Friday, March 23, 2012

Introducing baby food and sleep regression

Murphy's Law. I talk about the great sleeping patterns of my infant and BOOM! random shitty sleep schedule. As I searched through the internets, learning about the numerous first-hand experiences with "7 month sleep regressions", it was apparent that:

A) Sleep Regressions occur at any and all times. 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, ect. There is no rhyme or reason.

and B) Parents have no control, we are at the whim of our babies. But this does not mean that we don't attempt with all our might to trick ourselves into thinking we have control.

Sure there's plenty of books and PhDs and studies and more bullshit but you really have two choices with a baby who doesn't want to sleep. You can either let the baby control you and thus have a spoiled child who may or may not have deep rooted issues due to the fact that they didn't fall asleep alone at the tender age of 210 days and now rely on Momma for comfort, or turn your heart to ice and let that little bundle of joy turn into a red faced, swollen, hysterical tear face crying uncontrollably in the nursery until they pass out from exhaustion while you attempt to distract yourself by watching TV at a slightly higher than normal volume (aka full) and your wife sobs outside the nursery door clutching her bleeding heart. (Now that's how you do a run on sentence ladies and gentlemen, eat it Hemingway!).

Guess which one we did?

We spoiled our baby.... kinda. To put it in perspective, Manya is a great sleeper. When she goes down in her crib, she's down for the night and will be asleep until 7-8 in the morning. Her issue began when she didn't want to be put down in her crib despite falling into a deep sleep elsewhere (variety of places). The second her bum grazed the crib sheets, the eyes would pop open with disgust and disbelief while simultaneously screaming at me for my insolent transgression. It was ludicrous and frustrating.

We attempted Dr.Weissbluth's very popular and recommended sleep training but after a while it simply felt like premeditated torture. Each night we attempted the crib several times and after several failures, brought her into our bed for co-sleeping.

I know, we're silly hippies. First cloth diapering and now co-sleeping. But honestly, she slept 'like a baby' in our bed and it was pretty great waking up next to my two girls each morning. Mind you they take up the whole bed and push me into the corner, but I'll accept their selfishness because they're cute and smell wonderful. Manya would sleep between us, soundly, but if I happened to get within striking distance I would absolutely be woken by a jarring slap to the face or a quick hair pull. Some things never change.

For the past few days we have transitioned her back into the crib and things have returned to a relative normal.


Or at least blended and pureed smears of color. Continuing with our hippie theme we are making our own baby food and basing our food strategies on two books. Cooking for Baby and Mommy Made and Daddy Too!.

We began the introduction to solid foods as all parents do with fabulously (not a real word) boring rice cereal which reminded me of a cross between the food we will have to eat in the Matrix and the insides of Bishop in Alien. Manya ate it with the reverence of paste. We then introduced a new puree every three days starting with the infamous stalwarts; bananas, yellow squash, apple sauce, avocados and sweet potatoes. Many infants love eating and regularly open their mouths wide for new tastes and the wonderful nutrients that accompany these fascinating explosions of flavor. Manya finds it much more enjoyable to wear each new food across her cheeks, lock her jaw shut and occasionally blow a spoonful of puree into her respective parent's clean face and wardrobe.

I liken the introduction of each new food to an tamer version of the Fox Network hit show Fear Factor staring man's man, Joe Rogan. Manya's appalling disgust for bananas and avocados would make you think we were feeding her bug larva and stink bugs. When the first full spoonful of avocado entered Manya's mouth she transformed into Nicole Richie. Her eyes sunk into her face welling with disgust as she repeatedly gagged while aptly balancing a hefty smear of green avocado on her tongue. Nutrition is fun.

As parents it is our duty to transform into fools during feeding time. We mistakenly believe we can 'trick' our children into opening their mouths so we can quickly slip a covertly hidden spoonful of mush past the guardian lips of doom. Little do we know but babies also believe in "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" so now not only am I wearing the 'food of the day' but I am also singing songs and dancing around like an asshole for no apparent reason because the now learned child can transform a full belly laugh into a sealed vice in a blink of an eye. Ironically aside from prying open the baby lips, preforming the Fools Dance is my only hope. It's humiliating. Every day I transform into an episode of Dancing with the Stars but look more like a dancing monkey in North Africa (maybe Casablanca?) without the skill set to pick pockets, back flip or climb quickly.

She does eventually eat some of the food, it just takes a little longer than if she was eager to get the food anywhere near her mouth and not just all over the room. On another bright note, at least her poop still doesn't smell yet.

This is the look for all aspiring baby chefs

Friday, March 16, 2012

Generations: Manni. Michael. Mania. Louise.

Light of my life. My love. My child.

They say a child changes you.

The way you view the world. Yourself. Your essence. Your soul. Your family. Your friends.

Something so pure. So innocent. So simple, yet so complex.

At times you feel so lost, and yet, completely whole.

Every moment brings phenomenally vivid emotions. From elation to frustration. From wonder to dread. Dynamic majesties mirrored by overwhelming surrender. A tranquil freedom and terrifying apprehension akin to drowning.

Lessons lived and learned and passed on.

An outlook at the world both uniform and unique.

My brother began a drive across the country. From New Jersey, land of the shore, attitude, diversity, congestion, respect and resolve, to California, land of dreams, crispness, opportunity, congestion, the beach and pragmatism. Depending on where you wish to begin, we have known of this move for the past four years, or six months. It's a logical step for an artist, a writer and a creator. Hollywood. Land of fame and fortune, pornographers and waiters. It also splits the two creators of Oscar and Ozcar ( oscarandozcar to the opposite sides of the country.

We were prepared for the move for months and months and yet went moving day came I wasn't ready for it. Not for myself, but for baby Manni.

The car was packed. The sun was out. Everyone was well rested, nervous and eager. It was unusually warm for mid-March. 70s without a breeze. Flowers were foolishly sprouting and there were even a few budding trees. The baby was putting on a show - all giggles and smiles. Rosy cheeks with her three golden curls bobbing up and down. Her toes pointed and kicking. She belly laughed with every lap the dog ran back and forth within the screen porch, or when her Uncle quickly smiled at her as he scurried up and down the stairs making final preparations for the trip.

She had no inclination that this would be the last time she saw him for weeks? Months? Most likely months.

She was growing so quickly. The last three months have been milestone after milestone. The next three foresee even more. Every time she laughed, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't focus on the journey and the adventure my brother was undertaking - only the baby girl, and her uncle, and the glee on her face. Would she remember? Would their relationship be changed? Stop it! Clear your head! Stop being silly.

He was ready.

He picked her up and spun her in the air. She shrieked with joy and giggled with delight, a huge smile illuminating her face.

"Baby Manya! This will be the last time I see you like this." he said pulling her close.

I lost it.

My eyes welled. My mouth pooled.

Walking, talking, laughing. It all shot through me at the same time.

There's skype. I know. But its not the same.

You can't smell that pure baby smell. Or really hear those giggles. Or feel a light baby hug.

It's not the same.

And this is how uncontrollable my emotions get with someone who's alive. Moving across the country but not gone.

My wife's mother passed away over ten years ago.

I never knew her.

I've heard countless stories over the years. She was incredible. Loving. Generous. A light of love and life at all times. Everyone she knew loved her and her absence is felt every day.

I never knew her.

And she never knew our child.

If she had, I know she would have loved her.

They say when you name a child after a deceased loved one that part of their soul passes on to the newborn. Manya Lea was named after two loved ones. My grandmother Mania and Sarah's mother Louise (Lea). I'd like to believe that the best parts of these two wonderfully strong, loving, intelligent and beautiful women have been passed down to our incredible baby Manni. You can see it in her eyes.

She is the light of our lives. Our love. Our child.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Baby is Growing Up

For the past six months our newborn essentially had two functions of her personality: contentment and rancor. Between her seemingly inexhaustible desire for 'tha nipple' aka tha melkys, and her phenomenally prosperous bodily functions. No matter how 'healthy' the pediatrician believes it may be, the lunacy of changing back to back to back to back to back dirty diapers without leaving the nursery, or moving my feet further than six steps will forever seem as natural to me as a Peter Funt Candid-Camera skit. Don't get me wrong, I love my baby but if I am able to propel liquid poo six feet across a room without having first eaten an Indian dinner then I know something is amiss. And I weight at least 15Xs more than my child.

Having a baby in your home is a 24 hour job. You have too choices; to make the baby very angry, or placate it. You organize your day into classified chaos interspersed with heavenly 'nap times' that threaten your nerves with every clank of a plate, dog bark or horrific random phone call, but in the end a parents life can be relegated to those two possibilities. And as a parent you are in training for all 24 hours of each day. What does each cry mean? How can I solve each riddle? Hungry? Melkys. Wet diaper? Change, wipe, clothes, smile. Angry or placated? There can be only one.

Manya is six months old. We were fortunate that she was a very alert baby. Don't get me wrong, she was absolutely born a soft shell crab but had decent neck control and a brightness behind her eyes. Sure she isn't of the age of creating lasting memories yet but for the past six months there's more of a chance of finding a vapid look behind my eyes (due to lack of sleep and general dimwittedness) than hers. I of course kid about most of the silliness of my child. She's a dream and a blessing who makes me laugh and challenge myself everyday.

At six months Manya is not fully mobile. She is unable to crawl but does have the ability to 'slide' across a room magically. When fully supervised Manya plays with toys, does more pushups than most adults could fathom, and eats everything in her way (sometimes in a cute way, other times in a holy shit ... nooooooo! kind of a way). She's able to move through a plethora of unorthodox swim, rock and wiggle moves that is discombobulated, uncomfortable and awkward like watching an army of ants attempting to move a potato chip through a pile of leaves.

Manya has very strong muscles and if she had the knowledge would have no issues with crawling, she's just unsure of the proper coordination. To this day I've seen her perform yoga moves such as downward and upward dog. Pull herself into crawling position and as seen in previous blog post pictures, stand comfortably for several seconds at a time. When Manya does get into crawling position she reverses logic and shimmies backwards. Backward crawling? Really? I'm sure by the time I post this she'll be crawling around the living room fast as lightning just to prove me wrong. UPDATE: She's asleep, I win this round.



My doll