Friday, December 14, 2012


I know it's been radio silence from here for awhile. Just busy, nothing terrible.

I've not been big on political statements here, but I do not know how to do anything else today other than repeat this, over and over and over again:

if you are tired of the utter and deplorable lack of meaningful conversation about gun control in this country then today, do something about it.

Write to your representatives. Call your senator. Sign the White House petition. DO SOMETHING DO SOMETHING DO SOMETHING.

Do more than express sympathy on your page: do something with it. (See above.)

I don't give a shit if you agree with me, personally, on gun control or not: I have no particular law in mind. But if we look those families in the face (even over the news) and we do nothing? Nothing at all just because we are afraid of being "too political" or pissing somebody off or stirring up controversy? Then shame on us.

Hug your kids: yes. Cry: yes. Pray: yes. And then do something.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


So, we are still in the limbo of, "yes, we need to talk about it and one day we will eat a meal together that does not involve toddler-directed instructions to remove that finger from your nose but that day has not yet arrived." That is, we have not yet talked about whether to do anything more about having another baby (who would grow into another nose-picking toddler, one assumes). (It's only occasionally with the nose-picking thing, but it is kind of gross. On the other hand, when she held out her finger the other day, booger perched carefully on the tip, and said cheerfully, "hi, booger!" it was pretty funny.)

Anyway. I digress. Probably because my brain is actively trying to digress from the fact that I have just heard that my sister-in-law is pregnant.


It is most certainly different to hear that now than when it happened the first time, about three months before I got pregnant with the afore-mentioned booger girl. Then there was a lot of raging and crying and swearing, etc. Also glasses of wine.

I feel kind of numb about it this time. I suppose I should feel something more distinct, but "should" is a word that does not go well with "feel." I feel tired about it. Weary. Lapped, sort of. Except that we're out of the race - for now - so it's not a great metaphor. You can't get lapped if you're sitting on the sidelines.

The thing is, I mostly feel enormously satisfied with, and grateful for, my life. Just as it is. I am not very good with risk, and part of me is terrified to have another child. I mean, shit can happen and my reproductive record is spotty at best, so why tempt fate? Why try to mess with the goodness we have?

I think this about 95 percent of the time, but at 2:00am, I sometimes think about the handful of times I have taken a risk in my life, and how I've usually been glad that at least I tried.

So we did try, of course. We failed, but we tried. There's no more frozen embryo out there, alternately torturing and teasing us with the possibility of just one more. We took the risk. It's okay.

But is that it? I think so. And then I don't. And then I look at baby photos and I want another. And then I think about turning 40 in three months and I change my mind. And then I think about the fact that someday my husband and I will be dead and we will leave our daughter without any siblings. And then I think about how much I like sleeping through the night (most of the time).

It feels like it will never end.

It stays dormant until somebody else shares their happy news, and then something, somewhere, hurts. Not as deeply as it once did, for sure. My joy for her is more quickly present than the first time around.

But the scars don't go away, I guess. You learn to live with them. You just look at the thing on the tip of your finger, and smile, and say,

Hi, booger.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

what now?

Since our daughter's birth,  my husband and I had agreed that one day we would try with our one frozen embryo to give her a sibling. If it worked, great. If it didn't, we would call it a day. Seven years of fertility treatment is enough.

I had made my peace with that.

I thought he had too.

Since our negative beta, he and I have not talked much about what we will do now, apart from ten seconds after I hung up with the nurse and said, "it didn't work," and his nearly-instant response was, "you know, we could try it again."


We decided to let it lie for awhile. Schedules have been busy and we've had company, and there hasn't been time to have the discussion. Probably in the next week or so. I am not sure what to do with the fact that I really feel done with all of this: sad, that there won't be another baby, so much so that I try not to think about it very much, but not desperately unhappy. Quite content, much of the time, with the life we have.

I think perhaps his hopes had gotten much higher than mine. After all, we'd done IVF twice before and I had, technically, gotten pregnant both times - only one viable pregnancy, of course, but this was the first phone call we'd had which was an instant negative. Game over.

When we started all this, seven years ago, we ended up in a discussion about how much money we were willing to spend on fertility treatments. I was willing to break the bank. Spend it all. We could earn more, but we only had a certain window of time to have a kid. I would have borrowed, begged, and stolen to get it done.

He, on the other hand, calmly and wisely (not that I assessed it this way at the time) said that we needed to acknowledge that all the money in the world might not get us a child.  That we could break the bank, beg, borrow, and steal, and end up broke, indebted, and childless. Which would suck. (He had a better way of putting it.) That we needed to be able to love the life, and live the life, we actually had, and not just long for a future we might not get.

Now, our positions seem to be reversed. So very odd, what this stuff does to you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


So, perhaps the radio silence from o'er here clued you in, but the beta results yesterday were not good. Negative, to be exact. Definitely not good, although I would still take that over the "first beta positive, second beta disastrous" of 2009.

(I mistyped that last sentence "definitely not god," which has a certain truth to it, perhaps.)

Anyway. We were certainly disappointed. More so than I would have guessed. I have another post about that, but not for today.

Something else momentous happened yesterday, though. On my way out the door to my bloodwork appointment, I waved to my daughter and said, "I love you," which I say many times daily and every time I leave her, and for the first time she said, quite clearly, "I love you, mama."

Definitely God, there.

Thanks again for all the good wishes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

*twiddling thumbs*

While it's undoubtedly true that I don't have as much mental space to dedicate toward "constant, occasionally panicky deliberation of future hcg results" this time around, waiting for a pregnancy test post-transfer is still...well, I suck at waiting. That's pretty much it.

No home tests yet. Have managed not even to buy one, which is quite a feat for me. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get one today. Or not. Or maybe. I don't know.

You know how you want to know, but then you don't want to know if it's not positive, but then you do want to know just in case it's negative because you can prepare yourself for that call for the nurse, but then again you might get a false negative so you probably shouldn't take the test before the official one, but then you have to wait all the way until Saturday which is, like, an eternity, so...

...ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Exhibit One of How Much I Suck At Waiting.

That's about it for life around here. Thrilling, right?

Thursday, September 13, 2012


So. Now we wait.

All went well today - and thanks so much for your good wishes. I checked my phone shortly before we went into the transfer room, and it was delightful to know people were thinking of us.

Totsicle survived, and the transfer went without a hitch: three times now, and I think I have finally perfected the art of full-enough-bladder-without-hideous-discomfort.

Beta is next Saturday the 22nd, though we have told our families it's the 24th, to give us either a.) a few days to deal with disappointment, or b.) time to get through the second test. Once bitten, twice shy.

I am under no illusions whatsoever that I will be able to resist the pee stick. Drugstore. Tomorrow. Then, the wait really begins.


The countdown is on.

Transfer is at 2:30pm today.

For all the ambivalence, worry, uncertainty, and confusion I've had during this cycle, all I want today is for this to work.

I'm a little terrified that they will call mid-morning and tell us that our totsicle didn't survive the thaw. (And by "a little," I mean, "a whole freaking lot.")

Whatever appendages you'd like to cross today on our behalf - prayer, good intentions, etc. - will be much appreciated.

6 hours to go.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

plugging along

Ultrasound and bloodwork today. I'll hear back this afternoon on the bloodwork, but barring any unforeseen weirdness, we are All Systems Go for the 13th.

In so many ways, this whole experience is so much easier than the first time around. For one thing, I have way less time to be stuck in my head about it. Time to sit and think deep thoughts about my future as a parent, or the prospect of not having kids, and what each of those two possibilities means for my own identity, confidence, and sense of the future?


The last thing I thought deeply about was whether or not watching "Elmo's Potty Time" more than three times in one week would permanently damage my child's brain. (Verdict: no.)

Last time, I was so careful about every little thing. Lu.pron to be taken at some point from 7-9pm each night? No problem. 8:30pm on the dot, every day. This time? Well, it's generally been taken someplace in the 7-9pm window, except for the two times I completely forgot until 10:35pm, said, "OH SHIT," jumped off the couch, and ran to the bathroom like an Olympic sprinter. And yet, in spite of my extreme imprecision, the triple-stripe lining looked spectacular today.

Take that, Overly Developed Sense of Control.

I dropped the ball on scheduling acupuncture sessions but snuck in for Friday because of a last-minute cancellation. My daughter has developed an obsession with "Mama shoss?" (Mama shots?) and asks if I am going to do this every time I go into the bathroom. Or, as I discovered on Monday, every time I take off my pants: frantically trying on black suits in the Macy's fitting room, she pointed at my stomach and asked over and over again, "Mama shoss?" while I tried to explain to her that I don't have to do that until ni-night time, and hoped that the woman in the room next to me would think I was diabetic and not a drug-crazed heroin addict.

I feel twinges of guilt about taking the whole thing so lightly - or, at least, so much more lightly than last time. And yet it can't be helped. "Kids have so much energy because they siphon it off their parents like midget gasoline thieves," I read the other day, which is true times one hundred. There just isn't enough time in the day to be as intentional about this cycle, and yet as much as I understand that, it also taps into all my secret fears that I will not be able to love this child as much as I love my first one.

There. I said it. I think that's the problem.

I suppose every parent, or at least most of them, has felt this way. It still makes me worry. I'm sure that, upon seeing another baby's face, I would be absolutely as smitten as I was the first time around, but as long as this baby is just a vague possibility - just an abstract hope - it can't compete with the adorable realness of the baby I kiss and cuddle and read stories to and snuggle with.

What if I don't love this baby as much? What if, somewhere down the road, this baby finds out that I forgot to take my Lu.pron shots until 10:35pm twice and didn't have as many acupuncture appointments and occasionally felt conflicted about even having another baby?

I mean, I don't know how this kid would find out any of this unless I said something about it, but you know what I mean.

There are two possibilities here. One, the kid finds out all of this and gets pissed off, in which case the therapy profession has at least one future patient on the way.

Two, I am completely nuts, in which case the therapy profession might still benefit.

Having written this all out, I think I am going to go with option number two. If you want to vote differently, just let me know.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

second time around

So, I've been on Lup.ron for about a week and a half. Started the estrogen patches two days ago (which resulted in a KILLER headache for awhile, so hallelujah for ibu.profen).

It still seems very odd. I'd like to think of something more profound than, "odd," but there you have it; surreal, perhaps, that I have to put my toddler to bed in time to get down to the bathroom and inject myself with the same medication that helped us get to her in the first place. I keep thinking that I'm in a dream, and someone is going to wake me up and tell me I never had a baby, that we have to do it all over again.

But then I go into the family room and trip over three baby dolls and her beloved play lawn mower, and reality comes back.

Transfer date is set for September 13. Not much more exciting news here (other than the emerging potty interest by above-mentioned child WOOHOO). Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

deep breath: FET.

So, today I went in to do my office hysteroscopy. Good times. In all honesty, it was hardly painful at all - not painful, really, just a bit uncomfortable for 30 seconds - and over more quickly than I remembered. Sounding as well, plus some bloodwork.

Because, in spite of my epically cranky toddler who yesterday made me wonder why anyone in their right mind would want to have two of these things...FET, here we come.

This feels so different from the first time around, I can hardly explain it. Don't get me wrong: I'll be sad if it doesn't work. But I feel like we hit the baby jackpot so well that it almost seems greedy to try again. Like the universe only has so many babies available per year, and I would hate to take one away from a family that doesn't even have one yet. (I realize this is not how it works, although it would go a long way toward solving the "unexplained infertility" phenomenon.)

Toddlers are hard, for sure, but also delightful. Usually in the same 5 seconds. There are times when I wonder whether another one is such a good idea, but those moments don't last too long.

A big part of my motivation to have another child is because I want a sibling for our first. I have two brothers, and it's hard to imagine my life without them. I think about the future day (a long way off, I hope) when my parents aren't around anymore, and I am deeply grateful to have brothers who will still be a part of my life, a representation of that childhood-family. The people who know all the growing-up stories and the old history that disappears once your parents are gone, if you don't have siblings.

It's just that "having a sibling for my daughter" is a thousand times different as a motivation than, "having a child." Like wanting chocolate frosting for my cake when the best part is that I actually have cake to start with. I realize that having a second child changes your life, but I don't think it changes your identity as fundamentally as going from non-parent to parent: parent-of-one to parent-of-two is more of a strategy shift. Moving from zone defense to man-to-man, as my husband is fond of saying.

Also, sometimes I am scared that we have such a good life now, such a great child, that we are doing nothing but inviting trouble by daring to have another one.

(This ability of mine to always look on the crappy side is probably an inheritance from my northern European ancestors, who lived in countries where making meat out of a sheep bladder was considered a delicacy and it is dark 23 hours a day in the winter. "It will probably get worse" seems to course through my veins.)

At any rate, despite my fears of tempting the Baby Gods, we are scheduled for a transfer at the end of August. Because my husband is a teacher so it would be nice to have a baby at the end of May, just before school gets out.

Because, you know, I somehow have the audacity to imagine that we might actually get a baby out of this deal.  Double third-fingers to you, Infertility.

The best thing is, that under the worst circumstances, we end up just having one absolutely delightful (occasionally super, crazy irritating) child. When I think about my terror, a few years ago, that we would never even be here, it takes my breath away. I'd like a little frosting on my cake, to be sure, but mostly, I just love the heck out of the cake.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

somebody's baby

There is a guy who stands by the freeway entrance I often use - not on a daily basis, but several times a week. Enough so that I'm pretty sure he's there every day. He has a sign, a small cardboard one, asking for money. I have never given him any, although I feel a twinge of guilt every time I don't. Reports are that people who have tried to give him food say he refuses it and asks for money instead, but I don't know for sure if this is true.

If statistics are in any way correct, chances are high that this man suffers from some kind of mental illness, given the high percentage of various mental disorders among the homeless.

I'm not a very sentimental person, really. Even when I was pregnant, I wasn't especially weepy over Hallmark commercials or old people walking down the street holding hands. I'm just not very sappy. There are exceptions, of course - I got all misty-eyed fifteen minutes ago watching that youtube-marriage-proposal-video by some guy named Ian, who is indeed, a romantic bad-ass - but, for the most part, I'm a realist. I haven't gotten particularly more emotional since I had a baby, either. I don't know why this is, but there you have it.

I know perfectly well that all kinds of babies come into the world when they are not particularly wanted, or loved, or understood. It's ridiculous to imagine that every child born in this world is born into a delighted, happy family eager to welcome it home. Children are abused, and neglected, in a million horrible and unimaginable ways, and this has always been terrible, and always will be.

So I am not trying to be cheesy and greeting-card-saccharine when I say that, very often since my daughter was born, my first thought when I see Homeless Guy By the Freeway Entrance is, "where is your mom?" Everybody is somebody's baby. I wonder where he grew up; whether he was loved, wanted, welcomed, cherished. What his first birthday celebration was like. His first day of school. Whether anybody kept his first pair of shoes and the art project he made for Mother's Day in second grade. Whether somebody tucked him into bed at night and read him stories and told him they loved him to the moon and back.

Maybe not. Maybe his childhood was a hell, not a paradise, and home a place he was perfectly happy to walk away from as soon as possible.

Or maybe he was loved and nurtured and somewhere, somebody still has his baby shoes - but he was ill in such a way that he couldn't stay in his family, so he is standing by the freeway instead, hoping somebody will give him enough to eat and sleep. Or possibly get drunk. (See? Not sentimental.)

Yesterday, a few miles from where I live, someone who suffers from mental illness took a gun, went into a coffee shop, shot several people, carjacked and killed someone else, and finally shot himself. His family, being interviewed today, says that they tried and tried to get him help. If you have ever tried to get help for a mentally ill family member or friend, you know: this is not easy. You can't force it on anyone. And there are not a lot of safety nets out there.

What this guy did was awful. There's no excuse for it. There's no way to make it anything less than a reprehensible crime, for which he is responsible.

And yet he, too, was somebody's baby. Today I am thinking about his mother, along with the other grieving mothers, who are holding onto those first grade art projects and baby shoes. I hold my own daughter and I think about how lost I would be if something happened to her - if she went into a coffee shop one sunny Wednesday and never came out - and how deeply dark and awful it would be if I lost her, instead, to an illness that turned her into someone I no longer recognize. What would we do? Would there be anybody to help?

I don't have answers to any of this, except that I hope and pray my baby grows up to help turn this world into a less broken place than it feels today.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

dear time magazine

Enough already.

You know what? I am enough. I am a good enough mother. Actually, I am a damn good mother (not all of the time, but pretty often). And, above all, I am tired of the constant messaging about how I am supposed to doubt myself, am supposed to feel horribly guilty when I leave my kid at daycare (I don't), am supposed to spend every single minute of my day bemoaning what a terrible mother I am (I don't), and that only women who do these things - who doubt themselves every step of the way - are really, truly, good mothers.

I realize that I am betraying two of my key principles by even writing this post: one, never criticize things you haven't read; and two, never reward stupid behavior by giving it undue attention. You got me on both counts.

No, I haven't read the article. I don't actually care what it says (from the one synopsis I read, it's about attachment parenting). I care that the headline is meant to do exactly what it does: get attention about how every parenting style under the sun is still not good enough. (My first problem here is that I have no discernible parenting "style," except for my guiding principle that everybody should be alive at the end of the day, myself included.)

I'm pretty much a of mix of stuff-I-wanted-to-do-before-the-kid-showed-up and stuff-I-ended-up-doing-because-things-don't-always-go-the-way-you-think. I breastfeed until she was 17 months and then she decided to quit. It broke my heart a little bit, but I'll get over it. She sleeps in her own bed and always has, although said bed was next to ours for the first six months.

We let her cry it out. It took one night and she has slept through the night ever since (although it took us 14 months to sleep past 5:30am). (That sucked.) She eats a lot of organic food. On the other hand, tonight we went out to dinner and she ate radioactively orange mac and cheese. With apples.

We read a lot of books and we weren't going to watch any TV until she was 2, but then I took her on an airplane and she watched Elmo and now she is completely, totally, one hundred percent in love with him. So we watched an Elmo video on Monday. Sue me.

She goes to daycare. She loves it. Sometimes she cries when I leave but I know she is fine after 2 minutes and when I come to pick her up, she is so happy playing that sometimes she hates to leave. I don't feel badly about giving her an opportunity to play with other kids all day long and have other adults in her life who love her and think she is the best thing since string cheese. Nothing wrong there.

She hugs me with ferocity, wrapping her arms around my neck and snuggling into my shoulder and when she wakes up, she says, "mama? dada?" sweetly and we know, for sure, that whatever stupid-ass mistakes we make on a daily basis (and there are quite a few), we are doing okay at the whole parenting thing. Certainly we will screw her up, but that comes with the territory. Hopefully we'll give her just enough dysfunction to make her funny, as I saw on some pin.terest thing the other day.

I'm not going to buy your magazine because I'm not giving you my money. Because I'm betting my money on this instead: I am a good mother. I know a whole lot of good mothers.

And we are sick of you trying to make us feel otherwise.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


While at the airport, Baby Girl pointed at an airplane - one we were about to get on - and shouted, "AIRPAIN!" and I thought, "ohmylordgoodness, kid, you have no idea how right you are. AirPAIN."

This past weekend, Baby Girl and I (more like Toddler Girl now, but whatever) took our first solo trip. It went...uh, better than expected in some ways, and slightly worse in others, and was altogether completely and totally worth it (best. wedding. ever) but also made me never, ever, ever want to get on a plane by myself with a toddler again. Ever. Again.

The worst part of the whole thing was the security line. Held up both times, once by my Crazy Lawbreaking Organic Fruit Pouches (I fought the law, and the law won) - the second time by a renegade tube of diaper cream which I totally thought I had put in my checked baggage and which, certainly, snuck back into my carry-on under its own power. Damn stuff. Nothing makes you look like a great parent more than corralling a screaming toddler while waiting for the TSA guy to pull out the carefully-packed diapers, video (don't judge me, she doesn't watch TV at home but on an airplane I will give her whatever it takes to survive), coloring book and snacks in order to track down that one liquid you forgot to put in the plastic bin.

Because then what happens is that your kid sees the stuff you had carefully hidden in said carry-on, with the plan that you would pull it out when the jello hit the fan during the actual airplane ride, except now there are no secrets because all your worldly goods are sitting out on that stainless steel table and your child is yelling, "mo! mo!" which either means, 1.); or 2.) more! or 3.) something you don't quite understand but will spend the next 20 minutes trying to figure out.

The business-guy traveler behind me was itching to get past us, and I don't blame him in the least. I used to be that person. The one who whipped off her shoes, brought a quickly-removed jacket, got that laptop out in three seconds flat and made my way through security like a professional whilst inwardly sneering at the Parent With Screaming Toddler and now...well. Yes. Now that's me.

On the other hand, on the ride home, she slept for two hours (hallelujah!) and then played happily for the last hour or so (minus a few tears on the descent, but even I don't enjoy that part, so no blame there) and, when we landed, she smiled at the passengers around us like she was Queen of the Plane and they praised her as if she was, and that was pretty great.

I still don't really want to do this again, though. And I need a nap.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

weaned. (sniff.)

I am writing this post on the run, because in my particular profession this week is holy (and by that, I am supposed to mean something churchy like, "set apart," and "filled with meaning," and "intentional," and I do, but what I also mean is more like, "HOLY FREAKING WEEK I have no idea how all this stuff is going to get done").

I went to a worship service today for pastors, in which a local bishop preached a really wonderful sermon, the kind that makes you realize that even though you are so worn out you could fall asleep on your feet, you are glad you braved the rain and got in the car and ate fruit candy for lunch so you could get there mostly on time. (By mostly, I mean that I got there five minutes late during a part of the service when everyone was facing the back, so I walked in panting from having run up the street and there's the whole congregation looking right at me, which is just. sheer. awesome. in that particularly humiliating way.)

Anyway. During the sermon, he started talking about how grateful he was for everything that pastors do, and how hard it can be, and I sat there thinking of all the things I have to do in the next few days and I started to cry. Not sobbing, choking tears or anything - more like rapid eye-blinking and then a few tears down my cheek because I am a mainline Protestant and we don't really get all emotional in church - but there it was. Crying. In church. It has been awhile since I did that.

I don't entirely know why, really, because it's not that I feel underappreciated in my life. I mean, life is insanely busy right now, and there have been a few bumps in the road over the past month, but nothing life-altering, nothing terrible. Nothing that makes you want to get in the car and drive to a whole different city and set up shop someplace where no one knows your name. Just normal hard. Regular hard, like everyone's lives, which maybe is the thing - it just seemed, on that rainy morning, like everybody in the world should get to sit down in a warm room with beautiful music and a kind person standing up in the front saying to you, thank you. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for all the things nobody knows that you do. Thank you for being. This doesn't happen much in life. Which is a shame.

And when I got in the car, I realized that maybe part of my crying was about the fact that, a few days ago, we stopped breastfeeding. I had been hanging on, telling myself and anyone else who wanted to know (as well as people who probably didn't) that I was going to keep on nursing because Baby Girl and I are taking a trip to the midwest in the next few weeks, flying by ourselves, and I wanted to be able to nurse her if I needed to get her to sleep on the plane, or help her ears pop, or generally just stop the screaming, that kind that only seems to happen in small enclosed places where you have to keep your seatbelt on. That after we got back from the trip, we would work on the final weaning, because I am going on a trip in May for a week without her, and I wanted her to be done nursing by then so that she wouldn't miss me and mama milk at the same time.

But it was a big lie. BIG. Because I think she's probably been done for awhile. We were only nursing at night, and that was fine. A few days ago, my husband put her to bed and I realized that she hadn't nursed all day. The next day, he did bedtime again because I had evening meetings, and I realized it: it's over. She hasn't asked for two, maybe three days. I had this idea that I would pick a day to finish so that I could have that experience one last time, take in every second of it, mourn the loss and say goodbye to that whole piece of our mother-child story, and it didn't happen. We just stopped.

She's fine, but I am not. I am mourning it like I can't believe. I mean, breastfeeding is, hands down, the hardest damn thing I have ever done in my life, and if you had told me during the first eight weeks of her life that, at seventeen months, I would still be nursing and having a hard time giving up, I would have told you that you had lost your fucking mind. So. Hard.

But then it wasn't so hard after awhile, and then it was wonderful, and now it's over, and all I can think about is that I may never get to do that again - not with her, for sure, but maybe not with anybody, and it was the only thing my infertile body ever did on its own with regard to reproduction. I loved it. I loved it more than I could ever have imagined, and I am the only person in the world who is going to remember what it was like, at 2:00am, before naptime, to soothe her crying, to help with teething, to say ni-night - I am the only memory bank for this experience. She won't remember. She'll never know how much it meant to me.

She will never say thank you for it, and I couldn't possibly care less. It's something I did out of sheer love, and it meant everything, and I never wanted or expected to be thanked for it. You know what? That kind of thing never happens. Really. Remember that episode of Friends where Phoebe bets Joey that she can find a selfless good deed and then she can't? The thing doesn't exist.

The bishop stood up there and thanked us for all the invisible stuff, all the hard moments no one else sees, and I cried partly because that doesn't happen very often and partly because, in this holy week, I am letting go of the most beautiful of invisible, hard things I have ever known. Breastfeeding is the holiest thing I have ever done. It was sheer incarnational love, as we say in the church - love given flesh, made real. JesusMaryandJoseph it was painful too, the way holy love usually is. It was, occasionally, highly inconvenient. And publicly embarrassing too, once she started to throw the Chic Mom Cover off us and twist her head around to look at the world, leaving me hanging out for the world to see.

Now she is off into the world, without that last bit of me attached. I am so grateful for her health, for all the happy growing up she does, for the ways she is discovering the world - but oh, my child, someday I hope you find something you love, something you do because it fills you with joy, something you want to do and being thanked never enters your mind - because, let me tell you, there is nothing better. I love you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

things we say

All of a sudden, it's like a language explosion at our house. (I've read recently that some kids begin talking after they are weaned - a process we are working on, but a post for another time.) At any rate, whatever the reason, suddenly we have a little tiny person (a little tiny bossy person) who can say:

things she's been saying for awhile, like:
dada (usually shouted, DA!!!!)
ba (ball)
mow (mole) (yeah, I know. But she loves pinching the mole on my neck while she nurses.)
lo (hello)

and all kinds of new things, like:
atsahhh (outside)
bu (bus)
maw (meow)
cack cack (quack)
doh (door) (or possible Homer Simpson impression)
mo (more, accompanied by frantic and/or forceful signing of same)

Plus a whole lot of other language that I have, as of yet, not quite figured out, much to her consternation.

It's amazing, all the changes that happen overnight - when there are so many other things that seem. to. take. forever. But suddenly there's a little person living in our house, where there used to be a baby. What?

You know who else should get to say a new word for themselves? Mo and Will. They need to say "mommy" and "daddy" and it needs to mean them. They're in the beginning of another pregnancy and, if you don't know their story, suffice it to say this: please God, may this be the one. Go over and cheer them on if you haven't already.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

leap (late).

In the spirit of "better late than never," accompanied by the spirit of "last week was insane but we survived, so here's to better days," a post in honor of Leap Day. Or, the one week anniversary of Leap Day.

The other day, I bought four boxes of Sam.oa cookies from my local Girl Scout Drug Pusher Cookie Salesgirl, and I hid them in the bottom drawer of the desk in my office. I do this because, although we also buy said cookies openly from somebody at my husband's school and eat them at home, the rate at which my husband consumes these cookies (lightspeed) is problematic for me, since I rarely get to enjoy them before they are gone. Which conversation usually goes like this:

me: where are the Sam.oas?
husband: (silence)
husband: you mean that box from yesterday?
me: (eye roll)
husband: did you want another one?

My dear, you have known me for nine years. You should know by now: I always want another one.

So, I have developed a Girl Scout Cookie Season Survival Strategy, which is to buy four boxes of Sam.oas secretly and hide them. At first I felt a little guilty about this. Spouses are not supposed to have secrets from each other, right? Surely this means my marriage is on the rocks and it is but a hop, skip, and jump from Hidden Cookies to Raging Affair with the Copy Boy (if we had such boy, which we do not, in my office).

But then I leapt to the realization, the other day, that the cookies might be about something else.

Here's the thing: we have fully entered toddlerhood in our household, and it. is. hard. Also fun, because she cracks me up with her emerging language (such as starting every "sentence" with rapid-fire "um, um, um, um," while trying to get out whatever mysterious word I won't understand anyway). And she is more communicative in other ways, like pointing at her bum when she needs to be changed - or, as the other day, laying down on the floor, throwing her legs up in the air, and putting a kitchen towel on her butt. Ah, subtlety.

But her frustration level is also markedly increased, I'm guessing because a.) she is so freaking close to being able to say things and, in fact, thinks she is saying discernable things, and she gets pissed off that we don't understand her; and b.) we are starting the weaning process. So we have a lot of screamy mornings, in particular. And given that our mornings start at about 5:00am (sohelpmeuniverse, if you know how to fix that, please tell me) it can make for a long day.

But those little funny moments - like how she has learned to sign "cold" by holding fists next to her upper arms and shaking them when you say, "brrr!"; and how she makes herself laugh when she thinks something is supposed to be funny; and how she lays on her back with a book held up in the air and 'reads' it, usually upside down; and how she says, "yeah," or, "no," in answer to everything regardless of what she actually means, and how, the other day, when I gave her dinner and asked her if it was hot, she said, "no," and then I said, "what would you do if it was hot?" and she blew/spit on the food - they're my in the desk drawer.

And I need them. I need some hidden sweetness, in these days and the days to come, when I am going to lose my mind from getting up at 5:00am or trying to figure out what she needs or simply wanting to bang my head on the counter because I'm losing my mind with the whining. I need to be able to reach into the back of my head and pull out the moment when I asked her for a kiss and she ran across the room, lips pursed, and crashed into my mouth, saying, "mmmmmm." And the moment when she started saying, quite clearly, "what's this?" 

I need those hidden cookies because there is a lot of - I don't know, brussel sprouts, or whatever vegetable you don't particularly love but know is part of a healthy diet. Good news for me: there's a lot of sweetness. I just have to remember this.

Especially at 5:00am.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I've started this post about fifty times (mostly in my head) and then stopped. Mostly because I am still overwhelmed by guilt any time I feel the need to vent about parenting, because I think about all the men and women still stuck in the Infertility Zone of Hell and I remember how, when I was there, I swore I would never complain about parenting because don't those people know how lucky they are to have children?

Also, I've read a few blogs lately about people whose fertility treatments have failed and I feel very sad about that for them, and that also tends to make my complaining seem really petty and small.

And then I live in an area of the country where a man just took his life and the lives of his two small children in a very terrible, awful, horrific manner, and I am without words to express how sad this makes me.

So there is a piece of me that says I should shut up about the hard parenting days and just let it go.

But there is another piece of me that needs to get this out. And for right now, that piece is winning. Maybe I'll delete later.

Here it is.

Some days I think I do not have enough patience to be a parent. Really. I think I might be a truly, unchangably, basically selfish person because when my kid wakes up at 5:00am AGAIN even though there is no reason for her to do so (seriously; I've checked) I just want to put the pillow over my head and let her cry because I don't think it's asking too much for me to sleep until, you know, 5:45am or something.

I am not even a stay-at-home-parent - I go to work and she goes to a truly wonderful childcare three days a week - and still, by the end of some days, I just cannot take the clutching, pinching, crawling-all-over-me, whining, constantconstantconstantconstant need. All. the. time. I can't take it. I need to pee by myself. There. I said it.

I am sick and tired of making five things for dinner, none of which she will deign to eat. Meanwhile, she will eat whatever her dad puts on a plate.

I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY SHE NAPS FOR EVERYONE EXCEPT ME and this pisses me off. A lot. I mean, I don't actually yell at her, but there was a big part of me yesterday that wanted to. I had to stay downstairs and let her cry for about 15 minutes because I was too mad to go up there.

(Before you call CPS on me, let me assure you that I have never, ever, ever hit my child and I cannot imagine actually doing so, but some days I understand why people who never learned how to manage their anger do that. I think every parent in the world thinks that thought at some point but nobody says it out loud because it makes you feel like the worst person in the world. So there, I said it.)

I am really tired of people a.) commanding me to "enjoy every moment because it goes so fast" (not at 5:00bloodyAM, it doesn't); b.) teasing me about how good it is that my child is wearing me out (an old guy at church does this and it just makes me want to punch him in the nuts, except that is wisely against the rules for pastors to do to parishioners); c.) offering me endless parenting advice that I never asked for and don't want.

I am tired of being crabby.

I. Am. Tired.

So, there. There it all is, in all its ugly and selfish glory. Because I love my darling girl, who is a complete and utter miracle, and who makes me laugh and gives me joy beyond words and whose life I am privileged to witness...

...but she also drives me fucking nuts.

I guess that's parenting.

(Also, if you want to read a much better and infinitely more thoughtful reflection on this sort of stuff, go check out this amazing post on Momastery. It's what I mean but am too crabby to articulate.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

nurse this.

This post is a shout-out to my sister-in-law (who, to be honest, does not read this blog, but I am putting it out there in a kind of 'good karma' way, as if it could somehow reach her by Osmosis of the Internets.) (Quite a mess of the English language, there).

I have four sisters-in-law. One is married to my younger brother, and she is pretty much awesome.  We disagree on a few things but nothing of huge consequence. One is married to my youngest brother, and she is a little more complicated, fairly high maintenance and tends toward arrogance, but she is smart as a whip and I feel like our relationship is getting better.

One is my husband's sister. She is 13 years older than I am, but we have a lot in common. We have a great time together and I miss living closer to her. Her kids are all in or graduated from college and I really appreciate her parenting perspective. 

And the last one is married to my husband's brother. I've mentioned her before: she and her husband are SUPER conservative Christians who can be pretty judgmental, so we tend to avoid topics like politics, religion, meaning of life, books, movies, culture...the weather is pretty safe. We talk about the weather a lot. And also how we like chocolate.

She and her husband had a baby about two weeks ago. They tried for awhile - about a year - and when we visited them last spring, she and I sort of bonded over the difficulties of getting pregnant. She had recently suffered a miscarriage. 

So it was exciting when she got pregnant (and, I mean, it must have been practically the week we were there). Baby due on January 1. These two people have - and there's no way to say this without sounding like a total asshat about it, but it's the truth - absolutely NO, zero, nada, zilch experience with babies or children, so we have had a few giggles about the shift in life they were about to undergo. Like the day my brother-in-law said that he didn't know why they needed to get a changing table since, and I quote, "the baby only needs to be changed once a day and [my wife] will do that."

**insert chirping crickets here**

Yeah. So, the baby arrived a few weeks early and they've been doing okay, pretty normal, and we have managed to keep our snickering to a minimum, like when we called them after about a week and my brother-in-law said, in a voice that suggested great umbrage because certainly no parent has had to do this in the history of ever, "we've been sleeping in shifts." Yes. Welcome to parenthood, dude.

But last night, my sister-in-law called. For the first time. In seven years. In the whole time I have known her. Because she is having a lot of trouble breastfeeding and I think she just needed to talk about it, and my heart broke for her.

She is basically alone, no family in the area, and although I am not my brother-in-law's biggest fan, I know that even his best support can only go so far on this one. All of a sudden I was flashing back to those early days of breastfeeding which were, to put it kindly, the HARDEST MOTHERF*%#ING DAYS OF MY LIFE, so much so that I prefer not to think about them. I told her she was doing a great job, and she should be so proud of herself for working so hard at it, and she should not feel at all guilty for using formula, it's just fine, and breastfeeding is SO SO SO SO HARD at first, and it really does get better, and so many women struggle with it but nobody really tells you the truth about this, probably because they are worried about scaring the life out of you, and also because it's really hard to describe it without bursting into tears. 

And it got me thinking about all those women out there who are breastfeeding right now and struggling with it, and all those women who feel guilty about giving their child formula (I did, for the longest time, until a breastfeeding guru I went to said to me, "the most important thing is that the baby eats. That's it. If you nurse her, great. If you feed her formula, great. She just needs to eat." She was a word of sheer grace to me).

Here's what I want to say to my sister-in-law, and anybody else:

You are amazing for working so hard at this. You should be hugely proud of yourself.  You are not alone. It gets better. And formula, at any level, can be your friend. Do not feel guilty. Do the best you can and do not beat yourself up. YOU ARE SHEER AWESOME. Do not doubt this.

To my sister-in-law: I really mean it. No snickering. No judgment. You rock. It will all be okay.