Let me preface this by saying that I know our 3-month old daughter is not saying complicated two syllable words -- or any words, aside from something that starts with "Abu" and ends with her chin covered in a beard of spit.
I get this. We actually have a pediatrician approved baby manual that keeps us apprised of upcoming milestones. Baby might effortlessly drench the front of her onesie at 3 months; Baby might begin speaking recognizable words is chapters from here.
Still: She's saying the word "hungry."
It's actually more like "ung-gee, ung-gee" but she says it right around the time someone tuned into her clocks would suspect she is actually ... Ung-gee.
I've thought she was saying it for a while but I kept it to myself because it's crazy-talk and the sort of delusions of grandeur that give elementary school teachers something to laugh their asses off at while hiding in a bathroom stall during parent-teacher conferences. So I knew what Chuck was talking about when he said he thought she was saying "hungry."
"The ung-gee thing?" I said.
We tell this fun not-possibly fact to the people who come in contact with her. This past weekend the Parents Pista were in town and they heard it too. Ung-gee. Ung-gee. Multiple times.
"Baby girl," I said at Sammy's Pizza as she began to fuss. "Are you hungry?"
"Ung-gee, ung-gee," she said and we all heard it and we all laughed.
None of us will say in a non joking way that we believe she is saying "hungry." It's impossible. That would mean genius, right? And genius is such a burden. No one wants that.
This is also the week where I set her on the bed, slipped into sweatpants, turned around and she was face planted in the bedspread. Like some giant spatula came down from the sky and flipped her like a pancake. Of course she hates being on her stomach, so she cried and grunted and was trying so hard to get out of this jam that all she could do is fart. The fart, it seems, is her battle cry.
A few days ago I was at Subway and saw a preggo standing in line. I had to stop myself from grabbing her arm and saying "I WAS PREGNANT TOO!"
Everything about being pregnant is so weird that you forget it's a pretty common state. Sometimes I miss it. It was so terrifying and exciting and encumbering and terrible. And everything tasted so damn good.
But sometimes I think: I'm not pregnant anymore so I can do a cartwheel if I want and take a hot bath without poaching a fetus and, hell, I can go out and try to catch listeria if I want because I'm catching rare illnesses for one now. It's very liberating.
Anyway, somewhere in the past week or two we woke up to a real baby. One that bounces with excitement and speaks in tongues. One that is neither happy nor sad -- still just curious -- about how her legs move in water, but is thrilled with the 7-Up effect of farting in water. One who twists 45 degrees, cozies into a corner of her bed and rolls onto her side. One who nonchalantly grabs fistfuls of your hair or bottom lip. One who beams at the baby in the mirror and tries to touch her hand.
One who I suspect might not be a future ballet dancer, rather might want to be a bulldozer.
I recently made an exciting discovery at the mall: the family restroom. This large all-stall room is amazing. It's bigger than our living room -- cleaner too -- and it has one of those "pretty mirrors" in which one's face looks less like blotchy fatigue and more like something Photoshopped. (It's in the lighting I think).
I looked forward to using it on Thursday, but instead found a teenaged girl on a bench outside the door, waiting in line.
"I'll be quick," she promised, code for "I'm not going to lay down a deuce."
It didn't bother me that an able bodied teen -- sans stroller or small human accessory -- was using something clearly marked "Family Restroom." But I did take the opportunity to feign pissedness to Chuck via text message.
Here is why we determined a teenaged girl would need to use this bathroom having, eliminated the obvious fear of public performance. (A fear that corked me for a month in college. If not for the bathroom at Super America, I'd have plumped to a scat version of Violet Beauregard). Anyway:
Chuck: probably crushing up her Addies
Me: maybe dancing with Molly
Chuck: peeing on a stolen pregnancy test
Chuck: purging Leeann Chin
Me: applying Manic Panic. Stolen.
Chuck: changing into the outfit she was wearing when she left home this morning.
Sunday day came and went, then Sunday night and nothing. Not a flutter. Not that cavernous stomach feeling. I didn't do the end-of-summer depression clomp or dry heave in the shower. I never felt like I was snorting 7-Up. I didn't yelp as the sun set.
"I don't get it," I said to Chuck.
"So now you're worried about not being worried?" he said, clarifying the situation.
"Oh," I said.
Going back to my Daily Obligation was fine. I snuck a few peeks at the PBG while I was getting ready to leave, but made it out the door while she was still asleep. I wore clothes-clothes and not the yoga pants-tank top-cardigan combo I've claimed as my signature look. I listened to pop music in the car. I applied lipstick at a stop light. I wore my new sunglasses and I drank Naked Juice while en route. I checked in with friends and caught up on three months worth of whatever. I didn't mistakingly refer to anyone as "my little lima bean." I feel like an awful person saying this, but it was pretty sweet getting back to the business of being a part of a society that doesn't think of my areolas as a dinner plate.
On my way to lunch I looked into the window of an empty storefront and thought: "I have a daughter. I have a daughter. Oh, her? She's my daughter. A person I made." At Subway, a couple of the Sandwich Artists asked to see photos. I flashed my phone, they cooed and asked for details and ... I felt like I was lying. Like this was some elaborate ruse I'd rehearsed so well that people actually believed that I'd had a baby. "I have a daughter. Her name is this. She likes the Lakewalk and hates the book 'Green Eggs and Ham.'"
Baby-wise, I was stable unless anyone asked me to express an emotion about being eight miles away from my little person. For the rest of the day I stayed focused by making the universal sign for Time Out whenever someone cocked a head and asked: "How are you dooooooing?"
"Let's just not talk about it" and a quick spin in the opposite direction got me through it.
Day 2 was another story. I got her out of bed, changed her diaper, kissed her pumpkin head as she cozied up on the couch with Chuck and a bottle. Then I forgot my phone and had to go back inside and repeat the goodbyes. I felt my voice pitch higher as I choked "I better [croak] go."
Eight hours later I was sick with missing her, almost dizzy and breathless. It was like my body had only promised to hold it together until 6 p.m. Then a second after that I caught a flu-like love sickness. It was the worst. I went to pick her up from Norway Hall and the traffic lights and parking options waged a war against me. I thought I was going to hyperventilate every time I was stalled or thwarted. Finally, with a full-on fever, I parked and quick-walked to the building just in time to catch the Norwegian Wonder leaving, carrying my sleeping baby. I wanted to rip the PBG out the car seat and hold that warm little body against me. Feel her do that back arch thing she does when she's liberated from the seat.
Gah. My aching heart.
"What in the hell is that on her face?!" I shriek at Chuck, who is holding the baby.
There's a grey-ish gob of goo connecting her nostril to her lip. I remember that I just heard her sneeze three times and do the math: Baby's first massive slug of snot.
Chuck oozes it into a Kleenix while I stand by gagging. He tugs and tugs, the old magician-with-infinity-hankies-in-his-breast-pocket trick.
"I swear it was that long!" he says afterward.
"Did you get any on you?" I ask.
His look says: "Please, woman. You should see the things I've gotten on me. This is nothing. Those mustardy seeds are curds of milk, you know."
Later he reminisces: "It looked like someone stepped on a tube of wasabi paste."
THE BIOLOGY OF DIAPERS
Through some cruel trick of biology, my favorite time with the girl has become diaper changes. She's always all-smiles as soon as her back hits the table. She practically tugs her own clothes off all while emitting mermaid-frequency squeaks. And because it's already feeling a little festive, I make a big show of removing her socks, cracking my knuckles, chanting "PANTS OFF DANCE OFF!" painstakingly describing what I'm seeing in her diaper and then applauding her effort.
I'm slow to re-dress her. She likes to hang loose, but she also likes the part where I velcro the sides of her diaper. She almost giggles when I pull her feet through her pant legs. We're both always a little disappointed when it's over so I let her chill a little longer and we both stare at each other smiling like "Wasn't that hilarious?" "Yeah, totes."
This basically makes Chuck the luckiest bastard in all of diaper land.
Today the PBG burped centimeters from my open mouth and I could taste it. After posting about it on Facebook, she did something similar except with projectile milk curds. My mouth? Again centimeters from hers. I didn't get any in my mouth, but it was close, man.
I put the baby in her car seat. Threw a blanket over her feet. Tossed a pacifier in next to her. Slung a diaper bag containing extra clothes, extra food, extra dipes, over my shoulder. Snagged a reusable grocery bag. Hoisted that over a shoulder too.
Picked up the car seat, holding it in a way to get the least amount of rain on the baby. Grabbed my keys, my phone, a charger.
Out the door. Locked it. Speed walked toward the car.
Realized I was still wearing slippers. Shrugged. Kept going.
The worst thing I've ever seen, to date: a nurse spending 5 minutes trying to tap one of the PBG's veins with an IV.
I didn't know there would be an IV. And I especially didn't know about the catheter. It's mention of the latter that sends me shivering and snotting to the Kleenix box. I've had a catheter. I've stood on a table in the basement of a hospital, catheterized, and been asked to urinate into something that looks like a Brita Water Pitcher in front of an audience. It's awful.
But it's watching them insert the IV, helplessly listening to the pained cries of the baby, that hurts worse than getting stuck myself.
We were in Minneapolis meeting with a specialist about the PBG's single kidney. To recap: There is no left; righty is super sized. They wanted to make sure the one is doing its job and isn't an infection waiting to happen. As we all know, the common urinary tract infection is the precious family heirloom. If an infection had an easy way to crawl back into the kidney, we'd have a problem. So there were all these tests and pokes and prods.
The PGB was in perhaps the best mood of her life, even during the ultrasound. She was all smiles and fake words, arms and legs doing cheerleading choreography.
"Well, I hope I don't ruin that," a woman in radiology said right before the IV-catheter combo meal.
Chuck and I had to stand idly by while the PBG was photographed eliminating fluids for 50 torturous minutes. She was strapped down at her mid section, her big blue eyes pooling with tears (helped along by the additional fluids in her body), her mouth a giant red O as she wailed the entire time. A clock ticked off the minutes, time that was seemingly wading through peanut butter. I leaned over her and hoped she didn't forever associate my face with this cold fluid running through her body or the jabs to her hand and peeper.
It. Was. Awful.
"Well," I said to Chuck. "At least now we know we know that we would be able to kill anyone who hurts her."
After that she was scanned by a radiologist, which she seemed to think was fun, and all was right with the world again.
The verdict: She should be fine, according to the doctor, though we have his permission to use the kidney as an excuse to not let her play football. Now I can stop being sad when I see girls playing soccer. She just might be the best midfielder ever after all. Of course, this verdict could change, but he seemed to think she would be okay. She'll continue to meet with him every few months until she's potty trained.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
This week marks the end of my life without a Daily Obligation. Starting next week, the Norwegian Wonder will be watching the PBG three days a week.
I'm probably going to barf about it.
This is technically a good thing. The Norwegian Wonder is wonderful, everyone should know her, and we're lucky that the PBG will get one-on-one time with her. Also: She's coming to our house, which is super convenient and means that other dirty children won't get their flu in the baby's hair. Bonus that the PBG might pick up some Norwegian along the way and someday be able to say "I hate you, you ruined my life" in a less hostile sounding language.
Still the whole thing is causing conflicting emotions: a) sad to leave my baby; b) happy to get out into the world and resume some semblance of my own life; c) sad that I'm kind of happy to get back into the world and resume some semblance of my own life.
The kicker is that this comes at a time when we've developed a routine. She's learning all these new tricks. And every day she's becoming more aware that I'm a VIP. This is crucial. I've been unable to trick anyone else into thinking this about me.
I practiced leaving her earlier this week. I took a late lunch with a great view and a Charles Manson bio and when my mind wandered back to her little face, everything started to taste like glue. (Although the rest of the time it was delish).
Even if I was the president of the Sheltering Homeless Company and on the board of directors for the Feed the Hungry Organization I still think that I would spend eight hours a day thinking: This is bullshit compared to watching my baby do a gummy grin at some Of Montreal song she heard on Yo Gabba Gabba YouTube. I'm worried about that.
Chrissie! said it's good for the baby to see me with a daily obligation. I believe that's true and plan to repeat it to myself when I return to my daily Subway sandwich lunches, now with a bonus breast pump.
I just really don't want to wake up one day and suddenly realize that the PBG's got a full head of hair instead of this male pattern baldness thing she's rocking. That she can do a cartwheel and has begun experimenting with Loves Baby Soft, pilfered from Walgreens.
So there you have it: me repeating the shit mommy bloggers having been mommy blogging about for the ages.