Monday, November 29, 2010


You hear all the time that all things change and you can't avoid change. Nowhere has that been more obvious to me than with my baby.

There's nothing I could love more than him, which is why it is so jarring to wake up one day and his personality is barely recognizable. The sound of his voice is different. The way he laughs is different. His cry is different. The way he nurses, his appetite, his reactions are all different.

When I tried to communicate how lost I feel, Andy said, "Do you think I came home from the gas station with the wrong baby?"

It could be a growth spurt. It could be his (two!) teeth. It could be the natural way these things go. The same thought kept occurring to me today -- this could be the way things are now. The crying and apparent anger and unhappiness might be more than just holiday confusion and teething. This could be the baby's personality for the foreseeable future.

After spending half an hour crying for no obvious reason, something he never used to do, he's now sleeping, and I'm breathing deeply and finding anchors -- comforting things that haven't changed, that I can count on to stay the same.

My love for my baby hasn't changed. If anything, I love him more in his time of need.

My love for my husband hasn't changed. If anything, it's stronger in my time of need.

My home is still here. My job is unchanged. I am still me.

For better or for worse. In the laughter and the tears. I can't promise I won't break down and cry whenever he does, but that's okay. We're a family and we have each other.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ten things that didn't suck but now they suck just a little bit

10) Office Lunches. Free food isn't worth going ten hours without the baby and having to add another session with the breast pump to my work day.

9) Pumping. It used to be easy. But the twins have caught on that this isn't natural and this contraption isn't really a baby. Now they must be beaten into submission. Twice a day. And sometimes on weekends. Especially on holidays.

8) Holidays. I'm new at this. Eventually I'll figure out how to haul a baby, diaper bag, breast pump with car adapter, boppy pillow, teething gel, toys, blankets, and spoon feeding supplies to six different places in three days plus a trip to Wal-Mart during the busiest shopping weekend without forgetting the baby's jacket or, you know, having a meltdown.

7) Shopping. It used to be great to browse around, especially at Christmas. Now there aren't words dark enough for how much other shoppers at our Wal-Mart suck. The gift I have for repressing my feelings among these rude, inconsiderate, clueless strangers will fail one day soon, resulting in a volcano of cart-crashing rage.

6) Teeth. They are so not worth what it takes to grow them.

5) Toys With Catchy Music. Get it out of my head. Get it out of my head!

4) Cats. If the baby's blanket is on the floor, a cat will be on it. If the baby's toy is on the floor, a cat will be playing with it. If neither of these is the case, the cats will be on the kitchen table, on the kitchen counters, or in the kitchen sink, doing their damnedest to get cat hair on every single surface.

3) Driving. We don't really fit in our cars anymore. Even without my family and the required bags, my back pain has gotten to the point where I despise sitting anywhere, especially my car.

2) Showering. It was one of the best parts of the day. It would relieve some of my back pain, it was relaxing, it was great to be clean. Now it takes twice as long as I dash in and out of the bathtub to rescue the baby who has found some new crevice to roll into and smack his head.

1) Independence. Andy and I always were independent of each other, with nearly opposite schedules, and it worked fine. Now, sometimes it's like being a single parent.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

six months old

The official six month photo:

And the runner up:

Not long ago, six months old sounded a long way off. When the grandparents-to-be talked about how neat Christmas was going to be with a baby in the family, it sounded like a distant, hazy future.

It's here. I really am a mother. He really is a big, healthy, beautiful baby boy who's been here a full six months and changed our lives in all the best ways.

We sang "Happy Half-Birthday To You" for him, and I tried to freeze him, the image of his soft hair, round cheeks, and little nibbled fingers, to save in my memory forever.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

confession of a potty-reading virgin

For me, toilets have only ever served their designated purpose for bodily functions. I never saw the upside to sitting on a cold bowl of excrement for any amount of time longer than absolutely necessary.

Today I took a book into the bathroom with me. I wasn't even going number two.

There was relief there that had nothing to do with the toilet. It was quiet in there. There was no pressure of conversation, no one who needed me or asked me for anything. I could read, like, four pages uninterrupted.

The bathroom is a vacation spot. Who knew?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


We've had a rough night.

Having a baby is an education. One finger at a time, I've had to loosen my grip on my sense of order.

Sometimes, I have to give up and let him roll around in half-buttoned pajamas. He won't let me tidy him up, not without hysterical motion and fussing.

Sometimes, I have to give up and let him wear clothes marked with drool, spit-up, milk, and baby food all day. Changing him is futile.

Sometimes, I have to accept that he's going to squeal and complain in McDonald's, no matter how many other diners we might be bothering.

I've had to accept a home filled with clutter. A routine so unpredictable it shouldn't be called a routine. A horrible night that until moments ago had no explanation.

I have to accept that there is nothing I can do to stop the pain of that tiny, sharp little tooth now poking up through his bottom gums.

My poor, poor baby.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The reason it took me so long to accept the necessity of the first haircut rests on gender. (Note that "so long" is a relative idea. He's not even six months old yet. But he's a hairy little monkey.)

The color of his clothes aside, cutting his hair was the first step into the world of boy vs. girl, instead of just "child."

If he had been born a girl, we would've solved the problem with headbands and barrettes and colorful little pigtail bands.

Instead, he's nice and trim and, suddenly, boyish. I didn't realize it until it was gone -- for the first five months of his life, he was genderless in my eyes. I didn't really see a boy. I just saw my baby.

Now I'm thinking more about sociology than I have since my second year in college. There are a lot of "what ifs" in the raising of this baby -- this new, fresh person who has so much shaping and learning yet to do -- but mostly I'm wondering if a person could stay without gender association even into adulthood. The society that would allow this, that would not have differences in the treatment and expectations (or even recognition) of either gender, is probably impossible. But I am beginning to think that gender is wholly created, not inherent in any way, which has an endless number of implications that I may not be ready to delve into.

In related news, the Paycheck Fairness Act was just blocked in the Senate. I haven't yet found a reason why.

I can't erase gender, but I hope I can instill a sense of equality.

Monday, November 15, 2010

the first haircut

The pressure was on, and it got to the point where I didn't want him to be bothered by his long hair poking in his eyes.

It was the hair he was born with. The hair he's always had. The hair that made him famous.

And it was time.

He's cuter than ever, in a sort of Pugsley Addams kind of way.

But he looks just a little less like my infant, a little more like my little boy.

I can handle this. Really.

Friday, November 12, 2010

advice to new moms

At a recent baby shower, we were asked to write down a piece of advice for the expectant mom. I casually filled up the card with lightweight things like "enjoy every minute of your maternity leave" and "sing to the baby."

I regret it now. I've had a chance to think through the question and determine one important bit of advice to new mothers. Then it was made all the more important to me after reading this perspective.


Childbirth and all its powerful hormones will do crazy shit to you.

Okay, that's a fact, not advice. The advice part is to accept that this is happening to you and forgive yourself for it, and to seek help when you need it.

I'm not just talking about being emotional ala crying during TV commercials. The confusing hormones that course through you during pregnancy are heightened – taking even more control over you – after.

I remember a part of me acknowledging that the way I felt was not right or natural or logical, but there was nothing I could do but sink into this emotional pool. It may have had a role in making me feel so desperately attached to my baby that I could barely breathe any time I left home without him.

Does anyone really understand how the mind works? Add in body chemistry, and things get crazy. We don't give chemicals, natural or introduced, enough credit for what they do.

I started birth control pills at a young age to control primary dysmenorrhea, and for years I wondered if that was the cause of certain changes in my personality, libido, and the way I felt in general – like a complete leveling out of extremes. Just feeling less.

I didn't notice a change when I finally went off the pill ten years later, but once I was pregnant I was back on that roller coaster of emotional extremes. I had never felt so fierce as I did during the first weeks or months with my baby, and I am so thankful to have had that experience. Even the unexplainable tears. While breastfeeding continued (and still continues) to propagate certain confusing hormones, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I know how lucky I am to have this.

But if I, who did not have postpartum depression, still felt and continue to feel the odd control of such body chemistry, what must it be like for the half of new mothers who do get postpartum depression? How must it affect the quarter of the population suffering through any other mental disorder?

I'm not an expert of anything. I just know that I'm lucky. And I know what to write down at the next baby shower. Take care of yourselves, new moms.

Oh, and if you're buying a nursing bra while pregnant, opt for stretchy elastic. There are changes ahead.

Also? Ignore all advice. Including mine. Every mom and every baby and every experience is different. Own your own way.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


When going through our most recent photos, I couldn't help noticing a theme.

We're all really tired, apparently.

I busted out some of the six month toys he received in the baby showers or shortly after he was born. He's completely surrounded in colorful plastic. He's adding more playfulness to his all-I-want-is-for-it-to-fit-in-my-mouth phase, so things are going to keep getting more fun.

He's reached every milestone there seems to be for a five-month-old. I read that six-month-old milestones include sleeping less -- taking a few naps in a day, totaling three or four hours of sleep.

Our morning routine has been off this week and I can't help panicking that it isn't going to work anymore. If he isn't going to sleep in the morning when I leave for work, then he's going to have to scream to get the attention he wants, as he did today. And Andy is not going to sleep.

It isn't Fletcher's fault or anyone else's that we need to work. I have to remind myself of that in the morning when I turn away from his smiling, eager face and leave him.

Recent videos:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Things could be worse. I could be Lloyd Christmas.

To the fates who get their jollies by conspiring against me:

Are we having fun now? Is this what you wanted?

You cracked my windshield at a cost of almost $300. Because, you know, it's glass. It's not like you can just make glass from sand. It's not like auto insurance should pay for auto damage. Er.

You apparently rotted my (and my husband's) teeth at a forthcoming cost of almost $300. Because, you know, by having perfect teeth for 28 years I was just begging for you to intervene.

You sent Fletcher to a specialty doctor – whose super helpful advice brought the red, bumpy lesions back to his skin tenfold – at a cost of almost $400. Because, you know, why would we want to continue our original method, which was working? No, let's get yet another prescription, watch Fletcher turn into a lobster boy, and then pay out the nose for it. When are doctors going to be like everyone else – NOT getting paid hundreds of dollars when their 10-minute diagnosis doesn't work? Where's the refund policy?

Plus, it's not like insurance should be covering this. I mean, it's not like it's a health problem. Fletcher's probably just messing with us.

Fates, I can see how this is hilarious from your lofty distance. I can also see how this post could be construed as a request for even more ridiculously expensive surprises. I am tempted to dare you. But I'll probably just shake my fist at the sky and walk away slump-shouldered and empty-pocketed.

Screw it. I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU, FATES. Because, you know, eventually you're going to get bored with me. And think how exciting life will be in the meantime. Maybe tomorrow I'll be robbed by a sweet old lady on a motorized cart. I didn't even see it coming...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I don't pull my hand out of the alligator's mouth until I get bit.

I'm scared of the Internet.

There's been a big twitter/blogosphere explosion today, in the circle I follow anyway, regarding online plagiarism. I won't attempt to recap. This story won't be the last of its kind and, as links to links to more links show, it isn't the first.

I got sucked in and disappeared into the mists of the linky web, lost in the horror stories about stolen words, stolen heartache, stolen photos, stolen lives.

From the first moment I used my name, my husband's name, and worst of all my baby's name in this little corner of the Internet, I've been terrified of everything I've willingly offered up to whoever wants it. All of my family's private photos and personal information is gathered here in one accessible, searchable place.

I'm not worried about being plagiarized. But I'm terrified of identity theft. So why am I doing this? It isn't because I'm naive. I'm not brave. I'm not even rebellious.

I drive as fast as I can get away with. I procrastinate until I can't anymore. I have a nasty habit of assuming bad things on the news won't happen to me.

I don't pull my hand out of the alligator's mouth until I get bit. Then I'm careful, cautious, smart until the statute of limitations on my memory is reached.

But I can't delude myself on this one. My baby's safety is potentially on the line, and I continue to balance on the edge of action. Do I stop everything? Change everything, though information is forever available to someone with enough time and energy?

YouTube. Facebook. Twitter. Blogger. The office website. Old school websites. Bylines and news clips. CCAP. Our lives, up for the taking.