How Do You Measure a Year?

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Yesterday was Buddha's birthday. We spent the day together, just the two of us, hanging out, goofing around, and napping. It was great. He was oblivious to the monumental occasion that it was. He didn't even care about the presents he opened last Saturday and was much more interested in chewing on the wrapping paper than anything else. But that's just fine with me. I quite enjoyed his birthday. The past 625,000 minutes, give or take, have been amazing. Watching him develop from a scrawny newborn, to a chubby infant to a babbling baby now to an almost toddler has been so incredible. I can't even describe it. Our relationship has changed quite a bit over the last year as well. In the beginning, I was his primary caregiver. Except for the breastfeeding, I did it all. From, literally, the day he was born, I was his human pillow. His favorite place to sleep was on my chest, his head nestled comfortably between my breasts, his little heinie up in the air. I was called in on emergency on multiple occasions because he refused to sleep elsewhere for anybody else. I woke up many a morning to the wonderful aroma of spit up in my hair. I gave him his first bath, treated his first diaper rash, fed him his first food and watched his first tooth come in. I was there when he got his first cold, and his second, and his third. I was there when he discovered his penis and his feet, and his ears, in that order. I was there when he learned to lift his head up. When he first smiled. Whe he rolled over and when he sat up. I rocked him and paced until I thought my arms would fall off. I listened to him scream until I really thought I might smash my head into a wall. I grew so accustomed to the ubiquitous smell of vomit and poop around me that my friends were wary to be down-wind from me. For the first five months of his life, he was my baby. I fed him, bathed him, held him, loved him like he was my own. Like I was his mother. For reasons beyond which I was able to understand at the time, his mother, was unable to fully bond with him. Practically refused, in fact, to hold him volunatirly unless she was nursing him. And so he was mine. As unhealthy as it might have been, he was mine. The first time they all went on a trip without me, I suffered from Buddha withdrawls. But slowly, as time progressed, as he got older, became more interactive, as we spent more time apart, and he spent more time with his own mother, I began to get some perspective. Our relationship evolved. I was still his favorite place to sleep but no longer the only place to sleep. He learned how to sit up, how to reach for his own toys, how to laugh at himself. Together we laughed, took walks, went to the park, played with toys and I watched him grow into a real person, full of personality and spirit. Into an independent little boy who didn't need me as much anymore. And so, when I had four weeks off, I got it into my head that I could live without the little tyke. So I took the job in NY. Little did I know the effect of the monopoly he has on my heart. We didn't skip a beat. We've fallen right back into our old rhythm. Only now he's a year old. Twelve months. And the past twelve months (two of which I missed out on) haven't been easy. On me or his parents, but I can honestly say that I wouldn't trade a single one of those minutes for anything else. Because watching him blossom and grow into the affectionate, friendly, happy, independent little person he is, has been so worth it. Nevermind the crappy pay and the intense hours. I have grown so much in the past twelve months, all thanks to that little boy. He has taught me so much about joy and compassion and unconditional love. About sacrifice and responsibility. About living for others instead of only myself. He's made me a better person. And when he crawls to me, clings to my legs and cries to be picked up just to give me a sloppy wet kiss on my face and then be put down again ... it puts it all in perspective. And even though I miss the tiny little infant stage, or even the pudgy baby stage, I can't even begin to describe the amazing place he's at right now. That is what this is all about. Because one slobbery smile from him is all I need to make my day. Happy Birthday Buddha!


L-O-V-E

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I've been back for three days and I'm already scheduled until November. I really don't know what they did while I was I gone.
I got home late Monday night and then slept in and bummed around all Tuesday. Wednesday afternoon, I was eating my delicious veggie sub when I got an unexpected call from Dr. Doormat. He was desperate. Mrs. Winifred, formerly Mrs. Pinochet had left Buddha napping and he had woken up moments after she left the driveway. Meanwhile he was on a deadline and the baby wouldn't go back to sleep so could I come over? Hell yes! I grabbed my bag, my lunch and my keys and I was out the door. I don't think the six minute drive over there has ever felt so long. Buddha stared at me for a few moments as I walked in the door, sort of looking me over. As I walked to the counter to put my stuff away, I saw him following me with his eyes. And when I smiled at him, he gave me a little grin and buried his face in his daddy's shoulder, playing shy. He grinned wider as I approached him and my heart just about melted. I was so worried he wouldn't remember me. Afterall, I have been gone for a little over a month. When I reached out my arms to him, he clung to his daddy and when I took him he started to cry. I cradled him and immediately started singing his special song that I've been singing to him since the day he was born - Everything Possible by Fred Small. It was like magic. He stopped crying! He looked up at me with his big blue eyes and I could see the recongnition on his face. He remembered! He settled down, snuggled against my breast, clutched at my shirt and drifted off to sleep as I walked around singing. I couldn't bear to put him down so I laid down on the couch, and he slept peacefully on my chest for over an hour, just like we used to when he was a newborn. It feels so good to be home.
And what a homecoming it was! When Bunny got home from school he strode over to me with a huge grin on his face and an enormous bouquet of flowers in his hand. Apparently, he had insisted to Winifred that they buy me flowers at the store while they were out. I was so touched! He gave me such a huge hug and immediately took me to his room and introduced me to all the new toys that he had gotten for his birthday last month. Dr. Doormat and Mrs. Winifred invited me to stay for dinner and it was wonderful. If that ordeal taught me anything, it was appreciation for this family and for our relationship. I know we have our moments and our disagreements but there is mutual respect and appreciation between us all and I'm so grateful to have them back and to be back.


Nanny Defamation

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I'm an ER addict. Never mind that the show has been around since I learned to read. It's an oldie but a goodie and every Thursday night, without fail, I loyally sit and watch in amazement as my fantasty doctor lover (Goran Visnjic) and his fellow doctors slice people up and manage to look insanely sexy though covered in guts and blood. Tonight was no different, despite the fact that my mother and I are in the middle of Pennsylvania on our way back to the west coast. Now, recently, my favorite character, Abby (portrayed by the lovely and talented Maura Tierney) gave birth to a baby boy. Because it's ER and all, the birth was predictably, very dramatic but they didn't kill the tyke off like they did Carter's baby so woo hoo for that! My insane and occasionally unhealthy love for newborns went into overdrive and for the past three weeks I've been looking forward to seeing cute little baby Joe on my screen. (Especially since it's been nearly a year since Buddha was that age and baby fever has hit me hard this year.) So color me a little suprised when Abby mentioned to her hunkalicious slice of Croatian meat, aka Luka the baby daddy, that she's interested in hiring a nanny. I instantly raised my hand and demanded to turn in my resume. After all, I was recently fired by the bitch from hell, aka, Baroness Bomburst, so I'm pretty much free to nanny any fictional, newborn children of my favorite television characters. Anyway, later in the ep after a rather disastrous mommy and me class Abby met up with a group of nannies at the park! Hooray! Yay for nannies! I felt very much like the ER writers were sending me a personal shout-out. Except not. Right from the get-go one of the girls shared her fear that she might be pregnant with her boss's child to which another nanny informed her that "the only father who doesn't want to bang his nanny is already doing it" or something along those lines. Uh oh. When asked if she's a nanny, Abby replied yes and was then privvy to lots of juicy nanny gossip, involving how the girls use their bosses' homes and cars and clothes etc etc and overall how they pretty much abuse their positions as caretakers. I was floored, and though I know the scene was supposed to be humorous, I felt a little offended. I have never stolen anything from my families. I have never used their clothes or cars or homes without their permission and I have never slept with any of the fathers or tried to. (Nevermind my intense crush for Big Bad Lawyer Daddy.) Not suprisingly, at the end of her day when her insanely sumptuous Croatian Sensation offered to rethink the nanny prospects, Abby declined, insistent that they could do it just the two of them. Oy. Glad she's confident in her parenting skills and all but this nanny hate has got to go. I think there are more mature, responsible, loving nannies out there than the other sort and I'm a bit disillusioned that the portrayal of us on the show (my favorite show!) was so negative. I know that nannying has gotten quite a bit of press lately but have there been any good recent representations in the media of the dynamic between a nanny and a family? I'm curious, because I'd definitely like to see some.


Political Awesomness

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I know this isn't a political blog but it's my blog and I just wanted to give a shout-out to the amazing students at Columbia. How fantastic are they? I can only hope that my moonbeams will someday grow up to be just as brave and passionate about human life and social justice.


Getting It Off My Chest

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No, I didn't just post a random picture of my breast in a shameless attempt to boost my readership. There's a reason. You may notice the white colored drops of fluid that seem to be emanating from the nipple area. If you guessed that it's breastmilk you would be correct. Scooby snacks for you! Only problem is that I'm not pregnant and I have not recently given birth. Color me freaked out. I first noticed when I was on my trip out of the country. I got out of the shower and was drying myself off and then re-dried by breast, and the re-re-dried my breast and yet there it still was: colostrum. I gave my breast a little squeeze just to be sure and wouldn't you know it but more milk came oozing out. Now, I've seen plenty of people breastfeed and I've seen my fair share of breasts but what I had never seen before was a breast spontaneously behaving like Old Faithful and spitting out breast milk for no reason. I wrapped my towel around me, ran to into the room that I was sharing with my cousin and demanded that she have a look. Because, apparently, I have some slutty tendencies, she immediately countered with a suspicious "Are you pregnant?" After repeated declarations from me that I was not, in fact, in the family way, she joined me in my state of disgust and bewilderment. So what would any savvy American girl do when she finds herself stuck in a third world country and suddenly lactating? I googled of course. Let me just say that googling one's symptoms is not the best way to overcome hyphochondria. Turns out what I had was galactorrhea. Yeah. As in, diarrhea of the breast. Yech. Now, what are possible causes of galactorrhea? Oh just, you know, brain tumors or pituitary disorders, or thyroid issues etc. Minor stuff like that. At that point I was wishing that I had, in fact, conceived the second coming of Christ because none of those other options were sounding at all appealing to me. And then I read it.
Medicines:
such as hormones, antidepressants, blood pressure medicines and others.
Aha!
The asshole, known as Mr. Shrink had recently prescribed me .5mg of risperdal daily. Now this is a very small does for the sole purpose of easing some of my anxiety issues. He warned about the possible side effects like increased appetite and fatigue and I was like, oh hooray, just what I need, to become lazier and fatter, but because, despite his asshole-y-ness, he normally knows what he's talking about, I agreed to try out the new meds. Well, guess what one of the lesser common side effects of risperdal is? Ding, ding ding! Galactorrhea. Turns out it's so rare that there are reallly very few case studies online about it. So when I went in for my med check and we went over how much better I was doing on this new drug, Mr. Shrink was all smug and self-confident over his decision and choice of drug I nodded and agreed and ever so sweetly exclaimed. "Except that I'm lactating." The look Mr. Shrink's face is one that I truly wish I had been able to photograph. It almost made my lactation worthwhile just to see the conflict race across his face. Bless the asshole's heart, he remained wholey professional about it all, but the redness in his cheeks gave him away. Turns out my body is incredibly sensitive to this stuff because .5 mgs is next to nothing. According to him, there are people on four times as much of this stuff who aren't lactating. Fan-freaking-tastic for them. What about me? Turns out there is diddly squat I can do about it unless I want to go off the drugs. He asked me how "severe" it was and if it leaked through my clothing and if it was painful. Yes and yes. "Let-down" Hurts damnit! And my right breast makes like five times what my left breast makes. My dearest shrink's response to all this was what? "Congratulations, you're a woman. Now you know they work." Thanks but I was well aware of their function long before I became bessie the cow. I'm going to have to work with him on his sensitivity issues.
So yeah. I'm lactating. Every day. My breasts make milk. But no problem. It's okay. At least I know they work.
Oh! And the best part? With the proper pressure from my thumb I can squirt milk across the room!
Seriously.
I am a full-on walking, talking, lactating, fembot, baby.
So, I've been brainstorming ways with which I can, excuse the pun, milk this oddball situation and I feel that I've come up with no solutions. Several male friends of mine were rather quick to remind me of Rose of Sharon in the Grapes of Wrath but I'm pretty sure I will be declining any and all offers to breastfeed adult men.
But then again, they may have a point. Screw nannying. Maybe I should just expand my horizons and set up shop as a wetnurse...


Clicking My Shoes Together

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Well, it looks like I'll be back home in two weeks. My mom is flying in on the 11th and we're going to drive all those thousands of miles, yet again.
I'm actually very much okay with all of this. It was a good learning experience. I took a chance and I gave it my best shot. I wouldn't take it back. I mean, I wouldn't repeat it either, but I wouldn't take it back. That whole cliche about everything teaches you a lesson actually kind of applies here because I definitely learned a few things about the world and about myself. I learned I'm stronger than I thought I was and much more resilient. And in the end, I'm no worse for the wear. In fact, I'm kind of better. I get to go home and spend time with all my moonbeams that I missed dreadfully and I now appreciate their parents so much more than I ever could have if I hadn't gone through this. Mrs. P (and I feel that I really should change her name now) has the appeal of an ice cream sandwich since having to deal with Baroness Bomburst. So I'll be home in time for Buddha's first birthday later this month and hopefully things will turn out just fine. In the meantime, I have a week to have some fun and relax. Getting fired's not so bad afterall.


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