msLaura: Modern Mama Laura Hamilton + Dan Baker = Julian Hamilton Baker & Adrian Hamilton Baker "When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her."
- Adrienne Rich



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Single parent for two days

Kate Hudson is a bitch

Julian goes to Yahoo! and musings on motherhood

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May 24, 2004

Single parent for two days

Julian and I are solo for two days while Dan is on the East Coast for business. I have a million things to get done, but it's harder when I'm the sole caregiver. Right now I have Julian napping in his Moby Wrap on my front while I clean up the house and do little tasks. He can sleep for hours in there sometimes. I can't do dishes very well (can't get close to the sink, hard to do squats over and over to unload the dishwasher), but I can do lots of other things. We need to take Bugs for his daily walk pretty soon. I got a shower today while Julian watched Baby Neptune, so I'm doing pretty well.

I take back what I said about the Baby Einstein series of videos. Well, partially at least. I watched Baby Van Gogh and Baby Neptune, and those aren't toy porn. At least not as bad as Baby Bach, for example. I think Baby Bach is the one that is just nonstop images of different toys, like a video toy catalogue. But the others have real-life images of animals and fruits and stuff like that. Baby Van Gogh teaches colors, it's not bad. I just saw Baby Galileo and Baby Beethoven, hmmm....I thought we had all these videos. Didn't even know those existed.

Julian is getting so big. He is morphing into a different baby. Not different, but an expanded version of what he was before. He looks a lot like me all of a sudden too. He has more hair, and his head is much bigger, his body is longer...kind of remarkable. I mean, obviously babies grow, but it's just shocking how fast it happens. He weighs over 15 pounds now, so he has almost doubled his birth weight.

I need to start carrying him on my back. The Kozy Carrier that I ordered a few days before Julian was born is STILL not here. The owner is a stay-at-home mom who sews the carriers herself, so I knew it would take a while, but come on..he is 3.5 months old now! This is supposedly my last sling. Well, maybe when he is older I will get an Ergo, but that's it, we are pretty much set. The Kozy Carrier is custom-made of a beautiful silk Asian-print fabric. I hope I can get it in time for Lisa and Ray's wedding in will be nice to have something beautiful to wear Julian in for the big occasion. And I can wear him on my back, which should be much less tiring. Having him on my front is *way* easier than holding him or having him in a carseat, but as he gets heavier it makes me lean backwards to support his weight, not good for my back. Plus I can't see my feet, so I worry about falling sometimes. Definitely will be better to have him on my back.

Oh, I forgot to say that we finished the back patio project, it's all tiled and beautiful, We are just waiting for the plants to grow now. Went to Scott Creek Beach yesterday near Davenport and collected some really cool stones, and I have to get a trellis for one of the vines. We are going to build two mosaic fountains, just need to get frames constructed and buy some concrete, otherwise I think we have all the materials. It's going to be a really lovely space once those fountains are in. I can't wait to get started. Must get that finished before I go back to work.

On the way back from the beach yesterday we got stuck on Hwy 17 coming over from Santa Cruz for THREE HOURS. There was an accident in Los Gatos that blocked the beach traffic up for at least twenty miles. There's nowhere else to go, no side roads, nothing to do but just hope that they clear it as soon as possible. It was so bad. We had the dog and baby in the car, I was in the backseat with Julian in a tiny space smaller than an airplane seat, and no aisle to walk in. Everyone started to go a little stir-crazy after the second hour sitting in traffic. I was glad that I got the windows tinted so dark (my Hybrid Limo, yeah!), I could take Julian out of his carseat and nurse him and try to amuse him on my lap without anyone being able to see me from outside. Thank god we were all together. I kept thinking, what if I were with the baby in traffic like that by myself, and he had to sit in the back seat in his carseat for three hours while I was trapped in front? Awful to even consider.

And finally, a cute potty training story. I took Julian into the bathroom yesterday to see if he wanted to go potty, and Dan was already peeing in there. Julian was watching him, so I told him that someday he could stand up and pee like Daddy, but for now he could be a big boy and pee in his potty *next* to Daddy. And he started peeing right after I said that, it was so funny. Right on cue. Then a big smile. That baby is just so adorable. ;-)

May 22, 2004

Kate Hudson is a bitch

Whew, finally the Little Man is asleep. Let's see, I should be folding laundry right now, or doing the other hundred tasks that are waiting for me right now, but then I would never get anything written, so I'm making the executive decision to skip laundry for now and write a little bit.

Julian is apparently teething...lately he gets fussy all of a sudden and the only thing that will calm him is to bite and suck hard on my pinky finger knuckle or thumb. He makes all kinds of moaning and groaning noises while he does it, and gets a zoned out expression on his face, then usually falls asleep. I've been trying to get him to take a pacifier, since my knuckle is not always possible or available. I had to drive with my right arm stretched into the backseat last Thursday so as to keep my thumb inserted in his mouth, not very safe at any speed. Sadly, he is not a fan of the pacifier. I can sneak it in once he sleeps, but not before, he keeps spitting it out.

What was that noise? Must go and check. Could he be awake already? ugh...yes, he is awake already. Well, now he's in his bouncy seat next to me, maybe he'll be OK for a little while if I bounce him while I type.

Today is one of those days where I feel frustrated that I can't get anything done because the baby care is nonstop. I just wish that he would take a 3 or 4 hour nap so that I can go for a swim or a jog or work on a necklace or...write a journal entry, for example. Baby care is a FULL time job. I'm a little worried because he isn't sleeping like he used to...I can get him to take a long nap only by carrying him in his sling (usually) or by laying down next to him in bed (mostly).

Crap, he's crying again and I can't figure out what he wants. None of the usual sure-fire baby calmers are working. I think that is the hardest part of having a finally figure out how to calm/occupy the baby and then it stops working all of a sudden after a day or a week or a month and you're back at square one. OK, nursing is working for right now. He just ate not too long ago, he can't be very hungry, but it just stopped a hysterical crying jag, so I'm going with it.

We've been going to swim school and he is doing great. He kicks really well, he floats on his back, and he has gone underwater about five times now without even crying. My little swimmer! We're taking lessons with our friends April and Ed and their baby Max, who just turned one. I go in the water with him and Dan watches from the deck in the cheering section, and serves as the Designated Dryer, because at 6:20pm when class ends, it's a little bit chilly when we get out of the pool. The pool itself is 90+ degrees though, very warm and cozy.

I have been totally stressed about child care for a long time now. I go back to work in about a month now, and it will be nice to get a paycheck again, but I dread leaving Julian in the care of X Unknown Person To Be Decided. I got some referrals through Yahoo! and looked for a place near the office, so that I can go feed him at lunchtime. I called one family daycare place, run by a woman out of her home, and was appalled. Some guy answered the phone with a sullen tone, and when I finally got the caregiver on the phone she barely spoke English. I guess it's supposed to be homier or cozier or whatever, but I just don't like the idea of one woman watching up to seven kids of all ages in her home. What if she gets sick? And who is watching her? Creeps me out.

So I called a larger child care center, and the woman who answered the phone was very professional and gave me all the answers I wanted: Yes, they had reduced fees for part-time care three days a week. Yes, I was welcome to come and hang out with him on my lunch break, etc. I hoped and prayed that it would be decent, and scheduled a visit.

Dan and I went yesterday and it looks good. They deal with each child according to what they need at the moment, not on a rigid schedule. The facility is nice and clean and organized. Babies are separated from older children, which was something else that concerned me about the in-home places. I don't want some toddler poking his eye out. The teacher is a sweet Indian lady who greeted us warmly and has good child development credentials. She would be his teacher every day, along with one other woman. It's only about 7-10 minutes from the office. We went at lunchtime and there were several other parents there hanging out with their kids. So I think the search is over. Thank god, I was having nightmares about having to go to ten different places and getting really discouraged. The referrals from Yahoo! were incredibly helpful. I don't know how long this would have taken if I had to search for a place without some preliminary weeding done by someone else.

This place runs about $800/month for 3 days a week, so not cheap at all, but not too expensive either, relatively speaking. I'll be paying about one-third of my part-time salary towards child care, but since I'm mostly going back to work for the benefits and stock options, that's OK.

What else? I'm trying to increase my exercise beyond just Baby Boot Camp twice a week and walking the dog. I'm so TIRED of being fat. I would be OK if my stomach would just flatten out a bit, but it's all poochy and squishy and I have a roll around my middle that annoys me to no end. I can feel hard muscle underneath, but then there's all this chub on top. I have to be careful about dieting, because if I don't eat enough my milk production goes down. So I'm just trying to be patient with losing weight slowly, but then I see skinny new moms and I get frustrated. The new moms I know who are skinny already are having trouble keeping up their milk supply, so I try to focus on that, but it's hard when every advertisement has some hot chick in a bikini and I've got this big bulge around my middle.

Being a mom really sucks in this culture. Get back in shape ASAP and then get back to work. Oh, but don't neglect your baby for a single second. You should be praising and teaching your baby things non-stop, staring into their eyes soulfully, making every minute count or else you've damaged that child forever. When you're not working out or on the job, that is. No matter what, you should feel bad about the part of the package that you can't manage to do: raising a prodigy child, having a successful career, and looking fantastic. Don't forget to keep your marriage healthy and intact too. Because we all know *that's* so easy and doesn't take any time or effort at all. Riiiight.

If I read one more article on a celebrity mom who has lost all her baby weight and is now prancing around in a bikini (thanks to a dedicated personal trainer, home gym, pre-prepared meals delivered daily, and a full-time baby nurse), I'm going to scream. That has somehow become the new standard.

I read about Kate Hudson and her new baby the other day in Vogue (I think), and it was nauseating. OK, first of all, she's 25! Second of all, she gained 50 pounds, but she was ultra-thin to begin with. And now the producers of her next movie are paying for her to get in great shape (not like she can't afford it on her own!), so she has a full-fledged TEAM of people helping her out and she's already lost all the weight and in better shape than she ever has been! Blah blah blah. Me, I've got a bag of chocolate chips in the pantry and a husband who complains that he needs to bulk up a little, so can we have burgers for dinner again? How about dessert? And of course I'm hungry all the time. I think I should cut my portions down, so I do and then my milk supply drops and I'm hungry, so I eat more and the scale just creeps down soooooo slowly. I lose maybe a pound a week. Maybe. Patience, patience...I know. Even if I lose the weight, will this belly skin ever firm up? And what about my boobs? A whole other subject entirely...

We're going to Cabo San Lucas for our friends' wedding on June 1st. I'm thrilled to go, we all need a vaction and it should be a lot of fun, I just wish I could wear a bikini, because I despise one-piece bathing suits. I got a great "slenderizer" suit from Land's End with an underwire D-cup and extra length in the torso. I don't look bad in it, but it feels like I'm wearing a wet girdle and bra when I get out of the pool. Not so comfy. It stays wet forever. Wet and clammy. Maybe I'll just wear a bikini anyways and be like those wonderfully shameless European women who go topless on the beaches even though they've seen better days. I mean, since I'll be carrying around my obviously young baby son, that should be the excuse for my belly right?

But then again, there will probably be a bunch of people there who read the Kate Hudson article and wonder what my problem is. Well, I'm going to start slathering myself in self-tanner right now, that always helps.

May 10, 2004

Julian goes to Yahoo! and musings on motherhood

It has been way too long since my last journal entry. I thought only checking in once a week was stretching it, but now I see that it has been 3 weeks or so since I last wrote! Awful.

Well, obviously...I've been busy with the Little Man. Julian has been going through a developmental spurt in the last few weeks. He can grab and hold a toy now, he laughs out loud when you play with him, he makes all kinds of new sounds, he grew a whole new head of hair, and passed a slew of other milestones. He has excellent head control in all directions and is trying really hard to sit up now. If he is in a semi-reclining position, he will actualy lean forward and do a mini-crunch to try to sit up. Looks really funny. When you hold him in your lap he wants to sit up *straight*, not be cradled like a little baby. He's very vertically oriented...the only time he likes to lie down is if he's nursing or if someone is laying right next to him. Potty training is going fine, same as before, which is how it will be for a while. It's a very slow process.

He will play in his Gymini for 30-45 minutes at a time, and is happy to sit in his bouncy chair and watch me cook dinner or garden or whatever it is that I'm doing, instead of *always* needing to be held.
I feel good about the fact that I *did* hold him or wear him in a sling almost all the time up until now. Some people were telling me that he would be spoiled and always want to be held, but I think it had the opposite effect...he feels secure enough that he can sit and play away from me a little bit now without worrying that I'm going to leave him. I always pick him up right away when he wants to be held, but I think he enjoys watching me from a little distance away too. He loves to watch people, he really studies them intently.

I talk to him ALL the time about what I'm doing, or what we're doing together, or just random stuff..."What should we make for dinner?" He LOVES being talked to in a sweet voice and will smile and laugh in response., does this baby love to be sung to! He goes to the "Church of Dan" as I call it...Dan calms him down by doing a sort of choral humming that sounds like a hymn. No words, just humming in a droning kind of style reminiscent of medieval monks.

I'll sing just about anything at all, but I have found somewhat to my dismay that he really likes "Kumbaya". ;-) I was eating breakfast with him in his bouncy seat next to me one morning...I could tell he was tired and ready for his morning nap, he started fussing and Kumbaya just popped into my head so I started to sing it. Kum-bay-a bay-bee, Kum-bay-a! He went to sleep almost instantly. So now I have to sing Kumbaya all the time. I amuse myself by singing different words..."Close your eyes, bay-bee...go to sleep...mommy wants some food, food to eat" and so on.

Dan's sister-in-law Sylvia (does that make her *my* sister-in-law too? What is the right term for the wife of my husband's brother?) picked up a jogging stroller for $10 from a friend who was going to donate it to a yard sale, and she gave it to me for Mother's Day. So great...those suckers cost $250 or more! Julian loves it. In his regular stroller he was semi-reclining (now a hated position, see above) AND he was facing back towards me, so the scenery didn't ever really change all that much. He loves me and all, but he wants to SEE things when we go on walks, not just look at my upper body nonstop. The view is so static when you are facing backwards.

We went to Baby Boot Camp with the new jogging stroller this morning and it was a hit. He looked and looked and looked at everything in his upright sitting posture, then he fell asleep for a little while and woke back up in time for our ab exercises, which he watched happily from the stroller without crying. It's much more of a pain to get in and out of the car...I have to disassemble and re-assemble it each time, take off tires, etc., but it's pretty damn cool. I think I have enough stamina to actually jog now, so maybe I should try taking him out running on my own, outside of Baby Boot Camp.

I took Julian to Yahoo! today to show him off to my coworkers. So weird driving there, I almost forgot which exit to get off on. I haven't been in the office since January 9th when I went on maternity leave! It was great to see everyone, and Julian was like a movie star, everyone thought he was so cute. At one point I had about 15 engineers gathered around in a semi-circle looking at him and he chose that exact moment to let loose an incredibly loud poop...the liquid-sounding extended version. AND it was super-smelly too. I totally knew that was going to happen. I just knew it. But no big deal.

My manager Peter is as awesome as ever. He is working on a part-time schedule for me, three days a week in the office and one day a week at home, 30 hours total. I only get 2/3 of my full-time salary, which is lame, but I do get full benefits, which is key. If we're shipping product and it gets to be crunch time, then I will work extra hours, but I can get comp time when things slow down. Sounds like a fantastic deal to me! I wasn't hoping for anything that good, I'm really happy. I didn't even think to ask for part-time work because I thought either it wasn't possible or else I would get no was all Peter's suggestion to do part-time while Julian is still so small. He is the best manager I've ever had. Could ever have. Just amazing.

Julian was getting fussy and tired today before we left to go to Yahoo!, so Dan got him to sleep on his shoulder and then he slept in his car seat on the way there. OK, now normally I am ALWAYS trying to get this baby to sleep longer, take longer naps, and either he wakes up on his own or a toilet flushing somewhere in Pakistan wakes him up. Bugs also has a habit of sneezing right next to the sleeping baby, or skittering around on the hardwood floor next to him, loudly clicking his nails, or else barking. Or Dan sneezes, since it's allergy season. Or an eardrum-shattering Harley drives by...the phone rings...the list is ENDLESS.

Oh, the absolute RAGE we moms feel when we spend an hour getting the baby to sleep and someone or something wakes that baby up. The white-hot fury that arises is just incredible. I have almost skinned my beloved dog alive at times when he wakes the baby up. I hiss at him between clenched teeth, "Shut UP you goddamned beast!". Awful. But that rage just comes over me...all my work for naught! Now I have to start all over again! It's just too much to bear.

If looks could kill, Dan would have been dead a few weeks ago when allergy season started and he began sneezing incredibly loudly. His sneezes not only wake the baby up but scare him so badly in the process that there's usually no hope of getting him back to sleep anytime soon.

Anyway, so the baby is sleeping and we arrive at Yahoo! I pop him out of the car seat into his new Girasol baby carrier (which I really, really love and he does too) and he doesn't even wake up. We walk upstairs, say hi to Peter and go into a conference room to discuss my schedule. I sit *down* and he doesn't wake up. We talk loudly, nothing. We finish talking and Peter asks if I want to go around and show the baby to people. I do, but he's so much cuter when he's awake...who the hell is this comatose baby? MY baby wakes up when a pin drops, what's going on?

I take him out of the carrier and move him around, kiss him, stroke his cheeks, play with his hands...nothing. He's like a droopy newborn. Floppy body, head rolling around, eyes firmly shut. It's unbelievable. The one time that I *want* him to wake up and he's completely knocked out. A bomb could go off next to this baby and he wouldn't even flinch. I'm poking him and jiggling him, still nothing. I give up and go out into the hall, where we see some people. I'm showing them my sleeping baby and still trying to wake him up. Finally I practically *throw* him up in the air and he opens his eyes. After that he was awake, but what a task! I just couldn't beleive that he slept that hard.

He was Mr. Personality at Yahoo!, smiling, laughing, waving his arms and legs, charming everyone, then when we got back in the car he passed out again and has been asleep ever since! It's hard workto entertain the masses. ;-)

He's stretched out on a Boppy on my lap rightnow. He sort of wakes up every hour or so, nurses a little bit, changes position, then goes back to sleep. Remarkable. Temporary reversion to the newborn state ;-) Reminds me of when he was only a week or two old...Dan and I would sit on the couch trying SO hard to keep him awake until it was time to go to bed. He was sleeping all day and waking at night, which wasn't really working out too well for me. Dan got the brunt of trying to keep him awake while I made dinner. At around 9:00pm it got to be really, really difficult. Dan had to practically slap him around to keep him awake.

I get so nostalgic already, remembering when he was *really* little. Not like I want to go back to those days, but they are sweet to remember. I have him on the Boppy pillow now...I remember holding him on my lap sleeping like this, but he only took up half the pillow instead of the whole thing. I was nursing him the other day and I remembered when he was tiny and would nurse in a pike position with his arms down by his sides and his legs extended straight out, perpendicular to his body. He would be so thrilled when he nursed, it made him almost rigid with excitement. That pike position. So cute! Those are the things that I wish I had on video.

Now he's all relaxed when he nurses, he lounges, stretches out, and he grabs my bra with his free hand, or pats my boob. Such a big boy, this three-month-old! And to think that I'll look back a few months from now and say, "Oh, I remember when he used to do *that*,", *that* being whatever he's doing now that I'm just taking for granted as normal behavior. Really, I should be shooting hours of video every day to capture all this. He does things that seem so normal at the time, and it seems like he'll *always* do them, so what's the hurry? Then he stops doing that cute or amazing thing and you realize it's gone forever and only exists in your memory now.

As his mama it's especially poignant, because I know many times I'm the only one who ever noticed something (like his cute nursing pike position) and now it's gone. No photo. I alone hold him in my memory like that. Even HE won't remember it. Only me. I can often say to Dan, "Remember when he used to do X?" and we'll reminisce, but not always. During the first eight weeks it was mostly just me and the baby bonding. Luckily every old cute thing is replaced by five new cute things, so it's not so sad, just poignant. It just makes me appreciate every little moment with him that much more. My boy! I love him so much.

There's nothing like having a baby to make you think about time philosophically...that someday this little baby will be an old man, and I will have crumbled into dust. Then he'll hold *me* in his memory as his young mama, and I won't exist anyplace else but in his mind. It's the same kind of realization about time that people have expressed over and over in different ways throughout history, I'm just not saying it as eloquently as the poets do ;-)

We were talking with a woman and her mother in Khanh's the other day (a Vietnamese restaurant nearby). They were in the booth next to us and were commenting on how good Julian was, how he wasn't crying. The mother was visiting from Hawaii, she was a regal-looking woman who didn't speak much English, so the daughter was doing most of the talking. She said her mom was crushed because neither she nor her brother had children (at ages 40 and 45), and likely wouldn't *ever* have children, and the mother was really upset, she LOVED babies and wanted grandchildren so badly. She offered to raise the baby if her daughter would just have one! But no dice. The daughter just wasn't interested. Which I could understand, but I felt really bad for the mother, and then I thought that if Julian doesn't have kids I'll be crushed too! But it's something you just have no control over.

So now I'm already worried about grandchildren. Good grief!

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