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Jenna von Oy’s Blog: The Teething Twilight Zone

12/19/2012 at 06:00 PM ET

Jenna von Oy's Blog: The Teething Twilight Zone
Cuddling with Gray – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy is a new mama!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

von Oy, 35, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They welcomed their first child, daughter Gray Audrey, on May 21. She is now almost 7 months old.

In her latest blog, von Oy reflects on the trials and tribulations of teething.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @JennavonOy, as well as posting on her weekly blog, The Cradle Chronicles.

Author’s Note: The tragedy on December 14th in my hometown of Newtown, Conn. continues to weigh heavily on my heart, as it always will. In light of it, I considered leaving my mommy blog unpublished this month; it is difficult to look beyond the grief and sorrow right now. Though I wrote this post well before the horrific incident at Sandy Hook, I wasn’t sure I was ready to offer you fun, tongue-in-cheek anecdotes about my daughter’s teething woes in the midst of such a trying time.

It is hard not to let the profound sadness overshadow everything else. But it dawns on me that this is when we need love and laughter most. It’s one of the ways we pick ourselves up and move forward, even when it appears impossible. It is one of the ways we show one another support. So I’m doing my best to find the little things that make me smile through the pain, and my daughter has been a stunning light in all of the darkness. I treasure these moments with her now, even more than before.

My heart is forever with those who lost their lives in such a violent and senseless act. As parents, I imagine every one of us is grieving in our own way right now, so I hope this month’s blog will make you smile in the middle of your pain too … if even for a moment. — Jenna

We have entered the Twilight Zone, more popularly known as: teething. It is a warped world of twisted tales and meltdowns, where one never knows if something sinister is hiding around an otherwise innocuous corner. What lurks in the shadows is often scarier than the threat one can see. For example, consider our flight to Los Angeles in October. We were preparing to head west for my little sister’s wedding, and the plane ride loomed over us menacingly.

For three evenings prior to our trip, my daughter was in teething hell, beginning at around 6 p.m. … exactly the hour our flight was scheduled to depart. Go figure! And we’re talking epic saga screaming sessions here; the poor girl wailed until she passed out from exhaustion. It was devastating for my husband and I, because there’s only so much a parent can do to ease aching gums. We felt helpless. At some point we had to take a deep breath, check our sanity at the door, and realize it’s all part of the growth process — ours as well as hers.

Needless to say, the prospect of being in a confined space (for just shy of five hours), with a potentially screaming baby, was less than thrilling. In all honesty, I’d rather have a root canal than deal with fellow passengers who are furious over a fussy baby … make that my fussy baby. Sure, I’ve heard about the folks who dole out candy to their cabin-mates as a preemptive strike. Truthfully, I’m lucky I made it out the door with my matron-of-honor dress in tow, much less a dispensable goodie bag for people I’ve never met and will likely never see again.

I’m not suggesting I don’t care about their feelings — I probably care TOO much, in fact. But there’s something about bribing folks to pretend they don’t hear my child moaning in misery that disturbs me. I have to hope the simple words, “My daughter is in pain right now” accompanied by a sincere, “Thank you for your understanding” will suffice. But I digress.

The apprehension was overwhelming as we counted down the minutes until the impending debacle. But you know what? My sweet little girl surprised us by sleeping the whole way to California. And she smiled the entire way back home! My pre-flight paranoia stressed me out far more than the flight itself. As I said before, you just never know what’s lurking in the shadows. Every now and then, I guess it winds up being something better than expected.

It amazes me just how much a few little teeth can alter the reality I’ve come to know over the last seven months. The child who was (miraculously) allowing us to sleep through the night is suddenly waking up three or four times to comfort nurse. Or, as I prefer to call it, she has begun “whining and dining.”

Though I’ve tried offering diversions, Gray isn’t interested in any of it. She’s got a one-track mind and it’s focused on the milk dispenser. That said, I’m happy to let her nurse more often if it’s reducing her suffering. The side effect of this is, of course, that I tend to resemble a zombie for the majority of the morning … or at least until I’ve had a large enough dose of caffeine to sufficiently resurrect my brain function.

Jenna von Oy's Blog: The Teething Twilight Zone
Gray’s giraffe affinity – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Another byproduct of the seemingly endless teething adventure seems to be a serious bout with separation anxiety. Gray has unexpectedly become very vocally opposed to being left with anyone else, which often includes my husband. And by that, I mean that I can’t walk out of the room without her bellowing like a banshee. Those moments typically give way to macaroni and cheese dinners, since they don’t easily allow for easy meal preparation. Or showering. Or writing a blog, for that matter.

When being more than two feet away from the “breastaurant” sends your child into spasmodic fits of shrieking and squawking, one tends to stick close to home and find every possible way to avoid the social purgatory.

There are definitely moments when no remedy, homeopathic or otherwise, seems to satisfy the teething demons. Other times, I find it merely requires the art of distraction. We’ve taken to trying every silly antic we can conjure up. This includes, but certainly isn’t limited to: making ridiculous faces, speaking in wacky cartoon voices, banging pots and pans and wildly dancing around our kitchen. I’m becoming the one-woman show no one wants to see.

So that I can reserve some of my “entertainment skills” for career opportunities, we recently invested in one of those baby activity walkers. This is much to the dismay of our pups, who bolt out of the room as soon they hear our daughter plunking away on the plastic piano keys. Our house is now filled with the cacophony of tinny children’s songs, farm noises, and dogs howling. Investing in a decent set of earplugs is sounding better and better every day.

Not that they would save me from myself, mind you … I currently have an obsession with turning everything into a catchy ditty. Brushing my teeth has become a performance worthy of Carnegie Hall, and you should hear my diaper changing song — there are multiple verses! Clearly, if I’m aggravating myself with my made up tunes, my poor husband must have the patience of Mother Teresa.

On the slightly less annoying side, we’ve strung up a bouncy seat in our kitchen doorframe, and Gray jumps around to her heart’s content. It’s as if we’ve given birth to our very own kangaroo.

Our house isn’t exempt from the fun either — every surface is coated with a thin layer of drool and, for once, I can’t credit our Basset Hound. Each room is currently strewn with a plethora teething toys, all of which somehow seem to be giraffe-related, and which my husband and I lunge for at the slightest whimper of crankiness. Gray doesn’t seem to discriminate.

In a pinch, we’ve found that an ice-cold washcloth is just as soothing to her as its more expensive, store-bought counterparts. You know when your child seems more preoccupied by the box the toy came in than the toy itself? It’s the same idea.

I recently Tweeted that dealing with a teething baby is the equivalent of playing badminton with firecrackers. I can’t say I’ve changed my mind about that. At times, it can be unpredictably explosive. That said, though the teething process is anxiety-laden for everyone involved, I must say my daughter is a trooper. More often than not, she is in good spirits and smiles through it all. I’m exceedingly thankful for that. She’s one stubborn kid, that’s for sure!

I’d like to think she knows we’re in this thing together … even when I do the crazy chicken dance, or sing stupid songs about tying my shoes.

Until next time,

– Jenna von Oy

More from Jenna’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

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Showing 48 comments

Amanda on

My 6 month old loves her “Sophie” the giraffe. It is an awesome teething toy! Hyland’s teething tablets work wonders too.

blessedwithboys on

Jenna,

I read your essay about Newtown and it was lovely tribute! I agree about needing a laugh during rough times. :)

Have you experimented with babywearing? It was a lifesaver for me, especially during the separation anxiety phase. I’m glad you’re not limiting nursing. Seven months is way too young for that; it’s likely to bring on weaning. Have you considered that maybe upping your caffeine isn’t helping Gray’s sleeplessness? I highly recommend co-sleeping to help mama get more rest at night.

Brittany on

Three words: Hylands Teething Tablets!

mel on

I used to cut up a sweet potato into wedges and freeze it and gave a wedge to my teethers. If it was too cold for their little hands, i’d slip a newborn sock on one end for them to hang on to. They loved it :)

Meghan on

I love the term “breastaurant.” That’s classic! As a nursing mom on my second bambino, you often feel like the all night diner. The baby saunters in and asks for their regular. While I don’t like to rush to meds, I give a dose of ibuprofen at bedtime each night for a couple of weeks until the tooth breaks through.

Amy on

She is such an adorable baby!

Tee on

I hope you don’t mind but I use Gray’s baby pic of her in her white maribou feather hat as my screen saver, she is so beautiful and looks like an angel in that picture. I love reading your blog, such true antics and anedotes, you’re a wonderful writer Jenna. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

MommytoanE on

I can not agree with Hylands Teething Tablets more. They were a miracle with my daughter…she would hurt so bad…I’d let one disolve in her mouth and bam…instant happiness.

That and wash cloths that we froze. We would wet like 5-6 at a time, and stick them on a cookie sheet…later a baggie and gave them to her as she got fussy before the hylands would work. Teething is the worst.

Gray is an angel btw, I can’t imagine that sweet little thing giving you trouble about anything. :P

MA momma on

Thank you for writing a funny and honest blog Jenna. We can always count on you for that and right now we need that more than ever. I still find myself singing made up diaper changing songs when my youngest is squirming and being generally uncooperative. Anything to distract I say! So, sing away Jenna, just be glad Gray doesn’t have the hang of the video camera yet!

Kelsey on

Thank you for such a wonderful blog, it’s my favorite of all the People blogs! You’re a wonderful writer and I look forward to reading your posts! Gray is just beautiful!

Sarah S. on

“Whining and dining”…that’s classic! :) I also froze washcloths for both of children when they were teething–always did the trick.

Great blog and heartfelt author’s note, Jenna. Happy Holidays to all!

Monica on

Hyland’s teething tabs and a dose of Tylenol before bed every night. My husband was concerned with the Tylenol each night but my ped assured me it was fine for a few days or weeks, just not long term like months. Good luck! I was lucky in that my kids were late teethers and didn’t even start getting them until 10 months. But Hyland’s teething tabs saved my life!

NW Mama on

Jenna,
My heart goes out to your hometown as well. My they all find peace in this holiday season.

Teething? …. My oldest loved honey dew melon, you just cut a piece big enough so they cannot choke on it, take the soft fruit away, and they will love the sweet cool melon. Now this may seem very odd, but my mother in-law gave me this, try a dill pickle, my youngest would love to teeth on a dill pickle, of course it would be all shriveled when she was done with it, but she instantly got relief from the teething (vinegar I guess) pain. Sounds crazy, but it did work. So hang in there, and watch out for those new teeth, they learn to bite oh so quickly when nursing.

Love your blogs, keep them coming, and this will be a great gift to Gray when she is off to college and has all these wonderful blogs to read about her childhood.

Marie on

Awww Gray is so adorable!! :) although I’m not a mom yet, I love reading your blogs! There so funny and you have an amazing family!

Caitie on

I was one of those teethers that got the swollen cheeks, runny nose, and miserable whining for days on end. The only thing that worked was a dose of ibuprofen and, believe it or not, benadryl. Because benadryl works during an allergic reaction to help reduce swelling, it helped to reduce swelling that the ibuprofen did not! My mom swears by it and used it on my brother too when he was a teething monster!

Grace on

Love your blog, and what a gorgeous daughter! So sorry about the tragedy in your hometown– thought that post was heartfelt and beautifully written as well.

Grace on

Oh– whatever works for you for teething is great, but as an ER doctor I suggest steering clear of the hyland tablets as they are (or at least were) potentially toxic.

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm230762.htm

Abbie on

I agree Jenna, in times like these we do need to laugh and share.

That little Gray keeps getting cuter and cuter. You are such an awesome momma Jenna!!!

freya on

Teething is hell but for my favorite adorable baby here it`s so cute to hear she`s on this stage.

3hensandalittlelady on

Your daughter has a beautiful smile. I’m sure it will become even more lovely with the addition of the pearly whites that are about to break through.

Jennifer on

So Cute!! With my 3rd baby she had a really tough time with her first couple teeth. I was really skeptical of those amber teething necklaces, but I thought they were cute, so I decided to try it out anyway. Cant hurt, right?? To my great surprise teeth numbers 3&4 just appeared out of the blue. I couldnt believe how well that thing worked! So I went from skeptical mama to a true believer in the power of amber. lol, Good luck!

Tasha J on

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS BLOG!!! This really hit home – my 2nd baby had been teething for what seemed to be forever until we finally saw a tooth at 9 months. I also became and all-night milk dispenser and it wasn’t fun getting up for work each morning. But we made it through! Happy Holidays & New Year to your family and keep writing more blogs about that precious girl!

Kylie on

We are all in this together! This sounds like the boat were in right now. My daughter is 7 months & I feel like she’s a newborn again! It’s hard but it’s only for a short time. Way to go on continuing to BF & this was such a great post :)

Dawn on

Ohhh, I “lol” in sympathy, honey. You describe it all to a T. But this too shall pass, and on to….other interesting phases. All the best to you 3!

bubbles on

Frozen waffles work great for teething! The cold helps soothe the teeth and the waffle helps to soak up all of the drool.

Kim on

What an adorable baby!!

Rach on

Jenna-
I love reading your blogs! My daughter is teething as well, I don’t what I would do without her Sophie giraffe! You’re daughter is gorgeous!! :) Thanks for sharing your experiences, I can always relate!

Beth on

Definitely teething tablets. They make the baby sleepy and work wonders for the adults also…hahaha. Most of them are natural plant derived.

Mandy on

My daughter has started waking up at nights as well. I had to stop nursing her as my milk supply drop to the point where I was only getting 3 ounces a day when I pumped. I have noticed she has gotten more attached to me, but I didn’t know if it was because I quit nursing or because of the teething. Maybe a little of both. I love hearing stories like this. Keep up the good work & your daughter is a beauty.

aeromel78 on

This is old school but when I was teething back in the 70s, my mom would rub a tiny bit of whiskey on my gums LOL! This was passed down from her mother before her. I can’t imagine any new mom doing this today but it didn’t hurt us any, it simply numbed the gums so we couldn’t feel the tooth cutting. Baby Anbesol has the same affect.

Andrea on

I just wanted to echo the other comments about how well-written and fun your blog is! I love reading it and hope you continue writing for months to come. Happy New Year!

MIndy on

Jenna my son Jackson was born on May 21st as well and we have been going through mostly the same thing so I can totally sympathize with you!! Good luck

Rhonda on

Jenna, your baby girl is absolutely adorable. I could just eat her up!

prince'smom on

wow..i’m in the same phase right now!!…my baby seems like he does not know anyboby else but mommy…my poor baby its not just teething, he had the cold and then a severe ear infection, we end up in the hospital with a febrile zeisure :( …I can not wait the moment that all the tiny teeths come out!!!!!

Lindsay on

Camilia is the cure all for my daughter’s teething! I swear by it – she is currently getting 3 teeth at the same time, and you wouldn’t know it at all. Love it because it’s all natural and homeopathic.

cole on

We’re currently in baby month #8, and no teeth yet. I read somewhere that some pediatrician said that the longer they wait to come in, the stronger they’ll be! But that could’ve easily just been one of those little sayings to calm the fears of a new mother. It’s a double edge sword, as I’m excited for that milestone but not looking forward to the sleepless nights. In the meantime, she’s perfectly happy finding out she can get from one place to another when she morphs into roly-poly mode.

fanofboardwalkempire on

great blog and what a beautiful baby girl- the teething does end and you will be pleased with all the cooing.

Nina on

Goodness! She is just so cute!!!! Thank you for sharing Jenna. You are such a great writer.

Ashley on

Jenna,

I have to add that we put a baltic amber necklace on my son at about 3 weeks old and he rarely spends time without it on (he doesn’t even realize he’s wearing it, actually). It is amazing for inflammation (my 93-year old grandma uses a bracelet for her arthritis and SWEARS by it) and has helped with just about every teething symptom in the book. Between that and Hyland’s Teething Tablets (yes, they are as amazing as everyone else has said), we have very little teething drama in our house.

My son is 18 months old and almost has a full mouth of teeth. I dreaded the teething process, but in addition to the cold things and just plain chewing, these 2 remedies helped a lot. I hope things settle down soon for her. I know it has to be so painful for their little mouths.

Thanks for being so outspoken about your breastfeeding. I absolutely LOVE the term “breasturaunt” and the phrase “whining and dining”.

mama3 on

My sweet babe just had her two bottom teeth erupt today. Yay! She is 5 months. Baby orajel swabs help too.

Karen on

Precious child!

jackie2830 on

This little bundle is never without a smile………..she’s the absolute cutest baby I’ve seen in a long time!

jojo on

Jenna’s baby girl is gorgeous.

Marie on

Wow, you just described my life with the exeception of the flight; it was 14 hours on a plane to bring our internationally adopted child home. I was so afraid of this flight but our little one did great too!! Teething, well thats another story. We are exhausted!

Emily on

“Breastaurant” and “whining and dining” made me laugh out loud! I totally get singing the simplest things. Just last night my 4 mo wouldn’t settle in to nurse before bedtime. Finally I laid him down and took off his diaper for a few minutes. He loves naked time & that calmed him down. Then so he wouldn’t fuss as he was getting dressed again, I sang a modified version of The Hokey Pokey, narrating what I was doing “…you put your right foot in and snap it right up…”

Sophie is a big hit with my son, and was with my daughter as well. When Gray is a little older, you could try frozen peas too. They were my daughter’s favorite food for about a year, starting around 10 months.

boohoobytch on

she’s a doll

lmayj on

what an adorable baby

Lara on

As a mom of a four month old, I love reading your blog to find out what might be in store for me in three months. Your take is always right on—perfect blend of humor, sarcasm, and seriousness.

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