Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I took my baby to see Phish, twice.

Last week Morgan and I made a major step in the series of “firsts” in parenting.  We took Raymond to a two night Phish run in Alpharetta, GA.  A year ago I swore I’d never do it – but it made sense and worked out wonderfully! (Despite the crazy weather!!!) As soon as we made the last minute decision to go and take Raymond our friend Dave Vann’s photograph of a little girl holding a “Harpua” sign in the front row on her parent’s shoulders in Ohio stirred up a ton of Facebook chatter about parents taking their kids to shows.  As I read through the comments I realized I’d probably made most of them over the past 13 + years of seeing Phish and now I realize even more how ignorant most, if not all, of the negative folks are. 

And to be fair, the commentary about fans being too wasted to be around kids would have most likely applied to me until Fenway 2009 when I went to go see my first sober Phish show at 6 (or so) weeks pregnant.  On that day and throughout the rest of 2009 I developed a new relationship with the music.  I was actually listening to all of the notes – which was an amazing experience … especially during a year when the band seemed like they were the most focused on hitting all of the notes.  In 2010 we did a little southern run but I was in no way shape or form prepared to take him to see Phish. Luckily for all 4 of those shows we were able to rely on friends and family to babysit – for what I consider to be the first family friendly Phish run (seriously, how crazy can you get when you’re nursing and have to get up at 6:30/7:00 am with the baby!).

This year, however, we did not know until the last minute when Morgan was invited to a conference in Atlanta that we could make the Alpharetta run (the only shows we would be able to consider for the whole tour).  We had not budgeted for the trip so it was a stretch to say the least, but we found a super cheap hotel and made the best with what we had.  It seemed like a sign when his work came through – especially as Raymond’s godfather (who he had not met yet) would be in town for the shows … a baptism of sorts???

What were we supposed to do? Evolve into Phish with our child or not?  Find a random babysitter on craigslist or take Raymond to experience our favorite band?  Not go to see a band we love with friends we never get to see?  It was an obvious and natural decision.  Time to take the baby to see Phish.  And do it right. As I saw a fair amount of shows when I was pregnant I'd already started taking this step.  But it was still a leap in parenting as as Phish fans. 

I immediately got online and started researching the venue’s policies on strollers, child’s admission, etc.  Turns out that Encore Pavilion prides itself on being a family friendly venue and has a family restroom, offers a certificate for kids who are coming to their first shows … the list goes on.  Morgan and I started crafting a plan.  We would get in at doors, get the best flat spot on the lawn, we would trade off night for who stayed totally sober on Raymond duty … and that person would take Raymond home at set break.  In addition we had our AWESOME headphones to protect his ears given to use by good friends as soon as I found out I was pregnant … apparently they knew we’d eventually be crossing this bridge before we did. 

Of course, with the exception of having a responsible parent for each night, all of our planning went to shit once we got into show mode/groove mode.  The first night was PERFECT.  We got in later than we hoped, but were able to put our blanket down next to some of our friends’ friends who were also there with their two older children.  We had the perfect flat family friendly zone in the middle of the lawn next to the trees where the sound is great.  Raymond LOVED the music and the lights (Chris should have a light show just for kids!!!) and even kept his headphones on.  We had lots of support of good friends and parents around us.  I also learned that there are these amazing folks on tour who bring in kid’s supplies --- baby sized glow stick bracelets, giant pixie sticks --- and roam the lawn giving them to the kids to help them have a good time.  We even got free waters in the lot for Raymond … really awesome supportive vibe from the touring community to have our son there!  Morgan was on duty the first night and only once had to step out of our area for a few songs while some folks were smoking.   Otherwise Raymond danced the night away and fell asleep in his daddy’s arms during 2001.  He slept in the stroller with his headphones on until the end of the show and slept sounding through the night back at the hotel room.

Wednesday night was much more challenging, and I learned a lot about what I could have done better to prepare for the worst case scenario.  We got into the venue much later as we’d been waiting for the giant thunder storms to pass.  I added a towel, umbrella and change of clothes to the backpack and hoped for the best.    We laid the blanket out (maybe mistake #1) and it was immediately soaked through.  Once the show started it became very clear that in fact the whole lawn does not have great sound.  We moved down closer to the trees where we were the night before and just didn’t put the blanket out (mistake #2) then the winds picked back up and a branch fell off the tree onto the top of my head.  It wasn’t that big but it fell a long way and really hurt.  Obviously we had to get Raymond away from the falling branches right away. 

We found another spot on the lawn were finally getting into a groove when BAM the storm hit us.  I tried to cover the front of the stroller with the umbrella but the wind was too high and broke the umbrella.  I was determined to leave and not have Raymond out in the weather and we started to run into the plaza when BOOM the lighting started and we had to take cover in the pavilion.  They turned on all the lights, the music stopped (at an epic moment) and we took out stroller (against regulation) into the seats.  There was an empty VIP box where security let us (and another family with a stroller) set up camp for the next hour of thunder, lighting and ferocious rain.  I pulled on my fairly dry towel and wrapped it around Raymond --- who was waving his hands at the stage wanting the band to start back up the whole time!!! The venue was so amazing to give us a safe refuge --- but a total kicker is that as soon as I got the towel wrapped around Raymond security walked up to me and asked if I’d like to go backstage to keep him warm.  And I said no, I thought we were okay.  REALLY??? I got asked if I wanted to go backstage with Phish and I said NO?????????? Clearly my head was in another place. About this time there was a flood of water pouring off of the lawn and soaking our shoes in 4 or 5 inches of water. 

Once the rain seemed to let up we changed Raymond’s clothes but they were just fairly dry and both I am the stroller were soaked, giving us a pretty damp existence. And then the moment came.  The venue’s lights went out Kuroda’s lights came on and the band picked back up and rocked.  Seriously, the first set wasn’t really doing much for me but when they came back on stage it was a whole other story.  Raymond thought so too.  I don’t know that I have ever seen him have so much fun.  He was totally into the music, waiving his glow sticks and dancing away on my shoulders and in my arms (no way to put him down at all between the wet stroller and standing water).  He and the other little girl in our new found VIP box were holding hands and dancing while she was also on her mom’s shoulders and playing with balloons together.  It was amazing.  This total state of bliss lasted until about 10:30 when he got tired.  There was so much stimulation and dampness that he couldn’t just go to sleep like he did the night before.  He was a little in and out and I was ready to take him for about 30 minutes but there was still lighting and heavy rain.  Not to mention the fact that the lawn was empty and everyone was in the seats/breezeways making it impossible for me to get out.  For the most part I could distract him and cheer him up but when he was really done, about 11/11:15 he was pulling off his headphones and I couldn’t have that.  Morgan made a path and we forced our way out (apologies if I ran over your toes) and I took Raymond to the car in light rain.  He was settled into the car seat just as the sky opened back up and incredible lightning hit so close that it shook my car.  I did leave my husband and friends to find a ride back – but I knew they could handle it and we all knew that taking care of Raymond was the priority.

All of that drama with the weather was worth the hour/hour and a half that Raymond and I experienced true musical bliss together in our special baby VIP box.  I have transcended another experience with Phish – a new level of love for the band that I have shared with my baby boy, husband and friends.  I couldn’t be happier.  Will I take him to every show?  Probably not.  But when the time is right I know now not to hesitate or judge.  We’re just expanding our phamily memories together.  Many thanks to the friends, band, venue and community of fans that made it such a wonderful experience for us all.   

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Lake!

We enjoyed a long weekend at home here at the Vickery household, which was very nice and a bit overdue.  Why does life have to be so busy????????  On Monday we decided to go to Jordan Lake to swim for a nice family outing.  We had never been to Jordan Lake before (except driving through) and had no idea where we were going or what to expect. Or when we were going to go in the day. 

The lack of planning for this outing was very unlike Morgan (who is a hyper planner when it comes to outdoor activities) or me (who is a hyper planner all the time).  We printed out a map, filled up a couple of water bottles, tossed a backpack full of clothes for swimming or maybe hiking and the baby and the dog in the car and headed over.  

Raymond LOVED the trip.  We say on the beach and had no plan to force him into the water.  He sat and watched it for a while and played in the sand before standing and walking over to the edge of the water and inching himself in.  There was a bit of surf and I kept worrying that the waves would deter him but they didn’t!  He embraced every minute of it! 

Next time we’ll be better prepared with a life jacket, water toys, sand buckets etc … for honestly we had no idea what to expect from the location or from Raymond – no expectations turned out to be LOVELY and full of surprises.  Happy Memorial Day Lake Trip to US! 

And now I'm off to enroll him in swimming lessons. 

Monday, April 4, 2011


Hello Blog: I have been too busy to be introspective and write about my life or my baby. I guess this is a significant improvement over the first 10 + months of blogging which were often my introspective pity party that come with having too much free time on your hands. Actually, in the case of being a new mother, it’s less having free time on your hands and more not using all the same parts of your brain and they start going a little crazy. I think. Anyway. Life is good.

Raymond is VERY vocal these days. We have a lot of good words: Bubble, Dog, Mammmaaaaa, Dad (or Dadadada), Disc (yes, we have a little disc golfer in the family), ball, ball ball (for basketball, March Madness left a mark around here), cracker (okay, that one sounds more like craaaka) and my very favorite, duck. He is obsessed with being outside. Which is wonderful, except that the weather backtracked a bit last week and it was raining and cold and he didn’t understand why that meant he couldn’t go outside.

We’re a little less than a month out of breastfeeding and it is like it never happened. He does occasionally bat at my boobs and laugh, but that is about it. I am worried sick about him not eating enough, but he is pretty good about telling me when he is hungry or thirsty. Pretty much needs a meal or snack every 2 – 3 hours. It actually seems like MORE work to me now because I have to sit him down and make a snack or meal and give it to him to eat (which is a long process) and clean up whereas before I could just pop him on the boob. My stay at home life is still focused on feeding.

But he still isn’t walking! Okay. Boys walk later. He is just 14 months. He CAN walk for extended periods barely holding onto my finger so I know developmentally he could. But he doesn’t want to … at all. Okay. Deep breath, don’t worry. I think he is just like me. Every winter I think “why would I ski when I’m just going to fall and hurt myself all day” … I imagine Raymond thinks “why would I walk when I am a speed crawler that can get anywhere I want in seconds!”

So that is the Raymond update.

Oh yeah, I turned 30. The age seems less important as I became a mother beforehand. That has been a much more significant life change than the silly age.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bye Bye BaBa

I am so proud of my little man. He has decided it is time to move on from nursing.

Over the past month or so we cut out the morning feeding and the pacification feedings, but he was still nursing at least three times a day on demand. I wouldn’t give it to him if he was crying for it, but when he asked nicely or has a little fall here or there … I had hoped to be done in the next two weeks, practically because it is time for my annual exam and I would like to get a new RX for better birth control. But I honestly haven’t been too aggressive about cutting him completely off. Additionally, he hasn’t taken to drinking any other milks regularly (and I’ve tried them all) so I haven’t wanted to cut out the nutritional source either.

But this weekend it just happened. On Friday afternoon I went to take a hot bath and Raymond came in from outside and jumped into the tub with me (of course with all his dirty clothes on) and nursed. It was quiet sudden and he bit me pretty hard in the process of me trying to deal with a sopping wet baby in the tub when I was trying to meditate. Morgan came in and laughed at our situation and made a joke that Raymond better enjoy the baba while he still could, his days were numbered!  Raymond pulled off and cried for a second, like he understood, but he had a nice nursing session and a good bath afterwards.

Apparently he did understand.

Saturday came and went and he never demanded nursing. After he went to bed I cried for a while. Sunday came and my game plan was that if he needed the boob he could have it once as I have not planned on this being the weekend of weaning. But he never needed it. This morning he pulled down my shirt a little but then giggled and started playing with toys. He had a big fall and let me comfort him but did not go for the boob. He is fine.

Like all other milestones, he just went with it when he was ready. I didn’t get a chance to “plan” or “implement” he just did it. Which is wonderful … however, I am a bit of a mess. For 13 ½ months nursing has been a major part of my life and I am sad to see that time go. But I didn’t have to force it on Raymond … it was his time. And that means the world to me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Do you remember cramps?

I don't. I haven't had my period since May of 2009. I haven't been worried (with the exception of a couple of pregnancy tests along the way) as I have been an exclusive breast feeder. And let’s be honest, I've really barely started to wean the little guy.

Sometime last week I started having extreme pains in my stomach which I attributed to stress. After a relaxing weekend in Asheville with friends I thought I'd be all fixed, and while my mind is settled I find that my cramps have only gotten more extreme.

After we got home last night I had a major episode with back pain and light headed spells. I barely slept through the night as I was woken up about every 45 minutes with sharp, tight pains.

The whole night I tossed and turned and thought to myself what a wimp I must be if this is just the return of my cycle. I did have terrible cramps as a teenager which led to me getting on birth control at 17. But nothing like this.

Today they have only gotten worse. I finally bit the bullet and called the OBGYN --- thinking to myself that someday I would laugh about calling the doctor for cramps.

The call back did not make me feel silly as the nurse explained that this level of pain is pretty normal when you haven't had you period in a while. However, she did not make me feel better when she said I could also have a cyst. Apparently when you do not have your period for a long time and your hormones are all crazy ovarian cysts are common. WTF.

I can’t find much online about this potential “cyst” --- most sites simply state that it is a myth that breast feeding causes cysts and it shouldn’t be a deterrent to breastfeed. Okay, really, I’m sold on breast feeding. Would never go back on that choice and plan to keep it going for any other children we might be blessed with. But what about the potential cysts? I kind of feel like the nurse shouldn’t have thrown that out without more information or scheduling an appointment. I go in for my annual appointment next month and I guess I will get answers then. I imagine it would be silly to go to the doctor just because I am having bad cramps … and just because I might have a cyst that is common and will likely resolve itself. Likely I will still be experiencing this pain and still won’t have my period.

I thought I would be relieved to have my cycle start back as I have missed the connection to my body a little. But weeks of this pain followed by a period that could last 10 days to 3 weeks? I might go back on that wish very soon.


Feb 22 Follow UP: I wanted to check in as I have learned that the pain and possible cyst I was mentioning really isn't caused by breast feeding.  I know I already said that but I want to be clear as I would hate to make someone think there is a reason not to breast feed.  In fact most of us have them and when you don't ovulate for a while they are harder to get through the next time around.  Certain birth controls, pregnancy in general, irregularity or age could all be factors in irregular ovulation. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Do I have to call my baby a toddler now?

We made it!  Sunday marked Raymond's FIRST BIRTHDAY and we had a party with family and friends to celebrate.  Today we had the dreaded one year well visit, complete with shots, and he is doing just fine (especially considering how many live viruses he has now as a result of the shots). 

Raymond is not yet walking on his own but is holding onto our legs and walking with us,  It is pretty cute. For that reason I can say he isn't a a toddler YET.  But alas I find that we are now in the "Tots" category.  We were even corrected at a restaurant when another mom called our children "TODDLERS, not babies." 

Raymond will always be my baby, but that isn't the distinction I am trying to make.