Friday, August 29, 2008

Social butterfly at Family Connections

E woke up at 4:30 this morning. Aaaaagh. I decided to try for a morning nap, but he only slept for a half hour (he's definitely going down to one nap), so we dashed out the door to make the storytime at Family Connections. We got settled on the floor amid the crowd of babies, toddlers, and mamas . . . and E was off! He spent the entire time crawling right up to moms and kids, from those next to us to others clear across the room--smiling, babbling, grabbing babies and pulling on other moms' arms and legs to try to stand up. He glanced back at me a couple of times, but not much. He had places to go, people to see. I watched him with my mouth virtually hanging open, trying not to laugh, trying to keep up. I felt so unprepared! I also felt unsure of when to step in or of how closely I should follow him. Everyone seemed to be totally cool with him getting super chummy, thankfully. They gamely balanced their own babies on one arm and mine in the other (as he pinched and twisted the skin on their legs and arms; but they're used to it, right?). A couple of times I asked if they were okay with him and everyone invariably said yes (and seemed to mean it). So I kinda just let him do his thing. But for an introvert like me, it felt awkward. I'll get used to it soon enough, I'm sure. This boy is obviously not shy. None of the other babies were venturing very far from their mamas, and then there was my guy, weaving in and out of everyone, not looking back. God almighty!


Imagining reading this blog many years into the future . . . so just a note to say that last night's speech was amazing. Amazing. Only a little over two months to go. Fingers crossed and crossed again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Standing Boy!

This only started happening in the past two days. (He fell about a second after this picture was taken.)

Invitation Craftiness

I think I mentioned I got unusually crafty making E's first birthday party invites.
Here's how the front turned out. I was pleased. (That's a magnet featuring you-know-who.)

Ah! The Library.

At Gwen's suggestion, I looked up some storytimes and stuff, and I think if I structure our mornings a bit, they won't feel as long now that we're moving to one nap. It's just an adjustment like anything else, especially since it seemed to happen so suddenly. I'm more prepared for it this week, though. This morning we went to the Yarborough branch of the public library. It's the one I used to go to when we lived in Hyde Park, and I love it. It's worth the drive. It turns out the storytime program doesn't start for two more weeks, but we still had a great time at the library. It was wonderful. We checked out some books that Eamon immediately loved, and he had so much fun crawling around, pulling up (a new development), and making friends with a sixteen-month-old named Ivy and her mom. I left feeling so excited about the world of books waiting to be discovered by him as he continues to grow. And I'm just really looking forward to going to the library every week.

The tooth/teeth still aren't through, but E slept well last night. From 7:00 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. and then back to sleep until 7:00. Guess that's what happens when you nap for only a half hour out of thirteen-plus hours. Speaking of naps, he's already up from his one nap of the day. I was really, really hoping he'd sleep for two hours, but it was more like an hour. Ugh. Please universe, let him start to take longer naps in the afternoon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Poor E

He was up from 2:00 to 4:00 last night, and was crying hysterically for part of that time. I nursed him twice in those two hours; it was the only thing that would soothe him. He was up for the day at 5:30 this morning, and only took a short morning nap, but then nursed and slept on me for an hour after that. It was as though he was four months old again. Poor babe. He's now fighting another nap (wtf??), but I've dosed him up with Motrin and I know he's exhausted. Effing teeth.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nothing in Particular

That last post was so whiny and negative. Blech.

I think I just miss being able to talk to my stepmom, Gwen, during the day. (She just started a new job after not working for the past three years.) I knew I missed her, but I didn't realize just how much I depended on our often daily talks. It feels different to have both of my parents working, and I'm afraid we'll see less of them during the school year than we already do. On the other hand, I'm incredibly thankful to live as close to them as we do. Yay for wonderful grandparents!

E took two naps today. It was fantastic. But the poor guy is having such a hard time with what we can only assume are these killer top teeth that are close to breaking through. I hope they pop soon.

As I've mentioned before, in the spring we found this great church that we love, and we joined in June. After leaving the UU church, we didn't hold out much hope of finding a church liberal enough for us. But we did! Anyway, I won't go into much detail because I feel weird writing about church, but there was this mantra mentioned on Sunday (the topic was ego and humility) and I loved it: I am nothing; I have nothing. You might say it at night when you can't fall asleep because you're worrying about so many things.

I am nothing. I have nothing.

It's liberating.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Monotony, etc.

It looks like E's officially dropped a nap. Today and yesterday we put him down for just one, at noon. Yesterday he slept for two hours; today, an hour and a half. That doesn't seem like enough, but maybe it is for him. We also realized yesterday that his top two teeth are about to break through. Any minute. It hasn't disrupted his nighttime sleep too much (surprisingly), but he's been very short-tempered during the day. Yesterday evening we went to Jonas's birthday party, and E was a basketcase. It was embarrassing, to be honest. Very, very high maintenance.

He's been so tired in the evenings I haven't been able to keep him from falling asleep nursing. And with the impending arrival of the top teeth (at long last--almost four months after the bottom), I've backed off on the weaning from the middle-of-the-night feeding. I tried not to nurse him on Friday night and he freaked to such an extent that I blame it on teething. The last two nights he hasn't woken up at all until 5 a.m., and I've nursed him then and counted it as the morning feeding even though he's gone back to sleep.

Blah, blah, blah.

The coming week is stretching out ahead of me like a . . . I don't know what. A big, blank canvas (I like that image), a never-ending tunnel (too depressing, but a bit closer to how I feel). One nap a day . . . it's throwing me, along with E's mobility (he's getting fast!) and the mini-tantrums he throws regularly now. And the move from baby food to real food, which I'm not close to mastering. It feels like a lot of change at once, in more fundamental ways than the usual crazy amounts of change having a baby involves.

Then there's the fact that so much of what I do feels tedious and boring and repetitive lately, from the constant cleaning and other household chores to the rituals involved in caring for E. I mean, this is ALL I DO. Day in and day out. There's some sweet, sweet stuff in there, but mostly it's just filler.

I worry that I'm not cut out to be a stay at home mom. I worry that having another baby when E's two or three would push me over the edge. TJ pointed out that there is absolutely no reason for me to worry about this right now. And he's right, I guess. Technically.

I thought I loved being pregnant, by the way. But lately when something happens that reminds me of what it felt like, I feel incredibly relieved not to be pregnant anymore, and I dread the thought of going through all of that again. (I feel like a jerk saying this when I think of my friends who are trying to conceive and would give anything in the entire world to be pregnant.) Obviously I'm so, so thankful to have given birth, and there's nothing I wouldn't have gone through to end up with E. Amputate both my legs? No problem! Walk around with a catheter the rest of my life? Okay! Anything.

On that note, I think I'll go ahead and wind this post up. Nothing good is going to come of it, I'm afraid. Incidentally, now that we're down to one nap a day, I'm going to be cutting down the time I spend online. I'm also going to *try* to spend more time reading. As in books. I read quite a bit this weekend (relatively speaking) and it felt good. I'm almost done with RUN by Ann Patchett, and I finished ANDY CATLETT by Wendell Berry last week. If I'm not mistaken, these are the first books I've read since E was born (not counting a mystery or two I read in March when we went to visit TJ's parents in Florida). It's hard to stop everything else and commit to reading, but it's incredibly relaxing and it fills me up in a way that nothing else does.

Doh! I forgot I read EAT, PRAY, LOVE earlier this year. Had to confess . . .
(And I liked it, as much as I didn't want to.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday, and Updates on Sleep and Nursing (Bo-ring!)

We had lunch today with my high school friend Heather and her daughter, Alayna, who's thirteen months old. We hadn't gotten together with them for four or five months (not counting my brother's wedding last weekend), so it was fun to catch up on all things baby related as well as life in general. They just finished weaning, so of course I asked a ton of questions about that. It was amazing to see all the things Alayna can do now. And Eamon was back to his super happy, secure, smiley self. Granted, the babies weren't actually playing with each other and Alayna never took a toy away from him--perhaps the tide would've turned then.

It occurred to me that it's time to offer a little update on sleeping and nursing. Nursing three times during the day is working out fine, and I think I'm ready to drop the 3 a.m. nursing. E's gotten into the habit of waking up at midnight and 3:00 like clockwork, and it's not cool. Last night, for the first time, we didn't go in at all at midnight. Or rather we waited to see what would happen if we didn't go in. He cried some, but not hysterically and not for long. He went off and on for fifteen minutes or so, and then he went back to sleep, and get this: He didn't wake up again until 5:30. [Huge sigh of relief.] I've never been able to stomach the idea of not going to him at night, but I can't argue with these results.

As for naps, I think he's started the transition from two to one. He's ended up taking two today, for the first time since last Sunday. I guess we'll see what happens the next couple of days.

Oh, did I ever report back about the sleep training we tried a couple of weeks ago? I don't think I did. It was incredible! I never thought we'd see such clear results from any one method, but this one worked for us like no other. One night--that's all it took. As I mentioned before, we waited five minutes, then ten, fifteen, and twenty. (Twenty was the longest interval we had to go. Thank God.) We've never had to go that long again, although we've had to employ the method once or twice since then when he's gotten off the routine for various reasons. But it's been quick--nothing like that one night. For the most part, we put him down awake around 7:00 and he plays for a while and then falls asleep quietly or fusses just a bit before falling asleep.

Oops, someone's up.

Gosh, the non-mom part of me just skimmed this post. YAWN!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Long Week, E as Basketcase

Today was the fourth day in a row that E only took one nap (and that nap was only an hour long). I'm not gonna lie, I'm tired and burned out. I am sorely in need of a break. A real break. This has been a long week. (By the way, whenever I say things like that, I imagine how much harder it would be with two small children, and then I feel like I must have it easy right now and not know it. And that freaks me out.)

A note about our playdates with Kay and Jonas. E becomes a different baby around Jonas; he is suddenly just barely clinging to his sanity. Gwen asked me to describe what each baby is like when we're together. Hmmm, okay. Jonas: secure, adventurous, happy, curious, relaxed, ambivalent about the giving and taking of toys. My baby: easily upset/startled, cautious, overwhelmed, tearfully possessive of toys. Sigh. Of course, I have to laugh. Eamon has such a hard time hanging out with his friend. I don't know what it is; he's not usually like this. Normally I would reel off words like secure, happy, curious, expressive, and sociable to describe E. I'm interested to see whether this is a dynamic that sticks around, and what it reflects about their personalities. It's been like this to some extent for months now, but seems to have increased in intensity in recent weeks.

A small addendum: Jonas's parents have followed attachment parenting very rigorously. I don't believe for a second that this accounts for the differences in our babies, and it bugs the hell out of me to think that it might appear that way (to whom, I don't know, and of course appearances shouldn't matter). For the record, we aren't anti-attachment parenting, it's just not a style that works (as a whole) for our family. But it's worked for our friends, and that's awesome. I'd say we've used a combination of approaches with Eamon, including elements of AP. You just gotta do what feels right.

Eamon and his friend Jonas at summer's end

Have I mentioned how cute they are together? We were remarking today on the fact that their skin color is identical, as well as their hair color, and they're basically the same size. Funny!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

So Far So Good

I'll let Nana's email speak for itself. It's too good to paraphrase. (I'm removing her name from the signature to protect her privacy--insofar as posting this is protecting anyone's privacy!)

Dear F & F (family and friends . . . foes too, if you so choose)

I've just returned from my first "out-of-theory" cancer experience, and passed with flying colors. Of course, great as that sounds, it means only that things are working to date. While my body and I are not terribly excited about returning to the regimen, given the choices, we are most grateful for the opportunity! And of course, the tag on that good news, is that I still get to keep my bladder (albeit, I'm wondering why one would want to keep anything over which one has so little control!). For now, I'm due 11 more nukings and 1 more drugging! After that, it is my present understanding that my body and I will be given six weeks or so to regroup.

My energy level has not returned to normal; however, it seems to be on the upswing which is more good news. Actually I've been blessed with bounteous sleep, almost around the clock. Time may not fly quickly that way, but it does seem to slip on by practically unnoticed.

The wind beneath my sails continues to be your prayers, love and support. Thanks so much for them all.


Zilker Zephyr

Here are a couple of my favorites from today. Not too bad for one arm!

Argh, Etc.

I've been trying to post a video since yesterday, and it won't load for some reason. I keep getting an error message. It's not too big . . . I don't know what the problem is. It's annoying me.

Just wanted to note that E is feeding himself Cheerios as of Sunday. Yay! Roughly six out of ten actually make it into his mouth. It's pretty cute. He's feeding himself some other food as well, but hasn't made peace with the slimy texture of things like bananas and grapes; I still have to put those in his mouth piece by piece. Yesterday afternoon we went to Central Market just to get out of the house, and I bought a box of Baby Mum-Mums, which I heard about through the Austin Mamas. He loved them, and sat out by the playground eating Mum-Mums and watching the big kids play.

The last couple of days have been long and quiet and rainy. E didn't take an afternoon nap either day. I think today we're going to head down to Zilker Park and maybe ride on the train. It'll be E's first time. I'd wanted to save that to do as a family or with friends, but it's the only thing I can come up with today (still gray and soggy out), and I'm sure there will be many more fun rides to come on the Zilker Zephr.

Normally we'd have our weekly playdate with Kay and Jonas this afternoon, but Kay has an all-day meeting, so we're getting together tomorrow instead. Jonas turns one today! Poor Kay is understandably bummed to have to spend the whole day away from her little birthday dude.

In other rambling news, Nana's having a scope today to find out if her chemo and radiation treatments have shrunk the cancer. She said she can't believe the problem area could've avoided the beating the rest of her body has taken. I hope that's true. She'll get the results immediately, and is going to send out an email after she gets home. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A New Week

Well, everyone survived and the wedding went as well as it could have. It was odd in many, many ways, but the decorations were GORGEOUS. My stepbrother showed up high, and I think that might've actually been a good thing. We went back on Sunday and spent the day taking down, packing, and loading the lights, lanterns, paintings, rugs, lamps, furniture, decorations, statues, food, dishes, linens, flowers, vases, etc. We filled a huge moving truck full, in addition to my dad and Gwen's van.

Oh, and I managed not to interact with Fletch at all. I won't even bother explaining the latest drama surrounding her (it doesn't involve me at all this time) or the horribly rude things she said to Gwen about how my sister-in-law looked in her dress.

What really gets me is that there she is, eighty-six years old and healthy, choosing to spend her time and energy on negativity and meanness, while my wonderful nana (they both happen to live in Wimberley and were both widowed last year) is fighting for her life and going through chemo and radiation every day (and maintaining a great attitude despite feeling like she's had the crap kicked out of her). And yes, I do know I shouldn't waste my time thinking about it this way.

But anyway . . . I'm trying to catch up on some things around here (though we're really in pretty good shape), and have started working on the invitations to E's first birthday party. I'm being oh-so-crafty with them. I even had to borrow Catherine & Shannon's hot glue gun. Watch out!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tomorrow's Wedding

My stepbrother is getting married tomorrow. It's going to be interesting. There has been a lot of drama and weirdness associated with this wedding (more than usual for a wedding, trust me), though luckily we have not been directly involved with much of it.

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing that are better left unexpressed . . .

And oh, yes, Fletch (my stepmom Gwen's mother) will be there. I plan to stay far away from her, which will probably be easy since I know she won't voluntarily interact with me. I have been the "bigger person" (as my dad would say) on multiple occasions in the past, but it's wasted energy. She's the most toxic person I've ever known, and I feel sorry for her children.

Oh, do I sound bitter? Oops.

Okay, I promise I'm going to try to just give myself over to the day, live in the moment, be happy and optimistic for all involved, and feel thankful for the love and generosity that I know will be present in every corner of the room. My parents have worked incredibly hard to make this happen, and I hope it's a beautiful experience for them, especially for Gwen.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

This Boy of Mine

I fall into his eyes.


Nursing him today . . . I think it was the most wonderful nursing we've ever had. I'm not sure why, and I wouldn't know how to put it into words. Closeness, understanding, laughter, life, communication, silliness, trust, ease, loving, connection. Gift.

Astronaut Baby

On Tuesday Eamon and I participated in another study at UT's Children's Research Lab. We did one when he was five or six months old and it was fun, so I agreed to bring him in again. These pictures make it look like I subjected my baby to the whims of mad scientists, but I swear it was all completely harmless, and he had a blast playing with all the toys there and charming the two grad students who walked us through everything. He wore this crazy-looking cap while looking at a screen that showed pictures of UT undergrad students, ranging in attractiveness, and the cap measured the electrical currents coming off his head.

Not that it matters at all anymore,

but I got almost no sleep last night. I think I might've come down with a touch of E's stomach bug. I was up until 1:30, mostly sitting on the bathroom floor, waiting to throw up. Several close calls, but no yakking in the end. E got up at 3:00, then I woke up at 5:00 with a splitting headache. Nursed E at 6:30 when he woke up for the day, then TJ took him from 7:00 to 8:00 and I laid in bed but couldn't sleep.

Whatever. I'm still going to Catherine and Shannon's tonight for dinner.

He's Canadian, I mean Alcoholic

I had a fairly long conversation with my mom this morning, which is unusual since we only talk on the phone every couple of months or so. Today we ended up on the subject of alcoholism. I promised myself in the past that I wouldn't talk about this with her because I end up feeling frustrated, but what can I say. I was hooked. And part of me really does enjoy talking about addiction and mental health issues with her. I absolutely respect her knowledge and experience in her profession. (She's a psychologist and play therapist.)

I think what bothers me about it is that, for her, alcoholism is so black and white. It also bothers me when she says, for instance, "He's alcoholic," as opposed to "He's an alcoholic." She does the same thing with the word "lesbian," which drives me--and my best friends (who happen to be gay)--even battier. There's something so, I don't know, reductive about it. (Is that what I mean?) I just think it feels confining and a bit pejorative. I realize that's not her intent, though.

My mom thinks that a lot of people are alcoholics. Both of her parents (including my beloved Nana), for instance. And she's probably right. But who cares if Nana is? She's 79, she lost her husband of 57 years last year, and she has cancer--she can drink all the wine she wants. My mom's brother is a raging drunk for sure, though. He's pretty textbook. I just don't think it's as clear cut as she does. I don't think people either are or they're not, at least not always. And I don't think it lessens them as a person if they are, or takes away their humanity in any way. (Duh.) Everyone has demons. I don't think I'm better or more enlightened than someone struggling with alcoholism. (Actually, in thinking about this, I believe I specifically mean highly functioning alcoholics who are somewhat self-aware. Hmmm. Maybe my mom is right and I should read On the Family by John Bradshaw.)

TJ hasn't had a beer in five and a half years, but he drinks wine--in frequencies and quantities of a normal person. He's not an alcoholic. But it sure seemed like he was at one point. (And of course you either are or you're not--forever.)

Several of our friends are undoubtedly alcoholics (and some of them still smoke--gasp!). And those friends are some of the most wonderful people I've ever met. Not sure what my point is. I'm feeling defensive and I shouldn't. It's kind of like when you're arguing with someone and you realize you're both saying the same thing in different ways.

All I know is that everyone's journey is different.

Speaking of which, do any of you watch INTERVENTION on A&E? That shit is brutal.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Better for Everyone (Changes in Nursing)

I decided to try dropping a feeding today. I think E's been ready for this for some time, but I haven't been. I finally realized that I've been going about it backwards (listening to my own fears instead of letting his cues guide me), which has caused me to be more paranoid about weaning than I need to be. So, today I'm only nursing him three times: morning, midday (which we did at one o'clock before nap), and bedtime. I'm also leaving the middle of the night nursing session alone for now. Going from four to three daytime feedings feels HUGE. It's a big change. I'll report back on our progress in a week or so, but this feels right so far.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lessons in Self-Sabotage

I've always been my own worst enemy. I was one of those people who wanted to be a writer when I was growing up, and I felt certain I would be. I majored in English and Creative Writing in college, which was also where I learned that in order to be a writer, you have to actually write. Imagine that. You can't just think about it and yearn to do it and conveniently never get around to it. Being tortured and conflicted is so easy. Writing, and writing regularly, is hard. Showing people what you've written takes courage. And the other thing I learned is that there are lots of great writers out there. Lots.

After college, living in DC, I got into music (well, sort of--that sounds more official than it was). I was working in publishing, but then the small literary press I worked for was eaten up by a bigger house in New York, and I was out of work. It was tragic: we were the little guy, we held our authors' hands, we produced beautiful books. There was no one else like us, of that we were sure. We were righteously indignant and betrayed and heartbroken, and it was kind of a great feeling. Unemployed, we drank and smoked the summer away. I had started dating TJ at the end of June, and by August I knew this was the real deal. I started temping in the fall, not knowing what else to do. DC didn't have any other trade book publishers. Eventually I ended up back at a bookstore (and then at a new press, a reconstituted version of the old one, with many of the same loyal authors), but that's another story. Where was I . . . oh, music.

TJ and I had met at this bar on 18th Street where we both went far too often. He ran the open mic there every Tuesday night, and I performed most weeks. (He played and sang too.) I wrote some songs. I decided I'd be a musician. You know, a folky, singer/songwriter type. I wore bandanas in my hair during this time like it was going out of style (I had about a hundred different bandanas because my college librarian had passed her collection down to me) and my favorite shirt was this tight little tee that said "Do Not Touch." Oh, I was tough. Writing songs was slow and torturous, especially because my guitar skills were just barely good enough, but the payoff of finishing a song and playing it was worth it.

The second to last year we lived in DC, TJ recorded a cd and was in a couple of bands, one of which had a busy schedule. It sucked. I was tired of staying out late and tired of him being out late at gigs while I sat at home. We had a lot going on, and my hours at the bookstore, at least for a time, ran counter to his regular work hours. I also realized that the intensity of my stage fright (without the aid of Xanex and alcohol) outweighed the joy I felt playing for people. Oh, and we'd stopped going to the bar after a falling out with the owner, so our open mic options pretty much disappeared anyway.

I never consciously decided to stop playing and writing songs, it just kind of happened (as I'm sure it does for thousands of others). TJ: the same, although he still picks up the guitar now and then.

After we moved to Austin, stuttering really got a grip on me (another very long story), and I ended up in speech therapy at UT. We'd started trying to have a baby the summer before we left DC, and were still in the throes of trying (and failing) our second fall here. Since before moving to Austin, I'd been freelancing from home as a proofreader and copyeditor. The last year or two of that, I was working pretty much exclusively for a big NY publisher, their children's division. I was mainly copyediting YA novels, and I loved the books, but couldn't see myself doing that kind of work for much longer. I missed the camaraderie of an office. Then I got pregnant, and stayed pregnant.

Skip ahead, and I got the biggest gift of my life: Eamon. The biggest joy, the biggest love imaginable. Staying home with him is incredibly fulfilling in many ways, and yet there's a part of myself (the private, autonomous part) that is desperately looking to create and achieve something outside of raising my child. The interesting thing is that this desire is actually more acute now that E is here than it was before, when I theoretically had all the time and space and sleep in the world. I don't know why, although I do know that his existence has made me much more aware of my own.

So now I have this idea to write a YA novel, a genre I'm very familiar with. There's a lot I have yet to figure out, but I've got the characters hashed out, some general plot points, the setting, etc. But I haven't started writing. I haven't told anyone about it (until now) except TJ. I'm afraid. I don't know what I'm doing or if I can do it at all. I might fail at it. I don't know if I have the time or the discipline. I don't know if it'll be very good. I'm not even sure writing is the right art form for me. If it were, wouldn't I just do it, almost as if I had no choice? I doubt I'll ever actually follow through with it, and I think that means I won't. I know that self-doubt is lethal. How do I turn it off?

If I really want to do this, I think I have to commit to writing a certain amount every day (a page, say), and I have to not care whether it sucks or not. I think I also have to give something up in order to have the time. I'm not sure what that should be: no more Us Weekly? Really? Strict limits to email and blogging? I wish there were a writer's group in central or north Austin that I could join. Accountability (not to mention criticism and encouragement) would be so helpful. I heard of one way out in Dripping Springs awhile back, but that's just too far.

I have a long history of shooting myself in the foot. Do I stand a chance of breaking out of that unconscious habit? Do any of you have a similar dream to mine? How do you honor that part of yourself? What works for you?

Stomach Bug Part II

E's had diarrhea today. Nothing crazy like poo running out the sides of his diaper, but definitely diarrhea. The last one was almost like water. Sad. He seems to feel okay, though. Guess he's just getting it out of his system. Luckily, he loves unflavored Pedialyte, as it turns out. I've been wondering when he would get the hang of the sippy cup spout. The answer was yesterday; guess he just needed to be motivated.

E and his aunties

TJ and I got to go out on Saturday. The last night we went out was June 11 and before that, April 19, so we were more than ready to visit a restaurant sans baby gear and go to a movie. Catherine and Shannon took care of E as part of their birthday gift to me. :) They arrived around 2 p.m. and we got home at 6:30. All we had to do was put E down after they left; it was such a treat to get a night off from the rest of his evening routine.

It was obvious (from the 185 pictures they took!) that Eamon had a wonderful time with his aunties. I can't resist posting a few of the pictures. It brings tears to my eyes looking at him with them and seeing their love for him. I'm so thankful (and perpetually amazed) that we live in the same town.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We've Been Initiated (Nighttime Puking)

E woke up at midnight last night throwing up. TJ had just come to bed and I was half awake when I heard sounds over the monitor that sounded worrisome. I sat up suddenly. "Is he choking?" I asked. TJ said, "No, he's fine." As I ran out of our room, I called back to him, "I think he's puking." Sure enough, the poor baby's crib was covered with orange puke and he was sitting up with puke all over himself, crying and heaving, half asleep, eyes watering, nose running. I said, "Honey, did you get sick?" TJ must've heard me because he came in a second later. We stood there for a few seconds, not knowing what to do or how to start the clean up. We finally got some towels out. TJ started changing the bedding. I was standing and holding E, trying to comfort him, when he threw up again, all over his chest, down my shirt and arms, and splattering the carpet. In our sleepy state, we were stunned again, slow to react. TJ doggedly continued trying to put a new sheet on the bed (he was having trouble) despite the more pressing crisis unfolding. (This cracks me up now; we were just doing the best we could.) Meanwhile, E and I were now sitting on a towel on the ground. He was miserable and crying and I was covered in vomit. Eventually we got it all sorted out, and I rocked the babe for a long time. I put him down and he slept, but I could not. I was waiting for him to get sick again.

I was reading about the John Edwards sex scandal online when, at 2:00, I heard him start to throw up. I got in there so fast, he didn't get any on himself, just his bed. The rest was caught by the towel. The second clean up and sheet changing ensued. E clearly felt much better this time and even started to try to crawl around. He was so sweet. After all this, TJ went back to bed and I held E in the glider and he put his head down and closed his eyes. He threw up again around 2:45, but I had a towel over my shoulder and was prepared. I turned him around and he continued to throw up, although there wasn't much left in him. The poor, poor little guy. After this, he put his head back down and went to sleep, and I put him back in his bed a little after 3:00.

He slept until six, and I went ahead and nursed him at 7:30. I'd read that it was safe to try this if it had been four hours since he last got sick. Unfortunately, I was engorged from not nursing since 7:00 the night before, so there was a lot of milk to be had, and he desperately wanted to nurse. He ate from one side almost completely and then just a little from the second side when I stopped him. Not a minute later, it all came back up. Seemingly gallons. After that, TJ went to the store and a little while later we tried one sip of Pedialyte and it stayed down, then two sips, etc. I nursed him again at 11:45 a.m. and this time it took.

Aside from being exhausted, he's done really well today, and isn't running a fever or anything. Actually, he's asleep right now, and I should really be trying to nap too.

Too many details in this post, but it was our first experience with what I know will be many a pukey night in the years to come.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bad Mom Award, Big People Food

I get the award today. I wanted to do something that would be fun for E this afternoon, so we went to a park. I had been too lazy to get us both outfitted to swim, but I figured he could swing and I vaguely imagined him crawling around on the rubber asphalt of the playground. What I hadn't considered were that the swings would be HOT, too hot for a little guy's bare legs. They were so hot, in fact, that the backside of one of his thighs got burned. I felt like the biggest jerk. He didn't even really cry, but he appeared very uncomfortable (like he wanted to swing but something was hurting, duh), so I took him out after a few swings. I'd felt the seat before putting him in, but didn't think much of his skin would be touching it. So then we went and sat on the rubber asphalt, which was littered with small rocks. Perfect for choking, and painful for bare feet and legs. He sat on my lap for a few minutes and I cursed myself and dripped with sweat as we watched the happy babies swimming in the wading pool. I'll make it up to him next week. In the meantime, we came home and I took him in the inflatable pool. He wore his birthday suit and had a decent time. What I learned today (among other things): Don't try to do anything outside right now that doesn't involve being submerged in water. It's too damn hot out there.

On an unrelated note, E had his first meal that consisted only of big people food today. He's getting tired of baby food and even seems to be losing interest in his beloved yogurt, so today for lunch he had some of a whole wheat tortilla (very funny to watch; this was his second time tackling a tortilla), avocado, and cheese cut into tiny cubes. I really have no idea what I'm doing or what to feed him for meals; this is all new to me and I think I'm making it harder than it is. (Also, he can't feed himself small bites of anything yet; his pincer grasp needs a lot of work. He likes Cheerios, for instance, but needs us to put each one in his mouth.) I do own Super Baby Food and other helpful books, but it's as though I have a mental block when it comes to this stuff. I think it ties into the fact that cooking doesn't come easily to me in general. In any case, we're making a grocery trip tomorrow and are going to shop for some things with him in mind. Tonight we ate at Chuy's and he had some cheese, tomato (not a fan), grilled chicken (there was still some in his mouth when we got home), tortilla chips, and refried beans (as well as a couple of old staples we brought in jars: sweet potatoes and pears). He flirted shamelessly with the family at the table next to us the whole meal, by the way. His eyes were positively twinkling, and the mom and teenage daughter were utterly besotted by him. That little Romeo!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Is it really that easy? (I doubt it, but wow.) And post-show mania.

A miracle happened last night. I put E down wide awake at 7:00 and then prepared myself for sleep training. I'd already eaten and showered, so that I wouldn't have to worry about doing that stuff during the intervals of hysterical crying. TJ had fed *and* bathed him, which I appreciated. So anyway, I put him down wide awake and we heard him playing. Then he did some crying around 7:30. I started to time the crying, but he kept starting and then stopping. Then we heard him quietly playing. Joel arrived at 7:30 and TJ left. (TJ was so excited about his big night out seeing The Hold Steady. He commented that Stubb's is fine for live music, but he misses going to clubs and seeing real rock shows. He was cracking me up.) E continued to make peaceful little noises. Then there was lots of quiet followed by a little playing and the sound of his aquarium toy (which he can turn on by himself). At some point I realized he had been quiet for a long time. By 8:30 I was positive he'd fallen asleep. Without a sound. My mind. Was blown.

He didn't wake up once until 3:00. Wow. I nursed him (maybe the last night, I don't know). He woke up again a bit later, but I didn't go to him, and he fell back asleep on his own without crying very much.

Surely he didn't learn how to fall asleep this fast? After one night of misery? Could he have? Time will tell, and it doesn't really matter. What matters is that this is proof that it's possible. And the peace of it--that's what felt so different. No struggle. Even if it was just a fluke, it's a major fluke. And it was a nice break. I had a wonderful evening by myself in a quiet house, and I finally feel caught up in general. In better spirits.

I woke up at 1:30 when TJ got home. He was in rare form--super chatty, off the wall goofy, and seemingly drunk. The show, he said, was fantastic. It kicked his ass. He told me all about it, and he covered a bunch of other subjects as well. He talked about what a "fat man" he is (he's really not), about how much he loves Eamon and can't wait to go to rock shows with him, about how hot our room is, and of course we ended up on the subject of stinky butts and poo (a variation on a conversation we have about twenty times a day; okay, "conversation" is stretching it). He also asked me what I would do if we were in a lifeboat and I had to throw either him or Eamon overboard. (What??) I said I would save the life of my child, of course. This was after he'd told me that Eamon is his favorite person in the whole world and I pretended to be hurt. In the end, I was trying to get him to stop talking and go to sleep, and he kept sneaking his hand over and pinching my face gently and saying, "Butthole."

p.s. By the way, I reserve the right to delete the last paragraph if it strikes me as too personal later. Or if TJ reads it and freaks out that I posted about it. But God, he was funny.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Dreaded Sleep Training

We dusted off the sleep books last night. Something had to give. We've started doing the one where you go in after five minutes, then ten, then fifteen, and so on. My instinct is to write a big paragraph defending this decision, but I'm going to resist. It should be enough to say that for various reasons, we think this is the way to go for E and for us right now. He's just got to learn to go to sleep. And not wake up a bunch at night. So we're also night weaning. (I've only been nursing him once in the night, but still. It won't be easy.) His stamina and willpower have increased tenfold in the past week. It's NUTS. We can't ever rock him to sleep anymore--it takes forever, and multiple tries. Not a sustainable way of life. Nursing is the only thing that sometimes puts him to sleep peacefully, and that's not a solution. So here we are.

Getting him down last night was miserable, although luckily he went to sleep when TJ soothed him after the twenty-minute interval. So it could've been worse (not that we would've believed that last night). He woke up at 12:30 and 4:00. I went ahead and nursed him at 12:30 (not wanting to pull the rug out from under him all in one night) and I rocked him and rocked him at 4:00, but he woke up when I put him down. After that, I didn't go back in. He cried and played and cried and slept a little and played between 4:30 and 6:30, when TJ got up with him.

We'll see what happens tonight. I'll be on my own for most of it, but I feel like I can handle it. TJ and Joel are going to see The Hold Steady at the Parish. It's going to be a fantastic show.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I've been thinking about how things supposedly get easier when your baby is [insert age here]. Six weeks, three months, a year, etc. And things DO get easier in a way, slowly, in the sense that they start sleeping for longer stretches and the smiles start pouring out of them, and they can do more (hold their heads up, sit up, reach for things), and you start getting used to the idea of being a parent and not getting sleep and thinking on your feet constantly and having very little time for yourself and on and on. Things change, and there's more fun to be had and more love than you can handle, but I'm not sure how much easier it gets. I can only speak from my own experience, of course.

It's just strange to remember doing things like nursing while watching TV. Compared to now, that sounds so relaxing. Luxurious, even. On the other hand, his naps were irregular and short then, and that sucked. And I don't miss the TV (which I never even turn on now). I must just miss the idea of sitting there and turning off my mind.

I guess the grass is always greener at times. I can't fathom what it would be like to work outside the home. Sometimes I romanticize it, even though I know there are pros and cons to both. I wonder what I would've done if staying at home with E had meant giving up a job I loved. I was reading another mama's blog who's going back to work after several months, and she mentioned feeling like she'll be getting her life back. Sometimes she wishes her job had already started. I can understand feeling that way. Obviously going to work isn't like going to a spa, but it is freedom in a way I never realized before having a baby. When I think of work, I tend to think back to the things I did during the work day that weren't necessarily related to work--lunch with co-workers (lunch by myself, for that matter), coffee breaks, running a quick errand, emailing, talking to people. The idea of having the time and space to do those things blows my mind. To be independent while still being a parent. Imagine that.

On the other hand, it would mean being away from E all day, and that's a sad, sad thought. I'm grateful I'm able to stay home with him. I'm sure if I was working (especially in a job I wasn't crazy about) I would give anything in the world to be able to take care of him all the time. It would probably seem downright idyllic.

p.s. I spoke too soon before--he did end up going down. I went in and got him and we played for a few minutes and then I nursed him and he fell asleep immediately. It doesn't solve the problem of him not being able to fall asleep otherwise, but whatever. Bless his heart. He sits up in his crib (this started early last week) and doesn't seem to know how to lay down, or that he should. He gets so upset.

By the way (sleep)

E's sleep (day and night) is a disaster. It's amazing how thoroughly our quality of life is tied to his sleeping patterns and how much or little of a struggle it is to get him down. Right now I am about to LOSE IT. I have very, very little patience left. It doesn't look like the afternoon nap is going to happen at all (third time in a week). Ugh. Thank you, crawling. And teething. Time to get us both out of the house . . .


So, ever since E was born, we've had someone clean our house every two weeks, and it's been a lifesaver. A clean, tidy house is crucial to my mental health; it's just how I'm wired. Of course, part of me has felt embarrassed and guilty for being a stay at home mom AND having a housekeeper. The other part of me, however, thinks that reaction is ridiculous and boring and purely a result of being raised in a sexist society. It's good to feel thankful (and I do), but enough with the guilt. In any case, my point is that we did our budget last week, and we're going to have to nix the housekeeper. Since I already feel like I spend most of my time at home cleaning, picking things up, and doing laundry, and since TJ has never been one for housekeeping, I'm apprehensive as to how this is going to work. A friend of mine shared a breakdown of chores that she and her husband post on the fridge every month. Having it there acts as a reminder (to him, mostly) of all that needs to get done and keeps their house from getting out of control. It's never clean all at once, but it's always in good order.

I'm hoping we can do something like that. And I'll probably need to chill out and let things go more than I do now. (I've already come a long way in that regard since E was born, believe it or not.) I just have this intense fear of being overtaken by chaos. Somehow E's crawling (and the future it heralds) plays into this fear. I know that veteran moms of more than one child would probably tell me that it's futile to resist the chaos, and that the sooner I accept it, the better off I'll be, but, um, that advice freaks me out.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Maybe there's something to this thyroid thing.

I'm really dragging. Zero energy. I feel blah. Irritable. Overwhelmed. Totally unprepared to deal with crawling. (Everyone tells you it's a different world, and it's true--in great ways, I'm sure, but right now I feel like I can't keep up.) I don't feel this blah all the time, but I think I often do and I just ignore it. Yesterday was the worst.

I talked to my mom this morning and asked her about hypothyroidism, because I thought I remembered her being diagnosed many years ago. Sure enough, she was, and is still treated for it. So that was interesting. She said she felt more alert and happier after she started taking medication for it. Fascinating. And she lost weight, which is what often happens. I can't imagine that I'd lose weight--that would be a little nuts at this point (but kind of intoxicating in a sick way).


I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism today. I couldn't be more shocked. If I had a thyroid problem, I would've thought it would be hyperthyroid, not hypo. My only symptom is fatigue. I'm tired all the time, but I attributed that to having a baby and not getting much sleep. A few months ago I was experiencing crazy hair loss, but I thought it was normal post-baby hair loss, and in any case, it's stopped for the most part. The other symptoms: weight gain, trouble losing weight, brittle hair, constipation, decreased libido, low heart rate, dry skin . . . none of those fit me right now. Odd. My TSA number (thyroid-stimulating hormone) is high. And not just a little high. (When your TSA is high, it actually means your thyroid is low. Something else I learned today.)

So, tonight I started taking a medication (I forget the name) that I'll take for six weeks, at which point I'll go back and get checked again.

It's unsettling to think you're healthy and balanced only to find out that something is off kilter. Hopefully it'll get squared away shortly, and perhaps I'll start feeling less tired. Wouldn't that be nice.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Yesterday Afternoon in the Backyard

Post-baby pool fun. I love this picture.
He crawled for the first time less than an hour after this.

Lightbulb, and He's Off

About a minute ago, I walked into the (newly appropriated) playroom with my laptop and sat down near TJ and E. E spied the camera cord--and crawled right over to it. Just like that, he's off. Good God, you should see the boy! It's amazing--this morning he couldn't crawl . . . and now he can. He's already crawled several more times, as though he's been doing it for weeks. This is some crazy shit!

I'm so happy it happened when we were all together. So happy. You should've seen us beaming and cheering and smothering him with hugs and kisses. It's pretty wild to see your baby do something so major that he's never been able to do before. We've only experienced that on a small, gradual scale so far. This feels very different. Oh, the adventures to come . . .

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Friday afternoon in the backyard

A little wary at first . . .

but not for long.

In Summary

I had big plans to blog about Chris and Sharon's visit in more detail. I planned to write about hearing the whole story of Chris breaking his neck diving into the Mississippi River in 1992 (his C-6 vertebra was crushed), and learning more about Sharon's involvement with the Socialist Party in NYC in the early to mid nineties (she was super active and it was cracking us up), and talking about their life in Quito and their future plans, and sitting out in the backyard till late, reminiscing about when we all lived together in DC in the apartment at Columbia and 18th, and listening to TJ and Chris reminisce about even earlier times (oh the drinking, oh the pot smoking), and seeing them with Eamon. . . . I was also going to say something about how funny they are and how funny we become when we're with them. Do you know what I mean? I think it's what happens when you're with people you have a history with, and they understand your sense of humor completely, and suddenly everything you say is hilarious, and everything they say is too. That's TJ's role when we're with Chris and Sharon. He cracks us all up. They get him, and I love that. There's a mutual "getting" all around. I've found that to be pretty rare between couples--when things click with all four people, individually and as a group--and not just on a superficial level.

I was then going to write about them heading back to Ecuador and TJ departing for NY, and E and I going to my parents' new house in San Antonio the next night (after I had an appointment with a new obgyn--more about that some other time, maybe), and about my psycho stepbrother's wedding in two weeks and what a freakshow it promises to be, and how hard my parents have been working on it day in and day out while my brother sits at his apartment doing nothing but being the narcissistic, controlling, selfish person that he is. His psychiatrist (who is also my stepmom's) says that we should all just be grateful he's not in a hospital right now, and Gwen is thankful since that has always been her worst fear, but I have a hard time feeling thankful for that. There's the mental illness on the one hand, but being mentally ill doesn't give you a free pass to walk all over your family. It breaks my heart to see Gwen manipulated by him. She loves him so much. He treats her like shit, and she just keeps giving and loving. Thinking of Eamon, I understand this better now than in the past, but it's classic co-dependency, and it scares me when I think of what the future holds for them. I just want my parents to be able to retire at some point and at long last have only themselves to take care of.

In any case, TJ is home now, and it's wonderful to be back to our routine. He had a fun and productive time in NYC, and spent an evening with one of my closest friends, Trish, and her new (relatively speaking, in that I haven't met him) partner, Michael. I would've given pretty much anything to be there. Trish and I saw each other every day in DC, and oh, how I miss that three o'clock latte, not to mention the six o'clock beer(s).

Well, I was going to write about some developmental stuff that's happened with E, but he just woke up, so I'll save that for another post.