Snowy mama mettle

Ollie and me

Well, the Great Blizzard has become the Great Melt.

After five days snowed in at home, I finally got back to the office on Tuesday. “Civilization!” I cried, planting smooches on any human face I encountered. “People! Sunlight!”

Just kidding.

Well, kind of.

Though we made the best of it and I enjoyed being cozy with my boys, I was pretty claustrophobic by Monday. It snowed most of Friday and all of Saturday, finally stopping with 23 inches down by the early hours Sunday morning.

Spencer did a great job keeping our driveway clear, but neighborhood roads were still impassable until Tuesday. With temperatures climbing into the 50s (Maryland weather is nothing if not ridiculous), the roads began to flood. On the one hand, I was quite relieved not to worry about ice. But now, of course, there’s the issue of refreezing . . .

Anyway. Enough boring science stuff.

We never lost power, so there was no need for The Bunker. I knew we had rations to get through the long weekend (and then some), but having no heat was another animal entirely — so I’m very thankful we lucked out there. We never ran out of diapers or formula or water or any of the other essential items I gathered like a rabid Gollum, afraid of someone swooping in to steal my preciouses.

After the storm settled (literally), we went outside with Ollie for a grand total of, oh, ten minutes . . . long enough to snap a few photos. My sister and brother-in-law braved slick roads to come see the Ollie man and his first big snow.

He wasn’t too interested. But that was mostly because of the dreaded jacket/hood combination.


Back when Ollie was tipping the scales at 5 pounds and we stared at him all day, convinced he would stop breathing without our vigilance, going outside at all was a process. The day after he came home, we went his first pediatric appointment just a few miles away.

The first night was horrible, of course. The month after Oliver was born but before he was released was the strangest of my life. I’d given birth, but our child wasn’t there with us. We made near-daily treks to his hospital in Baltimore, but . . . we had gone back to sleeping.

Sleep. Sleeeeeeeep.

I slept horribly throughout my pregnancy, especially toward the end. I could never get comfortable, especially since I’m a back sleeper (a no-no while expecting). After he was born, of course, I still wasn’t resting well . . . too many churning thoughts with insomnia. But when I could sleep, I did. For hours. Unbroken. For as long as I wanted, or could.

As soon as our son came home, of course, that rest became an exotic memory. When we arrived at Dr. M’s office that first morning, I was practically frothing at the mouth. We had barely slept, Spencer and me, and I’d spent most of the night staring at this impossibly small child wondering where he had come from.

No love lost for last May, that’s for sure.

When we saw Dr. M and introduced our preemie, it was a relief to learn she had welcomed a premature child herself. Our biggest questions were, of course, How do we do this? Are we ever going to sleep again?

(Yes. I wish I’d known that for sure nine months ago.)

In the beginning, Oliver could not get comfortable at home. He’d spent his entire life in a cozy, temperature-regulated isolette with nurses tending to his needs around the clock. Ollie was suddenly in a dark, quiet room with two strangers — us, his parents — and I cried to my husband, “He wants to go back!”

We worried he was cold. Or uncomfortable in his snap-up outfit. I thought we were supposed to put pajamas on babies, not realizing that it makes no difference at all. So I’d forced a footed thing on him, thinking that was what we were “supposed” to do, only for him to spend the whole night miserably trying to kick it off.

He is, and has always been, a kicker.

I remember asking Dr. M what to do about the kicking. Terrified of SIDS, like all parents, I knew we could not have any loose bedding in his bassinet — but he just seemed cold and out of sorts. He kicked off anything we tried to put on him. She confirmed we could swaddle him . . . but he didn’t love that, either. Ollie hates being confined, so the wearable blankets we received are, um, ready to be passed along in pristine condition, shall we say.

Dr. M was comforting. She reminded us, in her gentle way, that we are his parents. The nurses are gone; the NICU is gone. We are responsible for his care, and we make the decisions.

“Sometimes you just have to say, ‘Little baby, I know what’s best for you, and this is what we’re going to do,’” she said.


It seemed a little hokey at the time — especially given we feared Oliver was actually a vampire child, sleeping soundly during the day but alert (and shrieking) all night.

But I get it now. Ollie definitely has his own personality, with likes and dislikes and temper tantrums for the latter. He despises anything being on his feet or head, so hats and socks and hoods are immediately shucked off. Don’t even try shoes.

Jackets really irritate him — which is fun because, you know, it’s winter. And about 25 degrees. But as Ollie goes stiff-armed to avoid the sleeves, having a meltdown when I lift the hood to shield him from the cold, I summon my motherly courage — the mettle I guess I had in me all along — to give him the hair eyeball.

“I know,” I say. “Mama hears you. But my baby, I know what’s best for you, and this is what we’re going to do.”

And we do.

Er, most of the time.

Have to pick our battles, right?

18 thoughts on “Snowy mama mettle

  1. Great post! Reading it brought me back in time to when my three girls were stubborn infants. They are now 21,18 and 14 but I still can remember their first months like it was yesterday. Cherish every moment because it goes by in an instant. Ollie is beautiful and lucky to have parents like you.


    • Thanks so much! When it comes to parenting, nothing is truer than that classic quote: “The days are long, but the years are short.” I can’t believe I’m already thinking about Ollie’s first birthday party. I’m emotional just thinking about it!


  2. Sounds like you guys made it through okay! One of my best friends also lives in Maryland and they lost power for two days. She had to text me cross-country to look up the number to report it! Luckily I was still awake thanks to the three-time-zone difference. They still haven’t been able to return to work though – I can’t imagine what the cabin fever must be like for you guys!

    We still have daily struggles when getting dressed, too. It’s so funny to see their little personalities blossoming and figuring out what they like and don’t like. I’ve had many, “Sorry kid but this is just how it has to be” chats, too. I’ve even lectured our little 7-month old on how “sometimes in life you just have to do things you don’t want to, like wear shirts and take naps, because that’s just how it is.” 😉


    • Totally laughed at that statement, Stephanie — Oliver and I have had many a similar chat! Who would have thought we’d have to break that “life isn’t always fair” speech out with our boys so quickly?! The snow was definitely no joke — hope your friend is able to dig out very soon!


  3. I can’t believe you beat us in the snow department! I’m sure Spencer is shocked too. We didn’t get hit by the storm AT ALL! We lucked out for once!

    Caleb hates all of the same things. Sometimes I end up just draping his coat over him because those straight, rigid arms are nearly impossible to wrestle into a coat. Sigh.

    You are totally right though… parents know best. You’re doing a great job. 🙂


    • We do the draping too, Steph. Sometimes it’s unavoidable — especially when I’m running late! I feel kind of bad saying that, but there are times I just don’t have the time or energy to wrestle him into a snug coat when I know he’s just going to scream all the way to day care. So I pile on the blankets, and off we go! 🙂

      And yes, Spence is definitely shocked at the lack of New York snow, though I know you guys have gotten hammered quite a few times recently. My in-laws had so much they actually canceled school once! Ha!


  4. Definitely pick your battles…and remember that mantra as they get older, talk back and refuse to acknowledge the fact that you know best. 😉

    The best part is that there is a good chance that Ollie will eventually wear his coat and hat like a good boy…up until he hits junior high. Then, it is game over. There is something about junior high in which even the most intelligent child will scoff at outerwear no matter what the temperatures. In fact, the only way I could get my oldest to start wearing a coat again in winter was to buy him his letterman’s jacket. That he wears every day now. Before he had it, he would go outside in sub-arctic temperatures wearing just a hoodie. Granted, gloves and hats are still a no-go, so he hasn’t changed completely on me.


  5. My son was sensitive to hats, jackets, socks, and gloves too. I hated to struggle with his clothes. He’s 4 and he still hates it. When it got cold, I opened the window and dressed him right next to it. I bought the softest clothes from Hanna Andersson and tested them to my face before I put them on him. I kept the jackets, hats, gloves, off till we went outside. I’d let him get just cold enough to desensitize his head and hands before putting on the hat and jacket. The gloves were usually last to go on. This method worked when we lived in Massachusetts. Sometimes baby needs to “know” why you insist on the extra gear. Polarn O. Pyret also has great winter clothes that are soft and great for sensitive kids. I hope that helps. Ollie looks amazing!

    By the way, I’m an occupational therapist. Premies tend to be sensitive to tactile stimulation, such as clothes. Every kid is different, but it’s not unusual. Sometimes, as they get older they just grow out of it. Other times, they just learn what they prefer to wear and you’ll find yourself negotiating. Even kids who aren’t premies, can be sensitive too. Sometimes it’s just temperament. Ask your hubbies parents if Ollie is just like his daddy:) He might be his daddy’s boy!


  6. The staying-awake-all-through-the-night thing isn’t a sign of a vampire baby. Oh, no, it’s much more sinister than that. It’s the sign of a sophisticated network of little people determined to torture the tall people who dared bring them into this world of bright lights and loud noises. I’m convinced all babies share some weird cosmic connection and relay the message and the instructions through telepathy on how to torture their grownups. :>


  7. When I read this post, I felt right at home. I have two kids, and not enough sleep. Some days I feel like a broken record saying no, all of the time, trying to find something to reward. My son (now 3.5) was a sleeping monster, he was only awake long enough to eat. My daughter ( 7 months) is the exact opposite. btw my son isn’t sleeping that great anymore and has always an extra set of battery’s at hand. I graduated school and worked with children for some years, but nothing compares to parenting. The emotions, doubt, the fears, the joy and the lack of sleep!


  8. Shreya hates the blankets and swaddling too. She would manage to get out of her swaddle ALL. THE. TIME. And everyone told me I was crazy not to swaddle her. I will admit to getting incensed by that. We skipped swaddling but blankets will stay. Yeah, babies really don’t know what’s good for them.


  9. Yes, we have to do what’s best…but our little ones are little individuals, and they won’t always go willingly, or quietly, into the night or into the jacket… I welcomed a premature infant as well, and although he’s 20 months now, believe me, that first year was a killer. Hang in there! You can do it! (I promise! I finally did!)


  10. cute cute cute…the baby pictures the snow And the article…very well written…actually makes you imagine your day and the snowed in feeling…n Ollie is So So Cute…


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