Monday, January 27, 2014

The Parenthood Club

I'm not much of a joiner. I like to think that I'd be a team player if I were on a team, but I avoid joining them.

I am now a (baby-carrying?) member of the Parenthood Club. There are the smiles and nods with other parents and caregivers on the street. Often, if I'm with the bambino, other parents, with or without their babies, will start talking. Sometimes it is pleasant - I found myself sharing late-night-no-sleep stories with the receptionist at the dentist's office. Another time I chatted about teething with the mother of a little girl in an elevator.

And sometimes it isn't pleasant. Should we get along and share intimate details of our lives just because we are caring for tiny humans? No. And no, please don't touch my child if we don't know each other. No, don't let your animal sniff my child if we don't know each other. No, I don't want to discuss nursing.

Waiting for my husband to get the car after dinner out one cold night, I stood by the entrance to the restaurant with the bambino in the stroller. An older woman came by and started to coo at him and make crazy faces. I was polite, but did try to make sure she didn't touch the bambino. She started to ask intimate questions about nursing and his poop. When she was finally called to her table, the bambino looked up at me and raised his eyebrows.

Even he knew something was up. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Blogging @ Minerva Rising

Minerva Rising Literary Journal kindly published three of my miscarriage poems in their recent Mothers issue. This lovely journal "celebrates the creativity and wisdom in every woman" and I'm proud to be blogging for them monthly in 2014. In conjunction with writing and editing my new manuscript about miscarriage, pregnancy and motherhood, Carried, I'll be blogging about writing as a mother.

The first post, Poetry Maker Mommy, went live yesterday. With its title taken from the song Parents are People" from the classic Free to Be You And Me album, I share my guidelines for writing about the bambino.

I hope you'll spend some time on the journal's website and read some of their posted work and subscribe

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Flying with Baby

Sleeping in Daddy's arms on the plane

We took our seven month old bambino to Portland, Oregon, over the holiday break to visit his west coast family. It was his first time on an airplane and I was not looking forward to the plane ride, which is exhausting enough without a baby. Luckily, it went fairly smoothly. Here are a few things we learned: 

Choosing a seat: 
We flew United's (only) direct flight from Dulles to PDX. Babies fly for free in a caretaker's arms until they are two, so we held our bambino throughout the flight to try to make things easier and cheaper.

If you do book a seat for your infant, he needs a car seat. We asked at the gate if there was an empty seat for him (there wasn't) before we gate checked his stroller and car seat combo.

Admittedly, we booked a widow and aisle seat hoping that no one would book that middle seat. Someone did each time and we simply switched with that person (who wants to sit in a middle seat, especially between two parents holding an infant?) Luckily, on the flight home, the person next to us switched midway and we did end up with some extra room.

Since I’m nursing and supplementing with formula, we packed plenty of travel sized liquid and powder formula. At security, I was surprised that they only inspected one small bottle of the liquid. We were prepared to buy bottled water if they took the liquid formula and we needed to prepare the powder.

The doctor suggested feeding (nursing or bottle) our bambino during take-off and landing to avoid his ears from popping. Since he didn't cry during either (or afterwards), this seemed to work.   

Our carefree days of traveling without checking luggage are over. To help lighten the load (somewhat), we ordered diapers, wipes and more to be sent to his grandparents' house so they were there when we arrived. 

We gate checked our infant stroller (both parts: the car seat and the base) in these bags. Maybe that was overkill, but we wanted to make sure that they stayed intact and safe for future use. (One stroller we saw returned at the end of the flight had a broken wheel.) The stroller bag worked well as a laundry bag throughout the trip.

Friends recommended bringing a new toy on board. We did bring a new teething ring and he seemed quite interested in it. An old favorite toy probably would have worked at this age. 

Changing Diapers: 
Some friends warned that their babies needed to be changed very, very often on the plane. We brought enough diapers and wipes for an hourly changing (and more, in case of delays.) We didn't find that we needed them all, but I'm sure every baby is different (and different at different times in his life.) We did find it very useful to have disposable underpads and lots of plastic bags to collect garbage. Our flight did not have a changing table in the bathroom, so we changed the bambino on our laps. 

This website does a wonderful job of summarizing what you may need and the Mayo Clinic addresses other safety issues. What other advice would you add?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Firsts: Museum Visit

I have many wonderful memories of visiting New York City museums with my mom when I was little.  We would wander through the rooms in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Modern Art Museum, Guggenheim and others, look up at art and discuss it. She is a photographer who studied visual art and could tell me a lot about the pieces. I started to have some favorites, almost like friends to visit, and we'd giggle about the pieces we found funny.

I couldn't wait to start bringing our bambino to museums to show him my favorites, see new things and let him travel through the world and time, piece by piece.

This December, we took our almost-seven-month-old bambino to the Portland Art Museum. He loves a Northwest Native American puppet, Hunter the Bear, that my parents found for him in the Montclair Museum store; I thought he'd enjoy the Portland Art Museum's collection of Native American Art. While the interactive quality must have something to do with it, I also think the puppet's bold colors and designs, along with the big eyes, have a lot to interest a child (and adult.)

I was so proud and excited - bursting, really - that he was super attentive and curious about a lot of the art throughout the museum. I carried him facing out in the Baby Bjorn carrier and he looked up and around for a few hours. I look forward to exploring the many museums in D.C. with him. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day Reflections

My loves… 

I started this blog last January when we were expecting a baby. Today, on the first day of this new year, we have a healthy and happy seven month old. Everything has changed, and yet it also feels like it has always been like this. 

I thought I would wake up this morning like other new year's days: wanting to write a list of resolutions about trying to be kinder, more generous and live a healthier life. But I realize that my bambino has made me want these things every day since we knew he would one day be in our arms. 

For the first time, January 1st doesn’t feel different from other days. I’m a mamma and my son makes that possible. While I’m still many other things – a woman, writer, spouse, daughter, friend and writing teacher – this tiny person and our relationship has changed me for the better. 

Here's to a beautiful new year with my son and my husband, my loves.