Tuesday, December 20, 2011

second time around

It's odd to be doing everything now for the second time, with her.  It's her second Christmas.  (What?)  I realized this when we went to take the Santa photo.  Last year's was an adorable shot of her sleeping on Santa's chest (I keep mistyping, "Satan," which is a whole other image and probably less adorable) .  This year, she had a look of Extreme Concern, much as if she anticipating being left with this bizarrely-dressed bearded guy and was none too excited about it.  No crying, though.

A friend of mine had a baby just after my girl's first birthday.  She, too, did IVF after a long time of trying and several losses.  All during her pregnancy, she referred to our girl as her "crystal ball baby," saying that she loved looking at her photos and thinking about what would be her life in one year.  Today, she posted their girl's first Christmas photo, which looked almost identical to the one we had from last year, and it made me weepy-nostalgic about How It Used to Be.  Now her girl is our "remember that?" baby.

It's this phase of early-toddlerhood, when the infancy days seem far away, that makes you want to have another baby. (Or, makes me want another one.)  (In theory.)  So far no luck in the "trying naturally" department, which is not unexpected.  So 2012 may bring a frozen cycle with our one totsicle; we'll see.

All yesterday she was in this mommy-only-clingy-whiny stage, which is the sort of thing that not only makes you NOT want to have another baby, it also makes you want to hand off the one you have.  She pinches me while she nurses, and although this makes me sound like a wimp: it hurts.  Especially when her fingernails are a bit on the long side.  I am so resistant to giving up nursing, for a number of reasons, but chief among them is my deep fear that I will never get to do this again, and once I let go of breastfeeding, it's over.  Forever.  (Given how hard breastfeeding was at the beginning, I can hardly believe I feel that way.)  But I'll be on an international trip for a week in May, and I've decided we will wean before then.  I hate for her to adjust to a week without Mom at the same time as a week without Mama Milks. 

She still insists on waking up between 5:30 and 5:45am.  Gaaaaaaaaah.  This is my least favorite time of day.  Naps are getting better, but the early wake-ups continue.  My husband thinks I should stop the morning nursing.  Any thoughts on whether that might help her sleep later?  At this point I'd probably go for it.  Just nursing before bedtime would be okay with me.

And molars? Suck donkey balls.  I need to work on my empathy skills.  Some days I just want to tell her to "get over it."  But this is not going to work.  And it's mean.  That's not good.

She is completely obsessed with a mole I have on the left side of my neck.  She fondles it while sucking her thumb, while nursing, anytime she wants comfort; she'll push my head to the side and find it (and pinch it, aaaaaaargh) and sigh with relief.  The other day I asked her what it was, and she said, "mo." 

Awesome first word, kid.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

nap? nap? wherefore art thou, nap?

Yesterday I went to the grocery store.  While bagging my groceries, the very sweet teenaged girl doing that task asked me, "how's your day going so far?"

Here is what I said: "Just fine, thanks."

Here is what I said in my head: "Well, my child - who is adorable, thanks for mentioning that - is also cranky right now because I dragged her here mostly so we could get in the car, because for some reason, she has decided that she is not going to nap today AT ALL even though we spent damn near two hours trying to get her down, so we are here because I have an insane need to get one freaking thing done with my one day off and after this we are going to drive in the car until she falls asleep and I don't care if we end up in Colorado, THIS KID IS GOING TO TAKE A NAP for me just once, since she seems to take two-hour naps for everyone else in her life but has no interest whatsoever in taking one, just one, blessed nap for her own mother."

Perhaps you can see why I did not say that out loud. 

Naps.  Why is it that she takes them for everyone else except me?  Really?  Does anyone have any tips on this?  Because I am about to lose my mind.  She goes to daycare on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, where she regularly takes a 90-120 minute nap.  Every time.  At home, she took a 90-minute nap on Sunday when her dad put her down.  Once or twice a month, she goes to my parents' house on Fridays, where she almost always takes at least a 60-90 minute nap.

For me? 40 minutes.  Maybe 45.  Once I got 90 minutes out of her but that was apparently a complete fluke.

She's getting some molars, I'm pretty sure.  She still sleeps well at night, for which I am grateful (but if one more person says to me, "well, at least she sleeps at night, my kid didn't sleep through the night until she was 24 so see how my life is so much worse than yours?" I am going to kick some as$).

But why won't she nap for me?  What is this about?  Anyone?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

one small step...

I doubt that Neil Armstrong's moon walk would have created more excitement in our house than the few, faltering steps we witnessed on Sunday night.  I mean, I realize his had more cultural significance and historical value, but whatever.  She walks!  Just a few steps, and there's a lot of sudden-butt-falling as a result, but it's true!

I am partly excited and partly terrified.  As a friend of mine posted on Fac.ebook about the news, "life as a series of near misses begins."

I think about that, sometimes: near misses.  How the world, which often seems enormous and inevitable and impossible to change, can shift entirely in just a moment, a breath.  I look at my daughter and, every once in awhile, without bidding or my permission, the photo of two tiny embryos floats into my head.  One of them is her.  I think about that microscopic bit of life, which is now tottering around on two unsteady feet - which will soon be running, giving herself the occasional black eye, walking into kindergarten, asking for the car keys.

I might be overreacting.  I mean, she took a few steps toward my husband and the first thing I thought of was, "now someday she will walk away from me," which is true, but going off to college is still a ways off.

For now, we're heading into a gratitude week with one more thing added to the list.

For this crazy, exhausting, sometimes tedious, sleep-deprived, early-waking, full life: thank you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

tiny first world problems

So, yesterday I went to Tar.get.  [As an aside, let me say that I truly adore Tar.get.  I mean, I try to resist rampant consumer materialism, but Ta.rget has such cute stuff and my only big problem is that I go there to buy one thing, spend $100, and then forget the one thing I came for.  Like yesterday: q-tips.  But I did get an awesome clearance-priced t-shirt for the baby girl.  $3.00!  Come on!]

But I digress.  I went to Tar.get and parked my car.  Now, let me say that I have a pretty ordinary-sized car - rhymes with Hubaru - one that should be amply provided for by a basic parking spot stall.  And the two cars next to me - also non-Hummer sized - were parked within their lines, as was I.  And yet, I could barely squeeze myself between the two cars to retrieve the child from her back-facing carseat and get her out without a.) ramming her head onto the top of the car or b.) scraping the crap out of the car door next to me.

HEY, TA.RGET PEOPLE: until we all start driving Smartcars, YOU NEED BIGGER PARKING STALLS.

I was all hot and bothered about this and used a lot of language that, fortunately, my child cannot (yet) emulate (I'm working on that) when, all of a sudden, this fantastic post from the brilliant women at Rants from Mommyland popped into my head. If you don't have time to click over there (trust me, come back to it later when you have time, it's worth it), I'll summarize: while we all need to rant from time to time, about very significant and life-altering things like the inadequacy of parking stall sizes at Targ.et, we also need to realize that those problems may be, occasionally, overstated. We need a little perspective. Or, a lot of perspective.

Such as: "This m$%^erf&*#ing stall is too bloody damn small; what is wrong with these idiots? What am I supposed to do, ride a freaking bicycle over here and strap my purchases to my head?" could be assisted by an additional internal monologue, like: "Boy, I sure am fortunate to have a car and enough money to put gas in it and go to Target in the middle of a Monday afternoon on my day off (because I am fortunate to have a job) (and a job that I like) to buy q-tips and six things from the clearance bin."

In other words: I spend a lot of my ranting time on tiny first world problems. So I am working on that. It is, however, helpful to get them out there. Just acknowledging them gives me a little perspective for the next time a HUGE GIGANTIC PROBLEM comes marching my way, like, say, when the drive-thru line at Star.bucks is too long.

In no particular order, then, here are my current tiny first world problems:

1. Seriously. Those stupid parking stalls. TOO DAMN SMALL.
2. My child has everything she needs so I can't figure out what to get her for Christmas. But getting her nothing seems kind of heartless.
3. I kid you not: every single road I could possibly use to get absolutely anywhere from my house is currently under construction and has been for the past six months. GAAAAAAAAAH.
4. My kid takes 2-3 hour naps at daycare every time she is there. Every. Time. At home? 45 minutes, tops.
5. I can't figure out where to put the stroller in the garage. Every conceivable spot somehow makes it impossible to get the child out of her carseat. I don't know how this is possible, but it is.
6. I still love breastfeeding, but I am really, really, really, really tired of pumping. Really.
7. After three months of waking up between the grand old hours of 4:30 and 5:00am, we had finally gotten our child to sleep until 6:00 (sometimes 6:30! WOO HOO!) and then daylight savings time hit and we're back to 4:f@#cking30. DAMN IT.
8. Some kids took the carved pumpkin off my porch on Halloween night and smashed it in the street and, over a week later, I am still resentful about it. I want to hunt them down and explain to them that I carved that pumpkin by myself during a day when my child took hardly any nap at all and that is a real feat, you bloody hooligans, and then threaten them with the future someday they are home by themselves with a baby and they look back at their wasted childhood of pumpkin mischief and weep about what they have done. But I do not think they will find this all that scary.
9. The email on my phone keeps shutting itself off randomly and then I have to start over again.
10. The other day I had to rush home to pump because I had forgotten it at home, and I only had 10 minutes to get it done because the house cleaner was coming over and a.) I didn't want her to catch me with my boobs attached to the milking machine, plus b.) I had to pick up the toys and the massive pile of clothes at the bottom of our bed so that she doesn't think we are complete slobs.

See?  Tiny problems.  Tiny, tiny.  Ridiculous, mostly.  And yet I spend a lot of time being very het up about stuff just like this.

Today's goal: perspective.

We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

a birthday story

Once upon a time, there was a mommy and daddy.  They knew they were a mommy and daddy, but they had no baby.  That made them sad.

"Do you have our baby?" they asked the sun.  "No," said the sun, but it shone on them and warmed their skin and made them smile.

They asked the rain, "do you have our baby?"  "No," said the rain, but it watered the ground and made the green shoots poke out from the earth in the spring, and that gave them hope.

"Do you have our baby?" they asked the wind.  "No," said the wind, but it rushed and blew and made the fall leaves dance, and that made them laugh.

"Where is our baby?" they asked the mountains.  "We don't know," said the mountains, but they were great and tall and they made the mommy and daddy remember that the world is wide, and big, and full of beauty, even when they were sad.

"Do you have a baby for us?" they asked of the sea.  "No," said the sea, as it rushed in and out, onto the sands and back again.  The mommy and daddy walked on the sand and watched their feet make prints, and watched as the sea swallowed up their prints again.  The sea reminded them that all things change, and end, even very good things, and even very bad things.

"Would you give us a baby?" they asked God.  And there was a long silence.

A very long silence.

It seemed to last forever.  But, finally...

"That is a good idea," said God, "but we are going to need a lot of help with it."

So God sent them doctors, and nurses, and friends, and family, and people they didn't even know who listened to the stories they told in voices and written words.  God was right: it took a lot of people.

But, one day, the mommy woke up.

"The baby is coming," she said.

And then there were more people, all together, waiting for the baby to arrive.

The sun shone down, through the windows of the room where they were waiting.

The rain sent drops of water to tickle the windows of the room where they were waiting.

The fall leaves danced in front of the windows of the room where they were waiting.

The mountains hid in the clouds, not far from the room where they were waiting.

Far away, the waves rushed onto the sands and back again, far from the room where they were waiting.

All the people in the room held hands and helped and waited.

And God waited too.

And then...

"Hello," said the mommy and daddy to their baby.

A belated happy birthday to our baby, who gave us the best names we have ever had.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

where did that month go?

So I was all proud of myself for keeping my blog up-to-date and then, as I was reading other people's blogs last night, I realized that some of my favorites haven't written for awhile, and I thought, "what's wrong?  Are they okay?  What's going on that they can't update their blogs?  I mean, I need stuff to read!  COME ON, PEOPLE!" - and then looked at the date of my own last post.

Hello, black kettle.  Meet pot.

It's been a busy month, and I have posts bubbling up that I hope to get to in the next few weeks, but the big event in our house was The First Birthday last Sunday.  How does it happen that, one day you have a squeaky infant who's up every two hours of the night, and poof! - you're complaining about how she wakes up at 5:00am but you neglect to notice that she sleeps through the rest of the night?  (5:00am does suck, though.)  You know what makes that happen?  Evolution.  The ability to block out the pain of childbirth and the happy-yet-exhausted daze of those first months is what makes the human race keep going.

Anyway.  All is well over here, and I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

it's a sign



(and, yesterday) Music.

My daughter has a three-word, signed, vocabulary and it feels like the beginning of everything all over again, in the most wonderful way.

So many of the frustrations of parenting in these first 12 months come from not being able to communicate with each other. I mean, that's where a lot of my frustration came from, and I can only assume it's even worse for the baby, because at least I can communicate with other people, whereas she's stuck with crying as her primary mode of explanation.  Hungry?  Cry.  Tired?  Cry.  Wet?  Poopy?  Cry.  Weary of life's existential burden?  Cry.

For the past few months, she's been able to get a few things across more clearly.  "Dis?" she asks, pointing at something, or, "dat?"  Ask if she needs a diaper change, or lunch, or to get out of the carseat, and she will often respond with, "da," as if we are raising a tiny Russian, but she's not very consistent about it.  One day, you'll ask at lunchtime if she wants lunch, and she will look straight at you and say, "da."  Yes.  Yes, you fool, it's lunch and I'm hungry.  The next day, you'll ask the same question at the same time and she will respond with, "seh;lfskdaj;lkhjgl" which is probably a very thoughtful and considered response to my question, but not one I can translate.

Meanwhile, we are all trying to understand each other in a big, long guessing game (which, one presumes, is preparing us for parenting a teenager).  "What's wrong?" my husband will ask when she wakes up crying at 2:00am, as if I have some kind of Baby Wailing 101 textbook next to my side of the bed.  "What does she need?"  I don't know.  Honestly, dude, I never really know, I just try things until one of them works. 

And then, last week, she started signing, "milk."  "Do you want mama milks?" I asked her, and she made the little squeezing sign with her hand, so fleetingly that I almost missed it the first time.  Until dinner, when I asked her if she wanted more sweet potatoes (even though I know the answer to that is always, "Hellz, yes") and she made the "more" sign, touching her fingers together in front of her chest.  My heart leapt - she can tell me something.  And I can understand it. 

I think about the lifetime of conversations ahead of us, all the things she will say to me.
I am afraid of the dark.
I want more cake!
Somebody pushed me on the playground.
Why do I have to go to church?
I love you.
You don't understand me.
Somebody broke my heart.
Can I borrow the car?
I am in love.
I got a new job.
It will all be okay, mom.

And it starts with those three little signs: milk. more. music.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

blog, interrupted

So, this is what pneumonia (now that I've had that, after having shingles last summer, I'm ready for the nursing home), followed by sick husband (to be honest, I though he was doing his whole hypochondriac-overreacting thing, but then it turns out that he developed a staph infection so I felt pretty bad about my crankiness with him because, you know, it's all about me), compounded by annual-insane-fall schedule looks like: no blogging.  Bummer.  For me, anyway.

Because there are a lot of fun things happening in our house which are unrelated to germs and their resulting side effects.  Baby Girl is turning 11 months on Friday (sidebar: WHAT?) and she is becoming, well, not so much Baby anymore - this morning I watched her pull herself up to standing, holding onto her toy box so that she could peer into it and choose toys for herself, and I thought, "who is this little girl living in my house and what did she do with my mewling infant?"  She changes so fast it makes my head spin.

  • While she doesn't quite creep around couches, ottomans, and other stable objects, she looooves standing and showing off her increasingly improving balance.  "Improving," however, still implies a lot of falls on the bum.  Mostly this is okay, and I think the cloth diaper thing gives her a bit of extra cush.  
  • She also loooves pointing at random objects and saying, "dis?" or, "dat?"  You tell her the name of it - "light," or, "fan," (90% of the time the answer is one of those two) - and she looks at you with utter delight, as if she has just discovered a new crater on the surface of the moon or tasted chocolate for the first time.  It also works in reverse: ask her where the 'light' or 'fan' are, and she'll point right at them.  Most of the time.
  • She says "dada" on a regular basis.  "Mama," not so much.  Or, you know, never.  But when you point at me and ask, "who is that?" she responds with enthusiastic lip-smacking, so at least she knows that I taste good.  It's a start.
  • Nothing is funnier than a baby intensely focused on pooping. I never laugh at her (out loud) because that doesn't seem very nice, but inwardly I am giggling every time.
  • Did you know that there is a baby living in the mirrors of our house who looks just like the baby who lives in the house?  I KNOW.  It is freaky amazing.
  • The kind of soul-love I have for things like my child and husband and a really good piece of chocolate, she has for sweet potatoes, blueberries, mum.mum crackers, and, well, just about anything edible.  This kid is an eater.  And exceptionally gifted at finding very, very, tiny pieces of lint on the floor which she delicately picks up and consumes.  Although, these days, after unending repetitions of "no, thank you," she looks at the piece of lint, turns it over carefully, and then reaches out to hand it to us, like, "here, take it, I know you're just going to steal it anyway."
  • Please, all that is holy in heaven above, may she learn to sleep past 5:00am.  Soon.
I sent out invitations for her first birthday party and, the whole time, kept thinking, "one? How is that happening?"  I am every parental cliche coming to life, people.  Part of me misses the tiny baby-ness, the curled-up-sleeping infant who laid happily on the playmat and slept in our room, but on the other hand, it's so much fun to watch her figure out the world that I'm always eager to see what she does next.  So that's good.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

well, rats.

Turns out, I do have pneumonia.

After a sobbing session yesterday in which I had convinced myself that I had given a possibly-deadly disease to my child (who shows no symptoms whatsoever after having been around me for five days of illness), I have resigned myself to the fact that, sometimes I will make her sick.  And sometimes she will make me sick.  And sometimes one of us will get sick and the other family members won't, and - apart from the stuff we already do, like washing our hands and not licking each other's faces (much) - there's not much we can do to control this.

Also, it could be worse.  One of my best friends lost her home in the wildfires in Austin.  She and her dog got out, but other than that, she lost nearly everything else.  Pneumonia is no fun, but neither is replacing everything you own and finding someplace else to live while still trying to work and live your life.

It is what it is, as they say.

(But please, don't let my baby get pneumonia.  Amen.)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

what's worse than a sick baby? sick mommy.

For the second time since Baby Girl was born, I am down for the count with an ugly bug.  Granted, the first one was worse - a stomach flu, which both my husband and I got at the same time, causing us to call my mom, who mercifully came to the rescue so we could throw up all night without worrying about the 6-month old upstairs.

But this one is hanging on a lot longer.  Not a stomach bug, this time, but some kind of nasty virus that gave me a fever and aches and chills and a terrible, awful, no good, very bad cough which hurts like the devil.  I feel like somebody punched me in the ribs all night long.  Uggggggh.

Some lessons I have learned over the past few sick days:

  • I have a lot less patience when I am sick.  So that, when my husband came home after picking up Baby Girl from daycare (THANK HEAVENS for daycare) yesterday and asked, "What am I supposed to do for dinner?" I jumped down his throat like he had suggested I cook a 5-course meal.  I mean, he had a slightly irritated tone in there.  But my response may have been, perhaps, a little overstated.  Maybe.
  • The worst part about being sick is that you can't kiss your adorable baby.
  • Oh - and that you can't enjoy two nights in a row of her sleeping through the night because you are up every 20 minutes coughing.
  • Also, when you go to the doctor because you are paranoid that you have pneumonia (I don't), and everyone who comes in the room to check on you is wearing one of those surgical masks, it's a little disconcerting.
  • The pharmacist is never slower than when you are huddled in the corner, waiting for your cough syrup, wishing you could crawl under a bus.
  • I think the baby gets a very minor version of these bugs and then, in the transition between her and us, they morph into Nearly Deadly Bedridden viruses.  Don't get me wrong - I'm very glad she's had the minor kinds.  But maybe they could stay that way next time.  (Or, you know, avoid us altogether?  Yeah.  Probably not.)
  • The fierceness of this cough has demonstrated to me that not all is as well as I thought down there in Ladyparts Land.  I will need to do more Kegels.  Because it's no fun when you cough and then...yeah.  You get it.
  • But the good thing about having a nasty cough when you are no longer pregnant is that you can have a hot toddy.
And on that last note, I think I'll go make myself said hot toddy and crawl off to bed.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

dear tina fey,

I just want to say that your book, Bossypants, is my new very-favorite-book-in-the-history-of-ever and I have a tiny bit of a girl crush on you.  I am so happy to read about someone who was an unrepentant nerd and yet who does not romanticize said nerd history, because being a nerd in high school pretty much sucks even if you realize later that it was good for your character. 

Also, your "Prayer for My Daugher" chapter is brilliance; I won't quote it here because probably everybody has seen it on Face.book, but if anyone out there has not seen it, trust me - that chapter alone is reason to buy the book.

The only comparably funny thing I have read lately is this post from Mommyland which actually made me snort coffee out my nose, and after last night's scream-fest from 1:00-2:00am, I'm in favor of any laughter I can find. So, thanks, Ms. Fey. You rock.


PS The baby was screaming, by the way. Not me. Although I was close.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

why i love pumping. yes, i said that.

It's like an unwritten rule among nursing moms that everybody hates the breastpump.  EVERY. BODY.  "The pump" is said in a hushed voice sort of like you're talking about Voldemort, or Hitler, or a dead mouse you found in your car after six weeks. 

I want to go on record as saying:

I love pumping.

It's the 'love that dare not speak its name' in the lactation world, I believe.  But, as I enter the homestretch of nursing (BabyGirl is nearly 10 months and I've always aimed to nurse for a year, so we'll see what happens after that), I'd like to speak that forbidden love into reality.  Yes, Me.dela Pu.mpIn.Styl.e, I love you.  Shall we count the ways?

  • The pump has never bitten me.  Not even once.
  • Pumping allows me to shut my office door*, ignore the phone and emails, and take 15 minutes for myself at least once a day.  Sometimes even twice.  There is nothing wrong with this.
  • It has never hurt to pump, unlike those first six weeks of nursing which hurt like motherf#ckinghell every single time she needed to eat, which felt like every 35 minutes.
  • Because of the pump, I am able to continue breastfeeding my kid while I work.  This is cool.
  • The pump does not pinch a tiny fold of skin and then twist it while nursing.  It has never done this and I am pretty confident it never will.
  • Twice I have used the battery-powered option to pump while driving (i.e. sitting) in traffic.  I find this ridiculously enjoyable.
  • After four years of infertility, I still find it amazing that my body is capable of doing anything on its own in regard to reproduction, and those tiny bottles of milk from my very own body are proof that I can, in fact, breastfeed a baby.  It makes me feel good.  Take that, endometriosis.
  • The pump does not wake up hungry at 5:00am.
  • The pump is completely happy to work around my schedule.  (My boobs, not so much.  They have a schedule all their own.)
  • Three words: pump and dump.  Excellent for those earlier days when mommy really, really needed a glass of wine.  Or possibly four.
I mean, it's not that pumping is my favorite thing in the universe, and it's certainly nowhere near as enjoyable as nursing BabyGirl (apart from the biting) (and the pinching) (which, by the way, WHAT can I do about that?) - but it hasn't been that bad.  Here's to you, old friend.

*I know that having my own office is a huge part of why pumping is not a big deal to me.  Trying to do that multiple times daily in a bathroom or some random spot in your workplace would be a pain in the ass.  I get that.  Also, I know it does hurt to pump for some people.  I'm lucky in that regard.  Therein ends my disclaimers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

catching up

Well, hello there.  It's been awhile.

I've been on vacation, which was great, apart from the fact that it coincided with my child's decision to stop sleeping through the night, because that is boring, and why be boring when you could get up five times and play with your parents at 1:00am?  Lovely.  I believe the 'nine-month sleep regression' perfectly coincided with 'two weeks out of town sleeping in the pack-and-play,' which also matched up with 'staying in other people's homes/hotels/cabins wherein we are trying not to wake up everyone else at 3:30 in the morning,' which meant that I nursed her to sleep and then she decided that was too fun to give up.

We are working on that one.  It's getting better. Kind of.

In other exciting baby news, we have a crawler.  Who immediately went for the lamp cord, two outlets (already outfitted with outlet plugs, fortunately), sixty-five small pieces of lint/dust/grass/othercrap on the carpet, and who would much, much rather rip up magazines that play with the family room full of baby toys immediately available to her.  This seems just about right to me, and also a lot of work. 

And I let her fall off the bed.  BY ACCIDENT, PEOPLE, nobody panic.  But wait, it gets better: this happened at my in-laws house.  After, by the way, we had been video-chatting with them the week before and she choked on a piece of carrot just as I was bragging that she was doing such a great job of gumming the (very, very, very cooked) (except for that piece, apparently) baby carrots that week.  So my slightly overprotective mother-in-law is watching as we pound her on the back and (quickly, thank heavens) the carrot piece comes flying out, and then less than a week later I'm changing her in their guest room and I turned around for TWO FREAKING SECONDS and she rolled off the bed.




Instant appearance of mother-in-law at bedroom door: "Is everything okay?"


Mother of the Year, right here.

Also, I got my period a few weeks ago, for the first time in eighteen months.  Which means that we are officially Trying again, although for now, that simply translates to "not doing anything to stop getting pregnant," and our chances of that working are slim to none.  If I were a normal fertile person, I would not choose to get pregnant while parenting a nine-month old, but I guess 'timing between kids' is yet another thing infertility takes away from you.  Of course, we'd be delighted by a surprise.  But we'll just see how it goes for a few months and then evaluate. 

So, there you have it.  If you'll excuse me, I need some coffee.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

camping + baby = disfreakingaster.


I have learned, in this life, that you can divide people into categories. Not based on skin color or religion or economic status or that stuff, because a lot of the time that is a bad plan and also racist, but based more on things they like (and don't like) to do.  For example, there are "TV people" and "non-TV people."  TV people like to talk about the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy and that funny commercial with the e.trade baby.  Non-TV people like to talk about how they save all this money by not paying for cable and the latest article they read in National Geographic and then you feel like you are turning into an American Idiot for watching four hours of Des.perate Housewives last weekend, but you had to because your brain was incapable of processing anything more complex than that and DH was a more dignified choice than, say, a marathon of Bride.zillas.

Can you tell which of those categories I fall into?

Anyway.  There are also "outdoorsy people" and "non-outdoorsy people."  "Indoorsy people," maybe.  And I am unashamedly, unabashedly, totally in the latter group.  I am an indoorsy-kind of gal.  I like the outdoors - it's pretty - but I like to observe it from the comfort of my own home, or car, or possibly a reasonably-priced hotel.  I am not terribly high maintenance.  I mean, the hotel doesn't have to have mints on the pillow or anything, but it does have to have a bed.  And a shower.  (And possibly a TV.  But I digress.)

My brother-and-sister-in-law are outdoorsy people.  Also, they are cheap.  In their case, I find these to be related phenomena.  It isn't always, because I've been to R.EI and that is not a cheap place, but there's no denying that camping out is a frugal way to vacation.  They drove up to our neck of the woods from theirs, and they wanted us to go camping for a night with them.

Let me say, first, that I had my doubts about this.  Because I know a bunch of people that say they like "camping," but what they mean by "camping," is "hanging out in my air-conditioned/heated trailer/camper with a fridge and lights and a toilet and a bed," whereas what my brother-and-sister-in-law mean by "camping," is "tent on the dirt. And possibly a campfire."  I would be okay with version #1, even though a cheap hotel would still be my preferred choice.  But option #2 does not really light my fire.  I mean, nature is beautiful and all, but I don't really want to sleep in it.  If you say to me, "but our ancestors did that all the time, it's natural," I will say, "that's because they hadn't invented the Holi.day Inn yet, and if you gave Cro-Magnon Man a chance to sleep at Mot.el 6 instead of his animal-skin tent, I can guarantee you he'd take it in a neanderthal heartbeat."

Let me also say that I realize I may sound insane to you, especially if you are a Camping Person.  I happen to live in a very camping-friendly, outdoorsy, hiking-adjacent, mountain-biking, all-cool-people-like-to-hang-out-in-nature area of the country, so I am the odd person out a lot of the time.  I don't hike, or ski, or waterski, or sleep in tents, or pee in the woods, or know how to tie those kinds of knots that keep your tent from flying away in a windstorm, or anything particularly useful in the outdoors.  I am a kick-ass knitter and I can read at a ridiculous pace, but this doesn't really do you any good on a camping trip.  (I guess I could read the tent instructions real fast and then knit you a cover for it, but again - not super useful.)

But I'm willing to try it for a night.  It would take too long to tell you all the details and, as you might guess, I am a little short on sleep after this experience, so let me sum it up:
  • boy, does it take a lot of stuff to attempt camping with an 8-month old.  A. LOT.
  • and the drive will take significantly longer than you thought.
  • when you get there during bedtime, in the summer, it will take the baby (previously asleep in the car) a LONG DAMN TIME to fall back to sleep, because it stays light pretty late in the summer and the campers in the site next to you are kind of loud.  
  • also, the baby is distracted by the super fun zipper pulls on the snowsuit you made her wear for fear of her getting cold at night...
  • ...which she does several times so finally, about 1:00am, you think it will be a good idea to put her in your sleeping bag...
  • ...which is good for her, except that it leaves no room for you.
  • and that is a bummer of a time to realize that the self-inflating sleeping pad you bought on the way to this camping extravaganza must have self-confidence issues because it did not inflate.
  • Sleeping on the ground is not all that comfortable.
  • In the same way that "stabbing your eyes out with a fork" would also be "not that comfortable."
  • And it is cold.
  • 45 degrees doesn't sound that bad, but it is when you're sleeping in it.
  • Counting the number of miles to the nearest hotel (68) does not help you fall asleep.
  • But boy, do you appreciate your bed afterward.
Yeah.  It pretty much sucked. 

When we got home, my husband and I were discussing the trip and what we would have done differently, and he said, "well, I guess we learned that next time, we should bring a third sleeping bag."  And I said, "what I learned is that there is NOT GOING TO BE A NEXT TIME."

If you are thinking about going camping with a baby, here's what I've got for you:
  • If you are a Camping Person, go for it.  Let me know how it goes.
  • If you are a Non-Camping Person, get a hotel.  Go hiking in nature the next day.  Take photos.  Then go back to your hotel and sleep in a bed.  And take a shower.  And enjoy the temperature-controlled air. 
To all my Non-Camping peeps: stay strong.  Make hotel reservations.  Learn from me.  There is no need for the suffering to continue.   The Camping People will keep our nation's parks system running.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go run all the electrical appliances in my house whilst doing laundry and taking a nap in a bed.


Friday, July 1, 2011

bite me

Well, it happened.  She bit me.

Not that hard, and I'm about 99.9% sure it wasn't on purpose - she was almost done nursing and smiled at me and then absent-mindedly latched back on with her teeth (oops) - but WOWZA, that hurts.  I can hardly imagine what it's like if the kid takes a big ol' purposeful chomp down on the girls, which have been doing yeoman's work for the past eight months.

I took her off, said firmly, "OUCH.  NO."  And then we were done nursing for that session.  It happened again the next time, and we did the same thing again - OUCH. NO. DONE. - and, since then, she hasn't bit again.  On the other hand, I have totally stopped my half-dozing during nursing sessions and am, instead, keeping watch like a prison guard who's heard rumors about a jailbreak.

What do you think about taking an eight-month old on a camping trip?  My idea of 'camping' is 'Motel 6,' but my brother-and-sister-in-law are coming to visit, and they love camping, and there are a lot of cool places to camp around here.  Plus they have all the stuff for it which means we can try it for a night without investing a bunch of money in items for which we have no storage room anyway.  But wouldn't she get cold?  And she moves around so much during the night that I can't imagine a blanket would stay on her for more than ten minutes.  I'm not sure one sleep sack will do it.  (The last time we took her on anything like this, we stayed in a "cottage" which we later termed, with no affection whatsoever, "the shit shack," and she woke up every 45 minutes screaming because it was so freaking cold in there.  I have Post-Shit-Shack-Stress-Disorder from this.)

Last night, I was with a family as their 64-year-old husband and dad died from a lung disorder.  He had been diagnosed some three years ago, and he was ready.  It was time.  They took him off all the machines, and we waited with him as he began to breathe for himself, long, labored breaths, getting slower and slower, until finally he stopped.  There were a few startling moments along the way, and doctors and nurses hovering in case anything went wrong, and all the while it occurred to me that his work of dying was not so different than the work of giving birth.  A lot of frantic hurrying, interspersed with moments of silence and breathing and people waiting, holding your hand and telling you, "it's okay, you can do this," and I watched his three kids as they held his hands, and I went home and put my daughter to bed, and I thought:

someone told me once that, when you meet your child, you are meeting the person who will hold your hand when you die.

There are a lot of reasons that doesn't always happen, of course.  But many times, it does.  And it struck me that the holiness of both moments - birth and death - are deeply connected, and terrifying, and peaceful, and we are very rarely, truly, prepared for either one.

I realize this seems to have taken a turn completely different from where I started this post, but if she bites again, maybe (just maybe, no guarantees) I'll be able to keep it in some perspective.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

the freeway of love

In case you've ever wondered about this:

yes, it is possible (thanks to completely-stopped traffic, a well-placed dark tunnel, and a hands-free pumping bra) to hook yourself up to a battery-powered breast pump and let that sucker go to town while negotiating a 50-mile morning drive to a conference.

For someone who likes multi-tasking, it was freaking heaven.

I think a few semi-drivers might have gotten an eyeful.  But I got something done during my 90-minute crawl down the freeway, and that makes up for it.

"What's the problem, officer?  It's hands-free."*

*no actual police officers were encountered during this event.  Thankfully.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

day after day

I've been trying to think of something exciting to say about my life that would necessitate a blog post, but I'm not quite sure what that might be.  It's pretty much life-as-new-normal these days around here, which alternates between "total thrill of being a mom" and "mundane daily grind plus more laundry."  Honestly, babies can be kind of tedious.  Not that I'm complaining, because really; parenting is mostly great.  But it certainly never lets up.  And that's okay.

Baby Girl has decided that she hates pears and avocados (the look on her face while trying the latter for the first time was priceless) but other than that, she's a champion eater.  Naps have improved dramatically over the past month, although she's still not into much more than thirty minutes at a time.  Maybe that will change.  Or not.

My husband is mostly a totally fantastic dad, but there are times when he comes home after I've had the baby all day and he's all excited to see her (and she's ridiculously excited to see him) and then he hangs out with her for, like, ten minutes, and then says he's tired, which pretty much makes me want to kick his ass.  Now, I get that working all day is tiring because, you know, I do that too (with a schedule that involves working weekends so I'm with her on a few weekdays).  But, as much as I hate making wide, sweeping statements about men and women, I think being the mom is harder.  At least if you're the primary food source.  About 90% of me loves nursing - the bonding, the fact that my body is finally able to do something related to reproduction - and the other 10% of me will happily give it up when the day comes, and go back to normal bras and a pump-less lifestyle and shirts that fit again (she says, hopefully). 

Also, we have added two teeth into the equation, which makes my nipples quake with fear.

So, that's about it for now.  It's a good life.  A very ordinary, suburban, family life.  The one I dreamt of for all those years.  Some days I can still hardly believe it actually happened.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

the girl on the bus

The other night, my husband and I were on the bus coming home from a concert.  It was about 11:15pm.  Bus clientele at that time of night is always interesting, a slice of life I don't get all that often, and sometimes I marvel at how gentle the most unexpected people can be.  (The fact that I find this unexpected probably says more about me than it does about them.  But I digress.)

After a few stops, two young women got on the bus.  They were chatting away, trying to untangle the earbuds for one girl's i.pod.  They sat down and giggled and plugged in the earbuds, sharing the two between them so each got one ear's worth of listening, and chatted away.

They were pretty clearly happy to be away from adult supervision, which I am guessing they may not have much of in their lives.  It's the clothing choices that led me to this conclusion (although, yes, I am aware that teenaged girls can wear one outfit out of the house while sneaking a completely different one with them, but these girls had no purse or bag whatsoever, so unless they hid their long-sleeved prairie girl dresses underneath a tree, I think that's unlikely).  One girl was particularly, you know, well-endowed.  And, might I add, braless.  (Another hint that she might not have an adult around to help her with that.)  Every once in awhile you see a young woman like this who is clearly unaware of the impact her physical appearance has on others, but this one seemed pretty aware of it.  Tossing her hair, smiling at any male within spitting distance, laughing and chatting and on the downtown bus at 11:00pm without any adults nearby...

...and I panicked.

Not for her, because she actually seemed fine.  I hope she is okay in this life, not just that night, but each day.  No, I panicked because I realized that my child, at that moment happily sleeping away at her grandparents' house, is one day going to be a teenager.  With boobs.  And the option of low-cut t-shirts.  Without a bra.  And going on the bus.  Downtown.  At 11:00pm.  Even though I would not be okay with most of those things, but some of them I don't get to choose (hello, boobs) and some of them I might not get to control (hello, downtown bus at 11:00pm) and OHMYGOD she is going to grow up and then she will go away and then she will be on the bus and old creepy guys might look at her and I will not always be there to beat the everliving shit out of them if they do and possibly some horrifyingly-named Congressman might tweet her an inappropriate picture or she could get drunk one night and do something dumb that can't be undone and and there are a million other things that could happen and OHHOLYMERCIFULLORD WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT THAT?

Kind of took the fun out of the evening for a moment.

There were some other kids on the bus too, and when I say, "kids," I mean, "college-student-aged-people" who would, no doubt, hate being called, "kids," but I am old now so that's what happens.  Anyway.  They looked responsible.  Mostly scanning their varied hand-held devices and not paying attention to anybody else, but they also looked like they were not likely to be on any "Girls Gone Wild" episodes anytime soon, so that made me feel better.  I took a deep breath.

There are days when I cannot wait for Baby Girl to grow up, at least enough so that she will be able to a.) nap; b.) no longer require diapers; and c.) tell me what she needs (although I realize this comes with a whole bunch of other talking-back so that's kind of a toss-up). 

But that night, on the bus, I wished she could stay like she was, right then, forever.  Sleeping in the pack-and-play at the grandparents, or safe in her crib at home, where I can walk up the stairs and check on her at anytime.

I realize this isn't going to happen.

But a mom can dream.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I'm a b...

Remember that Meredith Brooks song, B.itch?  (Whatever happened to her, anyway?  There's probably some VH1 Behind the Scenes thing on her.  Although, maybe they don't make those anymore.  Wait...is there still a VH1?  This is getting depressing.)

Anyway.  I used to love putting that song on the radio, on certain days, and blasting it while I drove as fast as legally permissible (or, slightly over, but not in a dangerous way) down the freeway with the windows open.  I sang along because it felt cathartic to get all the crummy energy out of me that way.  I might need to do that today.  Because, seriously:

I'm a bi.tch...
  • my sister-in-law is seriously pissing me off by floating passive-aggressive F.ace.book status updates referring to the fact that my husband and I happened to get the stomach flu, at the same time, from our beloved child, thus causing me to call my mom to come and spend the night so we could throw up in peace, which then made my mom unable to visit our nephew the next day.  I felt bad enough about that already.  Passive-aggressive taunts just make me feel worse.  SHUT IT, LADY.
  • and even writing that down makes me feel yet worse, again.  Sigh.
I'm a lover...
  • in good news, husband and I are - "being creative" - in the s.e.x. arena.  Baby steps.
I'm a child...
  • seriously, the first (and only) thing I could think of to do when we all got sick was call my mom.  Lately I've been thinking a lot about the fact that my parents won't be around forever, which I obviously already knew, but facing that when you have a child of your own feels different to me.  Now I'm thinking more about how they felt when their parents died.  I bet they miss them much, much more than I ever realized.
  • also, I flipped someone off on the road today.  Because, you know, she started it.
I'm a mother...
  • a mother of a child who now eats sweet potatoes, squash, and peas like there is no tomorrow; really enjoys rice cereal; hates oatmeal with unparalleled passion; sits up without any assistance whatsoever (apart from the occasional sudden lurch to the side or tip backward) and smiles all. the. time.  And it. is. awesome.
  • and, she sleeps in her own bed.  Upstairs.  While we sleep in ours.  Downstairs.  With the video monitor on.  I'm still getting used to this.  Like the other night when I woke up at 3:30am and the monitor wasn't working and I went into a complete and total OHMYLORDWHATHAPPENEDSHECOULDBEDEAD panic until I realized that I had forgotten to plug it in, and also, she was fine.  And then I laid awake for 20 minutes trying to get my heart started again.
I'm a sinner...
  • see evidence above.
  • also, I ate a whole bag of Cad.bury's mini eggs which I had hidden from my husband in my sock drawer because otherwise he eats the candy in, like, three days, whereas I can make it last for several weeks.
  • probably that is not a sin.  But my exultation in successfully hiding said mini-eggs and consuming all of them, might be.
I'm a saint...
  • well, if a "saint" is someone who doesn't screw up, then I got nothing here.
  • but if a "saint" is someone loved by God, then I am doing okay.
  • also, in news slightly related to that last bit, I am reading Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott, which is the story of her son's first year, and it is, hands down, the best parenting book of all time in the history of ever.
I do not feel ashamed...
  • hmmm...mostly true.
  • except about the bird-flipping from this morning.
  • and the anger at my sister-in-law (which is pretty much deserved, on her part, but still essentially fruitless).
And now, back to my regularly scheduled programming. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

the m-word day, a little late

These thoughts are a few days late, I realize.  Sundays are not the best day for me to do anything except a.) church, and b.) long nap.

I am still not quite sure how to celebrate a day I used to hate.  Well, not hate, exactly.  "Feel deeply conflicted about," would be more accurate (and awkwardly-phrased).  I love my own mother, so that part was good.  But all the other stuff - all the flowers at the grocery store and the extra people at church* and the jewelry/Hallm.ark/flowers/make-her-breakfast-in-bed commercials running for weeks beforehand just used to take it out of me.

In many ways, I had a lovely Mother's Day.  I did not take it for granted.  But mostly, what I thought about was this:

to all of you,
who want to be moms more than you want anything else
even to breathe
or laugh
and whose arms,
as full as they might be with life,
still feel empty sometimes at night;
all who hope
and grieve
and long
and wait
and wish upon a star
or pray with every breath you have,
you matter too, on this day.
may the child for whom you long
the one you have not yet met
be waiting just around the corner,
please God.

*you know those extra people at church on Mother's Day.  The ones who show up unexpectedly shiny and with a tight grin on their faces that says, "my mom/wife/mother-in-law/sister/other female figure totally made me come today and get dressed up so I'm here but don't expect me to be happy about it."  Yeah.  They're there every year.  They make me giggle.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

let's talk about [not having any] s.e.x, baby

So, yesterday someone suggested that I might be in early menopause.


Let me tell you about it.

Yesterday was my last "Parent-Baby Group" at the hospital where Baby Girl was born.  (They call this "Parent-Baby Group" in an effort to be all PC and everything, but the truth is, it's just moms.  And babies.)  I didn't go to the 0-3 month group, because those were the months where I didn't feel much like doing things that started at a certain time.  I liked getting out of the house [read: I was often desperate to get out of the house] but I wanted to do that in my own sweet feet-dragging way, and not feel perpetually late to everything, which is what would have happened.  Also, my job involves a lot of people-time, and it was nice to be a little bit more solitary for awhile.

So I joined the 3-6 month group because a bunch of moms told me in effusive tones that I absooooluuuutely had to do this, it was the best thing ever, they met these women who are still their best friends even though their babies are all in high school now, etc.  I went.  It was okay, in the way that walking into the high school cafeteria and recognizing immediately that everyone else is already sitting with a group and you are the odd kid out is also, "okay."  Like in every group, there were some moms I connected with and others I didn't.  This was fine.

Yesterday, our topic was, "guilt and parenting."  We were supposed to write down all our guilt-triggers on a piece of paper, talk about them with the group, and then put them into a bucket which symbolized casting away this guilt.  I have never found this to work overly well, but it's a nice symbol.  We all re-hashed the things about which moms have felt guilty for a thousand years: sleeping methods, breast-vs-bottle feeding, to-work-or-not-to-work-outside-the-home, etc. 

My first guilt topic was this: I feel guilty that I don't feel guilty about liking my job and enjoying work.  (Did you follow that?  I know.)  This is a post for another time.

My second one was this: I feel guilty that I have absolutely, totally, 100%, no doubt, zip, zero, nada, NO sex drive whatsoever and (this is the guilt-inducing part) not much interest in doing anything about it. 

From what little I've read and heard on this topic, I feel like it's pretty normal for new moms to feel this way.  Breastfeeding depresses your estrogen supply, which means you aren't as interested or, um, capable.  Because of, you know, the fluid levels and the lubricating factors and the...yeah. You get it.

But infertility ups the ante on this, because it's not just that I've had no real desire since the baby was born: I was nauseous for, well, about the entire pregnancy, and on fertility drugs off-and-on for several years before that, and when you look back at it, it's about five years since I really had much sustained interest in this area.  Which is not to say that we haven't had sex in five years.  (I think my husband feels this way sometimes, but he would also admit that this is not quite the case.) 

So I talked about how this made me feel guilty, and all the other moms were nodding their heads in recognition, and then the group facilitator gave me some suggestions (which, oddly enough, just made me feel more guilty) and then she casually mentioned that "at your age, you might be peri-menopausal" which she said as if this was no big deal but was pretty much like hitting me in the face with a Mack truck, because my "age" is, in fact, THIRTY-EIGHT and if that's entering early menopause, then thanks a whole freaking lot lady, you've been very helpful.

Let me assure you (as I wish I had done to her, had I not been too shocked to say anything coherent) that I have had every fertility test in the book, so if I were entering early menopause, I would already know about it.  And my mom didn't start menopause until her early 60's, the same as her mother, so I'm not too worried.  Mostly, I wanted to slap this woman in the face.  I mean, I'm not opposed to menopause.  It happens to us all.  But maybe this is not the best thing to say to a woman with a 6-month old child who has just confided in you that she isn't much into Barry White music at the moment.  Maybe you could jump to something a little less drastic than, say, the end of her fertility and gradual slide into silver hair and polyester pants and a weekly game of bridge.  For which she will apparently need to get a babysitter for her kindergartner.

At what point do you think I should do something about this whole sex drive thing?  I mean, Group Facilitator Lady said sweetly that we could "be creative, it doesn't have to involve intercourse," to which I said, "yes, my husband is full of suggestions on that, it's not a lack of information I'm worried about here," but I really am wondering if there might be something wrong.  Like, can I take a pill for this? Because that would be great.  Because I do love my husband, and I miss that part of my life, and I'm not quite sure what to do about it.

Other than buy up some polyester pants and call it a day.

Thoughts?  Help!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

well, hello there, blog

Okay.  I should probably have some better-sounding excuse for dropping off the face of the earth these past few weeks, but all I've got is this: it was Easter, which, if you are a pastor, is a time of the year when absolutely nothing else gets done.  At.  All.  If you have the urgent need to clean something, please let me know, because I have got the house for you.

Baby Girl is doing well, apart from a few spectacular Nap Fail experiences like yesterday, wherein it took 90 minutes to get her down for what turned out to be a 20 minute morning nap.  Also, she is now rolling from back-to-front but has only done so for 1.) her grandparents and 2.) Harrison Ford, who happened to be on TV playing Indiana Jones at the time.  Normally, I don't let her watch TV, in case you are thinking of reporting me to the Child Development Authorities, but Harrison Ford is a slight exception.  I was upstairs throwing a load of towels into the laundry at the time. 

Last night I went to bed at 8:30pm.  Because, apparently, I am in the third grade.  It was awesome.

I went to Pa.nera for lunch yesterday and a creepy dude stared at me while I breastfed Baby Girl (under a cover, but still).  Then he said, "I bet she's a angel," (which, given that she had screamed for 90 minutes that morning was not exactly the analysis I was in the mood for) and as soon as he went to the counter to get his food, we hightailed it the heck out of there.

After three months of cobbling together childcare between friends and grandparents, Baby Giril will be starting at an official childcare center next week.  Mostly, I am relieved about this because it's been a little stressful to put things together (long story short, our initial childcare setup didn't work out, so we've been punting for awhile).  I am also nervous.  Probably no way around that.

I am so, so, so not a morning person.  At all.  But the big smile on your child's face when you lean over to pick them up - well, that puts a spark into the morning.  As does a big cup of coffee.

Our next adventure: Baby Girl starts sleeping in her own room, soon.  I am in denial about this.  Will keep you posted.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

baby hits the road

So, we survived our first family vacation.


No, not really.  (Well, I mean, we survived.  But it went better than I feared, actually.)  We took our girl on the Baby Victory Tour, which is what it feels like when you go visit a whole bunch o' family members who have not yet met the child.  The kind of vacation where, when you walk into a room, everyone immediately looks right past you and says, "Where's the baby?"  Which is okay with me.

We had a few challenges to face: we were visiting my husband's family, several of whom I had never met, and staying with his brother, which is kind of like staying with a brown-haired version of Glen.n Bec.k.  And given that I am a staunch NP.R listener, you can imagine what that's like for me.  We just tiptoe around anything involving religion and politics, and hope for the best.  Good thing we live hundreds of miles apart.

It all started with a spectacular Fail by one of our nation's lovely airlines, which kept us at the airport for a three-hour delay during our first attempt at Flight With Baby.  Which meant that we were trapped there during bedtime, and didn't get to our destination until nearly 1:00am, at which point we discovered that our luggage must have been kept outside for the whole duration of the delay, since the pack-and-play was soaking wet.  AWESOME.  I was pretty irritated by this, until we realized the next day that we were delayed because our original plane was busy ripping its roof open, and then the idea of a few hours' delay wasn't so bad.

A few years ago, this same brother and sister-in-law came to visit us over Christmas holidays.  We had been trying to get pregnant for three years.  I had just had a laparoscopy a few months earlier.  We had done two failed IUI cycles and were getting ready for our first IVF.  I was, to put it mildly, not in the mood to hear anything at all about pregnancy.  At.  All.  And my sister-in-law could do nothing but talk about "when we get pregnant," "when we have a baby," "when the baby comes," as if people can just, you know, have sex and then magically get pregnant which of course they can and probably THEY WILL DO IT ON THE FIRST CYCLE AND THEN I WILL HAVE TO JUMP OFF A BRIDGE.  We went wine tasting.  I did a lot of tasting.  Hangover not so tasty.

Flash forward to this past week.  We come into town with adorable Baby Girl.  They have been trying to get pregnant for about a year.  (I'm sure sister-in-law wanted to start earlier, but I swear to you, my brother-in-law is the cheapest person alive and probably had to be convinced that the expense of children was worthwhile.)  (Let me pause to say, I don't hate this guy, in spite of the stuff I've been writing here.  But we have nothing in common.  And he's hard to be around.)

All I could think was, what if they had come to visit us with a baby while we were trying to get pregnant?  Wouldn't it have felt like salt in the wound?  Should I acknowledge this?  Even though my sister-in-law is terribly shy and might not want to talk?  But if I ignore it, won't that feel heartless?  And be heartless, even worse?  What to do?

She and I and Baby Girl went shopping on Wednesday.  It was not the easiest experience, but gradually, she opened up.  It turns out that she had a miscarriage last month.  The truth is, of all the people who got pregnant while we were trying, the idea that they would have a baby before we would was the hardest for me.  It felt as if (and I know I am a terrible horrible no good very bad person for this, but I'm sure I'll have good company in hell) their having a baby would somehow validate their beliefs about God, with which I vehemently disagree.  As if their pregnancy would prove that their "we're right, everyone else is hellbound" theology was more effective than mine.  And I know, I get it, it's terrible.  But I suspect most infertile women feel this way about someone, that someplace deep down, you think to yourself, "as long as I get pregnant before she does, it will be okay."

That's long gone, of course.  Not an ounce of it left, and all I want for her is to have a child in whatever way possible.  I feel guilty about it, though.  I mean, I realize that my prayer to "please, please let me get pregnant first" was undoubtedly met by God with a big, "wow, is she screwed up if she thinks that's how this works," but there was a small piece of me, that Christmas weekend in 2008, that wished they would have a little trouble getting pregnant so they would understand how hard it was.  That's the part that makes me feel guilty.  And all I can do now is pray for them and trust that God is a million times more merciful than I am.

The rest of the trip was fine.  Topped off by yet another (non-roof-ripping-off) three-hour delay on the way home, which makes me want to never travel with a baby again.  She did wonderfully, though, for which I thank all the moms who told me to nurse her during takeoff.  Hats off to you, ladies: you're brilliant.

Bedtime tonight was a screamfest, certainly brought on by a week of schedule-free living for which we will now be paying the price.  It's good to be home.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I'm now convinced that, if you wanted to become a millionaire, you should publish yet another "How to Get Your Child to Sleep" book, because it appears to be a saturation-proof market.  And you can feel free to contradict every other sleep book out there, because heaven knows there's no consistency at the moment.  Cry!  Don't let them cry!  Crying is good!  Crying is evil!  They'll get over it.  They'll never get over it.  Never let them sleep with you.  Always have them sleep with you.

Meanwhile, the exhausted parent is trolling the bookstore aisle looking for the shortest of these books, because you can hardly stay awake long enough to read them.

We started with a good-sleeping baby, which is different than many, I realize.  She started sleeping for long stretches at about 8 weeks old, with nary a sleep-book in sight.  You know what that is?  Sheer dumb luck.

Then she hit four months.  And it all fell to shit.  Down to sleep by 8pm, which was great.  And then...up at midnight, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00, or some combination of the above.  I put it down to the "4 month sleep regression" phase and hoped she'd work it out.

Today she is five months.  (Editorial note: 5 MONTHS?  Where did it go?)  And not that I expected her to figure out her sleeping in one month exactly, but I've had the sneaking suspicion for the last week or so that she's developed some bad habits and doesn't really know how to get out of them.  Kind of like she was when first picking up objects: good at clinging to them, not so good at letting go.  She'd be clenching to some small item and look at me like, "are you going to help me get rid of this thing on my hand?  Because I'm done with it, but it won't go away."

The other thing about the sleep books is the minefield of opinions people have about them, and about your choices.  I had a feeling that she just needed to, yes, 'cry it out' for a few nights to get herself through this phase, but I was afraid to do it: both because I hate to hear her cry, but more because I felt the ghosts of a thousand judg-y parents hovering over me, whispering, "oh, I could never let my child cry.  It's just cruel."

But, ghosts aside, we did it.  Friday night, we girded ourselves up for a scream-fest.  Down to bed at 8pm: check.  Up at 10:30pm: check.  Then...one minute, pat her and soothe her and assure her we are here.  (We're right next to her, given that she's still sleeping in our room, but she can't see us.)  Then, three minutes.  And five.  And ten.  And another ten.  By now she's CRYING, but not in a scared or panicked or painful kind of way: mostly in a SUPER PISSED OFF tone, which is less heartbreaking than the others.  After about 45 minutes, she feel asleep.  I breathed out.   And waited for the next wake-up.

When she started to stir, I rolled over, figuring it was probably about 2am.  I checked the clock.  5:30am.  I checked again: 5:30AM.  Holy.  Mackerel.

For us, it took one bad night.  And that was it.  Since then, she's down by about 7:30pm, and sleeps until 5am.  It is a freaking miracle.  And I am starting to recover the pieces of myself that had been scattered across six wake-ups all night long for the last month.

I don't know what works for every kid, but this is what worked for ours.  At least for now.  At least until the next developmental spurt, or teething festival, or...whatever.

Naps are another matter.  They're getting better, slowly, but certainly not as dramatically as the night-sleeping.  But we'll take what we can get.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

two steps back. or, twenty steps back. whatever. i haven't slept.

Sleep has become a rare commodity in our house these days.

About three weeks ago, Baby Girl started waking up more often during the night.  She had been sleeping from 10:30pm or so until 5-6am very regularly, and I figured her wake-ups came from the fact that we started putting her to bed about 8pm.  Surely, I told myself, she is adjusting to this new schedule and will get back on track soon.



The apex of the whole sleep-thing (well, the first apex anyway) came on March 11, when we took her with us on an overnight and she did not sleep more than 45 minutes at a time all. night. long.  Given that she never even did that as a newborn, it threw us off entirely.  (Those of you who have been dealing with this kind of broken sleep all along: feel free to laugh at my complaining about one bad night.  Spectacularly bad, and the night before I had to spend all day teaching 30 junior high kids, but still.)  Since then, she's been waking up at least twice during the night: around 2am, again around 4am, and then back to sleep until 5:30 or 6am.

This. Will. Not. Do.

(I know.  Insert laugh here.)

Last night, she would not go to sleep.  We did everything we usually do: we put on pj's, nursed, read books, bounced on the ball, shhh'ed and sang songs.  We did this for nearly two hours - it usually takes no more than 30 minutes.  She was finally asleep about 9:30pm, and then up at 11:00pm. And 1:00am.  And 2:00am.  And then 5:30am.  (Woo hoo!  Three hours!)  Now she's down for a "nap," which lasts about 20 minutes.

Today's parenting theme around here: WTF?

In my frantic online research, I finally found a site I like.  It suggests that most kids go through a sleep regression at 4 months old.  That there's so much development in their little brains, they simply can't settle down for sleep.  That they'll get over it.  Eventually.  That it's not my fault - the one time I held her for a nap, or nursed her to sleep out of desperation, or let her cry it out for awhile because I did not know what else to do - all those things have not ruined my child forever and ever and ever amen.

Thank heavens.

I had more to say, but it's been twenty minutes. And she's up. Again.


This too shall pass.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

in the mind of a four month old

There are many, many times when I wish I knew what Baby Girl was thinking.  This would help, for one thing, with the fine line between the "I need to poop" scream and the "I need to eat" wail.  I am not very good at parsing the difference.

So I watch her and think, "what's going on in there?"  She looks so interested in absolutely everything. Like lint. And sunlight. And raindrops. And her own fingers.

I wonder if it might go something like this...

Awake! mmmm...hungry.  Should probably cry.  Will try the 'indicating hunger' cry, because even if mom is woefully inadequate at understanding me, at 5am she is usually fairly okay about it. Okay, CRY.  CRY CRY CRY WHY IS NO ONE GETTING ME WHERE DID EVERYONE OOH!  MOM!  I forgot about her!  She's back!  But why is it taking five whole seconds to get the food where did she go why is she NOT GOING FASTER HURR...mmm.  Boob.

Done with boob.  Time for...OOH!  PLAYMAT!  I love this thing.  I love how the stuffed bees hang over my head and I try to reach them.  Fun. Why can't I get them in my mouth, though?  Frustrating. But, look! Rattle. Oh - smells like oatmeal.  Mom must be getting her breakfast. Time for me to indicate SUPER PISSED OFF AT THESE BEES WHY AREN'T THE...mmm.  Sophie the giraffe.  Love her. Love her more than life. She is the best. Wait..where did she go? Why did she leave? WHERE IS SHE MOM HELP HELP HE...mmm.  She's back. Relief. I love her so much, I never want to let her go.  Never, never, neve...oooh! Fingers! I have fingers! ON BOTH HANDS! This is awesome. Mmmmm...fingers.

Why are we going up the stairs again? And what is that strange sensation in my pants? I don't like it. I DON'T LIKE IT HELP HELP SOMEBODY HEL...mmm.  Dry pants. Oh! And mobile! Hanging over my head! I love mobile. I love the pretty song mobile sings.  So pretty. But, wait!  Why did mobile stop? Will it never sing again? NO! MOBILE! I LOVE YOU! WHY ARE YOU NOT SING....oooh. Mom wound it up again. Thanks, Mom.

Why are we back in this dark room? Interesting. I remember this room. Oh, wait: I know what happens in here. Sleep. I like sleep. I like...oh, no. Wait. I forgot. I like nighttime sleep, but this is light outside and I HATE SLEEP WHEN IT IS DAYTIME I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT MAKE IT STOP MAK....mmmm. Thumb.  Sleep.

Repeat ad infinitum, with the addition of a few new verses, such as:
  • where did dad go? How is his voice on this small black appliance but I can't see him? Strange.
  • how did I wake up at the grocery store?
  • what will happen if I just scream for no reason at all? Oh. Sometimes mom cries too. That weirds me out.
  • mmm...more boob.
 It was much easier to learn German, that's all I know.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

what we have learned today

Today's Helpful Baby Lesson is brought to you by the luck of the Irish:

mama should never, never, never, never again eat cabbage.  Not until baby is weaned, anyway.

(This lesson is actually the second of a two-part lesson; part one was brought to you by the good Germans and their sauerkraut.)

That is all.

Carry on.

Friday, March 11, 2011

in an instant

Baby Girl and I were heading home this afternoon from routine errands.  A trip to Tar.get, another to the grocery store.  She was happily playing with a teething ring.  The radio was on.  We came around the corner, a green light at the intersection ahead.

And then there were sirens.  And a squeal of tires.  And a white truck, coming straight at us, head-on, in the wrong lane.

There were less than 2 seconds to react.  I swerved to the right.  The truck, going at least 70 miles an hour in a 35mph zone, sped through the space we had just occupied, as if the ghost of my car was still there.  Three police cars flew past us in hot pursuit.

There was one second of silence in my car while I realized what had very nearly happened.

In an instant, my mind began to play out the terrible what could have been.  A head-on collision with a much larger vehicle going 70 miles an hour would not have turned out well for us.  There was a second of silence, and then I began to panic.  I gasped for air as if I had been pulled, drowning, out of the sea.  I pulled into the parking lot next to us, unlocked the door, shaking, and stood next to my driver's door, sobbing and panting and looking at my slightly surprised child in the back seat and shut my eyes and saw the white truck, again, coming straight at us.  Two seconds.

If I had been looking down, changing the radio station.  If I had been reaching into the back seat to retrieve her teething ring.  If I had taken the moment to glance at my phone.  If, if, if....

But, fortunately, and all-praises-be, "if" was "not."  There was time.  There was space in the right lane.  Barely, for both, but enough.

I cried all the way home.  She slept.  When we got safely in the house, she awoke.  I took her out of her carseat and held onto her as if...if...if...

It can all change in an instant.  In Japan.  In Libya.  In Egypt.  In Wisconsin.

And here.

And when it doesn't, when you squeak through by the skin of your nose and the grace of God, you ought to take the time to say it:

Thank you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

sinners in the hands of a nursing God

(With apologies to Jonathan Edwards for the title.)

At my church, we follow the lectionary for the Sunday readings.  If you are not a church person, or not a mainline-Protestant church person, the lectionary is a three-year cycle of biblical readings used by lots of churches around the world.  It follows an ancient pattern of seasons - Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost - and assigns four passages for each Sunday: an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a New Testament reading, and a Gospel reading.  It  prevents me from just preaching on the stories I like, which is good.  It forces me to face up to a lot of the weird, complex, difficult, contradictory, and sometimes harsh stuff in the bible which I usually wish was not there and would prefer to ignore.

Like any system, it's imperfect, so it also tends to leave out a lot of stuff.  It also tends to include some things which aren't all that exciting.  So sometimes you read the assigned passages for the week and think, "good night, I have absofreakinglutely NOTHING to say about this," and you have to practically beat a sermon out of your computer and you are barely done with it when you climb into the pulpit and say a quick prayer that God will not smite you for the half-assed piece of crap you are about to unleash unto God's unsuspecting people.

Not that I have ever done that.  No.  Not me.

Anyway, because Easter is so late this year, we've been reading some passages we don't normally get to.  Like last Sunday, when we read this amazing passage from Isaiah 49:15

Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget, yet I [God] will not forget you.

And it was paired with this, from Psalm 131:

I have calmed and quieted my soul like a nursing child with its mother.

There are actually quite a few female images for God in the bible, not that this gets a lot of press, but the 'nursing mother' image is not one I've focused on much.  Until now.  I wasn't preaching the day of these texts, which was probably good since it would have been a bit too personal to address this idea at the moment (I love my congregation, but I don't really want them thinking about my boobs).

I suppose we are primarily meant to think of ourselves as the children, and God as the mother.  But I found myself identifying more with God this time around.  I think about the cost to be a nursing mother - not money (well, apart from the vat of lanolin and the buy-in-bulk nursing pads I now own), but time, and physical effort, and lack of sleep, and the fact that you can't leave this child for any length of time before your body reminds you that you are, indeed, a nursing mom.

That you can't forget your child, even if you wanted to, because your breasts won't let you.  That you love being the only one who can provide this nourishment for your child, even as you sometimes curse the tie that binds you so closely together when you just want to have a few hours to yourself.

Does God ever have sore nipples? Or get weary of waking up at the slightest cry?  Does God leak all over when any child cries?  Does God sit quietly at night, in what often feels like a holy moment, when the house is quiet and it is still dark and everyone else is sleeping and the baby is happily sucking away?

[Sidebar: Does God ever say, "For the love of Me, please learn to take a freaking nap"?]

Literally, of course not.  This is where being a biblical literalist gets you in trouble, and means you miss out on a lot.  Because it's such a beautiful image.  Real and messy and complex and life-giving and imperfect.  Being a nursing mom is hard.  And wonderful.  And all-consuming.  And frustrating.  And painful.  And exhilarating.

And it's pretty clear that the author of that Psalm is a guy, because half the time my child, at least, is not exactly "quieted" when she nurses - more like squirming, pulling, and yanking my nipple half off before looking up at me with a big smile on her face.

God as a nursing mother.  A new one for me.  And something different to think about next time she latches on.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

grey, a day late

I'm participating in Offering of Love's color photography project - one color for each month. It's fun to take photos of something that isn't, you know, my kid.

February was grey. (In every way, where I live.) And I didn't quite finish in time - but I'm consoled by the fact that I got shorted by a month with at least 2 fewer days than normal.

So, grey.

our back deck - and rain, rain, rain...

okay, the moss is green.  but i need some reminder that spring will, eventually, show up.

my favorite lamp - and our front window is reflected in it, with the grey skies of the day

For March, brown.  I'm thinking about deep, loamy earth and the seeds we will plant.  Oh, and chocolate.  Maybe I need some chocolate.  Right now.  Excuse me.

Monday, February 28, 2011

felix felicis

The title comes from the fact that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has been playing on (our promotionally free for some months) HBO incessantly lately.  As in, right now.

Also happening right now?  Child asleep.  Husband asleep.  Me, drinking a hot buttered rum for the first time in...I have no idea.  A long damn time.

If you're not a Potter fan, Felix Felicis (which I might well have misspelled terribly) is an elixir Harry gets as a prize in class.  It's "liquid luck," guaranteed to give good luck for one day to whomever drinks it.

What on earth does that have to do with anything? you ask.

I just want to say this about my generally well-sleeping child: it's luck.  Really.  I firmly believe about 90% of her good sleeping habits are sheer blessed random chance, and not anything I did to earn it or deserve it or make it happen.

I have no idea how to make a baby sleep.  I think I have the sort of child who sucks you into having another child, because you think, "come on, how hard can this be?" and then you have a second one who's colicky and doesn't sleep through the night until they're three, and you realize that it was all dumb luck the first time around.

If it makes you feel better, her napping skills suck donkey balls.  Really.  She's a terrible napper and I'm frantically reading all the sleep books I can to figure this out, but most of them say something like, "it all works out after six months or so," so I'm probably just screwed for another eight weeks.  My husband says it's better to have good nighttime sleep.  Most of the time I agree with this, until it's 4pm and he hasn't been home all day and she hasn't napped for more than 15 minutes at a time, at which point I start to question his logic.

But otherwise, life is okay over here.  We survived round two of vaccinations today; quite a bit easier than round one.  We had our first adventure with Department Store Photos, which was actually pretty fun until the end, when I was trying to parse out why I didn't need six 8x10 photos of my child and both she and I were running out of patience.  (But we did get some super cute pics.)  Balancing work and parenting is - um, yeah.  A work in progress.  For the rest of my life, I suppose.  It will (she says with gritted determination) start to get better next week, when my husband's schedule lets up a bit.

I realized the other day that my memory of nursery rhymes is truly, utterly, pitiful.  I get one line in and can't remember anything else.  "This little piggy went to market, this little piggy...uh-oh.  Let's try another!"  And does "You Are My Sunshine" have any other verses?  Please?  Because we are singing things like, "oh you should sleep now, should really sleep now, please take a nap now, before I scream," and I'm pretty sure that's not an official verse.

Also, you can make up a lot of diaper-related songs to "Mary Had a Little Lamb."  I'm just saying.

Friday, February 25, 2011

some random stuff i have learned

Mostly, I feel like every day of this parenting thing is a series of best guesses.  And the process of elimination.  Which culminated in my decision this week to try to get Baby Girl to go to bed earlier: she's been about a 10pm bedtime girl, and it seemed to me that she needed to back that up to 8pm or so, and so I made this whole plan for moving that toward 8pm, figuring it would take weeks, and it took 3 days.  Which is partly WONDERFUL and partly an embarrassing realization that she has probably been asking (in her, you know, screamy non-verbal way) to go to bed earlier for weeks.  Except I thought she had gas.  Or a messy diaper.  Or was hungry.


Anyway, there are still a million things I do not know.  Like how to create a nap schedule.  (Schedule?  HAHAHAHAHA)  And how to parse the precise difference between "high-pitched-scream-indicating-need-to-fart" and "high-pitched-scream-indicating-need-to-sleep" (see paragraph above).  And how to balance work and parenting.

But I have learned a few things.

Such as:

  • You can do a lot of things while nursing, but knitting is not one of them.
  • The day you figure out that your child is ticklish precisely under their right armpit is a very fun day.
  • Antibiotics are good for healing ear infections but VERY VERY BAD if you are a cloth diaper person, so it is okay to switch to disposables until the Poop Express stops arriving nine times a day.
  • The New Adventures of Old Christine is a really funny show (I learned this when I was home all freaking day during weeks of rain).
  • You can make up a lot of ridiculous songs to "Mary Had A Little Lamb" in order to entertain your child on the changing table.
  • When local-living grandparents go to Hawaii for three weeks you really, really miss them.  A lot.
  • Sometimes parent-baby group is just like junior high, but with babies.  (Yet another reason not to get pregnant in junior high.)  In other words, sometimes the Mean Girls turn into Mean Mommies. 
  • If you are going to pump or nurse in your office, it is a really good idea to learn how to lock your door.
  • It is surprising how many people will look at a baby wearing pink overalls with a cupcake on the front pocket and say, "how old is your little boy?"
I'm sure there's more, but that's it for now. 

What have you learned?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

cautiously optimistic...a bottle update

I sort of want to declare victory regarding the Battle of the Bottle, except that I'm afraid I'll be like W., all up there on the aircraft carrier with the big "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" sign, apparently totally unaware of the years of "oops, guess that war wasn't quite over" yet to come. 

With that said, we seem to have accomplished quite a bit over the weekend.

Friday, I went to work.  My husband was home on a school break, so he decided that it was time to bring this thing to a head and see if he could wait Baby Girl out long enough to make the bottle her only option.  Wisely, he sent me away when I got home at lunchtime, as I would have totally caved once I heard her crying to eat. 

It took about five hours, but she finally did it.  It seems that heating up the milk much warmer than we had been was the key difference.  And he squirted a little milk into her mouth before putting the bottle in.  By last night, she was happily eating from the bottle even when I was in the room.  Major progress.

Meanwhile, I had bought two other brands of bottles, so we're just hanging on to those in case "Mission Not So Accomplished After All" hits us later on.

Tomorrow his school break is over, so that's the next front: seeing if she'll take the bottle from her caregiver.

Ah, the things that bring me excitement these days.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

one step forward...

Live from the "Battle of the Bottle" front, we bring you this breaking news:

it seems that "temperature of the milk" may be the break we've been looking for.

At least today.

Stay tuned for the inevitable, "two steps back" update.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

i'm not dumb. that's not your boob.


Going back to work had been such a breeze that first week.  My husband stayed home, which was great.  I ran home about lunchtime to nurse Baby Girl, and she drank pumped milk from a bottle the rest of the time.  It was all good.  Happy, shiny people.

And then the ear infection came.

I don't know if it's the infection, or the antibiotics (which, among other things, has been causing Massive Diaper Blowouts the likes of which are going to turn her bedroom into a Superfund cleanup site), or just her little stubborn personality making its first grand appearance, but she has suddenly decided, after months of being fine with it, that she is NOT going to drink from the bottle.  No, no, no, no, no, Mom.  NOT.  DOING.  IT.

She gets the bottle in her mouth and tongues it around for awhile before realizing, "Hey, this isn't a real boob; this is some kind of rubber fake boob and IT IS REALLY PISSING ME OFF."  And while I'm glad that she's not a fan of fake boobs, the bottle-refusal piece is problematic. 

We've tried dipping the nipple in sugar water, which worked once, and then she seems to have figured that out.  Sometimes she'll take it if I start her by nursing and then slip her onto the bottle, but that doesn't really fix the whole "Mom needs to work and you have to eat without her sometimes" thing.

Any ideas?  I welcome advice of all kinds. 


Monday, February 14, 2011

my funny valentine

To my funny, feisty, wiggly, diaper-blowout-y, gassy, giggly, nap-challenged, squeal-y, bottle-refusing (there's a story for another post), often exasperating and yet delightful daughter:

You are the best Valentine ever.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

dear jennifer aniston,

I realize I don't know you at all (although I feel like I could give you some career advice, since you seem to make questionable choices in movie roles - I suspect you're probably better than "main girlfriend" all the time, but maybe that's all Hollywood offers).  And our lives are probably not on the same trajectory.  I mean, yours is all "glamorous, beautiful, world-traveling movie star" and mine is more, "milk-stained t-shirt at the local grocery store," but I saw that you're, once again, on the cover of People magazine this week and, on behalf of women-who-stayed-single-for-longer-than-most-and-maybe-still-are, I just want to say this to you:

don't let the asshats get you down.

I mean, really.  A week hardly goes by without some tabloid proclaiming that you are desperately attaching yourself to yet another guy, or seeking an international adoption to cure your clearly raging loneliness (aren't all single people horribly lonely, after all?), or barely keeping yourself from leaping off a bridge at the sight of Brangelina and its Ever Increasing Brood.  And then there's the latest People cover, which shouts, "Jennifer swears, I'm happy, really!" as if you had a giant nail stuck through your chest and kept insisting, "it doesn't hurt, really!"

Is it that hard to believe that a single woman could be happy?  I mean, I never remember seeing these sorts of covers with Warren Beatty ("Warren swears, I'm happy, really!") or George Clooney ("George breaks up again, desperate for love") or any of the other famous Hollywood bachelors.  Nobody goes around thinking that a 40-year old male movie star is drowning himself in vodka tonics every night just because he hasn't managed to get hitched yet.

It seems to me like pulling off a successful movie career (minus that one with what's his face) is a lot harder than getting married.  A lot of people are married.  Not a lot of people are movie stars.  Maybe it's just that you don't fit into the "what a woman is supposed to do with her life" mold that most people expect.  I had that problem when I was single.  It seemed like everyone and their brother kept asking when I was going to get married, as if I could just produce The Ideal Spouse out of thin air.  Then you get married, and everyone wants to know when you're going to have children.

Which maybe is why I feel so irritated on your behalf.  Because it turns out that I couldn't produce kids out of thin air (not to mention my uterus) either, and the constant assumption that I wouldn't be happy without them was hard to bear.  It's one thing to feel that for yourself; it's all the other people piling it on top of you that starts to hurt.  "Don't you want children?" they say, as if there could be no hurt at all hiding behind my childlessness.  "You'd be such a good mom," they say, which only makes you want to weep in front of them because you know that, damn it, which is why you cried when you got your period for the 37th time in a row this morning.

So, anyway.  I realize you'll never read this.  But I hope you don't read People either.  Because you seem like a nice person.  And if you want to get married, I hope you do.  But I bet you're pretty happy as you are.  I hope so.  I hope we can all find happiness in the life we have, instead of wishing it away for the one we don't.

You know what America?  She looks pretty happy to me.  SO SHUT IT ALREADY.

Carry on, Jennifer.