Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

Archive for the tag “#boy”

Oh, my god.

Dear Readers, for maximum enjoyment of this piece, please visit the article at the website. There are embedded videos you may not be able to see via email or on certain phones. —SIB www.duetoextenuatingcircumstances.com


There’s not a good way to ease into this, so let’s jump right in.

My son is a God. Now, I mean that exactly as the words are intended to convey: that the small person over which we have custody is a deity. This isn’t “Mommy’s Little Prince” or “He’s such a drama queen!”

My son is the Norse god of thunder, Thor.

What are the signs? For starters, up until now we’ve been using the standard toy assortment every little kid in America seems to own: things with wheels, things that makes noise, and things that aren’t really toys but it kept him quiet so now they’re toys. His favorites come and go. Last week that ‘take it or leave it” attitude came to a shit-screeching halt when Baby discovered The Hammer. Say it with me now:

The hammer.

I can tell you’re not even trying. The Hammer. No, you’re still not giving The Hammer its proper due. Say it with reverence now, The Hammer.

Keep working on it. In case you were wondering, this is The Hammer.


Did you think you that’s what Mjolnir would really look like? Me neither, but maybe the people at Marvel have a crappy props department. If you’re doubting for a second this isn’t a Norse magical artifact, well pal, go screw yourself. I have HURT myself trying to separate my boy from this stupid hammer. This is what Mjolnir really looks like. I even went back to the movie and checked: if your entire life revolves around acting insane to the other people on earth, howling mightily and carrying on until your precious hammer is by your side…yep. You’re Thor. Full name, by the way, Thor, God of Thunder, Son of Odin, Lord of Asgard Imes Borden. And the hammer by your side is Mjolnir, all right.

Speaking of the movie though, my Thor has picked up an astonishingly annoying behavior, which is to throw food on ground because it’s good, because it’s bad, because it’s nap time, because it’s Thursday… just, watch. This is my entire life right now.

To top that off, we have now mastered the art of walking, which means the next great challenge is to smash into places mommy and daddy don’t want Thor to be. I’m sure it does look rather harsh to see a hallway of nothing but closed doors to places that couldn’t possibly be dangerous, like an unattended bathroom or the closet where we keep all of the disinfectants and OTC medication. But Baby’s answer is to test every door, because one of these days this will happen:


Who’ll be weak and powerless against doors then, Mommy?

At this point, I’m torn between just letting him have The Hammer because in spite of imminent danger it’s easier than taking away the beloved Fisher-Price style Mjolnir…or perhaps letting young Mr. Odinson Imes Borden learn that with power comes great responsibility. I could do that by showing him a carefully edited version of the first Thor movie. A pretty good argument could be made that Chris Hemsworth Thor has educational value when watched with mommy.

Actually, if we want a really good educational question to ponder, Mr. Thor Odinson Imes Borden…why can mommy lift Your Hammer?

I should definitely look into what the movies have to say about that. After your bedtime, your highness. That’s enough door smashing for today, dear.


With the voting climate as it is right now, it seemed like a good time to bring forth some good old-fashioned flag-waving, true blue sacrifice for our country. I probably shouldn’t be telling all of you this. If I looked through the paperwork we signed I’m sure the government told me to keep this private, national security, lives at stake, something something no, we don’t get what’s up with Trump’s hair either, but seriously this is a secret. But, as a proud mama, I have to brag just a little. My son is going to be hired by our Army as a WMD: a Whippersnapper of Mass Distraction.

He’ll be put in key diplomatic strategy meetings, and then he’ll do what he does right now, 24/7. He’ll pull himself up on furniture then scream because he can’t get down. He’ll be sitting and watching the Wiggles and if one of them is wearing a costume he doesn’t like he’ll scream for hours. Doesn’t like the pants Daddy put him in? Scream. Daddy runs to the bathroom? Scream! Mommy took his empty Cheerios bowl? Double scream, because now mommy is a jerkface AND there’s no Cheerios. Mommy comes back with more Cheerios? This is a time for earth-shattering, top-level screaming because if Mommy had a clue she would have saved the inevitable heartbreak and brought the box to the bowl, not the other way around.

He gets himself turned around in his crib and screams. We put him on his back, tucked in, just like he likes but then we leave again; screaming. He rolls over and back again–Doppler effect screaming! Would you care to guess what happens when he wants yogurt but with CINNAMON, dammit, not FRUIT? Well, ordinarily fruit is delicious and he would like it. But now right now, get cinnamon because BABY ANGRY. Feel the need to SCREAM. YOU WON’T LIKE ME WHEN I’M SCREAMY. Sometimes I hear my baby but I see this:



I’d ask my friends if this is normal, but none of them with kids can hear anymore. I have a friend with three boys that gave up and decided to use baby sign language. Not for her kids, they talk just fine. She and her husband use it because their hearing is never coming back. Mac and I seek television programs we’ll enjoy that aren’t in English because then the subtitles roll merrily along and all we need to do is keep the “I’m mad because I’m mad” screams from escalating to “I might actually have a problem here” screams.

I reckon Baby could be deployed to lots of countries that value silence and decorum. See, in Brazil, I’d bet ten minutes of wiggling and dancing while you scream isn’t inappropriate, it’s part of the health plan to keep people sane and good-natured. But let’s pull this out at a meeting calling for high and strict levels of decorum. Your Russians, your Japanese, your Liechtensteiners (who are solemn because nobody ever remembers to spell their country correctly), imagine taking in this adorable child, who is renowned for his cuteness and lovability,  and letting him scream every time one of the diplomats wants to make a point. We can cut summits down to two hours, and half of that is drinking coffee and waiting for staff to put on The Wiggles again so the weapon can be diffused and sent to his nap with Norman the blue elephant and his favorite blankie.

I don’t even accept this is a phase anymore. He’s just going to scream, often, randomly, at unbelievable decibel levels every day until the day Mac and I have both gone on to our great reward. That reward will be sound cancelling headphones and a thanks from the US government for asking what we could do for this country, and answering President Kennedy’s call with the loudest human being ever created.

Don’t worry! You can thank us for our patriotism, too. In writing, please.



Attention! Due to extenuating circumstances, the following protocol is in place; nothing the baby can get to is safe, either for the baby or the object in question. The following things are now regarded  as extremely perilous: pennies, pens, TV trays, hair bands, anything sharp, anything metal, anything plastic, anything with a plastic bag/wrap/overlay, anything on the floor that can be swallowed, anything removed from the floor that can fall on to the floor, anything that’s not floor related but still adheres to essential gravitational physics, anything used for housecleaning, a dirty house, an old house, a new house, my house, your house, home school, pre-school, night school, eating, not eating, and the cat.

It’s impossible to childproof a house. It is literally, using that word correctly and deliberately, NOT POSSIBLE. How do I know this? Because we have done nothing this past weekend but try to make this house a safer environment for the baby and I can assure you I now live in the least safe house in America. There are people squatting in abandoned scythe factories and asbestos warehouses that are in a better position to guarantee my child’s safety.

First we started with the outlet covers. We got the fancy ones that slide over the unused sockets. The baby regards these as a triple pleasure. He gets to slide things (motion!), try to stick his finger in the opening (entertaining!) and listen to me shout “NO! NOT A TOY.” (attention!). That’s nothing compared to the baby gate. Mac screwed one into the wall, then made a special opening at the side so the cat can go downstairs to his litter box. This gate has it all. It has mystery (“what’s down there?”), comedy (watch mommy try to work the finicky lever!) and pathos (“why, oh why won’t daddy take me past the gate?”). It’s like dinner theatre for the under 1 crowd.


This is nothing compared to securing the cabinets. I have turned cabinet security into more than a DIY project. In all modesty, I can say I blew right through DIY and home maintenance cliché straight into post modern art. I tried to attach one plastic security spring onto my bathroom cabinet door. It was obvious the previous homeowners also had kids, I could see the remaining screw marks and plastic barrier meant to keep the spring secure until your finger pushes it down. It took me 20 minutes to install one plastic latch. It lines up with the barrier, but I can’t get it to latch. It just sticks out, completely useless, hitting the barrier over and over. If it does go under the latch, it’s so low it doesn’t catch. Behold, the phases of my useless childproof latch.


So Mac got the fancier magnetic locks. This shall be saved for another time I need to write about pulling out my own hair and slowly eating it while I rock back and forth, singing nursery rhymes to myself.

In the meantime, I am on full Floor Patrol Alert. I encounter a lot of cat hair on my beat. As the baby butt scoots along, he often finds these fluffy wads wafting by, and will stick out a moist hand to capture a few little tufts to snack on. Cotton candy will never look right to me again after picking up wet strands of cat hair my son has tried to let melt on his tongue. I thought this meant he was hungry for fingerfoods, so I got him fancy “melt in your mouth” puffs. I was afraid the generics wouldn’t be melty enough so I went for name brand, recognizable Advertised Brand of puffs. The bad news is that the baby couldn’t care less. I showed him over and over how fun the puffs could be if he would let those melt in his mouth instead of the cat hair. The good news is, I now have a delicious and portable melt-in-my-mouth snack anytime I want to treat myself. I’m partial to the blueberry ones.

In the meantime, we have more than enough to be getting on with as far as floor cleanup. I never realized how many things fall on the floor everyday. Gravity is stronger in the Borden household than it was this time last year. Naturally, the things most likely to roll and fall (coins, those funny lipbutters in the egg shape that are trendy, grapes, breath mints) are exactly the size and shape of a baby’s windpipe. Mother Nature could have done all humankind a solid and made our windpipes a hexagon, or octagon, anything with some damn corners. But no. The human windpipe is fragile, round, easy to put things into and absolutely necessary for survival. Thanks, bitch.

So, we’ll take awhile longer to make la casa de Borden safer for its smallest occupant. Until we iron out the wrinkles the baby will be followed as much as possible and I’ll keep screaming “NO! NOT A TOY!” I have to swallow first though, these puffs make me thirsty.


Mac and I had a fantastic idea for updating our tiny living room and making things safer for Baby. We would move bookshelves, anchor them into the wall, then put the new TV entertainment center between them. This would solve one problem we have had with keeping everything safe– the baby wouldn’t be able to crawl around the sides or back. We would then put all of the components behind glass so he can’t stick his chubby little fingers into all of the slots/inputs/outputs/shotputs. This was entirely Mac’s territory and he did his job well. Except for one, tiny detail.

The original idea was to get glass doors that had knobs in the center, so we could capture them together with a childproofing lock like so:


But Mac got one with doors that slide on a track. No problem! Mac got dowels to put in the track and I painted them to be invisible. The baby would never even know it could be opened.

Those of you with children are already wondering how Mac and I manage to dress ourselves in the morning given our obvious mental deficiencies.

Over the course of the afternoon we get the whole center built and installed. Mac gets the thing put together, puts all of the cords in, plugs it in, I’m dusting away and artfully arranging books to cover cords. This thing is a masterpiece. It looks fantastic. I get the dowels. Mac goes outside to move some hoses before we get winter weather. I head downstairs and into the garage with a screwdriver we didn’t need. In the time it takes me to put away a SINGLE item in our garage, I hear sliding above my head. Let us take a quick peek into my thought process at that moment:

Huh! I hear sliding. There’s nothing up there that moves that much. Besides, the baby can’t even properly crawl yet, he just butt scoots…but there it is again. And back again? What do we own that slides back and forth ohmygodrunupthestairsnownownow GAAAAAAAH!

There is my son sitting directly in front of the entertainment center, happily sliding the glass door back and forth, back and forth. He can reach all the knobs, all the ports, all the cords. His fat little fingerprints are running the length of the glass door where he has tested how many different ways he can make the cool glass door glide to and fro. But not prints from both hands. No, just the prints from his right. Why only his right?

Because his left hand is for holding the trophy.


In under 60 seconds our son scooted to the entertainment center, disabled the “childproofing” then played with his new toy. I don’t even try to solve it. I pick up that stupid dowel, walk right out to our front porch and tell Mac the damn hoses can sit and spin.

“Go to the hardware store NOW. We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

The Curious Incident of the Blog in the Nighttime

I often find myself staring at this screen, typing into the DtEC blog editing tool, late at night. On some level that doesn’t surprise me because I have always, always been a night owl. Whether I want it or not my brain likes to energize itself after dark. Consequently, getting up early is hell. I can *do* it when required in order to project a facade of adultness, but I really suck at it. What’s funny is that location, schedule, enjoyment of activity or even money make no difference. I spent a summer being paid to work in a theatre, live in the mountains and do nothing but act and live the good life. And I STILL hated dragging my ass out of bed for an 8 AM start. Lest you think this is a product of a permissive or neglectful upbringing, let me set the record straight.

My mom is very, very big into sleeping at night and being a productive member of society from 8 AM onward. Morning is morning. I rather thought my dad had the right idea; be a cop, work crappy hours, then sleep in the basement with tinfoil over the windows. Of course I can see now working third shift and raising kids at the same time probably sucked, not the least of which was that we turned his basement window well into a soccer goal and I was a shit goalie. The man didn’t sleep more than four hours at a time from 1984-1987. Still, working at night and sleeping in the day just looks right to me. It’s no different than clothes or music. Everyone has their taste and everyone secretly hates everyone else’s taste.

My husband, bless him, embraces my night owlish lifestyle. He also aids and abets me in hiding it from my mom. If I nap, sleep late, get out of bed at 4 for a piddling reason like a housefire, my mother can be counted on to utter The Prophecy. The Prophecy is always delivered in a tone of warning and fear, with a dash of menace:

“Sarah, you’re getting your days and nights switched around!”

The Prophecy never varies in word choice or tone. It is delivered with an intensity hitherto reserved for sentences like “no, this IS the last plane out of Saigon.”

So you can understand how adopting the baby was the first time in my whole life my mother ever gave permission to sleep and work these weird hours. She even said to me “you sleep when the baby sleeps.” Holy cow! My mom just gave me carte blanche! I can be up til 3! I can nap at 6 pm! This is going to be the only time in my life I don’t harbor a secret disquietude my schedule shames my entire family!

This should have been a relief. Hell, it should have been a cakewalk. In my stunning naiveté I thought the baby would sleep. This is a LIE. It’s a lie sold to the American consumer by cradle companies and mobile manufacturers. I blame Hollywood. All these ads of little swaddled bundles, with eyes closed and adorable nostrils gently fluttering. Bullshit. Utter bullshit. I lived in the same room as Baby for 3 weeks and I can tell you he never did anything that resembled substantive sleep.

What did he do? He waited until Mac and I had a loose schedule so we could attempt to even think about sleeping. Then the baby would close his eyes and snuggle into his little sleepsack, looking adorable. He’d make a tiny cooing sound. A few minutes later, a squeak. “Oh!” we’d say. “He’s so precious!” we’d say. Then little bubbles. And another coo. I’d close my eyes. All is well.

Wait– was that the baby? Did he squirm? Was that the sleepsack? Then a slight shift of Baby’s head and I’d immediately run over to the crib, desperately trying to remember the 5 Warning Signs of SIDS, Proper Swaddling 101, the number to 911 (answer: 911) and wishing the Bat Signal was a real thing.

I’d finally feel reassured Baby was OK, these were all normal sounds, and then phbbt. Well now, what the hell was that? A burp? A fart? Is he gassy? Does he need drops? Can we even give him drops? Robin’s a nurse, I should text her about those drops. Crap, my phone is where Mac is trying to sleep.


Now I’m definitely not going to sleep. Yes, technically I should be, since Baby is sleeping, but what was the phbbbbbbt? Is he hungry? Angry? Snotty? I give up. I have to go look again. And there I am, trying hard to find the source of this stupid noise, when it occurs to me AJ said moms can hear their babies even when the babies aren’t really making any noise at all. Oh GREAT. The ink isn’t even dry on the adoption papers and I’ll be carted off to a rubber room because I hear phantom phbbbbbbts at…midnight? 3 pm? The year 2017? Time and space have no meaning now. I have been awake since the dawn of man.

Which is why it gives me such infinite, sublime pleasure to have my mother babysit for us overnight. Sure, it means eating my dinner at the temperature God intended and the possibility of sex with my husband (don’t be daft. This is a family blog. We don’t actually have sex, we talk about it then fall asleep while trying to grade assignments handed in last fall that we never got to). And of course, the baby is a little prince most of the time for his beloved grandma. But there is a palpable satisfaction to showing up the next day knowing that no matter how fussy, how colicky, how cranky our bundle of joy was ALL NIGHT LONG, I always have the option of saying

“well sorry, Mom. Just sleep when he sleeps.”

I am raising a Somebody

I have noticed two odd behaviors that I never considered before I became a parent. One, why do I always address my child in the interrogatory? “Good morning? Did we sleep? Did we? Oh, look at you, are you a gorgeous baby or WHAT?!” Why am I asking him so many questions? It’s not like he’s going to answer. It’s not even like the questions need an answer. If I walk in on my child before noon, and he has been lying prone in his crib with closed eyes, then I should know that it’s morning and he has been asleep.If I own a watch and can identify a sleeping human there is no need for the Guantanamo treatment.

There are also questions that I do in a sing-song voice, and I always promised I wouldn’t do the Baby Voice. I hate the Baby Voice. It’s condescending and annoying. Plus, how can I expect him to talk and behave like a normal human when I speak to him in a key only my dog can hear? But there it is. I hear myself do it every day. “Are you happy to see me?” becomes


This goes on all day. “Are you hungry? Do you want some yogurt? Oooh! How about some applesauce in your yogurt?” If I ask a really long question I need a vocal warm up so I don’t blow my chords on the high C. I have so many fucking questions. The really strange questions, though, are the ones I refuse to acknowledge pertain to my particular baby. This is the second behavior I have noticed and I have absolutely zero explanation for it. These are the questions about my baby that are ostensibly not about my baby. These are always Somebody questions.

“Do I hear somebody crying?” The answer is always yes. If I didn’t hear the crying I would have left him to quietly chew on the cat’s tail while I grade 23 sophomore essays. That takes a long time to grade, when you factor in how to explain a sophomore in college shouldn’t be writing a sentence that contains no discernible verb.

“Did somebody poop his pants? Let’s check!” Come on, now. If there’s any question at all who pooped his pants and I’m not located in the center of a daycare or, for accuracy’s sake, a facility for the elderly, then there is something very wrong with somebody and I am that somebody.

“Did somebody fall over again? Oopsies!” Well, yes, Sarah. At any given moment it’s even betting that one of the world’s myriad narcoleptics, vertigo sufferers, Lindsay Lohan, what have you, has taken a tumble. If you’re staring at your baby and he’s no longer in the upright and locked position just PICK HIM UP.

“Is somebody cranky?” Yes, and it’s Mac. Next?

“Is somebody ready for a nap?” See above.

“Is somebody trying to drive mommy insane?” Lady, the list is endless.

“Is somebody succeeding?”

Yep. It’s Mommy.

Breaking Mad

Attention! Due to extenuating circumstances, the following separation anxiety protocol will be followed: if the baby sees you, you must not leave his sight. For those visiting the Borden household, job resignation forms will be available upon request. Once here, should you need the bathroom before baby turns 5, you will provide (at your own cost) a full-sized cardboard cutout of yourself such as one sees of film stars or Star Trek cast members. Showering takes you away from baby too long, be advised there is a babywipe and Axe body spray regimen in effect. Options to be tongue-bathed by the cat will be considered on a case by case basis. Bring photos of your own family unless they wish to join you here with baby. Remind them to budget for cardboard cutouts.

Hey! Six months is a pretty great age. The weird, colicky “cry for no reason” hobby has faded away. Painful teething is still part-time work. His little personality is shining through. Every time he hears music, he turns to see where it’s coming from. He can tell when I’m going to pick him up because he can hear the velcro on my abdominal brace so he kicks and squeals with delight. The only issue, and I hesitate to complain here, is that after years of a completely child-free existence I now cannot leave this particular child for more than a fraction of a second. The universe is making up for those childless years by making certain I must be permanently attached to Baby. The “Separation Anxiety” Phase is a unique time in the development of a child, in which every moment the baby and parent are apart there is tremendous frustration, uncertainty, apprehension and unease. All that, plus whatever the hell is going on in the baby’s mind.

I can’t stand to leave him! It’s not that I love him so intensely it borders on the pathological (although a case could be made for that) it’s the anticipation he will WAIL. And wail and waaaaaail. This developed in the space of a day. Morning, I go to make him a bottle and some carrots–no problem. Afternoon I go to the bathroom and WAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLL. And it’s not even the worst with me! When Mac comes in the baby can’t stand it if Mac briefly moves out of his line of sight. Mac hasn’t left the room and Baby wails merely anticipating the impending possibility of separation.

Meanwhile, when I’m alone with Baby during the day I sound like a third-rate rap star. I’m always talking about myself in the third person when I leave the room, hoping the kid will eventually understand I don’t literally disappear when I go to make the bed. “Mommy is going to the bedroom! Mommy is just making the bed! Mommy is speaking in the third person and verbally tweeting the useless details of her day to an audience who genuinely couldn’t care less!”

After three weeks of this I’m toying with positively insane ideas to combat this separation anxiety. I try to figure out exactly what he’s missing and replicate that. The sound of my voice doesn’t do it, so if I need to go somewhere in the house and I can’t take him with me (at this point I absolutely can’t carry him as I’m recovering from surgery) I put the TV on so he can see other people. I put him in his swing so it feels like he’s being cradled. I even leave a Tshirt I sleep in near him so it will smell like I’m still there. I don’t know why I thought that would work, and it didn’t, but I was desperate. Anything to escape the terrified screeching when momentarily out of Baby’s presence.

It has been a few months now, and we’re still barely out of the baby wipe/Axe phase. I have been relegated to the second tier Anxiety status; he’s mildly concerned if I’m the only person around he knows. Mac, on the other hand, is still First Tier, Code Red, The World is Ending status. God help me if Mac comes and goes several times in a day. Baby just starts to believe the dream is real: Daddy is HOME! Then it’s shattered as Daddy disappears to do trivial things like go back to work, eat, sleep, attend his brother’s funeral. Anything, really, is less pressing than Baby.

Funny thing, the Separation Anxiety phase. It’s loud and demanding and intense and insane. I think we’ll both miss it when it’s gone.

Big Mac Attack

Mac fact: he has asthma. It’s exercise induced but weather extremes, moisture, mold and dust can also aggravate it. We have about 87 little gray inhalers around; I keep one in my car, he has one in his truck, one in his desk, a couple in jackets, I think there’s one in the shed. Those little fuckers are everywhere, would be the salient point.

For Baby, it is Big Boy Bath Time. Instead of putting Baby in his tiny plastic tub, we thought it would be nice for me to get in the bath with him and hold him because he feels like hell. The poor little guy has a bad cold. He’s cranky, stuffy, and weird goobers are coming out of every hole in his face. I briefly considered grinding up Sudafed and putting it in his bottle, but then I remembered I’m a good mother.

Thus, the Earth Mother playbook has been opened. Massages to keep the sinuses draining, humidifiers at night, steam to loosen mucus. I’m a fan of conserving water when possible, so here was my brilliant plan: turn on the shower as hot as it can possibly go, then sit with the baby in the steam. We’ll wait on the floor while the steam loosens his congested nose. As the water goes into the tub, it will have cooled a bit and when we’re all done having our spa treatment we can sit in the tub together as the water will have become a pleasant and soothing temperature. Perfect.

So I get the kid down to his diaper and we sit, breathing in the steam of the hot shower. The door is closed and I’m taking advantage of the acoustics to belt out of some my greater hits, which includes a rousing rendition of Habenera from Carmen where all of the words are replaced with “duh duh duh DUH, duh duh-duh duh. Duh duh duh DAH, buh buh buh BUM.”

I strip down, take off baby’s diaper, and test the water. Feels great. Get in, lower the baby onto me, and then, I am guilty of only slight hyperbole here, the world ended.

The baby starts howling in a way that makes me question the existence of God. What on earth could be happening here? The water is definitely not too hot, I remembered to test it by normal human standards, not my own (because if I’m not lobster red at the end of a shower there was no point at all, hygiene and socialization be damned). There’s no soap so it can’t be in his eyes, I removed the Oscar the Grouch washcloth I loved and apparently was, in the words of one reasonable friend, “straight up terrifying.” Why is he screaming?

Well, Mac had the same question. So he runs into the bathroom, practically knocking the door off its hinges to get to his child who’s being ax-murdered in the bath. He’s within inches of heroically saving his son from the unseen nightmare that’s causing this alarm when…shit. I had been steaming the bathroom for a good 20 minutes. Mac suddenly looks like I tipped him out of his bowl for fun just to watch him flop on the carpet. He looks for the inhaler we keep in the upstairs bathroom. Naturally it’s not there, because God is mad I questioned his/her existence up there in the fourth paragraph. Mac hurls himself towards the stairs, scrambling to get the inhaler he knows he has in the downstairs bathroom. Meanwhile, the blast of cold air Mac let into the room just hit the tub and…shit.

The baby is now scared, screaming and cold. He lets loose the nastiest, foulest, most watery stream of poop you can imagine. He didn’t poop, his butt was just a conduit for waste water that never made it to the “condense/solidify” stage. And I’m in the tub covered in poo-water that’s swirling in the tub and turning my warm big boy bath into a giant germy sewage dump. Mac comes halfway up the stairs, doing his Puff the Magic Dragon act on his inhaler. He takes one look through the open bathroom door, sees the look on my face and…shit.

Mac is laughing so hard he can’t keep the damn inhaler in his mouth. All I wanted was to gently Earth-Mother-soothe my sick baby into a deep, restorative slumber using steam, a little Bizet and loving caresses in a nice warm bath. Now the baby is screaming, Mac is dramatically clinging to life on the stairs wheeze-crying and I’m soaked up to my cellulite in poop water.

Next time the baby gets ground up Sudafed in his bottle and I don’t care who know it.*

This won’t really happen.**


The Crown Drools

I wouldn’t claim to have NO prior experience with babies– Robin and AJ are both moms, I babysat as a teen, the usual stuff you do to come into contact with babies. My experience was wide, but not deep. Mac had far less experience, insofar as he has a very small extended family and also, this is said with love, for about 15 years of his adult life he looked like a hardcore punk rock Disney villain come to life and no reasonable mother would leave so much as a rutabaga with him.

This is why we were a little surprised the first day the baby let a big stream of clear, viscous fluid stream right out of his face and onto the floor. This was unprecedented. He hadn’t been eating, it wasn’t coming out of his nose, it didn’t seem related to crying or being distressed in any way. I had heard of drool, sure– but this wasn’t a little dribble coming from one side of his lips. This had actual volume and mass.

The strangest part was that it didn’t stop. There was so, so, so much. OK, so drooling is associated with teething. That could be exciting! He might be getting a tooth! MILESTONE! We had a good root around Baby’s mouth, figured it would come in the next day or two, and Bob’s your uncle. Whoa. Watching too much British telly. TV. Anyhow…no tooth. Weird. Surely liquid in this quantity is a harbinger of something. This was varsity squad liquid expulsion from a walk-on.

By the end of the evening, we had changed his pajamas twice because they kept getting soaked. It finally dawned on me that this must be why people gave us bibs. We had assumed bibs were for eating only. Want to laugh at some new parent math? We had been given about 25 bibs. We kept the cutest 12. Why 12? Because the baby would eat three times a day and we would do laundry every three days. Don’t you see how clever we were being? We only needed nine bibs and with 12 we had THREE WHOLE EXTRAS. Oh, don’t stop laughing yet. We only kept the cleanest looking ones. Because we were going to pre-treat every stain, then put them in the laundry, and remember to take them out of the dryer right away so the bibs would always look clean and freshly pressed. Yes. We actually had these thoughts. This was also during my “I’ll never give up on cloth diapering” phase, “I’ll NEVER complain when the baby cries because we were so close to having no baby to hear crying” phase, my “the baby will never eat food I didn’t prepare myself” phase, and (the 80’s hair of embarrassing phases) “the baby will hear Spanish everyday so he still think the world sounds familiar and comforting outside the womb” phase. For the record, we did come back to that one, but I’m pretty sure it’s only because the best childcare in our area happens to be run by Mexican-Americans.

By the next morning Mac and I can’t believe the drooling didn’t abate. Hell, it got worse. Baby had the Niagara Falls coming down his dimply little chin and pooling around his neck fat. Of all the things I have Googled concerning this child, ‘how much drool is too much?” isn’t even in the top ten. But it did make the highlight reel for that day, if only because it auto-completed to “how much do Newfoundlands drool” and I didn’t realize they were talking about the dogs. I spent a fair few minutes laughing at the idea of an entire section of Canada unable to wear a nice suit or get married without a formal little bib to catch their uncontrollable streams of saliva.

So, that was 5 months ago. We now own 30 bibs. Most of them are quite ugly. They are mottled little cloth things that have shriveled up from washing and being velcro-ed to each other for days. There are two bins on our kitchen table: Clean Bibs, Disgusting Bibs. He has drooled for 5 straight months without a single tooth in sight. He happily accepts the bibbing ritual and even laughs if you lift up his neck fat to make sure you’re catching all the good stuff. It’s a good thing he’s used to them, because he leaves a visible drool path in his wake we have dubbed the Snail Trail. He has even drooled directly into my mouth and at this point I hardly notice. Well, I DO notice, but it doesn’t freak me out. Much.

If you were wondering what to call a baby who drools this DAMN much, here is a handy list of nicknames for you to try. I can’t claim all of these, our brilliant friends have chimed in on the act. Use them in good health.

  • Droolia Childs, Drools Verne, Droolie Andrews, Raul Droolia, Droolia Roberts, August Strindberg’s Miss Droolie, Drool of the Nile, The Crown Drools, LL Drool J, Ja Drool, Count Droolcula, and Mark Spits.


People give lots of advice when you have a new baby. Some of it is helpful (“Buy 30,000 more diapers than you think you need!”). Some of it is messy but true (if he has diaper rash, let him be naked for awhile everyday!”). Some of it is kind of bizarre (squirt breast milk into infected eyes!).

The most universal piece of advice we got, no contest, was to “savor every moment!” Actually, they verbally capitalize it: Savor Every Moment. The people who say this were A) very well meaning B) usually a touch misty eyed and C) clinically insane.

Trying to savor every minute seems like something that should be so easy to do with a precious, gorgeous little boy that makes funny cooing noises and giggles after he sneezes. And for sure, savoring opportunities abound: bathtime, tummy time, watching him sleep, playing with his hair. An astute person will notice this is not, however, 24 hours worth of activity in a day. Lucky for me, “Savor It!” probably became the concept that saved my marriage.

For awhile it was a minor “in” joke. If I got peed on, Mac would say “savor it!” If he had to fork over $100 for formula and diapers we’d chuckle “let’s savor this!” The day Baby kicked Mac square in the balls was a more ironic “savor.” Then came the time when the “we are truly savoring this” almost got overwhelmed by the reality.

What happened that evening when we were not bathing, tummy timing or hair playing? Let’s see. I was recovering from the injections that help with my chronic abdominal pain, walking with a cane, plus scared out of my wits that one of the nerves in my abdomen would fire back to life while I was holding Baby, and that I would hurt myself trying not to drop him (or worse, drop him then fall). Mac was working 50 hours a week, allowing for his own chronic pain and desperately waiting for sinus surgery to remove a cyst that impaired his breathing and left him even more sleepless than he should have been. We were, to use the parlance of our own choosing, having a pain day. B.C. (Before Child) we could sleep, or make an extra physical therapy appointment, hell; we could drink for a couple of hours and see how that went. The point is, with Baby there was no longer such a thing as a pain day opt-out.

So we’re in the living room/kitchen. My abdomen is very swollen and sore, Mac’s head is killing him, and suddenly the baby begins the Wail of Everlasting Horror. Oh my God, I had no idea the entirety of human suffering throughout time and space could be compressed into one child’s voicebox. And NOTHING helped. Initial inspection yielded no results. We run the laundry list of the usual suspects: diaper, food, temperature, gas, lonely….nope. We talk through other possibilities as they occur to us: When do babies start teething? How can you tell if he’s constipated? I once heard the penis can get chaffed by the diaper?

Now the screaming has started to interfere with our neurological function and we’re screaming back and forth these amazingly bad theories, ranging from the esoteric to downright insane. “Can we let him scream into a phone and see if someone else knows what this means?” “What if he needs to hear his biological mother’s heartbeat and my heartbeat sounds weird?” “Can babies have gallstones?” What? “I SAID CAN BABIES HAVE GALLSTONES?”

In utter desperation I decide to start making dinner, so I can face this hellchild with a full stomach and possibly a Percocet or two in me. I turn on the oven, thinking about chicken pot pies. Decide to make formula so Mac can try feeding baby again while I do the pies. Vaguely recall there was a potpie incident a few weeks ago…what was that?

Need nipple for bottle. Wash, dry, assemble nipple. Set it down to search for the bottle I thought I started making. Oven starts smoking. Oh, crap. The potpie incident was that I dropped one and neverfullycleaneditupAHHHHHHHH! Run to kitchen, slam off oven, open kitchen door to clear smoke, run back with bottle, SHIT, where’s the nipple? Cat bolts out open door to escape the infernal screeching. Run to get the cat! CAN’T run to get the cat, don’t have shoes! Forget the shoes, now the fire alarm is going off. NOW I hear the baby screaming, the alarm wailing, Mac cursing, the cat’s in Omaha by now…

I turn around and look right at my husband, who, over the head of his beautiful bellowing newborn, laughs. Really, really laughs, as he says to me “are you savoring this?”


I think I am.

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