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while eating ice cream, i dropped a glob of it on rio’s eye. she was asleep, and didn’t appear to noitice. while i groped around for a cloth to wipe her face with though, it melted down across her nose and onto her mouth. she promptly stuck her little tongue out a lapped it up before i could squeak in horror, let alone stop her,

rio has the most pathetic cold. she’s losing her voice and presumably has the same scratchy sore throat i do and painful gas bubbles. the gas bubbles upset her, and she pulls these elaborate commedia del arte style frowns and then lets out these tiny, outraged creaks – she sounds like a rusty hinge.

Rio hates the car. She’s very expressive about this. So expressive that I routinely spend long stretches of time praying for a shoulder to pull onto while I’m navigating the endless construction zones of Massachusetts roadways and she’s screaming behind me so intensely I’m afraid a) that she’ll injure herself (she did burst several small blood vessels in her face yelling this afternoon) and b) that I’m the worst mother in the history of mothers and the mom police are going to come take me away for letting her suffer in such a cruel and unusual manner.

Before she was born, I swore I’d have no use for a pacifier. This was before we’d encountered the car, however. Since the car situation started, I’ve had second thoughts. So I did what any good humanities geek would do: research.

First I asked my trusted mom advisors.

My mother, mom advisor number one, said, “Of course you don’t need a pacifier. If she needs to suck when she’s not nursing, just put her hand or thumb in her mouth, and she’ll suck on that.”

Two days later, this same mother (a Gemini, I might point out) called me and asked me if we’d bought Rio a pacifier yet. “No,” I said. ‘We’re still doing research.” After subjecting me to a well deserved bout of mockery about how deeply M and I research every small choice (he is by trade a research scientist), she said, “Well, you’d better get her one before she starts sucking her thumb. If you let her get in the habit of that, you’ll never break her of it.”

Barely resisting the retort, “Yeah, lots of my friends have lifelong thumbsucking problems,” I got off the phone and read the four e-mail messages M had sent me about pacifiers.

Mom advisor number two, the only friend I have who has kids, has never used a pacifier with her kids because they leach nasty chemicals and they can be used to substitute for a breast. Fair – I’m sure Rio would rather be with me. I’m sure she’s rather not be tied down when she didn’t ask to be, to be honest. The only thing that helps her stay calm in this situation is my finger in her mouth, and I have these nightmare visions of what would happen to us if we were rearended when I was doing that in a moving vehicle. It’s been suggested to me that I could breastfeed her while M drives, but not by anyone who’s seen the monolithic car seat my fabulous Floridians hooked us up with. I could put wheels on that thing and use it as the family car, it’s so big.

M learned that the big pacifier companies have stopped using the nasty chemical in question. Better, they make silicone pacifiers these days. It would be damn hypocritical of me to say that I didn’t think silicone was safe for internal use. He also read about twenty articles on the impact of artificial pacifiers on breastfeeding, and found that moderate use like what we were considering should have no significant impact.

Basically, every time the baby is not strapped down in the back of the car wailing her heart out, I have no interest whatsoever in a pacifier, and am mildly disturbed at the idea of using one, but mostly afraid that the crunchy mom police will jduge me an unfit mother and I won’t be invited to join their little club. Every time she is strapped down crying, I feel like a terrible person for depriving her of any available source of comfort and desperately want to make her feel better, even if it means giving her something that looks disturbingly like a chew toy.

Realizing I had to make my own decision about this, and not be swayed either by the strong opinions of the mom cops or my crazy mother, I decided that while a hundred years ago no one had pacifiers and everyone got on just fine, no one had cars either, let alone car seats, and if I’m going to strap my baby into this modern contraption, I may as well make it comfortable for her.

Then I dragged my heels and didn’t buy her a pacifier.

Until today, when I got lost on my way to a party. I was driving around unfamiliar roads with The Kid in the front seat being itchy and demanding about wanting to get to this party and see his friends, and Rio in the back seat screaming, while I fought off a hunger headache at the wheel. For an hour.

Finally, I called M in desperation, and got him to break out a map and talk me through directions to a place I should have easily been able to get to from memory, but couldn’t because I was so freaked out about the baby crying, but I was trapped on one of these stupid highways with no shoulder. Fourth time this week that’s happened, but the first time it happened when I was the only adult. There was literally nothing I could do for her, and I just felt awful. As soon as I could pull over and get her out of that seat I did, pretty near crying myself at this point, while M insisted, over the phone, that I was only three blocks from my destination and could probably wait on the nursing project till I got there. Whatever. He didn’t have to listen to her scream for an hour.

So when he showed up, he brought me a nice silicone pacifier for the ride home. Just in case.

When we were ready to take our leave, I sat on a swing and nursed/gently rocked her till she fell fast asleep. Then I pinched her finger in the car seat buckle as I was slipping her sleeping body in. She woke up screaiming and I did the whole thing again. We left more than an hour after we’d intended to, and I spent much of that time sitting alone in the dark soothing and feeding her. Finally, she was asleep and safely strapped in, and I took off. She slept for about half an hour, then woke screaming when I was still fifteen minutes from home. I pulled off the highway, nursed her until she passed out in my lap and let go of the nipple on her own, and then eased her back into the car seat. She woke up and started screaming the second I buckled her in.

It was after 11 now, and I was exhausted and worried about how safe a driver I’d be if I waited much longer to go home. I had the pacifier. I decided that if there was ever a time to use it, this was it. I knew her belly was full and her diaper was dry – she was only crying because she wanted me to hold her, and I couldn’t do that and drive.

The punchline: She completely rejected the pacifier. Like, gagged herself with the violence of her effort at spitting it out when I put it in her mouth. Twice. Like, screamed bloody murder the entire drive home and when we got here, refused to nurse, just lay on my lap glaring at me with her lips clamped shut until she fell asleep (less than three minutes).

So glad I wasted all the brain cells trying to decide what would be best for her here. I could have just asked her.

More baby pictures. Really cute ones.

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a baby, really. She reportedly has Martin’s eyes (though his are brown and hers are still that indeterminate baby blue), my nose, the Kid’s features (he looks strikingly like his mother), my hair, his hair, my lips, Martin’s face, my grandmother’s hands, Martin’s fingers, his feet, my baby fat, his baby fat and…

My stepfather’s hair. My stepfather is entirely unrelated to this child by blood, and I just spent an entire evening cooing with his parents about how she looks ust like him as a baby.


I hereby confess that I do not think she looks one bit like any of us. She looks like a baby. The most perfect, beautiful, smart, powerful, well-muscled, even-tempered, fine-featured baby in the history of the universe, of course, but still…you know…baby. Only in the presence of other babies do I think she bears some resemblance to me or her father, and that could just be because she’s more familiar to me.

I love the game though. I stare at her all day long anyway, and it’s endless fun to compare her looks to whoever happens to be in my line of sight along with her. especially when its her dad, who I love looking at anyway. My pleasure in looking at him was what started this baby project rolling, lo these many years.

(the exception to my confession: her hair. probably her most striking feature as a newborn is a thick head of dark hair, which resembles mine as an infant and is the precise shade of m’s now. fwiw, my stepfather also has thick dark hair, and was also born with a full head of it.)

Flickr Photos

A little bird told me…

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