Thursday, May 30, 2013


As I've mentioned before, balancing practical and stylish attire for new mothers isn't as easy as I thought. It's arguably harder than finding suitable clothing for my dear baby boy--I hate the junior adult look (ties, combat pants, sports t-shirts and logos) and what I've dubbed the junior thug look (baggy jeans, proto-adult shirts and jackets that aspire to a kind of gangsta image), which basically rules out most clothing for larger babies and toddlers. As Severin is a big boy (he was 17.1 lbs and 26.5 inches at his 4 1/2 month check up, putting him in the 90th percentile for boys his age, he''s already grown out of most infant clothing. While he still fits comfortably into most of his 3-6 month gap clothes, some of the nicer pieces I've bought on sale for 6-9 month olds were too small from the start. Most clothing lines refuse to make the nicer baby boy pieces for any child over 12 months and, in Severin's case, this means that he has already outgrown most of these lines at 5 months old. Even the gap, who offer a mixture of what I deem nice and stylish baby boy clothes (striped rompers, more traditional tops and soft jersey pants) and the crappy junior adult/junior thug pieces tend to produce the nice baby boy clothes only in their smaller sizes, topping out at 6-12 months (the other lines run to 24 mos), which seems foolish as the larger sizes sell out fast. I'd buy larger versions of many of his current favourites but I'm either in the biggest size already or find that others think alike and the only sizes left are for newborns or babes under 3 months.

To me, Severin is a baby and as such doesn't need to be branded as aggressively or markedly male. I love traditional baby clothes--I'm fortunate enough that kind relatives and friends knitted him some beautiful items, but I can't keep going back and begging for more. I'd love more soft, gentle pastel and bright items. I love him in a little cotton knit onesie or jersey romper and fill his drawers with as many stripes, gentle colours, teddy, kitten, duck and puppy appliques and prints as I can find. British stores are a touch better than many of their US counterparts, but what will I do when this baby gets a little bigger and our options dry up?

Girls are so much easier and maybe one day I'll be able to indulge in traditional dresses and candy striped leggings but the limitations of baby and young boy's clothing seems so obvious--and so clearly shared by other likeminded mums--that I wish someone would fill it. If I had time and money, maybe it would be me, but I'm bereft of the training and already caught on my own mothering-work treadmill.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Last Monday was the day I had fruitlessly hoped would never arrive. My dear Peeps succumbed to renal failure shortly after her 18th birthday on the 18th anniversary of her adoption, I believe. Her decline was very fast--over the past few weeks, she appeared to be losing a lot of weight and was spending less time with us and more time asleep in a corner of the bathroom or behind a chair. There were no obvious signs of ill health until late last week when she suddenly appeared to have lost about half her body weight and had very watery eyes. Over three days, her body seemed to fail her, until she could no longer stand for very long and fell over when she attempted to walk. I could not leave my darling girl in that condition to suffer. Fortunately, we had a very kind vet who does home visits so she came by last Monday to see if anything could be done. While Evan had some hopes that something could be done to improve her condition, I was just surprised that she was strong enough to survive through the night. Unfortunately, the vet agreed with my fears and found that one of her kidneys had almost disappeared and the other one was huge. Even if we had caught it earlier (which would have been quite difficult), very little, if anything, could have been done. Kidney failure is a common cause of death among older cats and some key symptoms include thirst. Peeps was always a good drinker, however, and loved water more than food from her kittenhood, a good quality in terms of health, but not in terms of diagnosing kidney failure.

I feel so bad that I couldn't do more for her and that I was distracted during her last months dealing with pregnancy, renovations, the move, childbirth and the early sleepless days of parenthood. I know she needed me more than ever but I barely had any time to give and had hoped to have some quality kitty time with her later. I also feel bad that I misread physical symptoms as emotional reactions to the inevitable distractions we encountered over the last year. She had appeared to have neglected her beautiful long fur coat last summer while I was at home, which was the kind of thing she would do to show that she was upset, but the tangles never really went away and became far worse this winter and spring. Matted fur is a sign of kidney failure. She also changed her eating habits, moving away from hard to soft food, which again in retrospect was a sign of kidney failure. Looking at photos of her a year ago also reveals just how much she had declined--but it's difficult to see such change on a day to day basis. Only in the last week was it evident that she had just wasted away to nothing.

Evidently she was not in much pain. Kidney failure makes humans and animals (as far as we know) feel weak and mildly unwell which might account for Peeps' seeming surprise at not being able to walk far or reach her litterbox in the last hours of her life. But I feel guilt and pain that I missed the signs and couldn't help her. I really hoped she would live into her 20s and that Severin would get to know and love her, pick her up and stroke her fur. He did get to know her and while she was the most jealous of the three cats (she was a tortie after all), she was also the most interested in him and the most gentle towards him.

I cannot believe she has gone--I still see her around the apartment. I could not be there for her final minutes so Evan held and stroked her. I didn't have the courage to see her go and want to hold on to the illusion that she is still around. I think the truth will hit when her ashes come home. She was the best and most loving friend anybody could ever have and I just hope we will meet up again one day. Rest in peace, my dear little girl and thank you for all your love. I will love you forever.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


It's always nice to be at this point in the academic year: things are not yet over so the summer is intact but in sight, making the last week's slog more doable. It's nice to have the summer still ahead, a blank canvas where all the time is still unspent and not a minute yet wasted. My plans for this summer are suitably ambitious (two conferences, trip home with Severin, completing the second book proposal and a couple of other major projects) but I'm also scheduling time to rest and play with my adorable and not-so-little baby boy.

I can't help but think back to this time last year--newly pregnant, my morning sickness was just starting, helping relieve some of my anxieties about pregnancy loss and blighted ova, With a big, chubby, delicious baby in my life, I can look back warmly and nostalgically to that spring and early summer when I was still steeped in the fears and discomforts that accompany early pregnancy. I'm starting to regain my interest in clothes even though breast feeding makes it difficult to wear so many dresses and I have to watch out for dry clean only fabrics. My little boy also drools and regurgitates so the messiness of new motherhood has not elapsed but somehow I'm better at judging the signs and finding times where I can dress relatively well. I've bought a few bargain dresses (the ICB online sample sale was great, and Club Monaco's sale section tempts me still, especially when there is an additional discount), but shopping remains a largely digital experience. And I still feel large, unattractive and old (the result of seeing a baby's perfect skin next to mine) but right now, I'm not sure I'm that bothered, although I certainly don't intend to let myself go. I'm sure the change in hormones post-pregnancy have something to do with it--as my hair attests (it's falling out and finds itself wound around baby fingers and toes and all other surfaces, nooks and crannies).

Now it's spring, I'm really starting to navigate the world with a pram/stroller and realizing that the MTA isn't exactly designed for new parents and their offspring. Last week we set off early for an appointment with my endocrinologist and due to a mixture of factors (the layout of elevators, helpful fellow passengers and bad signage) I ended up taking a subway train the wrong way and landed in Flushing not Grand Central. Of course I recognized that I was on the wrong train the second the door closed and the conductor announced the next station, but by then it was too late. With four elevators on the entire 7 train, and only one of them--at the last station--ahead of me, I had to ride to the end of the line, increasingly realizing that I would never make it before they closed. One wasted afternoon, cancelled appointment and cancellation fee later, I realised that being a mobile parent in NYC involves more work than I had thought. For our next big trip to the USCIS this Tuesday, I used the Baby Bjorn, which I still don't entirely trust (fears of baby falling on the floor) but it made life easier for me, even though I suspect that my little poppet would have been a little more cosy in his pram. 

Given my recent adventures, I'm wondering what it will be like to travel internationally with my baby. As he is huge for his age (4 months and I'm predicting at least 27 inches and 18 lbs right now), it may not be as comfortable as I'd like but I can't wait for him to meet the rest of his family.