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Saturday, February 25, 2006

revenge of the Mombie

check out this awesome email that a momfriend sent me yesterday. pretty much sums it all up:
I just made up a new term for how I feel this morning. I am a "Mombie" -- a Mom Zombie. A____ didn't sleep well last night. Also, I have been addicted to ice skating on the Olympics. Sick. Thank god it's over.

Looking forward to beer o'clock.

so rad, right? it made me jealous. after suffering through a few nights of the living dead myself i felt like i had earned a sweet name like Mombie. hell, i'm entitled to one. but how can i become a Mombie if i'm not a mom to start out with?

so it got me thinking, to the extent that i am capable of thinking any more. and then it dawned on me. do you know what i am?

i am a Poptard.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

what went up has come down

thanks, everyone, for writing in with comments, advice and sympathy for the mystery crying. many of you had compelling theories as to what was happening. well, guess what. you were all wrong! especially you, kara.

just as mysteriously as it started, it ended. she has been connecting a lot of cognitive dots lately, so that's an attractive possibility (just yesterday i taught her how to clap ... and then instantly had twelve heart attacks from the cuteness). also. she did just get over a cold, so the ear-ache theory was a popular one around here: after two nights of no sleep and lots of screaming, i called the pediatrician and booked an appointment for the following morning. then, just like that, she started sleeping like a champ. problem solved, mystery not.

i suspect it was the threat of going to the doctor's that whipped her into shape.

want to know the real pisser? mrs nice guy opted out of the peter luger dinner with friends so as to spare the sitter massive trauma (i had actually volunteered to stay home, but the birthday friend is more my friend than hers). so she stayed home ... for nothing. the baby slept.

meanwhile, i masticated a mountain of marvelous marbled meat and marinaded myself in maker's mark manhattans. mmm! (sorry, i have a thing for alliteration.)

anyway, the baby does appear to have yet another, brand new cold. and so do i, which i doubt has anything to do with staying out too late and drinking. i cannot tell you the joy this new illness brings me. her nose is stuffed all the time, but at least she's sleeping -- sleeping, that is, thanks to baby advil, having her mattress at a slight incline, rubbing her down with baby vicks after her bath, and spiking her milk with baby vodka.

so she slept until almost 7 this morning, which is great. but i had been too busy coughing since 5 to reap the sweet fruit of that extra hour. the madness, when will it end?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

baby cries a lot, daddy dies a little

since y'all seemed to take great interest in the engorgement status of my wife's breasts (and who am i to blame you?) i figure i owe you an update: milk supply is back up. just like that. we have our theories as to why, internets, but we are not going to share them with you. sometimes i like to play coy.

but, as the old saying goes, if it's not one thing it's sure as shit bound to be another. if your wife's milk supply is not drying up like death valley, then, well, here's the latest kick in the pants: then your child suddenly decides it no longer wants to sleep at night. ever.

our little angel has been sleeping through the night for a long time now. she has reliably slept from about 7 pm to 6 am for a few months, at least. naps have been a little less consistent, but not much to complain about. so imagine our dismay when, two nights ago, she started screaming at 10 pm. and nothing -- nothing -- we did could get her to stop. she howled till midnight. then she was up again for an hour at 2:30. then she was up for good at 5. we tried rubbing her back, nursing her, bribing her, sweet talking her, threatening her with unconscionable violence. all tactics failed.

we even asked her why she had decided to swap sleeptime for screamtime and this was her answer: WAAAUUUUfuckyouGGGGHHHHHH. for an hour. have you ever tried to scream for an hour? how the fuck does she do it? i can't even scream for five solid minutes without losing my voice and collapsing from exhaustion. she does her routine all night long! if i weren't so desperate, i'd be really freakin' impressed.

last night same deal. screaming. all night. when we weren't snapping at each other like turtles on pcp, mrs nice guy and i took cowardly refuge in each others' arms on the floor in the farthest corner from the baby's room. we wept too. today i am too tired to be despondent, terrified, angry, filled with murderous ire or even able to breathe properly. ok, i take that back: i'm actually not too tired to feel murderous. (aha, an idea! i am going to take Vinnie Three Fingers' job into my own trembling hands if this goes on one more night).

is she teething? maybe. she has seven teeth already though and none of them have done this to her. sick? don't think so. she had the sniffles for a week, which i actually gave to her. she's been over that for a few days and they only resulted in one truly evil night of aspirating and wailing anyway. growing pains? separation anxiety? ready to harvest the demon pod gestating within her unholy breast? all possible.

all i know is that i just got done having my own nagging whore of a cold for two long weeks -- coughing, sore throating, sniffling -- and have been feeling better. until this morning. after two nights spent listening to my daughter channel janet leigh in the shower, i woke up with a new sore throat.

and tonight of all nights we have special dinner plans. we are taking a friend to peter luger for his birthday to eat enough red meat to kill a small village. we have been looking forward to this evening for months. we have even hired another babysitter. but now? we don't want to go. too tired. also, it has been leaked to us that the baby has plans to scream from the time we leave for dinner until we return, rendering the sitter insane. we don't want the sitter to go insane. then we will be responsible for paying for the sitter's care in an asylum. we don't have that much money. i mean, we're going to need that cash for when it's time to check ourselves in.

Friday, February 17, 2006

an Rx for frustration

the pediatrician's visit was a resounding success. no shots. baby's healthy. rah rah, sis boom bah.

she asked what the baby was up to, so we told her: cruising like a maniac. we routinely prop her up against something, then turn around to do some chore or other, and, presto!, when we turn around again 30 seconds later she is in a different part of the room. it's terrifying, this mobility. her new goal is apparently to pull the television down off its stand and crush her skull. i'll let you know how that works out for her.

the pediatrician said "great, so she's pulling herself up and cruising around." we said, "no. she's cruising around. not pulling herself up." the baby understands the concept of pulling herself up, but she doesn't do it -- there's nothing in the apartment that isn't either (a) likely to fall over on her if she pulls herself up on it, or (b) impossible for her tiny hands to get a grip on. this was greatly disconcerting to our doc, who said she had never heard of a baby cruising before she was able to pull herself up. i said, "hey, she's thinking outside the box. a creative genius!" the doctor said "let her get more frustrated, she'll start pulling herself up."

more frustrated? if this child gets any more frustrated over the course of a day, her head will implode and leak from her navel. she sees all kinds of wonderful things that she would love to be able to do, but can't quite figure out how: she can't walk on her own; she can't crawl; she can't get out of bed when she wants to; she is forced to have her teeth brushed; she can't decide for herself when to eat; she can't talk although she is beginning to understand words; she can't sit still although she can't really move too far on her own. and so on.

i am no mathematician, but i have calculated the ratio of my child's frustration level per square inch of her tiny body. let us assume that a healthy ratio is something like .05 ampules of frustration to 1 sq.inch. well, my daughter is somewhere in the neighborhood of 230^5:.03 -- any more frustration would be suicide, man! captain, she's giving it all she's got!

anyway. more stats for you. for a nine month old she is in:

  • the 28th percentile for height (she has two tall-ass parents, so i don't know where she went wrong here)
  • the 49th percentile for head circumference (nice to see she is no longer a tiny-skulled freak. let's just hope the head-growth plateaus here and she doesn't turn into some balloon headed elephant girl)
  • the 57th percentile for weight (with thunder thighs like those?! i'd hate to see 98th percentile)
  • the 108th percentile for toxic emissions (poppy's so proud)
  • the 257th percentile for cuteness (what? i am totally not making this up)
  • the 334th percentile for having the biggest possible douchebag of a dad

you get the picture. she's normal. beautifully normal ... unlike one particular child i had the misfortune of crossing paths with yesterday, who was neither beautiful nor normal. i wrote a wee impromptu rant over at the blogfathers, which seems to have struck a nerve.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

an Rx for the good life

even though my knee surgery appears destined to never actually happen (damn you, vinnie three fingers and your incompetent hit man ways), this is a week rich in doctors. tomorrow: pediatrician visit. joy.

i also got a call from the internal medicine guy who gave me my physical last week. i needed to get a full check up to assure my knee surgeon that i wouldn't burst into flames mid-surgery or suddenly start levitating or whatever they're afraid of. i got the works: EKG, blood and urine samples, cholesterol and blood pressure checks. he asked me questions about my health history. all the good stuff.

and when i say "all the good stuff" you know what i'm getting at: the testicular exam. the good doctor pulled on some latex gloves and asked me to drop my boxers (my undershorts were patterned with mixed berries, how's that for fitting?). shrinkage, sadly, was in full effect. we studiously avoided eye contact as he spent some time kneading my nads

when i told mrs nice guy about this tender moment, she said: "you should have moaned softly and pressed into him." now you know why i married this woman.

anyway, he wanted to share with me the results of my bloodwork. it seems i am in EXCEPTIONAL good health. fit, good heart, nice low blood pressure, very low cholesterol. he did mention that my "good" cholesterol, my HDL level, was a little lower than he'd like it. so i said "so, what does that mean? eat more fish?"

he was all "well, there are three things you could do. you could take estrogen. i think we can rule that one out."

i was all "aw, come on doc. i'd love to experience the joys of breastfeeding my child before she's weaned."

he wisely ignored me and pressed on. "the other ways to raise your HDL levels are through exercise. and, oddly enough, alcohol."

"you mean i should drink more?"

"well, yes, in moderation."

i considered this a moment and said "i see."

"what do you see?"

"i see that you are the greatest doctor in the history of the world."

the blogfathers

go here. bookmark. visit often.

Monday, February 13, 2006

number nine, number nine, number nine ...

yesterday marked the nine month anniversary of her birth. nine months! she's been on the outside for almost as long as she was on the inside. wild. this made me realize two things: pregnancy takes a looong time, man. and a whole lot of shit can happen in nine months.

her birthday present came early: no more laser treatments. we took her in to have her surface strawberry splotch looked at one last time. her nose has been looking wonderful lately. twice in the past week strangers have actually told us how cute her nose is. cute! (this is a far cry from "WHAT HAPPENED TO HER NOSE? why do you beat her?") the laser doc said there was some residual redness he could treat, but that would be more for our benefit than hers. so we opted not to put her through it. will revisit whether she needs surgery for the deeper component some time next year, but it's looking unlikely. yay!

anyway, we celebrated yesterday with a stroll through the blizzard of '06. look, i may be a southern california boy, but i have lived through eight serious winters on the east coast and abroad. and if you're telling me this is the biggest storm in new york history, i have only one thing to say: yawn. i want more catastrophic destruction (of other people's stuff). wake me up for the next biggest storm ever.

i digress. since people seem to love lists (or at least writers love to perpetrate lists on their readers because writers are lazy), i am going to commemorate the beginning of my child's tenth month with a few lists.

some nicknames we call her:

  • chickenbutt
  • turducken
  • cricket
  • pickle
  • cricketpickle
  • monster
  • lumpkin
  • lumpystiltskin
  • tchoupitoula
  • sir fartsalot

some things she does that are charming, cute and/or funny now, but will be seen as neither by her prom date:

  • bounces up and down and moans when impatient
  • sneezes mouthfuls of lunch mush all over the person sitting across from her
  • pulls hair -- chest, head, cat, it doesn't matter
  • loves to reach out, grab and wrench exposed nipples
  • empties anything that can conceivably be emptied
  • drops anything that can conceivably be dropped
  • emits ear-splintering pterodactyl shrieks whenever excited
  • will bore a hole into your soul with her unblinking, condemning stare
  • continues to shovel food into her mouth even though she has not even begun chewing the 37 items already in there
  • see above: sir fartsalot

things she really likes:

  • mom
  • going for walks in the baby bjorn (daddy's back and knees be dammed)
  • cruising. my god she can cruise.
  • food
  • the cats
  • bigger kids
  • the baby in the mirror
  • riding on shoulders
  • banging savagely on daddy's very expensive guitar
  • boobs (chip off the ol' block, she is)
  • bath time
  • being thrown in the air and caught
  • books, sometimes
  • when daddy drinks his happy juice

things she really doesn't like:

  • getting out of the bath
  • getting her teeth brushed
  • getting dressed
  • getting undressed
  • being locked in the supply closet for an hour every time she cries
  • tummy time and the general concept of crawling
  • naps
  • having snot suctioned out of her nose with an aspirator (the mucus plug has returned! it lives deep inside my child's sinus canals and it won't come out.)
  • taking her vitamins
  • being thrown in the air and not caught
  • books, sometimes
  • when daddy drinks his angry juice

Saturday, February 11, 2006

i'll feel like being funny again in a couple hours

ever wonder what the face of righteous fury looks like? take a gander:

as part of my job i followed bruce jackson's terrible story closely when it unfolded three years ago. so it was with interest that i saw an update on the front page of today's paper. i wasn't a parent then. today, the horrific details of the abuse he and his brothers suffered at the hands of his foster parents has an addded personal dimension. reading the speech he delivered to his former foster mother, just before she was sentenced, made me cry. heartbreaking.

there was another article in the metro section today about an 18-year-old girl who killed her newborn, then stuck it in her backpack. i read stories like these in a whole new light now, surprised to find how personally i take them. when i showed the paper to mrs. nice guy this morning, she said exactly what i was thinking, banal as it may sound: how can people do these things to babies? you know what, people? if you don't want your child, don't drown her. don't starve him. don't torture her. don't beat him to death.

hell, let's just skip the middle man. my wife and i will happily take the baby off your hands before you lift a finger against it. then you can run off to jail where you belong and enjoy being brutally raped every day for the rest of your life. how does that sound?

Friday, February 10, 2006

the formula for disgruntlement

i don't know why, but something about this illustration gives me some serious jeeblies. the baby is all fine and healthy when attached to the breast (a). but then! he takes a drag off the teat (b) and he turns into some kind of monsterbaby! i can't tell if it's the tit that's turning him into some hideous freak or if some alien pod within the baby is attacking the breast. see how the nipple is getting distorted and growing roots? is it attacking the poor child? or is an otherworldly emissary from deep within the demonchild assaulting mom? need better illustrations.

when the baby stops for a breather (c) everything returns to normal. the worst is behind. or so you think! check out (d)! the nipple web has spread! and look how calm the baby is. seems pleased with himself, don't you think? that's the giveaway right there. the podbaby has latched onto the mothership and is launching a full scale coup! bad baby!

i bring all this up because that illustration -- taken far enough out of context to give a leche leaguer a grand mal seizure -- is a fair metaphorical rendering of what has been happening inside of mrs nice guy's boobage. she's drying up. every feeding is a struggle -- baby wants more milk. mama wants to give it to her. baby doesn't get enough milk. mama feels guilty. baby bites mama's sensitive mamaparts with her razor-sharp rabbity teeth. mama throws baby against the wall. baby claws her way up mama's trembling body and begins gnawing at her jugular! ok, those last two aren't true.

and so we admit defeat. we are phasing in formula. mrs nice guy wanted to make it through a whole year without formula and then start with the cow's milk. but as you can see from the drawing above, the boobs lose.

i bought similac the other day. even in this neighborhood, i couldn't find organic hippy formula for infants (only toddlers). been mixing the formula with what little milk mrs nice guy is able to pump. here's how the first feeding went:

whispering announcer's voice: we have secretly replaced the baby's usual fine breast milk with simulacrum similac crystals. will she notice the difference? let's watch with the aid of our hidden camera.

baby takes bottle. baby drinks about 2 ounces of her evil milk-similac-similkac hybrid. eyes widen. pushes bottle out of mouth. refuses to take any more.

so yeah. the baby, i think, is on to us. of course, things are complicated by the fact that the baby is sick. her little nose is plugged up like the northbound 405 in rush hour. she can't breathe while nursing. she can't breathe while sleeping. and yet, oddly, she can breathe while screaming. go figure.

Monday, February 06, 2006


a bit late, but mad props to muk for this. p. slippity in the hizz, y'all. WHAT?!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

weak in the knees

so i get a call on friday from my hot doctor's office gnomes, who tell me that they have to indefinitely postpone my surgery. i was scheduled to have what amounts to a triple bypass on my left knee, the main event of which entails sticking a dead guy's meniscus in there.

apparently they haven't found the right dead guy yet.

i have to admit i was a little suspicious of this whole thing. about a month ago, i told them "hey let's try to get this surgery scheduled as soon as possible." they said "ok, how does february 6 work?" i said "great. how do you know you'll have a meniscus, though?" they said, ominously, "oh, we'll have one."

i went waay uptown to the
Hospital for Slicing People Up in Very Complicated Ways to get a scan of my knee, so they would know the exact size of my meniscus. my hot doctor assured me that they would have a match (same size, same age) within a month.

i wondered: how on earth did he plan on getting a fresh 31-year-old meniscus that belonged to an otherwise healthy recently deceased 6'3" male in such a timely fashion. so i asked him. he said "don't you worry. Vinnie Three Fingers will take care of everything."

it seems this is a well-connected hospital, because i got a call from the doctor's office yesterday and they said "we have a meniscus here, but it's two millimeters too narrow and one millimeter too short. we can't put this in your knee in good faith." they also mentioned that they had another meniscus on the west coast that some hospital was going to FedEx (or however you send fresh dead-guy bits) to them, but they suspected that was also too small.

so they're not going to cut me open tomorrow. i have to sit and wait for the right guy to die. somewhere in this country there is an otherwise healthy 6'3" 31-year-old male -- maybe he's reading this right now; maybe he's you -- who is going to die very soon. i wonder how. anyway, i am going to get a little piece of his knee when he goes.

sorry, man, i don't want you to die. to be honest, i don't really want this surgery. but they say i need it. so i am just sitting here waiting for you to check out.

i wish vinnie three fingers would hurry up.

Friday, February 03, 2006

sign o' the times?

the baby is nearly nine months old now and increasingly communicative. she waves, she shrieks, the babbles, she caterwauls, she grunts.

most bizarrely, she clicks and clucks her tongue like a chatty chicken. it's weird. but she's very proud of her clucking prowess. it's how she says "hi" and "hey, having a good time over here!" cuteness. her other salutation is to elaborately stick her tongue out at you. you go to get her in the morning and she's all "blllaggggguuuughhhhh," impudently sticking her tongue in your face. and you're all, "cute, but that doesn't make scrubbing your shit-encrusted ass any more fun."

so yeah, she obviously has many, many things on her impossibly keen and brilliant mind. last week at the tot lot i met a mother of a 20-month old who was doing little baby sign language hand gestures with her kidlet. i saw them communicating wordlessly, and i must say it was pretty awesome. i wondered what incredible things are on my baby's mind that she'd share with me if only she had the means. words may be a ways off, but surely through sign language she could communicate. just imagine: i'm thirsty, i like the pretty flower, i am tired, i am solving linear Diophantine equations. whatever.

so, this being the neighborhood it is, i went to a crunchy used book store. actually, there are two crunchy used book stores right next to each other ... four blocks down from a behemoth of a barnes & noble. i walked into crunchy used book store #1 and said "do you have a book on baby sign language?" the guy said: "just sold it."

damn you crunchy park slope parents! i will not be driven into barnes & noble so easily! on to used book store #2.

me: do you have a book on baby sign language?
used book store clerk #2: i'unno.
me: hmm. do you have a section on babies?
used book store clerk #2: back. left.
me: you are exceptionally helpful.

i go to the back of the store and not only is there a baby section, but this being the neighborhood it is, there is an entire baby ROOM. books on fertility, books on pregnancy, books on childbirth, books on babies, books on infants, books on toddlers, books on teens, books books books!

it occurred to me that the books i was staring at can be broken down into fairly reliable types. there are exceedingly touchy-feely books on feeling good and making your baby feel good through hugging and acceptance and feeling good. there are incredibly scary books on how everything your child is wearing and playing with WILL KILL THEM INSTANTLY IF YOU DON'T STOP THEM. there are very niche books on how to raise your baby on an all-soy and carob diet, or what to do when your triplets have two mommies and four granddads. there are reprimanding books on behavior that explain why the way you are raising your child will result in her being a jobless sociopath puppy rapist. there are books that guilt you into red hot shame for reading while you should be parenting.

finally, i find the book i need. baby signs. they have three copies. $4 each. i return to the clerk.

me: you had three of them! man, if that doesn't speak volumes about this neighborhood!
used book store clerk #2: yeah, we have a bunch of volumes about this neighborhood. on that rack there.
me: you are going to go far in life.

so i brought the book home and i began reading it. my capsule review: a full two-thirds of the book is about convincing you why you should try baby signs. but you know what? I ALREADY OWN THE BOOK, ERGO I AM GAME TO GIVE IT A TRY. so finally -- after all the introductions, the essplaining what baby signing is, the real-world case studies proving that it's worthwhile -- we get to the meat of things: actual signs to teach your baby.

some of them are very useful. take, for example, the sign for "more," tapping your palm. or, the sign for eat (fingers to mouth, as if to say "here is where the food goes"). or, the sign for drink/bottle (thumb to lips while you tip your head back, as if to say "daddy's drunk. again.") and so on. for us, the most useful signs are the signs for sleep, book, water, noise, little, for the love of all that is good and holy in the world please stop screaming at 4 am or i shall be compelled to to do something violent and terrible to you child, in, out, up, bird, cat, big, all gone, scared, etc.

with apologies to my daughter, here are some signs the book suggests that are simply not useful to us whatsoever:

barney. sorry, kid. barney doesn't live here here anymore. nor did he ever, actually.
fire. we burned all of our satanic jesus-hating records before you were born. also, no fireplace. or candles. so, if there's a fire 'round these parts, we'll probably all be goners before you can make the sign.
elephant: just not really too many elephants in brooklyn.

cookie monster. do we really need to devote 1/9th of your brain to the sign for "cookie monster?"
kangaroo: ok, come on. when the fuck was the last time any adults out there have actually said "kangaroo?"
hippo: ibid.

and they use crude drawings to illustrate ugly legless children doing possibly obscene gestures. here's a particular favorite of mine. i think it means "i have jock itch":

anyway. for what it's worth, progress has been slow. so far our daughter only understands one sign: the opening of the refrigerator. she pretty much has the meaning of that one down solid.