Ugly Babies

While we’re waiting for Thursday, let’s not loose sight of the chaos of having a new baby. Right now, I must tell you something that every woman becoming a mother of two should know. Do with it what you will.

Ready for it?

You don’t think you are, but you are expecting the second baby to look just like the first one. The killer is, this baby will not look the same, and there will come a fleeting moment when you gaze into your incredible newborn’s face and you’ll worry that you have an ugly baby. Please don’t judge me for saying it. It was a shock to look at poor JR for the first time and find my enamored self thinking “well, good looks aren’t everything.”

So, don’t be shocked when this train of thought creeps into your brain as you gaze at your newborn, wondering if it’s wrong to think your sweet babe’s eyes are a little too close together, his ears are kind of goofy, or his nose is a little narrow. Nobody notices but you. Your new baby is adorable, and you don’t have to hold back on your (possibly fake) gushing over the “beauty” of your new baby–no one is talking behind your back about how in denial you are, and that is one UGLY baby.

There, I said it. Whew. I’m telling you because nobody warned me. When folks wonder if they’ll love the new baby as much as the first, I think this is the only “comparison” you can’t help. In every other way that new baby will be every bit as precious as your first.

And, you might need some reminding, even if it’s baby #3. Because it’s true for 4th babies too…poor Hoss. Mommy couldn’t see adorable for at least a week. All I saw was a funny looking version of Lumpy, who was the rangy looking version of JR, who was the weird nosed version of Cal, who we would have thought was beautiful if she came out covered in warts.

Oh well. Kids are tough like that. Moms, too. It wears off in no time, and pretty soon you’ll be gushing over your baby’s stately profile and delicate eyelashes. So after proactively making myself love poor Hoss’ perfect features for more than a week, I woke up one morning and realized that I was holding the most beautiful child ever born in the world. The same arms that held the most beautiful children ever born 2, 4, and 5 years before. Every mother on Earth must be green with envy over these breathtaking babies.

Hoss, the most beautiful baby in the world.

But, after gushing over Hoss last week, I looked at one of Cal’s baby pictures and couldn’t help but whisper to him, “She was kind of a funny looking baby, huh?”

Cal, the most beautiful baby in the world.

JR, the most beautiful baby in the world.

Lumpy, the most beautiful baby in the world.


Get Your Head in the Game

Today is a better day than yesterday.  Yesterday we found out that a simple test couldn’t rule out a problem with little Hoss.  Our little bean has a suspicious ridge along the back of his head that might be an indication his skull is coming together prematurely.  The condition is called craniosynostosis.  It can create problems with too much pressure on the brain, leading to developmental delays and blindness.  Fixing the problem involves a dramatic surgery.  I was pretty accepting until I saw the medical literature detailing the procedure, and then I wanted to grab my baby and run away.

But, we don’t know what we’re running from, if anything, yet.  We have an appointment with a pediatric neurosurgeon next week.  We have an email consult sent to one of the best surgeons in the country (thanks to a reference from a wonderful friend who has been here herself).  Our actions are focused on worst-case scenario, but I was still trying not to push it too far before we knew something.  And, actually, right now we still know nothing.

So, I’m not calling out the full defcon-4 public announcement, because we just don’t know anything.  But, maybe, someday, someone will have a rough week to get through, and some of this might help.

I know so much about craniosynostosis now compared with just three days ago.  Today I spent 10 hours on the phone.  I joined a parents support board at .  I bounced no fewer than 30 emails back and forth between my awesome sisters, aunt, and mom.  There is nothing more to be done, and I am happy to be at this rest stop of peace for the night.

If you would, please pray that our sweet little baby won’t need to walk this path.  Or, in his case, be carried, preferably in an Ergo, wearing cloth diapers purchased from –thank you my friend, and Mrs. N for the reminder!

Oh and, ahem,

UPDATE: Thank God

Things I Can’t Change

If you are a parent, there will likely come a time when you will see your family walking that fine line between healthy, uncomplicated life and a world overwhelmed by doctor’s visits, prayer, and waiting.  I have always seen these families as different, but I called them sensitive things like “special” and “heroic.”  I’m really saying that I hope that doesn’t happen to us.  I want them to be better equipped for things like chemo for a first grader, surgery on a newborn, wheelchairs for a  nine-year-old.  My family has insufficient training. 

So, when your pediatrician confirms your paranoic suspicions might be prudent observations, you might find yourself teetering on the edge of that line.  Some people panic and assume they are as good as gone, but the few times I have been here before, I know that’s not my style.  I make plans.  I envision real responses to worst-case scenarios, while seeing them for what they are–rare extremes.  I know nothing can take from my children the greatest gift I can ever give them–the rest of time together with God.  Standing on the edge makes you see how very real these “special” and “heroic” families are. 

So now while our family is waiting again, toes on the edge of “big deal” and “close call,” I am making a plan.  I am not worried or scared.  We are simply riding on a train, waiting to hear its destination.  There’s nothing we can control, and no path God can’t make clear for us.  There is a peace about the inevitability of it all.  Today our family is special and heroic as we wait.  And, if I’m being consulted on the matter, I will pray for the easy way.  But, I’m ready for either.  These are things I can’t change. 

Tonight, if you happen to live near Grand Ledge, MI, there is a 6 year-old girl named Laura, who is facing a relapse of neuroblastoma.  The lifeguards of Grand Ledge High School are holding a fundraiser at their pool at 6:30 tonight in the form of a rockin’ splash party.  There will be “Love for Laura” bracelets available for $3, too. 

Her grandmother, Carolyn, is a passionate advocate for her care, and has taught me so much about the consistency of prayer.  Here is the information:  Please come! I know the community can overwhelm them with the things we can change–going through this alone.  Please send an email to if you would like more information on how you can help or to order “Love for Laura” bracelets.

Magical Mrs. BLD

I have to tell you that I love to be the keeper of hidden knowledge.  My favorite stories are ones where the heroine gets swept back in time and gets to use her basic knowledge of germ theory to amaze the people with her anachronistic witchcraft (heimlich maneuver) and change the course of history.  It’s totally my style: no effort on my part pays off to make me the unlikely hero.

In all of my daydreaming, however, I never really dreamed about the reality.  The magical keeper of hidden knowledge lives a very frustrating life, as she must constantly defend her knowledge, and then teach it to others who don’t even recognize they are doing things wrong.

So, while time-travelling Claire grows cultures of pennicillin from wild spores to inject into her husband’s leg using a hypodermic needle fashioned from the fang of a rattlesnake,* I am the only one who can make the DVD player restart when it skips.  I am magical.  My husband believes I hold secret ceremonies to gently bid farewell to our spaghetti sauce jars that he leaves stacked along the window sill.  While the table might get cleared by the whole family, only I can put away things like the salt and the ketchup.  I am magical.  In the wisdom that was handed down to me in a secret ceremony from my mother who was wearing birkenstocks and headscarf, and waving a peacock feather, I learned the secrets of how to sort laundry and when to use bleach.

I know how to make the seatbelt not be stuck anymore, control the start of all dinner times, and am the only one who goes to get the camera.  I am magical.  I have been taught the fine art of sweeping the floor in the way of my grandmothers going back to the potato famine.  No one else could even come close.  The potty flushes and hands are washed only because I remind the 4 year old of every step in the complicated process, every time.

If I didn’t exist, my children would never know that flowers grow around houses and mulch doesn’t appear with a fairy wand.  I am magical.  I hold the passwords to every bank account and know all the social security numbers by heart.  I am magical.  I ask the hotel representative if she could knock $30 off the price for no good reason, and she complies.  I am magical.  I pack snacks and remember to put an extra change of clothes for each kid in the back of the car.  I call babysitters and dog sitters and make dinner parties.  I store the childrens’ swimsuits in hidden recesses of the house so I can emerge with them in hand at the most irritating moment for my husband.

And so, because my family does such a beautiful job of affirming my effortlessly brilliant magic, is it any wonder that some days I simply coast on the glow of my accomplishments?  Sure, the house is trashed, but I washed the diapers and defrosted ground beef.  Could anyone else do that?  Psh.  I should say not.  I am magical like that.


*No joke, this is from one of my favorite series, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.

ps: For those of you floundering over my balding acronym, “Mrs. BLD” is my self-appointed nickname, short for “Mrs. Big Little Days,” aka, me.    

Sainted Motherhood

This year for mother’s day, my daughter presented me with a real treasure: a book of recipes.  The book was compiled by her brilliant kindergarten teacher with the title “My Mom is the Best Cook.”  The kids dictated to Mrs. B their mother’s best dish, and the results were, naturally, hilarious and heartwarming. 

But, on the inside cover I found this beautiful gem: “A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ” ~Tenneva Jordan

This may have been Tenneva Jordan’s social commentary on the low appeal of pie to a modern woman.  But, let’s assume pie is, indeed,  desirable as a dessert commodity.  While there are, I’m sure, mothers like Mrs. Jordan somewhere out there, most mothers would ascribe to a different reality:

A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces we are having pop-tarts for dessert, then eats the pie with her husband when the kids go to bed.” ~Mrs. BLD

Mrs. Jordan is a saint.  But, if I replace the pie with Mississippi mudslide brownies, would she be so holy? 

A real test of motherhood.

I think not, Mrs. Jordan.  I think not.

ps: I swiped this photo from here: and I might have to make this recipe just to be fair.

Pick your battles.

I was reminded of the pithy advice to “pick your battles” last week in a friend’s status update.  These three words helped me spend my time wisely in college (apart from those hours of light saber assassin and “learning” to play guitar at 4 in the morning) not fight too many people in college over politics, abortion, or race relations. 

The idea that you can just let something go is becoming distant and unrealistic.  I live with a horribly behaved 2 year-old and a very stubborn 4 year-old.  This close to the edge of complete anarchy, I cling to each battle; our future depends on it.

No one is safe.

Right now, I am being hit by Lumpy who wants to hit little Hoss because JR is holding him.  (break) Apparently my restraining arm was too far away because she just whomped the 4 week old.  I don’t have time for time outs as I’m now nursing Hoss, so I aggressively grabbed her, flipped her upside down onto the floor and yelled “Don’t hit my baby!” She only has two responses to discipline: an angry “No!” or crying.  I aim for crying.

Here are the things I did not “let go” in the past hour:

  • Changing her leaking diaper 
  • Putting her pants on so she couldn’t remove the fresh diaper
  • Laying on top of Hoss and squishing her face into his
  • Sitting in her seat to eat cereal
  • Pulling her sister’s hair
  • Bringing a pile of wet leaves into the house

In fairness here are the things I did “let go” in the past hour:

  • Having her binky out of bed
  • Taking her pants off
  • Unsnapping her diaper (JR put it back on for her)
  • Going outside in the rain wearing a t-shirt and diaper (JR was already out there)
  • Coming inside onto our freshly cleaned carpet with mud all over her feet

I have no idea how I am going to do the laundry today because she will make me defend every square inch of folded territory with some crazy yoga poses and The Force.  But, I will win.  I am bigger.  I am more experienced.  I despise moral relativity.  I am the boss.

This is war.

Smiling Hoss


It’s a boy!  I am proud to announce the arrival of our sweet little Hoss.  He was my biggest baby yet, and the fastest birth, too, but also the most mellow, least demanding member of our family so far.  Ok, maybe Hoss is a big name for a little bean, but if he keeps pace with the rate his brother JR has grown, I think it will be a fitting moniker for our newest addition. 

Bitty babies don’t do much, and at 3 weeks yesterday, Hoss is no different.  I was actually kind of convinced that Cal, my first, was starting to hate me by this point.  As the weeks wore on, all the hours spent nursing and coloring black and white pictures to stimulate her brain seemed to be a total waste.  The baby books claimed that she would return some of my love at four to six weeks (you know, four weeks for the good mommies, six for the bottle-feeding, epidural types– these were much more judgmental times for me). 

So, when the child who hadn’t been put down since her drug-free birth wouldn’t toss me a bone in the form of one little toothless grin by 7 weeks, I was crushed.  She came around, though, and continued to never meet any of the benchmarks in any predictable time frame; if you asked her to stack three blocks she might rank as an 18 month old today.          

Now, when my bitty/giant baby Hoss looked at me Tuesday and cooed, I tickled his cheek just a little, and the best thing in the world happened.  My little boy, not even three weeks Earth-side, smiled at me, the best mommy he has in the whole world.  *Sigh.*  He loves me. 

Life is good.