don't know that they ever go back to normal.  On that first day that Clark breathed, I thanked God for my baby's life.  And every single day since then, I've thanked God for my baby's ability to breathe.  And live.  Every day I think about the day he was born.  Not on purpose, but because I can't help myself.  And I find that when I do that, things like missed sleep, baby throw up, a poopy diaper explosion, or a constantly crying baby no longer really matter.  Sore boobs.  Leaky boobs.  An extra five pounds that won't go away.  Nothing matters in the light of the fact that my baby is healthy, and alive, and breathing.  I can't help it, but that's really the way my mind works, and it just won't stop.  I wonder...will it ever stop?  Or will I still have these thoughts when he's five, six...ten...twenty?

I am a different mother because of my son's dramatic entry into this world.  Not different (or better) than any other mom, but different from the mom that I would have been had he been born unremarkably.  I know that to be true.  And so, I will never apologize for being happy and joyful.  I truly love every single day of my life with Clark.  ALL of it.  Every day is a gift.