Saturday, July 24, 2010

The never-ending procession of teeth.

Our friends' fourteen and fifteen month old babies are saying multiple words now. "Mama" and "Dada," of course. But also, "da" for dog, "uh-oh!" and, my favorite, "ca!" for "police helicopter" (we do live in Oakland, after all). Joe's baby buddy James recently said "Joe!"

But not Joe. Nope. He might have said "Mama" once and actually meant it. We're not sure. He says "Dada" all the time, but it seems to mean everything. He loves the dogs, but he doesn't have a word for them. And he doesn't even notice the helicopters. He seems to be too busy destroying things and learning to climb ladders to bother with speech.

But I would have you know, he is very advanced in one respect: teeth.

This kid came out of the womb teething. Or so it seemed. In reality, he cut his first teeth around five months (respectably early), and they have been erupting with great regularity since. Between six and eight months, Joe cut no less than five (FIVE!) teeth. As of this writing, Joe has almost a full set of molars.

There are some good things about having a baby who gets a mouth of teeth early - for example, Joe is quite capable of eating baby carrots and apple slices with no assistance. There are also some not-so-good aspects - like how he can easily draw blood.

I know what you are thinking right now. Yes, I am still breastfeeding. I'll be honest: When Joe's top teeth came in, we had a bad week there. Let's just say that it is especially hard to nurse discreetly in public when you keep jumping out of your skin, screaming in pain, and flinging your child away from your body. (I know, the experts recommend that, instead of screaming bloody murder and tossing your child roughly into your spouse's arms, you respond calmly, simply pressing the baby's face into your breast to force the child to unlatch. But I'd like to see you try to do this after razor-sharp puppy teeth have sunk into one of your most sensitive parts.) It is quite possible that several women have decided not to breastfeed their own children based on witnessing me during that short time. (This is the exact opposite of "lactivism.")

But babies learn cause and effect very quickly. You bite? NO BOOB. It didn't take long for Joe to figure that one out. Luckily, Joe caught onto my histrionics quicker than you can say, "Fetch me that canister of formula, honey." (Which is good because - I'll let you in on a secret here - I really love breastfeeding.)

Teaching Joe not to bite body parts that do not supply him with delicious warm milk has been more difficult. We're still working on that. I have to pry his teeth off of Omie's (apparently irresistible) tail approximately one million times per day. In our house, we spend more time rescuing our dogs from our overly boisterous and rowdy toddler than the other way around.

And then there is the (lack of) sleep. Parents of babies are quick to blame teething for everything. My friend Melissa recently joked that when her baby boy Miles is a teenager and gets caught selling drugs on the subway, she'll probably shrug and remark, "Ugh. He must be teething again!" Teething is a catch-all ailment, blamed for everything from drippy noses to diarrhea, fevers to bad moods.

But maybe teething is to blame for the fact that Joe has never, in his almost fifteen months of life, slept more than four hours in a row? Actually, most of the time, he prefers chunks of one to two hours, punctuated by nice snacks of warm milk.

If you're one of those people who swears up and down that you will never allow your child to share your conjugal bed, all I can say is: Are you free to babysit next Saturday night? Because Joe is cutting his eyeteeth right now, and Steve and I are heading to Vegas. (Ha, ha. Not.)

What does fifteen months of sleep deprivation look like, you may wonder? Well, it looks like me. And Steve. You don't have to tell us that we have a few more wrinkles around the eyes than we used to. We're well aware of them, thank you.

But it doesn't seem to bug Joe at all.

Well, considering the all-night-suck-a-thons, it's a good thing I get to wake up to this toothy smile every morning:


  1. Melissa - HA! (You're funny too, Inder, but you know I know that.)

  2. Advanced cuteness! Both of you!

  3. What a set of choppers! Inder, he's absolutely gorgeous. These photos are incredible. Can you believe you MADE him? He's just so glowy with life. Must be all those nighttime snacks. Nice work, mama.

  4. Child-throwing aside (hee hee), you are a total boob warrior to keep breastfeeding through the Bad Week That Shall Not Be Repeated. Tabitha is 6 months tomorrow and tooth #1 is through, and so sharp I could shave my legs with that thing. And tooth #2 is any day now. My boobs are nervous.

  5. Anne: Melissa is funny!! You should read her blog, it's awesome.

    Mom: Advanced cuteness, and advanced ladder-climbing skills - that's my baby!

    Melissa: I survived another night of teething because of this comment. Thank you.

    Emily: Aw, sorry if I freaked you out! Some babies never bite their mothers! Some babies take a hint better than Joe and only bite the once. Girls, in general, seem much more civilized in this respect. At any rate, it's not an issue for every baby.

    In my defense, Joe weighed like 20 lbs at six months, and was plenty sturdy enough to handle a little tossing around. Steve only had to dive a little to catch him ...

  6. 20 pounds at 6 months! Ka-pow! Clearly you inject 'roids into your boobs.

  7. Maybe it was 18 lbs. Exaggerate? Who, me?

  8. That was hilarious! We also had a baby who grew teeth and did pretty much nothing else. Sam was known to remark: "So you can grow teeth and hair, so what? A tumor can do that." Fortunately, apparently!, teething never seemed to bother Mikko much. Or maybe we just blamed his bad moods on other things. :)

    Anyway, hope you get some more sleep and some rest from the teething soon. What an adorable and happy kid, despite it all!

  9. Hobomama: I'm cracking up about the tumor thing. That's just so awesome.

    And yeah, it's definitely just me that's sleep deprived. Joe is clearly doing great. The all-night breastfeeding looks downright good on him! :-)


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