Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son


Hello, Internets.  Here is a very long post, care of cabin fever.  The short version of this post is: We’re fine.  We hope you all are, too.  The Bean is weaning himself.  I’m making crafts.  There are Bean Halloween pictures if you scroll down.

BREAKING: Any TTC (or thinking about TTC) lesbians want our copy of the Rachel Pepper book?  I don’t have anything especially nice to say about it, but I have been reminded by Sugar just now to “get rid of this book.  I don’t care how you get rid of it — burn it, whatever.”  So drop me a line if you’re curious to read it and not apt to fly into rages over her treatment of non-gestational mothers (who shouldn’t touch the baby or call themselves moms or maybe even exist) or any of the other things about that book that pissed me off so much I’ve blacked them out from my memory.  

After my last post, I ended up in the Bean’s room all Sunday night, as each time I woke up and tried to sneak out, he sat bolt upright and cried out.  As soon as I returned to the chaise and told him I’d stay with him, he would lie down again.  The wind was loud and the chaise is comfortable, and after all, he is so small.

In what turned out to be early Tuesday morning (it was too dark to know at first), I woke to find him silently sitting up in his bed.  Silent sitting is not, to say the least, his usual wake-up style.  After watching him for a few minutes, I gently asked him to lie down and try to sleep.  He tried, briefly, but soon sat up again.  How strange, I thought, that he is awake and knows I’m here but isn’t crying for me to get him out of bed.  We stayed like that for a while.  He coughed a few times, and I wondered whether he was up because he’s still dealing with congestion from a lingering cold.  He sat some more.

When he started coughing again, my eyes had adjusted enough to see that he wasn’t coughing at all, but vomiting.  Poor guy, sitting there with the enforced patience of nausea, not even trying to wake me up.  I didn’t think he was old enough already to know that no one can fix that feeling.

The puking continued intermittently for several hours.  I wondered whether he’d caught something from the little girl across the hall, who has been sick recently.  No fever, though, and she had certainly looked feverish.  I wondered whether my feeling sick, too, meant that I’d also caught it — and then I thought, “Bionic, you idiot, you’re not nauseated because of a stomach bug; you’re nauseated for the same reason you’ve been nauseated for the past two days: you have a migraine because there is a rather sizable storm that you may remember hearing about in the news. And, p.s., you’ve been carrying on since the Bean was eight weeks old about how he seems to get storm-related migraines, too, so maybe consider putting those ideas together, hmm?”

Apart from the puking and the cabin fever, Monday passed with little incident.  In the afternoon, when no one had puked in several hours, we took advantage of the peanut butter cookies that Sugar and the Bean had wisely put up on Sunday.  I finally made some progress on this Anna Maria Horner hen and chicks project I meant to have finished, oh, 20 months ago.  We’re calling the hen Sandy.


Sandy eventually got two three! lumpy chicks and also eyes.

Sandy is greeted eagerly by all members of the household

They say you should live as if you’ll die tomorrow, and I figure that when trapped with a toddler in a two-bedroom apartment during a storm that precludes going outside for days, one should parent as if the electricity may go at any moment.  Which is to say, we watched a lot of Sesame street yesterday.  A lot.  So much that even the Bean got tired of it, something I had not thought possible.

In this way, we avoided major walk-related meltdowns until evening, by which time the wind was really something else.  All of our doors were banging constantly in their frames, the windows were shaking, and people on the higher floors of the building reported seeing the water in their toilets rocking as the building swayed.

A week ago, the Bean instituted a new bedtime pattern.  I had been reading him a book and nursing him while Sugar played the piano, then handing him over to her for a bottle and bed.  I figured I’d cut that nursing session next, as part of the weaning process, but I felt to relieved to be done with the nap time session that I was in no hurry.  But last Tuesday, he nursed for less than five seconds before demanding his bottle.  He’s done that a couple of other times, but this time he went to sleep afterwards, instead of melting down and demanding I come back.

On Wednesday, he didn’t want to nurse at all.  I don’t nurse him on Wednesday mornings because I leave for work too early, so my breasts were pretty sore, but I didn’t feel upset the way I did when he refused to nurse a few months ago.  I would have waited another few weeks to drop this session, but it’s nice to be able to let him choose the timing on this one (without, you know, waiting for middle school).  I figured I’d let him start up again if he wanted to within a week, but he hasn’t seemed very set on it. He’s said “nurse?” a few times, but when I’ve asked if he’d like to have a bottle instead, he’s been happy with that.  He’s perfectly capable of clawing at my shirt and generally making his desires unmissable when he cares to, so I guess he must not.

Possibly I’m just displacing weaning angst, but I find myself feeling a bit blue about his simultaneous decision to bar his “guys” (Elmo, Lambie, Tattoo Bear, and, more recently, a brown bear he calls “Bear”) from his crib at sleep times.  If we try to put them back, he solicitously hands them out, saying the name of each as he hands them to us.  They still get plenty of face-biting love during waking hours, but this child, who until last week had to have Elmo AND Lambie AND Tattoo to even think about getting into bed, who would drape himself over all three to fall asleep, now sleeps alone.  What is he, thirteen all of a (too-fast) sudden?

So there we were, last night, while the tide rose in the low parts of the city, filling the tunnels and forcing the evacuation of the hospital where the Bean was born (and God bless those nurses and doctors and orderlies and everyone else who managed that evacuation, carrying the patients down the stairs in the dark, hand-compressing bags to keep the NICU babies whose ventilators shut down breathing).  The Bean slept alone in his crib under two windows while Sugar and I sat with our backs to the living room window and watched Foyle’s War again, under flickering lights, eating bowls of spaghetti and sauce made with all the spare bits of ground beef we found (IN PACKAGING, just to be clear) in the freezer.

The wind, which had mostly seemed to blow parallel to our street, so that the trees moved back and forth (except for the dead one across the street, which I still can’t believe made it through Irene and which — spoiler alert — has made it through this storm, too, leading me to believe it is actually a zombie), grew stronger and began to buffet the building more directly.  I started to really worry about the windows.  Our building, a hospital built in the 20s, feels as if it was built to withstand stronger storms than this one.  It probably was.  Our windows, however, are quite large and were installed recently, probably by the same people who’ve cut plenty of corners in the conversion of the hospital into apartments.  Our cupboards and fixtures and drywall certainly don’t seem to have been chosen with posterity in mind; I doubt the windows were, either.  The mirror the couch faces reflects the window, which in turn reflects the art hung above the mirror.  As the show progressed (and beloved characters contracted terrifying diseases), I could see the reflections shimmy and bulge.  Sometimes the wind sounded like a truck or a train.

At one point, a gust hit the window with such a profound, oceanic thump that Sugar and I both leapt off the couch.  Sleeping in our bed, under two large windows (sensing a theme about this apartment?) seemed a little frightening; leaving the Bean alone under his was intolerable.  After some panic on my part and a consideration of the options (I could sleep in his room, which would make me feel better, but since I’m not actually omnipotent, wouldn’t do anything to make him safer), we stole into his room to fetch his travel crib, which we set up in our room, at least farther from potential flying sheets of glass.

Internets, I’m not a big one for hawking products, but if you’re in the market for a travel crib, get yourself a Phil & Ted’s.  They’re not cheap (ours is from ebay), but they pack so tiny and weigh so little and the Bean loves his.  Its side unzips in the day, and he loves to bring his guys in and out of the cave.  (This is especially lovely when we are actually traveling, since it means he has a familiar hideout even in an unfamiliar place.) At night, I would swear he likes the coziness of being in there with the side closed and the top open.  Plus, it’s fairly easy to set up in a state of semi-contained anxiety.

Sugar transferred him, and he went right back to sleep.  Until four or so, that is.  (This is why I don’t like sharing a room.)  He came to bed and nursed for a while and then, very uncharacteristically, fell asleep with his head on my chest.  He hasn’t done that since he was truly tiny.  When he woke up again, he woke up crying with unusual ferocity.  Nothing made it better until Sugar asked if he needed ibuprofen.  At that, he immediately climbed out of bed and marched her to the shelf where we  keep it.

Migraines.  Sorry, kid.  I’d have spared you that inheritance if I could.  At least you won’t get endometriosis.

The winds were still high most of today, though not in an especially scary way, unless you remember that there are lots of trees in soft ground with heavy, wet leaves, and they may not have gotten the memo that they were supposed to fall down last night or not at all.  So we stayed in, and thank God for nature documentaries on netflix.  The Bean has been running around saying “RHINO” and “”AFF” (his version of giraffe), in pretty good spirits, under the circumstances.  I’m happy we’ll be able to take him out tomorrow, even if all the parks and playgrounds are still closed.

I suspect we’ll be around the house a lot this week.  Both the campuses I teach at have sustained substantial damage.  One is in the area of Manhattan that flooded, and the other is in Staten Island, which doesn’t get much press (because the press lives in Manhattan and Brooklyn), but according the reports we are hearing, was pretty well walloped.  The campus is inland on relatively high ground, but I’ve heard it doesn’t have power, water, heat, or internet.  (Luckily it also doesn’t have dorms yet, so at least no students are stuck there.)  Sugar’s employer is open, but she has no way to get there.  All seven subway tunnels between Brooklyn and Manhattan are flooded.

So I’m all the more glad that we went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Ghouls and Gourds festival on Saturday.  The kids’ halloween parade in Park Slope is canceled, but at least we got a few pictures of the Bean in his costume.

Halloween, I should say, fills me with social anxiety.  I can’t wait until the Bean is old enough to express some kind of preference in his costume, even if it’s “monkey astronaut ballerina whale,” because at this age, I feel like whatever we dress him in is a Statement about how Cool — and which kind of cool — we are.  Do we go for classically perfect? Ironic? Aspirational? Imaginative?  And what are we implying about the child’s own sense of himself? Also: how do we do all that very cheaply and without putting anything on his head, given his marked aversion to hats?  It’s too much for me.

Last year, there was a blizzard on Halloween, so all that happened with the bat cape I picked up at a consignment store “just in case” we didn’t manage to make him a costume was some voguing around the house and one strip of photo booth pictures of a baby who badly needed a nap and not to be in the loud bar with the photo booth.  (We didn’t stay and hadn’t planned to, but there’s no explaining that to an eight-month-old.)

This year, in the process of digging through the Bean’s sweater drawers, I rediscovered the cape, and what do you know but it still fit?  What’s more, the Bean looked Utterly Pleased with himself wearing it and had to go admire himself in the mirror several times.

So.  Look at that: the child has a preference.  Maybe he would have rather been a Super Mario Lobster Fairy or something, but at least he didn’t hate the cape.  We remembered that my mother had sent some Old Navy skeleton pajamas, and ta-da: Skeleton Bat.


For time lapse purposes, last year’s starry-legged bat:


What can I do to get you into a new car today?


The botanic garden festival is very nice and this lovely illustrator made the Bean the dearest cut-paper owl bookmark, but crowds just aren’t his thing right now.  We had a great time just running around the garden, as we do almost every weekend, only this time with the world’s best skeleton bat.  I hope we will get to do a little trick-or-treating around the building tomorrow, but even if we don’t, it’s already been a very lovely Halloween.



Plus, there’s a little pumpkin to carve tomorrow and a whole bunch of m&ms.

11 thoughts on “

  1. Hey there. Great post. Great costume. Glad you are okay.

  2. thank goodness for cabin fever, I have missed your long posts! The bean is the cutest bat- skeleton I have ever seen, and by the way, I think you have the right approach. We asked Izzy what she wanted to be — and she “chose” to be “a lovie” — but of course, after crafting the costume, she hates it…so there you go.

    Glad you are safe and dry — and being Brooklyn-stranded for a few days sounds like it could be fun!.

  3. Can’t write. Blinded by the cute. Glad you are OK.

  4. VERY glad you’re all safe. Was worrying.

    Oh, poor poor Bean, welcome to the splendidly loopy world of Migraneurs. We, your fellow citizens, are very sorry to see you here. On the other hand no one in the world looks as cute in a bat cape as you do.

    • Me too! Was alarmed, now relieved. I was trying to remember how low-lying your area was.

      Poor wonderful NYC, god, the hospital, and all the scared people.

      And poor Bat-Bean. Migraines! Cursed things.

  5. Glad to hear you are all safe and sound. Skeleton-bat is the cutest thing ever (although I am sorry to hear he has inherited the migraines- I tend to get weather-related ones too, although not as frequently as I used to).

  6. Great costume. And I COMPLETELY agree about the Rachel Pepper book. It is horrible. So bad that when we got rid of our copy we decided to recycle it instead of passing it on.

  7. So cute! And he’s a skeleton bat with a new hen at home–lucky boy! I’m sad about the day that my kid can choose her own costume–I’ve got plans for wonders and I’m afraid that it’ll be Disney Princesses all the way down.

  8. 1) Poor baby with his migraines. Do they give Vicodin to toddlers?
    2) Cutest skeleton-bat in the WHOLE WORLD OMG! Dying from the cuteness!
    3) Bug went through a hat-hating phase too but now wears quite dapper headgear. So maybe there’s hope?

  9. I’m glad you made it through–I think it was entirely due to the adorableness of that child of yours. It’s like a protective shield. One that doesn’t work for migraines (Oh, how cruel!).

  10. I’m such a late commenter but I need to say that I’m in love with the baby in that bat skeleton costume – genius!

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