Monday, April 30, 2007

Who Ordered The Basket Of Max?

This basket spent its first life holding some of Max's action figures, but he has apparently decided to liberate it from that tedious fate, and has instead assigned it the task of holding his own cheeky self. Oh, how I love him and his zany, weird, perfect sense of humor.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Speck: Uncontested Champion of Fetal Heavyweight Division

My friend Andrea and I have been pregnant together twice, now -- her third baby, Julia, was born three months before Max, and is his future bride. Since Andrea was due ahead of me last time, and since her first babies were twins, Fetal Max and I were quite overshadowed in the pregnant belly girth department. This time, however, as you can see, it is a different story. Speck is due about three months ahead of her future friend (who is as yet unnamed), and she is a larger and more prominent fetus than her big brother. Even Andrea, who is a wonderfully tactful friend who has the gift of making people feel better about themselves than they did before she came into the room, had to marvel at my distended stomach. Truly, Speck is now larger by far not only than Andrea's unborn child, but than Andrea or I, too, and she is not due until a month from tomorrow. While Andrea and I were treating ourselves to pedicures yesterday, Speck spent her time quietly gloating over her triumph, and reflecting on future victories that are sure to be hers when she finally emerges.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Many of the baby utensils from Max's early days have been dusted off and reintroduced into the Tillman mainstream recently, in preparation for Speck's use. Although most if not all of these items caused Max irritation when they were being used for/by him, absence has apparently made the heart grow fonder, and he can often now be found trying to wedge his toddler-sized body into a variety of infant-sized spaces.

When we brought Max home from the hospital in this carseat, it was so much too large for him that my mum and I had to spend twenty minutes wrestling with the carseat straps to adjust them to a small enough size, and we still had to put rolled-up receiving blankets on either side of him so he didn't look too overwhelmed in there. Now, he can't actually fit his entire self into the seat -- his feet and a fair amount of leg hang off the edge, and he bangs his head on the top of the handle when he leans back.

Like most playpens/bouncy chairs/swings, Max immediately and scornfully rejected this chair as an obvious and grotesque attempt to fool him into not being held by a parent or loved one. He rarely succumbed to being placed in it at all as a baby, and never for longer than 5-10 minutes. We got it out the other day when we had some friends with a 6 month old baby over, and Max has been delighted by it ever since. Since his booty hangs off the edge and his head bangs against the metal frame when he leans back, it does not look like the height of comfort to me, but what do I know? Max is many long years from having to select chairs that support his bad back or keep him from getting cricks in his neck, and maybe his new found love of this apparatus will rub off on Speck.

And, finally, Max's old nemesis: the baby bath. Max's first few baths were torturous for both he and I -- he did not enjoy the sensation of being moistened or soaped, and I was mortally afraid that I would lose my grip on his tiny lathered self and send him spiralling down the drain (he was quite scrawny at first). Actually, Max's fondness for this bathtub is still sort of thin on the ground -- he took it out and tried it out today, but its contours were not conducive to comfort, and he had trouble getting in and out without tipping it over. After a minute or two of experimenting with it, he graciously decided that Speck could have uncontested ownership of it.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Five Weeks Left (And Space Is At A Premium)

Well, this is officially the most pregnant I have ever been. (And, possibly, the least comfortable.) Speck has now outlasted her brother in the land of uterus by exactly four hours and counting. I must admit, I have been approaching this point in the pregnancy with a lot of anxiety, and I am really excited that Speck and I have passed this landmark together. Should Speck have a change of heart, however, Ian and I are as ready as it is possible to be. Since we had nothing ready last time (quite literally -- we had no crib yet, nothing prepared for the hospital, no system of organization for the baby clothes and gear, and our birthing class had not yet covered any actual labor and delivery techniques), we are attempting to learn from our former last-minuteness. Our overnight bag is packed, the nursery is ready, the camera battery is charged, we have plans A, B, C, and D ready to roll into action for Max's safety and well-being while we are bringing Speck forth, and all our registration stuff is done at the hospital. Now, just for spite, watch Speck torture me by coming two weeks late. Fetuses, in my experience, have an unpredictable sense of timing and an inconvenient sense of humor. Mine do, at least.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Attack Of The Big-Headed Baby!!!!

Speck's due date is exactly six weeks from today. We had a midwife appointment on Tuesday, which was somewhat more involved than the usual check-up. Because we have now arrived at the week of pregnancy in which Max left his fetus-hood behind, our midwife decided to do a number of tests that would normally be done closer to the end, just in case Speck is similarly impatient. Among these tests (most of which involved prodding me in a number of unpleasant ways that I feel no need to dwell on the details of) was an ultrasound, to make sure that Speck is in the correct position for birthing. I was really excited about the bonus ultrasound, because I have never gotten to see an ultrasound of a baby this far along in the pregnancy before. It was really difficult to make out any individual Speck parts this time around, because she is so smooshed up in there, but we did get a couple of shots of the head, which is, in fact, pointed the correct way for emergence, although still high enough that the midwife did not think that we needed to ready ourselves for an immediate Speck appearance. I know that this picture is blurry and unclear, so allow me to clarify it for you. It is all head! Last time, you could fit an entire Speck body into the camera frame, but now there is no room for anything but cranium. Why does this disturb me? If you are asking yourself this question, you need to review the mechanics of giving birth.

Sea Of Femininity

Ian's sister and her little boy came to town this weekend, and we had a small celebration for the impending Speck. Before she arrived, Ian's sister told me that she was getting out of control with her girl clothes acquiring, and Ian's mom admitted to a similar addiction, but I never realized how honest they were being until Sunday. They decided to put all their gifts together into one gift bag, and hung all the clothes from a clothesline, which I unwound from the bag an article at a time. It was a really cute idea, and it's a good thing they wrapped their gifts that way, because if they had wrapped each item individually, I would still be sitting there opening things.

At first, I was just excited by the frilly and pink stuff, which you have little opportunity to surround yourself with as the mama of a boy.

As I continued to unravel, however, I became aware that I had my hands on what may well be the world's largest collection of frilly and pink stuff that the world has ever seen, and I became slightly intimidated.

Observers of the gift-opening were forced to become participants, as the clothesline became too heavy and too long for me to manage alone.

Eventually, the fully emerged string of girl apparel stretched around the entire room twice. I think that Ian's mom and sister were even surprised at its epic length. I put everything away the next day, and I can now say with great and firm certainty that Speck is one well-stocked little lady. She has girly shirts, girly pants, girly dresses, girly jackets, girly onesies, girly blankets, girly washcloths, and even girly pink burp cloths to barf her feminine barf onto. I sure hope that ultrasound didn't lead us astray, or Max is going to have one gender-confused little brother.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Well, I've suspected it for a long time, and now, here is the proof. Amongst the zoo pictures that Ian's mom sent me was this disturbing document, verifying once and for all that the spider bite I received while I was pregnant with Max was not free of repercussions. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my baby boy is a were-spider. When the moon is a quarter full, and Max has eaten just the right amount of strawberry ice cream, the arachnid comes out. I am trying my best to make my peace with it, and to love my spidery son for who and what he is. Sure, he leaves a lot of inconveniently sticky webbing everywhere, but on the plus side, I haven't seen a fly in this apartment yet, and Max is hard at work making us a spiderweb hammock on the back patio that looks like it will be luxuriously comfortable. We are determined to look on the bright side of the situation, and for Max's sake, I think you should all do the same.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Good To Have Grandparents

Ian had the day off on Thursday, and Speck and I decided to celebrate this rare occasion by being sick. Actually, I don't know that Speck felt sick, since she maintained her trademark liveliness, but I felt like a big ball of swollen, nauseous pregnantness, and spent the morning feeling sorry for myself while Speck cheerfully worked my midsection. Ian called in his mom and dad, and the three of them took Max to the zoo. While I wish I could have gone along, too, I was extremely grateful that I had a whole afternoon to rest, without having to feel like Max was enduring a boring day stuck at home. Ian's mom sent me some pictures of the adventure, which oddly do not include any zoo animals. They do, however, showcase what Max considers to be the highlights of the day.

According to the adult Tillmans, this slide had a rough texture that minimized its slideability. Max had to push himself down with his hands to maintain momentum, but he yelled "whee!" the whole way down with his usual cheer. I did not receive any reports of Ian yelling "whee!", but he looks happy in the picture, at least.

After the zoo, The Tillmans Four went to lunch together. Max got his own dish of strawberry ice cream, which evidently comprised the bulk of his lunch, and which he deeply enjoyed. Max is entering into two family traditions here: the ice cream comes from a place called Vic's, where Ian often tells stories about going with his grandparents when he was little, and he is eating strawberry ice cream, in honor of his middle name, which is also Ian's mom's maiden name and which means 'strawberry'.

Clearly, Max did not exactly suffer without me. Look at him lick his chops! It is truly a wonderful gift to have so many relatives living near us, who are so willing to be involved in Max's life (and Speck's, when she emerges). Juggling being a thousand months pregnant while caring for a young and increasingly active toddler would be exponentially more difficult without all the backup.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Untold Depths Of Wrath

Mostly, I find Max charming. He is (and I say this from an entirely unbiased place) an attractive, happy, pleasant person who exudes joy and constantly makes us laugh. In contrast to all of this, however, we have begun a phase that falls well below a ten on the enjoyability scale for Ian and I. Yes, I am afraid that Max has learned the art of the temper tantrum. In this picture, he is mid-pterodactyl-like scream because I have just told him that he may not have any more cereal puffs. Note that his entire being, from the scalp on down, has turned red with the force of his ire.

Max has been tending to confine these fits of wrath to home, maintaining his facade of supernaturally mellow baby in the presence of grandparents, friends, and random passerby, and assuring that I will get no sympathy when I try to describe his dark side to others. A few days ago, however, his mask of angelic babyhood developed a crack, and an entire grocery store can now bear witness to my burden. When we passed the dairy aisle, Max suggested that we pick up some milk. ("Meek, Mama? Dada? Meek. Meek!") Since we already had two full gallons at home, Ian and I declined. Evidently disagreeing with our decision, Max immediately let out an unpleasantly high-pitched wail and began pounding the grocery cart handle. Other shoppers looked over in alarm, and upon spotting an irate baby instead of a wounded boar, gave us either an irritated glare or a sympathetic chuckle, depending on their temperaments. His tantrums are generally pretty short-lived (which is why we are keeping him, on a trial basis), and so he had stopped screaming by the time we got to the check-out stand, but he was still muttering to himself and letting out the occasional pained shriek all the way home in the car. Even when offered proof that we had plenty of milk in the fridge, he continued to look reproachful. Good, good times.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Max has had this thing with symmetry lately -- if he has a cup in one hand, he wants a cup in the other hand, too. If he gives Ian a kiss or a hug, he has to give me one right after. If he is holding hands with someone on the left, he wants a second friend or relation flanking the right. He was escorted to the car after Easter festivities by his dad on one side and his gramps on the other, and they looked so cute walking three-in-a-row that I wanted to capture the moment on camera. Of course, as soon as I asked them all to slow down so I could take the picture, Max got mad and started to cry, so the picture is somewhat marred by his pained expression. It is still cute, however, and so I regret nothing.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

For some reason, I dismissed out of hand the idea of Max being old enough to participate in an Easter Egg hunt this year. I had a whole talk with my mum about how much I was looking forward to next year, when Max could take an active role in some of our Easterly traditions. At a family party on Friday, however, my aunt brought a bunch of plastic eggs for Max to search for, filled with crackers and cereal puffs instead of candy, and set them out around the yard for Max to find. He loved it so much, and participated for so long, that I was made to feel ashamed of my underestimation of him. Luckily, Max has other relatives than me, and they apparently give him more credit. Thanks, Aunt Susie!

Once Max was tired of finding his own Easter Eggs, he began stealing the hard-won eggs of others. My cousin Holly was very gracious, and allowed Max to bully her out of each and every egg she had found. (Of course, she also may have been somewhat more immune to the allure of baby cereal bits than Max.)

Max gloated over his loot for awhile, shaking the eggs, opening and closing them, and counting them up so he could calculate just how much eggy treasure he had his hands on.

His victory gave him the necessary confidence to successfully cruise for ladies later that evening. (Okay, they're all related to him, but they are lovely, and older women, to boot!)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Taming The Mighty Tuft

Well, it has taken almost nineteen months, but Max's hair has finally acquired enough length to require a trim. (Mostly in the front -- Max's back hairs remain short and fuzz-like, although they sometimes twine themselves into a duck curl, or a dandelion down-like plume if he sleeps on the back of his head the right way.) Ian and I have a hairdresser/friend that we love, and we have been promising her since Max's fetus-hood that she could perform the first shearing. Since Max has never had his hair cut before, and rarely even had it combed (I am not a neglectful mother, he just really hasn't had enough hair to necessitate it until very recently), we weren't sure how he would react to the invasion on his follicles. I was fairly resigned to the distinct possibility that we would come away from the experience with a son who had half a haircut, a couple of new bald spots, and a trail of angry and disappointed beauty parlor executives in his wake.

Max did not fulfill the worst of my expectations -- he didn't cry, yell, or manage to impale himself on the scissors. Neither, however, could it truthfully be said that he was a fan of the haircut. He made increasingly determined warding-off gestures when the scissors came near him, and grunted in angry warning when the scissors did not oblige him and vanish.

Teri, our hairdresser, offered Max a series of interesting hair-shaping tools to hold, in the hopes of bribing and/or distracting Max. He was intrigued by many of her offerings, and accepted them gladly ...

... but he stuck to his principles as far as the scissors were concerned. We did get the bangs trimmed down nicely, and most of the over-the-ear shagginess as well, before Max declared haircutting time officially over and made a break for the door. I tried to get a picture of the post-haircut style, but Max was somewhat uncooperative. In future blog posts, be sure to take note of his newly abbreviated tuft!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sleep Deprivation

At our last Speck check, the midwife asked if I was having any trouble sleeping. I was forced to heartily agree that I am experiencing all kinds of sleep issues, and dragging everyone else I know into sleeplessness right along with me. The midwife was very sympathetic, and began suggesting a long list of ways to minimize the discomfort of sharing body space with Giant Speck (who medical experts continue to insist is a normal-sized fetus. I know differently). When she began searching for a pamphlet describing different herbs and drugs that might help, I had to interrupt and explain that while Speck is taking up way more than her fair share of room in my abdomen, and while she does kick like a baby maniac late into the night, my most recent sleep issues

are not so much the fault of this baby ... they are the fault of this one.

Max is teething, and not loving it, and so we have had a series of rough nights. Max has been late going to bed, and then he has been waking up frequently and demanding his old place in the big bed. With both he and I being so much larger, though, this is not the fix-all solution it once was. Max keeps turning sideways halfway through the night, and Ian claims that he has had any number of dreams where he is being pounded, axe-kicked, and kneaded, only to awaken and find Max's feet making his dreams come true. I, on the other hand, have not even slept enough to reach REM sleep, so I am feeling all kinds of awesome. Upon hearing this tale of woe, the midwife laughed and said that while there were herbs and drugs that might help with our problems, they were not the kinds of herbs or drugs that she was licensed to administer. Stupid, non-tranquilizer-dart-giving midwife.

And yet, later that same day, when we beheld Max trying valiantly to share his milk with his baby sister through my belly button, we still had to agree that we are, on the whole, glad that we had him. Axe kicks, teething, and all.