Teething and Traveling

2668536899_6f79dd8c87Happy Friday, my friends! Ready to help out a father in need? I got an email. It read (edited slightly):

 “My 5-month old son is cutting 2 teeth and of course goes through bouts of being very unhappy. I was wondering if you gave anything to your son while he was teething? We’re flying from Japan to Los Angeles Monday and we’re worried it will be a very very bad flight. :( Do you have any suggestions?”

There’s so much about those earlier months I have forgotten! For example, I completely forgot that you’re not supposed to give the little people Motrin or Tylenol before they reach a certain age. Quite honestly, I’m not sure how I got through it! Maybe that’s why I don’t remember? 

My only suggestions are for older babies since my brain has apparently archived the earlier months. I remember offering Emory pea chips (frozen peas, which he still loves to this day.) I remember that he chewed on our wooden kitchen spoons like a dog with a rawhide. I remember giving him ice cold toys. But that’s all I got and I feel I’m an especially bad person to ask because we never flew anywhere with Em.

So, I thought I’d try and help him by posting his email. Do you have any tricks for teething travelers aged five months?

Kettler Bikes and Play Kitchens

I sent out a Twitter yesterday mentioning we’re in the process of researching play kitchens. And almost every single person told me to get this one. So, unless someone tells us there’s an even better option out there, that’s the one we’ll be ordering. (Although, check this one out! Sometimes I have to remind myself that these toys aren’t for me.)

Speaking of kitchen stuff that’s not for me, check out this cute wooden hamburger from Oompa

Toby Joe and I are also in search of a Kettler bike (or something similar). One of the local mamas here told me that’s the one to get. Emory loves bikes! We’ll be out walking and his new thing is to announce every bike we pass by. And let me tell you, there are a LOT of bikes along Bedford Avenue. If he spots one bike, he states as much. Another? He’ll raise the pitch of his voice a bit. The amount of excitement in his voice is proportional to the number of bikes in any given area. So, whenever we pass by the Bedford L subway stop, his BICYCLE! meter skyrockets. You can hear us coming a block away.

We want to get him a bike of some sort. It’s getting tiring prying some other kid’s bike from his hands at the playground. But I’m overwhelmed by the choices! Where does one even begin? 

I wish I could “Mom Down” hundreds of Amazon reviews. Plus, I’d rather not spend nearly 200 bucks on a tricycle.

Breast-Feeding: It's OK If You Can't Do It.

Friend and commenter, Missy, linked to an article yesterday that stirred up a number of emotions for me.

And in any case, if a breast-feeding mother is miserable, or stressed out, or alienated by nursing, as many women are, if her marriage is under stress and breast-feeding is making things worse, surely that can have a greater effect on a kid’s future success than a few IQ points.

I didn’t have the best time when it came to breast-feeding. Obstacles began piling up for me the moment Emory was born. For starters, my milk never came in. I didn’t experience the engorgement all the nurses and LCs suggested I would. In fact, my breasts got slightly smaller after he was born.

My postpartum experience was not the best. I was depressed. Words can’t do justice in trying to describe that depression. Chemistry took over. Every time it occurred to me that the birth of my first child was supposed to be the happiest time of my life, I felt even worse because I was experiencing quite the opposite. How could I be a good mom when I felt so unhappy? What was wrong with me? The questions mounted unanswered, and while my head felt like it was going to explode, my boobs did not.

There is an alarming amount of pressure put on new mothers when it comes to breast-feeding. It’s so prevalent, that there are actually Web sites where women congregate in order to slam celebrities who did not breast-fed and praise those who have. There are wars waged against and on Facebook. And some of the pro-breast feeding literature out there borders on militant. A late night google search hoping to discover a little leniency can make one feel like even more of a failure. 

In certain overachieving circles, breast-feeding is no longer a choice—it’s a no-exceptions requirement, the ultimate badge of responsible parenting. Yet the actual health benefits of breast-feeding are surprisingly thin, far thinner than most popular literature indicates. Is breast-feeding right for every family? Or is it this generation’s vacuum cleaner—an instrument of misery that mostly just keeps women down?

It goes without saying that many women today feel very passionate about breast-feeding. I have seen fights break out over whether or not it’s OK to do in public. Nursing mothers here in New York have been known to make a statement by taking over an entire subway car. I have seen fights break out about whether or not it’s OK to lend your boob out to feed another person’s baby. I’ve seen people go as far to attack a person’s character because they chose not to breast-feed. 

Some women experience intense anger when another woman doesn’t breast-feed. And I would find this hilarious if their reactions weren’t so damaging. 

Haven’t we heard enough already? Can’t we be proud of our choices without making others feel worse for making another? And why brag? Boasting is ugly. 

Furthermore, if feminism is about making choices, and a woman chooses (for whatever the reason may be) not to breast-feed, she should not receive so much as a nasty look from any fellow Sistren boasting the word feminism. And yet, that often happens. Which begs another question: is it the men we need to talk to about equality? 

I welcome discussion and debate when it comes to breast-feeding, but this post probably isn’t for those likely to have breast-feeding listed as their religion. This is for anyone who went through (or is going through) what I went through two years ago. This is for all the new mothers out there overwhelmed by their new roles. This is for the new mother wondering why she can’t accomplish something as seemingly natural as breast-feeding. 

Here’s how the first few days I spent with my new son went:

The morning he’s born: I try unsuccessfully to get a latch. I summon the help from two nurses and one lactation consultant. He vomits every time I try. I think it’s me, something I’m doing. Am I gagging him? 

“Is the vomit green?” They ask. “No. It’s not green.” “He’s fine then. Keep trying.”

Day one: A lactation consultant comes in to see me. I’m crying. I tell her I can’t get him to eat. I tell her he keeps vomiting. We try again and fail. She asks me how much milk he’s gotten. I tell her none. She inspects my nipples. Says I may have problems but we’ll succeed! We try formula. He vomits that up immediately. I continue to cry.

Later that day: Emory and I try again. I am told I am not vigilant enough, that I’m not trying hard enough. I am told that I need to be more forceful. I need to force my breast into his mouth. He throws up all over me, the color is green. I call a doctor.

Five minutes later: Emory is taken away from me and admitted into the NICU for reasons unrelated to breast-feeding (or lack thereof). I begin pumping around the clock in hopes of getting something, anything to come out of my breasts. This does not happen. 

Three days PP: Emory and I are sent home seeing zero success at breast-feeding. 

I should have just given up. Had I felt better back then, I probably would have. After all, Emory was doing well on formula. But I thought that I had to breast-feed. We just never did get the latch worked out so I exclusively pumped for 5 months. I supplemented with formula the entire time because my milk and the engorged breasts everyone warned me about, well, that never took place. At five months, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and put on a drug that wasn’t safe for babies. I stopped pumping (or HUTH, for those of us EPers).


During that time, I received countless email letting me know how difficult it was for women when it came to breast-feeding, which helped a great deal. But in the wee hours of the night, when I felt my most insecure, I turned to the Internet, in search of anyone to tell me everything was going to be OK if I gave up pumping and just formula fed my son. (You’d be surprised how little there is out there for people in my situation. On nights when I looked for reassurance, I found I felt worse.) It took me a long time to realize that the only person I needed approval from was the person doing all the searching.

Truth be told, Internet, I still have a lot of pent up anger when it comes to how I was treated by some breast-feeding mamas out there. Usually, I try and focus on all the positive stuff, because I mean it when I say that when I was going through that rough patch, many of your emails got me through it. But that doesn’t mean the judgmental stuff doesn’t stick with me as well. 

The biggest problem as I see it, is that so many women are afraid to state outright: Hey, I didn’t breast-feed! In fact, I have met some mothers that whisper such things under their breath at the playground—like it’s some kind of fatal flaw, and I suppose that for some it is. I’ve also seen a few mothers breath a sigh of relief upon discovering that another mother in the room didn’t breast-feed her baby. 

What is everyone so afraid of? Judgement? Receiving a failing grade in motherhood? Getting demoted or fired by your boss? There are no grades or graduation ceremonies to speak of. And your boss really just wants to eat, poop, sleep and giggle. So what are we all so afraid of?

Sometimes, all someone wants to hear (or read) is that they’re not alone.

And so. Consider this a small drop of water in a bucket full of oil: It’s OK, new mama, if you are unable to breast-feed your baby. Formula is a wonderful option. You are not a failure. You’re a new mom! Rejoice in that. You are not alone. 

If you’re interested in reading the article, please click here. It sheds light on all the medical claims having to do with formula vs. breastmilk. It’s very enlightening. And it’s written by a breast-feeding mother of three.


One of Em’s first ever words was “flower” only it sounds more like “fowah”.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a book we’re reading, a TV show we’re watching, or an advertisement we pass by, he will find that damn flower, or anything that looks like a flower, and he’ll let you know about it.


On Tuesday, we took a trip to the overpriced grocery store that just opened around the corner from us. I have no idea how these guys are going to stay in business, their prices are astronomically high. But I am constantly amazed at what people are willing to pay here in Williamsburg (ourselves included). I think this is the only neighborhood in New York where rents haven’t yet dropped. We’re immune to lowering rents. 

So perhaps this overpriced grocery store will stay in business. 

All that said, we only ever go there if it’s really gross out or it’s not wise for Em to be outside for too long. And since Em has been sick this week with yet another wicked ear infection, I took him to the overpriced grocery store.

We weren’t two feet through the doors when I saw his eyes light up. 


The flowers were wilted and each one cost me almost as much as a gallon of milk at that grocery store, but I simply had to buy  this kid a couple of flowers. 

Emory gets excited about chocolate (which is known as “treat” at our house and is pronounced “teat” which makes me giggle), and he gets excited when he sees me walk into the room after a day spent at school, but I haven’t ever seen him this excited. He carried them around like they were treasures, new relationships, tokens of love.

Granted, all three flowers were destroyed by nightfall. They didn’t stand a chance against The Destroyer. He picked one apart petal by petal and I wondered who he might be thinking about. The other two were used to slap things, including Murray who mistook it for PLAYTIME!

Like I said, the flowers didn’t stand a chance. 

But it was kind of worth it.

File This Under: Inappropriate Children's Book Illustrations

Back in 2005 when the pope was dying, I wanted to capture the historical event on film. It was a rainy, chilly day, so I decided to rest on a pew inside Saint Patricks Cathedral for a bit. While there, I saw this peeking out from the top of a hymnal book.

Now, I saw a penis right away. But others felt I was grasping. Perhaps I was. I mean, what (relatively) straight gal doesn’t want to grasp at a penis every now and again? But I think it’s a no-brainer to suggest that the Catholic church make absolutely certain that all printed materials are free from the mere hint of a penis. Don’t they have a Penis Free committee for matters like this? If not, they should. I will head it up. (hehe)

But even so, I am now willing to retract my original belief that there was indeed a penis printed on that religious literature.

But this time? Well, if you suggest that it’s just me this time, then I suggest that you’re crazy.

What you see above is indeed an illustration taken directly from a children’s book my friend reads to her daughter. And we laughed long and hard (hehe) about it.

I am not sure what scenario would bother me more: that a man drew this for a children’s book and didn’t realize it was a penis; that a man drew this for a children’s book and realized it was a penis; or that a man drew this for a children’s book, did or did not realize it was a penis, and his editors let it slide (hehe).

Dear Rae Rae,

This response is very late and you’ve probably moved on by now. Truth be told, I am not sure you even visited after the way I initially responded. I can’t imagine why you would have. But I have to write this.

I think about you all the time, not necessarily you personally, because I haven’t ever met you. I don’t even know what you look like. The only role you had in my life was leaving a comment on my blog.

It read:

July 25th, 2007 at 02:21 PM

You only go through this a few times in your life. This time with your unborn baby and your husband are precious – don’t wish it away.

You were right.

I didn’t want to admit it then. Hell, I was about to meet my first child for the first time. I was sick of being pregnant. I wanted him out of me. I vowed to friends and family, “There’s no way I’ll sleep less when he’s born than I do now.”

(What a naive and silly person.)

But that’s not what this is about. This isn’t about losing sleep or having to pee a lot. It’s not about any of that. This is about what you said and how often I think about it.

I guess I never realized how true your comment was until friends of mine started getting pregnant—close friends, acquaintances, internet friends—just friends. And I promised myself a long time ago I would not become that person, ready to give suggestions without being asked. And I’m not accusing you of that; I can’t begin to thank you enough for what you wrote. But I continue to bite my tongue even though sometimes it’s unbearable.

What I wanted to say to you then was this: OH MY GOD, WHO ARE YOU TO TELL ME TO ENJOY THIS! I HATE YOU!

That’s a little harsh. I know. It was true at the time, but that’s because you weren’t really a person to me. You were just someone taunting me, pointing out something I refused to see.

Perhaps my hatred was due to the fact that a part of me (the instinctual mother part every woman is born with) knew you were right. I don’t know. I never will. But I hated what you wrote. I spit at your words. I told my husband, “HOW CAN SOMEONE TELL ANOTHER PERSON TO ENJOY THIS!” And, well, come on! I was having trouble sleeping. I peed myself several times. I had trouble doing “other things”. I could not be intimate with my husband. I couldn’t eat because of the heartburn, my ankles swelled up to triple their size. I had high blood pressure. I was seeing white or black spots every time I stood up. I wanted that baby out of me! I felt awful.

I was mad at you.

Well, Rae Rae, I’m no longer angry. In fact, I want to thank you for having had such a huge impact on my life and in such a small way.

I mentioned earlier that I don’t like giving people advice unless they ask for it, specifically when it comes to motherhood. I had so many ideas when I was pregnant and then my son was born and I could barely keep up with any of them. I had delusions of how it would (and should) be. I made plans. And even though I knew that things were going to be hard, I never knew exactly how hard. How could I have known? (They offer classes about how to give birth and how to breastfeed these little people, but no one really helps you out with the remaining 50 years.)

Anyway, I did something out of character the other night in honor of you. I wrote this on a friend’s Facebook page:

You know, I said the same thing and meant it. And one day someone emailed me and said “enjoy this time!” and I wanted to punch them and I hated them. you know what’s funny? I think about it all the time now because they were so right!

So I am going to be that asshole now: enjoy this time. Sleep. Have morning sex. Cook. Take walks together. Go out! Go out! Go out! Have a romantic meal.

He will be here soon enough, so enjoy this time you have alone.

I have never left a truer comment.

But don’t hate me for it!

Have you ever experienced that moment right before a fresh snowfall where the world becomes eerily quiet, cars distance themselves from one another, the sky turns orange or burnt sienna, everything seems at peace in the world and we’re greeted with a smashingly fine silence?

Do you know that moment?

Or, how about that moment during a kickoff where opposing teams stand guarded on an untouched field. The crowd roars, the whistle is blown, feet stomp, the rising sound is spectacular. The ball is kicked! And as soon as it leaves the kicker’s foot, the moment the ball departs his toe, a silence blankets the crowd as if guided by a maestro.

How about that one? Do you know that moment?

I look forward to moments like those. They give me goosebumps fueled by anticipation. Those undeniable rests that punctuate great big, audacious sounds are pretty outstanding.

Rae Rae, you were right.

I should have known to enjoy that time more. I should not have wished it away. That time was just like the moments I described above. I just didn’t realize it until after the game was in session, the cake was cut, and the blanket of snow had already fallen.

Sincerely yours (a year or so late),


Beat Down And Falling Around.

I have no idea what’s wrong with Em and I hate that I’m about to post this, because I never wanted to talk about such personal things (about him) online, but I need help.

For a while now, he’s faced a great deal of frustration trying to poop. It can literally take him all day sometimes to get anything out and that’s after a great deal of straining and pain. And when it finally does come out, it’s rather hard. We called the doctor who told us to feed him lots of fruits and vegetables, which is just absurd because that’s all he really eats. (Unfortunately, this was left on a message as she was busy and I haven’t called back yet so I couldn’t then tell her no, that’s not the problem.)

A few nights ago, we woke up to hear Emory SCREAMING from his bedroom. He was making horrible sounds, like a woman in labor. He was trying to poop. He tried so hard, he threw up and it came out of his nose as well. (I am crying as I write this because he’s in school and I want so badly to hug him right now.)

Anyway, I decided that enough was enough, I did some online research. Several people suggested that babies who go through this type of situation often have milk allergies (which they eventually outgrow) and that it’s not often talked about by doctors. So, we decided to give him some soy milk instead of milk milk and see how that goes. We also added flax as well as prune juice into the mix. Things got better. They weren’t perfect, but they were better.

But then last night happened. I stupidly (I think it was the culprit?) gave him a homemade bread and cream cheese sandwich with chopped up dates. He ate it up fast—loved it. He drank some water and then some soy milk and went off to bed.

We woke up at 11 listening to him scream. He continued to go into contractions every 10 minutes until 4 AM or later. It was heartbreaking and there was nothing I could do for him.

I am not sure what’s going on with Emory. I need to fix it. I feel so badly for him. I am tired. I am making mistakes, fighting with my husband, flicking off construction workers, fighting with our passive aggressive previous landlord, discussing things with other mothers—mere strangers to me at his daycare—that I should never discuss. I feel as though I am bordering on that insane, hysterical mother—the one everyone whispers about when she leaves the room.

I have no idea how to control this, how to fix it, how to make him better, us better, me better.

I can’t help me. But maybe someone else can.

A Good Ache

We dropped Em off at school today for his first full day. I keep checking my phone to make sure they haven’t called letting me know he hasn’t stopped crying. I keep checking the clock to make sure I didn’t enter a time-warp and I’m actually hours late picking him up so they gave him to another parent.

I miss him. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but I miss him.

After I left, I had the best run I’ve had in months. I think it’s related to how I am feeling. I imagine I wanted to not let myself think about it. Sometimes the best way for me to do that is to beat myself up physically.

So I ran. I ran really, really long and hard.

Is this how people cope with losing a parent, child or spouse? I found this thought meander through my head as I walked home.

I felt immediately shameful and sought to apologize to anyone.

This isn’t the first time I have thought this.

When Toby and I were packing boxes to move from Russell Street to where we are now, Em stayed with my mother for two nights. We were midway through putting Emory’s toys into boxes, when I tearily looked at Toby and said, “Awwww, I miss him.”

“I know! Me too! But he’s not dead.” Toby said. “We’ll see him tomorrow.”

I know, that probably seems like a pretty harsh thing to say, and out loud. But it was precisely what I had been wondering about but unable to say. The taboo many prefer to ignore was suddenly filling our half empty apartment.

“How do people deal with losing a child? There’s no way I could do this.” I said referring to boxing up a bunch toys and clothing. “I cry just boxing up clothing that no longer fits him!”

“You know, I hope to never have the answer to that.” Toby said, sealing the hole again.

Sometimes I think I let my mind “go there” in order to mingle with an ache I hope to never know firsthand.

That particular ache is something undefined, impossible to know—wordless. That ache exists all around us but it’s rarely let out into the room.

I hope to never know that ache.

But the ache I’m feeling now is a good ache. I miss him, sure, but I know that he’s having a blast and I know I’ll get to scoop him up in just a few short hours. This is the good ache.

I am lucky to know this ache.

(This post turned out to be really depressing and I hadn’t meant for that. I’m actually in good spirits. I am truly sorry for bringing up quite possibly one of the ugliest thoughts imaginable. My apologies all around.)

Daycare Week!

I anticipated a rough week. And I could probably sum this post up in one sentence but that would be too easy. And this is a blog, blog posts are supposed to take up pages and pages of words before making one small point.

And so!

Emory had his first half day of school this week. They were to spend the half day in their classroom while we sat in a room down the hall, waiting there just in case there were any serious meltdowns. (You know, the ones that last longer than a specific amount of time and include a consistent and high level of desperation.)

Emory has been with me since the day he was born. I don’t have a babysitter, although, my mother watches him sometimes. I haven’t used a nanny, nor have I used a daycare. It’s been him and me from day one.

I anticipated a great deal of anxiety from him. I readied myself for a long few weeks of crying and screaming and carrying on. I readied myself for the worst.

There was one time that he was roughly 8 months of age, Toby Joe and I visited a gym where they have a daycare. For five bucks an hour, you can work out and drop your kid off while you work out

Ten minutes went by before a woman came to collect us. He had had a full-fledged meltdown.

And so I anticipated that sort of reaction from him. And I’m sure that by now you’ve already guessed the outcome.


ha! Just kidding!

It was perfect! Emory did amazingly well. He adjusted immediately. The only tears took place the very first day whenever I returned to the room. I think he was startled by all the parents, who crashed through the door unannounced and all at once. When he saw my face, he broke down. But the best part was how he walked up to me with both his arms open. I got the best hug ever. (Emory is not very affectionate, much to his parent’s dismay.)

Today went really well too. There was no crying at all this time around, even when I returned to collect him. He seemed to have a blast and his teachers said he’s doing exceptionally well with adjusting. I left bursting with joy and relief.

On Monday we can drop them off for the full day, or stick around if we want to. I anticipated having to transition him for a bit longer. But I’m thinking now that that’s probably not going to be the case. Which means my “free time” begins next week.

Keep in mind, that many of us “stay-at-homes” gave up full time careers the moment we had children. I discussed this today with another mother, who happens to be the main caregiver at their home. Our husbands went back to work right after our sons were born. They have had time to themselves (good or bad) and continued doing what they were doing before. The stay-at-home gives all of that up. We no longer have regular alone time. We all but forget what it’s like. In a sense, we lose a little bit of ourselves. At least temporarily.

When I realized that starting next week I will have a set number of hours to myself, I felt a little nauseous.

What am I going to do with this time?

I once compared motherhood to being on house arrest and I received criticism for it. (Granted, I also received a lot of comments and email from people agreeing with said sentiment). It’s obviously not entirely true and I don’t think that way all the time, but the alienation and the difficulty at which one can come and go is pretty on.

That comparison resurfaced again today.

I have heard that some people released from solitary confinement get into trouble the very day they are set free. (I think there is even a term for this.) They have been inside for so long, they no longer have any idea how to cope with the outside world, or who they were before that time. Whether it’s conscious or not, they simply freak out.

What will I do next week? I have been asking myself this repeatedly.

I will probably pace around outside, waiting to go pick him up so I can hug him, cuddle him, kiss his wonderful pink cheeks. I will think of all the things I can make him for dinner, buy him, bake for him. I will think about reading to him.

(My goodness, do I ever love this person.)

Truth be told, I don’t want to be “free” ever again. Imagining a world without my son is a world I want no part of. Yes, I am very excited that I will have a given number of hours all to myself every week, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t also make me a little uneasy.

To Socialize Or Not To Socialize.

I’m going back and forth regarding our decision to send Emory to school three days a week. My emotions aren’t to be trusted, however. Because a lot of how I’m feeling can easily be attributed to my fear of letting him go. But I know that some of my thoughts at the root of the situation are legitimate.

How important is it to socialize children early on in their development? Because, when it comes right down to it, that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. I know I complain from time to time about not having any “Me Time” but that’s because I’m an awesome complainer (you know, like most bloggers). When it comes right down to it, I love spending my days with him. I’m just not sure he should be spending every single day with me.

Em doesn’t get a whole lot of interaction with other children. Sure, I bring him to the playground and I take him on walks, but it’s getting increasingly colder here and the weather keeps us (and others) from venturing out much. I have brought him to a place called Mamalu’s here in Williamsburg, but now that it’s cold, it gets way too crowded and the bigger kids make him uneasy. He also always seems to get a new cold every time we go.

About a month ago, Toby and I started talking about ways to get Emory around other children—not only other children, but the same children. That’s how we ended up signing him up for school. (Well, that and I complain a lot about having no life—pathetic.)

But he’s not even two! He’s 17 months old. That seems so young! Is he ready? I know I am not, but is he?

I keep coming back to the fact that I was at home with my mother until I was five or six. I had my older brother around and we are very close in age, but he didn’t have anyone before I was born. And he’s relatively normal. (heh) My younger brother was even further away in age (six years), and so he spent early childhood alone. (I think. But only my mother could answer this definitively.)

We probably went to church groups growing up (CCD and the like), but not at aged two. And I know we went to camp but, again, not that early. I reckon my mother had other mothers over and perhaps they brought kids close to our age, but that’s not really an option much anymore (especially here) because most families around here do not stay home with their children and instead hire nannies. Many of the nannies around here are Tibetan. They know each other and tend to stick together.

What I’m trying to say is that I know of only one local mom who stays home with her daughter. That’s not to say there aren’t more, but that’s been my finding. Every other local mother I know works. So playdates are difficult.

Both Toby and I feel that socializing Emory is important, which is why we chose a school. But are we doing the right thing? Are we being over zealous? Are we possibly pushing him too early?

How important is it to socialize these little dudes at a young age? What are your thoughts on the matter?