Saturday, May 24, 2008

51 Weeks

She fell out of the bath tonight.

She loves the bath and plays in it pretty well, so I usually put a couple inches of water in the tub, plop her in, and earn myself at least fifteen minutes without a child clinging to my clothes and screaming. I leave the bathroom door open and do things that, for the most part, keep her in my line of sight – doing laundry (laundry room is across from guest bath, where all Piper’s stuff is), picking up the detritus she leaves in her wake (toys, books, socks, mail, cat toys, diapers, blankets, baby wipes with bites out of them, crumpled paper, bites of spit-out cracker and banana) from at least part of the hallway/dining room floor, or feeding the cats and cleaning the litter boxes (cat room is next to guest bath). Tonight I put her in, picked up a few things, and, to put an end to the very irritating train of whining cats following me everywhere I went, fed the cats. Whenever I feed the cats, especially at their last feeding of the day (they get fed three times, at 5:00 or 6:00 am, 2-ish pm, and 10-ish pm), I have to make sure that all four of the boxes we currently have are spic-and-span before they’re done eating. We have nine cats and four boxes (that’s all we have room for), so I put only a tiny bit of litter in each one and scrape it completely out several times per day. After much experimentation/trial and error (heavy on the error), we settled on this as the cleanest, easiest system for everyone concerned. The problem is that we have a few furry members of the household who get upset if there is even the slightest hint that someone else has used a box recently, and all the cats like to eat and then take massive stinky craps or Niagra Falls-like pees, so if I don’t start with four clean boxes things get very unpleasant and I spend two hours trying to scrub cat piss out of somewhere that is not a litter box.

So I dashed into the cats’ room (a spare bedroom that contains all the food, litterboxes, and cat-climbing structures, and which is blocked by a baby gate in the doorway so Piper can't get in there), a trail of miaowing furballs behind me, and had just finished emptying the first box when I heard Piper start her “I’m ready to get out of the bath now” noises. I ran to the baby-gated doorway and peered around the corner at her. She was standing up in the bathtub, trying to lift one of her little legs over the side.

“Hang on, okay? Just give Mama a minute. Just one minute, okay?” I dashed back to the boxes and frantically scraped wet litter out into a plastic bag. All four boxes were wet, so if I didn’t do it now somebody was going to pee out-of-bounds before I could get back to them. I had to finish. Piper had tried to climb out of the bath before, but had never been able to, so I thought if I hurried the worst that would happen is I’d have to try and wash down an angry, wet baby.

She continued to fuss at me from the bath while I finished up, tied the bag, leapt over the gate, and ran through the kitchen to deposit it in the trash can outside the back door. I was washing my hands when I heard a small noise – like a thump but more muffled – and the chatter issuing from the bathroom stopped. I ran, hands dripping soap, into the bathroom to find her on her back next to the tub, looking very surprised and then starting to cry. Thank God I had folded a thick, huge bath towel and laid it next to the tub to soak up the water from her tidal-wave splashes. That was why I heard a small muffled thump instead of the crack of a baby head hitting concrete.

She cried a little as I cuddled her and recovered from my heart attack. Then I put her back in the tub, washed her up, dried her off, and tore up my imaginary entry form for the Mother of the Year contest.

Which is okay, I guess, because I was probably out of the running for that honor anyway. I can’t get her to eat anything right now other than black beans and cinnamon waffles. Like everything else, she goes through phases with food. Inevitably, as soon as I think I’ve got it figured out and I buy four containers of the star puffs or two pints of blueberries or three boxes of oyster crackers, she decides she’s done with that item and refuses to eat it anymore. We don’t have a high chair for her, so most of the time “eating” involves me chasing her around with a cracker or a piece of pancake or a spoonful of something trying to get her to stop bothering the cats and eat and get the cats to stop trying to eat her food and go away, all without covering the kitchen in organic blueberry yogurt or herbed chicken couscous. It’s frustrating for all involved and I think I give up too easily. She’s still nursing a fair amount, so I figure she’s getting proper nutrition as long as I’m eating okay and taking my vitamins. I will also selfishly admit that my avid little nurseling probably has a lot to do with why I can fit into my skinny jeans with room to spare lately and therefore I’m in no hurry to cut her off.

Speaking of nursing, I took her to a couple of local La Leche League meetings this week so I could get out and meet some people and she could get out and play with some other kids. It was nice, but exhausting. I used to go to LLL every month when we lived in Plymouth, it was a wonderful source of support and encouragement for me. I met some really great mamas that way and am good friends with a couple of them now. Those meetings were somewhat smaller than the ones I attended this week, both in numbers of attendees and size of venue. I’m used to it being a smallish group in a medium-sized room, plenty of space for everyone’s kids to roam around and a door that shuts firmly so nobody wanders off. Last time I went, in March (when we were still in Michigan), Piper was cruising furniture and crawling around, but all I really had to do was keep her from crawling over the tiny babies lounging on the floor or taking other kids’ toys. These were my first meetings since Piper has started walking outright and what a difference! Bigger rooms, more kids, more space to roam = I spent most of the time snatching her away from a small baby she was attempting to poke the eyes of or apologizing for the fact that she stuck her hand in some other kid’s snack tin of crackers or giving back toys that she had picked up and carted away. All I could think was “Oh, God how did I get the crazy kid? How did I end up with the kid you see tear-assing around getting into things?” She wasn’t bad or out-of-control or anything. She was just very active and interested in everything, which can be exhausting to keep up with.

It's the 24th, which was my due date. Last year at this time, I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs and looking expectantly at my belly. How strange that all seems to me now.

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