Ep. 81: Baby Separation Anxiety: What to Do and What Not to Do

January 20, 2020

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This week, Shanna feels stressed about her 12-month-old daughter’s newfound separation anxiety, and Laura talks about her visit to a co-working space that provides childcare. In the new segment “It Takes a Village,” Laura and Shanna ask their listeners to help them solve their current parenting conundrums. Finally, they reveal their BFPs and BFNs for the week. Shanna’s baby is 12 months and one week old, and Laura’s baby is 11 months and two weeks old.

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Episode Transcript

[Music]

Laura Birek: Welcome to Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. This week we have our weekly check-ins. We have a brand new special segment, It Takes a Village, where we need your help listeners and we close with our BFPs and BFNs for the week. Let’s get started.

[Music]

Laura Birek: Hi. Welcome to the show, everyone. This is episode 81. Hi, Shanna.

Shanna Micko: Hey.

Laura Birek: Tell us about your week. How old is your baby now?

Shanna Micko: She’s 12 months and one week and we’re doing well. I forgot last week to give a little update about her 12 month appointment, so I just want to comment a couple things on that. First of all, you know last time she was rocking the 80th percentile for weight.

Laura Birek: Oh, yeah.

Shanna Micko: So she’s gone down to 50th percentile, which is interesting.

Laura Birek: Oh, interesting.

Shanna Micko: I’m really hoping that it helps curb all of the comments from strangers about how big my baby is.

Laura Birek: Your gigantic baby.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, I talked about that in a They Said What segment a few episodes back. So I haven’t been getting as many comments on her size. They do all still think she’s a boy, though. I don’t know what it is about my neighborhood, but I think I even sent you a picture, Laura. I was walking CeCe in her bright pink car, she had a pink hat on, she was like a screened girl and the woman at the register was like, “Hello young man.”

Laura Birek: So odd. It’s context clues people. Gender is a construct, but also she’s wearing bright pink.

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Laura Birek: Did I tell you about the other day? My baby was wearing like wearing a tweed overall and an orange-ish, like a beige shirt and two people thought he was a girl, which it’s fine. But someone came up and was like, “Hello, princess,” and I was like, huh? He’s wearing tweed.

Shanna Micko: People are so bold in their gender assignments. It’s wild. Same thing. 

I was standing on the corner waiting across the street one day in her pink car just all fully decked out girly and this woman walked right up and she looked at her and she looked at me and said, “He’s got a fantastic smile.” Okay. Thanks. I don’t care. I just find it really funny.

Laura Birek: It is interesting. I am definitely a person who tries not to make any assumptions. So my new tactic is when I see either a cute dog or cat or baby, usually you don’t see a lot of people walking their cats, so it’s usually like a cute dog. Oh my God, I saw a nine-week-old German Shepherd the other day when I went to Petco to buy cat litter and I nearly died. I was going to say, “How old is he or she?” when I was trying to find out, because it was a tiny puppy and my method these days is I say, “How old is this little one?” Or “How old is this cutie?” Totally gender neutral. Then they always respond with a pronoun.

Shanna Micko: Good.

Laura Birek: Oh, she’s nine weeks. Oh, he’s… Whatever. Then you can figure it out without having to ask explicitly. That’s my method.

Shanna Micko: I really like that: cutie, sweetie. You know what I’ve noticed having a little bit older kid is that so often the default is a male pronoun if you don’t know, like little stuffed animals characters. If we go to the pet store and see little hamsters, it’s like, oh, he’s so cute. Look at him. So I try to curb myself from doing that and try to assign female pronouns more often than not because I feel like her whole world is made up of just boys: boy hamsters, boy stuffed animals. 

The cartoon she watches, Paw Patrol, unfortunately is like six boy dogs and one girl and so I’m just like trying to balance it out. Books and stuff characters are often boys, so sometimes I’ll just change the pronoun and make…

Laura Birek: Wait, Shanna, are you saying Paw Patrol doesn’t pass the Bechdel test?

Shanna Micko: What are the questions on the Bechdel test again?

Laura Birek: The Bechdel test is, are there more than one female character?

Shanna Micko: No.

Laura Birek: Do they talk to each other about something other than men?

Shanna Micko: No, there’s only one female dog. I think there’s a female mayor, so at least she’s like a leader of the Adventure Bay.

Laura Birek: They have to have names. They can’t just be like woman number one, woman number two. They have to be named female characters that talk to each other about something other than a man.

Shanna Micko: Right. Right. Right. You know what? Paw Patrol has that going for them. So good job Paw Patrol.

Laura Birek: The real basic level.

Shanna Micko: Yes.

Laura Birek: But you know what? I noticed the same thing. I caught myself the other day because I was reading a little book and there was a Turkey in the book and I was like, oh, that Turkey, he did this. I was like, why is it a male Turkey? Could be a lady Turkey. So I think it’s good because I was raised where male was default. The majority of media I consumed as a kid and I think into adulthood until fairly recently was male is default: more male characters. So it’s just natural to be assigning a male pronoun to all these ungendered things. Like he has a little teddy bear and I keep calling it, “Him.” Why is the teddy bear him? Teddy bear has no genitals.

Shanna Micko: Not that I know of. None of my baby stuffed animals do.

Laura Birek: That’s so creepy. That’d be an interesting new toy trend.

Shanna Micko: Maybe that’s our million dollar product idea. Oh, that’s a bad idea.

Laura Birek: It’s a very bad idea.

Shanna Micko: That’s really, really bad. Anyway, okay. So that took a little pivot, which is fine.

Laura Birek: I don’t remember how we even got here.

Shanna Micko: I don’t know. The other little thing about her appointment. Steve actually took her to this appointment because I had a meeting that day at work and she got her TB test, which I don’t know exactly what that entails, but it was some kind of prick of sorts on her arm and we had to wait two days and then I had to bring her back into the office for someone to check that injection site and see if there was any reaction.

Laura Birek: Yeah, I know how a TB test works on an adult because I’ve had it because I had to do some volunteering in a hospital once. So what you do, they inject a little fluid under your skin and basically in a couple days, if you react to it, it means that you are positive to the antibodies or something and if it goes away, it means that you don’t have TB.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

Laura Birek: I’m hoping she doesn’t have TB.

Shanna Micko: She doesn’t. I was already able to go back and check and it was fine. There was no reaction. But yeah, that was something that I forgot about or wasn’t expecting.

Laura Birek: I didn’t know they’d do that.

Shanna Micko: A little heads up to everyone that, that might happen at your 12 month appointment too.

Laura Birek: Thanks for the tip.

Shanna Micko: Then the last update about this week is CeCe has fallen face first into separation anxiety.

Laura Birek: Oh, okay. I was worried she fell face…

Shanna Micko: She hasn’t actually fallen face first.

Laura Birek: I was like, oh no, she fell face first into what?

Shanna Micko: That was a big…

Laura Birek: Something emotional.

Shanna Micko: Yes.

Laura Birek: Okay. Which is still hard, but at least her beautiful, adorable little boy face. No, her perfectly adorable girl face is not injured.

Shanna Micko: No, not this week.

Laura Birek: So tell me, I’ve heard that separation anxiety comes around like six months and then again at 12 months-ish, right?

Shanna Micko: I think so. I read in my little What To Expect update that separation anxiety would be coming and I was like, I don’t know. She’s really good at playing independently and a lot of my work from home depends on her being able to do that and I zip in and out of rooms and do things and she’ll play and she’ll look at me. No, not anymore.

Laura Birek: Really?

Shanna Micko: Not anymore. I leave the room, she cries, she whines, she chases me, she gets upset and that is so tricky for trying to work from home and get stuff done. So I need to figure out a new way to operate while this phase is going on.

Laura Birek: Was it six to nine months something? I don’t remember now. Everything’s such a long-term ago memory if it’s like more than two weeks.

Shanna Micko: I know.

Laura Birek: But when the first sort of round of separation anxiety was happening, my Mommy & Me class talked about it and one of the things that my Mommy & Me teacher suggested was that you always make sure to tell the baby where you’re going and then how long you’re going to be gone, basically, so that it was predictable. If you’re going to be gone longer than five minutes, you make sure that you tell like, okay, mommy’s going to the store. I’ll be back in two hours. You create some kind of a ritualized goodbye. So that’s what I do. I don’t know if it helps, but I’ve been doing that. I don’t leave my baby all that much, but I still will do. My ritualized goodbye is I give him a hug and a kiss and then at the door I blow kisses so that he knows blowing the kisses at the door is mommy’s going away for more than two minutes or whatever.

Shanna Micko: Right.

Laura Birek: She said, she being my Mommy & Me teacher that it should mitigate the duration of the separation anxiety.

Shanna Micko: Oh, good.

Laura Birek: It’s almost like a leap thing where they’re just learning that you can leave them again basically and it shouldn’t last months and months and months. It should last like a couple weeks and in theory get back to normal assuming you don’t create bad habits in the meantime.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

Laura Birek: Definitely, I noticed that with the first bout of separation anxiety for us. It was really, really bad for a couple weeks and then he got better. He still doesn’t love it if I’ve left him alone in a room though, but he doesn’t care about me handing him off to a stranger at all.

Shanna Micko: That’s interesting. I think she definitely just doesn’t like it when I walk away from her, which I do here and there.

Laura Birek: You walk away from your baby?

Shanna Micko: I know. I’m so addicted.

Laura Birek: How terrible? Attached at the hip at all times.

Shanna Micko: Well, some people are into that theory. I do also love separation anxiety in a way because it’s just so cute. The little extra snuggles and neediness is I kind of am a sucker for that. It’s like, well, you do need your mama.

Laura Birek: You love your mama.

Shanna Micko: So in searching for this online, what to do about it, I came across an interesting solution that I wanted to share with you.

Laura Birek: Okay.

Shanna Micko: I came across an article on parents.com talking about a woman in Japan who was having the same exact problem as I am having and she came up with a genius solution to curb the problem. She created a giant life size cutout of herself. I think her husband did it maybe, but he did two of them. One of her standing and one of her sitting and so she placed it in the room and left to see if it would trick the baby. Apparently, it did.

Laura Birek: Aww.

Shanna Micko: The dad was like, “The baby didn’t even notice for 20 minutes,” which I was like, whoa. I just don’t know if I could trick CeCe like that.

Laura Birek: How old was this baby?

Shanna Micko: One year old. Same age.

Laura Birek: Oh, okay. All right. I think there’s only one way to find out.

Shanna Micko: Oh my gosh, should I do it?

Laura Birek: It’s for research.

Shanna Micko: I feel like that’s the kind of thing you learn as an adult that your mom did and just feel real bad and betrayed, like you left me alone in a room with a cardboard cutout. I’m never really gone for 20 minutes. I zip into the other room to feed the dogs for three minutes or something.

Laura Birek: No, it makes me sad to think about it. It makes me think about those heartbreaking I think it was like monkey studies that they did in the fifties where they took the monkey mom away and put in like a wire mother or whatever or something, remember? The monkey still like clung to the wall. It makes me cry.

Shanna Micko: It’s so sad. You come over and CeCe’s just clinging to a cardboard cut out of me sitting on the couch. I’m getting so much done.

Laura Birek: Thanks cardboard cut out of me. Thanks.

Shanna Micko: Yes.

Laura Birek: We’ve got two great product ideas. We’ve got baby toys with genitals and we’ve got cardboard cutouts of mom.

Shanna Micko: Man oh man.

Laura Birek: We’re going to be rich.

Shanna Micko: Anyway, okay. So that’s my check-in for the week. What about you? How old’s your baby?

Laura Birek: My baby’s 11 months and two weeks and so this week I decided I needed to act upon my revelation where I was like, I’m a work at home mom, not a stay at home mom and tried to sort of focus a little bit more on childcare. The problem was that the woman I’d been using to babysit like once a week, I was like already to see if she’d come twice a week and start ramping up and she got sick.

Shanna Micko: Oh my goodness.

Laura Birek: So I looked into this co-working place called Wiggle & Work that’s in LA. It’s in Silver Lake. It’s on like East Hollywood/Silver Lake. It’s of course like a five minute walk from my old apartment just 20 minutes.

Shanna Micko: That’s a little far from you now, isn’t it?

Laura Birek: It is. It’s about a 20 minute drive, but I decided to give it a try because the first session was free for the first part and I wanted to kind of check it out because I thought it might be useful. It’s a co-working place that has childcare, I should say. It’s essentially a daycare with desks hidden away more or less.

Shanna Micko: But the desks are outside of the child area?

Laura Birek: Well, they have desks in the childcare area if you have a kid with insane separation anxiety and who won’t let you leave the room, which is actually kind of nice.

Shanna Micko: Interesting.

Laura Birek: But there’s like a quiet room upstairs and there’s like a non-quiet room where you can eat and take phone calls and stuff upstairs and so I thought I’d give it a try and I went and I thought it was like a really cool setup. The owners were really very nice and showed me around and they do two hour blocks. For the first one I just did a two hour block and I didn’t really get much work done because they want you to settle in with the baby and just ease them into the process. Of course, my baby, he is not in a separation anxiety phase right now at all and he just loves playing with other kids. I set him down and he was immediately playing and did not even care.

Shanna Micko: Oh, good.

Laura Birek: It’s so funny because the owner was like, “Let’s sit for a while and make sure he is fine.” I’m like, “He’s fine. Can I go get my work done?” So I went and got some work done and I actually ended up going the next day and I booked two two-hour sessions back to back and it’s a little tricky because he’s on two naps a day still.

Shanna Micko: Oh, right.

Laura Birek: So a four hour block is pretty hard to swing. That’s the max of his wake window and then he had a 20 minute drive on either end. What I did is I showed up late. 

After he woke up from his nap, I brought him in about a half hour late. I got about two and a half hours of work done and then he started melting down really, really tired and needing me. They give you a little pager kind of what you get at a restaurant when you’re waiting for your table so they can buzz you if something’s going on and your baby needs you. I got buzzed and I went down and he was just like, no, no. Needing hugs and stuff. You bring a snack pack and they’ll feed the baby in the middle of the session. It’s a really, really cool daycare space. It’s huge and they’ve got slides and they’ve got a ball pit and all kinds of fun stuff.

Shanna Micko: Wow. That’s so fun. Was it busy? Are a lot of people utilizing this?

Laura Birek: Yeah, it seemed pretty busy. They always have like a three kid to one caretaker ratio, but it’s kind of a cool system because what they do is you join the wait list if it’s all booked up and if they have enough people on the wait list, they’ll call in more caretakers. So it’s sort of like a flexible way of making sure that there’s enough demand for the caretakers and whatever and it gives flexibility to the staff too, I guess. It was pretty cool. I ended up getting a membership because with the membership you prepay I think two sessions a month and it ends up coming out to $15 an hour.

Shanna Micko: Oh, that’s good.

Laura Birek: Yeah, it’s pretty good.

Shanna Micko: It’s cheaper than the babysitter.

Laura Birek: But it’s definitely a nice option to have. I don’t know why there’s not more of these things. They should be everywhere.

Shanna Micko: They really should. I used something similar when Elle was a baby and I loved it and I don’t know what it was about the business, but I guess it wasn’t sustainable because after a while they changed their membership policy where you had to do full days. You couldn’t do a few hours at a time and it ended up being like $900 a month if you wanted to join.

Laura Birek: So basically just a daycare.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, didn’t end up working out. So this one sounds awesome though and the play area is so much bigger than the one we went to. That’s great.

Laura Birek: Yeah, the play area is huge and really, really cute. They have it really nicely decorated and there were babies as little as I want to say like two or three months there and then they go up to I think age four and then they cut off.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

Laura Birek: But most kids are going to preschool by that anyway. It’s great. There are some people there who apparently they go eight hours a day every day. That’s their office, but they do it because they want to be able to spend more time with their kids. I thought it was really cool: Wiggle & Work.

Shanna Micko: I love it.

Laura Birek: So if you’re in the LA area, look it up. Apparently, they’re opening up some new locations too. One’s going to be in Highland Park, so that’s closer to me.

Shanna Micko: That’s good.

Laura Birek: We did that and then immediately got a cold. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Shanna Micko: That’s not a coincidence.

Laura Birek: No, it’s not a coincidence. So I got a cold and you know how I’ve been avoiding taking Sudafed every time I’ve gotten sick since I’ve been breastfeeding because it’s supposed to affect your breast milk supply. But I finally was like, you know what? My baby’s almost one. We’ve really established breastfeeding quite well and I need something to help me out. I’m so tired. I’m so wiped out and you know Christmas was coming up and I was just like, this is not going to work. I finally broke down and took Sudafed and I can report that it did not affect my supply at all, which is great.

Shanna Micko: Yay.

Laura Birek: Apparently, it only affects a few. Not all people have that effect and then if you are breastfeeding continuously through it and continue breastfeeding afterwards, your supply should bounce back even if it does affect your supply. That was good. Here’s another thing that might or may not be a coincidence. I started taking Sudafed, then I went to the hardware store and decided it was time to rent a carpet cleaner.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

Laura Birek: I rented a carpet cleaner and came home and spent an entire evening cleaning the carpet.

Shanna Micko: You’re like the mom on Requiem For a Dream where she gets all up and vacuums everything.

Laura Birek: Yeah.

Shanna Micko: Oh my gosh. That’s good.

Laura Birek: It was very satisfying. I remember Corey being like, “You’re going to do that now?” I’m like, “When else am I going to do it?” He’s like, “I need this energy!” So the carpet’s very clean.

Shanna Micko: Yay.

Laura Birek: But anyway, real quickly, the other things that are going on this week with the baby is that, oh my God, this is my favorite thing. The baby is now saying Magnus, which is my cat’s name. He doesn’t say Magnus. He doesn’t enunciate it, but he goes, “Nanas, nanas.”

Shanna Micko: Yes.

Laura Birek: So when Magnus comes by, he reaches his arm out and goes, “Nanas, nanas.”

Shanna Micko: Oh my God.

Laura Birek: It’s so cute. A couple of our books are about Barnyard animals. I opened up a page to the cow and he went, “Mm.” I think he’s saying moo at the book.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, totally.

Laura Birek: So that’s very exciting to me.

Shanna Micko: That’s so exciting.

Laura Birek: Then the final language thing is that he’s getting very assertive about saying yes to things. He doesn’t say yes, but he kind of goes, “Yeah.” He nods his head really aggressively. If you’re like, “Are you done?” He goes, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Shanna Micko: Oh, that’s so cool.

Laura Birek: He kind of says yes to everything, which is better than saying no to everything. But it’ll be like, “Are you the cutest baby in the world?” He goes, “Yeah.”

Shanna Micko: Awesome.

Laura Birek: That is a very, very fun, very fun development. I am loving it.

Shanna Micko: Well, if you have any video of it lets share it.

Laura Birek: I do have the Magnus video, so we will put it on our Instagram at BFP Podcast. It’s very cute. That’s it for me. Should we take a break and come back with our brand new special segment?

Shanna Micko: Ooh, let’s do it.

[Music]

Shanna Micko: We are back and we’re really excited because we have a new segment today called, It Takes a Village, which is a segment in which we ask each other and you listeners for advice on something we need help with because I don’t know about you, Laura, but I need some help in some areas of my life and sometimes Miss Google does not provide the answers I need.

Laura Birek: There’s just a lot of things that you need, like been there, done that advice from people. Like this is what worked for me, not generic advice. So that’s what we’re here for. We dole out a lot of advice on this podcast and now it’s our turn to get advice from y’all.

Shanna Micko: Yes, help us.

Laura Birek: Help us village.

Shanna Micko: Laura, you are up first. What do you need help with this week?

Laura Birek: Okay. I need help with managing all of the fucking toys. The context is that when we’re recording, it’s a week before Christmas and we’re already getting boxes of presents coming in for the baby and his first birthday is two weeks later.

Shanna Micko: Yep.

Laura Birek: One week later I guess not even two weeks later. So it’s like a wham-bam one two punch of just an influx of stuff. My current method is throw everything in those cube storage boxes then you’re still piling stuff up and I’ve noticed that there’s just a lot of stuff he doesn’t play with anymore, but then I’m like, maybe he’ll play with it later because the things he’s interested in change. 

That’s all I’ve been doing so far and his yes space is totally cluttered with toys because I try to curate him. Every night I’m like, “I’m going to take toys out of here.” But then they always end up piled back in there and it’s like too many toys in his yes space. So I don’t know what to do with the ones we have, let alone the ones that are coming in. I’ve asked people in the most tactful way I could for his birthday party, which I sent out invitations for. I said like, “No need for presents, but if you want to bring something…” Because I feel like when you say no presents, people bring presents anyway.

Shanna Micko: Definitely.

Laura Birek: “But if you want to bring something, a new used book is welcome.”

Shanna Micko: That’s a really good idea.

Laura Birek: Hopefully, people follow that though.

Shanna Micko: I will follow that advice.

Laura Birek: Thank you. Because we could never have too many books as far as I’m concerned and also books are slim and they have a really nice place to stay, which is on the bookshelf.

Shanna Micko: Yes.

Laura Birek: I love books. We’re a book family, but that doesn’t stop the fact that we have all this stuff and some of these boxes of things we’re getting are huge and I know there’s going to be like one of those push cart things and a little ride on toy. There’s all this stuff.

Shanna Micko: That’s a lot.

Laura Birek: So what do I do? What do you do?

Shanna Micko: I have a similar conundrum because I now have two kids, so I have so many toys and the yes space that CeCe’s in is my living room now because I work in there and it has become overrun with toys. So I’m always trying to figure out something to do. I did make a decision recently to buy storage, chest trunk type of thing. Like a piece of furniture. I did this the first time too with Elle when we were in a very small apartment and she played a lot in the living room.

Laura Birek: Oh, yeah. I remember you had an ottoman.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, it was an ottoman. So I like to buy something that can hide the toys and look like a piece of furniture when it’s not playtime. I went on overstock and found a nice big trunk and put that together and that hides a lot of stuff and I just take it out when it’s time to play and then I bought a bookshelf for the living room and I put some little bins in there and I throw a bunch of toys in there, so that holds smaller stuff. It’s still not as neat as I would like it to be mostly because I’m just lazy and the kids spend so much time in there anyway. 

Because for me, it’s more about how do I hide this shit when I want to feel like an adult or have people over and not feel like I’m in a playroom?

Laura Birek: Constantly stepping on toys is a problem for me. I also feel like I really ascribe to the outer order, inner calm thing and my house is not tidy. It’s not super minimalist. Marie Kondo would not approve, but it’s become a complete tornado and I want to avoid it just being carpeted with toys. I want it to be scattered and I love this idea of everything having a place and I feel like it’s probably good for the baby to like know that things get put away at the end. But yeah, we’re failing right now. So I need help.

Shanna Micko: We also do, or I shouldn’t say we, because the kids don’t really participate in this. I do a cleanup at the end of every day like a tidy up of that room so I can start the day fresh and I also have just given in a little bit to what it is. It’s like, well, this room has a lot of toys in it right now because that’s what entertains my baby while I work and it is what it is. I don’t know. Do you do a cleanup at the end of every day?

Laura Birek: Kind of. Because we have the yes space, not all the time because it’s sort of like, what’s the point? He’s just going to get back in the yes space and pull all these toys out again. But I do. I think Corey finds me sometimes. He’ll come home from work and he’ll get in the yes space with the baby, and then I’ll just start running around trying to tidy things up and he’s sort of like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “I can’t handle the clutter anymore.” So I think part of our problem too is that bless his heart, Corey really is still holding on to this idea of having an aesthetically pleasing house like nice furniture. 

He has more strong opinions than I do about the color of the bins we have. For me I’m just like, “Let’s just get a bin and throw it in.” But he’s like, “That one’s ugly. Let’s get a nicer bin.” I’m like, “All right. Well, then you pick out the bin.”

Shanna Micko: Oh man, I’m so team Corey on this.

Laura Birek: I’m like, I just need something and he’s like, “Let’s look and see if there’s something nicer,” but then never actually gets to it. So we’re working on that, but I’m trying not to go get ugly shit just to get something. You know what I mean? I’m trying to keep his vision of his living room somewhat intact. But the problem is that because we are trying to find something nice and we never get anything and then it just is worse all around, everyone suffers.

Shanna Micko: I hear you. What I was going to say is that I always dream of having a playroom where the kids can have their toys and stuff and we actually have that.

Laura Birek: I was going to say, don’t you have that little side room?

Shanna Micko: We do. I totally set it up to be a play area. We also share it with the TV room. So it’s like the family room where casual stuff happens. That sounded X-rated.

Laura Birek: I did not interpret it that way.

Shanna Micko: Good.

Laura Birek: But now I’m wondering what’s going on in the family room when the kids are going to bed.

Shanna Micko: Anywho, I totally set that up. I was like, it’s not the first thing you see when you walk into the house. You have to go through the kitchen and get there. It’s a perfect place for all these toys. Now that I work from home and spend a lot of time in my house, I don’t want to be in that room. It’s too dark. It doesn’t have enough natural light. It’s usually really cluttered and Steve’s desk is in there and there’s wires and blah. I don’t like it and so I don’t use it. So I’ve turned my living room into the playroom now.

Laura Birek: So you did it to yourself.

Shanna Micko: I totally did it to myself. You know what? I think I need some help with this too. So listeners, if you have any advice, we would love to hear it.

Laura Birek: Yeah, if you have any tips for us, the best way to reach us would be to send us a voice memo and we’ll play it on the air to [email protected]. But you can also send us an email just without a voice memo. Not as fun. But we understand. Or you can reach out to us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook at BFP Podcast.

Shanna Micko:
Yes, please do.

Laura Birek: Please. So help me with that. But Shanna needs help with something and I want to hear it. What do you need help with?

Shanna Micko: Okay. CeCe just turned a year old and I felt motivated the other day to do a massive purge of her closet and old baby and infant items and clothes and stuff that I haven’t gotten rid of yet. Just kind of been like, I don’t need this anymore. I’ll just shove it in the closet kind of stuff and a lot of this stuff spans both of my baby’s infancy, so I am very attached to a lot of these things. They’re little outfits they wore when they were infants. Oh my God, my heart’s melting just thinking of some of these little things they wore. Just even weird things, like, I’m finding myself really strangely attached to the 100 breast milk bottles that I pumped into. I have a breast pump, I have tons of old bottles and I’m trying to wean her off bottles and all of this stuff has just created so much clutter in my house, which I don’t like. I don’t like clutter. I love purging and usually I have no problem purging my own shit. I’ll just throw in a box, take it to whatever Goodwill is down the street and be done with it. But there’s something that feels so emotional and sacred about a lot of this stuff that taking their beautiful little outfits down to the old Goodwill down there that smells like… That place gives me the heebie-jeebies and I just don’t want to do that. So I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know what to do with all these bottles. I put them all in this box and I was like, well, maybe I can just recycle them and so I went as far as taking them to the door that’s next to the room. You open the door and there’s the recycle bin. I put them there and they’re just sitting there looking at me whenever I go out. I’m not having the heart to get rid of stuff, but I don’t know what to do with it.

Laura Birek: Well, then there’s the complicating factor of Goodwill apparently throwing away most of the stuff that gets donated to them.

Shanna Micko: What?

Laura Birek: Did you not know that?

Shanna Micko: No.

Laura Birek: Especially clothes that you give to Goodwill or Salvation Army, almost all of it gets thrown away. They only take the best of the best that they can sell.

Shanna Micko: Wow.

Laura Birek: There have been a bunch of exposes about that. So it’s not always the best option I agree. It’s hard because I have the same thing. My current excuse with the stuff that my baby’s outgrown is that like, oh, well, we might have another kid. So I’m just holding onto it and we have a storage unit.

Shanna Micko: Yes.

Laura Birek: That’s what we’re doing.

Shanna Micko: That’s what I did the first time around, so I didn’t have to let go of anything. 

I didn’t have a lot of storage space, but my mom took some of it home and stored it for me in her storage area and now it’s all back and I’m not using it anymore. We’ve upgraded to the convertible car seat and now I’ve got an infant car seat in two bases. My heart is sad, like, oh, no Shanna babies are ever going to ride in this again. I’m like, well, maybe I should have another baby and Steve’s like, “NO.”

Laura Birek: Steve’s like, get rid of the car seat.

Shanna Micko: I know, right? Oh my goodness.

Laura Birek: No, I get it. I 100% understand that feeling, especially as my baby approaches his first birthday and I’m just like, you used to be so small. When we moved up to the convertible car seat, it was the same thing. It’s like, he was a little itty bitty baby in this and now he’s not. Also, it’s hard to donate a car seat I’ve discovered.

Shanna Micko: Oh.

Laura Birek: I know this because my hospital for whatever reason gives you a car seat when you leave.

Shanna Micko: What?

Laura Birek: I couldn’t reject it for whatever reason. 

I was like, “No, I don’t need it. I have a car seat,” and they’re like, “You either have to take the car seat or the stroller.” I already had a punch of hand-me-down strollers, so I was like, “Okay. Car seat.” We thought we might use it for travel or something, but it literally sat next to his dresser for a year and then I finally was like, we need to get rid of this. We’re never going to use it.

Shanna Micko: What kind of car seat is it? I’m so curious.

Laura Birek: It was a really cheap Evenflo one. It was basically the base level that you could get. I looked it up. I think they only sell that brand in bulk to hospitals basically.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

Laura Birek: But the nice thing about regulations in the US is that there’s no such thing as a bad car seat. They’re all safe. So I was going to donate it and there’s this company called Baby2Baby in Los Angeles and they have a bunch of bins you can drop stuff off in, which is an option for you, by the way. You might want to look at it.

Shanna Micko: Oh, okay.

Laura Birek: They will take car seats. If you like, you have to sign an affidavit saying it’s new or you have the original purchase information so you know how old it is and yada, yada, yada because they have expiration dates.

Shanna Micko: Right.

Laura Birek:
It’s not safe to necessarily just trust someone that their car seat hasn’t been involved in an accident. So it’s hard. I said like, “Can I donate this to you?” They were like, “Sure. Just drive it over to our offices in Culver City to drop it off.”

Shanna Micko: Oh geez.

Laura Birek: Which is like a 40 minute drive on a good day kind of and I was just like, this isn’t going to happen. So I actually asked, my Mommy & Me group, we have a WhatsApp. I was like, “I didn’t know where I could donate this.” It turns out a friend of a friend had just found out they were pregnant and her husband had just lost her job. So they’re like, “My friend would probably love this because they’re super strapped for cash.” I gave it to that friend. But yeah, car seats are hard to donate and you don’t want your stuff to just get thrown away.

Shanna Micko: I wish I knew someone who was pregnant having a girl. Laura, what’s your timetable with this?

Laura Birek: Well, I still have the Mirena. So it depends on how long your storage situation can hang because there’s no guarantees there. If I end up getting pregnant again, it’ll probably be twin boys or something.

Shanna Micko: Oh my God. Yeah.

Laura Birek: As much as I want you to hold on to them for me for that eventuality, I don’t think that’s a fair thing to ask you in your garage. I will say that I donated to a women’s shelter recently. I had a diaper subscription from Parasol for a while and I had forgotten to cancel it. He went from three to four recently and they sent out three packs of size threes and I was like, damn it. They don’t really fit him anymore and so I was going to return them and I asked them. I was like, “Can you return them?” They’re like, “Yeah, you’ll have to pay return shipping. Our other option is that we do a half refund and you can keep the diapers.” I was like, “Oh, I’ll do that.” So they refunded me half and then I took the three packs of diapers to a woman’s shelter recently.

Laura Birek: Oh, okay.

Shanna Micko: It’s a local one. So I had to email and be like, “Hey, are you accepting donations and when can I set up a time?” Because it’s not like Goodwill where you can just drop it off any old time. But I did that and I looked on their website and they said, “In addition to diapers and wipes and all the stuff that we usually accept, we also accept lightly worn or new shoes, clothes, that sort of stuff.” So I actually was able to purge some shoes and stuff that don’t fit me anymore and actually stuff I had never worn that I’d gotten as gifts and just I thought that I would maybe wear them and never did. That made me feel good.

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Laura Birek: That’s an option.

Shanna Micko: I need something like that to make me feel better because I just want to have some kind of personal connection or something. Or maybe the advice is I just need to get over it and let it go. I have no idea.

Laura Birek: Well, listeners, we need your tips.

Shanna Micko: Please.

Laura Birek: What’s Shanna going to do with all this stuff?

Shanna Micko: Let me know.

Laura Birek: Again, a voice memo is awesome, [email protected] or hit us up on social media at BFP Podcast. I can’t wait to hear some solutions from our listeners because you guys are all so great.

Shanna Micko: Me too. Yes, thank you. Well, Laura, I think we can move on to our BFPs and BFNs.

Laura Birek: Yes, let’s do it.

[Music]

Laura Birek: We’re back. We close every show with our big fat positives or big fat negatives of the week. Shanna, do you have a BFP or a BFN for us?

Shanna Micko: I’m not sure which one this is. It’s kind of both I guess. You be the judge.

Laura Birek: Okay.

Shanna Micko: So I have two little dogs and they have always been my little vacuums for eating up whatever the kids drop on the floor, especially the baby. Babies are so messy, they just drop everything and Chili and Sasha are there at the ready and just eat everything up. So in a way it’s great because I don’t have to sweep up all of the food off the floor. So it’s a BFP in that regard and then on the other hand, it’s created this cycle where CeCe thinks it’s hilarious now to drop food down to them. She realizes the connection. She knows that if she drops the food down, Sasha will get it and then she laughs and she thinks it’s funny. So she does it on purpose. Then now if she doesn’t like something, she doesn’t want to eat it, she’s gotten in the habit of just taking it, putting her hand off the side and dropping it. I think you mentioned your guy does a similar thing.

Laura Birek: That’s what he does when he is done.

Shanna Micko: Oh, when he’s done?

Laura Birek: Yeah, he’s just like, I’m just dropping this on the floor instead of my mouth.

Shanna Micko: So funny. She does that if she wants me to know that she does not like something. So lots of food on the floor. My dogs eating lots of human food they probably shouldn’t eat, but I don’t have to get on my hands and knees and sweep all this shit up. So it’s good. It’s bad. It’s all in between. I don’t know.

Laura Birek: As long as they’re not eating grapes, right?

Shanna Micko: I have to watch out for grapes for sure.

Laura Birek: As long as it’s not causing them GI problems, I would say. Isn’t that the main benefit of having a dog when you have a baby? Because they’re very sweet and very cuddly and I love your dogs. They’re so cute. But they also cause you a lot of grief.

Shanna Micko: I know they do.

Laura Birek: I feel like you should take the wimp.

Shanna Micko: Good point. I totally should. They’re helping me out in that regard. Although I will say it’s pretty funny how when I really want them to help out and clean up stuff that she’s dropped, they’re not interested. 

You know how you mentioned freeze dried raspberries the other day? I got those and she loves them, but she likes the big chunks. She doesn’t like towards the end of the bag when it’s just like little dusty, seedy pieces. Those all go off the side of the high chair onto the floor and so I’m like, come here Chili, Sasha. Come clean this up for me. Oh no, no, no, no, no. They come in, take one whiff of that and they’re just like, nope. So then I have to go get the vacuum or the broom or whatever and clean it up myself.

Shanna Micko: Oh, man.

Laura Birek: Well, we have to sweep a lot because we have cats and they do nibble at things, especially if there’s like meat. We’re eating a lot of meat around here because we’re trying to keep the baby’s iron levels up. So the meat ends up on the floor and that’s like a great day for the cats. They’re really excited. My Magnus will scramble an egg with some cheese and he likes that, which I think is weird for a cat. Cats are weird, but they’re not reliable at cleaning up the way that dogs are. They’ll nibble at a little piece and that’s it. So we sweep a lot. Have I talked about my baby’s obsession with the broom?

Shanna Micko: No.

Laura Birek: Oh my God. My baby’s obsessed with the broom now I think because I have to bring it out so much.

Shanna Micko: It’s so cute.

Laura Birek: He legitimately cries when I have to put it away.

Shanna Micko: No.

Laura Birek: Yes.

Shanna Micko: Oh my goodness.

Laura Birek: Not like a little wine. He full on cries when I put it away.

Shanna Micko: Well, does he watch you do it? Does he try to use it? What’s his interest?

Laura Birek: All of the above. He likes watching me do it. But his favorite thing is if I just put him in the baby carrier facing outward and sweep the house with him. The house has gotten clean I will say, but then I can’t put it away.

Shanna Micko: Oh my God.

Laura Birek: I have to record myself trying…

Shanna Micko: He’s in love with the broom.

Laura Birek: We also Playlab, which is like a little indoor playground nearby and the woman who owns it was sweeping up and he was chasing her around because she had a very similar broom to what we have. We have like a broom and a standup dust pan combo. So she was like, “Oh, here. Here you go, baby. There’s a baby broom.” They had a baby size broom. Nope, he didn’t want the baby size broom.

Shanna Micko: Of course.

Laura Birek: He only wanted the full size broom and he spent that entire time at Playlab crawling out of the play area and trying to go behind her desk to get the broom.

Shanna Micko: Oh, I love it. That’s so funny. Elle was always obsessed with the Swiffer because I did the Swiffer and the Swiffer’s really cool because you can take out the middle part of the handle and make it a short handle. So I would make a short handle for her, give her the Swiffer and she would just walk around the house like sniffing.

Laura Birek: Oh, that’s pretty smart. My guy’s not walking yet, but I think we’ll have to get him something like that.

Shanna Micko: That is too funny. I love that he’s so in love with the broom, but yeah, cute.

Laura Birek: The side effect of this is that I don’t want to bring the broom out sometimes because I don’t want to have to go through the stress of getting rid of the broom. 

If we had dogs, it would solve that problem. Well, you can always borrow mine. Corey did say, “Should we get a dog? No.”

Shanna Micko: Hard pass, Laura.

Laura Birek: I love dogs, but I think this is not the time in our lives to have a dog.

Shanna Micko: No, no, no. I love my dogs, but they definitely add stress with kids for sure. But overall they are my BFP this week. My little fuzzy cutie vacuum. So thank you Chili and Sasha.

Laura Birek: They are very cute. It’s been a while since you posted a photo of them on Instagram, I feel like, and Facebook. I think it’s high time.

Shanna Micko: It’s high time. I’ll see what I can do.

Laura Birek: Okay.

Shanna Micko: What about you? What do you have this week?

Laura Birek: I have a BFP. It’s the television show Schitt’s Creek on Netflix. It’s spelled S-C-H-I-T-T’S Creek. If you don’t know about Schitt’s Creek, it’s actually a Canadian show. It’s like a CBC original and it’s by Eugene Levy and his son Daniel Levy. It’s the people who did like Waiting for Guffman.

Shanna Micko: Oh, yes. Best in Show.

Laura Birek: So it’s kind of a thing and the premise is that it’s this filthy rich family that loses all their money because one of their investors or something embezzled or something. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. But the point is that they lose all their money and they have to take refuge in this town that they bought as a joke like years before. They bought it because they thought it was funny because it was called Schitt’s Creek and so I have to say the first season was not my favorite, but everyone had said such great things about it that I stuck with it and about midway through season two, it really warmed up. I warmed up to it. But the show itself, the characters just got way more likable. They started really having goals that were outside of getting out of this crap town and it just really, really grew on me and now I’m obsessed with it and it’s so great. The reason it’s my BFP for the show is not just that it’s a really fantastic show, it’s that they’re short episodes. So they’re like 22 minutes long or whatever. You’re tired after the end of a long day and you want to watch something funny that’s not going to tax your brain. So Schitt’s Creek is my answer and there was an episode I watched recently. We’re almost done with season five and I think season six is about to come out, but I just watched season five, episode five where Johnny and Moira, who are the parents, the patriarch and matriarch of the Rose family and they got stuck babysitting an eight month old. I said that it was going to be my New Year’s resolution to speak more like Moira Rose. She’s this actress in the show that the actress plays an actress, but it’s like very old theater actress talks, has just a very fun, special way of talking. I’m going to play a little clip from this scene where they’re babysitting.

Moira Schitt’s Creek: Well, I’m off.

Johnny Schitt’s Creek: All right. Have fun, sweetheart.

Moira Schitt’s Creek: You do realize the baby is crying.

Johnny Schitt’s Creek: I do. Yes.

Moira Schitt’s Creek: Isn’t it scheduled to be dormant by now?

Johnny Schitt’s Creek: I’ll figure it out, Moira.

Moira Schitt’s Creek: You have the binder.

Johnny Schitt’s Creek: Yes, oh, I think I just found the issue. It might be in the diaper.

Moira Schitt’s Creek: Oh, it was the baby. I’m so relieved.

Johnny Schitt’s Creek: Yeah, I think they left extra diapers. They assumed we’d take care of it. You want to grab the rubber gloves?

Moira Schitt’s Creek: Tom Ford? John, no. They wouldn’t fit you anyway.

Johnny Schitt’s Creek: The cleaning gloves under the sink.

Moira Schitt’s Creek: It’s saying here that you should wipe counterclockwise direction. Flip it. If you can flip it.

Johnny Schitt’s Creek: The baby?

Moira Schitt’s Creek: Doesn’t say.

Laura Birek: So good.

Shanna Micko: That’s so funny.

Laura Birek: “It was the baby.” I love the, like, “Wasn’t it scheduled to be dormant by now?” So now all day whenever Corey’s home, I’ll be like, is it the baby?

Shanna Micko: She’s so good. I love that actress. Catherine O’Hara, right?

Laura Birek: So good. Catherine O’Hara, yeah. She’s so good in this show. Shanna, you said that you weren’t able to get into the show, right?

Shanna Micko: Yeah, I have tried several times because I keep hearing good things about it and it has just not clicked for me. I wasn’t into the characters, did not find it funny. 

But maybe the second season would be better for me. I don’t know.

Laura Birek: Maybe. It’s not that necessary to watch the first season. You’ll understand what’s going on. Jump in the middle of the second season. See if you like it better.

Shanna Micko: I think I might need to do that because yeah, everyone I respect keep saying it’s really good and funny and I love a short television program that’s funny. That’s all I really want to watch these days. That and some reality baking shows. That’s it. So I can definitely add that to my repertoire.

Laura Birek: I recommend it. Just jump into the middle of the second season. You’ll figure it out. You’ll understand and the characters just are richer and it’s funnier. I feel like it’s sort of the first season of the Office or, oh gosh, you know what it’s like? The first season of Parks and Rec.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, it didn’t get stride until later.

Laura Birek: Well, I think what happened was in the first season, Leslie Knope was kind of being made fun of the whole time. They sort of were treating her kind of like Michael Scott in the first season of the Office too. It was like she was the joke and she wasn’t in on it. Then at some point they realized like, oh, no. We need to champion Leslie Knope. She’s a weirdo, but she’s like our weirdo.

Shanna Micko: That made a difference.

Laura Birek: Yeah, it’s the same. It’s like instead of these characters being the joke, they’re a lot more well-rounded.

Shanna Micko: Good.

Laura Birek: I really, really, really recommend it.

Shanna Micko: Okay.

Laura Birek: So watch it with your baby.

Shanna Micko: I shall check it.

Laura Birek: Or after the baby has gone dormant.

Shanna Micko: Yes, I think that’s probably the better idea.

Laura Birek: Well, should our podcast go dormant?

Shanna Micko: Let’s go dormant. All right. I was going to say, let’s try to do this entire outro in that accent, but I just think that would be annoying. So I won’t.

[Music]

Shanna Micko: Thank you guys so much for listening. We so appreciate your support and listenership. If you love the podcast, please think about rating and reviewing us on wherever you listen and share and spread the word. If you know someone who’s expecting, trying to conceive, a new parent, let them know about our show. As we mentioned before, if you have any advice for us on these things we need help with, please reach out. Or if you have any other questions or comments, we love hearing from you. Laura, where can they reach us?

Laura Birek: They can send us an electronic communication. I can’t do it. I don’t have the training.

Shanna Micko: It’s so hard.

Laura Birek: So you can send us a voicemail or an email: [email protected]. Go to our website, bigfatpositivepodcast.com, or visit us on social media at BFP Podcast. That’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We also have a Facebook community group. It’s a fantastic group. It’s closed, so you have to search Big Fat Positive Community, request to join and I will add you and you can join in the great conversations we’re having in there and that’s everything.

Shanna Micko: Big Fat Positive is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager. Thanks for listening, everyone. Bye.

Laura Birek: Thanks for listening. Bye.

[Music]