The Barnacle, my sweet, sweet boy, is nine months old tomorrow. He assaults anyone who will hold him by throwing his brick of a forehead against their face. He has just figured out that, in addition to throwing his head forward and back, he can grip the sides of his bassinet and rock side to side, doing the white boy’s underbite. He is determined to be part of every conversation, asserting himself from the back seat of the car or a blanket on the floor with, “Ba, ba, ba, ba!” He laughs like an engine that won’t turn over. He crawls really fucking fast and pulls himself up to standing, where he has only just begun testing his balance by letting go. He has five teeth, and a few weeks ago, when he had four — two up, two down — SJ noted that he looked like a staple remover. He throws everything on the floor. He wriggles and squirms and contorts his body to get to me, grinning maniacally, when I make the sign for “milk.” He screams when I leave the room, convinced he will never see my breasts again (“I don’t think this baby likes me for me,” I complain to SJ when I’m nursing). And his name is no longer the Barnacle: Due to a long-blocked tear duct that leaves his right eye crusted shut every morning, we call him Crusty One-Eye.
A lot of names have changed around here. I’ve stopped calling my husband, Strong Jawline, by his given name. Instead I call him “Somebody,” and he calls me “Somebody Else.” For example:
Jenny: “Somebody left a baby on the couch and he rolled off.”
SJ: “Somebody Else was standing a few feet away and could have caught him.”
At one point I realized that babies are suicide machines. Our son is constantly trying to outwit us so he can go to that great Tupperware shelf in the sky. The most dangerous things in the house are the most interesting to him and, conveniently for him, all at eye level. He pulls at wires. He tries to pry out the outlet covers. He opens kitchen drawers and cabinets and pulls himself up on the mini-bookshelf. He rolls off the couch and, only yesterday, the bed, BOTH TIMES WHEN SOMEBODY SAYS HE WAS WATCHING HIM BUT MORE LIKELY WAS WATCHING HIS NEW IPHONE. Needless to say, in the last few days, we finished childproofing the house so if our son really wants to die, he’s going to have to work a little harder.
But the biggest issue around here is sleep. First of all, Crusty One-Eye won’t let a thing like sleep get between him and his plans for the great beyond. Ever since he was three months old, every time he falls asleep, he immediately rolls onto his face. Even in sleep, his nose seeks the side of the bassinet or the pillow we put against the top of the bed in his quest to suffocate.
Second of all, after I got pregnant, many moms warned me, jokingly, “You’ll never sleep again.”
What they meant was YOU’LL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.
I sleep in the guest bed with the baby because this is how many waking hours I get with my son on a weekday: FOUR. This is how many our daycare provider gets: EIGHT. THAT’S FUCKED UP WHY DID I HAVE A KID AT ALL. My son doesn’t even blink when I drop him off at daycare, since to him I’m dropping him off at home.
So there’s the first problem: Because I’m sleeping in the same bed with him, I often inadvertently wake him up because I’m, you know, breathing. And when he does wake up, if he gets to the point of raising his heavy head like a baby dinosaur, swinging it back and forth, eyes screwed shut, baying for Mom — or, his new move, throwing his body in all directions like a drunken starlet, face-planting, then heaving himself onto his back, tossing his arms about dramatically — why, Mom is right there, and MOM NEEDS TO GIVE UP THE GOODS GIVE UP THE GOODS MOM OR NEITHER OF US IS EVER GOING BACK TO SLEEP.
Across the hall, in our bedroom, Somebody snoozes on. I’m not sure what will kill our marriage first: me not getting enough sleep, or me not getting enough sleep. I think it will be me not getting enough sleep.
SJ maintains that he’s willing to sleep with the baby. Every once in a while I break down and let him, but mostly, since I know he will kill the baby DID SOMEONE SAY POSTPARTUM ANXIETY, I insist on sleeping with him. Defeated, SJ contributes fully to bedtime, one night after which he observed, “Putting a baby to sleep is a lot like trying to give a woman on anti-depressants an orgasm.”
This is an actual sleep log from when I made the mistake of starting a new sleep-training method the day I flew the baby to a different time zone.
6:36 p.m.: Asleep
6:55 p.m.: Awake/nursed
7:44 p.m.: Asleep
8:00 p.m.: Awake
8:07 p.m.: Nursed
8:48 p.m.: Asleep
10:00 p.m.: Awake/nursed
10:11 p.m.: Peed through pajamas and onto bed. Changed diaper and pajamas.
10:14 p.m.: Nursed
10:23 p.m.: Asleep
10:33 p.m.: Awake/nursed (I think this is when I stopped trying to pop him off.)
10:45 p.m.: Asleep
10:54 p.m.: Awake/nursed
11:24 p.m.: Asleep
11:32 p.m.: Coughed self awake/nursed
11:37 p.m.: Asleep
12:54 a.m.: Awake, tried to crawl away. Nursed.
1:03 a.m.: Asleep
2:19 a.m.: Awake/nursed
3:58 a.m.: Awake/nursed
4:26 a.m.: Asleep (I stopped keeping track of waking/nursing.)
6:58 a.m.: Awake/nursed
8:40 a.m.: Nursed/napped
The sleep-training method involves neither giving up co-sleeping nor making the baby cry. One of the suggestions is to put a lovey between me and the baby when I’m nursing him down, so when he wakes up in the middle of the night he’ll associate it with going back to sleep. So far, when I try to calm him down in the middle of the night by handing him his lovey, he grabs it from me and screams and throws it as hard as he can.
“It’s his hatey,” SJ says.
I constantly complain about the lack of sleep, and I’m constantly having to explain my obvious weight loss due to through-the-night breastfeeding. But here’s the thing: I DON’T WANT ADVICE ON WHAT’S WORKED FOR OTHER MOMS AND THEIR BABIES MY MARTYRDOM IS WORKING FOR ME.
I’m not ready to stop co-sleeping or try a different sleep-training method, because I fucking love waking up in the morning two inches from my baby’s wide brown eyes (well, eye, in his case), our cheeks on the mattress two inches apart, his little mouth telling me seriously, “Ba, ba, ba, ba,” as if he’s explaining his dreams. SJ hears us from across the hall and climbs into bed with us, and Crusty One-Eye throws his body between us, smiling and hitting SJ in his big nose, our happy little boy, safe and content between his two exhausted parents.
Well, Somebody Else is exhausted.
BONUS STORY: A couple weeks ago SJ and I had an emergency last-minute meeting with his, and now my, tax accountant THAT IS THE MOST GROWN-UP SENTENCE I’VE TYPED LATELY. I spent the first 10 minutes staring at her fully grown money tree in the corner, barely able to contain myself, and I finally blurted out that the leaves on the tree looked like my son’s scrotum. SJ gave me that I CAN’T TAKE YOU ANYWHERE look. Crickets from the tax accountant.
LOOK AT THIS PICTURE FROM THE INTERNET DOESN’T THAT LOOK LIKE A FLATTENED-OUT SCROTUM.
For these delicious avocado toasts, which I may have written about before but so what THEY’RE DELICIOUS, you need:
- 1 thinly sliced French loaf
- 1 ripe avocado
- Olive oil
- Handful cilantro leaves
- Maras Turkish chile
- Umami salt from Oakland Spice Shop HOLY SHIT THIS SALT IS GOOD.
You need to:
- Toast the bread.
- Mash the avocado roughly with a fork.
- Layer avocado on toast.
- Drizzle olive oil over avocado.
- Sprinkle on chile and salt.
- Top with cilantro leaves.
- SHOVE IT IN YOUR MOUTH IT’S SO GOOD IT’S SO GOOD IT’S SO GOOD.