Saturday, May 28, 2011

all hail, dr. google.

when google tells you that you're not crazy, that you were right all along, sometimes you just want to sing. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

friday confessions.

once upon a sometime, i saw a list of really interesting friday confessions on one of my pal's blogs.  and i filed it away in my brain as something to do when i didn't have anything else to write.  but really, today, i just have one.

maybe two.

#1. i just posted a question on one of those baby sites to ask if what baby girl has is a cold or the end of a growth spurt. i have no freaking idea. she woke up with some mucus (clear, in case you wanted the details) clogging one of her nostrils. i cleared it out with one of those miraculous blue bulb thingys and she literally smiled at me.  (next time i tried? not so much with the smiles.) i took her temperature (note to self: she's much more amenable to this at 4am when she's sleepy; nevertheless, she was supergood) and it was 99.2, which in adult world = low grade temperature.  she's super sleepy.  so i called the doctor, and the nurse called back and said maybe it's a cold and told me some stuff to do because, really, there's nothing you can do but batten down the hatches and elevate the baby's head and hope for the best.

so, i was all ready for that.  but, see, when she's awake she's very much herself--she's not superfussy, she's not annoying, she's not howling, she doesn't even really seem that uncomfortable (except when she's hiccuping, which is a whole other post in which i talk about how i have FREAKED OUT about spit up and hiccups and possible reflux issues for like four days and i'm just EXHAUSTED but i know my baby and i know when stuff ain't right, but i just don't know if it's the developmental type of not right (i.e. newborn gastro systems suck, the end, they'll grow out of it, buy more spit rags or do more laundry) or the "we need some medical intervention here" kind of not right. i'm leaning toward the first, but i was leaning toward the second in the midst of the perfect storm of regurgitation that was my life for several days).

so now i'm wondering if this is the growth spurt, and her particular brand of it involves mucus.

she has that, but it's not too terrible. i guess a few days will tell us--we should know more tomorrow, probably.  but she just ate 7 ounces in 4 hours.  that's pretty impressive right there.  and she's kept it down (i just knocked on our wooden coffee table).  and she WANTED it.

so i have no idea.

so i posted a question on one of those boards, is the point of this whole rambling thing. 

in a related confession...

2. i have spent a LOT of time on dr. google over the past few days.  it's ridiculous. if i'd have used the time to grade, i'd be done by now. instead, i have to push it and get it done tonight in fits and starts, inbetween baby tending and my husband doing his school work.

i wish i'd have graded. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011


so i think that there's something people don't tell you before you have a baby.

in fact, i think there's too much they DO tell you and not enough they DON'T tell you but i don't think anyone could really tell you everything or, as my wise mama told me, you just don't hear half of what they say anyways so it's possible that people told me but that i just didn't hear them.

the biggest adjustment i'm having to motherhood and parenthood isn't loving the baby--that's totally done--or getting way less sleep--that sucks, but it is manageable--but it's this sense of neverending responsibility competing, sometimes violently, with your previous sense of independent freedom.

for the past week or so, i've been feeling like i want a "break." but when i'd get one, when musicboy would take the baby or when i would be able to go do something, it somehow wouldn't be what i was defining as a break.  so i would keep searching for it, occasionally feeling woebegone because oh how hard it is to have no break.

it wasn't until this early morning, feeling terribly guilty for just not wanting to deal with the daily life of newbornland and again feeling like i wanted that ever-elusive 'break' from the routine, that i realized what was going on.

even when i get a small break, i am never 'free' from the responsibility of being a parent.  i don't necessarily want to be free of that responsibility, but it's a new feeling.  i thought it was the daily routine, the bottles and formula and diapers and spit up and gas, that was the weight that i was feeling. i realized, laying in bed, that it's not.  i can do bottles and formula and diapers in my sleep.  it's the responsibility.  it's the feeling like i need to always be on the watch for what to do next, it's making sure that i am meeting everyone's needs above my own, and especially maggie's because she can't do it herself. it's trying to figure out how to make her have less spit up, less gas, less discomfort during these growing times. it's the constant dance of doing all of the things that i know need to happen in order for her to thrive.  it's weighty.

i don't think i expected that to feel almost physical, though, and to contrast so sharply with the easy freedom that comes with being an adult.  i thought i had weighty stuff in my life--job, marriage, family, faith--but, to a certain degree, i was always free to do what i wanted to do when i wanted to do it.  now there's something bigger than myself, more important than myself, that tugs at me constantly.

i don't resent it.  please don't get me wrong.  right now, after i had said prayer after prayer laying in my bed that Heavenly Father would change my nature to make me less selfish and more willing to serve without worrying about myself, my baby girl is sleeping on my chest.  she wasn't doing so well in her crib in these early morning hours, having spit up lots and having some bubbles.  so i picked her up and rocked her and she fell asleep on my chest.  so now we're downstairs, laying on the couch, watching family ties and getting some more rest.  it is precious to me.  all of this becomes very academic, in some ways, when we have these moments. these are the moments that i cherish.

someone told me that this is the new normal, and that the old normal will never be again.  i think that's what the conflict inside of me is about--the unrealistic expectation that i would feel the way i felt before, even in some small way.  i am still me, but i am a different me.  there's nothing wrong with that.  in fact, that's amazing. 

to a certain extent, i think i have been searching around, somewhat aimlessly, for signs that i was back to "normal" as a way of justifying that we are surviving. in some ways, i think that i was looking for those signs as a way of feeling like life has begun, once again, after this hiatus of delivering a baby.

i was completely missing the mark.

life began when maggie was born.  life began, for us, again.   the old one came in with us to the hospital and we left with a different one.  i'm not sure why it's so hard for me to realize that.  instead of spending time waiting for the old normal to return, and feeling frustrated when it doesn't happen, i should be spending my time building the new normal.

i've been thinking about ways that i can start to do that, but it's a hard adjustment.  it's the adjustment that i'm finding most challenging, but i suppose building a life, both literally (as we take care of baby girl) and figuratively (as we redefine how we work as a family) is pretty strenuous work. 

i'm not sure if any of this makes sense to anyone else, but it's what i've been thinking about.  realizing it is tantamount to a huge sigh.  i feel as if i've somehow been holding my breath, and now i can breathe again. 

i'm a worrier, and that's never going to change. but not worrying about being the way i was before, but just spending time trying to be the best i can in these new circumstances--that's an interesting idea.  it might even feel liberating to a certain degree. 

we're all still figuring it out, and though it feels like baby girl has always been here, she hasn't been here for that long.  i think it will take time to figure out how to make all of these things fit together well, and even then the seams between them might be quite prominent for a while. 

but if we're working on building, rather than searching, i think we'll be happier and more content.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

expansion on facebook statuses, published and contemplated.

have you ever had moments that suddenly transport you to another time? there's nothing obvious about it--no song from middle school crush gone by, no memory that suddenly arrests you--but suddenly you feel like you felt on some bygone day?

as baby girl and i strolled down the road near our home today, the first victory in what i can only call the "take back our life from baby-imposed cabin fever" campaign, i had one of those moments. suddenly, i felt, at almost a cellular level, like i did in middle school. as i was walking, and i realized it, i tried to decide what it was that sent me there. was it the particular slant of the sun? was it the walking in the heat on sidewalks, something like i might have felt when i walked home? was it a subconscious feeling of self-consciousness? was it the distractedness of worrying about baby girl as i was walking, perhaps how i might have felt about a backpack or some stack of books i was carrying?

i couldn't figure it out.  but it was strange.


last night, baby girl slept for six hours straight, making eight hours between her feedings. 

i woke up at 4, not sure if she was sick or just hitting this particular milestone in her development. something told me that she was fine, but i decided to wake her up, feed her, and then take her temperature.  musicboy has been under the weather this week, so i wanted to make sure that it wasn't some sort of illness that made her less interested in food than normal. 

sweet girl that she is didn't even cry when that particular invasion happened--she just sort of looked around, astonished and bewildered.

(perhaps the best reaction to that certain act.)

98.7. perfectly normal.  and she smiled at me afterward, as if to say "mom, i'm good.  i'm fine. stop worrying. now you know.")

so, two firsts down: eight hours between feedings (and most assuredly the definition of "sleeping through the night") and first rectal temperature taken. 

that's parenthood for you.


the dean of rural cc called me the other day, asking about a student who had plagiarized two papers but who was allowed to rewrite the papers because i am kindness and benevolence personified.  she ended up with a passing grade in the class, which wasn't always guaranteed, but her mom was raising holy heck (yes, i said mom) with the administration about her grades, apparently.

i could say a lot of things about this student and her mom, but i won't.  i could say a lot of things about parents in general who choose to intervene to that degree in their children's lives, rather than helping them to learn invaluable life lessons about choices and consequences.   but i won't.

instead, i will just say that one of the things that makes me craziest about being a teacher is that we are constantly guilty until proven innocent.  it's as if everyone in the world thinks that we're idiots, out to be as unjust and unfair as possible at every moment.  there's a fundamental lack of understanding that we are human beings, prone to our own frailties and particular weaknesses.  instead, we get to be thought incompetent if we make a decision that someone disagrees with or that doesn't seem fair to someone else.

(on a somewhat related tangent: since when did the world begin to think life always had to be fair? the world i live in is FAR from fair. the sooner one realizes that, the sooner one can compensate and stop spending time and energy whining and shaking fists at the proverbial heavens.)

i will try to remember this when our little ones become bigger ones and go to school. please, let me remember that all teachers are doing their best, and that even if i disagree with him/her, they deserve respect and cordiality.  they deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt, and they deserve to be supported. 

i had an atrocious 4th grade teacher.  he didn't teach. he assigned chapters out of a math book and said "if you have questions, let me know." but the line during math time was wrapped around the classroom, so i never got my questions answered.  i went from being an a/b student to being a c/c- student. i didn't understand and, after a while, i just gave up. i also lost respect for my teacher.  i mouthed off to him one day, and my mom let me have it. 

i didn't learn until after i was long out of his class that my mom loathed him and thought he was a moron who should have retired the year before instead of sticking around and penalizing little children for his apathy. she worked VERY hard to bite her tongue and support him because she wanted to teach me the lesson of respect. you don't have to agree, but you have to be respectful.

i fear that has been lost. i hope i can instill it in my children.


i'm writing this down here.  i'm putting it out there. 

the idea of one of those "whoops, my baby is three months old and i'm pregnant again" is terrifying to me, but at the same time, i would be so like "YES! I AM FERTILE AS THE DAY IS LONG!"

only for moments, until the terrifying terrible terror of Terrortown hit me.

i mean, we would deal, but i'm also smart enough to know to be smart.

so smart we will be, but i think that's a strange sort of duality going on there in my brain. 


sometimes i think people don't understand how somewhat cold email/facebook messages can be.  after telling someone who had just told me about pumping 6 ounces something like a week after her baby was born and being seriously engorged, that i was unable to breastfeed successfully, she responded with essentially "wow. i guess if you have to do that, that's what you have to do.  good luck with that.  i was going to ask you if you needed breastfeeding tips...guess not."

you'll excuse me if i sort of took this wrong, while totally realizing that it was absolutely not intended that way.  i just think this person had NO idea how a) hard the whole thing was for me and b) how her comment came across.   i also think some people are better at emoting in writing than others. 

i also think that i have probably annoyed certain people with my whining.  sometimes it's fantastic to reach out, but sometimes maybe it's better to keep it to yourself. 


and that's all i have to say about that.

Friday, May 20, 2011

responsibility reigneth.

i want an iphone.

(read: want)

then i go to the grocery store and spend lots of money to feed our family.  i fill up the car, and it costs more than it used to, and reading the signs driving down the road that proclaim how much gas is pains me as well.  i use lots of water, doing laundry and washing bottles and running the dishwasher (but not showering, because i'm certainly conserving there!), and the air conditioner has to run more during the steamy nights because baby girl can't sleep without being swaddled.

(my new project is to make swaddling "blankets" out of old sheets to combat this problem, or else we'll be giving our entire summer paycheck to the electric company.)

suddenly, it just doesn't seem that important anymore, that iphone. 

i'll take what i have. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011


so i think i am internally three years old.

because i'm having separation anxiety and a serious case of the "NO! MINE!"s.

let's begin with the separation anxiety.  since i've had the absolute luxury of having musicboy home so much over the past few weeks, i don't like it when he leaves. he has three days entirely off: tuesdays, thursdays, and sundays.  the other days, he has work, and even on the days he has "off" he still has school work to do (i LOVE online classes!) and occasional things like choir or church commitments.  so it's not like he isn't out and about--he is, far more than i am.

but some days, i dread the next day when i know that he will be gone again for a stretch.

sometimes the anxiety comes from having weathered a stormy few days with baby girl, like we just did. she had some gas and it was bumpy and we got through it and got stronger (and if you think gas is no big deal, hey man, let me show you a baby who won't sleep because it wakes her up during the day and then gets cranky because she hasn't slept and then screams through the actual gas bout (which was probably only 15 minutes but felt like an eternity) and then is so overtired that it's really tough to get her to go to sleep and then you can comment--and yes, i get that we have it easy, but everybody's hard is still hard) and then we had a peaceful respite day when we just tag teamed and it was good and i don't want those times to end.

because then i'm left to my own devices and there's a small part of me that sincerely worries that if he leaves, everything will go terribly again and it will be hard and i'll be on my own.

odds are, at some point, that's bound to happen, but it's strange to feel so much like i want to cling to musicboy's pants leg and beg him to stay with meeeee.

it takes my independent spirit and sort of tosses it out the window, you know?

in other news, and i''m going to be superdeliberately vague here, i have found myself reacting surprisingly like HULKSMASHRAGE momentarily when a person that i otherwise find utterly endearing and adorable using possessive pronouns about my baby girl. i know that it's because this person genuinely loves the baby, and i have no idea where it comes from, but i'll see these references (mainly on facebook) and i, for the moment, am really, really annoyed.

as in "not yours...MINE" annoyed.

it makes no sense. i know it makes no sense. it's momentary and then my better, saner nature kicks in.  when i told musicboy, he thought it was sort of funny.  at first he thought the person was referring to a particular nickname that baby girl had received, and explained it away. when i saw it again, and told him again about my reaction in a sort of anthropological "isn't this WEIRD?" sort of observation about my own maternal weirdness, i think he better saw my point. 

i told him i thought it was the one weird way my maternal instincts were manifesting themselves. he agreed.

three years old. i'm telling you.


i don't think we would really be as sane as we are if it weren't for streaming netflix and their seasons of television shows.

we have four on rotation at any given time, all sitcoms. sitcoms are the perfect snippets of time. without commercials, they're like 21 minutes long. that's long enough to feed a baby, or pump, or do any number of baby-related things that might otherwise feel longer. 

sitcoms also require no real investment whatsoever. you don't REALLY have to keep track of what's going on, and they can be fun.  we watched about six seasons of roseanne (before it got raunchy), the entirety of phineas and ferb, we're making our way through the cosby show, wings, cheers, and family ties. we bounce back and forth watching random things, and i'll admit, we watch a lot. 

i've always been a person who needs noise, but i never wanted to be one of those people who sat their kid in front of the tv.  when she's awake, i'm playing with her, but cosby might be on in the background.

it's baby steps, you know?

but i'm grateful for it.  i feel a lot better about my choices when i'm able to control them moment to moment. for some reason, it's a lot easier to stop watching something that's streaming than something that's on broadcast tv. i have no idea why that is, but there you go.


we gave baby girl a bath tonight. i find that i suck at this.  i always think of bath time as something you do at bedtime, and it's been hard to figure out the timing with her new schedule. we have to be ON IT and planning so that we do it before she gets a) really cranky or b) totally asleep.  we managed it last night and oh my gosh she's so big.

she just seemed so much longer.  and bigger. and less...tiny.

when musicboy came home from work today, he said "she's bigger!" i said he was crazy and he said "no really. did she take a nap today?" because they grow in their sleep, or so i read, and i said yes and then suggested that maybe he was right since i put a onesie on her in the morning that was one size, with no problem, and then when i had to change her because of a somewhat inevitable spit up incident several hours later, another onesie of the same size seemed small to me.

she's growing like crazy. i can hardly believe it.  i'm going to blink and she's going to be two.

and as we were putting her to sleep, i told musicboy that if she becomes one of those two year old diva girls who thinks she's the prettiest thing in the world (because she smiled every time i said pretty for a few minutes), i'm going to have to work very hard to convince her that pretty comes and goes but kind and generous is forever.


my baby is growing--up and out and all around.  i can't wait until we get her real stats at the doctor's office. i have a feeling she's going to be an overachiever in height.  not sure in weight, but definitely in height. 


i'm going to sleep now. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

irony with a side of potential TMI.

don't think it's lost on me.

now that i've decided to stop pumping, it's like the girls decide that it's flowapalooza up in here.  of course, i'm only pumping every 8 or so hours, and only then to make it stop feeling like ouch, but seriously. if we could have gotten that sort of action going earlier, things might have been different.

it ain't lost on me. 

that said, making a decision and then dealing with it are two different things.  as we're stepping down production, and consumption on baby girl's end, i have felt sad.  i was a bit surprised.  but it was a good 24 hours of sad.  and then, earlier tonight, i started to come out of it.

it is what it is, to use a phrase my mom hates, and it's good because it's the right decision.  i know that much, so i know enough.

moving on now, or at least trying. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

8 and 6.

so, at long last, i've hit my benchmarks: six weeks and 8 ounces.

they may seem like strange benchmarks, but they are the ones that i set for myself when breastfeeding went all pear-shaped and unexpected.  they seemed like pipe dreams, like the kind of deals you make with yourself when you're running a mile and you're dying a slow but excruciatingly oxygen-deprived death. "i'll just run to the next block, and then i'll walk." "i made it that far; i'll go until the next streetlight." "i can make it, it's just around the corner."

i had my breastfeeding psychological boosts and bargains down.  i just wanted to get to six weeks pumping--i wanted to provide maggie with some breast milk for that long.  and, on some dreaming day, i thought "man, if i can just get my supply up to 8 ounces, then i could give be supplying 25% of what she's eating."

i hit 8 ounces yesterday.  wednesday makes six weeks.

for a long time, i held on with a death grip to the breast milk production saga because it was part of The Original Plan, the one that went nothing like i thought it would. i think, in the midst of so many things changing, it was like one thing i felt like i had to hold on to.  in a weird way, it gave me stability and a connection to what once was, and that comforted me. this, of course, despite all of the stress and anxiety and logistical challenges of pumping 5 and 6 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes with a newborn and papers to grade and everything else to do.

it wasn't easy.  but it was important to me. then we all fell into a bit of a rhythm, and i relaxed about feeling like i needed to pump 8 times a day (which you're supposed to, but which just never happened ever because what am i, superwoman?) and just did what i could. on good days, that meant 6 times. on not so good days, maybe 4.  but usually i'd hit 5 and for the past two weeks, i've hit a pretty good rhythm.

and my supply has been inching up, ever so slowly. there's something gratifying about that.

but the reality of musicboy heading back to school in a few short weeks makes this a finite rhythm, one that has a clear ending date.  when he goes back to school, and is on some days back to being gone for 8, 9, 10 hours a day, it's nearly impossible for me to pump and take care of our girl.  she's just too demanding, little as she is, and i'd much rather be free to take care of her and not feel guilty for not getting those pumps in.

so i've been thinking for a while about when a good time is to stop.  i've prayed about it, and saturday night musicboy and i talked about it, making a pro and con list about continuing. let's just say the con list really outweighs the pro, but the pro is big: doing good for Baby Girl.  for that, i keep pumping. for that, i stumble down the stairs in the wee hours of the morning, baby monitor in hand, and turn on the netflix to watch some inane sitcom episode while the machine does its best to bleed me dry.

she's worth it, you see.

but over the past few days, since i prayed about it, i have felt increasingly like the time to stop is soon.  baby girl is thriving. she's longer than she was before. she's bigger than she was before. she's eating more now, right on the "normal" timetable, and is perhaps even eating more.  she's setting her own schedule. she's hitting developmental milestones left and right. she's smiling. she's happy. she is becoming a baby who sleeps better on her own than on her mom's chest or in her mom's arms (astonishing! this from a baby who could sleep for hours on me).

so now it becomes a question of making sure we're both thriving. there are things that can't happen while i'm doing this pumping thing, one of which is doing what i know to do for my body to slingshot back to where it was.  this may all seem like vanity to you, and if i thought that baby girl would do worse or be compromised by my choice it wouldn't even be a choice.

but see, i feel like she won't.

and this morning, while musicboy was at work and baby girl simply didn't want to sleep anywhere but in my arms (i know...i should learn not to say things) and would cry when i put her down, it meant that there was no time to pump.  right now, she's asleep in her swing because a) she needed to sleep and b) i desperately, desperately needed to pump.  about two hours ago, when i desperately wanted her to sleep so that i could pump, i found myself getting frustrated. i wasn't really frustrated at her--she's just having an off day. babies are allowed.--but at the circumstances that didn't allow me to pump. i felt, once again, like some external thing was pulling me away from what i would normally do if those circumstances didn't exist.

for a while there, i just forgot about it.  i got frustrated, realized why i got frustrated, and chose again. so baby girl and i laid down on the couch and we fell asleep.  she slept for a little while, and so did i, and that's what i would do if pumping weren't an issue.

so i have come to a point where i believe it's beginning to get in the way rather than help.

so i'm going to try to make it to wednesday, and if circumstances allow, perhaps i'll try to make it beyond there.  but my mom told me that one day i would just know when the time was to stop.

i think that day was today.

i would rather have a happy, formula-fed baby and a happy, less stressed mommy than a formula-fed baby with some breast milk supplement thrown in there during the day and a stressed out mommy who regrets being frustrated at her baby's normal rhythms because she has stuff to do.  it's just not worth it to me. 

were circumstances different, i would likely keep going.  but circumstances AREN'T different, and if i've learned anything in the last five and a half weeks, it's that you have to roll with what circumstances you are given. 

these are mine, and i think i'm done.  and though there may be those who disagree with my choice (aren't there always?), i don't think i care. 

that's a benchmark too, right there.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

5 weeks.

i can hardly believe it's been 5 weeks since she was born. it seems like yesterday--and like much longer. it's a weird timelessness, this new motherhood. days cease to mean anything, especially if i don't write down what needs to be accomplished on a specific date, and instead i live by hours.  hours between feedings. hours that she's been awake. hours that dinner needs to be made or hours wherein i can maybe sleep.

i am so tired.

is there a 5 week wall, mothers out there? i don't want to see it's "the" wall, because i feel certain that with every new experience will come some sort of wall, but is there a wall when things seem to be hitting a rhythm and you think things should be going along more quickly than they are?  or when the bloom of newness has worn off, the visitors have gone home, the help has stopped pouring in, and you are left to your own devices? when reality seems to set in--this is your kid, you are responsible--but you don't feel necessarily prepared for the challenges that come every day? or, perhaps what's more true, no day seems to have a rhythm because all normality is currently under construction?

i feel like i'm staring at that wall. 

baby girl seems to be in the midst of setting her own schedule. i am TOTALLY supportive of this, and a bit in awe of it, actually--she really likes getting up at around 6:45, and has for the past few days no matter what her feeding schedule is, little morning girl, and has been SO much better about her naps lately that it's INSANE--but in the midst of my own feelings of wanting to get back on a schedule and to return to some sense of myself, i believe i have gotten a bit frustrated. i don't always know what she wants, still.

or, perhaps what is more true, i don't always trust the instinct i have about what she wants. case in point: this morning, she woke up and seemed to be hungry. i was sure that she was not, since i thought that she had just eaten like an hour and a half before (and she NEVER goes less than two hours between feedings unless she's in a growth spurt, and even that is VERY rare--she's a 2.5 to 3 hour girl, sometimes longer at night).  i was frustrated and didn't understand what she wanted. at first, i thought she was gassy (she sometimes gets that way in the mornings lately, and when i pick her up, she burps and goes straight back to sleep), but she was having none of it. i finally realized that the kid was starving and fed her (it really didn't take me that long--maybe 2 or 3 minutes of trying to suss it out), but i was frustrated the whole time.  why is she hungry? i thought. how could she be hungry already? we fed her her full feeding. she ate the whole thing and seemed relatively satisfied (although i am thinking we need to bump her up a half ounce or an ounce).  what the heck.

then i realized, when i got back in bed, that she had actually gone 2.75 hours, and i was the one who hadn't gone to bed until 4:45 after her 3:30 feeding because i had to get her down and then go pump.

i'm really tired. i literally have to write every feeding down and every poop/wet diaper down to have any sense of what's going on in our house. 

so frustration seems to be plaguing me lately, and as a result, i don't like how i feel.  my husband, oh how i love him, tries to get me out of this complainy doldrumness by telling me that we love our awesome life and making me repeat it.  it's true--i do.  but just saying it doesn't always make it come to pass, especially when i'm feeling inept again at deciphering what baby girl wants and needs. 

in the midst of things, i sometimes lose perspective. in the midst of staring at the wall, for example, i may not see that there's a ladder to climb over it sitting directly to my right. 

so, in the shower this morning, i started listing all of the things that i might be annoyed by and determining why i am grateful for them. it was astonishing how much it lightened my mood immediately.

so, since this really serves as a kind of journal for me, here we go:

i am grateful for sore, overstimulated nipples (sorry if it's TMI)...because it means that we're still producing milk for my baby.  it means we're still trying hard.  it means we haven't given up, no matter how difficult it has been.

i am grateful for a baby who wakes up every 2.5 to 3 hours during the night to eat...because it means that she's growing and has a healthy appetite.

i am grateful for having to wash bottles every day, twice a day...because it means we've found a bottle that baby girl does well with, it means she's eating good, and it means that every day i have something that i feel like i have accomplished. i am astonished at how a small and simple thing like washing and sterilizing bottles can feel so good.

i am grateful for the clutter in my home...because it means that we're too busy spending time together as a family, loving and taking care of our baby girl, to worry about folding the laundry and doing the dishes.

i am grateful that the clutter and mess annoys me...because it tells me that i like a house of order and it forces me, periodically, to get something done which then, in turn, makes me feel productive and back to my old self in small ways.

i am grateful for fussy baby time...because it teaches me patience and it also teaches me to listen to her to see what she needs. i am always grateful for that.

i am grateful for a gassy, farty baby...because it's helping her practice her adorable smile (i swear she's smiled at me--twice now, in the mornings, and once yesterday afternoon.  but it's fleeting, so i'm not sure if i'm ready to call it true.) and it provides hilariousness amid the mundane.  also, it shows she can expel it on her own--that's a good thing.

i am grateful for the weight that won't come off...because it's what nourished this baby and helped her come to earth so healthy.  it also provides me with a challenge, when i'm up for it, that will teach me once more how strong i am.

i am grateful for fatigue...because it teaches me that motherhood is about losing your life for others. 

i am grateful for bills that keep pouring in from the delivery and the pediatrician and every other person who remotely was connected to the birth of our baby...because it is an opportunity to exercise faith in the principle of tithing and the reality of a God who will always take care of our needs.

i am grateful for the dishes...because it means we are well fed.

i am grateful for my own weaknesses and frailties, and being keenly aware of them...because it means i am being refined.

i am grateful.  i am tired, but i am grateful.  i just need to remember the latter when i'm overwhelmed by the former.  that's the ultimate challenge, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

rant on.

may i rant a bit about a few things? i know that they are irrational, which is why i am taking the time in the middle of the night to rant about them here, rather than rant about them anywhere else that i actually, you know, public--because they are stupid and i get it.  so please don't comment to tell me that i am stupid.

1.  i read a blogger who frequently talks about her family and her kids (i hesitate to call her a "mommyblogger" because somehow that term has become pejorative and i don't think that's fair, but she probably manifests the characteristics of said genre in her blog).  she has recently posted about weaning her last child.  the last post was about how tough it was to have SO MUCH MILK and oh my gosh the pain of not emptying her breasts and oh how she's like a carnival sideshow.

now listen. i get that that is probably REALLY painful, and a chore unto itself.  i get that we all have our burdens to carry. but as i am currently pumping my meager ounce or ounce and a half in the everpresent wish to get to something like 8 ounces a day (for some perspective, a mom of a month old should be pumping like 32 ounces a day or something obscene), i find this ANNOYING.

right now, to me, it's like someone complaining about how much money they have and how it's SO HARD to find ways to spend it all.  go cry on someone else's shoulder, buddy, because we aren't buying it over here.

2. i have a facebook friend who frequently just says stuff about parenting that bugs the junk out of me.  i understand that everyone has their own deal with parenting, and i respect the heck out of that.  i just wish this person did.

when maggie was first born, she had a CRAZY suck reflex. as in she wanted to be sucking all of the time and wasn't happy unless she was. so i asked a couple of mothers of newborns that i trust if they had used pacifiers and if they had any trouble with breastfeeding. 

(please note: this facebook friend was not one of those people.)

she saw my post on her newsfeed and chimed in to tell me that my daughter's overactive sucking was because she was hungry and that i should make sure to be feeding her enough.

mmkay. i'll get right on that.

yesterday, she made some comment on someone else's status (a mutual friend) about how much she hated parents who shortened their children's names. why not just name them that, she thought, and i was like "uhm...that's me and my mom" because i have a longer name that i use professionally and for formal occasions and then a shorter nickname that i go by for friends and normal life.  my daughter has the same, because i really like having two names (my longer name also has family history background) because it allows me to have two sides of myself. 

anyways, while i know that wasn't aimed directly at me, i felt annoyed anyways. 

3.  everyone keeps telling me that i look great. and i keep thinking "are you serious?" because i only see the extra padding that's everywhere and that prevents my clothes from fitting properly.  i also keep thinking "great compared to what?" and wonder what the barometer of measurement is.

i also am fairly sure that i just see only the bad in the mirror, and that annoys me. people saying i look great DOES NOT annoy me, fyi.  just that i doubt it does.

4.  i looked at the clock when the baby cried a few minutes ago and thought it was 2:45, meaning that she would have slept 5.5 hours between feedings. musicboy took the feeding and i forced myself up to pump, thinking that it was the middle of the night and i really couldn't wait until the morning because i'd miss prime milk production time.

then i got downstairs and realized that it was only 12:45.  sigh.  oh well.  still counts. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

there's no shortcut home.

i went back to body combat on saturday. i was surprised at how well i did. i think i imagined panting, gasping, dying (or praying to die) by the end. by the end, i was as ready to give 110% to the last track (it's the last standing track before crunches/pushups--which i hate, btw, and even more now that somehow my back is jacked from pregnancy so that reverse crunches, which used to be my favorite, are now INCREDIBLY painful even on a mat--and the instructor always tells us to give it everything we have left, and i always try) as i normally am.  i was throwing punches with the best of them.

now, to be honest, i had to modify the feet a lot. i did a bit of it, but much of it i took down a notch to avoid the whole panting, gasping, dying thing.  i know enough to know when it's enough.  but i was still impressed with myself.

and as we were doing the warmup and i felt heavier and more cumbersome and more, well, clumsy than i had in 37 weeks past, i listened to the lyrics of the song that was playing: "there's no easy way out / there's no shortcut home."

(if you want to both experience a clip from one of the best rocky movies and feel a bit invigorated on this monday, go here to experience the awesome.) 

i thought that was appropriate.  there really isn't any shortcut to the stuff that's good.

that thought has stuck with me this weekend, which was full of good and hard. 

i'll admit that i've been feeling a bit self-pitying of late, somehow thinking that no one knows how hard it is.  i believe i am prone to these bouts of selfishness, until something shakes me out of it.  this weekend, i had some reminders that it really hasn't been long since maggie was born, that i probably am not completely healed yet, and that i should probably cut myself some dang slack.

that said, i have also been reminded that my life is extraordinary, that i am incredibly blessed, and that i have the capacity to do everything that i need or want to do. i also remembered that i am much happier when i am not thinking about myself all of the time. trying to find the easy way out, for example, just brings unhappiness to me.

that's been true in every facet of my life.  when i was working on the dissertation, and i was stuck, i kept hoping that there was some other option other than just to sit down and work hard. 

there wasn't.

when i started losing weight, or was miserable about how big i was, i hoped there was some other option besides counting calories and exercising and putting in hard, disciplined work.

there wasn't.

when i was teaching eight classes, or when i was trying to grade 44 papers in one day last week, or when i was faced with a student who just was superantagonistic, i kept hoping there was another option then just to put my head down and get it done. 

there wasn't.

so i'm not really sure why i would think that this first month or so would be any different. perhaps it's been harder than it needed to be because of circumstances out of our control, but so what? those are the circumstances. sitting around being annoyed about it or thinking how hard it is doesn't do anything to change them.

all it does is change me into something that i don't like.

so last night, when i was having my self-pitying moment, i told musicboy that nothing felt the same, and that that was hard, because it was tough to find something to hold on to.

he reminded me that, actually, i am the same. my personality hasn't changed. my relationship with him hasn't changed, really, at its core. we are adding to it, but all of the things that make us love each other as much as we do are still there. we still make each other laugh. we still find ways to have fun even amid a screaming baby. we still are an extraordinary team.

and he reminded me that our life is pretty awesome.

i went to sleep not completely convinced that i could totally turn it around.  if anything, i believe i lacked faith in myself.  he told me, for example, that i couldn't mess this motherhood thing up. thinking in the abstract, i begged to differ. people mess it up all of the time, i suggested, thinking of all of the tragic stories i've heard and the messed up people who have neglectful mothers in their background.  he said no, YOU can't mess it up. 

as in because i am me. and i am her mom.  and i love her and try to do what's right.

so today, when maggie woke up for her morning feeding, i faced the day differently. somehow, something clicked overnight for me.  i got my baby up from her crib, where she's been sleeping successfully for a few nights now, and i fed her. we listened to some calming death cab for cutie and opened the blinds a little bit and welcomed the day. then i put her down for her nap after about an hour of waketime, and after a couple of attempts, she went to sleep herself in her crib.

i don't think you understand how amazing that is. 

then i came downstairs and i cleaned up the living room and opened the blinds to let the sun in and ate breakfast and got dressed and pumped and put some laundry in and was more productive before 9am than i have been in the entire 4 weeks preceding today.

i don't think you understand how amazing that is.

what's even more amazing is that i feel like i haven't done this. this is the Lord's work, and maggie's development, and all i've done is tried to listen. tried to listen to the small voice that tells me when she's ready to try something new. tried to listen to the small voice that tells me not to worry about what "experts" say. tried to listen to the small voice that tells me when she's tired and when she has gas and what her cries mean. tried to listen to my own instincts, which are most certainly the whisperings of the Spirit as well.

today just feels different.  and i know that it certainly won't be easy, and it certainly won't be a cake walk, but i also know that looking at it as a gift, every day that i have with my girl and with my husband and with this life that i have created, and looking for ways that i can serve them makes it a lot easier.

there may be no easy way out, but i think there's an easier way.  i think i'm finding it.

today feels important. today feels like we've turned a corner.  today feels like a day when love and peace and purpose trumps fatigue and feelings of failure and frustration. today feels like the day when all of this getting to know each other stuff starts to pay off. 

today feels good. 

(now i just have to decide if i'm going back to body combat today.  i'm feeling like yes, if only to prove to myself, once again, that the hard stuff really is worth it.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

letter to my girl: month one.

dear maggie,

it's been a month, nearly, since you came into the world. if we were going to be very specific and factual about it, i'd have to wait until 9:38 pm to say that.  but a month ago today, we were in a room at the big hospital here in town, laboring without drugs and doing a pretty fine job of it. 

but that's another story.

it's been a month since you came into our lives, and it's hard for me to remember a time when you weren't here.  that's strange to say, since it hasn't been that long, but there's something about parenthood that wipes out memories before you came, though daddy and i just last night were talking about how miraculous it was that you weren't even alive before a month ago, that you weren't here. 

everything about you is a miracle.

i'm trying to get to know you, a little bit more every day.  this is what i know about you so far. 

you love to eat.  you get REALLY annoyed when you have to wait, because you don't want to eat until you are REALLY hungry. i don't know if that's a newborn baby thing or if that will continue--i feel like it might continue, at least a little bit.  it has been a bit of a trial to get you to eat well, but we seem to have found our rhythm and so far it's working well.  but you're in a growth spurt right now, which means you're eating more and spitting up more and getting more gas and in general challenging what we thought we knew about your food intake. i'm waiting to see if we need to up your intake of ounces or if this is temporary. 

you are growing every day, a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger.  i would guess that you've grown at least three inches since you were born, though we haven't measured you officially to know for sure.  you just seem longer in my arms, and swaddling you is becoming an increasing challenge.  you, like most newborns, get this fussy cry going that is only solved by swaddling--but you don't like it when you're upset, so you'll kick and squirm out of it, which defeats the whole purpose. i'll admit that's sometimes frustrating, but you're quick to be soothed once we get it going and so it all balances out.  you kick a lot now--you kick when you have gas (you'll hate that i published this, but last night you were kicking your little legs and then out came a toot and you settled down--it made me laugh, silently, right there next to your crib) and you kick when you are happy and alert. you have crazy strong legs--when you are upset and kick against me or daddy, you come close to shoving yourself off of our laps. we have to be careful with you. 

you are SO CLOSE to smiling in response to us. sometimes i think you do, but i am never sure.  regardless, i love it.  it makes the day so much brighter already--i can't imagine what it wil be like when you are actually smiling at us.  you laugh in your sleep, and the laughs keep getting longer and more developed. they make both me and daddy so happy to see. they're probably the most adorable thing ever.  that and your cute little cheeks.  i love to kiss them, and so does daddy.

you've gotten into this habit of nuzzling face first into me when you're sleepy. i always worry that you won't be able to breathe, so i try to move your face so that you're facing the side.  sometimes you solve the problem by putting your head on your arms, like you're putting your head down on a desk.  it's rather adorable. i have a suspicion that, once you are able to roll over on your own comfortably, you'll end up being a tummy sleeper. you just are so comfortable when you're on our chest or tucked into our arms.  we'll see. 

you are so much like your daddy.  i love to watch you two together, but i love it even more when i see him in you. you sleep the same, with your hands flailed out like a touchdown sign or up close to your face like you are deep in thought.  you have the same temperament when you are frustrated--you get very frustrated very quickly, and it overtakes everything, but then it's gone as quickly as it came.  i don't see much of myself in you, but i suppose that's natural--and i would be so pleased if you turn out to be like your daddy, since he's my favorite person in the world.

you like to be bounced.  rocking is okay, especially at night when you are already tired, but you like the jiggly bounce or the supersway while walking. sometimes, when you're upset, i call it our "walk and talk" because i walk you around and bounce you and talk to you a little bit.  daddy, though, has the bounce down. you love him to bounce you around. he's so much a daddy--he'll even bounce you hard enough to let you leave his hands a little. when you were littler, this would scare me and startle you--your arms would go out but you would never cry.  now, it doesn't even seem to phase you. 

you fight sleep during the day SO hard.  you'll be so tired, you'll have little baby bags under your eyes, but it's like you don't want to miss anything. i understand, but sometimes i just wish you would be more willing to take naps.  it would make life so much easier for you and for us. i worry about getting you on a schedule, but i know that that will come in time.  it's hard for me, because i am a planner and because i read books before you were born. i think that if i hadn't, i'd be relatively pleased with how much you actually are on a schedule. 

your first real outing was this past week. you, me, and daddy went to my doctor, then out to breakfast at steak n shake, and then to target. you did SO well and i think the worst part of it for you was the constant in and out of your car seat.  we even changed your diaper in the very back of the car.  we did pretty well, and it made me think that maybe we can take you other places.

you have crazy good timing. if i start to pump, or try to answer the phone, you inevitably cry. if i try to do anything that requires both hands, you have to be dead asleep in order for me to think that i can accomplish it. i have gotten quite good at typing one handed, but other things for which i need two hands have gone by the wayside.  i hope you never remember how messy our house is right now, and i hope i find a way to figure out how to do everything. 

you're on your way to making real, legitimate baby noises. more and more you are articulating in these adorable ways. i read somewhere that it's good for us to imitate you so that you can hear those noises and recognize that you are creating language, so i've been trying to do that.  you always seem surprised when i do, with your eyes really big.  but i love that you're doing it.  it's a fantastic little obvious developmental milestone.

you actually don't really mind getting your diaper changed, and that's a relatively new thing. you used to HATE it and scream, but lately it's like you've learned that things are going to be better and less uncomfortable when we do it. so, while you sometimes cry, you normally just sort of chill.  

that's how i would describe you, overall--you are a chill baby. sometimes, especially when you have gas, you are my demon baby who can't be soothed. those are the hard times for me. on wednesday, we had one of those days, and i just cried.  it's hard as a mom to not know what to do for you, and it's especially hard when i feel like i have a job and other responsibilities pulling me in a thousand directions, but we made it.  and thursday was like the reward. you were an angel, so sweet and alert and almost smiling.  it makes it all worth it.

last night, you slept in your crib for the first time at night. i was surprisingly hesitant to move you, though daddy thought you were ready.  i think i liked having you next to me, and being able to check at any point to see if your little chest was moving or to hear your little sighs in the middle of the night.  i'm not sure you slept as well as you normally do, but you did it.  it felt big to us.  last night, when you were sleeping soundly and we were not yet asleep, we marveled over how you're already growing up and growing away from us. oh, you need us--this we know for sure--but from the beginning, you're already growing into your own person.  it's amazing.  and, for me, i think it's a little bit bittersweet. i'm so glad that you're growing, and i'm so excited to see the person you will turn into, but it's a little sad to see already that you're becoming more independent. 

but then we have moments like this morning, when we fell asleep together, with you on my chest, on the couch.  those are the moments when i know you know me and that i am special to you.

i love you, sweet girl.  daddy said, last night, that we don't even know how much we love you yet. i think that's true. we're all just still getting to know each other, but so much of what i feel for you is total dedication. the early days of being a mom and dad are hard--it's a steep learning curve--and sometimes we are frustrated because we don't know your language yet.  but i would give anything and everything for you--and some days it feels like i have.  but every day i get up and do it again, to varying degrees of success, and i look forward to what surprises you'll have in store for me. 

every day, i choose again to be your mom in the best ways that i can be.  that speaks volumes about how much love there is in this house for you.  i hope you will always feel it. i hope you will always know that you are encircled, roundabout, by love unending. 

i can't wait to discover more about you, baby girl. i'm so grateful you chose us to be your parents.  we'll do everything we can to live up to that trust.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

all clear.

got the old all clear from the doctor today to return to "normal activities," which was two weeks earlier than i thought people normally did and which i took to mean "do whatever the freak you want whenever you decide you want to do it" and the doctor doesn't want to see me until september.

i like that.  i like my doctor, but good heavens i've seen enough of that place, you know?

my doctor has always been pretty, uhm, nonverbal. i don't mean he doesn't talk, more that it's quite clear he's busy and so he asks if you have questions and assumes, as an intelligent person, you know what's going on and so if you don't ask then, if everything's fine, he sends you happily on your merry way.

i totally support this, and it doesn't bother me.

thus it was sort of funny to me when he actually had a question for me: "so what are you going to do about birth control?" and asked me what our plans were for having another baby.

(yes, we have plans. or i should say there's a timeline that is in my mind as a bare minimum timeline, and it ain't a "haha! surprise! three months after the first one here comes the second one!" timeline, if you understand what i'm saying. i want my body back for reals for a while. i'd like to figure out what the heck this parenthood deal is about. you know.  but i'm also older than most when they start, so i'm not waiting until Baby Girl is forming full sentences and commenting on world events or something before thinking again about it.)


so it turns out that the prescription that they gave me in the hospital for birth control (the options that they gave me for breastfeeding mothers were: birth control pills, an IUD, and depoprovera shots. i'm not joking. so obviously, i chose the pills but haven't filled the prescription and didn't really want to because i don't really want to be on the pill again, but i will when/if it's necessary) WILL POSSIBLY DEPLETE MY MILK SUPPLY.

as in the milk supply that is woefully inadequate and seems, today, to be going down again (of course i have slept a sum total of like 8 or 9 hours in the last 48, so that might have something to do with it).

when i told my doctor what they had given me, he was really surprised. and then he mentioned other options (which seemed much more logical and doable to me and less totally insane) and suggested that even if i was only breastfeeding a few times a day it would probably keep me from ovulating.


(yeah, i know those stories too. i'm not an idiot. i just like the idea that maybe this whole pumping thing will be less frustrating on that end of life than it currently is on the whole "feeding my child" end.)

anyways. i'm all cleared for everything and so the first thing i thought of was that tomorrow i'm going to body combat.

i know i said that before, but for reals. i'm going.  musicboy will be home from work and i am going and it will be painful and pathetic and sad and wonderful and psychologically boosting because I AM GOING TO BODY COMBAT.

and i celebrated this by eating pancakes, cookies, and potato chips. i know.

but i am going to BODY COMBAT! i am so excited.  i am going to need an oxygen mask and i'll probably be gasping for water between every track (even the warm up!) but i don't care.  i am so excited. 

as my mom said last night: i know what i need to do. i'll do it.  it'll be fine.  according to the doctor's scale, in 4 weeks, i've lost half of my baby weight (a little more than 20 pounds).  i figure it will take me through the summer to lose the rest.  i'm okay with that. 

(i'm pretty sure this change in my attitude comes from being able to actually put together outfits that look halfway decent because beth loaned me the magic pants and now i have pants and i don't even care what size they are anymore because i can look cute when i go outside.)

in the meantime, i'm just going to do the best that i can. sometimes, when my baby screams bloody murder because she has the worst gas ever and that scream makes me sob in sadness and frustration because i can't make it better, i eat a cookie after it all resolves itself and we're both not crying anymore.

i'm pretty sure that will always be the case. that's okay.  we're all just doing the best we can here.

that's all we can do.

that and a whole lot of roundhouse kicks and uppercuts.  whee!

Monday, May 2, 2011

small miracles.

going to church. feeling the Spirit, and feeling cute in the skirt that basically fit. 

pumping almost as much milk before noon than I had pumped in previous days.

a husband who is out of school and could take the 4am feeding because, frankly, i just couldn't face it.

a baby who was cooperative and sleepy so said superhusband could sleep in on his first real day off.

grading that just...goes faster than it likely should.

dreft stain remover that gets EVERY stain out. seriously.

friends who bring pants over that, while two sizes larger than what you used to wear, fit and look nice and are on loan until the body combat can kick my trash once more. i am SO excited.

getting really hungry while pumping and really thirsty overnight, which tells me something good is happening with the milk production. 

a husband who still thinks i'm hot, even in my post-baby body.  i don't get it, but i'm REALLY grateful for it.

this girl and everything about her, even her screaming refusal to go to sleep for her naps in the afternoon:

we are blessed.