Sunday, January 31, 2010


I haven't crocheted since I learned how to knit. Not one hook. But this latest issue of Bust has a crocheted DIY project in that got me paging through Debbie Stoller's Happy Hooker book...which got me thinking maybe I shouldn't shun crochet just cuz I can knit now.

It's like there is this great divide, a binary between yarn people. Crochet people don't knit. Knit people don't crochet. I think yarn people are judgy about it, too. I think I felt more proud of myself for learning to knit than I did for learning to crochet. Maybe I am the one who made up this binary? That would be terrible. How divisive of me. Maybe? I actually don't work yarn in group settings enough to know whether this is true. But anyway, I feel like I crossed a divide into knitting and stayed there happily for about 8 years. Until there was this purse pattern. And the blanket featured in Bust! This has opened all new worlds for me in terms of goals.

Now I feel sudden pressure to finish my other nephew's sweater so I can get started crocheting something awesome. There are seriously cute things to choose from PLUS I could have the satisfaction of feeling truly bipartisan if I cross the divide and give both art forms a chance. It seems like a good, humanitarian thing to do.

Alas, I cannot begin on this upcoming trip because I'll have a baby upon my lap most of the time (though, admittedly, crocheting would be easier than knitting in this scenario). But you look out, LYS, when I get back. I am coming your way.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Top Gifts for This New Mom

I would be remiss to express gratitude for Operation Angel Miles and not also mention the other things that made my life better during the first months of motherhood. APART from 3 months' of weekly friend-helpers, the best, best, best things I got (in no specific order) were:

1. Coupons for Wheel Deliver. Corey and I could pick any restaurant we wanted and have our favorite food delivered! We chose, I believe, Mediterranean.
2. Money specifically designated for a housekeeper. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it was to not care about dust or filth while we used that gift.
3. Free babysitting. Beware, all ye who said, "Just give me a call if you ever want/need me to watch Miles." If I haven't already called you, I will soon.
4. Freezable food.
5. Commands/requests to leave the house for a walk or beverage. I was forcing hermitage upon myself when Miles was a screamsicle, so my friends who insisted I leave the house did me a great service indeed.
6. Beauty products. Corey's mom gave me some frou-frou stuff just when I was beginning to feel gross and disgusting. Afterward, I still felt gross and disgusting, but I had healthy, clean skin and a pleasing odor about my person.
7. Electronic pictures of my baby. It is shockingly difficult to remember or find time to upload pictures and everyone far away wants to see them. I love it when people take pics and put them online FOR me!
8. Moral support. Emails and voicemails and facebook messages reinforcing the fact that I could indeed be a great mother were (are!) an invaluable gift.
9. Romance. We got a gift certificate for a date as a Christmas gift. It was our first date in 6 months. I tried to make Corey hold my hand, but his eczema felt scratchy...
10. Disinfectant wipes. Now, I am trying to rid my household of bleach-based cleaners, but I must say that having a baby is messy and those tubs of wipes are pretty darn awesome for quickly eliminating poop from the bathtub or sweet potato from the television screen or even Corey's fried chicken oil splatters. When they are all gone, I will probably even buy more (even though they are cost-ineffective). So there's a gift that changed one of my household habits!

Now I am just waiting for a few of my friends to give birth so I can copy some of these fantastic gift ideas and make some other mom's life a little bit easier. Isn't that the best feeling???

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Continuing Adventures in Baby-Travel Anxiety

I am putting my Denver anxiety on hold for the moment because Miles and I are taking a trip to see my friend Pat-Smear (this is her roller derby fantasy name) in Oakland, CA.

I had/have the following worries about this trip:
1. Miles will scream the entire flight there and back
2. My luggage (and therefore carseat) will not make my connecting flight
3. Miles will not sleep at all or sleep at crazy times because of the time change

There really isn't much I can do to mentally prepare for number one. I know to nurse him at takeoff and landing because of the air pressure stuff. I know that I can pee with him in the Ergo (his bouts with screaminess at least prepared me for solo airport travel) and I know that I can pack a bunch of food that's edible with one hand so I don't starve whilst on my journey. If Miles is going to scream, I will just be prepared for armpit sweat. Maybe I should take a Vicodin along for myself...

I have eased my own worries about number 2 by discovering that one can RENT a carseat. In fact, one can rent just about anything. If I wanted, I could rent a bucket of tub toys or a bouncy chair or a high chair or even a Pack-N-Play. I will settle for just renting a carseat, to be delivered and picked up from the airport!!!

And number 3? Who the hell knows what will happen. I might rely on caffeine to make it through this trip alive.

It's very interesting to me that I look forward to the challenge of this trip as much as the quality visiting time. I have never viewed a packing list or an airport security adventure with such a sense of must-conquer. Everything from the metal detector to baggage claim will have a new sense of difficulty. I have been giving myself pep talks at 2 in the morning while Miles night-nurses, so I think I am ready.

After I get back, I can resume worrying about the trip I'll take WITHOUT the baby.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What Rugby Means to Me

In college, our coach always gathered the team in someone's living room or a hotel room before a big match and made us share what rugby meant to us. Things always got emotional as people laid bare their souls and talked about the transformation the sport catalyzed in their lives.

Well, I'm not in college anymore and I'm not even playing rugby at the moment, but I feel called to share what rugby means to me right now. I have been searching for months for the right words to express what rugby has meant to me lately, and I just can't find them. There is no way to measure in words what my rugby team has done for me. But I'll try.

One morning in November, as the Angels headed to Texas for nationals (without me), I woke up horribly depressed as Miles suffered a major sleep relapse. I sat on my sofa, shaking and rocking, with my head under a blanket and sobbed as we blared static through the house and Corey marched the screaming baby up and down the stairs through the wee hours of the night. I decided to check my email and found a note explaining Operation Angel Miles.

My teammates knew we were having a hard time. They knew I was finding it impossible to cope with the isolation of months spent in my living room, marching a baby up and down the stairs. They knew that the sleep deprivation was compromising my mental and physical well-being, that I had to stop driving and that my eyelashes fell out. And so, before they left for Nationals, they left me an IOU.

My teammates set up a schedule and, every single Tuesday for the past three months, two of them showed up at my house to do whatever we needed. I have had ruggers washing dishes and getting Fenugreek for me. They swept my floors and took out my trash and marched my baby up and down the stairs. They engaged me in adult conversation, helped me decorate my Christmas tree, and took dictation while I nursed.

And that was just the surface. The true benefits of Operation Angel Miles were not just the immediate help with chores. The ripple effects are immeasurable! Some nights I got an extra two hours of sleep because my work was finished, which snowballed into a more coherent day and better mothering. Or certainly better teaching. Who knows what student benefited from my regained ability to think critically?

And, the part that matters most of all, I gained confidence the hard times would pass. I got to close my eyes every second and know I was supported by this amazing network of women who would not let me disintegrate. This gift was a boundless gesture of grace. I never knew what it really meant to experience grace before, but I will not forget how it feels enveloping my family.

How do you begin to express gratitude for such an act of love? How do you put into words what the bonds of this sport have meant to me in my darkest and most difficult hours? Operation Angel Miles saved my life this year.

What does rugby mean to me? This:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Conference Trip Breast Anxiety Phase 2

Several things happened today on my quest to ease my breastfeeding anxiety regarding my imminent conference trip.

Thing one: I secured lodging. I will be staying at the Melbourne Hotel and Hostel. I will be a brisk 15 minute walk from the conference, which is great unless it rains or snows, and I will be paying exactly $34 per night for my room, which includes a refrigerator to store, among other things, breastmilk! Really, I don't think I could ask for better turnouts.

I was going to stay with my friend Big Perm, but another writer/mom friend talked me into a hotel. If I am going to be sans baby, that means I am going to get uninterrupted sleep. I should indulge in that sleep in a real bed in a room with a door that closes, right? Right!

Thing two: I found out half the conference will be in the convention center in addition to the hotel. So that made me have more worries about pumping. In vain! I phoned the convention center and it turns out they have several Mothers Rooms with chairs and outlets. Could this conference BE any better at easing my anxiety?

Things are starting to come together. Heck, I might even take a non-nursing bra with me on this journey. Or a non-nursing shirt! How cool would it be to wear real clothes???

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Very Boring

I know it's totally uninteresting to read about when things are going well, but I have had a really, really positive experience with the past few days. Here are some highlights:

1. On Saturday, Corey told me not to worry about dinner, that he would make it. This usually means there will be something from a box served alongside chicken sausage. This time, he made this amazing, complex meal. Using a cookbook! He served me Alice Waters fish with sauce, vegetables with Alice Waters sauce, quinoa that was all seasoned and delicious and cooked in broth. I am telling you, I almost let him impregnate me again I was so beside myself with joy. I don't think he has EVER chopped and sauteed and prepared food in that manner. And it was not associated with any sort of occasion or holiday. Just because. Color me delighted!

2. Several of the Crossfit workouts this week were partner ones, so I got to do a full workout while Corey or my friend Kathy held Miles. I sweated my face off and almost did Fight Gone Bad Rx. Those darn push time!!

3. My godmother sent me a bunch of chocolate as a belated Christmas gift. Boo ya!

4. I went to the chiropractor and had my back adjusted. I have had this nagging hip pain since I was pregnant, surgery didn't help, and lugging Miles around has made things super hard. But now, a few cracks and crinkles and I feel great. Best part? Totally covered by insurance (apart from a minimal co-pay).

This is the best I have felt in 6 months. And all it took was food, a little exercise, and a talkative man cracking my neck.

I am sure there will be some sort of disaster or something that will produce a more interesting bit of writing in the coming days, but for now I am boringly happy. As Sandra Boynton would say, Moo, Baa, La La La!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Evangelical Post About the Fruit of the Vine

I am preaching the gospel of spaghetti squash. Yes. Squash. Until yesterday, I had not eaten this particular vine fruit. Acorn and butternut squash are regulars at my house, but not typically spaghetti squash. Then, this girl from the gym suggested eating meat sauce over spaghetti squash for a Zone-friendly, balanced meal.

(Side note: Corey is basically doing the Zone now, which makes me irritated because the last thing I need is extra time requirements to weigh each ingredient I throw in the dinners I prepare...or restrictions on the ingredients I can use! I just want to cook things, ok? I don't KNOW how much a handful of spinach weighs!)

So after searching in several stores, we located a spaghetti squash. Not sure if we are off season or if there has been a rush, but it was hard to come by. I roasted that sucker in the oven, carved it open, dug out the guts with a fork, and LO!

The resulting meal had the same mouth-feel as spaghetti, tasted yummier, and was incredibly more satisfying and delicious. Let me explain to you how I love me a big bowl of pasta. I love it. Corey and I have, on many, many, many occasions, eaten an entire bag of pasta in one sitting. I LOVE pasta. I usually make big vats of sauce so I can eat bowls and bowls of it over the course of a week.

Spaghetti squash tastes awesomer than pasta. I am totally sold. Corey later informed me of the exact Zone components or block whatevers of the meal and didn't even irritate me. I heard him say I could eat twice as much of it and shoved him out of the way for more helpings. Do I feel glad squash is good for me? Sure. Do I love that I have uncovered a new favorite, versatile food? You betcha!

You heard it here first. Spaghetti squash is the new dark chocolate. So go, children, and buy thee some spaghetti squash, roast it, and eat it with good cheer.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Six months ago this very moment, I was standing in the shower at Magee moaning in time to Snatam and waiting for Miles to evacuate my body. Man, I was hungry. Why can't laboring women at hospitals eat food? Anyway, for the next few months AFTER July 17, I spent most of my time marching up and down stairs as this was the only way to soothe my high needs, screamy baby.

Many other wonderful people in my life took stints marching those stairs. Corey spent more time, more hours marching up and down stairs wearing Miles than anyone in the world. I remember like yesterday those long, multi-hour stretches of Corey marching while the static blared and we prayed and begged Miles to just go to sleep already.

Today, to celebrate his half birthday, we took our giggly, farty, rolly baby on the adventure of his lifetime. We took him stair climbing in the Cathedral of Learning! We marched his ass up 36 flights of stairs over and over again. It was like giving him a million dollars or 80 bars of super dark chocolate or a blank check for the bike shop or anything else you can think of that constitutes your ultimate fantasy.

I wish you all could have seen that kid in his Ergo on Corey's back. He loved himself! He fell asleep a few times, he stared at things, he giggled, he chewed on the straps. And Corey and I moved our bodies and felt good. It was like a great family date.

As we wound circles up that giant building, I couldn't help but think of the exercise as a rite of passage. I felt like telling Miles he'd better appreciate this stair climb, because it is probably the last one he'll ever get. I am so thankful that he no longer needs such endeavors to be a calm and happy baby! How very far we have come together...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lactation Rooms

I am speaking at a conference in Denver this April. Want to know what stresses me out about this endeavor? The same thing that has stressed me out for the past six months: my boobs.

Where will I pump while I am there? What will I do with all my milk? How will it stay cold on the flight home? Will I have such pumping anxiety that I won't be able to pump and, thus, my milk supply will dry up while my poor, poor baby yearns and yearns for a nice nurse???

Rather than drown in what-ifs for two and a half months, I have begun proactively addressing my worst-case-scenarios. First step: I called the conference hotel to see about a lactation room.

When I first called the hotel, a chipper British-sounding dude answered the phone. "Hello," I told him, "I will be coming to your hotel for a conference in April. I was wondering if you have lactation rooms for nursing mothers?"

At this point, he began to stammer and sputter and seem obviously uncomfortable. Also? The British accent went away. "Ummmmmm I really have no idea. Ummmmmm I don't believe we have anything like that. Ummmmmm no. We do not."

"May I speak with your manager, please," I said. He asked if he could transfer me to the concierge instead. I said sure.

So the concierge gets on the phone, an upbeat woman this time. I asked her the same question. And she was all about it! "Oh, honey, you're not the first. Trust me. Let me tell you what we do. I stick the nursing moms in the manager's closet. I say it's a closet. But it's been really a nursing room for years. There's a ratty couch in there and a plug. You just come find me when you need it."

Isn't that cool? Isn't that interesting? The dude at the front desk had no idea there was such an accommodation and the concierge was a wealth of helpful, reassuring information. I think I need a concierge to follow me around everywhere I go. Certainly someone to identify safe pumping places for me.

Next step: secure a fridge/freezer for storing bountiful breastmilk.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Publication!

Check out page 110 of this month's Fit Pregnancy. I wrote about belly button bling for pregnant ladies! I am unabashedly proud of writing articles that people can snag at the grocery store, even if they are fewer than 200 words. For now!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Such Validation

I have not made it a secret that I felt (and feel) traumatized by my birth experience. I am currently hard at work researching an article about this very topic, a process which I find completely therapeutic and enlightening. I learned a statistic today that both floored me and gave me such validation, I can barely express my relief at having read it.

According to research conducted by the Childbirth Connection, lots of women experience trauma related to their childbirth. This doesn't even necessarily mean women experience emergency C-sections as I did. Plenty of women who have had vaginal births have things go wrong or are treated in such a way as to make them feel un-listened-to or unimportant. The result?

18% of American women demonstrate some signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after giving birth. That's nearly 1 in 5 women.

9% of American women demonstrate ALL the symptoms of PTSD after giving birth. Nearly ten percent of the women in this country, 400,000 women every year. These numbers are staggering. We tend to associate PTSD with soldiers returning home from war, not with women having babies, bringing "bundles of joy" into the world.

But Birth Trauma is a real thing. Having a healthy, beautiful baby and mothering that baby do not take away from the experience of bringing that baby into the world. It is still possible to experience the birth process separately from experiencing motherhood. The birth process is important to women and in many, many cases this birth process leaves them feeling...well...traumatized.

My great hope as I work on this article is that one mother out there will read my writing and recognize her experiences are real and valid and that she is not crazy. Most important, I hope just one mother will discover that she is not alone. Far, far, far from alone.

Information about the New Mothers Speak Out survey can be found here.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

No Idea

Warning: This is a post about poop. Lots of poop.

This morning, Miles farted a mighty fart. The force of that fart lifted his butt and legs off the ground, like Denise Austin working her lower abs. He then proceeded to loudly poop right there in the living room, like what's the big deal? I'm pooping here!

I gave him some time to finish and then carried him upstairs to change him in his crib. He had still been in his pjs, so I took those off thinking it was time for some clothes. Then I opened up the diaper and started to clean things up. Only, he wasn't done pooping! More and more and more poop just started coming out. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't fast enough with the clean diaper, so it was just flowing out of the dirty diaper.

I knew one thing: I didn't want poop in the crib because I had just changed the sheets and anyone who has ever changed a crib sheet knows what a miserable freaking job that is. But what I didn't know was what do to about the poop.

Panicking, I scooped up the baby and ran into the bathroom with him, catching the poop in my hand as he pooped it out. I held him above the toilet, where he started to scream and cry. Probably because there was icy water splashing back on him as his poop feel into the bowl.

So I'm standing there covered in poop holding him while he poops and cries and I'm saying, "It's ok! You're such a big boy! Look at you pooping on the potty!" But I can't figure out how to clean us off. Should I put him on the cold tiles on the ground? Should I put him on the bathmat? I had no idea.

In the end, I used my elbows to get some toilet paper, ripped it with my teeth, and did a sort of cursory wipe job. Then I put him in his crib.

I turned around to take off my shirt, covered in poop as it was, and grab a diaper. But then I heard a horrible splashing sound.

I turned back around to see Miles, sputtering and choking as he forcefully peed into his own mouth. He started trying to swat the pee away, getting it all over the walls, the pictures on the walls, the toybox, the crib rails, the floor, and of course the damn crib sheets. Then he started to cry. And also shiver, because he was naked (remember, I was going to put clothes on him and had taken off his pjs).

So I clutch my pissy, shivering, crying child to my naked chest and I have no idea what to do. I mean, what do you do? Where do you put the baby down while you gather your thoughts? What can you touch without contaminating it? Why doesn't anyone tell you what to do when you have poop on your hands and pee and poop on your chest and you are holding a piss-covered, naked, shivering, crying, cold baby?

There is certainly not a chapter in ANY parenting book (I'm looking at you Dr. Sears) telling you what to do in this scenario. I had no idea. I pretty much stood in the middle of the room saying, "It's ok! It's ok! Everything is ok!" as the pee dripped onto my slippers.

I was paralyzed by my inability to know what to do. Should I touch the doorknob on the closet to get a towel, spreading more feces and urine around the room? Should I just put him on the hardwood floor and then have to mop later? I had no idea! No freaking idea!

Here is what I did: I put Miles back in the urine-soaked crib. I ran into the bathroom and prepared a warm, wet, soapy washcloth. I gave him a vigorous scrubbing and put him on the carpet on the floor of his room, draped a blanket over him, and immediately secured a diaper over his junk.

Then I washed my hands.

Then I ran back into the room and put him in a warm, fuzzy sweatsuit.

Then I moved all the furniture away from the walls so I could scrub pee-pee off the crib, the floor, the toybox, the walls, and the artwork. I was still mostly naked, wearing pee-pee slippers. I heaved all the dirty toys and sheets and mattress pad into MW's hamper and just scrubbed and mopped up and scrubbed, saying, "It's ok! You're such a good baby right now!"

Meanwhile, Miles rolled himself over, got one arm stuck in the ottoman for his glider rocker, and started pulling the pissy toys out of his hamper and putting them in his mouth. Which I didn't notice because I was cleaning and muttering.

At this point, my mom tells me I should have cleaned out the inside of his mouth. It makes sense. He had peed directly in there and was then sucking on urine-soaked animals. But I had no idea.

I put Miles in a safer area (the floor of my bedroom), finished cleaning, wrestled with the sheets for a half hour to get the crib back in order. At this point, Miles was hungry. But I was all covered in pee still, so I had to take a shower since I didn't want to put a pee-pee nipple in his mouth after all of that. Then I gave my baby some milk and some cuddling time, because we both needed it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Just When...

Just when I am at the end of my frayed rope with Miles, when I can't stand for another instant to be a human pacifier or to feel milk squirting out of my body into someone's mouth for one more nanosecond...Just when that happens, he blows my mind.

This morning, I was nursing him to sleep for a nap. He was fighting the nap. For a long time, he wrangled and mangled his little body and looked around and I was about to give up, stomp downstairs and feed him a papaya. But then he looked up at me and made eye contact and he settled down.

A sense of calm came over his face, I felt his body relax, and his little palm opened and rested there on my breast. He fell asleep. In that little face was such a perfect sense of calm, the most untroubled of little minds. It was a miracle. His peacefulness radiated through the whole room and I hated to leave him there.

But I did! I left him in there and went on to do other things.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


I have been struggling with my motivation at the gym. For one thing, I have to go to the gym with Miles (see? Right away with the excuses). This generally does not go well. I get about 20 minutes of working out time before he loses his sh*t. Luckily, many Crossfit workouts can be completed in this amount of time. But often, they cannot.

This week, halfway through a workout, I found myself rowing and doing good mornings with him strapped to my chest in the Bjorn. Usually, I just stop what I'm doing to pick him up, soothe him, put him back down, and work out for a few more minutes. If I'm really honest with myself, I need the "breaks" in the routines. I maybe pat him a little longer than he needs to be patted...

I am devastated at how much fitness I've lost. You should have seen me 42 weeks pregnant. I was in the best shape of my life, I think. And I was never, ever a fit person. I had one "fit" year of college when crazy Jim made us do really torturous things at conditioning. I sort of tapered off until I started Crossfit in June of 2008 and got to a really, really fit place. I was so proud of myself! I noticed huge differences at rugby practice in my sprint times and everything. Only I still wasn't a super fit person. I couldn't even do a pull-up or climb a rope at that point.

Then I got knocked up. Then I had major abdominal surgery where they took my organs out of my body. Then I had this high needs baby. Etc. And now, when I do get a chance to work out, I let all of these excuses get in the way of my motivation to work hard.

Last night, I dropped down to a really low weight medicine ball, used a box for jumping pull-ups, and quit the workout after 4 rounds. If I am truly honest with my body, I could have done better. I could have given more. I just didn't. And this wasn't a lack of energy or sleep deprivation thing. It was giving up.

I seem to have lost my edge. The competitive fire that burned, burned, burned inside me is, like, fizzled out or something. Before, when I couldn't do things like run or hoist my body weight up to a metal bar, it wasn't because I didn't try hard. It was because I just couldn't. Now, I feel like I am so far behind in my fitness that it's almost insurmountable. I feel myself giving up.

This terrifies me because there is a strong tendency in my family toward out-of-shape-ness. I say on one level that I want to avoid this, that I want to be fit. But something is blocking my drive to get there.

I need a Rocky marathon. Stat.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Last night was a little better in the sleep department, so I feel like I have more patience today, if not more clarity. We are trying a two-pronged approach to the sleep trouble this week.

Prong 1: Light.
Corey has hammered some jaggedy nails into the top of MW's window frame and, from them, draped a navy blue Ikea sheet that doesn't fit any of the mattresses in our house. Because we don't have European beds I guess. With the trashy looking sheet hung, MW's room is black as pitch.

We decided to do this because the people across the street from us have a strobe-light laser show for the holidays. They have Griswald-quality lights hung all over their house and the lights flash on and off in time to holiday music that they blare all night long. They also have a plywood Nativity set, but that's neither here nor there.

The strobe lights don't bother Corey and me because Corey has moved his wardrobe in front of the windows in our bedroom. I don't want to talk about his decision to rearrange furniture such that it blocks all light from the room. The point is I didn't know the strobe lights continued into the night until I went into MW's room and thought there were police cars outside. Then I saw the laser light show and we hung the sheet.

Prong 2: Food
Our pediatrician had us start Miles on solids about a month ago, thinking that with his particular struggles gaining weight combined with his reflux, it would be good to get MW eating some solids. We are now seeing some really good weight gain, sometimes an ounce a day. So we make sure to cram bananas and avocados and sweet potatoes and mushed up pears, etc. into his diet.

I don't cram. We offer it, mashed up, in nice little tablespoon-sized portions. But he seems to like food. A lot. Particularly pumpkin. And boy, oh man does the food change the consistency of his BMs. Does it help him sleep better? Who the heck knows.

Hopefully, the dark room (or at least a room that does not resemble a rave) paired with a full tummy will give us some results in terms of fewer night wakings. As for why he resists sleep for 75 minutes when he DOES wake up, well we will chip away at that problem next.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Demoralizing, Soul Sucking Torture

My baby still won't sleep at night. I can't stand it. It has been six months and he still wakes up repeatedly. Corey and I had what I thought was an acceptable system where I would diaper and feed him during one waking and Corey would do the next so we both could get a little bit of sleep.

Only now, Miles has changed the rules on us. He no longer goes back to sleep after eating and getting his ass wiped. And he's too damn heavy to march up and down the stairs anymore. His night wakings take a minimum of 75 minutes and usually include screaming and yelling from both frustrated parents. Ok, it's me doing the screaming and yelling. Corey just angrily gets back in bed and fluffs the covers over and over and over again, silently.

Miles makes me ache. Just when his sleep resistance shreds me into a writhing heap, he sticks out his little arm and holds my finger with all his strength. I just know he is equally devastated that he can't figure out how to fall asleep. He seems to be begging me to help him, but I have NO IDEA what else I can do for him.

We get two schools of support through this situation. One group of people tells us it's time to let Miles cry it out, that he needs to learn to self soothe and that enough is enough with this nighttime bullshit. Another group of people tells us that parenting is a 24-hr job, and that we should view his night wakings as nighttime parenting and just surrender to our hungry, high needs baby. This group reminds us how long it took us to get Miles gaining weight, that he really seems to need all the night time calories. Again and again and again.

It always seems like those are the options: martyrdom or Ferberizing.

My gut tells me not to let Miles cry it out. I can't bear it. Plus, when he becomes really upset he vomits. He vomits so much vomit that he smears it in his hair, in his ears, on the sheets, on the walls. When we leave the room, frustrated that he won't sleep, we inevitably come back 10 minutes later to a vomit whiteout. That doesn't feel like good parenting to me.

I just wish I could figure out what the hell this kid needs. There is still no consistency from one day to the next. A nap could be a half hour or 2.5. He could wake up for the day at 4am or 830. And so I stagger on, sleepless, filled with the high anxiety of never, ever knowing what will come next for this baby.

This, too, shall pass. That mantra has been the only consistency in my life since July. This, too, shall pass is all I have left. It seems those words will have to spell me a little bit longer.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Would You Rather...

If you had the financial means, would you rather have full-time household help (like, a person to pick up ALL your crap and mop all your floors and dust your flipping ceiling fan blades all the time) or a driver? (It should go without saying that the driver would both buckle a baby into those damn car seats AND carry the flipping car seat thing to and from the car)

For me, the answer is definitely driver. Driver!

On days like today, where snowy weather increases my driving anxiety to epic proportions, I think about how different my life would be with a driver. I could have actually gone to Dozen for my interview (for the article I'm writing about cupcakes) for one thing. I wouldn't feel worried about getting to the gym tomorrow for another!

And I could go to the Strip (when there aren't sinkholes) any time I wanted with a driver to parallel park for me. It's like my ultimate fantasy. "Driver," I'd say, "let's go to the fish store." Or the biscotti place. Or the tea shop. Or even Squirrel Hill! I never go to Squirrel Hill because there's nowhere to park.

My friend Manidis once told me it was extremely sad and terrible that I plan my day around parallel parking. She can't believe that I sometimes don't go places because of the lack of convenient parking. I mean, some of these locations expect you to parallel park on the left on one-way streets! Sheesh! If she were a true friend, she'd stop trying to teach me to park more confidently and just hire me a driver.

Obviously, when it gets nice out again and my bike, Etienne, has air in her tires, I will realize this is a ridiculous fantasy and switch over to wanting the full-time domestic help to pick up after my husband. But for now, I dream of Morgan Freeman beeping the horn as he scrapes snow off the Mazda for me.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Yurt People

I can't stop thinking about this article from the New York Times. I find myself obsessing over the technical details of living as a family in a yurt. Like what did they do about diapers? I couldn't rest until I found out the answer. I actually emailed Erin and she wrote back! They use pocket diapers with compostable/flushable inserts. G-dipes. We could totally do that.

But what about that outhouse? Can you imagine going out to the bathroom in the middle of the night in an Alaskan winter? I bet they have a chamber pot. I just bet.

I think what truly inspires me about the article is the minimalist lifestyle of this family. I find myself looking around my room and watering at the mouth, thinking of all the material possessions I could get rid of. I'm currently sitting in my office and I think, of all the books, clothes, knitting supplies, and wedding memorabilia, the only things I really couldn't part with would be my laptop and my passport. Who really needs the Granta Book of Reportage? Or all my old drivers licenses?

When I texted my mom about this story, she was quick to inform me I couldn't move my family to a yurt, not even a yurt with broadband. Obviously, I am not going to move my family to a yurt. But I can strive to stay in this house, even if we do have more children. I thought about this as I was rocking MW to sleep. He doesn't need half the crap in his room. He doesn't need 85% of the crap that we have heaped up in the basement. And Corey and I surely don't need 85% of our accumulated crap (though I dare say Corey has accumulated more crap...I reject my mother's gathering genes while Corey seems to embrace those from his father).

I would really, really feel happy if I spent my free time 1) sorting through every object in every room and making a huge Goodwill donation and then 2) setting up more efficient, thoughtful storage in the basement. I feel so inspired by Higman/McKittrick family! Sayonara, extra possessions. Sayonara, excess/frivolous spending. What positive changes can this story bring about in my life?

Oh, Kenneth

New Year's Eve I went to bed at 930, right after I watched a repeat of 30 Rock. We're still going to be pretty early around here because Miles is still giving us lots of sleep trouble. That particular night he was up three times...

But anyway, right before bed, at some point the character Kenneth made reference, sarcastically, to something being as useful as "a college degree for moms." That one stung, Kenneth! Now, I know Tina Fey and her writers were being clever, but given the recent job shift around my house, that line just really sunk into my bones and has been nagging me since. Way to home in on the thing that makes me question my self-worth and make a joke of it, Kenneth the Paige!

Of course I know that education for education's sake is valuable for everyone. My many years of higher education have made me an enlightened being... But in a way, Kenneth is right. College was pretty un-useful for the work I am doing right now. I mean, never once in college did any professor teach me what to do when your child has pooped through all the diapers you brought along for a brief outing to watch a football game.

There is shit I am going through right now that nobody ever teaches you in college. What good is microeconomics knowledge when my main concern this week is bulb-suctioning mucous out from my wee one's little nostrils? Where were the courses that prepared me for the miracle that is Miles' ear. I mean, my body made an ear! That I can now stare at for many hours in a row.

I feel like SAHM-ing, in all its agony and ecstasy (two weeks into it anyway), is completely unrelated to anything I learned in college. So you make your little jokes, Kenneth. And one day, when I found an accredited college that teaches people how to parent (required course materials to include dark chocolate and Baby Bjorn), I will email you an enrollment packet!