Archive for the ‘ Must Read ’ Category

Sleepless in Minnesota

Monday, July 9th, 2012

There’s a superpower that comes with having a toddler and an infant: The Ability to Function on Very Little Sleep. Personally, I’d rather have the ability to fly, but we take what we’re given.

Four hours straight? That counts as a full night. Three two-hour increments? Yes, please. Even five consecutive hour-long naps is better than nothing. Which is only a little less than what I got the other night.

I overshot my caffeine intake. Then, on more than one occasion, Roy decided he needed my body (and only my body) next to him in his big boy bed. Vera threw extra nursing sessions and a 3 AM solo dance party into the mix. The next day, I was a drooling, zoned-out shell of a woman with the patience of a hummingbird. So pretty.

My friend Liz up the street has kids roughly the same age as mine. That night, she posted on Facebook: “Need a new bedtime routine for chubby buddy Frank, our current state of affairs is DRIVING ME FRIGGING BONKERS!”

Desperate, yes. But the fact that she possessed the energy to use all caps and an exclamation point told me she had yet to hit bottom.

Liz and I often have super interesting conversations. They go something like this:

Me: “Yeah, we didn’t get much, OK, hey, please stop that Roy. Let’s do something else, OK? Thanks, sweetie. Uh. What was I saying?”

Liz: “Sleep. I know. He cried for two hours straight last night. I don’t, um, Vivi, let’s go upstairs then. Here we go! Up!”

Me: “Yeah, I’m not sure if it’s teething or a growth, uh, whatever. Spurt. Growth spurt. Spurt’s a word, right? Spurt?” [Baby starts crying.] “Hey, little lady! What’s wrong?”

Liz: “Yeah, spurt. I know. Who knows? I’m thinking about letting him cry it out. Here you go, Viv.”

Me: “Shhh. It’s OK. Shhh. Hold on a sec?”

And then we solve world peace. The end.

With Clint it’s an unfair pairing. He’s more well rested, which is good for him. Yay, I’m happy for him, getting all that great rest. So happy.

Working against him: The fact that he’s my husband and therefore should know how to read my damn mind.

Me: “Please put that thing back in the, um, thing for me. Would you?”

Clint: [Pause.] “First: What thing?”

Me, gesturing: “The, uh. You know.”

Clint: “No. I really don’t.

Me: [Staring, with eye daggers.] “C’mon. Help me here.”

Clint: “I want to.”

Me: “Do you? The thing!”

And then he hands me a bottle of really good wine, which I drink, and then I “sleep” all night long. The end.

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Time Magazine Breastfeeding Cover: Get Over It.

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Maybe it’s just because I’m currently nursing, but I’m surprised that the Time magazine breastfeeding cover (at right) is causing such a stir. Top Google search? Newspapers across America? Entertainment Tonight? Really? This is the most-talked about topic out there right now?

First off, Time sure knows how to get our attention. I get glances while discreetly nursing my tiny three-month-old under a blanket in public. Throwing a hot young mama up there openly attached to not young child? Yes. People are gonna talk. More than even I expected. All this press, and from what I can tell, the issue hasn’t even hit newsstands yet.

That said, I’m not going to comment on attachment parenting, which is what the cover is actually addressing. (I do have Beyond the Sling, by Mayim Bialik, aka TV’s Blossom, waiting in the reading pile at the moment, so we’ll resurrect that thread when I finish it, hopefully sometime before my kids leave for college, dammit.)

But I can comment on breastfeeding past a certain age. Before I had a child, I’d decided nursing was for babies. Meaning small children with no teeth or verbal skills. It was a knee-jerk opinion based solely on the feeling I got when I saw grown children actually ask for the boob, then climb onto mom’s lap on their own to get at it. If the kid can ask for it, I thought, they shouldn’t be getting it anymore.

I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: And then I had kids.

I’ve written about my own nursing experience on this blog before, most notably on my post about weaning, but to recap: Before I had my first, I didn’t even want to breastfeed. I told myself I’d give it three weeks, for the health of the baby and whatnot. I ended up nursing Roy until he was a year and a half old. By that time, it was limited to before and after bedtime, but still. You better believe he was able to ask for it.

He wasn’t as old as the kid pictured. But he was a lot older than I ever figured he’d be while still nursing. The experience pushed me into the “To Each Her Own,” breastfeeding camp. I know that’s often the theme of this blog, but it can’t be helped because it’s what I believe. We are different people, raising different kids, and no one has the one-size-fits-all magic formula. We need to quit judging and concentrate on trying to figure out what’s truly best for ourselves and our kids.

Meaning that at this point in my life, when I’ll nurse my child while getting my hair washed at a salon without batting an eye, this cover doesn’t bother me one little bit. You? If it does bother you, especially, I’d love to hear exactly why.

 

 

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The Unique Pace of Baby Bonding (Or Love Letter to My Two-Month-Old)

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

With Roy, it hit me like a truck. A big ol’ bulldozer. Like a hungry young prizefighter, or a grand piano whose pulley-rope snapped twenty stories directly above. Bam! I was done for.

A fierce protectiveness expanded inside me so quickly it seized my heart; pushed a boulder into my throat; forced tears from my eyes. I was blind, dizzy, sick in love with this nameless tiny boy, who took his first breath mere moments earlier. Mine, I thought. I can’t believe that he is mine forever.

With Vera, it happened differently. Not to say that I didn’t love her immediately, because I did. I loved her before that, even. Maybe that was part of it. The first time around, I didn’t fully comprehend the connection between baby in tummy and my son until I saw him. Held him. So when I did, the reality of that connection, and everything that comes with it, exploded like a Fourth of July finale.

With Vera, the floodgates were already open. I knew her name. I felt her personality. I had no trouble connecting the thumps jostling my tummy to the little tiny feet kicking from within, connected to roly-poly legs, which I would squeeze and gobble one day soon, which would carry her across a room way too soon after that. I got it. And I could not wait to meet her.

So when she arrived, she was just here. Finally here. There was crazy excitement and pure joy, but not exactly trucks and pianos.

Friends had told me not to worry about loving kid number two. They had worried; didn’t know how that surprising, expansive, all-encompassing love for your firstborn could possibly leave room in your heart for anything else. It grows, they told me. Somehow, it grows.

So I didn’t worry. I just loved her and waited.

I bathed her and slept next to her, with my lips touching her head. I wore her in a sling, pulling up the sides so she could sleep against my chest in darkness and resting my hand on her back to feel the steady rise and fall of her breathing. I took her on walks and named the things that made her eyes wide: Birds. Leaves. Flowers.

I listened to her, too—to the trilling coos directed at stuffed animals dangling above her bouncy chair, to the happy grunts and gulps as she suckled, to the throaty groan-sighs that accompanied whole-body stretches as she woke from deep sleeps. I locked eyes with her and smiled. She smiled back, all slick gums and glossy baby-blue eyes and cheeks so chubby they run seamlessly into second chin.

And then, it happened. I’m not sure exactly when, I just know that I feel it. That crazy-powerful mama-bear love; the I-would-throw-myself-in-front-of-a-bus-for-you love.

My friends were right. My heart grew. Not in one big, painful bang, but in a happy succession of pretty little fireworks.

I can’t believe that she is mine forever.

How did it happen for you, my fellow mamas? Papas, too. Fast or slow?

 

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Pottytraining Success! Mostly.

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Things have been a little nutty around here. I’ve started working again. We’ve been sick off and on. We hosted a little Easter gathering. Somebody got a big boy bed. I set my phone on top of my car and drove off without realizing it until someone called Clint to say they found it on a busy street a few miles from our home.

Surprise, surprise, it suddenly stopped working one week later. So Vera and I buzzed out to the Mall of America, where we spent an inordinate amount of time in Verizon, taking nursing breaks on the bench outside the store until little girl finally refused to go back in. Outside on the bench: No crying. Step foot in the store: Screaming bloody murder. I totally understood. We wrapped up the transaction in the shopper-packed hallway of the third floor west rotunda of America’s largest mall.

On a whim, I switched from a Droid to the new iPhone, largely because of the camera. (I’m embarrassed to admit that the car/phone incident isn’t uncharacteristic, so I got a LifeProof case, plus replacement insurance through Best Buy for just $15—did you know they offered that for so cheap?? I was shocked.) Now I’m one of those iPhone people. Check me out:

 

I am often diggin’ Instagram.

Oh, and we have a two-month-old. And decided now was a good time to start pottytraining the toddler. Why yes, I do believe I am slightly insane, thank you very much.

Roy is doing awesome, though. We kick-started the process with the three-day method inspired by Julie Fellom’s Diaper Free Toddlers Program, wherein you let your child run around naked from the waist down and just make getting to the potty on time the main focus of your very existence for those three days. The idea being that this initial focus will lay the groundwork for greater success in the weeks to come.

The potty part he had down in a jif. In fact, now that I think about it, I do not believe he’s had one accident involving #1. #2 has been a little more difficult. Just a little, though. He’s somewhat reluctant about it, meaning that we need to be extra positive and encouraging when we see silent crouching, “the face,” and other signs he has to go. (We also upped the reward. Multiple fruit snacks AND a matchbox car, what what?)

In fact, it went so well over that three-day weekend that I didn’t even think to get nervous about having that Monday, Day 4, alone with the kids. It started out as it usually does, with all three of us lingering in bed too long, then eating a leisurely breakfast too late. We went on to play trucks and read some books, then we broke out the play-doh.

We were having so much fun that I lost track of time and let play-doh time inch into lunchtime, which therefore looked to delay naptime. This is not a good thing on a normal day, but to a kid whose world is being thoroughly rocked by the pressure of trying to time his bowel movements so that they end up in that white thing in the bathroom, it’s an emotional disaster waiting to happen. When my statement that I was going to start lunch was met by wide-open-mouth wailing and alligator tears, the delicate nature of my situation suddenly struck me. Newborn sleeping in a sling strapped to my chest, plus hungry, tired pottytraining toddler. Not good.

Of course the play-doh clean-up process and lunch took twice as long due to a few minor breakdowns, and of course I was somewhat harried and on edge, despite my best efforts to remain calm. Then just as we’re about to head upstairs for naptime, Roy runs over to the potty and poops, no drama whatsoever. I couldn’t have been more proud if he’d won a Pulitzer. “Great job, hon!” I said. “Now hold on so we can wipe.”

And that’s when his eyes met mine, and I could see that little devilish twinkle sparkling amid the exhaustion and overstimulation, the twinkle that wins at times like these when everyone has been pushed to the edge. “Roy, no-no-no. You stay right here,” I said in my best Serious Mom voice. It was all I had.

It wasn’t enough. He ran off, naked butt peeking out from under his striped t-shirt, giggling that strung out tired-toddler giggle-screech, heading straight for the couch. “Roy, stop right now!” I tried, speed-walking after him, clutching Vera’s warm, sleeping body. He laughed as he scrambled up on the couch, butt-planting down into the tan cushions before scrambling further and butt-planting it again. And again. And again.

All I can say is, thank god for Bac-Out. And the fact that I paid extra for fabricguard. We cleaned it up together, Roy excitedly declaring, “Oh! More poop!” every time he discovered a spot I’d missed. I was significantly less thrilled.

In related news, I am happy to report that we seem to have had a #2 breakthrough last weekend. Fingers crossed it sticks. We’re on Day Three accident free.

So yeah, it’s been a little nutty around here. Is it crazy that I love it, poop cleanup and all?

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Natural Birth Dos & Don’ts

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

A quick heads up for any of you who have connected to this blog or my birth story because you’re hoping to have a natural birth: I wrote a story on the Dos and Don’ts of Natural Birth for Parents.com.

It was nice to be able to pull together some of my thoughts and to pick the brains of other mamas who’ve gone the natural route. Of course I had a couple of experienced midwives weigh in as well.

Our advice includes some basics, such as finding a supportive practitioner and birthing environment, as well as things you might not think about at first, such as remembering your birth partner, going ahead and eating that egg sandwich and cutting off others’ birthing horror stories.

Come to think of it, you should do that last one whether you’re headed the natural route or not. No pregnant lady needs the extra worry.

Check out the story.

Natural birth hopefuls: I sincerely hope the full list helps you achieve the birth you want. I’m happy to try and answer any questions in the comments.

Natural birth veterans: What advice did we miss? Help the hopefuls by adding your two cents!

 

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