Wanted: Mamas For A Flu Season Exorcism

So we decided to perform a cyber exorcism. Yes, it actually exists.

We called the priest and everything. We needed to get rid of this horrible stomach demon wreaking havoc on my 11-month old baby girl. She had been throwing up for days. It was time.

We are Jewish so this was complete desperation. We needed some holy water ASAP. Okay, kidding, but give me a few more days and maybe I will. I actually looked it up in a moment of hysteria. Non-believers, search Google right now.

It all started on Sunday morning, the one day I can sleep-in when I heard my hubby screaming, “fuck,” so loud that it echoed, echoed, echoed. You get the point.

I ran out of bed, pajamas hiked up to my stomach, hair-resembling Animal The Muppet, and came in to the living room to find throw up covering both of them–head to toe. NOOOO, I screamed in slow motion wishing I could use my mommy super powers to go back to five minutes ago, to cover them both with bibs and towels. But then I realized shit; mom’s don’t really have super powers–that’s a myth–and was left screwed with a messy baby in hand, while my husband went to change. What a pleasant way to be awoken. And before I even had a sip of coffee, how inconsiderate of them. Right?

“I think I had her at a weird angle and she choked on her formula.” He claimed from the other room mid-shirt swap.

“I hope so,” I screamed back as I disinfected my little girl, changing her into clean clothes, and washing her with a washcloth.

“Since, she’s okay, I am going to go back to sleep for like twenty minutes,” I said to him, handing off the clean nugget and yawning simultaneously.

Well ten minutes later–same situation happened–this time with a waffle, in the highchair, in the kitchen. How very Clue the Board Game of me. But, it was official. My baby girl had her first stomach bug.

And half a week later, I had never cleaned up more throw up, made more baths, and said oh shit so many times. Oh shit, because every time she would puke that was my instinctual reaction.

So finally, after days of throw up, days stuck inside, a doctor visit, and horrible poop diapers, not the royal Sir Patrick Stewart kind–I lost my own shit.

I swear her poop was even talking to me, but it had more of an evil chipmunk voice than a calm British one like it’s pooh counterpart.

“I will get myself all up your baby’s back mwahahaha so you will need to bathe her” the voice said high-pitched and evil AF. And it did.

“I will make your baby’s tushie nice, raw, and red so she can be extra upset.” And wala, it did.

I am telling you. Her poop was evil. It needed to be offed. If you had a thing like that hurting the love of your life, you would look into cyber exorcisms too.

Plus, my daughter who is the Queen Of Rolls, girl has rolls in all area codes (Thanks Ludacris for that one), was starting to actually look kind of slim. It freaked me out.

Moral of the story and in the name of my daughter’s adorable scrumptious rolls, who is with me on a flu season exorcism? I think we can all get rid of this demon. Bring it to The Upside Down, with the Demogorgon, where it truly belongs. I will not rest again, until I hear that the Demorgogon is throwing its guts up, with no chicken soup in sight. That’s my pledge. We got this mamas’.

Afternoon Naps Got Me Like AHHH

Ever wish the Doctor prescribed baby Xanax for sleep issues? I do every freakin day. Then I could give a big middle finger to sleep consultants and their crying out torture tactics. I. Can’t. Do. It. I mean, adult Xanax and a nice big glass of vino works nicely for this mama.

By the way, I am still feeding my ten-month old a 3 am bottle. I know. I. Am. So. Bad. The doctor told me not to give it to her on our last visit. “Let her cry” he said so blasé, like it was the easiest thing in the world, as I gave him every excuse on why it is impossible to make that happen. But she must have listened in because now she shrieks “mama bah bah,” which basically turns my heart into silly putty, and all I can do, is act like Alexa responding to a command–get the bottle and lightly rock her back to sleep. But I digress.

After I put her in the crib, I look into The Nest baby monitor and I swear I see her applying pink paint under her eyes probably to camouflage with her pink crib sheets. I mean my little baby girl is smart like that. Then she does a split. I am always impressed with how limber she is, as I see her stretch–left to right, repeat. Getting. Ready. For. Battle.

Here are some of the bizarre-o things my daughter does to go to war against her afternoon nap.

Phase 1: Murder of the WubbaNubs

I watch my ten-month old daughter through the baby monitor. She sits herself up in the crib and gives the camera a mischievous little smile. Was that intentional?

She has one WubbaNub (Wubba) in her mouth, but takes another one and holds it up in the air staring at it as if doing some strange yoga pose. Her little arm stretches out so wide—Stretch Armstrong long–taking a good look at it. Yes, mom before it dies. Sweet Vivie, did I hear that right?

The black tie (tuxedoed) penguin is the Wubba-in-hand. That means he is getting tossed first. At least he is dressed well for the occasion, I think. I then see him spin backwards from her hand and boom, or more like kablam, hit her nursery floor. I’d give him a seven out of ten on his nosedive form. Let’s face it, I have seen better in my time as a mama to Viv.

She looks in the camera. Her big brown eyes happily glittering with that sparkle that makes strangers on the street smile, also like she knows she has an audience. Does she? Then, she gives herself applause. Proof. Like, awesome dive Mr. Wubba penguin. Or, I am a sociopath baby and all Wubbas must diiiiie. That’s her mama’s sick-o humor, but yes, I think she feels the Big Brother vibe of the green light above her crib.

Then it is Ms. Pink Teddy bear Wubba. I swear I see the poor Wubba say a little prayer before she is launched into the air through the crib bars and hits the floor. Bye bye wubba number two. This goes on six more times. She sleeps with eight Wubbas. Yes. Take. That. In. Because on top of her sleep issues, Vivienne is a Wubba addict or more like a cuddling addict who is not allowed to sleep with stuffed animals yet. Also, come on, we all do much worse than Wubbas and cuddling as we get older to judge. Well at least I can speak for myself.

This goes on until all Wubbas are on the floor and Viv is left alone, looking down at them like job well done. Or, how do I get them back here? I actually may need to sleep, I mean, eventually.

 Phase 2: The bar-crawl

This is where Viv looks out of the crib and hits the crib bars like she is playing a prison game. Then she lunges herself against them and crawls to the left, then right, hitting the bars as if she is planning her escape. She stares off at times into the dark, like a ninja deep in thought. Then she starts hitting the top of the crib again and again. Pulls herself up and pensively stares. Then the whole routine is performed again. I go in and get her Wubbas for her.

Phase 3: Group chat with the Wubbas

Sometimes, when I go in to replenish the Wubbas I take her out thinking maybe I put her in too early. Plus, she’s cute and I want to play with her. Wrong! She is so cranky and rubs her eyes, climbing me like an overly attached puppy, rubbing her eyes against my chest. Not her finest moment. So I do what any sane mama, prison-guard, would do–put her back in sleep-jail. Then her and the Wubbas huddle up, in a close mass, having covert discussions.

I hear her “dada ahhh ma dahhhhh.”

All the Wubbas nod in agreement.

“Mama yaya dadada.”

Meeting over.

Then they all break and the plan is put into action.

 Phase 4: Screaming my lungs out to make mommy get me.

This is why afternoon naps got me like AHHHH.

Phase 5: The I-just-got-shot-in-the-leg-and-I-am-exhausted-but-must-keep-going-on phase.

She army crawls, taking her last awake breaths while hysterically crying, along the mattress of the crib. This is her last ditch effort. Maybe mommy will get me. But. I. Am. So. Sleepy.

I tap my fingers against the couch while thinking. Trying to distract myself and not go into her room. Then she will win and she’s tired!

I look down at the monitor. Sound is now off as I can’t listen anymore to her and her manipulative Wubba gangs’ screams. She is wrestling a Wubba fighting to keep herself up, begging with her little hands. I wonder whose struggle is greater right now, hers or mine. Is her battle kind of my battle because I want to save her? That’s irrelevant at this moment. Mine.

I get up off the couch to save her from the sleep monster or whatever she is experiencing and then I hear the buzzing of my phone. It’s a text from my husband at work spying on the cameras like the undercover Russian spy he thinks he is. Clearly, he’s been watching too much of The Americans.

“She’s going to fall asleep. Wait two minutes.”

Then low and behold, my little angel is sleeping. And gosh she is beautiful when she sleeps. Life. Is. Good. Her little butt goes up in the air and I even think for a second about having four more just like her. And we all win. Even those damn Wubbas. Only to be snapped back to reality that we will need to do this again tomorrow afternoon. (Insert see-no-evil monkey emoji). With that realization, maybe one baby is fine for now. Because, did I just see her move: NOOOOOO.

 

 

How Wine Is My Bad Parenting Muse

My whole adult existence, wine has always given me great ideas. Let me tell you. Like when I was dating, why not text that guy I didn’t like on my last date, right now–because I am bored and tipsy? Or why not bring up a work issue with my boss because it’s a perfect time to do that when you’re emotional and a little toasty? Oh, not to mention, that one time I saw Peter the penguin, and texted my mom to come meet him—but we won’t delve further into that. Yep. So of course, my great wine ideas would carry on into my parenting.

I lay in the nook of the couch with my blue Little Giraffe blanket wrapped tightly around me like my very own swaddle. Nice and snug. I just poured a glass of wine, White Girl Rose—how basic of me I thought–when I got the best idea ever. This was all a part of my nighty slothful routine. So my grand parenting idea was to leave the 7AM Enfant on the stroller even though tomorrow was supposed to be in the sixties. It went a little like this.

“Babe, want me to take the 7AM off?” My husband asked, analyzing the stroller knowing all too well stroller accessories and I are not the best go together. I hate to admit this, especially being a feminist, but I am not the handiest woman in the world. Or truth be told, I get lazy after a long day of being a stay-at-home working mom and would rather him do it.

“Nah, I just won’t have her wear a jacket,” I said, thinking this was absolutely brilliant because she hates her jacket—taking another sip of my wine. I am a genius mom, I thought giving myself a figurative pat on the back.

Lo and behold, the next day there was something wrong with the straps and the 7AM (was it the combination? Gosh darn it!) and I couldn’t figure it out. We were running late for a crawling class, so I threw her in the best I could and we were off. Walking down the street, I noticed myself getting warmer and took off my winter coat. Also, does my daughter look a little lop-sided? I thought and hoped maybe she wouldn’t notice if I distracted her. I started singing to make her laugh, with the very appropriate song for the moment from Alice in Wonderland “I’m Late,” while hippity hopping along like a bunny. She giggled. Mission accomplished.

But then a couple of blocks later, I felt a trickle of sweat down my back as my little girl bounced and suddenly tilted more like she was going to hit her head against the stroller bumper bar. I started fanning myself with my hands–gosh it’s getting hot, I thought as my nerves felt like a huge tangled ball of twine—as people passed and my baby started screaming.

“Don’t worry sweetie we are going to be there in a couple of minutes,” I feigned excitement, and started to jog. I decided to stop at Giggle for them to fix the stroller straps. Let’s just say, they were as confused as me, and this situation ended with me carrying my 11 month old in one hand, pushing the stroller with the other hand, for fifteen blocks until we reached class. It was awful. Plus, I missed half the class. When I walked in I could see the other mom’s stare like shit that poor mom or glad that wasn’t me this morning. Come on, unfortunately, we have all been there!

Then on the way back I still couldn’t figure out the straps, plus it was so freaking hot, when I got paired in the streets with the perfect mom, who was feeding her baby a snack while her baby had a big ear-to-ear grin seated perfectly in her stroller. Fuck, get me away from her. I then felt like she was following me. I would walk fast and then at each light, she would catch up. Then we both turned, which led to me realize shit, she lives in my building. I couldn’t help but think she must have thought I was the worst mother ever because my baby was basically kissing the stroller bumper the whole way home because my achy arms couldn’t carry her anymore.

If ever asked the question, would you rather do that whole scenario again or get sick to your stomach in the middle of a party? Easy. Definitely get the shits at a party.

Another wine idea, thinking it’s smart to use the Baby Bjorn more often. That would be an emphatic no! Twenty blocks later with a twenty-pound baby, I thought my back was going to give out. Oh and I had to walk back.

So the next time, I am having my nightly glass of vino, maybe I will think twice about making any actual parenting decisions. But then again, life wouldn’t be quite as fun. For someone who tends to lean towards self-doubt and cynicism, especially when analyzing myself in an important role like parenting, a glass of wine to lighten up the mood every now and then ain’t too terrible. Plus, I get a good laugh. And as they say, there’s nothing like a good belly laugh to feel alive.

 

Let’s Rip All Band-Aids Off Today

My leg pounds on the ground, ready to pound out the next beat—thump, thump, thump. I can’t help but shake. My leg becomes jittery when I am nervous. My whole body can feel it. I drop my hands, and feel the thump, thump, thump. Stop shaking, I scream. It didn’t listen, dammit. Deja de temblar, I say utilizing my mediocre Spanish skills, hoping my leg understands that better than English. Nope. Then I take matters into my own hands, literally, grabbing my leg for it to stop. Finally, phew.

I feel my nails. They are short and brittle. I can’t help biting them or picking at them. Pick, pick, bite and bite some more. I pick my lip when I am focusing.

“Stop picking your lip,” my husband says–it irks him. I nod my head, as I remain silent focusing on whatever I am focusing on.

“Your head says yes, but your actions say no.”

I whip around and smile his way, knowing he is totally right.

The weird things we do to make ourselves feel better. The weird kinks our bodies come up with to cope.

“Two anxiety disorders in particular, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and social phobia commonly occur with anorexia and bulimia.”[1] I had both. Socially, I would always care what everyone thought about me, and the anxiety would induce me to not go out to parties or other social gatherings. Don’t approach that group of girls; they are going to reject you. My OCD, or rituals, were very particular. I would count numbers, multiples of 13 were considered bad. I couldn’t shut off the light on 13 or do anything for a multitude of 13. I also had to be the last person to shut off the lights and I would chant, “I wish that I was the skinniest and prettiest person in the world.” I would chant this until my eyes would slowly drift into sleep. If I didn’t, I would be afraid I would always remain ugly and fat. If I didn’t stay up until my parents got home on date night, I was convinced something horrible would happen to them. So I pinned my eyes open, staying up till whenever I heard the alarm buzz indicating they were home.

            On top of that, I would obsess about every single morsel of food I did or didn’t put into my mouth: calculate the calories, what I was going to eat/not eat, when I was going to binge/purge etc. and between that I was studying, because I had to be perfect. It was all consuming. When you disappear in your thoughts like that you don’t truly live.

            We repeat things in our heads over and over again in order to blockade certain thoughts, feelings. We don’t eat to numb ourselves too. That’s one of the many reasons why recovery can be so hard in the beginning. All of a sudden you feel everything again and it’s frightening. You actually have to deal with all the underlying issues. All of the emotions rush to your head making the heat travel to your face. The feelings attack every pore, every inch of your body. You want to punch yourself, stop those feeling—but you can’t without tackling them head on. Instead of numbing out, feeling absolutely nothing—nada, zip, zilch–you will start to confront issues and it’s actually so much better than the temporary Band-Aid you put on everything. Some people are more comfortable stuck in their own traps and webs—but it’s better to step out of that comfort zone. Yes, it’s painful in the short run, but in the long run, you feel relief because you give closure to that open wound.

Then when the wound is sealed you can do a little Irish jig (because why not?) and say in a singsong tone “I am back, bye anorexia and OCD you complete jerks.” And give them a figurative middle finger on the way out. They deserve it!

We need courage to get back on our feet and start again after hard times, but each of us has that courage within. When it seems like everyone and everything is against us, we have it in us to prove everyone wrong, even ourselves, and persevere. To say you are perfect after you choose recovery is what would be categorized as an alternative fact (thanks Donald Trump America for that one), but it gets so much better. Life is messy but once you face reality it becomes easier and you can even see the beauty in it, by actually living, believe it or not. We are all kind of broken, but that’s what gives us depth and makes us beautiful.

So next time you are tap-tap-tapping your leg, and you are trying to get it to stop by screaming in different languages at it—at least that’s what I do–remember why you are really doing it. It won’t make your life better by continuing your rituals. Actually without them, life gets so much better—easier and more enjoyable. Let’s rip those Band-Aids permanently off- or in the language of recovery, let yourself be free.

 

[1] Costin, Carolyn. The Eating Disorder Sourcebook, Third Edition (McGraw-Hill Education, 2007), page 31.

I Am In Love With My Daughter’s Relationship With Food

Sitting in her highchair, bib over head-as mess insurance of course—you got to have mess insurance when you have a baby, or you will be sure to have a puréed food in baby’s hair moment. While you are freaking out standing by her side screaming NOOOOO, because she just took a bath. And that requires a lot of clean up in itself and ahh. Yep. That’s motherhood for you.

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My daughter flashes her toothless smile, minus three little teeth that pop out of her gums. One a fang, another at its posterior, while the last lies on her lower right gums. She hisses, getting excited “bah bah.” No it’s not a bottle, it’s a cinnamon raison bagel with butter (let’s say), but bottles are so exciting so I understand what she is getting at.

And actually putting said food into her mouth and chewing on it. Well, that’s an even better sight.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing the joy in my daughter’s eyes when she tastes something she likes. Her almond shaped brown eyes light up, like a crazed Jack-O’-Lantern but in the best way possible. She isn’t thinking about calories, the size of her arm rolls or what people will think of them. She is just thinking dammit mommy, give me more– this tastes delicious. And she eats until her little tummy is full.

Seeing her gnaw on anything takes me back to videos I have seen of myself as a child. It takes me back in snap shots—flashes that I am not sure are my own memories or memories from videocassettes (yes, I am old) snippets. The way a baby chews is so raw, sensual, and fascinating to me. It’s the sweet innocence only a baby could have–eating without fear.

My mom and I recently watched home videos, including a video of me as a baby. I was looking at my mom with adoring big brown eyes, chanting, “Waffles, waffles, waffles . . .” Then came the high-pitched and excited “Waaaaffles!” I was jumping up and down, trying to reach my highchair, where I knew I would get my treat. Mom scooped me up and put me in the chair, and then she placed an Eggo waffle on a plate in front of me. There I was, sitting there eating a waffle—smiling and laughing. I looked so happy. That little girl with curly hair, big eyes, and a wide innocent smile is not the same girl she is today. I strive to be that little girl when it comes to food again. She loved food and was not yet tainted by life’s bullshit.  And if her innocence towards food ever wavers in the slightest bit,  I will have my daughter watch herself as a baby to remember that exact joy so she can get back to it too.

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But for now, I will soak in every moment watching her eat in real time.

 Beep, beep I just finished microwaving these Dr. Praeger’s spinach nuggets she loves. She can smell them from a mile away and crawls toward me like a puppy and pulls herself on my legs, begging me for them. The only thing missing is her little tongue wagging from left to right. Never mind, there it is. I calm her down, put the plate down and pick her up. She takes a cut up piece into her tiny hands, putting it into her mouth, and its Jack-O’-Lantern time. She gives raspberries as she swallows making a loud vibrato through her mouth. I laugh.

“What are you doing little bug?” I jokingly question. If she answered, I’d pass out from shock.

She is just enjoying herself. And I relish every moment of her joy. Actually, I am in love with it.