Seriously, stop asking me how my son sleeps.

I wrote this in March when my son was seven months old.  He’s now almost 1 year old.  I find it curiously odd that people have not asked me how he sleeps in a while.

My son sleeps in 2-hour increments at night and does not nap much during the day.  I consider myself eternally fortunate when I get a 3-hour stretch, and I do all I can to maintain my patience on the up-every-45-minutes nights.

Overall, I am ok with this.  I didn’t get into the business of motherhood expecting restful 8-hour nights of sleep and endless amounts of me-time.  I like my life how it is, and I don’t stress out over the sleep I’m “supposed to” be getting.

What pisses me off to no end is when people ask me how he’s sleeping.

Every person who asks my son’s age usually follows with “how’s he sleeping?”  Every.  Fucking.  Person.

I’m touchy about sleep training.  I literally cannot have a balanced conversation about it because my feelings are too intense.  I recognize this.  I don’t impose my own beliefs or emotions on others because of it.

Because I’m touchy about sleep training, it follows that I don’t like to get involved in discussions about sleep.  My son does not sleep in a crib, he sleeps with me.  I do not put my son down when he’s “sleepy but not asleep” so he will learn to “fall asleep on his own.”  We go to bed together and he nurses to sleep.  I take care of him no matter how much he wakes in the night and don’t expect him to work things out on his own.  I am delighted by this very culturally unpopular arrangement.  I also don’t like to advertise it because it is my business, and I’m not interested in hearing any unsolicited advice about it.

So it follows that being asked how my son sleeps is a hot button.

My usual answer is:  “I have no complaints.”

This works… sometimes.  With people who don’t have children, and only about 0.05% of the ones who do.  The other 99.95% of parents who do have children are never happy with that answer.

“How many hours does he sleep at night?  Is he sleeping through the night?”

And then they proceed to tell me what torture it was for them to have their precious sleep broken by an inconvenient infant.  HOW DARE those little bastards be developmentally unable to take care of themselves when their parents so desperately need their 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep or they will suffer from anxiety attacks over the fact that they are not getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I had the worst encounter ever with my dental hygienist.  I claim partial responsibility by not saying my usual “I have no complaints.”  I was tired and she was scraping my teeth with that painfully sharp object.  So she asked how he slept and I kind of shrugged because you can’t say much when someone is scraping your teeth.  Then… “Is he sleeping through the night?”  I told her no, but thought I saved myself with a “but it doesn’t bother me.”

So then… ugh… she told me about how great here three kids slept.  Except for her youngest, who slept great until she was 12 months old.  So, apparently, she “read all the baby books.”  I jump in and mention something about a growth spurt at 12 months.  She concurs but then goes on…

“So we took the ‘tough love’ route.  We Ferberized.”  And then she went into exact detail about how she sleep trained her daughter.  How she let her cry, went in after a few minutes, didn’t pick her up or talk to her but just put her back down and patted her back, then left again.  And it took three nights for her daughter to realize her needs were not important that she could go to sleep on her own.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?  WHAT THE FUCK WAS I SUPPOSED TO SAY?

I kept quiet and seethed.  I stopped engaging.  What can you say to someone who is wielding sharp objects?

I come to find out later in the conversation I couldn’t escape that her youngest daughter was adopted from China when she was 10 months old.  So basically, she slept great those first two months she was with her new family, and then, as she was still building trust, her adoptive parents decided that their sleep was much more important than continuing to build trust with their new little daughter.

So you see why I avoid these conversations?

And why I can’t seem to find a way to avoid them?

Posted in proceed with caution, the rants

Four Months!

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The boy is four months old!  I’m amazed by the leaps and bounds he’s made in the past month alone.

He’s smiling whenever anyone talks to him.  He’s laughing fully belly laughs.  He’s rolling from back to belly and belly to back (only when he’s in the mood.)  He moves around by pulling his legs to his chest and throwing them over to the side.  He can hold his head very high during tummy time.  He can sit for a moment or two, unassisted.  The time he can sit unassisted is already lengthening.

He continues to “talk” to us.  He’s figured out how to make high-pitched squeals.  It’s becoming easier to comfort him (although much less easy to get him to sleep!)  The other night, he watched me and listened while I read Winnie the Pooh to him.  He sat between my legs while we looked at Goodnight Moon and Time for Bed.

We had our first parent-teacher conference for his daycare, and we were delighted to hear that he’s very social.  He’s been able to bond with all of his teachers.  He is apparently right on track with his cognitive development.

We are really blessed to have such a healthy, happy baby!

Posted in the boy

Misunderstanding the Definition of “Me Time”

My husband was kind enough to let me take the time between putting the boy to bed and midnight all for myself.

I know it’s silly, but I spent the first hour picking up both the kitchen and living room.  The living room had been driving me crazy for days, especially since I had to tackle the project of purging all of the boy’s three-month clothes and short-sleeved onesies and replace them with six and nine-month clothes.  We are fortunate enough to have an overabundance of pants, but we’re short on long sleeve onesies and lightweight pajamas.  During the purge-and-replace, I’ve been putting name labels on all of his clothes.  Fingers crossed that they are as waterproof as they claim to be!

I’m finally sitting down now to… I’m not sure.  I’ve grown accustomed to being on call, but I’m not even on call for feeding.  I’ve prepped a bottle for the boy if he wakes up to eat before midnight.

I’ve already heard him cry a few times, and it’s hard not to go in and check on him and my husband.  He’s going through a rough time right now:  growth spurt, cognitive leaps associated with new skills (rolling over, sitting up, and much more babbling,) cradle cap (which has begun to bother him,) a persistent cough and unending congestion.  In spite of all of this, he remains in good spirits.  He’s giving us full belly laughs!

I’ll probably spend a portion of “me time” choosing one of the 16 pictures I took for our four-month update on Facebook.  I could argue that this is a good use of the time, considering that lengthy (non-work) computer time is in short supply.

I’ve discovered that I don’t need a lot of “me time.”  While there are times I crave a good, uninterrupted How I Met Your Mother or Supernatural marathon, for the most part, I’m happy with the rhythm of my life.  I’m content with the “me time” I get on my morning commute to work and my middle-of-the-night pumping sessions.  It’s been surprisingly easy to enjoy each stage of the boy’s life, although there are things from earlier stages that I miss and things in future stages to which I look forward.

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Posted in the boy, the inner workings | Tagged

Three Months of Awesome

My little miracle arrived on July 25, 2014.

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August 25, 2014:  Our first month was a little crazy as the boy was figuring out life outside the womb and I was trying to figure out life post pregnant life.  I think he was homesick.  I certainly missed being pregnant.

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September 25, 2014:  Weighing in at 12 lbs, 13 oz and measuring 24.5 inches, he was my little bruiser.  He was just starting to smile.  I was starting to feel more confident, especially since I was finally able to make our living space more comfortable.  We were still getting to know each other, so it was still a bit bumpy.

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October 25, 2014:  This was a big month!  He is smiling all the time now.  He’s grasping and batting at toys.  His newborn startle reflex is basically gone.  He’s experimenting with all kinds of sounds, and he’ll even have a “conversation” with us!  I even know how to get him to laugh.  I feel as if he’s finally recognizing me as his mama, and not just as another random person.  He now will calm down when I pick him up.  It’s such an amazing feeling!

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I’m so lucky to have such an awesome little boy!  I love being a mom!

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Starbucks, Three Ways

Iced Grande Non-Fat Chai Latte

I did it!  I ran every day for one week.  I finally met my five-mile goal.

I momentarily feel nostalgic for my whole-milk days, and I’m tempted to throw caution to the wind.

No, the 60 extra calories defeat the purpose of getting up at 6 am to run to five miles.  No need to sabotage my accomplishment.

I look around, serenely, still high from the run.  The line is long, but I’m grateful to catch my breath.  Damp spandex clings to my thighs.  I run my fingers through my sweaty hair and casually check to see if my deodorant has withstood the strain.

Maybe I’ll finally have the courage to ask him…

Unlikely.

I’ve been sculpting and shaping and agonizing over self-denial just to impress him by becoming aesthetically pleasing.

Although she told me he found me attractive when…

There’s a difference between fantasy and reality.  She only wanted to get a chubby girl’s self-esteem up.

The line is shorter now, so I feel less guilty chatting up my buddy who spent several months in the peace corps.  We’ve broken the barrier between customer and barista.  I get the genuine smiles.  The genuine chitchat.

“Iced Grande Non-Fat Chai,” I say, emphasizing the “non-fat” with some pride.  He writes my name on the cup, and we exchange pleasant goodbyes.

I’m ready for the next big step.

I practiced for the interview for the past two weeks.  I know all about the school and the program.  I’ve rehearsed answers to the questions I imagine the dean will ask.

They call my name, and I head out the door, slowly sipping my chai latte.

I imagine how much more appealing I’ll be with a “Dr.” before my name.

*****

Venti Red-Eye

The line winds around the tables.  I impatiently check my email.

Why do I stand in this long line day after day?

I don’t know why I thought marriage was a good idea for an already rocky relationship.

Is the person at the front of the line ordering for an army?!

I want the condo in the old, drafty house.  She’s done with the oil heat, the unmanageable dust bunnies, and the way the house swayed in strong winds.

She gets the stupid yippy dog.  I’m happy to see the little bastard go.  I’m done with the shredded shoes, the puddles in corners, and the incessant barking.

Recharging the card now?!  Really?!

I need us to come to a settlement.  I need this limbo to end.

Enough with the chitchat already!  Order your coffee and go!

“Venti red-eye with the bold pick of the day,” I bark when I finally reach the head of the line.

“We’re almost done brewing a fresh batch,” the manager tells me.  “Do you mind waiting a few minutes?”

Fuck yes I mind!

I give him a tense smile and nod.

I used to say please and thank you.  When did I become this?  How did I become this?

I ventured into the world previously monopolized by breeders, and this is how I got burned.

I tap my feet and fidget impatiently as I watch the long line of hot and cold cups on the counter.  The line has shorted exponentially since I stood in it.

I sigh and run my hands through my short, dark hair.

I check my phone again.

“I’m sorry it’s gone this far,” the surprising email reads.  “I want to try again.”

I hit “delete” just as they call my name.

*****

Tall Decaf Iced Coffee

I run my hand over my belly, which is just beginning to show.  I can’t stand the smell of coffee anymore, but I need that connection to normalcy.

I watch the table where I left my black and white composition notebook.

Everyone wonders why I’m tackling something this big alone.

I grew up here.  I wrote my way through two office jobs and four relationships.  I wrote myself through the decision to forge ahead without a partner.

I imagine continuing to grow here.  I imagine what it will feel like to put a decaf coffee in the cup holder of a stroller.  To clutch a red-eye in one hand while holding a squirming toddler on my hip.  To relax over a latte and share a cookie with my preschooler.  To enjoy my mocha while my school-aged child enjoys her hot chocolate as we read our own chapter books.  To share a decaf coffee with my young teen who is determined to claim her independence.  To hesitantly enjoy a caffeinated coffee with my senior in high school as she prepares for her first college interview.  To share a non-fat chai latte on the morning of my young adult’s wedding.  To share a cup of decaf coffee as she sits across from me, her belly round with a new member of the next generation.

“Tall Decaf Iced Coffee,” I say, taking a deep breath to fight nausea.

No, I’m not alone.  I won’t be alone for a very long time.

(written 10/14/2013)

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National Novel Writing Month

I’m going to attempt NaNoWriMo again.  I won in 2011 and 2012.  I didn’t make it in 2013 because I was hit with massive mental fatigue in my first trimester.

I finally have my stamina back, and the boring art of pumping will give me at least an extra 20-40 minutes per day (morning and night.)  The old man has promised me writing time over the weekends as well.

All I need to do is avoid writing about the misadventures of a new mom and her animosity toward her breast pump.

Perhaps I’ll avoid parenthood all together:

  • a young woman in her first year of college
  • a young man in his first year of college
  • a college graduate making his or her way in the world
  • the dissolution of a marriage due to infidelity… committed by the wife
  • empty nesters who have just dropped their youngest off at college
  • maybe a combo of the freshman and empty nesters
  • revisionist history of my life (too scary to comprehend)
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Birth Story

Birth stories.  Everyone’s got at least one.

I don’t know much about my own birth.  During the impending birth of my son, I really wanted to know how my own birth went.  Was it a natural birth?  Any medical interventions?  How much did I weigh?  How long was I?

The only women who could tell me have both passed.

I know I should have asked sooner, but the truth is that the information wasn’t in any way relevant until the Wednesday I went into the hospital to be induced.

I spent my entire pregnancy talking about how I didn’t want any medical interventions.  We even took an additional birth class to learn labor management techniques.  I also have a very odd relationship with discomfort and pain.  I have a high threshold.  I knew labor wasn’t going to be a breeze by any stretch of the imagination, but I figured I would do ok.

The boy was late.  The Irishman and I did what we could to induce labor on our own.  We followed as many old wives tales as we could.  I even took a chance and had a few sips of red wine.  Nothing worked.  The boy was way too cozy where he was (can you blame him?)

The trouble with being overdue is that the placenta could stop working and complications can occur.  I trusted my midwife on this one. I agreed to the induction.  The boy and I were both in good health, and I wanted to keep it that way.

You know that song by the Fixx?  Yeah, well, that is generally how I feel about medical interventions for birth.  My worst fear was sliding down that slippery slope that would lead me to a cesarean section.

Induction, to me, originally meant Pitocin, a synthetic version of oxytocin, until I found out that my sister in law, who was also induced, went through a process called “cervical ripening.”  For her, the process brought on labor without her having to take the next step into Pitocin country.

There was hope for me!

We got to the hospital at 8:30 pm on Wednesday, July 23.  There was a whole lot of fussing around, including inserting a line for an IV (which wasn’t successful until the third try, mind you…)  They didn’t even get to the misoprostol until 11:30 pm.  The process was:  1/2 hour hooked to the fetal monitor, the medication, another hour on the fetal monitor.  I had to stick with one position, too, for the entire time I was on the monitor.  They went through this process with me every four hours so you can imagine how much sleep I got Wednesday night.

They let me have breakfast on Thursday morning, but, after that, I was cut off from solids.

I started to feel some cramping, which could probably be considered contractions, but they were nothing really to write home about.  Thursday was a long day of waiting and hoping for labor to begin on its own.  By the time 9:30 pm hit, it was obvious I wasn’t going to dodge the Pitocin bullet.  Suddenly, I was saddled with not only a fetal monitor (thankfully, wireless,) but also an IV (not wireless, and horribly annoying.)  I had some freedom of motion, which helped, especially when the contractions started to hit hard and heavy.

It was pain like no other, but it came in a pattern, which is what got me through a few hours.

Unfortunately, 24 hours of little sleep and over 12 hours of a liquid diet was starting to take its toll.  By 1:30 am, the contractions were so bad that I couldn’t see straight, and I could work through them because I was so desperately tired.  That is what did me in.  The nurse came in to discuss pain management options, and I still wanted to try to avoid the epidural.  We started with a painkiller that basically did nothing, and after another stretch of time (by this time, I’d lost track of minutes,) I told the Irishman that it was time to get the nurse so they could hook me up with an epidural.

I don’t regret this decision.

My memory of getting the epidural is blurry.  I was halfway between sleeping and intense pain.  I was literally nodding off in between contractions.  The nurse was talking me through each contraction, helping me stay still during the procedure.  The whole procedure felt both very fast and very slow.  There did not seem to be a lot of lag time in between the time they got the epidural going to the time I felt pain relief.

Relief takes on a whole new level of meaning when one is both exhausted and in serious pain.  I felt as if epidurals were a gift from the gods (and I’m a Humanist…)  I was finally, finally able to relax and even sleep.  I was still hooked up to the fetal monitors and was stuck on either one side or the other for the night.  I woke frequently but still felt as if I was finally getting the rest I needed.

While I couldn’t feel the pain, I could feel the pressure of the contractions, which was not an unpleasant feeling.  It was really awesome.  I still felt part of the process, even though I couldn’t feel much below the waist.

At around 6:30 am on Friday morning, the midwife examined me and discovered that I was 10 cm dilated.  She told me that I could start pushing, which surprised me because I felt no urge to push.  The midwife had to teach (for lack of a better word) me how to push, and apparently, even though I couldn’t feel much, I was doing a good job of it.

Unfortunately, the epidural had worn off a bit, and I was feeling strong contraction pain on the right side of my lower back.  The pain would come on so strong that I skipped pushing through a couple of contractions.  After about two and a half hours of pushing, our midwife realized that the boy was in an awkward position.  I tried pushing for another half hour, but he seemed to be stuck.

Suddenly, my worst fear seemed so enticing.

Outside of me being exhausted from three straight hours of pushing, we were both in great health. We were able to discuss a c-section rationally, and there was no rush to administer the proper anesthesia (more epidural medication and something stronger that numbed me from the waist down.)  They asked if I wanted to watch the surgery (um, HELL NO,) but they did lower the curtain a bit so I could see my little the boy as soon as he was born.

He was 9 lbs, 12 oz, and 22 inches of absolute perfection.

I made the Irishman stay with the boy while they did what they do with newborns:  clean him up, give him his vitamin K and eye ointment, and because he was such a big baby, they did some kind of blood sugar test on him, too.  I didn’t find out until after the fact that the Irishman cut the cord.  🙂  Finally, finally, they lay the boy on my chest.  I had a hard time looking him in the eyes because I was flat on my back and in an awkward position.  I was annoyed because they still had to work on me (remove the placenta and sew me up, essentially.)

I was so happy to get back to the labor and delivery room.  I was finally able to really hold my newborn son and look him in the eyes.

newborn Noodle 7/25/14

the boy at birth 7/25/14

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