Saturday, January 23, 2010


You know that old adage about how babies change just when you think you have them figured out? It's true. We have all kinds of new things happening around here.

1. Pigtails. See?

2. Hadley feeds herself--and us. After her "regular" meals, which we feed her with a spoon, she gets puffs--and she loves them, so much that she likes to share with her parents. Very kind of her, especially when she offers up one that she hasn't removed from her mouth.

"I'm softening this one up for you, Mom. Get ready!"

(Note: We are on the hunt for big bibs. Whoever makes these dinky things we're currently using obviously has never tried to feed Hadley. If you find a store that sells big bibs, post a comment...and be the most beloved reader for a whole day.)

3. Reading. Hadley has a new hobby: pulling the books off the bookshelf and thumbing through them, while she makes a funny little humming noise. I think she thinks she's reading to herself.

"Hmmmmm, hmmmmmm, hmmmmmm..."

4. Playing peek-a-boo. For months, we've been hiding our faces behind blankets and then popping out and saying, "Peek-a-boo!" Now, Hadley grabs her blankie and covers her face. She waits for us to say, "Where's Hadley?" and then--as fast as she can--she pulls the blanket down to reveal her grinning face. We do this about 25 times a day.

5. Dancing. When Hadley hears music, she does this Stevie Wonder-inspired move with her head while she bounces up and down. Best of all, she does the same dance whether we're listening to classical music or singing "The Gangoo Song." We'll have to work on that.

This is not her dancing shot. We haven't captured one yet. But I love her expression. "Who me? Dance? No way."

6. Walking. Jason called me at work one day when he was home with Hadley and mentioned that she was pushing her musical table around the living room by walking behind it. Thing is, the musical table is supposed to be stationary. Hm. So we bought her a new walk-behind toy. She digs it. See?

So that's all for now. Tune in next week for another round of simple joys that make us feel...happy with Hadley.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Working Mama Drama

I admit it: I used to think that all of the agonizing over whether a mom should go back to work after having a baby was a little...dramatic. I thought that those women should make their decisions and get on with it. Go to work. Don't go to work. Whatever. But quit going on The Today Show and writing books about whether you're working at home or working outside the home. Enough.

But then I had a baby, and I understood. The agonizing, the constant need to talk about my decision, the wondering if I made the right one.

I like to go to work, and I like what I do. I like having a venue for my creative impulses, and I like talking about topics unrelated to sippy cups, poop and naps. And I have a fabulous schedule that allows me to work from home half of the week, which gives me much more time with Hadley than most working moms get with their kids.

Still, I feel a dull ache in my heart when I walk out the door. I fight the urge to call home every 15 minutes to find out what she's doing. And when I leave to come home, the elevator from the 9th floor to the parking garage feels so slow, and the drive home--seven minutes, tops--feels like it stretches on forever.

But the reward is sweet: Hadley looks out our big picture window and grins. Glows. I can barely resist running in and swooping her up and holding her for hours. (She wouldn't tolerate it. She's far too interested in cruising along the furniture and touching everything that is not made for babies.) She reaches out for me when I get home and gives me the briefest of hugs, and then I breathe again. I feel the little ache melt away, and I smell her baby smell, and I touch her chubby fingers, and she returns to whatever she was doing when I arrived: pulling books off the bookshelf, laughing at Barry the Bear, patting the ottoman, ripping up catalogues and occasionally forgetting that she can't walk without holding on to something.

We came screeching up to our deadline at the magazine this week, and as a result, I've been working at the office a lot more than I usually do. I was there most of the day on Sunday, all day Monday, most of the day yesterday and all day today. I wore my coat around the office for the last hour of the day because all I wanted to do was finish and run out the door. I felt so uneasy and antsy, like my world was off-balance. I missed Hadley wildly.

She seemed no worse for my absence, though Jason said she had been saying, "Mamamamama" on and off for an hour before I got home. That could be a coincidence, but I like to think that she wanted her mama, at least a fraction as much as I wanted my Hadley.

Tomorrow, I am taking the morning to play with Hadley. I think we'll go to the Children's Museum, which has a great area for crawlers to explore. She will love it.

I could pretend that we're going just because she will love it. But the truth is that I will love it more.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What Goes on in That Head of Hers?

I wonder all the time: What's Hadley thinking? How does she think--not in words yet, so how? In images? What makes her do the things she does--like say, "I-yie-yie-yie" (rhymes with "pie") for five minutes straight? Or shake her head from side to side like a bobble-head doll?

Every day Hadley whips up a new skill. Just this morning, as she was walking around her play table at record speed, she stopped and popped her right foot up so just the ball was touching the ground. Then she started to turn her leg in and out--a la Elvis. With her leg going, she began to rock her head back and forth like she was attending her own private heavy metal concert. It was like Kiss meets the King. After a good 10 seconds, she stopped, grinned at me and returned to her laps around the table. I was laughing so hard, I could barely breathe.

This is her "are you ready for what I'm about to do?" expression.

Hadley is infinitely entertaining--maybe only to us, but still, we're having fun. She loves when I hold her and pretend to run away from Jason, who chases us. She squeals and wiggles and laughs. And she loves her new head-bobbing hobby. Often, while she sits on the floor and plays quietly, she looks up, gets a bemused expression on her face that says, "I know that you're just waiting for me to do something funny," and then shakes her head side to side (ear to shoulder, ear to shoulder) for a good five or six seconds. When she's finished, she purses her lips together in a thoughtful little expression, raises her eyebrows--"Is that sufficient?" she practically asks--and then returns to playing. But I know she's listening for our response, and when she hears us laugh, she seems especially pleased.

How is this all possible? Where did she learn to tease and play? How does she know what's funny? (Just wait until I can teach her the nacho cheese joke: What do you call cheese that's not yours? NACHO CHEESE! Jason will be mortified, but I will think it's hilarious.)

I have no idea if Hadley will be analytical or creative or athletic or dramatic...but I predict that she will be a funny little kid. And even before I can teach her my repertoire of really awful jokes, I expect that she'll be whipping out a few of her own.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hadley's First Sledding Trip

Remember how much fun it used to be to call your friends after Christmas and find out what Santa brought them? Because you knew you were going to get to play with their toys, too.

Well, Hadley called Harper and discovered that Harper got a sled for Christmas. And Hadley said (and I quote, journalist's honor), "I need to get my booty in that sled, Harper."

And Harper said, "Amen to that! Meet me in Wash Park in 20 minutes, Hadster."

So the girls met in the park for their first sledding experience. Behold:

Notice Harper's arm, hanging over the edge. She's chillin'...

Hadley said, "Mom, I need some of those cool wrap-around sunglasses that Harper has."

"Mom, can't you get this thing moving any faster? What are we, old ladies?"

"What's up, party people?"

Harper? Harper? Are you asleep?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Reflecting on 2009

Ah, happy little blog, I adore thee. You give me ample space to ramble on and on--and you readily accept my musings without edit or comment. No wonder so many people are prone to starting blogs: They make us feel like we have a place to store our thoughts and then send them out into the world--without having to come face-to-face with an audience. Maybe someone reads, maybe not. But I get to blather on to my (sometimes) imaginary audience without consequence (like someone stopping mid-post because I won't stop blathering and get on with the Hadley news already).

I really like new years. I think it's totally brilliant that the world travels 'round the sun in 365-day (or 366-day) increments, and we get to start over after each of those increments. I like the idea of a fresh slate, and I like anticipating what comes next.

But I also like to reflect. We English majors are really good at reflecting. So much of what we do is read stuff and then...reflect. Ponder. Ruminate. Contemplate. Deliberate. Go on and on and on in happy little blogs about how much we like to go on and on and on.

When I think about 2009, obviously I think about Hadley's arrival and the ways she has changed us--and not just the obvious stuff, like how I logged far fewer hours of sleep in 2009 than I did in 2008. She has changed how I see everything. I see her in everything. Oh, I don't mean that in a weird I-worship-my-child sort of way because I am not one of those moms. (You know the kind. You say, "Hey, I found a yummy new cheese shop on 6th Avenue," and one of those moms says, "Oh! Little Sabrina loves cheese!" Or you say, "I think I need to go to the dentist," and one of those moms says, "Oh! Little Sabrina got her second tooth three weeks ago last Tuesday!" And you roll your eyes because you just can't help it.)

No, I mean that my perspective is different. For example, I'm reading a book by Helene Cooper (NY Times journalist, former WSJ reporter) about her childhood in Liberia. She writes about how she was afraid to sleep alone at night when she was a kid because she was sure the heartmen (witch doctors) or the neegees (bad guys) were going to come steal her away in the night. Before Hadley, I would have related to being scared: I remember being a kid and not wanting to sleep alone in my room. But as I was reading, I felt a kind of motherly tenderness for this little girl, curled under her covers, sure that any moment, the bad guys would snatch her. I saw Hadley in that bed. My view is different.

And better. And also worse.

Better because it's pure joy to love someone the way a parent loves a child. And it's pure heartache. The world's messiness, the hurt and the stupidity and the selfishness, they're not just mine. They're Hadley's, too. (You can bet that means that I've been writing my elected officials with even more gusto since May 4.) While I used to relish political battles and laugh when our esteemed representatives in Washington messed up (Harry Reid all the time, say), now I cringe a little bit and I have to turn away because I don't want to think about Hadley having to deal with the inevitable results of stupidity and egomania that reign in Washington.

Sorry. I didn't mean to get so...riled up.

All this is just to say that I'm different in ways that surprise me. I knew I'd love our daughter; I just didn't realize how that love would transform me, in big and little ways.

And now--because I love lists--here is a summary of 2009: went to Florida, enjoyed a baby shower, finished the basement (nearly), missed skiing, ate an entire bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips about three weeks from delivering and felt awful, became an avid fan of the prenatal massage, gave birth to Hadley, watched Jason transform into a daddy, heard my dad say "she's a beautiful baby" about an hour into Hadley's life, started a blog, learned how to breastfeed, remembered the words to songs I haven't sung in 25+ years, added a few recipes to my culinary repertoire, worried about copious amounts of spit-up, peeked through our big picture window to see my mom playing with Hadley--and felt grateful down to my soul, sent eight magazines to press, rolled my eyes at a few sassy designers, planted some plants, killed a few of those plants, teased Jason about my crush on Tim Tebow, wrote more than 10,000 words (some published, some not), made new friends, watched friends become parents, spent tons of time talking to Jill (new friend and new mom) about babies' sleep habits, held babies Annalea and Piper and Harper and Ben--and loved it, learned to draw boundaries around my family life, prayed that I would have the wisdom to raise Hadley to be a loving and wise woman, ate rabbit (just a tiny bite), watched Megan and Chad get married, enjoyed lots of meals lovingly prepared by other people, introduced Hadley to dozens of people who loved her before they even knew her, schlepped Hadley and her stuff to San Francisco, cried hard (and often), laughed harder (and more often)--and fell deeply in love with a person I didn't know and couldn't have imagined a year ago.

Yes, 2009 was a very good year.

And this time next year, I hope to be able to add one more thing to my 2010 list: Slept through the night.