Thursday, May 17, 2007

Please Don’t Touch My Baby

Why do complete strangers feel they have the right to touch my baby? I’m getting used to all the smiles and the ever so popular “how old is she?” question. But I am noticing a lot of folks like to get too close for comfort. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing how cute she is (what new mother wouldn’t?), but there appears to be a surprisingly large number of people who are willing to cross the etiquette line.

Walking down New Hampshire Avenue the other day, a nice enough looking woman stopped us to check my daughter out. After asking her name, the woman reached out for Priya’s feet. Foot touching, or foot kissing in this case, is acceptable, I guess, although Priya does put her feet in her mouth quite frequently. I continued to politely chat with the woman (who appeared to be a tourist) but tried to signal we weren’t in this conversation for the long haul. She then started telling me I need to break my daughter of the “binky” habit. She told me that her daughter had become dependent on her pacifier and that she had had to resort to extreme measures to break her child’s fixation. They’d even had the binky fairy visit a few times.

Then this lady’s husband appears. As I planned my get-away, she called her husband over and started on the binky rant again, but this time she reached out for Priya’s pacifier. She managed to get her hands on the corner of the “binky.” In my complete shock at the audacity of her actions, I subtly moved the stroller back at which point she removed her hands and I wrapped it up in an effort to get back on my way. In what world is it OK to manhandle someone else’s pacifier? How is that acceptable behavior?

Talking to a friend (also a new Mom) reaffirmed that I’m not alone. While she was waiting at baggage claim at Dulles with a crying, hungry and generally cranky 5 month old (a 4 hour flight will do that), a strange woman came over and actually took the pacifier out of the stroller and tried to stick it in my friend’s baby’s mouth. Now that is just crazy!

So I’ve decided that’s it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. I’m done being polite to people who want to touch my baby with their germy hands. If you really need to touch a stranger’s baby, at least have the decency to ask first.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My First Mother's Day

I’m the kind of person who likes to celebrate all those traditional “special” days. I love birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Easter. My celebrating spills over to St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween. I like having official reasons to celebrate. Unfortunately, I always have high expectations, which usually means I’m almost always slightly disappointed. I don’t know why I always expect things to be like they are in the movies (the happy ones), because they aren’t.

I have just survived the first 5 months and 6 days of motherhood. It has been the longest 5 months and 6 days of my life, and it’s gone by at the speed of light. I have quit my day job and my new official job title is “Mommy.” My daughter is my new boss and she can be tough to please.

As I write this, I am celebrating my first Mother’s Day. And as you may have guessed, I had those high expectations I have for all other “special” days. The day started off absolutely lovely. After waking for a 7:45 am feeding, my husband was kind enough to take our daughter downstairs so I could get some extra sleep. They were back up after an hour because she was hungry, again. I fed her (and she fell back asleep), and then used the chance to pump some milk for later in the day: my special treat was going to be a 3:00 pm massage (the third of my life and first since delivering a face-up 9 lbs 6 oz baby). Unfortunately, this round of pumping wasn’t too successful, and I would have to try again later. Luckily, at least I was able to get back to sleep. We all managed to snooze peacefully until 12:30 pm. What a perfectly decadent morning. The three of us had never had a Sunday morning sleep-in like this before. Downstairs a lovely card, a special photo of my daughter, cash for the massage (close to a gift certificate, right?), and a successful pumping awaited me. I guess it was somewhat like what you’d see in the movies (although I’ve never seen anyone breast pump on the big screen).

Then things started to go downhill. The baby realized she was hungry soon after I finished the pumping. However, she wouldn’t take the boob (a word I now use many times a day). She not only wouldn’t take it, she started freaking right the hell out. I was quickly getting annoyed as the minutes slipped by; minutes I needed to eat and shower before my massage. The way things were going it wasn’t looking good.

After much drama (3 attempts at preparing lunch, dealing with baby, and squabbling with my husband) I decided to cancel my afternoon treat. I simply would not have been able to enjoy a “relaxing” massage.

After a walk around the block to soothe the kid (being outside often has a calming effect on her), I realized that maybe she was so upset because she wasn’t getting any milk from me as I had pumped it all out.

When we returned, the baby took the pumped milk from a bottle – all 4 1/2 ounces of it (if I’d never pumped, would we have had this troubled afternoon?). We took her upstairs for a nap. I decided it was a perfect time to have that much anticipated shower while my husband put her to sleep. I’ve come to learn that showers are a very special time for new Moms.

After all this, I finished my lunch in peace and called my own Mother. I apologized for having been a terrible baby and thanked her for having put up with me.

Some days I love my new 24/7 job, and other days I wish I was back at the office. I guess it would be that way with any job, except the good days with my daughter are so much better than the good days at the office. I just need to learn that the good days are not always going to be on the official “special” days.

Maybe next year will live up to my expectations; maybe tomorrow will be a random “special” day.

And as I look at her now, all cute, snuggly and sleeping, I realize that in fact it is a very Happy Mother’s Day.