Category Archives: Babies

Four unwanted pregnancies

1)

He hadn’t planned on getting pregnant. He always wore a condom, sometimes two. But when his habitual hangover queasiness extended into Sober Week, and the smells of car exhaust and Indian spices nearly brought him to his knees, he began to wonder. Could I be knocked up? The last time this happened he’d been a freshman in college and his girlfriend had been adamant that they weren’t ready. She’d offered to pay for it, which was a nice gesture. He’d always sort of regretted the abortion, but in his heart of hearts he knew she’d been right. And now, 20 years later, he still wasn’t ready. Would he ever be ready? He had two roommates, one of whom refused to turn down his music. He was supposed to go scuba diving in April, which meant bathing suits. He didn’t even know which of last month’s Tinder dates had gotten him pregnant. But he suspected it was the narcissistic, angular girl who’d just left for Europe on a four-month tour with her synth pop band, because wasn’t that always how his cookie crumbled?

2)

She was pretty sure this one was immaculate. The other two were straight-up love children, but here she felt that the devil himself had cast his semen into her. Not cool, man, she mumbled while stuffing peanut butter sandwiches into her bastards’ lunch bags. Not cool at all. The trouble with immaculate conception was the lack of child support payments. If the father were a player or even an administrator with Major League Baseball then she might consider keeping the child, just for the sake of her family as a whole. But no one was more of a deadbeat in financial matters than a divinity. You made a grave mistake, she said, looking at the cracks in the ceiling, of not giving this one to a virgin. I know my way around Planned Parenthood.

3)

Kay sat in the car outside the clinic debating whether or not to go through with her appointment. Her best friend Lonna sat beside her, credit card in hand. When you can’t afford the abortion, said Kay, is that a sign for or against having the kid? Probably against, said Lonna. Unless God is trying to prevent me from killing his creation, said Kay. You mean the creation of you and a hipster butcher and a dozen pickle back shots and two slow songs, said Lonna. Whoa, Lonna, said Kay, pressing her face against the car window, smearing the glass with her tears. Is that Adam from Girls? Walking by with that blonde chick? Holy shit it is, said Lonna. I guess that’s what happens when you put a Planned Parenthood in Downtown Brooklyn. Do you think it’s a sign? said Kay. A sign of what? said Lonna. A sign that my life is finally as rich in urban female drama as Hannah Horvath’s? Is that something you aspire to? said Lonna. Kay opened the car door so she could take a last, wistful look at Adam’s back. Let’s hurry up and get this appointment over with so I can start writing my novel.

4)

She was very short, about four feet tall, and she worried that her offspring would be short as well. Her lover had been of normal stature, but she suspected that these things tracked the female gene pool. Her kid would never outgrow his or her children’s clothes. She’d always have to buy socks with rainbows and cartoons on them. There was nothing inherently wrong with being short, but this was a tall person’s world. If only she could have sex with a giant and split the difference. Sadly there was no way she was going to give birth to someone her own size if she had a choice in the matter. She could barely reach the counter to fill out the form. She patted her belly, which was the same height as her obstetrician’s knees. It’s for your own good, she said. After the procedure, she would console herself by getting a puppy and a few outfits to go with it. It’s going to be all right, she thought, imagining all the dog apparel she could choose from.

Baby Truman Show

I’m watching him in the video monitor, but naturally he doesn’t know he’s being watched. The second you put this kid down for nap, he starts his calisthenics routine. He’s up. He’s down. He’s spinning in circles with his fists full of binkies. He’s like a chubby Gold’s Gym instructor who works out in a potato sack. This potato (a.k.a “sleep”) sack restricts the kid’s leg movements, but he’s still able to bunny hop from one side of the crib to the other. He sings the ABC song in his trademark slur. He halfheartedly calls for his grandmother, but only because he likes the sound of her name. I think about pressing the Talk button on the monitor and saying, “This is the voice of God. Stop squirming around, peepee pants.” But to this kid, God is just another adult who will have to retrieve his binkie if he throws it over the side of the crib in order to evade his nap. So the gods do not interfere with this child and his deranged projects behind bars. In thirty minutes, when the kid’s body finally goes still in the monitor, I sit and watch the lump.

Dropping the f-bomb in labor & delivery

If you are in the midst of having a baby, I am perhaps not the *best* person to accompany you into labor & delivery, but I am also not the *worst*. For instance, some people are psychotic. Some people have Ebola. When you invite me into your labor & delivery room, you can expect my behavior to be generally innocuous. I might panic and press the nurse’s call button when you stand to stretch your legs. I might be a little too interested in the snacks meant to keep your strength up. And I might keep gravitating toward your birthing jacuzzi because I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. But I am also super invested in making your birthing experience a beautiful one.

Even though the labor & delivery security band on my wrist entitles me to “free drinks” in the cafeteria upstairs, I will not start thinking of the hospital as an exclusive nightclub where “anything goes” because I have an “all-access pass.” I will not keep flashing my wristband to family members in the maternity ward lobby who are not in possession of wristbands, for I would hate for them to feel self conscious about not making the cut. I will not start thinking of the nurses as “bouncers”  who “know me.” When asked how things are going beyond the security doors, I will not insinuate that there are mysteries occurring in labor & delivery that those without wristbands could never understand, and I will not compare my birthing room privileges to being backstage at a Jay-Z concert, drinking champagne with Beyonce and Blue Ivy while everyone else is getting their flasks confiscated in the cheap seats, because childbirth is a miracle and the miracle is not how cool I am all of a sudden.

I will not swear more than 50 times in front of your newborn. I will not blog about your private parts. (Even though no one reads this blog so it might be kind of liberating to have your vagina on here.)

But I will worship the ground you walk on for a long time to come. And I will wear my all-access wristband until the nurses turn on me and insist on cutting it off. They’ll take these precautions before I get carried away with love and try to steal your baby. At this point the bouncers know me all too well.

Welcome to the world, little nephew. I hope you dig crazy aunts. xo

 

Snowflake tech support

Last night my sister’s husband and I stared at a stack of white paper, trying to figure out how to turn it into snowflakes. I had folded one sheet into squares, and my very handy brother-in-law was probably a minute away from making an origami buffalo. Fortunately his mother called. In June she’d retired from a long career as an elementary schoolteacher, and on a day when elementary schools were on everyone’s mind, she’d wanted to hear her son’s voice. “Mom, I’ve got a question for you….” And so began fifteen minutes of snowflake tech support.

First off, paper snowflakes are made from circles, and not squares or triangles, which would have been my next guess. Second, they’re a pain in the ass, and the children who succeed in making attractive ones in these weeks leading up to Christmas have my boundless respect. Third, don’t eat from a gift barrel of popcorn while you’re making these snowflakes because orange fingerprints devalue the product. Fourth, find something that you’re good at, like tracing circles around a greasy bowl, and then let someone else, like maybe your brother-in-law, do the creative scissor-work.

No two snowflakes are the same, right? In last night’s case, that’s not because they were all so beautiful, but because they were all butchered in their own unique fashion. The project reminded me of the holiday season three years ago, when my siblings and their future spouses took turns chopping wood for my mom’s fireplace, one of my dad’s old jobs. (My job, of course, was and remains sitting quietly and staying well-hydrated amidst a flurry of manual labor.) And forget about snowflakes for a second: when you chop firewood, when you really hack into it, the logs are never severed in the same way. Each one splits down a different axis and forms a new carnival of splinters. It’s both random and devastatingly specific how things fall apart.

I guess it’s okay to have metaphors for things like grief and loss. But pictures and stories are also a method of being passive, which is a personal characteristic I’m ashamed of, especially when the world is in such dire need of action. When you see a fire, and it’s devouring paper and wood alike, it’s hard to think that anything you say or do is going to alter the course of the flames. You keep trying to create beauty that might be redemptive somehow, but your scissors are dull and there are three delicious kinds of popcorn in the barrel and screw snowflakes anyway because they don’t burn as long as all the dead trees.

I would’ve liked to have left the arts and crafts meditation to the little kids tonight, but I sort of know what they would say. “Keep cutting until there’s almost nothing left. Cut on all sides. Cut everywhere, until you can barely see the paper, until the snowflake is a window. When I grow up I’m going to change the world.”

This whole question of sincerity

As if sincerity is something that needs to be defended. Life is hard and sad and wonderful people die all the time. This is why we must make jokes. Like yesterday I cut open my knuckle trying to stab some ice loose with a corkscrew, and then I bled all over the baby I was playing with. The baby was laughing, and then he was soaked in my blood, and I had to go fetch a cold sponge in order to deal with the stains. And that is something we do all the time by accident—bleed on the babies—but you can either feel bad about it forever or resume singing little songs and burying your face in the baby’s warm, ticklish skin. In the back of your mind, you know that the game now smells like a slaughterhouse, but the jokes are dear. The jokes are good.

Babysitting rider

Because I will never be a rock star, I am developing a rider for babysitting gigs.

(1) gallon red Gatorade
(1) reduced fat string cheese
(1) bottle red wine, uncorked and three quarters full, so no one will notice a glass missing
(8) Hello Kitty Band-Aids
(1) bottle hand sanitizer. In lieu of hand sanitizer, will accept rubber gloves or body armor.
(3) juicy magazines. Interpret juicy as you wish. I am not a dictator. Some catalogs acceptable.
(1+) safety helmet
(1+) life jacket
(1) leftover stash of Halloween candy
(5) novel/short story ideas that I can steal from the children, ideally something related to elves and/or fairies
(1) container bath salts, in the event of a late night
(1+) children. It’s weird when I’m just hanging out at your house. Oh, wait. This is an adult dinner party. Can I still sing Raffi songs? Do I still get paid?

Trying to love puppies a little less

Last night I was downtown with some time to kill before a dinner reservation, and I needed a bit of a pick-me-up, so I walked to Christopher Street to perv on some puppies. For whatever reason (no, for a solitary reason: rich Village people) Christopher Street is the nucleus of the Manhattan designer puppy trade. These puppy boutiques have every kind of genetically engineered, possibly inbred critter you can imagine: yorkies, pomeranians, shih tzus, teacup teacups, dollhouse chihuahuas, disappearing poodles, and dogs whose heads were shrunk by voodoo priests and then grafted onto tumbleweeds. In short, these boutiques are where men take their girlfriends when they want to get laid, and they are where puppies go when they want to sit by themselves in tiny, pee-fragrant cages and look at everybody with sad eyes, and they are where I go when I’m feeling down and want to have a sad-eye staring contest with some lonely puppies.

I understand that the whole miniature puppy breeding business is ethically suspect, and I understand that maybe I shouldn’t frequent these shops, but if it’s wrong to be emotionally manipulated into loving tiny adorable creatures who lick the glass separating your two faces until their tongues are raw, and who make you feel that you’re not fate’s only miserable prisoner, then I don’t want to be right. “Aren’t those places depressing?” asked my friend at dinner. “Of course,” I said. “But they’re sad, and I’m sad, so it’s a good fit.” Then I got drunk and wanted to launch a midnight puppy raid before it occurred to me that I’ve basically become Cruella De Vil.

I got peed on, but not in a good way

I got peed on, but not in a good way. The baby’s urine ran down my thigh from the changing table, and I remembered every rejection I’d ever experienced. Not really. That would have been too easy. It took days of wearing those same jeans for the piss to sink in on an existential level. A writer must have a thick skin, but my skin is sticky with pee. A nice girl must have a thick skin, but I went out afterward in my pee jeans, thinking, “Why am I all about town tonight? I was just peed upon.” The baby didn’t mean it maliciously. He was just a boy baby doing what boy babies do. He was just marking his territory. He was, frankly, just being an asshole. But that’s a different story.

Playing the grief card

Acceptable ways to play the grief card:

1) Getting an extension on a due date at school.

2) Taking some time off work.

3) Cursing at the bank rep who keeps calling to harass you about a $5 fee the day after the service.

4) Eating apple pie for breakfast with impunity.

5) Refusing to change out of your pajamas/holey sweater/union suit for a month.

6) Requesting first dibs on holding puppies and babies if one is going around.

Unacceptable ways to play the grief card:

1) Demanding to hold strangers’ puppies or babies.

2) Cutting in line at Chipotle.

3) Taking fine jewelry, cashmere scarves, or North Face jackets off other peoples’ bodies because “they remind you of your loved one.”

4) Spending all the life insurance money over the course of a long weekend in Vegas because “that’s what your loved one would have wanted.”

5) Becoming addicted to opium.

6) Blogging childishly about death in a transparent effort to keep people close through humor. Coming up next: “1001 Reasons I Miss My Dad!” and “A Top Ten List of Ways My Life Will Never Be the Same!”

Then he stole candy from a baby

malibu-bike

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

I can just see the thief sneaking out under cover of night. “This rube left her Malibu bike chained to the lamppost. I am so going to steal it.” But he gets there and the chick has secured her bike to the post with a Kryptonite U-Lock. The bike won’t budge. He hears sirens so he quickly disengages the pink seat and the training wheels and the handlebar bell with streamers and takes off with them into a back alley. The 3-year-old girl leaves her brownstone the next morning, curses when she sees the fate of her Malibu, and resolves to leave the looted bike chained to the lamppost as a lesson to other kids in her neighborhood.