Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Truman's really late birthday post

My baby turned one year old a while ago.

He keeps getting cuter and cuter. He has developed a sense of humor and makes himself laugh by blowing raspberries. He loves being chased and will crawl away from me giggling every time I want to get his socks and jacket on. He stands and cruises but doesn't walk. He sometimes cries in the night, and if it's a full moon he'll be inconsolable until I take him to the living room and turn on the lights and play the movie Frozen.

His favorite things in the world are his daddy's funny faces, applesauce, Frozen, his brother when he runs and does things he can't do, green beans, being outside, Frozen, throwing things, big splashes in the bathtub, his own voice, and FROZEN. Little toddler Anna is the love of his life.

One year ago, I was just trying to figure out how to be a mother to two little boys and go to work. It was impossibly hard and has not gotten any easier. But I know you now. I know every screeching, ear-shattering scream that you make. I know how strong you are, how loving, how much you change every day from one minute to the next. I will come home tonight and you will be a new person, but you'll still be my Truman, always my Truman. 

Truman's first year...

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Four-Year-Old

Dear Fletcher,

One thing parenthood has taught me is that every age is a tough age. On paper, being four sounds easy. You play with toys, eat lots of macaroni and cheese, still get a nap, and don't need a job. But in truth, I know the emotional being you currently are, because you wear those emotions plainly on your sleeve.

This is how we start as humans: feeling everything, completely throwing ourselves out there when we're excited, complaining loudly when we don't like something, pushing and pulling when we're frustrated, screaming and crying when we're hurt or scared or just so confused. It's the height of vulnerability.

In the years ahead, a lot of that exuberance will probably be tamed. You may continue to feel the exhaustive range of emotion, but you'll learn that acting on these emotions is unfavorable.

Sit still. Be quiet. Don't bite. Clean up your mess. I said no. Don't jump off the furniture. Hold my hand. Go to sleep. Eat your chicken. Get in the car. Wipe your own butt.

So much of what I say to you is a command. And much of the rest of what I say is disappointing. I can't right now. I have to make dinner. I'm feeding your brother. I need to do the laundry. I'll be there in a minute.

Play with me, Mommy.

On your fourth birthday, Fletcher, I want you to know that I feel what you feel and I want what you want, even when it sometimes doesn't feel like it. Sitting with you on the living room floor, forcing myself to ignore all the pressure weighing on me, is the best part of the day. I do want to spend all day hearing what you have to say, watching your stubborn and downright sassy side develop, learning what you're confident about today and what intimidates you, shaking my head at your endless supply of energy, and having a part in your rapid learning and growth.

Every day you change. Every day I love you even more.

The first preference you showed was for dinosaurs and trains. I remember when Thomas the Train and Dinosaur Train would light you up. Now you love superheroes and fighting bad guys, running from imaginary bears and dinosaurs, attacking monsters, jumping on people, staging epic battles, always running running running.

Run, Mommy, run! 

Next, I imagine, will be sports. You love soccer balls, basketballs, footballs, baseballs now mainly because it's an activity outside. But the time is coming when you will outrun and outplay us all. You've been a physical creature since birth, after all.

I'm so lucky that I get to be a part of it, that I have these years ahead of me where I can continue to watch and contribute to the great boy you are and will be.

Life is hard. It's not going to get easier. But experiencing it together is a such a gift. Thank you, Fletcher, for being my four-year-old.


Making his own birthday cake with Grandma Patty.
"Only I can do it."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Things Fletcher says that I can embarrass him with someday

"Don't play with wieners. Only play with games. Playing with wieners is naughty."

"Thor has big nipples!"

I intend to add to this post as quotes come up. Some things are just too good to let them be forgotten.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Leading a Processed Food Life

I'm a bad mother.

Before people who know me start defending me, hear me out.

In addition to letting my offspring view violent superhero movies and use technology that I read causes autism (that's a response post for another day), I do not provide a healthy diet. I know full well that everything from aspartame and salt to flour and fructose is hurting me and my family, and yet I continue to feed it to my family.*

The studies on the terrible effects of processed food are many, and the severe intestinal pain I suffer periodically is proof enough. I'm probably even giving myself cancer (down the road). You know what's even worse than severe physical pain? The anxiety I have about being a bad mother.**

Our current parenting culture is one of intense disapproval, from within as well as without, and it is crushing. God how I wish it were easier to read scientific studies than it is to read headline-grabbing articles about what the latest celebrity says is the best way to parent.

So, if I believe they're (somewhat) correct, why am I not heeding the advice of every know-it-all mom posting in my Facebook newsfeed? Why am I not eating fermented vegetables and gluten-free quinoa in six small meals per day? Because...
  • It's disgusting
  • I'd have to completely change the way I shop
  • I'd have to completely change the way I cook
  • I'd have to fight with my family
  • It would cost more (Don't even try to argue this one. It would.)
  • It would be a huge time investment
  • I don't have any f*#@ing time
But Lindsay, if you have time to write this post and to read about Alicia Silverstone and Jenny McCarthy and dozens of other pseudo-pediatrician celebrities, that's time you could spend cooking delicious vegan tofu for dinner. Right.

This post has been several years in the making, so don't ever talk to me about time management. I work two f%*#ing jobs in addition to caring for my children and not sleeping. Not sleeping. Not sleeping.

So what is the trade off for eating nothing but delicious empty calories that come out of lovely crinkly packages (besides my medically unexplained intestinal pain)? In reverse order of importance...
  • Weight gain (Minimal now. Will probably be much worse when breastfeeding is done.)
  • Lack of energy
  • Fear that I will die young
  • Fear that I'm hurting my children
  • Anxiety Anxiety Anxiety
The fact that nothing is worth more to me than my kids contributes to the anxiety. Am I just a lazy American? Do I need to shake up my entire world, my entire life, my entire family with a big lifestyle change? I can entertain the thought, but I just don't see it happening.

It's too hard. I never thought I was someone to shy away from something that's good for my family based on the fact that it's too hard. But it's too hard.

*In addition to what is traditionally thought of as processed food (Cheetos, McDonald's, M&M's, hotdogs), we also eat meat and the occasional fruit, vegetable, and grain from an average, non-organic, pesticide-filled grocery store.

**There are also several studies that prove that anxiety and stress cause physical pain. Vicious, vicious cycle.

Friday, March 14, 2014


I can hold my breath
I can bite my tongue
I can stay awake for days
If that's what you want
Be your number one

I can fake a smile
I can force a laugh
I can dance and play the part
If that's what you ask
Give you all I am

I can do it

But I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
I'm only human

I can turn it on
Be a good machine
I can hold the weight of worlds
If that's what you need
Be your everything

I can do it
I can do it
I'll get through it

But I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
Cause I'm only human

I'm only human
I'm only human
Just a little human

I can take so much
Until I've had enough

Cause I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
Cause I'm only human

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday: a typical day in the life

1:12 am: Wake to baby screaming. Feed baby, burp. Lay him back down. Go to sleep.

2:28 am: Wake to baby screaming. Wonder if I changed his diaper last time. Change his diaper. Feed baby, burp. Lay him back down. Go to sleep.

3:02 am: Realize baby is screaming because he doesn't want to lay flat, because he's so used to sleeping upright in his car seat and I'm a crap mother. Pick him up and try to comfort him. Sit him in his car seat. Listen and watch him fuss for ten minutes until he falls back to sleep. Lay awake wondering how little sleep is needed to actually function.

4:10 am: Wake up coughing. Cough on and off for the next couple hours, mostly just terrified that my coughing is going to wake the baby.

7:28 am: "Shit. Ohmygod why didn't my alarm go off?" Discover my cell phone has moved from the nightstand to under my pillow. "Really, Lindsay? Really?"

7:30 am: Stare at the ceiling, feeling guilty that Fletcher is going to miss his 8:10 speech class. Sigh heavily.

7:31 am: Start running around the house like a crazy person to get the kids ready for school (i.e., trying to breastfeed the baby and put Fletcher's socks on at the same time).

8:08 am: Congratulate myself on getting Fletcher to school.

8:30 am: Try to get some work done while holding a wiggly baby. Feed him. Wheel the pack-n-play into the bathroom. Make Truman's day by introducing him to a toy tambourine. Take a shower. Wonder where all my bruises came from.

9:00 am: Compliment Truman on his excellent tambourine playing. Wonder if he's going to be a musician. Watch him go from super happy to super upset in a matter of seconds. Yep, he's a musician.

9:30 am: Start laundry. Feed the screaming baby. He falls asleep. Eat a pop-tart and do some more work. Try to find something healthy to make for lunch.

10:38 am: Baby wakes up. Check the window to see if Fletcher's bus (van) is here yet. It is. Find out later that the van driver had been early today and left a message on husband's phone stating that if no one came out to get Fletcher soon he would take him back to school. WTF. Move laundry to dryer.

10:54 am: Fletcher begs for pancakes and insists on using the new bottle of syrup, not the one that's already open. Wonder if/how other parents manage to serve healthy food.

11:40 am: Clean up kitchen and Fletcher from syrup tornado. Feed the baby. Try to get everyone ready for daycare. Remember belatedly that there's laundry in the dryer.

12:35 pm: Kids are now at daycare. Drive-thru Taco Bell because Fletcher's soggy pancake leftovers really didn't hit the spot. Go to work.

12:55 pm: Work. Pump milk. Work. Pump milk. Work.

7:45 pm: While still obsessing over work projects, drive to meet the family at McDonald's for yet another super healthy meal.

9:04 pm: Back home, put in Captain America at Fletcher's request. Nothing says preschool education like a World War II movie. Feed the baby rice cereal. Try to prevent massive hungry baby from eating the bowl and spoon as well. {see video above}

11:00 pm: Normally this is when I'd be doing my second job, book editing, while the rest of the house sleeps. Since I'm on a brief sabbatical from that, I'm blogging my life instead.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

More on emotional exhaustion

I'm glad that Fletcher was born first and Truman second. I'm not picking favorites.

Being a first-time mom was incredibly taxing because it was so filled with uncertainty and adjustment. Every day was the first day of being a mother to someone Fletcher's age. Every one of Fletcher's firsts was a first for me.

It was only intrinsically hard, not extrinsically. Fletcher's cries mostly made sense, and I mostly had the time, energy, and attention span to totally baby him.

My entire opinion of motherhood was shaped by my relationship with Fletcher. Our bond was instant and focused and unhurried. At the time, I suspected he was either an easy baby, or my parenting method was really effective (answering every cry to build a kind of inherent comfort and confidence).

Yeah, no. He was an easy baby. *slaps first-time mom version of myself*

Truman came along and is testing all of us. Grandma Patty calls him her prima donna, and it's an apt description: an undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team. Try telling him he's not in charge, though, and your laughter will devolve into pitiful sobs of exhaustion inside an hour.

I might not feel the same about motherhood had this been my first experience of it. This time around, my brilliant parenting method isn't physically possible. I'm close; I feed him as often as my body can, I hold him and carry him as often as my back allows. I give him more attention than I give Fletcher (which is another whole guilt-filled story). I can't help feeling, though, that quantity is hurting quality. I can't focus on getting to know Truman if I'm focused on helping him stop crying. I can't nurture the mother-baby bond if he's screaming at me like a teenage girl in a slasher movie.

(He's been a lot better recently, and I'm still knocking on wood. If he downs three bottles in a row and gets a decent nap in a dark and quiet place, we're good. Well, he is good. I am out of milk.)

Here's one problem: No one else is quite as affected by Truman's screams as I am. They bother me to the core. Because if he's crying, something is wrong, and by god I want to help him, even if it kills me. That's a mother's job, to do everything possible to care for her baby. And if Truman's cries are honest, I'm not doing a good enough job.

Emotional exhaustion from loving the baby: a good feeling.
Emotional exhaustion from being battered by the baby's cries: a terrible feeling.

This time around, parenting is extrinsically hard, not intrinsically. Had Truman been born first, I'm afraid motherhood would've been both.

He doesn't cry all the time, and I'm sorry to make it sound like he does. It only stands out because it's different from Fletcher. I'm so sorry for Truman that he'll always be compared to his big brother.

Now that Truman's personality is beginning to come through, it's becoming easier to focus on him as an individual. Just remembering the sound of his baby laughter fills me with warmth. I may not be rested or energetic or in control, but Truman has brought more joy to my life than I ever expected or could deserve.

I'm so in love with him. I don't want to forget his smell, the way he blows raspberries and squeaks when he's excited, the recognition in his eyes, how happy he is when he succeeds at putting something in his mouth, his giggle when I tickle his armpits, his amazement when he watches his brother.

What makes a mother's love special is that it depends on nothing and is affected by nothing. I will never stop wanting more time with my sons, never love them less, never stop living for them, and never stop wishing for more time with them.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Silly Truman





Dear Trumonkey,

I'm attempting to collect some of the small, favorite, and exasperating moments from your life so far.

10/3/13 : Put this under exasperating: Mere hours after I gave birth to you, you overfilled your diaper with poop. First, you have to understand that I just gave birth to an enormous baby and it took several minutes for me just to stand up and lean over you to check your diaper. It was the middle of the night. Of course, your father was sound asleep. As I was trying (so so hard) to clean up your poop diaper, that's when you let go and peed all over yourself and me. I could barely stand, we were both covered in pee and pope, and I just didn't know how to proceed! Luckily the nurse picked that moment to come in. It was a sign of things to come from you!

10/6/13 : You got your first sponge bath at home. Not wanting to miss anything, Fletcher pulled a stool over and got right in on the action. And then you peed in his face. 

10/7/13 : I took Fletcher to school and then sat in the car with you for two hours, just holding you as you slept. You slept a lot during my maternity leave (except, of course, when I wanted to sleep or shower).

10/27/13 : You went trick-or-treating as a little green froggy in your stroller. Your brother was Thomas the Train. We were so overrun with trick-or-treaters that we ran out of candy and I had to turn the lights off just to buy some time to feed you.

11/10/13 : You were baptized.

11/15/13 : Your first day at daycare. Leaving the building and getting into my empty car was weird and terrible. I think you slept most of the time, and then Daddy had to adjust to taking care of you and Fletcher on his own.

1/22/14 : You got your first tooth already!

2/5/14 : You got your second tooth already!

2/7/14 : At your four-month checkup, you were 27 inches and almost 18 pounds. When they were giving you immunizations, your brother crawled up on the exam table and got very upset for you, saying, "No poking. NO."

2/15/14 : You slept through the night for ten full hours in your car seat near my bed. When you woke up in the morning, I heard you making little cooing and raspberry sounds. I turned toward you, and we just looked at each other happily in the dim morning light, saying our good-mornings.

2/16/14 : Your first rice cereal. It was the start of your deep love for food. ;)

At one point, Fletcher got all up in your face and you somehow managed to get his nose in your mouth. Ever since, Fletcher has tried to recreate it because it was so funny to him. I love when Fletcher says "Truman tooted," "Silly Truman," and "Mommy loves Truman too." When Daddy does daycare pickup, he sometimes asks Fletcher if he should leave you there, because it's nice that the idea upsets him.

Since March, you've been napping better, and it has improved your mood (knock on wood). You've become extra interested in touching and manipulating things. You love to pull and push our hanging plant (Gladys), and you crunch her leaves in your little fists. If the person holding you takes a drink, you get excited and swat at the can or glass. You enjoy looking at yourself in the mirror and chewing on your blankets and fists. You love swiping your hand on the screen of my tablet, trying to grab things from the screen. When we feed you rice cereal, your arms swing wildly and you open your mouth like a baby bird. You can sort of sit up on your own, but it's mostly your big belly propping you up!

Daddy claims you rolled from back to stomach on 1/31/14 and stomach to back on 2/6/14, but I'll believe it when I see it! 

When Daddy or Fletcher jump in front of you, you have the most wonderful giggle. And you love holding my hand almost as much as I love holding yours.

I can't wait to see what you'll do next.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hungry Trumonster

Dear Trumonster,

No one can whine quite like you. It's okay; we still love you. But my god, you can scream.

Maybe it's some version of colic that lasts forever. Maybe it's some form of gas that's impervious to gas drops. Maybe I'm writing this at 3:00 a.m. because, in your limited experience, life is just really really hard. After all, following your colicky first six weeks, you were only healthy for maybe two weeks before we all got the cold that never ends. I can understand that a world where you've always been congested might seem a little cruel.

I have a different theory. I think maybe you're just CRAZY ABNORMALLY HUNGRY ALL THE DANG TIME.

It's okay. It's very American of you, actually. I fill you up with all the milk I have, and you just want MORE. Not Enough. Need More. And in that mood, you scream when we change your diaper, when we set you down, when we play, when we do basically anything. The screaming only stops if we walk around with you, lulling you into sharing the same exhausted haze that is your father's and my constant companion.

Sometimes you're too tired to eat and too hungry to sleep. These are good times.

If you notice I'm not taking myself too seriously here, it's because I know you're getting enough to eat healthwise. Each time we take you to the doctor, you fly off the charts in height and weight. You were never in newborn clothes and barely in three-month clothes. At five months old, you are now poking holes in twelve-month clothing.

All of this—your constant hunger, exhaustive crying, enormous size—contributes to this one feeling that consumes me all the time: it's going too fast.

I remember thinking that the first five months of Fletcher's life were my favorite. But your first five months? They went so blindingly fast, it's like they never happened. And it breaks my heart.

I wish I had Hermione's Time-Turner so I could go back at the end of each day and just spend time experiencing you. Time continues to be the enemy. It doesn't help that I spent so much time during your pregnancy looking forward to your newborn and baby days, building them up in my mind, so that now I can't remember where they went.

You're a miracle. Screaming or not, you've burrowed your way into my heart, right there with your brother. And I wouldn't change you. (We're all very entertained by the big guy you are. The excitement you show for eating your first foods is so hilariously appropriate that we have to remind ourselves not to constipate you with too much rice cereal. You're a riot.)

You've taught me that I was wrong to be self-righteous about what a "good" baby your brother was. In Nature vs. Nurture, I'm putting just a little more stock in Nature than I used to. (And when is it not wrong to be self-righteous? I'm a foolish girl. You bring me back down to reality.)

I've said it before, like so many other parents: I just want it all to slow down. Don't be in such a hurry, Truman. Take the time to be a baby before you eat your way into childhood.

I love you completely.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Truman Thomas

Dear Truman Thomas,

You were born on a Tuesday. You were late. As we've come to learn over the last five months, you don't do anything you don't want to do, stubborn little boy that you are.

These past months, I've been taught a lesson that began on the day you were born: I can't expect anything with you to be the same as it was with your brother—not even labor.

In the days (weeks) leading up to your birth, I kept looking for that one big, obvious contraction that signals the start of labor. (The start of labor has to be obvious to me this time around! I'm experienced! I've done this before!) Hahahaha no.

On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, I had my usual macaroni and cheese for lunch. A couple hours later I felt nauseated. An hour later, really nauseated. By 5:00 p.m., worried that something was wrong with you, I called and asked if I could see the doctor.

"How far apart are your contractions?"

"I don't really have any."


So I left work, met up with your dad, and dropped your brother off with Grandma Patty and Grandpa Paul, just in case. We headed to the doctor, who suggested we go to the hospital because I was probably in labor.

Convinced this felt nothing like labor, I was fairly certain this was all a big waste of time. I hauled my huge body down to the hospital, got hooked up to a few monitors, and just hung out with your dad watching TV.

"Was that a contraction?" I asked.

"Yep," the nurse said. "You're the most calm person in labor I've ever seen."

It felt like practically nothing, a little niggle of discomfort. They came and went, and I was never very sure if they were real or imaginary. They told me I was in labor, but I couldn't shake the feeling that they were "deciding" I was in labor because, hey, you were overdue and I was in the hospital so might as well get this show on the road. Then there was the fact that the doctor was leaving the next day for vacation. So while I was dilating at a steady pace, she thought it would be nice to hurry things along by breaking my water.

Your labor had two stages: before breaking my water, when your dad and I were watching Full House and joking around with the nurse, and after breaking my water, when I threatened the lives of everyone in the room. Of course it was not until part two that I asked for drugs, at which point the room offered only awkward silence. It was too late for that.

I believe 9:00 p.m. was the time I texted family members that they were breaking my water and there was no turning back now. Grandma Bernie got the gruesome play-by-play via text as the next hour of absolute hell tore me to shreds (I dictated to your dad since I was a screaming, writhing mess clinging to the hospital bed with every muscle). I guess I thought Grandma Bernie might enjoy being in on the action, and I was trying to create some levity for myself.

I kept thinking during that hour: There's no way this baby is going to come out of me the natural way. They are going to have to cut this giant baby out of me.

You do have one thing in common with your brother. The first part of you that became visible got the same reaction from the room of medical personnel: "Look at all that hair!"

Get him out. Get him out. Let it be over. 

It's difficult to describe how hard it was to do the hardest physical work of my life when I was at my most physically exhausted.

But out you came at 10:12 p.m. All 9 pounds 12 ounces of you, a whopping 22 inches long. Had you not immediately peed and pooped on the doctor at the moment of your birth, we're convinced you would've hit the 10 pound mark.

And you haven't stopped growing since.

I'll write more soon, I promise. Know that the second child's typical lack of representation here in this journal is not symbolic of anything but the complete lack of time your presence has created for personal activities. You see, I'd rather be spending my time with you.

Love forever,

They gave you to me a few seconds after you were born
and I couldn't believe I was finally holding my beautiful boy.