Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Monday night I didn't get to sleep until 3.30 in the morning. No, it wasn't a horrible case of sleep regression (knock wood). Instead, I was participating in the NYC HOPE Count. It was enlightening and troubling at the same time.

I work for an organization that tries to improve the plight of those in poverty in NYC, and so understanding homelessness, to include street homelessness, is important. So despite the fact that I was at home and ready to go to bed at 10pm, instead I hopped a cab downtown and spent 6 hours canvassing the streets for our homeless neighbors.

Our team surveyed about 8 city blocks and a subway station. The team at the subway station just north or ours (same line) had this to share: "we went into the 23rd st subway station (A/C line) and saw two people underneath a blanket on a few cardboard pieces in the area outside the turnstiles. There were a few backpacks and scattered personal items, but it seemed at first like the two people were asleep. Then we heard some Spanish so tried to start a conversation. At first hesitant, the man under the blanket started speaking English. We learned that the couple had been together for a very long time and that the woman, Veronica, was pregnant. After being told about the possibility of staying in a shelter last night, he was nervous that they would be separated. We made some calls and figured out that they could and would be taken to a family shelter across town at 33rd and 1st at which they would stay together since they were a family and Veronica was expecting. We called the van service and after a short wait during which time we learned that they found the subway much better than sleeping by the river in East Harlem, we got them loaded into the van with all of their things and transported safely to a shelter."

So in case you all missed it, the woman sleeping on the street was pregnant. With a baby.

Now I know that, for those of us in the "not really all that fertile" camp, it can raise hackles when you hear of people who are clearly not well equipped to care for a child getting pregnant easily, but putting that aside for a moment, even though we may judge her for her choices and actions, we can in no way judge her child. No child asks to born to a homeless woman sleeping in the subway. None of the over 50% of children born in NYC who are born into poverty ask to be poor and to live with families that struggle. Yet because of that poverty, the experience of those children during their first, formative year(s) are likely quite different than what B has to date experienced. And that just breaks my heart.

I don't really have much of a point, and I'm not sure where this was all going, but it just catches me in the back of the throat every time I think of the thousands of kids in NYC in shelters every night or the mothers trying their hardest to keep their kids from being hungry. I wish I believed that these kids actually had a shot to emerge out of their modest beginnings and lead better lives, but right now, I'm just not sure they do. I know too much about how important a stable, loving environment is for babies, and how hard it is for very poor or homeless parents to provide that, to believe that these kids will actually develop as well as their wealthier and more stably raised peers. And the unfairness, and to some extent the randomness, is very hard for me to understand.

Monday, January 30, 2012


That's the group that B is in at his swimming class, which started yesterday. It turns out that starfish are better swimmers than most of the babies, and have more effective means of moving themselves through the water, but it still was unbelievably fun and very cute.

I have been ridiculously excited about these swim classes, and, because I live in NYC, I've had to spend a whole lot of my time getting him signed up for the classes near where we live because the weekend classes sell out. (And I can't even talk about how much it costs for the privilege of swimming at 8.30am on a Sunday.)

But mostly I have been just super excited about B learning to be comfortable in the water. Perhaps because I spent so much of my childhood in pools and lakes or perhaps because this is the first physical activity I can actually teach him, I just have been besides myself with anticipation.

Turns out B loves LOVES the water. I kind of knew that already, since he loves bathtime and we went in the pool in California over the Christmas break. But he did great -- went under with no problem, was able to kick and lie on his back with his ears in the water and basically just had a fabulous time. As did his mommy.

One huge takeaway -- I should have brought my husband along. The logistics of getting a wet, tired baby and his wet, tired mom rinsed and dried and dressed really requires an extra set of hands. By the time we got home we were both completely exhausted. Next week, daddy comes too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


On Sunday evening, while Ben was eating some macaroni and making a unbelievable mess of his high chair tray, his face and his hair, he looked at the table, saw half a cheese stick and said "Shezzsh" which, as anyone can tell you, means cheese.

Holy shit.

Apparently, the kid not only repeats sounds, but appears to be able to match words with objects. Crazy.

And since then, he has correctly identified a car, a duck, a ball and his bottle. Without prompting.

I know that all babies do this, and I know that it is totally ridiculous to think that "ca" is actually car, but it is all amazing to me. That blob of cells that we almost left in the freezer can say "cheese." Un-freaking-believable.

Friday, January 20, 2012

So much to say, so little time to say it

I have about 6 different blog posts bouncing about in my head, and yet for some reason I never find the time to sit down and write. Maybe its the full-time work, desire to actually eat food that I cook in the evenings, or constant cold that has been bouncing around our household for the last 5 weeks, but I have been just super tired, and when I read posts at night on the ipad or bberry, i just can't muster the energy to type a post.

I'm going to take some advice from another blogger and try to make posts shorter and more frequent, for fear that I will never really find the time if I want to do a "real" post.

Big thing coming? B is turning 1. It's amazing and crazy and I am so happy that he is in my life -- that he IS my life -- that I weep just thinking about it (yep, all teary, here in my glass walled office. Nice.) My tiny little baby is not only not so tiny (he's enormous -- over 31 inches at last check and over 27 lbs), but he eats food with his hands that requires chewing and can go fetch a book off the shelf and open it to the picture of the duck and say "Duh" and can take the stick from the bottom of his xylophone and actually hit the part that makes music. When I come home he smiles so wide and crawls to me so fast that my heart could just split wide open with happiness.

Yet I miss the tiny little baby that would sleep on my shoulder; nowadays B either wants to be down on the floor doing his own thing or is standing on my lap yanking off my glasses or trying to remove the parts of my face that he thinks should be his to play with. Only because B has had a cold off and on since, oh, forever has he been a bit more snuggly -- when he had a fever he just wanted to be held and rocked, and even though I knew he was feeling bad I loved the cuddling.

DH and I were looking at newborn pictures of B the other day, and his smallness was just remarkable -- and I realize that I have forgotten some things. Like what he wore; someone who is pregnant asked me what she needed to buy and I didn't really remember. All of his newborn clothes are packed away, and there are pictures, but I know that there were onesies and gowns, and a footie with icecream cones and pink bows, but that I can't recall him actually in the clothes makes me sad, because that means I am losing details of the most transformative experience of my entire life.

But my baby is almost 1 and can climb onto things to reach other things that he MUST have, and stands on his tip toes to reach up to pretty much anything. And he can tell me when he is hungry by saying "puff" (I give him a few puffs to occupy him in the highchair while I get his food ready). All of which is completely amazing to me. So maybe the details of 11 months ago are fading, but every day there are new things that make my eyes tear up and my heart grow bigger with joy.

Ben in the hotel restaurant on Christmas Day. Good thing this picture doesn't include the floor under his high chair!