What to Expect When You Expect Your Baby’s Toenails to Grow, But They Don’t

*Toe-tally not Po's piggies

*Toe-tally not Po’s piggies

Posey is 17 months and 9 days old. Today, on this magical day, she hit quite the milestone– and Beef and I are mighty proud.

Did she walk? No.

Did she say “Mama?” No.

Did she scoop the poop out of the cat box? I wish.

On this magical day, my daughter grew her toenails long enough for me to be able to cut them for the very first time!!! But don’t get too excited– only 6 of them were ready for trimming. Is this normal? According to Whattoexpect.com, I need to “keep in mind that toenails grow more slowly and therefore require less maintenance.” Did they mean over 500 days?

For more of their advice on how to cut your baby’s nails, click on over to here. And no, I did not save the clippings.

Advertisements

The Groupon I’ve Waited Her Entire Life For

There is a hole in my soul in the shape of a professional family portrait.

When Posey hit the three-month mark, the six-month mark, her first birthday… I let each milestone pass without commemorating it with a classic “playing around in leaves” or “swinging child by the hands” or “fun day in the park” or “matching turtlenecks” photo shoot. But I wanted to. If we are friends on Facebook– and you have a child– there is a 100% chance that I have stared longingly at your family album, googled the photographer and spent hours browsing their portfolio. But I haven’t pulled the trigger. I haven’t found that special someone who I feel confident will get that magic shot where one or all of is not making this face:

And then, I stumbled across this deal on Groupon today. Whaaaaaaat? An in-studio session with a world-renowned portrait artist who’s shot Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and this Mellencamp album cover, for crying out loud?

YES, PLEASE. THIS IS THE MAN FOR THE JOB. Pretty sure he’ll be able to get one where Beef’s eyes aren’t closed. This is like buying a Groupon for Richard Lewis to craft you your own tailor-made joke about your own personal insecurities. Which, Groupon, would be a pretty kick-ass offer.

So what should we wear for the big shoot? Bolo ties, or no bolo ties?

Some Things I Love About Her

  • That she laughs like Beavis and Butthead: “Heh, heh, heh.”
  • How her nose and eyes wrinkle up into a nerd-face when she’s pleased
  • The way she snores like a drunken sailor, so loud we can hear it through the closed door
  • When she slaps her hand on the highchair when she wants more
  • That her babbling is more like a caveman grunting
  • When she rubs her eyes when she’s tired and sticks her tongue out when she’s trying, just like a cartoon
  • The way she dips her face into every bath and gets a Richard Branson bubble-goatee
  • How she opens her mouth up really wide,  like a baby bird, when I’m feeding her food on a spoon
  • That she claps when she hears applause on TV
  • The fact that her mouth has run along the entire parameter of this home like it was one giant envelope
  • When I head the clatter of a pacifier hitting the ground followed by “Uh. Ooooooh” coming from her room
  • How she extends her leg extra-long like a ballerina, her toes hitting my nose, so I’ll say “peee-you” one more time
  • That’s she’s happiest when she’s holding a fist full of cat hair
  • That her favorite song is “The Transylvania Twist” from Spookley the Square Pumpkin
  • The look on her face when she crawls over to me and tugs on my pant leg so I’ll scoop her up.

The Story of When You Were Born…

…begins one year ago today.

On October 2nd, 2011, I woke up feeling kind of blah.  Sort of tired, sort of sore, sort of out of sorts.  If I’d had it my way, I would have stayed in bed all day.  But I couldn’t.  I had to get up and get my new blue striped dress and Spanx maternity tights on, because it was a special day… my baby shower!

That morning, the most important girls in my life were throwing me a party: Emily, Jackie, Aunt Jennifer (who flew in from California), Meg, Mari, Ariel and both your grandmas.  We were having a fancy ladies’ brunch at a restaurant in Lincoln Square called Fork.  Dada told me to get it together and get going, so I did.  I’d gotten my nails done a pretty shade of orange the day before and had sweat like a pig through the whole appointment. It was weird.

The shower was so beautiful.  Everyone I loved– and that already loved you– was there.  We had some French toast that knocked my socks off and opened up a huge pile of gifts. I drank a ton of coffee.  Again, I sweat the whole time.  It was pretty gross.

Dada came at the end to say hello and to bring all the gifts home.  It was barely our home, because we’d just moved in a month before.  I organized the gifts a bit, but mostly I just shoved them in your crib (with no mattress yet), because I had plenty of time to organize them– you weren’t due for another 40 days.

I was so exhausted.  I felt kind of sick.  I thought perhaps I’d drank too much coffee, so maybe I was dehydrated.  I laid on the couch, started writing my thank you notes, and had some of the left over pulled pork from the dinner I’d made for Jennifer and Grandma and Grandpa K. the night before.  We watched a movie about an alien called Paul.  It was dumb.  Dada told me to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.

Dada always falls asleep in five seconds.  I don’t.  I laid next to him and felt a little splish-splash.  I had to pee.  I didn’t want to wake Dada up, so I went to the bathroom in the dark without turning the light on.  Back to bed. Another drip.  Had to pee again.  Had to pee a couple more times. And then… a funny feeling.  What was that?  I turned on the light in the bathroom, and I knew something wasn’t right.

I woke Dada up, and we decided to call the doctor.  I could tell she was asleep, but she told me to go the hospital. Dada sighed.  Since I’m so over-dramatic, we knew we’d have at least one false alarm, and it seemed this was it.  What should we bring?  I didn’t have a bag packed.  That didn’t seem to matter, since neither of us thought there was any chance This Was It.  I fed the cats in case we were gone a long time.  I was worried about coming back at 2 in the morning and looking for parking in our new neighborhood.   The doctor had told me to eat before we left the house, but I was so nervous that I couldn’t.

We got to the hospital at midnight.  We knew where to go, because we’d taken our birthing class at Northwestern Hospital just the week before.  They’d given us a tour.  All the other couples there seemed prepared.  They had duffel bags, suitcases, pillows.  I could hear them checking in.  “How far along are you?” “40 weeks.” “39 weeks.” “41 weeks.” I was only 34 1/2.  And I just knew you weren’t very big yet, even though the doctor had told me I was fine.

When the nurse came to check me, she said, “I think your water broke.”  I was sure it hadn’t.  There was no gush like on TV.  She took out a swab and said if it turned blue, that meant it was amniotic fluid.  It didn’t turn blue.  She said sometimes it doesn’t work, so she wanted to send a test to the lab.

We waited almost two hours.  A student doctor came in to scan you and see if you were upside down, the way you were supposed to be.  She asked me all these questions that I didn’t know the answers to, because it wasn’t time to know them yet.  We told her that we didn’t even know if I was in labor.  “Oh,” she said.  I think she knew before we did.

When the nurse returned a little after 2 a.m., she said: “You’re having this baby today.”

It didn’t sink in.  There was no way.  We weren’t ready.  YOU weren’t ready.  But I was glad my nails were done.

While we waited for them to move us to my room, I called Granma to tell her.  She was leaving for Outdoor Ed that morning, so I hadn’t called her to even tell her what was going on earlier, because I assumed nothing was going on.  She didn’t believe me when I told her.

The next 15 hours were kind of a blur.  They set us up in a room.  They gave me medicine to make my contractions start.  Water started gushing out.  A doctor came to explain to us that when you were born, they’d need to immediately take you to the NICU because you were premature.  No one seemed alarmed, but they were saying a lot of stuff we didn’t understand, and that was scary.

Something I DO remember is this:  At some point, Dada and I were standing in the bathroom, hugging.  We were scared.  I was hungry and not allowed to eat.  I was starting to hurt.  Everything was happening so fast, and everything just felt more.  We hugged some more, and I said, “Someday, this will all just be part of the story of the day she was born.”

Dada slept on the pull-out bed in the room, but I couldn’t.  I just keep staring at the little incubator bed that was next to mine.  The one that was all ready for you.  The bed was ready, but I didn’t know if I was.  They gave me my epidural around 7 in the morning.  At some point, Emily came to visit.  Granma and Granpa got there.  Granpa and Dada went home to get me my things and to check the kitties.  I don’t remember the order of things.

I do remember that I told my parents what your name was going to be.  They didn’t quite get it at the time.

The day dragged on and on.  I texted and emailed a lot.  I wasn’t allowed out of bed.  I was starving.  But no matter how much time passed, I wasn’t dilating.  Finally, things started to move quickly, and by 5pm, you were ready.  We kicked Granma, Granpa and Unka Joey out of the room, and the doctor said it was time.  Dada was on the phone registering up with the cord blood bank.  He barely hung up in time.

Dr. Tam told me most first-time mothers have to push one to two hours.  I knew you’d be out faster than that.  We started, and I asked them to bring a mirror in so we could watch.  Dada was right next to me.  I pushed a couple more times, and we could see your head.  I was told to stop– the NICU doctors weren’t there yet!  Finally, about six more people came to the room.  All their pagers were beeping.  I told them they were rude.  The doctor explained the beepers were telling them to come here– the beeps were for me.  Oops.

In the movies, they show women having babies as an awful experience.  I loved it.  I loved pushing.  Maybe that was because at only 25 minutes in, out you came.  Dada was videotaping, but his finger was over the camera for a lot of it.

Monday, October 3rd, 2011 at 5:35 p.m.

You were so small.  And you were mine.

I wish I could remember more about this moment.  I more just picture the pictures, because that’s what I’ve seen.  I know I held you, because we have it on tape.  They whisked you away to the other side of the room to check you out.  Three pounds, thirteen ounces.  That scared us.  You were so small.  And you were ours.

I got to hold you again, and then they had to take you to the NICU.  They wheeled you out, and I know Granma, Granpa and Joey saw you in the hallway.  You stared at them with your big black eyes.  You took Granma’s breath away.

I didn’t get to see you again for almost three hours.  In that time, I ate a sandwich and some fruit the nurse brought.  I texted people that you were here and roughly the size of a Subway Sandwich.  Uncle Daryl came to visit.  He was technically your first visitor, just as he was for me when I was born 33 years earlier.

After they moved me to another room, it was time.  I was still weak and had been awake for about 36 hours straight, so I got pushed in a wheelchair.  We all went down together to see you.  You were all cleaned up and had on a little pink hat with a bow.  A nurse had drawn you a sign in crayon that said, “Josephine.”

You were so small.  You were so perfect.  And after waiting for you for my whole life, you were finally here… and all mine.

For the next three weeks, you lived in the NICU.  Dada and I went home after two days, and it made us so sad to leave you.  Every day, I would get there around 9 and spend the day with you.  We’d talk and cuddle and eat and sleep.  I loved changing your diaper.  They weighed every single one.  When you ate 17 milliliters, Dad (who would come after work) and I would jump for joy.  We burped you with two fingers.  We put you inside our shirts to stay warm.  One day, we showed up and you were wearing a shirt.  They dressed you in little donated outfits.  You moved rooms twice.  We had views of the lake.  We had lots of visitors.  Emily would come during work.  Uncle Greg would take the bus, and I would yell at him for not washing his hands before he touched you.  Grandma and Grandpa Kozak came often.  But the days dragged on, and I was sick of  microwaving my lunch in the sad train depot of a waiting room with another dad who never talked to me once and had a little girl named Delilah.

You gained weight and lost weight.  Sometimes, your heart rate would drop really low.  That’s why you had to stay.  You had to keep it regular for five days in a row.  We held our breath every time.  Once, they called at 10 at night to say it had dropped again.  I was so tired that I didn’t have the strength to drive myself there. Unka Joey picked me up and came to see you with me.

There were so many nice nurses there taking care of you.  Our favorite was named Kim.  They taught us how to feed you, how to burp you, how to swaddle you, how to give you a bath.  We even took a CPR class there.

On October 24th, it was time to take you home.  I dressed you in a lime green suit with a cupcake on it.  We put you in your orange car seat.  We had a Posey Parade Caravan followed by a Barnaby’s pizza party (at Dada’s request).

Off we drove.  I sat in the back seat with you.  In that car seat, you were so small. And you were all mine.

And now, it’s October 2nd again.  The leaves are turning, and when I go outside, the air smells just the way it did a year ago on those 20 mornings I would get in my car and drive to the hospital.  I think for the rest of my life, the smell of summer turning into fall will remind me of You Being Born.

Happy first birthday, Pie.  Thank you for the best year of my life… not only because you were a part of it, but because you give me the strength and inspiration every day to do things I’ve always dreamed of.

I love you.

Love, Mama

Pregnant Claire Danes is a Winner

A mellow yellow and pregnant Claire Danes won an Emmy tonight for Homeland.  Her golden moment reminded me of Natalie Portman’s Black Swan Oscar win– because both actors received their trophies while expecting.  I imagine it must feel odd to win one of those (an Emmy or an Oscar, not a baby), but even more so when there is a stranger swimming around under your maternity Spanx.

But maybe I know a little bit how it feels. I mentally bookmarked a few major highlights while I was pregnant for the “Remember to Tell Her About this Day Someday” collection.  I think every woman does this to some extent.

Cool Stuff that Happened While I Was Pregnant:

  • A trip to Hawaii: Posey kicked like crazy during a magic show we attended. In fact, it was the only week of my entire pregnancy that she moved around consistently.
  • Price William and Kate Middleton’s Wedding: I woke up at 3 a.m. to watch it… with her. It was one of the first things we did “together.”
  • The Final Week of Oprah:  Not only was it a moment in American cultural history for everyone who watched, but I (and therefore Posey) were a part of it, behind the scenes. There’s even a brief glimpse of us in the final show as she bid adieu to the staff.  Will Claire and Natalie watch their moments on the future-version of YouTube one day with their kids? Cause I’m sure going to.

Alone, these events were pretty magical. But the fact that I got to share them with someone who would one day hopefully proudly share the tales at school one day… it’s an award-winning feeling.  What “While I Was Pregnant” story can’t you wait to tell your kid about?

Maui, 2011.

 

…But You Will.

Two things on TV made me openly weep in the last two days.

This morning, I saw a commercial for Dreft. Unless you have a baby, most likely you don’t know what that is, so I’ll tell you. Someone figured out how to market a laundry detergent specifically for baby clothes, and it’s like 10 times more expensive than any other detergent. But I used it religiously for months, because IT’S RECOMMENDED BY PEDIATRICIANS. So the commercial. It said:

“You have a child forever, but you only have a baby for one year.”

I only have 13 days left of that year. So I lost it.  But ultimately, Dreft should be crying, because Posey switched to All Free & Clear half a babyhood ago.

And then there’s Glee.

I’m behind, so I just watched the season premiere yesterday.  If you watch the show, you may share my sentiment that the best character by far is Kurt’s Dad. Kurt’s Dad is the Midwestern, Salt o’ the Earth, Car Shop-Owning Guys’ Guy who happens to be the single father of a gay son. And he couldn’t be prouder. In the episode, he encourages Kurt to follow his dreams to New York City, where he’s sure to find more people like him– people not afraid to be different. Kurt’s scared, but his dad reassures him that At the airport, Kurt tells his father, “I’ll miss you, Dad.” His father responds, “You can always come home.” Kurt exits car. Kurt’s dad says to himself…

“But you won’t.”

Ohmygod. I just started crying again TYPING it. I watched this while Posey stood beaming at me from her “play yard” (read: brightly colored cage). For now, I literally have her locked up under my watch. And yes, she falls over and bumps her head a lot on my watch. But she’s all mine, and we’re together every single day. And I know it won’t be like this forever, because while you have a child forever, you only have a baby for One Year.

 

 

 

100 Best Companies for Working Moms

When is the right time to go back to work, for those of us who want to?

For millions of women, the answer is immediately following maternity leave– by choice, or by necessity. For others, becoming a stay-at-home mom is a no-brainer. For me (and maybe for you) the decision falls somewhere in the middle. This week marks the one-year anniversary of leaving my full-time career.  I’ve only recently begun dipping my toes in the job search pool, and….  It’s exciting, it’s challenging, it’s stretching me in new ways and introducing me to new ideas and people. But it’s hard.

“Whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.” — Conan O’Brien

I guess, then, that Working Mother‘s 2012 list of the Best 100 Companies for Working Moms comes at just the right time. Get the full list here.

How does your company stack up?

And now that you’ve gotten to know me, what kind of career do you think would be my best next move?

Just the Facts, Ma’am.

It’s a fact.  All women are caught off guard and deeply offended the first time they are called “ma’am” by a stranger.  I don’t remember WHO said it to me first, but I do remember scolding them and strongly suggesting they slow their roll to “Miss.”  After all, the title Ma’am suggests bags under your eyes, flaps under your arms, and, more than likely, capri cargo pants and a pair of Naturalizers.

So it struck me today when, after paying at Whole Foods, the cashier said, “Have a good day, ma’am,” I balked– and then sighed.

Today is the first time I deserved the Ma’am.

My mother-in-law recently broke down the key factors of any episode of Judge Judy for me, and she explained that Judy doesn’t tolerate any “I thoughts” or editorializing.  She just wants to hear the facts. So let’s examine them:

FACT: I was a good ten to twelve years older than the cashier.

FACT: I had a baby with me.

FACT: I was buying radishes.

FACT: My wallet was brimming with old lady things, like Costco, Petco and any other place that ends in “-co” membership cards.

FACT: Every single item of clothing I was wearing was purchased a place called “Insert Mall Store Name Here”  Outlet.

Did he draw the right conclusion? Yes, ma’am.

10 Years Ago Today

This is my Facebook post today, but I felt it was worth double-dipping:

“10 years ago today, I was killing time at the Holiday Club, waiting for Ben Kweller’s bassist to call me on the number I gave him on a $1 bill. He still hasn’t called, but that night I did meet a PhD student in a striped shirt who asked me if I had a feller and a phone. How things change in a decade– I’m now the #2 gal in his life, and I think our anniversary celebration was the moment this week when he counted down his Top 5 yogurt flavors & brands for me.”

We took Posey to the Holiday Club for dinner tonight.  And for her 1st photo booth experience:

 

Fly, Little Birdy

Yesterday, my favorite partner in crime and I took our under-ones to the Kohl’s Children Museum in Glenview, IL.  Turns out, every other parent in a 50-mile radius had the same idea.  The weather?  Pouring.  The parking lot?  Full.   And the line– it was a scene out of sitcom.  One in, one out.  A velvet rope.  Insert Diddy joke here.

Once we got inside, it was pretty awesome.  TAKE YOUR KID HERE.  Sure, Posey was too little for the tiny grocery store, vet, or baby hospital, the mini-library or and even the tot-sized Potbelly (complete with toy sammies).  But inside the cushiony confines of the infant areas, a miracle occurred.  There, on maybe a 10-inch high baby ballet barre, in front of a shatter-free mirror, my 3 lb., 3 oz. helpless lump HELD HERSELF UP AND STOOD.  By herself.  Sure, in the :01 I looked away to grab my camera* she fell forward and smacked face against the barre, resulting in a puffy goose egg a few minutes later, but she did it.  And laughed and smiled like a goon in the mirror the whole time.

And I would have never even given her the chance.

It was my friend who wound her up and let her rip while I struggled with the museum-mandated protective booties on the other side of the partition.  I expect so little of her, because she’s a preemie, because she has no teeth, because she’s little, but mostly–  because she’s my baby.  But she’s ready to do so much more, even if I’m not.

Today, I took her to the gym and forced myself to let her be in daycare for twenty-eight minutes (the “fat burn” cycle).  You’d better believe I cried the whole drive there and that I was glued to the nanny-cam channel the entire workout.  It was the first time someone that is not a blood relative of ours watched her, even if I was still technically “watching.”  She did great.

And so did I.

*Still got this one: