Crib Notes

Perhaps this is a little late to be any help to The Violinist because she is more put together than me.  But when I was eight months pregnant, I finally got around to picking a crib.  A crib that I have had to lug around the house trying to find a place for.  A crib that even in pieces is still incredibly heavy.


When I was pregnant and being dragged from store to store by other mothers, I knew exactly what crib I wanted.  It had to be heavy.  It had to be simple.  It had to clean easily.  I had already done my homework, which is to say, I already heard horror stories.


I needed a sturdy crib because my mother didn’t think she needed one that had to live through a war.  She was wrong.  As soon as my little brother was awake, he wanted out of the prison we all called a crib (or at least my parents did I was just old enough to walk when they brought him home so I probably didn’t call it anything but “mine”).  When he was old enough to pull himself up to stand, he would rock the crib, banging it on the wall to force his mother to RUN to get him, if for no other reason than to keep the wall from deteriorating.  My mom is still not sure how that crib survived to be used by another kid.


So if the crib wobbled or was dainty-looking, I moved on.


I needed a simple crib because I have simple tastes.  I also heard my grandma complain loudly when ever the subject of babies and cribs were brought up.  She was cursed with a beautiful crib with spindled rails.  “Do you know how hard it is to clean a spindle crib rail?” No, and I don’t want to find out because apparently it took HOURS and HOURS.  Then after all the hard work, that baby just messes up the crib again. 


So no matter how beautiful the crib was, if it didn’t have clean lines, I moved on.


Then came the day I learned that a crib needed to be easy to clean.  I walked into class one day to find my table partner sitting in his seat looking like he had PTS.  I slid into my seat and asked what was wrong, assuming that he must have just got back from Nam and dealing with Charlie.


Him: I love being a stay-at-home dad, but today.  (He sighed.  At the beginning of the semester, he had shown me a picture of his girls, so cute that I felt my uterus skip a beat and I had to remind myself I had no money, no degree yet, no wisdom, and no wedding ring.  He was finally going back to school at nights when his wife got home from work to watch the girls.)  When the first one was born, she was so EASY.  So sweet and cute.  And I said to my wife, ‘let’s have a dozen more.’  Then the next one came, and she was a little more difficult, but she was just as sweet and cute as her older sister.  I remember once coming in to get her from a nap, and she had opened her diaper and was rolling her poo into balls.  That was weird, but I dealt with that.  So I said to my wife, ‘Let’s have a couple more.’  Then this last one came, and I don’t want any more.  She’s sweet and cute, but she’s much more challenging than her sisters.  Today I heard her laughing and enjoying herself in her crib after her nap, and I went in to see what was amusing her so much.  There was shit EVERYWHERE.  IT was all over the crib.  The walls.  The sheet.  Her clothes.  Her hair.  IT was ALL OVER HER FACE.  Fae, it was all over her face.  I freaked.  I grabbed her and tossed her into a bath, clothes and all.  I scrubbed her and scrubbed her.  I emptied out the water several times.  I even scrubbed her mouth with soap.  I didn’t know.  She could have eaten it.  She could have eaten her own shit.  It took me forever to clean.  I don’t know if I want to go back.  I mean, what if she does it again?


He looked at me for an answer.  What the f did I know?  I wasn’t even old enough to drink yet.  I never had this problem with any of the kids I had babysat.  I never heard of my mom, her friends, or my aunts complain about anything like that.  I never heard my grandmas mention anything like it.  But since he was pleading for some kind of answer, some wisdom, some rescue line, I wiped the look of sheer horror off my face and smiled.


Me: She’s just exploring.  Just put her to bed with pants on so she can’t take off her diaper.  She probably didn’t eat anything.  I’m sure it smelled bad enough not to try to taste.


Him: (relaxing, giving me a smile) You’re probably right.  What about that reading?  Pretty intense, right?


At break, I ran to the nearest pay phone and called my mother to demand an answer.  Yes, some babies do, most do not.  Never leave a smart baby alone in his/her diaper.  (S)he will learn to take it off.


When I fell in love with the crib that was sturdy, simple, and easy to clean, I was relived to have my father-in-law offer to purchase it for us because sturdy doesn’t come cheap.  (Oh, and I decided against a convertible bed because I figured by the time it could convert I would have another little one.)  Thank God that my parents came to visit and took one look of the box and decided that THEY would build it because obviously their hugely pregnant daughter was out of her mind to think she could build it alone.  It took three people to assemble it.  It took two people to dissemble it to get it out of the room.  Now it is holding the wall up in the garage.


When we were using it, I knew the boys couldn’t bang it.  I knew Evan and Sean could crawl all over it.  I knew when I found Evan in the crib playing with the mobile with Sean that it wouldn’t fall.  But damn, that thing is heavy, and it is another reason why I should wear shoes while I’m moving things and unpacking.


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Savoring the Calm Before the Storm

I know what you’re thinking.  Perhaps this advice would have been better suited before you got pregnant, The Violinist.  You’re probably right.  You could have drunk your way into a stupor, but you wouldn’t have if you’re still on the same meds you were in college.  Then THAT would end you in the hospital and in hot water with all who love you.  But I figured you weren’t due to the end of April, which gives me plenty of time to give you pearls of wisdom, which you might throw into the mud any ways, but you only have so much time to enjoy being a non-mommy.  Once you give birth, you will forever and ever be known as someone’s mom.  Amen.  So here is a list of things to savor in those last months of freedom.


The Ten Things You Should Savor Before Becoming a Mom


1 ) Sleeping in.  Or just sleep in general.  Of course, it won’t be long before you’re getting up several dozen times a night to pee, and then there is trying to find a good position to sleep in as the kid does an acrobatic show in the embryonic fluid to entertain herself.  But as soon as that kid pops out, you will no longer be able to sleep in.  True, you might have a loving husband who’ll help out on the morning shift, but if you’re planning on using your God-given feed bags, you’re going to have to get up.  Then as the child gets older, she’ll call for YOU, not Daddy, when she wakes up.  So sleep in on as many days you can, and enjoy the blissful gradual wake up.


2 ) Meals.  Very soon you’ll have to rush through meals.  They will become a speed dash as you try to eat and entertain a baby.  You’ll get lucky sometimes and eat when the baby sleeps, but this phase will only last a few months.  Once the kid is old enough to eat, anything you have is fair game to them.  I can’t remember the last time I finished a snack, a meal, a bowl of ice cream without hearing the sounds of “Please.”  While at first it’s cute, it quickly becomes annoying as you realized THIS is your favorite kind of ice cream and THIS is the last bowl.



3 ) Showers.  In the first year, the baby will take a morning nap about two hours after getting up.  This is a lovely time to take a shower.  Unless you’re so damn sleep deprived you prefer sleep or the you have no more clean dishes left or clean clothes or when was the last time you used the vacuum or the last time you paid your electric bill.  The first few months you’ll be lucky to catch a shower every other day, and it’ll be a marathon.  Hell, you’ll be lucky if you remember to change your nursing bra once a week.  (Gross, I know; but you’ll get over it.  Buy at least three.)  Don’t worry; soon you can have the TV babysit her while you take a shower, and then she’ll want a snack RIGHT NOW as you try to wash your hair.


4 ) Child-stuff free rooms.  I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal now.  So what if there are a few toys in the bathroom and a bassinet in the master room and bottles in the kitchen and diapers and toys in the family room.  One day soon you just want to look somewhere where there isn’t kid stuff.  I swear the toys actually reproduce at night.  They’ll be kiddie bath toys in YOUR bath tube.  You’ll roll over one night on some hard, sharp toy hiding in your blankets or you’ll wake up staring at some stuff animal.  There will be toys under the desk, under the table, and in the coach.  God, those damn pacifiers, bottles, and sippy cups grow legs.



5 ) Gritty Movies.  Or scary movies or any movie that something happens to a kid.  You’re going to get super-sensitive.  You will never read or see something about a kid and not think THAT could happen to my kid.  You’ll become surprisingly passionate over certain issues that you believe pertain to your child’s wellbeing.  I didn’t even finish Syriana because of the pool scene.  I just bawled as my husband apologized for not warning me.  I can’t see movies about kidnappings.  I defiantly can’t read Lovely Bones.  Of course, this could just be me.  Since Sean, I cry over Hallmark commercials.  I swear.  Remember last year’s Mother’s Day commercial with all the different people or kids saying Mom in different ways, and there’s that teenage girl that sobs it because her hearts broken; I cried every time.  Even now I have tears thinking about it.  Ugh.


6 ) Complicated books.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t read.  Hell, I read more during those first few months than any other time.  Those “bond with your baby as you nurse” people don’t understand the true luxury of reading silently as your child fully enjoys eating.  After a month or two, the kid will wonder way you’re interrupting her by staring at her.  But your mind will be so addled by sleep deprivation that large, complicated books (which are pretty heavy holding one hand any ways) are going to be hard to focus on, especially at four am.  I read one page over three times.  So go light.  Remember L.J. Smith?



7 ) Speedy errands.  When you have a kid, everything will take at least fifteen to twenty minutes longer.  With all the dressing, buckling and unbuckling.  It will never fail; you’ll need to change the diaper right after you buckle her in.  Not to mention, in those first few months, you’ll be feeding every two hours.  You want to know how many stores you can hit in between feedings.  One.  You can hit more if you nurse in the car or on a bench.  It can be a bitch.  I preferred to nurse in the car so I didn’t have to carry a watch, had a cushier seat, and could listen to the radio, but you’ll find what is right when you get there.


8 ) Your mind.  This is one of those things you don’t realize you lost it until it’s gone.  It’s probably too late because you’re all pumped up with pregnancy hormones.  By this time in your pregnancy, I had lost my cell phone, my purse, and my keys (several times), and you remember how often I lost things when we lived together.  Almost never.  This may get a little better after the child, but it’s highly unlikely.  I suggest lists.



9 ) See how brain-addled I am; I don’t even have a tenth reason or an actual ninth.


So for all you moms out there, could you please add what you would savor if someone would take the kids for a couple of hours or a day or a week?


But really, The Violinist, once you’re a mom, you’ll never regret it.

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