Life Signs

One of the things that I don't like about motherhood is constantly checking to see if my child is still alive. You know what I'm talking about if you're a parent. From the moment you find our you're pregnant, you're constantly checking up on things to make sure that your offspring is still alive---and I'm not even a person who worries, so if this happens to me, I know that it's as bad or worse for most other people. During the early pregnancy, you just have to look forward to those heartbeat visits, and in the moments before the doctor finds the heartbeat, you hold your breath and wonder, is it really still in there? Later in the pregnancy, you all of a sudden realize that you haven't felt your baby move in x amount of time, so you drink juice or you jump around or you poke your belly and wait for the reaction.

The night that Gulliver was born, the nurse gave me a nose-sucker and told me to suction stuff out of the baby's mouth if he stops breathing or starts choking. Then she wished me a good night and turned out the lights on her way out of the room. What? You think that at least in the hospital it's still the staff's job to keep your infant alive. What else are you paying them for? But then you're stuck with a nose-sucker and no idea what to actually do with it if your baby suddenly stops breathing.

At home the first month or so, I'd wake up in a panic in the middle of the night and wonder if my baby was still alive. In semi-conscious confusion, I'd start patting down Murray and look at his face and chest to make sure he was breathing, before I'd realize that I was holding and scrutinizing an enormous baby. Then I'd turn to the other side of the bed and find Gulliver and watch his wee baby chest to make sure it was still moving up and down. Once, I even woke up in the middle of the night, concerned that my baby wasn't properly swaddled, and once again inspected Murray up and down to make sure that his blankets were tight... before realizing that that giant baby wasn't a baby and wasn't even swaddled at all.

Now that Gulliver is almost 6 months old, my is-he-alive panics have calmed down a little. Usually now they just occur when I realize that I've been working uninterrupted for a good chunk of time and haven't heard a peep from the napping baby. So I leave my computer to go check on him, and invariably during that awful 30 seconds I consider what it would be like if I got to the room to find a dead baby. That's the worst part about this whole thing is that I actually imagine my precious baby dead. And 30 seconds, or 20 seconds, or 10 seconds, is long enough to know that if my baby is dead, I will forever regret working on whatever it was I was working on instead of saving my baby's life when he needed me the most.

But invariably, I go into his room and find him exactly where I left him, and because Gulliver is my perfect angel baby, he is usually wide awake, looking up at the ceiling, strumming his fingers, and generally pondering his wee baby life. When he sees me, he smiles (or he startles) and then I scoop him up into my arms and give him a big hug.

The other night, Gulliver woke up at 3:00 a.m. and I nursed him back to sleep. When he was done, his entire body went limp and my is-he-alive panic kicked in. As I got my face closer to his chest to hear or see breathing, Gulliver kindly let out a long, slow toot. He loved me enough to let me know he was still hanging in there.

In other non-morbid baby news, Gulliver is making great progress. It didn't take him long to determine that bulldozing was an ineffective means of travel, so he has learned to roll. He is also doing great at sitting up unsupported. He can sit for several minutes, or until he loses his balance, at which point he just can't get himself back up yet. He also is quite the chatter and loves to make this Popeye face while jabbering away. This is especially entertaining in Sunday School. I'll upload video footage soon, I promise. New as of this week is a baby need that I hadn't anticipated. We've gotten good at determining what he wants, but lately, as I'm holding him, I'll notice that he's bouncing around a bit and making I-have-a-baby-need noises, and I think, "He has recently napped, he's recently eaten, he has a clean diaper. What else could he need?" And then I realize that what he needs is to be put down on the floor where he is free to roll around and play with his toys. (He will do this for hours now as I work.) This big step (or roll) towards independence is both exciting and heart breaking. First it's him leaving me for his toys, and next thing I know it, some undeserving ho-bag will marry him and take him away from me forever.

(Note to the undeserving ho-bag reading this 20 or 30 years from now: You won't be so undeserving if you make sure to come by often to visit, phone frequently, and bring your children over to play with me. Also, he laughs when you wipe his butt. You ought to try it.)

Gulliver under a chair. He played under this chair for about 45 minutes while I cooked and cleaned the kitchen. He would alternately lift the chair with his legs and squeal. Good times. Why buy expensive toys when the furniture is exciting enough?

Sitting up! He loves this "fridge farm," which is in French and English. He also enjoys sitting in front of the little gym instead of lying underneath it. New perspectives are fun.

Playing with The Boy's beard. I am glad these two are bonding, especially since Gulliver's middle name is The Boy, in honor of his uncle. The Boy is really doing great with Gulliver and it's obvious that he really loves him. When The Boy came over last week, I immediately handed Gulliver off to him, and he didn't mind at all! And later, he was voluntarily playing with Gulliver. They respond very well to each other and I'm sure will be great friends.

Gulliver is the equivalent of four 5-lb sacks of potatoes. Or a 20-lb sack of flour. (Incidentally, Gulliver also weighs as much as a 20-lb bag of feathers.)

Gulliver sleeping watched over by his motley crew of friends. Gulliver has also started reaching for his pals when I take him out of the bassinet or crib. How cute is that? He likes his hard toys, like his wooden car, but as soon as he gets a soft friend, he grabs it and squeezes it to his chest and shoves it in his mouth. His favorite toy (who really knows these things?) is his Ernie, who I keep with me at all times in my bag. (Because even when I'm not with Gulliver, I love to look in my bag and see little Ernie looking up at me.) One of the funniest moments last week was in church, when Gulliver was being well-behaved (as always) and things were pretty quiet, and then I pulled Ernie out of my bag and Gulliver saw him and got excited and laughed and grabbed him and put his nose in his mouth. We suspect that Ernie was a favorite from a very early age due to his red nipple-shaped nose.

Murray, bulldozers, and poop.

Cool news today. Last night Murray redesigned his blog. I love the new look, and love that it represents him much more than the previous blog. Check it out here! I am encouraging him to do more stuff like this because I think it's absolutely fantastic.

Know what else is absolutely fantastic? Being Murray's wife.

(A lot of what I do I couldn't do without Murray's support, advice, feedback, and help. But that's only one of many reasons why I love him.)

In other news, Gulliver traveled 5 feet this week. He isn't "crawling." He isn't even "army crawling." He takes more of a bulldozer approach where he plants his face into the ground, flails his arms out to the sides uselessly, and moves himself forward using his feet and his amazing breathing techniques (that gets out all the boogers and leaves them on my carpet). In these pictures, you can see that the blanket and car is where I left Gulliver while I was working in the kitchen. The third picture is what Gulliver looks like when he's trying to be mobile.

(CONFESSION: I "tidied" up my living room in Photoshop.)

And finally, a word on poop. Before I share that word, though, I will mention that for the past few days, my google chat tagline has been "I just got coughed, sneezed, and farted on, all within 2 seconds. Motherhood = glamorous!!" Last night, two friends admitted to me that all week they thought that I was saying that I just coughed, sneezed and farted within two seconds. I must try to be more careful about these things...

Anyhoo. Because I am a mother of a baby, poop is a major part of my life. And since I blog about my life, I blog about poop. So here's the latest. Gulliver has moved to an every-second-day schedule, where I get a whole poop-free day. This is also known as Cute Outfit Day. On the other days, also known as Dark Clothing Day, I expect terrible, terrible things. Yesterday, Gulliver didn't disappoint. Here is a picture of one side of him.

Notice the terrible things bubbling out of his pants. And rest assured, there was more bubbling out on the other side. Not knowing how to even handle a situation like this, I carried Gulliver into the bathroom in the chair itself. Then, I took him out and plopped (appropriate verb) him down into the tub, fully clothed. In the tub, I took off the offensive clothing and diaper and then I just hosed him off under the faucet. Good times.

To help capture these wonderful moments of motherhood, Murray bought me a flip video camera as a belated Mother's Day gift. I can't say enough how much I love, love, love it. We recently bought another video camera---just before Gulliver was born---but to be honest, I never used it much because I didn't really know how the whole uploading and converting process happened. I just made Murray do it all. With this camera, all I have to do is plug it in directly to my usb port and drag and drop the video onto my computer. It's soooo easy and sooooo convenient. Also sooooo small and sooooo stylish. I love good design. So here is a video of me trying to capture Gulliver figuring out his bilingual singing farm toy that was a gift from Auntie B and Uncle J in Canada. He really was entertained for a few hours in his crib yesterday and this toy was a big contributor to his entertainment!

Mommy Lessons

So bit by bit I learn more lessons on how to be a mother. I need to read more books I guess but who has time to read?? I think I'm getting ready to move Gulliver into his own room. I've been putting him down for naps in his crib (before he could roll, I was lazy and always just put him down for naps in my bed). He's getting used to sleeping in it. Today, he fell asleep in my arms as I nursed him. This is our usual routine. So I finished catching up on my blogs and then brought him to his room so that he could keep sleeping. He woke up as I put him in the crib. Normally, my inclination would be to say "Oh well, he woke up, and he won't go back to sleep." But this time, I decided that even if he was going to stay awake in his crib, I needed lunch. So I went downstairs and made myself a sandwich. When I came back upstairs, he was sound asleep.

So I got to work and ate my sandwich in front of the computer, where I could hear him in the next room. After a while, I heard his rattles/toys, so I knew he was awake. He started making noises like, "I'm bored" or "get me out of here" or "Hello? Are you there?" but there was just one more thing that I needed to finish up before getting him. By the time I was finished, I listened. Silence. So I snuck into the room, and this is how I found him.

Poor baby boy, but asleep!! As I took these pictures, he woke up again, raised his head, but then I snuck away quietly and he went right back to sleep.

So, lessons learned: 1) Just because he wakes up doesn't mean that nap time is over. 2) Just because he wakes up as I put him into the crib doesn't mean he won't fall back asleep if I just let him.

Here's another thing we're learning about Gulliver. Just because he's a good-natured baby doesn't mean that he's going to be a perfectly patient child. He's still going to be a kid. Murray and I have learned what Gulliver's favorite toy is because it's the ONLY thing that he will cry if you take it away. Get ready for it... I'll give you a hint: It's free, we hate it, and it comes to our house every day. It's JUNK MAIL!! Gulliver loves loves LOVES to sit and rip. He is endlessly fascinated by this process, and like I said, VERY unhappy if we take it away.

And one more thing we learned about Gulliver recently. He really rarely cries, but often he'll cry in the car. Not all the time. Lots of times he's happy to sit and think about the world, or play with his car seat toy, or nap. But other times, like almost every time we drive home from SLC, he cries the whole way. I just have assumed that this is because he's hungry/tired/bored/constrained. But we found out the real reason last week. We were just about to leave SLC when Gulliver started crying. I told Murray I didn't want to listen to it all the way home, so we got off the freeway and pulled into a parking lot. I tried to nurse him in the front seat of the car, but he was still crying---very rare for Gulliver. So Murray said, "Sometimes when you walk and bounce him, he calms down." Murray took him out of the car and Gulliver was instantly happy. We concluded he must be bored, so we decided that I should sit in the back with him and entertain him on the way home. So we got back into the car, and I played with Gulliver for a few minutes but as soon as we got on the freeway, he started crying again. Strange. I decided to try the light. So I turned on the car light and the crying stopped instantly. I turned it off, and it started instantly. It seems that Gulliver just doesn't like being in the dark in the back of the car. So we drove home with the light on.

It's interesting learning all of this. I guess I just assume that once you're a mother, you're magically supposed to know everything about your child, and I assume that every other woman knows. But I guess we're all just learning as we go!

Vacation in Orem

It's no secret that I've been a little overbooked and a little bit stressed lately. So this weekend, I took an unexpected vacation... in Orem. Friday was Murray's sister's birthday, so I met up with the girls and kids of the family to celebrate and have fun at the park. Here's Gulliver at the park.

Then I had students come over to Murray's parents' house for an Illustrator lesson. That same evening, Murray had a commitment with friends (for the first time in our marriage) and conveniently Murray's sister (not the bday girl) was spending the night at her parents' with her kids, so we were able to have a sort of girls' night. You know, with kids! She and I slipped away to go to the Gap so that I could do some online shopping returns and there I found two pairs of wonderful pants for $20 each (steal!) and a really nice cardigan---great clothes for BlogHer '09!

Murray was going to be out late, so I told him that I was spending the night at his parents' and he could join me, and I told him which room I'd be in so that he didn't accidentally crawl into bed with his sister.

I visited all evening with my mil and sil and the kids and it was great.

Saturday morning, Murray left to go and teach a couple of students, and I spent the morning and afternoon playing some more with my in-laws. Can I just take a moment to say how much I love my in-laws? Murray and I both lucked out in the family department. We both absolutely love our own families and we adore each other's families, and we are sooooo grateful for the fact that we know that we'll never have family stress as part of our marriage. (Until Gulliver marries a girl who I can't get along with and she steals my baby away from me!!!)

My nephew, "Cody," who is nine sat me down and asked, "You know how you call [Gulliver] Gulliver on the blog? Well... I was wondering... what would you call me on the blog?"

"Hmm. Well. I don't know. What about Jedi Boy?"

He scrunched up his nose and said, "No."

"Well, what would you like to be called?"

"I'd like to be called Cody."

So here's a picture of Cody with his turkeys:

I also spent some time coloring with my niece. She thought that I made really really nice clouds. And then she colored in the clouds purple, which I may have indicated was a little silly. When the picture was done, there wasn't a single white space left on it. She said that we should give the picture to baby Gulliver, so I said we needed to sign our names to it so that it would be worth more. But then there wasn't a white space left to sign our names. I let her know that if someone hadn't colored in the clouds purple then we could have signed our names in the clouds, and she indicated that she thought that was a little silly. Names in the clouds! Then she suggested signing our names on the boy's face, which I told her was the worst idea yet. Ultimately, we went for the grass.

I didn't spend any one-on-one time with the youngest nephew, but when I was at their house a couple weeks ago, I spent about twenty seconds with him on the trampoline. Only twenty seconds because that's all it took for me to discover that my bladder control post-baby isn't what it once was.

The weekend was sooooo relaxing and I just realized that all I needed was to get away from my computer for a little while. It was wonderful. On Saturday evening, Murray and I went to see Up (which was excellent, and the animate short was my favorite to date, and the movie made me cry without being emotionally manipulative).

On Sunday, we got together with the in-laws again. Usually, Murray and I meet up with Steve and Cici (Murray's brother + wife) at their parents' house for Sunday dinner. (Before me and Cici, the boys would just go home every Sunday for dinner where their parents would ask them about their dating lives.) Steve recently asked his mom if she would take dinner requests, and I know that she's all about dinner requests because she hates having to plan meals. He requested artichokes, and I just happen to make artichokes a lot every spring, so I volunteered. We had a wonderful meal of salmon and potatoes and artichokes, and at the end of it all, I said we should get more requests, so Steve decided "flan!" off the top of his head, and I happen to know of a good flan recipe that I had at my cooking club, so I volunteered for that one, too! Can't wait for next week!

Here is Gulliver taking a Sunday nap in a fort I made for him so that he wouldn't roll off the bed. I also threw a rattle in there so that when he woke up, I'd hear the rattle and come rescue him.

On our way out, we ran into Murray's best friend and his wife and son. It was a great photo op to get the friends and introduce the boys. The last time they met, Gulliver was only a week or so old.

So that was my wonderful, relaxing weekend. And here are some other pictures from before the weekend:

Gulliver's first pool at the Bean's birthday party, Thursday evening.

Gulliver's wrinkly pool feet.

Gulliver in our bedding that we bought at Ikea. I was ready for a change and wanted something very light and bright and summery.

Gulliver in a cart for the first time. He lasted about 3 minutes. He didn't like the cart and preferred to be carried by his #1 dad.

Murray Wins.

Okay. I need to catch up on a few things here. First of all, I need to tell you about the yogurt thing. Murray wins. Totally. The other morning, I took a Yoplait yogurt and put it in a bowl and then I took a Walmart yogurt and put it in a bowl. I took them up to Murray to serve him in bed (because we've continued the breakfast in bed tradition since the gestational diabetes). He told me that he knew which was which just by looking at them. I thought he was full of it. So he took a bite of the first kind and then a bite of the second kind, and pronounced decidedly that the second kind was Yoplait. And so it was. So I took a bite of both, knowing which was which, and the difference was laughable. As in, BIG DIFFERENCE. So yesterday I conceded and bought a whole big pack of Yoplait at Costco (the only problem being that I love cherry and vanilla the most, and those flavors aren't available in the big packs at Costco).

In other news, I'm going to BlogHer '09 in Chicago and I'm really really excited about it. I am now a conference-going self-employed empowered woman. And so then a friend told me that I really needed to go to Mom 2.0 in February, so I looked it up right on the very day that they opened their early early bird pricing. So last night, Murray and I went for a walk and we had a conversation like this:

Me: So I looked into Mom 2.0 and even the early early bird ticket is much more than I expected.

Murray: Oh? Is it [obscene amount]?

Me: No. It's [obscene amount] and fifty.

Murray: Whoa. Huh. Where is it?

Me: Houston.

At this point, Murray's eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas. Thank you Mom 2.0. There is no other city in the world that would have ellicited this reaction and the outpouring of support that was to follow:

Murray: You should sign up for it!!

Of course, I knew by the way he was saying this that he meant that I wouldn't be going to Houston alone.

Me: Really? Okay! I mean, I guess we don't have to pay for everything right away. I can buy the ticket now and then we pay for the hotel and plane tickets later. And really, I think that if I even get two jobs from this, that would probably be enough to cover the whole trip.

[We talk for a while about the valuable networking and what demographic should be represented at this conference. And we talk about where we'll stay and how Murray will just drop me off in the mornings for my conference and then play around Houston with Gulliver. And we talk about how nice it will be to go to Houston in the middle of February. And we talk about going to Pappadeaux's and Pappasito's.]

Me: I really love that I finally have a job where I actually get to travel for the job!!

Murray: Yeah, except for the fact that work doesn't pay for it.

Me: Yes it does. I am work. And I pay for it.

Murray: Yeah, but you're still paying for it.

Me: But at least I get to write it off.

So there we go. We're having a family trip to Houston in February! I am a conference-going self-employed empowered woman! Hooray!

Now for some gratuitous baby photos: