Friday, June 4, 2010

Thora Scissorhands Takes A Bottle (and her mama takes a trip down memory lane)

It's been a long few weeks over here. It's hot, unseasonably so. Johnny, Thora and I have been crabby and sweaty. Normally Johnny and I both wear her happily, but wearing a baby in this weather also means wearing a baby-sized wet spot on your nice shirt and not ever being sure if it's sweat or if it's pee.

Also, I've been transitioning back to work, which is both wonderful and horrible. It's wonderful because I love my job and I am happy to be there getting things done. I keep telling people that being at work is kind of like exercising different muscles than being a parent, so it's nice cross training. But it's also horrible because I hate to leave Thora in the morning, and it's especially horrible because right around the time I started leaving regularly, she decided to let me know exactly what she thought of it by refusing to eat from a bottle. Thankfully we now live close-ish to my job. Johnny has had to walk with Thora to my office literally every single day that I've gone to work so that I can nurse her. And that really sucks.

Pumping is bad enough. When I pump at work, I have put it off as long as I possibly could and am ready to burst. I refill my water bottle, lock my door, pull down the shades and put a little sign up that says "Milking the cows, please do not disturb! Back in 10 minutes!" with a very cute, smiling cow on it. Unfortunately, this sign does not work, and neither does my lock. Twice this week people walked in on me and I had to shout "NOW IS REALLY NOT A GOOD TIME!!" and quickly duck under my desk to spare them the embarrassment of seeing me hooked up to good ol' wackowackowackowacko. One of those times I also dislodged the right side storage bag from the pump. In a stunning display of coordination, I spilled the whole thing all over myself and the floor and found out how sticky breast milk is if you don't wipe it up right away. When Thora visits me at work, I have a crowd of people, mostly girls, around me who want to hold her and make her smile and ask me really original questions like "Does she sleep through the night?" Which is awesome, except when the purpose of her visit is to get some milk out of my breasts (which I like to keep hidden at work) and into her belly fast so she doesn't pass out from not eating all day and so I can get back to work.

A friend of mine clued me in to a few different kinds of bottles that are more like boobs and that might work better than the ones we have. I checked them out on Amazon. Some were actually boob shaped and soft, which I could not do. The ones we ended up getting were breastflow bottles by the First Years. They are sort of boob shaped but also still unquestionably bottles. The reviews were exactly what I needed to hear. "My three month old daughter who always took bottles suddenly stopped and we were afraid she was going to starve. But she loves these as much as but definitely not more than the real thing!" I read that and I was sold. They came last night, and today we tried one. In public, which as any parent knows, is a gamble. She didn't love it, but she also didn't freeze up, arch her back stiffly and scream like she has been doing. When we got home, we tried again and she totally went for it when she was mere inches away from the real thing. Daddy gave her six whole ounces in one sitting. Amazing. This is a huge confidence booster. It means that I will be able to go to work without feeling like I will starve my baby and it makes Johnny's life infinitely easier.

In other news, something really scary happened this week when I clipped Thora's nails. Oh, what a terrifying task. They grow so fast! It was bad enough back when she was a tiny, tiny baby and her nails were so small I could barely see them. Now it's worse because she's bigger. Her nails are easier to see, but now her hands and legs are constantly wiggling, so it's like throwing a knife at a moving target. My biggest fear is that I'll miss... and this week I missed. I clamped down with the baby nail clipper and it felt soft instead of thin and sharp, and there was no neat little "snip" sound. And then she started to scream. And bleed. God, it was horrible. She wailed, I wailed. But it was over in about three seconds. I applied pressure and she stopped bleeding right away. She was smiling again before I stopped crying, so I think it was far worse for me. But that was only the fourth finger! I had one more plus a whole hand to go! I dried my eyes and forced myself to get right back in the water, but I didn't do a great job since I was terrified I would mangle my baby even worse than I had. So Thora's nails, while shorter, were jagged and razor sharp. She scratched me immediately. She scratched her daddy too. When she scratched herself, I decided I had to get over it and give her a proper manicure, but not before she earned herself a few nicknames. I called her Thora Scissorhands. Johnny called her Wolverine.

Also this week we learned that it's not a good idea to take a baby to Candle 79, not even on her daddy's birthday. We got her all dressed up in a new pink and white dress and hoped for the best. Luckily, the wait staff was very considerate, especially since Thora started to fuss the very second we walked in the door. "It's so nice to have a baby in here!" they exclaimed over her cries, and I looked up gratefully from where I was frantically bouncing her and blocking the aisle and said "Really? You mean it?" Our waitperson smiled and nodded at me, reassuring me, though I am sure she was just too polite to say "Eat fast and get out!"

No, it wasn't all that bad. I am just sensitive and deathly afraid of being the inappropriate mom who brings her kid everywhere. (Okay, the lawyers didn't have to tell me that I probably should not have brought her to my apartment closing either but I swear I had no choice!) Eventually Thora fell asleep there and we had a very nice meal and thought about Johnny's birthday last year.

We were in Iceland. We had been trying to conceive for a month and I was pretty sure we'd succeeded right away. I remember The Wait. Am I or aren't I? Am I or aren't I? What was that twinge I felt? Am I nauseous? Do I feel different? I spent practically the whole trip Googling on my Blackberry "very early signs of pregnancy" (so much so that Johnny started calling it my Blackboyfriend) and shopping for A++ Super Early Pregnancy Test - 100% Accurate which I bought secretly when we got home and it told me (devastatingly, yet very inaccurately) that I was not pregnant. Amazing how our lives have changed in just one year (and how much weight I have gained, as evidenced by this photo from Iceland 1 year ago when I was about 1 week pregnant).

Things do come full circle. I like that. I like closure and tying loose ends. I like thinking about before and after, about where I was and where I am. Nowadays, thinking about life before Thora is like thinking about dinosaurs. I know they happened but it was sooooo long ago that it hardly seems real. And yet I find myself thinking a lot about the past and feeling nostalgic.

After years and years of deliberately avoiding E. 94th Street and Park Avenue, Johnny, Thora and I now walk past my old school all the time. And every single time I say "Oh hey, I went to high school there" and tell him some story that he has heard a hundred times already and every time he humors me and acts like he's never seen the Brick Prison before and that he hasn't already heard my story a hundred times. There is so much about high school that I still remember very clearly even though I am now old and it was so long ago. It helps that one of my best friends from high school is still my best friend. It doesn't really help that my other best friend from high school dropped off the face of the earth and I haven't heard a peep from her in more than ten years. (She's not even on Facebook.) That feels like a loose end that needs tying up with a really big knot. It's true that as we grew up we had less and less in common, and I am a firm believer in not feeling obliged to stay friends with someone just because you share history. But still, I miss her and wonder how she is.

I can't believe it is now 20 years since graduation. Tomorrow is my 20th high school reunion and I am actually excited to go. I haven't been to any of the others. At 5 I was not ready to deal with high school memories. At 10, I was living in Iceland. At 15... I don't think I was invited to 15. But I'm excited to see people and catch up tomorrow. Mostly I think it's funny that I have reconnected with so many kids from my grade thanks to Facebook. I have been talking to many of them more now than I did in the six years I was at Hunter. Wow, I just typed kids in my grade. We are all grown up now! We are professionals, spouses, parents. So crazy.

What's also crazy is that this past week I reconnected with my best friend from summer camp from when I was six years old. Ironically, she lives three subway stops away from me in a neighborhood I am in all the time. Also, she has an adorable baby boy just a few months older than Thora. We met for lunch last week and I was nervous because I had not seen her in 25 years, but after five minutes I recognized her smile, her sense of humor, her gestures and facial expressions, and I was back in a place I had totally forgotten and felt completely comfortable with her.

It feels good to know myself. To be able to laugh with someone at age 37 that I laughed with when I was six. To be excited to see high school friends again, when high school was a very dark time in my life. Thinking back on all the experiences I have had and people I have known and however good or bad they were, I can honestly say that I have learned something from each of them and that they were important to me, in some way.

I hope that my daughter finds meaning in her experiences as well and learns from her past. Even if it's that she ends up liking Tim Burton movies or the Wolverine comic or, God forbid, becoming a manicurist (apologies to the manicurists out there!). I can just hear her now. "Oh, when I was little my mother did such a horrible job of cutting my nails that I scratched the heck out of everyone and they all called me Thora Scissorhands. And that's why I feel this calling to..." Secretly I hope that she will instead somehow take a hint from all the times we walk past 94th and Park and get accepted to Hunter!


  1. I have spent the last week or so thinking a lot about you guys and Johnny's birthday from last year. I wish we could have done it again this year. Maybe next year? or the year after? Whenever really, you know I will always have an open door for you guys.

    And I can't forget when Starri looked at you very hard and then said "Yup, she's pregnant"

    So happy that he was right :)

  2. I wouldn't notice this so-called weight gain if I held that photo up to you in real life! You are a super adorable mom, I hope your reunion is a blast.

    When Anna was a week old, my sister cut her big toes with the clippers. My sister has 3 kids, she felt terrible but like Thora it was over quickly, and I couldn't blame her because Anna has these janky ass toenails that point upward like elf shoes.

  3. Such gorgeous photos, thanks for sharing! Really beautiful. Everybody looks stunning, and your baby weight is coming off already, you'll see. Remember that it hasn't been long at all.

    I can very much relate to this post, because Mila has had a couple of those Baby Scissorhands phases during the first few months. I actually called her the same exact way. Those razor-like little nails... We were all so scratched up for a while. I found some clippers with a built-in magnifier, which helped me aim with more confidence. I tried using the same clippers with Adina this past winter and it boggled my mind that I ever found the little magnifier helpful at some point, but there you have it. I guess this time I knew that it was better to stick with the nail file for the first few months, until her nails got bigger and therefore the clipping became doable - filing her down while she is asleep works quite well, give it a try if you haven't yet.

    And the Breastflow bottle! Tried that too, when I was going crazy trying every single brand on the market! What did she end up taking, after 3 months of madness? The good old Medela bottle, which is like any other basic nipple. Figures. Which is why I knew for sure that the make of the bottle had nothing to do with her refusal. But our problem was different - Mila simply refused bottles at all times, she wasn't just picky about was a complete no-go.

    So nice reading you Aimee - hope you're having a great weekend xXx


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