Friday, February 26, 2010



Have I mentioned that I birth cute babies? Granted, it's only one data point, but it's a hell of a data point.

I've been making baby food and freezing it. MJ's not sure what she thinks about her tubers yet, but the tongue is willing to try anything.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

In retrospect

I'm procrastinating today, which means you get two posts in two days. This may be two data points, but it is not a trend. It is most definitely a fluke.
So.... ta da! You get a post about what I would do differently in this whole baby making business. Here they are.
1. I would not gain so much weight while pregnant. I would watch what I eat more carefully. I mostly ignored people that said "you're eating for two now!" I didn't throat punch them, though I wanted to. But some of that message still seeped through, because I gained over 40 pounds while I was pregnant. I stopped weighing myself at 40, which I hit at about 37 weeks. I suspect it was over 45 pounds total. Not drastically outside the realm of normal, particularly compared to some women I've encountered. And I've lost almost all of that (except for the last stubborn 5 pounds or so.) But I was so freaking uncomfortable during my pregnancy. With back and sciatic issues that still nag me somewhat, and all that weight was horrible to drag around. So yes, I will try to keep it down next go round, just for my own comfort.
2. I would realize that my supply is more fragile than I thought. I would not assume that if it dips I can get it to come back up. I would wake myself in the middle of the night to pump, even if I'm lucky enough to have another baby that sleeps through the night. I didn't do as much research as I should have about breastfeeding, and didn't realize that your supply isn't established until 6 weeks until I was already at that mark. So I would probably stress less about labor and more about breastfeeding. I would do more homework on breastfeeding and not assume that the lactation consultant will tell me everything I need to know.
3. I would buy things like breastpumps, baby swings, mobiles, etc., before the baby came. I held off, hoping that I could get by without so much stuff. But what it really meant is that I was scrambling to acquire these things after the baby came.
I guess I'm pretty lucky to think that I would change so little.  I read a lot before MJ arrived, and from there just went with instinct.  So far, it seems to be working pretty well. 

Things I wouldn't change:
1. Cloth diapers. I love, love, love them. The week I had to use disposables sucked.
2. Taking time off. It was wonderful to get to spend so much time with my baby (4.5 months!)
3. Returning to work. I dreaded it, but it has been great.
4.  Having her sleep in her own crib.  I assumed we would co sleep, because that seemed to be what babies required.  But she was happier in her own crib, and I slept better.  If it works, run with it. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sleep, at last

After 6 nights of sometimes-hourly wakings, the child has started to sleep.  The past two nights she has slept through the night.  While I can write some pretty great papers with one data point, two data points is exponentially better, because then I can call it a trend.  So we have two data points, and I'm hoping the trend continues.

I'm fairly certain her wakefulness was developmental, because every time she woke up she was happy and wanted to play.  Very much like the 4 month wakeful, in which they have become newly alert and so excited about the world around them that they can't sleep.  Only this was much more extreme.  I can't hold developmental changes against her, but it did bring to light the fact that we needed to teach her how to fall asleep.  All the sleep books instruct "Put your baby down drowsy but awake so that they can learn to fall asleep on their own."  Which sounds great in theory.  But she always wanted to sleep at ~7, only an hour and a half after I get home.  And rocking her to sleep was some extra time I got to spend with her, not to mention how scrumptious a happily sleeping baby is.  I wanted to soak it in.  Futhermore, I didn't always want to be home by 7 so that she could fall asleep in her crib.

But I have accepted my fate.  She will start having a consistent bedtime, with few exceptions.  She will fall asleep in her crib.  On her own.  We tried it last night, and she did great.  For the past week we've been intermittently trying to get her to fall asleep on her own (intermittent, the ultimate sleep no-no) so it wasn't entirely new to her.  But I decided that last night was the beginning of our new rituals.  The end of me rocking her to sleep.  So into the crib she went (with her new soothe-and-glow seahorse) at 8 (because she had taken an evening nap.)  And she fussed.  So I went in and patted her.  She screamed louder.  And then she stopped.  Five minutes later she was asleep.  8.5 hours until her next wake up.  I'd like to think this is the new normal, but only time will tell.  If I can push her bedtime to 8 I think I can live with that. 

What this week has taught me is something I have avoided accepting.  I always thought that parents who give up any-and-all social life after their child is born simply lack willpower.  It's difficult to bring MJ to friends houses, I can see why some people just don't want to deal with it.  But it's not all willpower, especially when they get to be older babies.  You simply can't drag them anywhere and everywhere, even if they are flexible babies.  At some point you have to buckle down and have them fall asleep in their own bed.  At the same time.  Every day.  I hate that this is true, but it is.  It is not fair to her to keep messing with her schedule as she gets more-and-more alert.  Before, she didn't notice what we did or where we took her and had no schedule, so it didn't matter.  Now she does.  So, while willpower is part of the reason for a lack-of-social-life, babies are the other part.  Babies.  Babies.  Babies.  But I swear, they are worth it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sleepless - day two

How do women do it?  How do they stay functioning members of society when their little one won't sleep?  She was up for 2.5 hours last night.  I know I've been lucky so far in mamadom; she's been an excellent sleeper.  Even her four month wakeful wasn't that bad; up for ~30 minutes to eat and play a little, then back to sleep.  But this is different, and it's wreaking havoc.  Luckily grandma is here to help, maybe MJ knew this was a good time to get her sleeplessness out of her system.   Come morning, choices are to either come in to work at the normal time, but feel so tired all day I accomplish nothing.  Or get a few extra hours of sleep, but come in to work so late that I accomplish nothing. Choice is beautiful, but I prefer when there's a good option.

Frequently in these last 14 months I've thought about cavewomen.  How did cavewomen birth and raise babies, before modern psychology stepped in?  What would my uneducated instincts do here?  It's hard to imagine, really.  Perhaps we can look at chimps for a clue, but you never see a chimp that looks like they didn't get enough sleep.  When they're tired, they sleep.  If baby needs them, they wake up and deal, then back to sleep.  And daddy chimp brings back whatever food they need. 

Most of the difficulties I've encountered in child rearing so far stem from these myriad expectations that we've placed on ourselves.  If I didn't have a job, didn't care whether my house was clean (it's not) and didn't worry about satisfaction beyond my children then there wouldn't be a problem.  I'd be able to focus on breastfeeding, sleeping and existing.  It's easy to say that if we had adequate parental leave policies then things would be better, but it's not that simple.  I know in Europe some countries allow a year off for the birth of a child.  That sounds nice, but, at least in my field, it's unrealistic.  How can you stay current on science and technology when you're gone for a year?  Especially if you want more than one kid.  When you add time spent pregnant, which is at a minimum a distraction from your job, then you're gone for 2+ years if you have 2 children. 

Even if the law mandated it, the reality would still not bring satisfaction.  It reminds me of the requirement to make concessions for disabled students.  Physical concessions are easy to make in mentally demanding places, like college.  But mental concessions can only get you so far. You still have to do the work.  In the workplace, adequate parental leave policies wouldn't make up for the fact that we wouldn't be here.  How can you give tenure to someone that hasn't produced anything because they've been having babies?

So why have we as women built this can't win situation for ourselves?  I blame it on biology.  If society continues to function similar to how it does now, it won't take long before we evolve to have children later in life. To some extent this is already happening.  Many women postpone having children, and if they wait too long then they don't reproduce.  Those that are able to have children late in life reproduce and pass on that genetic capability.  Our life expectancy has increased but our reproductive expectancy has not. 

And I also blame ourselves.  Men didn't really want to give us the right to work outside the home.  I know it was a hard fought battle, but some days I wish I didn't have that choice.  Being as the choices I have now are not good ones, maybe not having the choice at all would be better. 

And maybe I'll feel differently once I get a little sleep.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I miss sleep

I just slept in my office.  There were times, in my younger days, when I snuck a nap in my office.  But they always involved staying out too late partying.  This is, instead, due to my daughter staying up too late partying. 

My Mom got in town last night, and I swear MJ knew it.  Her flight got in long past MJ's bed time.  I gave Mom the rundown of everything that has changed with her granddaughter since the last time she saw her.  Briefly, the list is:

1)  She's mobile now.  She doesn't move terribly quickly, but she can get herself into trouble if left alone.  That means the only safe places to put her while you dash downstairs to switch the laundry over is her high chair, her crib, her swing or her exersaucer.  Everything else she can push herself out of.  Or tries to ingest.

2)  Noises!  So many noises.  Bubbles.  Tongue clicks.  Shrieks.  They're lovely, but can be frightening if you think something might be wrong.  Nothing's wrong.  She's just loud.

3)  She's the cutest human on the planet.  No, wait, that's not new.  She's just cuter than her previously cutest-human-on-the-planet status.

So after my late to bed turn in, MJ must have smelled her Grandma.  Not that Grandma smells, maybe MJ just has a super human nose.  From 1am - 4 am she was wide awake and happy as a clam.  Yes, it was glorious, but that nap in the office was necessary, else I would have melted into a puddle of mama-juice on the floor.  What I wouldn't give for a good solid 9 hours of sleep. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Just like Vito

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5 months

Dear baby girl,

by the time you read this, you will not be a baby.  By the time you can read and are aware of your prominent role in my blog, you will probably be much, much older.  You will be embarrassed by some of my comments, including discussion of your butt hole.  But someday you will get over your embarrassment, I hope, and know that I do it because I love you.

In the meantime, you are my baby.  My 5 month old baby.  It is amazing that nothing about time has in fact changed since you were born, but I swear to god it operates differently now.  It is faster, sweeter and meaner.  I'm not sure if it is just for this year, but the winter doesn't depress me like it used to.  Maybe because it doesn't seem to phase you.  You wake up every day happy.  Happy to see me.  Happy to see Dad.  Happy to be part of the world.  If winter doesn't get you down, why on earth would I let it get me down?

I know that you are, in fact, still very young.  Still a baby.  But it doesn't feel that way.  It feels like you are so old that tomorrow I will be shipping you off to college.  Motherhood is really just a time warp, and I wish there was a way to make it slow down.  But as generations of parents have lamented, there is not.  There is just each day, and as many pictures as I can cram into it.  As much love as I can cram into you (that sounds like a bad thing, but I swear it's a good thing.)

So if someday you are embarrassed by me, by things I have said about you, please just know that it is my way of holding on to each day.  Kurt Vonnegut may have been right, and this may be my only means to stay hinged in time.

Love, always,

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My 4th self*

I've always thought of a person as having three parts.  I feel like I learned this sometime back in World History in 10th grade, having something to do with Greek philosophers.  But Aristotle would probably be embarrassed by my ignorance if I were to attribute this theory to him.

So, the three selves I've always pictured were my intellectual self, my emotional self, and my spiritual self.  Since I'm something of a spiritual nitwit, my spiritual self mostly sits in the corner eating his boogers because no one will play with him.  So that leaves me with my intellectual self and my emotional self.  I mostly let those two selves run hog-wild.  Especially the emotional self, she likes to streak naked through the snow.  And have bonfires 10 feet from her house.  I.e., she doesn't think much about consequences.

But I've recently discovered a fourth self.  (I also learned in 10th grade that any number less than 5 should be spelled out.  But maybe that included five, I'm not sure.  I like to mix it up so I'm only wrong half the time.)  That would be my mothering self.  More generally, it's probably my nurturing self, though I think only my baby sees the benefit of it, so we'll stick to calling it the mothering self until that self learns how to play well with others.  Ironically, I find myself capable of near-infinite patience with my child (this coming from an inpatient person, so infinite is definitely an overstatement.  There are still times.)  But I think that patience drains from the rest of my life to fill my baby-patience tank.  Meaning the presence of this fourth self drains the other selves.  I'm not upset about that, at least not for the time being: it's interesting to have this whole new self I was never aware of before.

I think those that have baby-fever are aware of this 4th self and need something to fill it.  I guess the question I'm getting to is where does this fourth self come from?  Was it always there and some women are just more aware of it than others?  Or for some people, does childbirth bring about this new self?

*I'm pretty sure this entire post makes no sense.

Friday, February 5, 2010


What better way to end a week than by winning a prize?  Thanks to everyone for entering, even though I had to cajole some of you.  The winner is metta1313.  We will now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

We always want what we can't have.

MJ seriously loves Vito. He is the only creature who is not enthralled with her when sharing the same breathing space. And so he is the one creature she is most fascinated by. She's constantly trying to catch his eye and get him to come to her. Once she can crawl, Vito's blissful life of never being messed with is over. His toys, his food and his livelihood will be under attack.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Seriously people...

There's a giveaway.  A few posts down.  With barely any entries!  That means your odds of winning are very, very good.  That means you should enter!!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The week of the boob.

After my recent post, or perhaps before it, I decided to devote myself to the boob this week.  Because I am just not ready to give up.  Consider it a resolution: I decided to do my darnedest to get my supply up, which means I am constantly pumping.  I have never felt more bovine.  But the good thing?  I got ~9 ounces yesterday, which is about a 30% increase**.  In only two days. 

Also in my quest, I have become sloppy.  I do not recommend pouring a cup of coffee into your breastpump.  Although it is better equipped to handle liquid than, say, a laptop (which I also don't recommending pouring a cup of coffee into) it is still a mess.*

*As though subect to a terrible round-robin of fate, I just spilled breastmilk on my keyboard as I was packing up the pump.
**Edit:  I mean 50% increase.  Because my math sucks.  I was just teaching this to my students yesterday, and then I go and forget my own lesson.