Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Four Months

Today you are 4 months old.
There's no telling the amount of stop signs I've run or small items I've inadvertently stolen from the grocery store on account of sleep depravation. I sing your playmat songs in the shower and I hummed your bouncy chair song while pumping gas the other day. I eat every meal at lightening speed, even when you're asleep or when someone else is taking care of you. And I can now hear your first wake up noises from 500 paces.

But enough about me.

You are no longer a pet rock. You are now a person. One morning, the week after you turned 3 months old, you woke up and announced you were no longer going to stand idly by watching the world turn. You decided to become an active participant on the spot, and you haven't looked back. Except for when I'm nursing constantly look back to see what is behind you, in turn detaching from my boob, and proceeding to scream as though someone has ripped it away from you before you latch back on and start that whole process over again.
You are very smiley, so smiley that I can't believe sound doesn't come out yet. You strongly dislike being held like a "baby". You want to be upright viewing your surroundings. You have learned how to grab objects and bring them to your mouth, talk to your Dad and me as though you were truly having a conversation with us (and sometimes I think you're desperately trying to tell me all about God and heaven before you forget it all with age), and you finally rolled all the way over on Christmas day. There is no television too close or too big for your viewing, and I find no shame in the fact that I've propped you up in your Bumbo chair many evenings in front of the TV while I cook dinner. You love The Electric Company, and who wouldn't?
You are getting a little bit better at sleeping, though there's always room for improvement in this house. Some nights you require my attention a lot more than others, and just when I think I can't take it anymore you sleep for 8 hours. I usually stay awake from hours 6-8 wondering if you will ever wake up again when you do that.
You continue your ongoing rivalry with the parrot that hangs from your playmat. Today, for the first time, you chewed on its tail without sticking its wing in your eye. Victory! You practice overpowering parrot everyday and because of this, you've learned to grab on to many other toys and body parts (I won't name which one you've just discovered, but let's say it'll only be cute for another year or so). Some mornings you lay on the changing table and stare at your hands as though they are their own independent theatre group with a puppet show just trying to earn a few extra dollars on the Santa Monica Promenade. You cheer for them and coo with delight at their stories until you remember you're a baby and can't move on to the next show without my help.
You drool as though the president of the united states asked you to single-handedly solve the clean water crisis in Africa. It's incredible that you are not constantly dehydrated. And you produce more boogers than any anyone else I know. I don't know how those two talents combined will help you earn a living later in life, but if Johnny Knoxville can do it, I'm sure you'll be fine.
I love smooshing my face into your belly and watching you play in the morning; you always look bigger in the morning. I love bath time with you. I love lifting you up like Super Man and watching you smile all the way back down to Earth. There are still days when I feel some loss for the spontaneous life I used to live. I try to remind myself that it is inevitable: I will be able to eat out at a restaurant again without anxiety that you need me or that you're crying. I long for the ability to get in the car without speeding to my destination because you might start screaming in the back seat. I pray you learn that sleep is just as important as eating someday soon. That's just mom being honest.
You're my sky, bigger than life and always shining. I'm really proud to be your mom and I'm so grateful you chose me and your Dad. We may not always make the right choices, but we will try everything and anything it takes to make you happy and keep you healthy. I love you. Happy Four Months, Abey Baby.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Busting Out

I take everything back I said in the last blog. Abe busted out of his swaddle last night like a convict from prison. There was no getting him back in that thing. He ran like Shawshank Redemption until he hit freedom. And between being completely confused about his flailing limbs and my utter frustration as to what to do at 3am, no one slept. Don't have children. I'm exhausted.
Merry Christmas Eve.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why It's Not So Scary

So, it has come to my attention about 20 times in the past 3 months that I have succeeded in scaring the living crapola out of many a girlfriend. Suddenly they're terrified of becoming pregnant, giving birth, and raising children. You've heard of the Baby Boom? I'm a little concerned that my blog will single-handedly create the opposite phenomenon within my circle. So I give you:
Why It's Not So Scary
A Somewhat Sappy Explanation of How Much Better it is Than I Make it Out to Be on my Blog

  • Pregnancy was actually kinda fun, in hindsight. WHAT?! Yeah, I had a really hard pregnancy, but I also loved the changes my body went through. I felt much more primal, in touch with my cavewoman roots. Feeling him swim around in there isn't a feeling I miss, but it is a feeling I'm so grateful I experienced. And people are SO nice to you when you're pregnant. It's fun to see the brightest side of the human race for a few months.
  • Labor sucks. No getting around that. But the high you feel in the days after delivering is unlike anything you can possibly imagine. Way better than the high I felt after taking that glaucoma medicine in college...
  • I am now completely used to getting up in the middle of the night. Only about 1 night out of 7 do I run into a wall or trip up the stairs anymore. The other nights I'm sort of excited to go up and see Abe. WHAT?! Who said that? Yep. He's really cute in the middle of the night. Plus, he's only waking up between one and two times and since my husband takes the second shift, it's no big deal.
  • My life is completely different, it's true, but I still get to take long showers a few times a week and once Abe turned about 2.5 months old, he was cool to hang out with me in the bathroom while I got ready. Different day, different bouncy chair.
  • The attention isn't all on me anymore. Some might find it shocking that I consider this a perk, but I love that I don't have to make stupid small talk with people anymore. Everyone just immediately locks on to Abe and all I have to do is stand there and hold him repeating his name, age, and how many hours he sleeps in a row.
  • I sit outside Abe's bedroom sometimes while his Dad gives him a bottle listening to Abe chat. He tells his Dad all kinds of secrets at night and just recently started grabbing his Dad's face. It was so cool it almost made me cry. It's gross, but I'm totally becoming that mom.
  • I ALWAYS have an excuse to go to bed early and no one questions me. I also have an excuse to stay in my pajamas until 1:30 and again, no questions. 
  • After watching my body expand and contract, I'm much less hard on myself. No, my body is no where close to what it was before Abe, but I'm ok with it. I mean, my body grew a person and that makes it so much more than just something to look at (or something I'm concerned others are looking at). 
  • Breastfeeding, while killer at first, is actually a lot of fun now. I don't have to warm up a bottle or even hold a bottle for him to eat. I don't have to constantly check to see if a bottle is empty while Abe is eating so that he doesn't start sucking air. And I don't ever have to carry anything with me for him to eat. Plus, we only have a total of 4 bottles. I can handle cleaning four bottles. And did I mention breastfeeding burns 500 calories a day? Let's just say I take FULL advantage of this fact.
  • I never have to go through the first 3 months of my first born's life again. And now that it's over, it's much easier for me to look at other new moms and say, "If you're having trouble, please know that it gets so much better if you just hold on to hope."And I know if there is ever an Abe 2.0, it won't be as hard or scary.
If I could ask for one part of my old life back, it would be the 45 minutes I used to dedicate to reading at the end of everyday. I desperately miss reading and I feel fierce jealousy and resentment when my friends tell me about a book they just read. But right now, sleep is too precious.
So fear not my fine feathered friends. It is the most challenging thing you will ever do in your life, but it gets easier and more fun everyday.  I still have mornings that I stare in the mirror and wish I had my old life back, and that's when I turn to my girlfriends who have experience and wisdom to share. And if you need a girlfriend with experience and wisdom to share, consider me yours. We all have to pass it on.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Just a little update. We're approaching the four month feels like we're getting ready to send him off to college.

Abe is aware enough now that when he's pissed off it can no longer be attributed to random baby pissed-off-ed-ness. He is actually trying to tell me specific things that aggravate him or make him sad. And I actually have to try and respond appropriately. Prior to 3 months, I could chalk it up to, "Babies cry. Who knows why?" But infancy is a slow rise to toddlerhood for a reason: the stakes grow higher an inch at a time until your 2 year old is screaming, "JUMP WOMAN!" and you're sobbing, "HOW HIGH???"

The cloak of anxiety that shrouded me for three months began to lift several weeks ago and I emerged my old self. For a while. But in the past few days it's back with new and improved cloakiness. Now that Abe recognizes me from farther away, I can see when he is looking at me from someone else's arms, as if to say, "I don't understand why you would leave me. Was I not a good baby? I tried, mother, I really tried." I set him down in his bouncy chair and he immediately checks to be sure I'm still there. I lay him down on his playmat and he squirms until he can clearly see my face. I sneak into his room to give him his pacifier and I duck and run out so he can't see me when he inevitably opens his eyes to ask, "Who's here?" This becoming more aware stuff was fun for a few weeks and now it's caused me to be glued to my baby the way I was in the beginning!!

On the flip side, he stores up new tricks to display several at a time one day. He can back-scoot (push with his feet so that he can scoot around the floor on his back), lean his head back to check out what's behind him while on the changing table, and even reach out to try and grab things. The grabbing skills are not yet mastered and often lead to a screech of disapproval, typically directed at the parrot that hangs from his playmat. He and that cunning parrot have a rivalry to last the ages. Damn parrot always slipping from his shaky grasp...

I am so looking forward to the next big milestones of thumb-sucking (so I don't have to put that freakin' pacifier back in his face every 5 minutes) and upper torso control so I can stick him in one of those exersaucers things while I have a beer and do some yoga.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Two Pieces

The one good thing about infertility is that I can exactly pinpoint the time that I went from not pregnant to pregnant. And it was one year ago today that Abraham was one little piece of me and one little piece of David looking for each other so they could shake hands. It was one year ago this week that those two little pieces found each other and created the little guy I hang out with everyday.

One short year later, I'm having these conversations with my husband...

David: I need you to take him while I send an email.

Erin: You can hold him and send an email at the same time.

David: Well, I need to be able to type.

Erin: I do it all day. You can do it.

David: He also has a dirty diaper though so can you just...

Erin: You should change him then, too.

David: Harumph.

OH how those two little strangers completely changed our lives. :)
Love you, husband.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Who am I?

There are pros and cons to getting through the first 3 months with a baby and choosing not to donate him to a worthy cause.
Pro - You get to see him start smiling and cooing and learning to grab toys and all kinda of other neat little milestones.
Con - You think all these milestones are the most incredible things you've ever seen which means you no longer know who you are anymore. "Incredible" used to include Broadway shows and hurricanes, but now "he found his own feet" will suffice.

I'm a completely different person than I was just a short time ago. When Abe was a few weeks old and sleeping just an hour or two at a time, people told me that as soon as he started sleeping longer I wouldn't be able to sleep. I laughed in many a face over this one. Really? You think so, huh? After months of not sleeping because of a little, screaming monster, I'm going to get a straight 6 hours and decide to stay awake?
They were right.
Now I sit up waiting for him if he isn't up by 2am (which is often lately). I stare at the clock wondering when he's going to get up. And then I start asking myself, "Is he breathing?" Why wouldn't he be breathing?! "Maybe I should check the monitor." So I fumble around and turn on the video monitor and stare in the darkness to see if I can see his chest rise and fall or hear his breath. It's completely sick. Then, if and when I do fall asleep, I spend the entire time DREAMING that I'm really AWAKE and frustrated that I can't sleep so that when I do wake up it takes me 20 minutes to realize I actually DID get some rest.

After one sleepless night in particular, I decided we needed a real plan of action. Abe is three and a half months old...he should be sleeping 5-6 hours straight without waking up for a pacifier or a quick look at mom every 45 minutes. I decided to "sleep learn." This is a sort of cry-it-out method that allows you to comfort your child while still helping them learn to sleep without your assistance. By about 4 months of age, most babies are developmentally ready to sleep on their own, and mommy is DEFINITELY ready. I read an entire book that a lovely friend recommended and got all of my sleep learning tools together. We will begin sleep learning in the middle of January.
And then, last night happened. No, Abe didn't sleep all night and change my mind. He did the opposite of sleeping. He was up almost every hour. And I was exhausted. And while nursing him at about 2am, do you know what I thought to myself? "If we start sleep learning next month, by the end of January, I won't see him in the middle of the night anymore. Maybe we should wait until 6 months to sleep learn." Wait. What?! Who said that??? WHY WOULD I WANT TO STAY UP ALL NIGHT FOR ANOTHER 2 MONTHS? AND WHO IS TRYING TO CONVINCE ME I SHOULD?!?!

Having babies does really weird things to you.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Try (Less) Hard

Abe is a really cool kid. He was pretty much the perfect baby for his first holiday, Thanksgiving. He decided it was best to show off his skills for fear of the dead bird on the table and how it got there.
After Thanksgiving, my darling son became a monster once again. You know, this tricks me everytime. He will be a smiling angel from God and suddenly, the lord leaves us and we're left once again with the Baby Monster...he chose four of my shirts he hated and spit up on all of them, redecorated the couch, cried out to the government for better work laws for babies loud enough so they could hear him from DC, bitched and moaned about the price of gluten-free bread all day, poked me in the eye, poked himself in the eye, refused all of his toys/chairs/swings/playmats/other ridiculous things that now riddle our living room, and refused to sleep for more than 15 minutes without "checking" to ensure I hadn't gone deaf. I literally punched a pillow at 2am out of pacifier-replacement frustration. 
For most moms, this is just a bad day. But I'm not most moms. I have major problems. A bad day in my brain means there is no tomorrow unless the bad day is first labeled, defined, and treated. Google becomes my best friend; the kind of best friend you hang out with because you've known each other for so long but you secretly hate each other and you never deal with it so you just go on pretending you like each other until one of you dies or moves to another country and it's "too hard" to stay in touch. I start entering things into Google like, "Why is my baby spitting up so much?" and "3 month old has gas" and "baby stomach virus". I then start reading like a heroine user. I find a million reasons why, why not, how come, how many, how long, and how to. I decide Abe has one of 70 babies diseases and/or afflictions and begin panicking about how quickly I can get my hands on the antidote. My husband usually attempts to peel me off of my computer when I start doing this only to hear me snap, "I need to read this." ("Just one more hit.") Finally, when I feel I have come up with a good enough solution as to why my baby is upset or crying, as well as the steps I must take to help him, I can resume worry and anxiety in another part of the house.
Last night, I began this process. I decided that someone had slipped dairy into something I ate over Thanksgiving and Abe was having a reaction. I researched enzymes I could give him and probiotics I should take to help avoid his further discomfort. I read about skin rashes, poop colors, you name it. And finally, I started reading one of my favoriate question-and-answer mom sites. The question yesterday was, and I'm paraphrashing, "When does it get better? I work my ass off reading and researching to ensure I know as much as I can about my baby and this still sucks and she's still screaming." All the moms who answered clearly understood and empathized. But one mom wrote something that caught my attention. She said the best thing for someone like her was to "try less hard." That's right. Try LESS hard. She went on to say that if your baby has a rash, gas, colic, sleep issues, or anything else, it will all eventually go away because it's a baby and that's what happens. I couldn't believe this was advice. I'm his mom, I should be trying my hardest!! And then my husband laughed and said, "You should write it on your bathroom mirror." Really? I should try LESS hard?!
I got a dry-erase marker and wrote it on my mirror and stared. Hmm. Try less hard. How do I even do that?
I decided the best way would be to make a list of things I wanted to accomplish that didn't involve Abe. I started first thing in the morning and I worked on my list all day. In the mean time, I fed, changed, and sang to Abe while he was awake. But I never stopped to Google, stare at the rash on his cheek, or diagram any of his noises or cries. In fact, I even put him in the Swing of Death while I folded the laundry and he didn't cry once. Guess what? He's still alive. And he's fine. I tried LESS hard and he's just the same, and I got to clean the kitchen.
The moral of the story is I'm going to try and stop personalizing my son's moods and/or bad days. It's probably a good idea that I adopt this principle now because if I don't, I will likely need to be medicated by the time he's 16. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010


There is a fierce opposition in the world to a sleeping method known affectionately as "Crying It Out". This method, coined by Dr. Ferber, originally stated that a baby should be put to bed awake and allowed to cry or fuss until he/she eventually falls asleep. The idea was that babies don't know how to soothe themselves to sleep and that they must LEARN. Sleep is natural; going to sleep is a skill.
Dr. Ferber's ideas were popular for several decades until Dr. Sears finally got loud enough. Eventually, a whole new world of parenting gained momentum. Dr. Sears said NEVER let your baby cry. If your baby is crying, he or she NEEDS something and you could damage your child's psychological skin if you do not help to build your bond of trust by responding to every sound of discomfort. Dr. Sears' following grew so vocal that Dr. Ferber was forced to adapt. An updated version of his book included a modified "Cry It Out", checking on and soothing your baby at intervals instead of just leaving them to cry.
As there are thousands of methods that fall somewhere in between these two extremes, I was forced to research and read about all of them (when I should have been sleeping) to try and decide what kind of parent I was going to be. Am I a CIO or a Sears? If I'm a CIO, am I willing to suffer the slings and arrows of my peers who aren't? Do I wear the badge of "monster mom"? If I'm a Sears, do I give up a majority of my days and nights to ensure my son never, ever has to cry without his mother racing to his rescue? Sure, I brought him into the world and knew that it would be my job to care for him, but does that mean I'm never allowed to sleep again as a consequence?
Then I remembered something about food. That's right. Food. Michael Polan, author of The Carnivore's Dilemma, is often quoted on talk shows as saying, "Don't eat it if your grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food." I decided food is much like sleep, so I referenced Abe's grandmother. I asked, "Did you let me cry until I fell asleep or did you cuddle and love me as much as you possibly could?" And as I suspcted, the answer was indeed somewhere in between. My mother told me that I would cry everytime she talked on the telephone and so, when the phone rang, she put me in my crib. I would usually cry in my crib while my mother chatted. At night if she knew I was fed, clean, and safe, she would let me cry. Occasionally she could come and pat me on the back (because I slept on my belly, too) so that, as she puts it, "I knew she loved me and that I was safe." And on particularly fussy days, my mom would walk back and forth through the living room holding me because she knew I wouldn't be this little forever.
What's the right answer? The right answer is that you do what works for you. On the days that Abe makes me wonder why I gave up pedicures and primetime TV, I may let him cry it out a bit longer. But on the days I know he really needs to be held securely in my arms, I will hold him all day. So on this Thanksgiving I am thankful for friends who don't judge, a baby who smiles so big his face can't even hold it all, a husband who sings ridiculous songs all day long, a mother who remembers in detail the way she raised me, and for my instincts that tell me exactly what is right for my baby boy (the way no book could).

Thursday, November 18, 2010


You do what you have to when you become a parent. Rules do not apply, espeically when it comes to getting enough sleep. We've created some interesting methods for getting through life with an 11 week old.

My husband and I began sharing nighttime shifts when Abe was 5 weeks old. David came home one day from work and I was a used dish rag on the floor with Abe, crying and probably rocking back and forth like a mental patient. My husband had just begun giving our son bottles that week and I incoherently explained to him that he would now be giving Abe a bottle during one night feeding so I could sleep. Swiftly he realized his wife had been diminished to a babbling pile of milk ducts, so he agreed.

Nights at our house then: Dave came home at 5:30 while Erin was finishing dinner. We'd sit down, watch a tivoed show or just chat at the dinner table with dogs at our feet and wine glasses full. After dinner we'd clean the kitchen and catch up on house projects, movies, or maybe a nice long walk with the dogs. We'd get in bed around 10 and read for a half an hour or so before hitting the hay. Sometimes on a weekend or special week night we'd go out to dinner with friends of maybe catch a movie!

Nights at our house now: I feed/fight with Abe through his crankiest hours until about 8:30pm when he finally begins to give in to exhaustion. I feed him one last time, swaddle him, and put him in his crib by 9pm. I rush to brush my teeth and get into bed so that I am sleeping while he is sleeping. I put in my ear plugs and this begins first shift. (We trade off first shift every other night.) At around 1am, sometimes earlier if it's a crummy night, I am woken up by David informing me that Abe is squealing into the monitor. I take out my earplugs, walk upstairs and put the pacifier back into his mouth and fall asleep in the bed in Abe's room. I usually wake up once or twice more to put the pacifier into his mouth before he actually wakes up to eat. Between 2 and 4am, Abe eats while simultaneously sleeping for about 20 minutes. Once he's back in his crib, I then walk back downstairs and get a bottle ready and set it on the counter. I go back to bed and put my earplugs back in. Second shift has begun. David gets up between 4 and 6am when Abe, again, announces he's hungry. He walks to the kitchen and gets the bottle I've prepared and walks upstairs. Most nights he trips or stumbles up the stairs and wakes up the dogs. He feeds Abe several ounces and then changes his diaper. This is when he begins to pray that Abe has not peed through his diaper. If he has, he then changes his entire outfit while repeating, "Please don't wake up, please don't wake up." He gives Abe the rest of the bottle and puts him into the crib. Then he comes back downstairs and gets back into bed. And finally, at 7:30am, he wakes me up to tell me he is getting ready for work and I have to take out my ear plugs to listen for Abe. Every. Single. Night.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Good Mom/Bad Mom

Reasons why I'm a bad mom:

  • People take one look at Abe and say, "Oh my gosh, he is ADORABLE!" I'm all, do you not see that baby acne? Or the stork's bite on his forehead? And speaking of his forehead, you could play football on it. It's that big. The hairline isn't doing much for him either. He's almost sporting a mullet at this point. Is it crazy that I don't always find my baby to be the cutest creature on Earth?!
  • I don't boil the pacifiers. I mean, maybe once a week. I rarely even wash them off. I lick them. I'm one of those moms. As long as there's no visible bacteria or spiders on them, I lick them and put them back into his mouth. I also lick my (dirty) thumbs to wipe shmutz off of his cheeks. He seems to be fine so far.
  • I wear him in the grocery store only because it's really cute and people will talk to me about it. I don't have anyone else to talk to all day so I have to manufacture relationships this way.
  • I rarely, if ever, accomplish giving my son "tummy time" for more than 5 minutes in a day. For this reason, I doubt he will ever roll over, crawl, or run for public office.
  • Folks are always asking if they can hold Abe, which is fine with me. The part that gets me is they all say, "Oh! Should I wash my hands?" I always respond, "Oh. Yes. Good idea." Because it is a good idea. Meanwhile I'm thinking, when is the last time I washed MY hands?!?! Early August, I think.
  • I let my dogs lick Abe. Sometimes on the mouth. Sometimes in the mouth.
  • I bathe my baby everyday. Doctors will tell you it's completely unnecessary and can dry out their skin and a whole host of other awful, life-altering side effects. But what else do we have to do? There are only so many times I can stand the songs his bouncy chair plays, and only so many times he can stand staring at the creatures on his play mat. He's 11 weeks old. 
  • Occasionally, if there is little to no spit up on it, I will let Abe wear the same onsie for 2 days. The only reason I would change him is to see him in something different and frankly, that just adds to the laundry. 
  • I give him belly raspberry kisses, even though it makes him cry.

Reasons why I'm a good mom:

  • Abe is healthy and still alive.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Not going to lie, motherhood still sucks some days. Abe is doing many, many cute things that help me stay motivated to keep driving when we come up on a fire station. Sleep is more common at night, though there is little of it during the day. They call it "consolidated" napping when Abe sleeps more than 20 minutes without screaming, spitting, or writing a novel about how he was "wronged" in his early life. Needless to say, he's up to chapter 5.
In other news, people are still lying to me. You'd think that with all the blogging I've done regarding the truth about being a mother here in the beginning that people would get it: I don't take well to lying. Now, I'm not claiming that the whole, "It gets better," catch-phrase that the entire world has apparently had a meeting about and decided to use on me is a lie. I'm sure it does get better. He has to move out eventually, right? What I don't understand is why people keep telling me the exact week it will get better. "The first 3 weeks are the hardest." Yeah, it didn't get a whole lot easier week 4.
Then when I continued being honest about my troubles after four weeks, I got, "He'll turn the corner at 6 weeks, you'll see!" Guess what? No corner. Why would you say that if there's even a remote possibility that my baby will not turn a corner at 6 weeks?
Then it just got funny. When 6 weeks passed, I was spoon-fed, "They start sleeping at 8 weeks." I bought that hook, line, and sinker.
Finally, it almost became comical when I was told, "You'll really see a change in personality at 10 weeks." Well, we're at 10 weeks. And if by "personality" you mean "tone of voice while crying," then yes, his "personality" has changed to a higher, screamier pitch.
I'm hopping off the Negative Nelly Horse now to tell you that "better" is relative. What I've been missing all along is that "better" cannot be a comparison to my old life. I will not sleep until 9:30 on a Saturday for a long time. I won't even sleep through the night for a long time without waking up to wonder what my baby is doing, if he's hungry, or whether or not my boobs will explode if I go back to sleep without pumping. I won't run by Target to "grab" something again for many, many years. My husband and I won't have meaningful conversations over casual dinners and a good glass of wine anytime soon. HOWEVER, I will find some new and weird little game to play with my baby that makes him laugh, and I'll play it day in and day out for a week with nearly the same satisfaction I feel when I find a sale at Old Navy on top of the 15% off coupon I have in my pocket. "Better" is now defined by only getting up twice in the middle of the night as opposed to 8 times.  It's now 40 minute naps instead of 10. It's baby poop everyday instead of once a week. It's spitting up RIGHT BEFORE I change his outfit instead of right after. It's Abe's eyes tracking a toy and his hands holding onto my shirt. It's watching him think and discover. It's actually enjoying the time I spend with him and looking forward to him waking up.
So, if you were one of the people who gave me the next, "Everything will get better in 2 weeks" line, there is a special place in heaven waiting for you for giving me a reason to live for two more weeks.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


From "Bonnie"

When my first born was 2 weeks old, I was bound and determined to get a haircut. I loaded him up in the car seat and away we went. Somehow I got lost along the way and was late to the appointment. In a rush to get inside, I grabbed the car seat and walked briskly into the building where I promptly slipped, tripped, and slid across the room. I dropped the car seat, baby and all. I lunged for the seat, pulled it towards me, and began checking to see if I’d broken my baby. I then sat bawling on the floor of the hair salon because I was certain that he would never recover and that I'd scarred him for life. Of course, the baby was fine. The worst thing that happened was he woke up!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Make a Scene

So much has been said about bullying in the past few months. I love seeing people like Ellen using her celebrity to bring attention to how bullying can affect a child. The girls who bullied me in high school did it with such perfect manipulation and judgement that I couldn't even tell someone how badly it hurt me because I wasn't even sure how to explain their actions. I just knew I was alienated and alone. Sure, I was a drama nerd, but even drama nerds shouldn't have to eat their lunches in the bathroom. No one should.
Then came the dad in the Orlando area who got onto his daughter's school bus and went all "Florida" on the kids, threatening every child with death or severe pain if any one of them bullied his little girl. Extreme? Sure, but the kids were taunting her, hitting her, pulling on her ears, smacking her bottom, and even throwing things like condoms at her head for weeks. Now that I have Abe, I can't exactly say I would do much differently if I knew my little boy confided in trusting adults that kids were hitting him on the bus and no one did a damn thing about it. Who else will protect my kid?? And now that dad is facing jail time because he stood up for his baby when no one else would. (Sort of a parent's job, wouldn't ya say?) Where are the parents of the bullies? I don't see them facing any consequences.
Since becoming a parent, my brain has been flooded with memories of my father (who passed away when I was 7) that were long since buried. And when bullying became a hot topic in the media I was reminded of an ordinary school night when I was about 5 years old. My dad was all of 5'4", maybe? He was broad-chested and had a firey spirit (yep, that's where I get it). I came home one day and told him that a big boy on the school bus was bullying me. The boy was in 2nd grade and he would tug on the lace of my pretty clothes and laugh at me, or flick my hair and call me a baby. I was terrified of this boy and everytime I got on the bus I felt like I was going to throw up. My dad told me the best thing to do is ignore the bully and sit far away from him. I think my parents told the bus driver because she always tried to make sure I wasn't seated near to him, but she had a whole bus to worry about. Moving away from him worked for the most part.
One night my dad asked me if I wanted to go out for I-C-E C-R-E-A-M. He spelled it and because I was only 5, I had to write the letters one by one on a piece of paper and try to decipher his message. I figured it out in a few minutes and shouted, "ICE CREAM!!!!" The moment we walked into the ice cream place, I saw him. The bully was waiting to get ice cream, too. I whispered, "That's the bully." My dad looked at me and I saw a flame light in his eyes. He turned around and, rather loudly, asked me, "Him? That's the bully?" I think the bully was taller than my dad, but that didn't matter. My dad marched up to him and started SCREAMING right there in the middle of the ice cream place. I only remember him saying, "YOU SEE THIS LITTLE GIRL? IF YOU EVER..." , and then I remember both the boy and his mom running out of the ice cream place before they even got ice cream. He didn't bother me anymore after that.
I hope more parents start standing up for their kids instead of waiting for the schools to do it for them.
I remember feeling so safe and protected by my dad. He did what a lot of parents would be too scared to do. He made a scene. I can't say that I will chase any kids out of an ice cream store, but I can tell you that if anyone bullies my boy for any reason at all, I know how to make a scene. A pretty big one. And I'll do it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Through a Husband's Eyes

I asked my husband to write a blog from a man's perspective on what it is like to be a first-time dad. It took him a few days, and this is what he decided to send me. It is the text-transcripts between himself and Doula Schmoula in the days and hours leading up to Abe's birth. I realized that my husband was somewhat freaked out while I was in labor, but even I was surprised to read his level of concern and self-doubt throughout those early morning hours. 

2010-08-26            Afternoon, Three Days before Abe was Born
2:28:23           From Husband            At doctor now. 4cm and 80% efaced.  Doc said we are in labor. Still talking.  Will keep u apprised. I think he wants to admit us. Fighting to go back home.

2:37:22            From Husband            Ok. We wiggled our way out. Gonna head home.
2:37:30            From Husband            Call you in a bit
2:38:12            From Doula Schmoula  Um. If you're not contracting, you're not in labor. ;)
2:44:38            From Husband            She is contracting. Several times an hour. Nothing consistent or regular, but strong enough to stop her from doing anything
2:47:27            From Doula Schmoula            Ok.

2010-08-29            The Early Morning Hours of the Day Abe was Born
04:13:41            From Husband            Were up. She's still exhausted and having some contractions. It seemed like she got some rest
04:14:36            From Husband            From about 10-3 there wasn't much but now were moaning. She says she wants to be done. Dunno what the next step is
04:16:59            From Doula Schmoula The only way to get to the end is to walk through it. Do these contractions seem like before or do they seem different?
04:18:29            From Husband            In the middle of one. Seem the same as when we left for the hospital From what I can tell
04:20:18            From Husband            She's just too exhausted. Says she can't take it anymore. Dunno what the threshold is. Should we go in?
04:21:24            From Doula Schmoula   Ok. The key here is to not ask her to do things but to tell her, i.e. "this is the next step". Put her in the tub and feed her something. Toast and egg maybe?
04:22:18            From Husband            In tub now. I gave her some melon.
04:24:43            From Husband            Making toast w peanut butter now
04:26:22            From Doula Schmoula   That is good. As far as the "i can'ts" go, we know she can. And it is best to try to keep her in the moment and out of her head. Is she relaxing or is she fighting them?
04:28:10            From Husband            They are progressing. The mental is tough on her. The I cants are rolling in
04:29:49            From Doula Schmoula            How long as she been in tub?
04:31:25            From Husband            Maybe 20. She's out now. Got out on her own while I was making toast
04:32:35            From Doula Schmoula            Ok. Eat some toast and then go for a walk. Is she shakey?
04:33:33            From Husband            She is walking the room. She is shakey she said. Walking and moaning
04:34:15            From Doula Schmoula            Moaning with contractions or the whole time?
04:35:08            From Husband            Pretty much the whole time
04:35:35            From Doula Schmoula            How quick are they coming?
04:35:55            From Husband            3 min or so. On the bed in her knees for contractions. Kinda doing what she wants. Doesn't wanna listen
04:37:43            From Doula Schmoula            That's fine. She is following her instincts. Knee chest is good. Or on ball doing big circles. How are you feeling?
04:38:31            From Husband            K. She is discouraged. I’m worried for her. It's tough. She said she doesn't think you understand. Dunno what that means. They seem to be getting more intense to me
04:40:16            From Doula Schmoula            You think i should head back over?
04:41:06            From Husband            Maybe. If you don't I would probably take her in. Just don't have the confidence
04:42:50            From Doula Schmoula            There isn't an absolute right or wrong here. Let me change clothes and i'll see you shortly. Need coffee?
04:43:46            From Husband            If you're already stopping. If not just come here and we can make some here.

04:45:18            From Husband            Ohh. Maybe come here? It's making me nervous. Seems to be getting stronger
04:45:29            From Doula Schmoula            K. I'll hurry.
04:46:18            From Husband            K. Call when you're here. I'll let you in
04:46:26            From Doula Schmoula            K

05:18:59            From Husband            You could probably get coffee if you want. She might have hit a rhythm
05:20:28            From Doula Schmoula            K. I'll run back to the Gate Station. Whaddya want?
05:21:37            From Husband            Just a coffee. Thnx.
05:22:09            From Doula Schmoula            Sure

05:40:39            From Doula Schmoula            I'm here

Doula Schmoula Left the Delivery Room to Update the Moms
10:58:14            From Husband            they're getting delivery cart ready

Friday, October 29, 2010

2 Months

Dear Abe,

Today is October 29 and you are 2 months old. Two months ago I first met you and it seemed like I'd always known you. It still feels that way, mixed in with feelings of, "Who the hell is this person?!" Becoming a parent is an extremely surreal experience. Don't let anybody tell you differently.
Over the past 2 months, you've learned where your hands are and how to hold on to things (especially my hair). You've learned to follow objects with your eyes and you love looking out the window. You started out screaming everytime I changed your diaper, and now we have fun at the changing table with Puppy and the pretty seagulls on the wall. You've learned to smile and you make sounds that range from happy to inquisitive to extremely pissed off. You figured out who your dad is and how much you LOVE him. And you also found the bath, your favorite place to be.
Last night you slept for 5 straight hours. And this morning when you woke up, you stretched, kicked your legs, and smiled at me. I think you're beginning to like it here on Earth, though from what little I know of you I kind of doubt this is your first time here.
I hope you know that for all the days I hated being a mom in the beginning, I'm getting better at it now and starting to like it. I never hated you; I'm just not that great with change. Your dad and I wanted you SO much, but didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. That's the only reason it felt so chaotic and unhappy at first. We have learned so many lessons that help remove all the obstacles that get in the way of loving you. The biggest lesson I've learned is that you don't need me to follow a plan or a schedule. You just need me to listen, and I can do that.
I really do love you madly. I promise that I will continue to be as present a mom as I can be. Sometimes I'll forget or make big mistakes that you'll tell your grown-up friends about later and say things like, "She did the best she could, bless her heart." I'm only human, after all, but I'm always going to do the best I can. That's all you can ask for, and that's all I can ask of you. Besides, what's life without a little therapy?
Thank you for choosing me to be your mom. I love you.

Your Mom

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Philosophy

Whether you love Dr. Sears, Dr. Ferber, The Happiest Baby on the Block technique, Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child, or The No-Cry Sleep Method, you soon learn that none of them are right. At least, for very long. And I've tried them all...and then some.
It seems everyone chooses a parenting philosophy (yes, that's what all these different books and websites are called, "philosophies") at some point. You read a book and you think, yeah. That makes sense. So you decide that when your baby cries it means he or she has a deep need to feel you close. Or when your baby fusses before a nap, it's just his or her way of settling down. Or if you give the baby a chance to cry and he or she takes a good long sleep afterwards, then the crying was all worth it. You pick one of them and that's how you're going to raise your child.
Then you have your baby and whatever parenting philosophy you bought all the books for doesn't work at all and you have to start reading the other books. Except now you're sleep deprived. And soon, you've chosen a different philosophy that suddenly makes MORE sense than the first one, not to mention completely contradicts it. You try that one for a few days and once it proves to be utterly useless, you begin to adopt the philosophies that you swore you NEVER would because "That's ridiculous" and "I'm not going to be one of those parents."
And then that stupid philosophy works. And you eat your words and take a nap because your baby is finally sleeping.
As hard as I tried to convince Abe that attachment-style parenting was what he wanted, he has proven otherwise. He is extremely independent. He doesn't particularly care to sleep next to me ("co-sleep") or snuggle. He's perfectly content to sleep in his crib, upstairs, many feet away from us. If he's fussing in his crib, he does best when I just leave him alone. It took a while for me to figure this out because I was NOT going to be one of those parents who just let their child CRY. I would go to him and assure him I loved him forever. But you know what? When he cries or fusses during a daytime nap for 5 minutes BY HIMSELF, he usually sleeps for an hour afterward (at least!). When I rush to his crib-side and furiously pat his bottom and assure him that I would never leave him, his crying gets louder and angrier. GOD FORBID I then pick him up. The head-butting and boob punching then begins. And sure, I can try to nurse him to calm him down, but he typically just plays around for a few minutes and then goes back to screaming until I set him down to nap. I imagine he's saying something like, "WOMAN! PUT ME DOWN! I have to grunt like that in the crib to turn my head to get comfortable! Oh great, now you're going to pick me up. That's just perfect. Exactly what I wanted when I was half asleep and about to be fully asleep again if you would have let me finish CHANGING POSITIONS. Oh, boob? Ok, well, I mean, I'll hang out around here for a minute. But I'm not really hungry. So I guess there's no point. WOMAN! PUT ME BACK DOWN IN THAT CRIB!" He likes his sleep. He is his father's child.

Now don't get me wrong, these books all have interesting and somewhat helpful points. They certainly made me think about new ways of approaching my baby. But the truth is, parents don't choose philosophies. Babies do. So if you don't yet have a kid and you're thinking of buying a book about how to best help your baby sleep or eat or poop, stop yourself and decide you won't be another sucker to donate to Dr. Whoever's great-grandchild's trust fund. Dr. Whoever doesn't have to live with Abe and unless I tent the books over Abe's face when he's screaming to help muffle the sound, it doesn't do me much good at 4am.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You Were Right

Ok, ok, ok, you were right. I like my kid.
But in my defense, he smiles now. And he appears to smile for a reason, not just because the muscles in his face involuntarily worked their way upwards when he pooped. Like when I wake him up, sure he's really grumpy for a few minutes. But then, suddenly and as if it's a whole new world all over again, he looks at me and smiles like, "Oh! Right! You're my mom and I'm a person and you make the milk! Great!"
Eight weeks and he's so much more alert now. He looks to see where I am in the room and when I'm talking to him he often makes eye contact. He also really likes bouncing all his arms and legs at once. This isn't an indication of any emotion or need. I think he just discovered them and is celebrating.
We're starting to get to know each other and I'm learning his likes and dislikes, which is so interesting. It's not at all what the books said it would be like. Don't read those books, by the way. None of those books have met your baby.
It's weird how people reacted in the grocery store when I told them he was 2 weeks old as opposed to telling them he's 8 weeks old now. At 2 weeks, people were astonished that a human could even be that young. "TWO WEEKS? Wow!!! THAT'S AMAZING!" Now they say, "Oh yeah. 8 weeks. I blocked that out. You getting any sleep?" I'll give ya three guess, check out guy at Publix.
To be honest, though, sleep is getting better. Abe totally gets "night" now. And napping isn't too bad either.
He still screams in his carseat until he's hoarse. And he does not yet care to be "worn" facing out, by either David or I. "Why would you force me to see the evils of the world so soon when I could be comfortably nestled into your chest?!"
Overall, I get it. I get why you all do this over and over again. I'm not saying I'm going to do it again. Don't start paying each other off on all the bets you made as to how soon I would cave in; we're not there yet. But Abe is cool and he's funny and he does stuff that makes me want to keep him. So fine. You win. A little.

Friday, October 22, 2010


From "Cara"

Our first night home with our baby, I followed all the steps I knew to soothe him and help him sleep. When I finally laid him down, he screamed. So I changed him again and laid him back down. Still crying. I fed him again and laid him back down. Still crying. Then I thought it might be gas so I gave him some Mylicon. No dice. I checked his temperature. We’re fine there. It seemed he was only happy if I was holding him. I tried lying him down all night long and every time I did, the crying ensued. This lasted for hours and hours until I was so exhausted I woke up my husband and told him I couldn’t do it anymore. He agreed that it was his turn.  I watched him wrap our son up in a blanket and lay him down and poof. Our baby was asleep. The blanket. IT WAS THE BLANKET! I couldn’t believe I had wasted an entire night’s rest because our baby was COLD! It was my body heat keeping him warm when I held him and the moment I would set him down, he would get COLD! No one ever tells us to think about that!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Nurses...The Doctors...That Guy...

My doula made a joke after I had Abe that I should skip the hospital next time and have a baby at the birthing center in town. And after the onslaught of invoices pouring in from the hospital, I'm considering it. It all started with the first bill: the big one. You know, the one that covers our one night stay, meals, etc. I won't tell you how much, but you know how much it costs to fly round trip to France? It was more than that. Luckily, insurance did cover a chunk of it. But the trouble was that while I was pregnant we'd paid for our OBGYN to go to France. Now, the hospital staff was brushing up on their French, too.
Then we got a bill from the neonatologist. We saw him for exactly 28.2 seconds. And guess what? France.
Then we got a bill from a pediatrics group who apparently looked at Abe once. They're not going to France, but they could make it to Canada if they felt like it.
Then there was the bill from the audiologist who checked Abe's hearing. I could have done her job. You breathe funny and this kid's whole body startles. But whatever. That lady's on her way to NYC on my dime.
Our pediatrician, who we love, sent us a bill which included a "phone consultation." Mmmhmm. And thanks to that phone consult, they're taking a nice little trip down to the Keys for a long weekend. 
Don't forget the anesthesiologist who performed my epidural. He's meeting up with the OB and the rest of the hospital staff in France, and then meeting another anesthesiologist friend in Italy to buy shirts that say, "Americans are suckers."
Overall, my baby is sending a lot of people on a lot of trips, and I've been stuck in the house for almost 8 weeks. My big trips out have been to Babies R Us, Target (for a flu shot) and the chiropractor. I realize I get a brand new human being out of the deal, but it seems like if anyone should be getting a prize vacation it should be ME. I did the fertility treatments, the pregnancy, the birth, and the first 8 weeks. I'll settle for Arkansas at this point. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Top 8 Things I Couldn't Live Without

The Itzbeen
This little gadget is brilliant. Everytime I feed Abe, I hit the "bottle" button. When I change him? "Diaper" button. When he goes to sleep? "Zzzz's" button. So the next time my husband walks in wondering if Abe is crying because he's hungry or because he's an angry baby, he can just check the Itzbeen. Then he'll say, "Look, it's been 2 hours since he's eaten. He must be hungry! I don't need to wake my wife. I can just warm a bottle and take care of it myself!" See? He leaves me alone. It's also a MIRACLE for the middle of the night when I can't remember if I changed him at his 1:30 feeding or if the dirty diaper on the changing table is from yesterday.

The Miracle Blanket
Speaking of miracles, The Miracle Blanket. My girl cousin recommended this to me, touting it as the "Baby Straight Jacket." This term turned me off until my baby screamed for 3 days straight. Then a straight jacket didn't seem like such a bad idea. It keeps his arms SNUG by his sides so he can't punch himself in the eye while he's sleeping and then wake up, scream, and blame me. Do you know how hard it is to explain to a 7-week-old, "You punched yourself, dude."?

The Remote Control Light Switch
Ever try to latch a screaming baby to your boob in the darkest of night (men excluded)? Or worse, ever try turning the LIGHT on while latching a screaming baby to your boob in the darkest of night (men excluded, again)? My husband came up with a solution. He hooked up this little remote control clicker to a bedside table lamp with nice soft light. I never have to get up out of bed to turn on the light. I just keep this little remote under my pillow and click it to help get my bearings when I'm half asleep. Then, I click it back off to ensure Abe knows it's still night time and he has to go BACK to sleep.

The Belly
I know, I know, I know. Babies are supposed to sleep on their BACKS. And sleeping on their bellies causes SIDS and ingrown toenails and throat cancer, but you know what? My baby sleeps best on his belly. In fact, he sleeps only on his belly. When I lay him on his back, he lifts his legs STRAIGHT up in front of him as if to say, "Look! Wheee!! Look what I can do with my legs! Why sleep when I can do this?!?!" Which brings me to the next best of...

The Angel Care
This amazing thing has saved me HOURS of worry. A little plate sits under Abe's crib mattress. When turned on, it detects even the slightest movements. If it does not detect movement for 20 seconds, an alarm begins to sound. So, if Abe stops breathing I will know within 20 seconds and probably break an elbow throwing walls out of my way to get to him. And trust me, it works. I am reminded of how well it works every time I pick him up in the middle of the night and forget to turn it off. RIGHT about the time I hit my remote control light switch and get Abe latched on is when it starts beeping like a dump truck on steroids backing up through the bedroom.

The Poop Chair
This little vibrating chair is what my husband and I have dubbed The Poop Chair. Everytime I set Abe in it, the chair keeps him at the perfect angle and delivers just enough vibration to get his little tummy moving and the poopy flowin'. No joke, at least once a day I set him in the poopy chair, turn it on, and away he goes. It has completely eliminated my need for alternative measures to help him poop, and if you read my blog on rectal temperature (read here), you know it's a real blessing for me. Side note: I got this chair for $3 at a flea market. Washed all the cloth pieces and viola, I'm thrifty.

TONS of Receiving Blankets
Poop...Abe has a gift for blow-outs. For those of you without kids, a blow-out is when the poop is so plentiful, or forceful, that a diaper springs loose like the weakest kid in class during a game of Red Rover. I put receiving blankets on EVERYTHING. I put them on top of his cradle sheet, his swing, the car seat, the Poopy Chair (of course), the changing table...I save myself so much time. In fact, just this morning I got the stroller all set up with a comfy, fancy blanket to go on a walk. Right before we left, I threw a receiving blanket in and set Abe on top. And wouldn't you know he had a blow-out before we hit the driveway. Did I panic? Nope. Just cleaned him up, threw the receiving blanket in the wash, and pulled out another one before the walk resumed. No scrubbing the stroller, no dirty fancy blanket.

The Washer and Dryer
Oh. And in reference to receiving blankets, PLEASE be sure to buy a set of these before you have a kid. I have never done so much laundry in my life. Between the poop, the pee, the spit's a wonder we can still pay our energy bill.

P.S. If you work for any of the companies that manufacture these 8 items, please pass them the link to my blog in case they're interested in giving me free stuff.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


One thing that's hard to understand is the anxiety that comes along with being a new mom. At least it's very hard for me to understand. When my kid is in the car seat and screaming as if someone is murdering him, bringing him back to life, and then murdering him again, I just want to pull the car over and get out. Go for a walk maybe, or get a latte. Then resume mom duties again after about 20 minutes of peace. Our Honda Pilot does not let any noise out or in, so when I close my door on my way to get him out, I often take a few extra seconds on the walk to the back. It's so peaceful in those moments.
But what gets me is when other people have him. While in the doctor's office yesterday, David sat with Abe in the waiting room trying to feed him. Abe was pissed off, tired, and generally ungrateful for being alive. I felt so free walking to the nurses station to have my blood drawn. Then, and without warning, anxiety hit. I heard a brief scream. I'd know it anywhere. And I looked at the nurse and said, "That's Abe." She smiled. SMILED. As if it's just like, oh wow, some baby is screaming. NOT some baby. MY BABY. He's SCREAMING. Do you not HEAR THAT? I got super squirmy and told her that I got anxiety whenever he screamed. He screamed again. Ever fiber of my being jumped and wanted to be NO WHERE but there where Abe was screaming. What is going on? He's with his dad in a waiting room with other babies about 30 feet away. I don't even like this kid and I HAVE to get to him when he screams?
Finally, after the longest 10 minutes ever, she told me to go back to the waiting room. I ran like a bat out of hell. My husband looked like his head was going to explode which made me angry, a strange response. I wanted to say, "Seriously? It's been 10 minutes! I do this all day! Suck it up buttercup!" Then, the fact that he got so overwhelmed after only 10 minutes gave me, you guessed it, anxiety.
All this anxiety has got to affect Abe. This could be causing him to have trouble eating or bad dreams or sleep apnea or diabetes or SOMETHING. And then when I think about how my anxiety level is affecting his temperament, I get more anxiety.  I do the things Dr. Sears tells us to do: go for a walk, eat right, drink plenty of water, sleep when you can, etc. I even asked his website if I could take Xanax while breastfeeding. Turns out that's a bad idea. Vodka, however, he didn't mention...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Aftermath

It's incredible how AWESOME my body looked in hindsight. How ridiculous was I spending hours in front of the mirror worried about a thin layer of fat (which, as it turns out, was skin) or a pimple? Today I'm lucky if I look in the mirror on my way to feed my baby (and completely ruin my boobs, which I didn't appreciate back then either). They warned me that my stomach would take a while to go back down, but I didn't realize that 6 weeks out I'd still look 6 months pregnant. It's embarrassing. I want to tell everyone who looks at me, "I just had a baby, ok?" Bright spot: I have a little extra junk in the trunk now, which I've always prayed for. Those of you in the Flat Butt Society understand this prayer.
I also didn't realize how little I would care about anything going on in the world. I mean, just today the TV was on as I passed through the room and I saw that Courtney Cox and David Arquette separated and some woman in Texas says she didn't kill her husband on a boat. Two months ago, this would have stopped me in my tracks and I would have sat taking note about every detail. I then would have referenced People magazine, followed by an episode of The People's Court, and then on to But I just don't care what's happening to anyone else. If anything, those people should be caring about what's happening to ME! My life is COMPLETELY turned upside down and sometimes it's hard to catch my breath. Where's my segment on the 6 o'clock news?
Oh, and my dogs. My poor dogs. They are used to snuggles and attention and barking at the mailman. They were the KIDS in our house. Now, they get in trouble for everything. They can't lick the baby, they can't bark, they can't run around in the house. I feel like they're going to think their names are "Shhh!" and "STOP IT!" soon.
I haven't started losing my lovely, thick hair yet. I know this starts to go at around 3 months. So by Thanksgiving, this kid better do something REALLY cool. Otherwise, I gotta say it'll be tough to convince me this was all worth it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Week

One week is how old Abe was the day I turned to David and sobbed that I was incredibly sorry for completely ruining our lives.

One week is all it takes for Abe's size, shape, temperament, and routine to completely change.

One week is as far ahead as my brain goes. It means Abe is a week older, and a week closer to milestones that make a screaming baby all worth it.

One weak moment is all it takes to turn a fairly good day into what feels like the worst day of my life.

One week ago I reeeeeeally disliked my baby. Today, I kinda like him. A little.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I've dealt with an inordinate amount of death in my life. It seems like every year my family got smaller and smaller as I grew up. But it wasn't until I lost my first friend at 21 that death stopped becoming a part of life and started poking holes in it.
I moved into the theatre dorms when I was just 17 years old. It was full of some real dramatic personalities, as you can imagine. I met Noel on my very first day. He had on a dirty old hat trying desperately to cover a displaced mass of curly, crazy brown hair. He was the only one I remember who seemed comfortable in his own skin. "This guy isn't afraid to be leaving home and trying to live life without his parents," I thought. And to be honest, it didn't take long for him to offer us all a drink.
I acted in shows with Noel over the years and watched his free spirit laugh, joke, and fly through all kinds of get-togethers. He was the party at the party for sure. One show Noel and I were in together was not made up of a cast that meshed well outside of the script, and we all knew it. After the last show, the cast decided to meet at Olive Garden for a final dinner (whoopdie doo). Noel invited me home before that dinner and, to be perfectly honest, we indulged in some libations that would make the night a whole lot more fun. We spent the entire evening kicking each other under the table, cracking up at our "secret" trip home (and I'm sure it was no secret to anyone else at the table who even glanced at us). Months later, a picture of that dinner ended up in our college yearbook. Remember that song from Sesame Street? "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong..." It was pretty clear we were having a whole lot more fun than everyone else in the shot. We gave each other a quick look and a silent laugh amid the crowd of people surfing through the pages when we saw it. What fun he made life.
Noel was not a typical theatre kid, frat boy, or Tennessee native. He was more than fun and funny, he was incredibly smart. He was in law school when he got sick. The fact that it was his brain that was chosen by cancer makes cancer one of my biggest enemies in the world. The idea that he was forced to withdraw from life's party before he could celebrate another anniversary with his beloved or see his baby girl being born sends my eyes straight to the sky, praying with everything that I am that his soul will still get to experience it all on some level we can't yet understand. It's true that life isn't fair, but this particular twist seems a much crueler trick than fair or unfair.
Noel and I were not best friends. We didn't even stay in touch after college was over. Though he left a strong impression on everyone's life who knew him, including mine. And with every email update I received about his fight against the "c" word in the past 2 years, I was reminded to live that day like it was my last and be grateful that I get to spend it with the man I love and now, the child we made. He was a great reminder to seize the day in college, and he will continue to remind me for the rest of my life. I can't imagine spending today writing about anyone else.

Shine on, Noel.
Shine on.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Best I Can

When my mom comes to visit now, it's a whole new ball game. She's got a JOB to do. She's a grandma, a whole new career. And let me tell you, she kicks ass at work.
While driving home from lunch with a screaming Abe in the car, I was starting to feel weary. Here I am doing everything I can possibly think of every single day of my life to keep him happy and healthy and he screams like someone is pinching the back of his arm (come on, you know that hurts like the dickens when someone does it right).
After opening the back window, turning up the music, singing, and mimicking his cries (in an attempt to communicate with him), I finally shouted to the back seat, "I'M SORRY, ABE! THERE IS NOTHING ELSE I CAN DO!" And that is when my mom said one of the most peace-invoking statements I've heard in 5 and a half weeks.
"And that's the truth, Erin. There is nothing else you can do."
It was like a light bulb went off. I'm doing everything I know how to do, and there is nothing more I can do besides just that! When he screams and I try everything I know and he still screams, I'm not a bad mom. I'm not doing it wrong. I suppose if I purposefully left him screaming in an empty room you could go with the "bad mom" label. Or if I KNEW he was hungry and I decided I just wasn't going to feed him that day, you could call somebody to come haul me away. Or if he was clearly exhausted and I forced him to ride Space Mountain over and over and over again, someone could file a complaint and take full custody of Abe (and the dogs, for that matter). But I do try and if it doesn't work, it's ok. I'm not creating a future drug dealer just because I can't figure out what his vampire face means and he will likely not join a cult because his hands were clearly too cold this morning when we woke up. I am trying my best, and as a mom (forever) I have to remember: I'm doing my best and there is nothing else I can do.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies

There are a number of lies floating around about mothering a newborn that have to be addressed. It's amazing how many women claim to "forget" what life with a newborn was like. You just plum forgot? That's amazing.
I never want to forget this time, and I want as many women as possible who have never had a child to know how unbelievably hard the first few weeks are so they don't feel as unprepared as I did. No sugar-coating it. Someone's gotta be honest!

 Lie #1 : You'll love your baby immediately.
I do not love my baby. I mean, I love him because he's mine and I'm super glad he's healthy and here on Earth. But I'm not all ushy-gushy in love with him. In fact, he's really an obligation more than a son. He's a need-machine with absolutely no give back. He doesn't smile, he doesn't coo, he doesn't hug. He screams and poops and eats (all after ruining my body). And when I smile or show him a toy or make eye contact, he makes the most sour, unhappy face I've ever seen. I don't have postpartum depression. I just miss The People's Court and going out to dinner.

 Lie #2 : "My babies were sleepers"
This one is just mean. Women say to me, "Is he sleeping?! My babies were sleepers." You're a liar or you have a terrible memory. Breast-fed babies don't sleep in the first 3 months. Now maybe you packed your baby so full of formula that he slept for 8 hours at 3 weeks simply because he couldn't move. But there is simply no such thing as a 1 month old "sleeper". Saying that to me simply makes me feel inadequate and more tired than I already am. Stop it.

 Lie #3: You should cherish them at that age because they're never that small again.
Really? Cherish them? As I mentioned in Lie #1, they don't do anything but scream, poop, eat, and occasionally sleep in bursts just long enough for you to start a dream and finish it with a milk-drinking monster only to realize it's actually your offspring. This is not a time of my life I am cherishing, and I think it's perfectly OK to admit that. I realize there is an end to this period and eventually my child will smile at me and I will possibly melt off the planet. But in the mean time, I make no bones about not cherishing this and I'll never insist that anyone else cherish it either.

 Lie #4: Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt if you're doing it right.
So you're telling me that a human being sucking as hard as he can on my NIPPLE hurts because I'm DOING IT WRONG? No, I disagree. It hurts because a human being is sucking as hard as he can on my NIPPLE. Sure, once we got our latch going it didn't hurt as much, but if I could choose between a pedicure with a glass of merlot and breastfeeding, you better believe my toes win. And P.S. on breastfeeding: yeah, you burn 500 calories a day doing it, but some women (like me) have to be so careful with what they eat that it's not even worth it. I WANT PIZZA.

 Lie #5 : There is very little a father can do to help in the first few months.
No, my husband cannot feed our child right now. But you know what he can do? Laundry. And dishes. And the lawn. And he can constantly clean up behind the natural disaster that is Erin and Abe on most days. He can take our son for a walk while I sleep and he can grocery shop for things that don't contain dairy or soy. Thank God for him.

I wake up everyday remember that someday Abe will look at me and say "mommy" and hug my neck and giggle. And I think it's OK that women prepare each other and support each other for how mind-numbingly tiring these first months are. I give thanks every day for the women in my life who are giving of advice and an understanding ear when I've been pushed to my limits. I'm very lucky. And now I'm going to go clean another load of poop-stained laundry.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010



I got up in the middle of the night to change my newborn son. I was 
completely exhausted, hair matted, the shower a distant memory of 
days gone by. I got the fresh diaper on and took my baby back to bed 
in hopes of getting a little more rest before morning. I got up the 
next morning, fed him, and moved back to the changing table. When I 
took his diaper off, I discovered that I hadn’t exactly “changed” my 
son in the middle of the night. While I did put on a fresh diaper, I 
neglected to take off the dirty one. My son was wearing one very 
soiled diaper underneath one very pristine one! After sitting in his poo for a good few hours, I had to pour warm water over his little nuggets to release them from the diaper!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


People say babies can only communicate by crying; that's why it's so important to respond to a baby's cries as immediately as possible. Today, however, my baby wouldn't stop crying all afternoon. I fed him, I rocked him, I changed him, I even gave him a new outfit. We got in the car, the swing, mommy's chest, daddy's chest, the vibrating chair, the glider...nothing was calming him down. So finally, after one last attempt to lay down with him, I sat straight up and sat him straight up in front of me. I looked him right in the eye and asked, "Abraham? What is wrong with you?"
At that very moment, my son pooped a poop so big that it came out of every single side of his diaper, through his onesie, and through his blanket.

Mmhmm. Tell me babies only communicate through crying. Mine talks using poop sounds. He's asleep now.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Since bringing Abraham home, I couldn’t believe the amount of mistakes I would make even after reading all these books and attending all the classes. I didn’t even know how to put a diaper on a newborn correctly until my husband showed me. MY HUSBAND showed ME. Now that is humbling. Swaddling was a joke for the first week. My baby Houdini could find his way out of anything. Oh, and it’s important to secure your baby in the car seat even if you’re just going for a walk with the stroller…’cuz you feel REALLY badly when you open up the sunshade and see him doubled over on himself, head on knees, trying to somehow continue his nap.
I started talking to other moms in an attempt to feel somewhat normal about my fumbles, and the stories I heard were incredible! Some of the ridiculous things we moms have done in the first months of our childrens’ lives MUST be shared. So over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some real mom stories I’ve collected from friends and family. Email me or Facebook me if you want to share yours. Of course, all stories are anonymous!

I’ll start:
After about 4 days of breastfeeding, my milk came in. As everyone predicted, I did turn into Dolly Parton for a hot minute. But the transition happening in Abe’s tummy was more of my concern.
A new mom, poop had become a military-esque mission. I tracked every poop down to the minute. Poop was the ardent new word in my husband and I’s conversations. “When did he poop?” “Did you change him, did he poop?” “Was that gas or a poop?”
When Abe didn’t poop for an entire 24-hours, I began to get nervous. I called the pediatrician, who assured me this could be perfectly normal. She suggested a few different massages to help get things moving. She also explained how checking his rectal temperature could stimulate his bowels. Well, I massaged and massaged and the poor kid remained all stopped up. I decided to try and take his rectal temperature, something I’d never done or even seen done to a newborn. Afraid I would hurt him, I just barely put the tip of the thermometer in his bottom. He didn’t seem to notice it, so I twirled it the way our pediatrician described. Nothing. A little sleep deprived and a little curious, I decided the best thing to do would be to get eye to eye with his bottom to ensure I had the thermometer in the right place. Not my brightest moment. The second I got eye level, you guessed it, poop. Not just poop. Projectile hot orange poop…straight in my face. I stood up, stunned, reaching for wipes or diapers or anything to get this off me. Furiously wiping myself off I looked down at Abe, who was now peeing directly onto his own face. This was half awful and half amazing. Both of us covered in poo and pee, I decided this was a perfectly acceptable situation in which to laugh hysterically as opposed to my go-to emotion of the week, sobbing uncontrollably. I laughed through all the clean up and the new diaper. And I learned a good lesson!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ever After

There were a lot of things I didn’t know about life AFTER delivering a baby. Someone should absolutely mention the shaking. My body shook so hard after Abraham was born that I could barely hold him. Some say it’s the epidural and some say it’s the adrenaline. Either way, I felt like my own personal earthquake.
It would also be nice to get a head’s up on the amount of blood loss you can expect to see. When it was time to change rooms, I sat up and freaked out! I told Doula, “I think I’m hemorrhaging!” The nurse checked and told me I was actually not bleeding badly compared to some. She reminded me I had been carrying 50% more blood for the past several months and my body would need to get rid of it.
How about trying to pee after an epidural? I stood up in my postpartum room, looked at Dave and exclaimed, “Oh! I’m peeing!” After 3 months of feeling like I needed to pee every 5 minutes, I now had absolutely no sensation of needing to pee until it was actually happening. I called my mom and told her to buy some adult diapers before I came home. This was a really good move and saved me many a panicked moment in the days to come. “Eek! I’m peeing! Oh, it’s ok. I’m wearing a diaper.”
Stitches. Ever get stitches? Well, a few days after you get them, they itch. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Skin, hair, and nails are so crazy beautiful during pregnancy. Then the baby comes out and all the moisture in your body laughs and runs away. My hair, which is always naturally oily, feels like straw. My skin is sooo dry. And because I'm so busy worrying about the other person who now lives in our house, I often forget to moisturize. I'm concerned I may lose my entire epidermis within a few days.
Two weeks later and I’m just now getting to the point where walking isn’t excruciatingly painful without Darvocet and Ibuprofen. And five minutes alone is kind of like a Hawaiian vacation. :)
Feel free to comment and share any postpartum symptoms you were surprised by...I could use the head's up!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Birth Story Part 6: The Final Push

The anesthesiologist arrived within seconds, it seemed. He carefully explained to me everything he would be doing. I looked up at my husband who sat on a bench in front of me with Doula. He seemed like he was crying, scared for me. He later told me that was the worst moment of the entire experience. He said my eyes didn’t just communicate pain, they screamed with fear. And he was right, I was terrified. I didn’t know it, but he had to leave the room at one point to keep from losing it himself.
The kind nurse held me as I sat on the edge of the bed through contractions. It took the anesthesiologist 5 tries to get the epidural into my back. Five pokes, five contractions, almost ten long minutes. The nurse kept pushing my head down into my stomach so that my spine would stretch and separate. I am such a small person that it took an act of God to spread my vertebrae enough to get the needle in. The anesthesiologist tried to administer a local anesthetic so that I would not feel the needle going in, but after screaming, “I CAN FEEL EVERYTHING” and realizing that only slowed him down, I decided that feeling a needle going into my spine was the trade off for ultimate relief.
Finally, and within minutes, the epidural took effect. I closed my eyes, tears streaming down my face, and breathed as fully and calmly as I could. It had been almost 26 hours since I could relax. I shared a few kind and quiet moments with my husband before I dozed off. The nap was short, but when the nurse woke me up to check me again I felt a new mental preparedness for what would come next.
The nurse smiled. “Ten centimeters! You’re ready to start pushing. Do you want to try to push now?” I was so shocked and excited that Abe was ready. I tried to push but couldn’t feel anything.
“Am I pushing?”
The nurse sweetly replied, “Not really.”
I focused hard on my body and the muscles I needed to use to push Abe out. I tried again and again until about the fourth time the nurse said, “Oh! That’s it! That was a push!”
The midwife at my OBGYN practice agreed to be on call for me through the weekend despite the fact that she wasn’t working. She’d arrived at the hospital shortly after I did, which I was so thankful for. The last thing I wanted was the scary doctor there repeating things like gestational diabetes, giant head, huge shoulders, or big baby.
The nurses quickly dismantled the bed and set up trays of metal instruments and plastic bins. During this time, my husband and I took a moment to reflect and even cry about how amazing and exciting this was. I was so grateful to be engaged and alert enough to be present in that moment. It is my favorite memory of Abe’s birth: my husband’s face on mine and both of us saying, “He’s coming!”
The nurse continued to instruct me to push with each contraction. Epidural or not, I could feel the pain of Abe’s head descending. Doula held one leg, I held the other, and my husband sat behind me supporting my head. I asked for a mirror in my birth plan, which turned out to be extremely helpful. I could see what was working and what wasn’t with each push. David could also see everything that was happening without leaving my head. I moved Abe so quickly that the nurse told me to stop and wait for the midwife.
When the midwife walked in, so did scary doctor. He just “happened” to be in the neighborhood on a Sunday and thought he would stop by. I later learned that convinced I would be having a c-section, he asked to be informed when I was admitted so that he could perform it. I’m not sure I spoke to him or even acknowledged him for the brief moment he was there. I just pushed as hard and as long as I could to show him I didn’t need him.
Pushing got more painful each time and I began to let out those primitive grunts you hear women making on TV. Sometimes the midwife would count 3 pushes and I would throw in an extra fourth before the contraction was over. I began to repeat from my gut, “Get him out. I have to get him out.”
Suddenly, the room went blurry. I could still hear voices, but no longer was I a part of it all. I entered a tunnel of my own, staring into the mirror and watching my baby.
“Erin! Reach down and feel his head! He has so much hair!” someone murmured in the distance. I reached down because I was told to, but I didn’t really put effort into feeling. I just kept pushing.
“You’re almost there! He’s turning the corner!”
My husband’s was the only clear voice. He shouted and laughed, “You’re doing it! Yes!”
When Abe’s head turned the corner and straightened out, I stopped watching the mirror. I went inside myself to push with everything I had. I don’t remember anyone telling me the head was out, or that his shoulder was out, or that he was born. I don’t remember Doula shouting, “Grab your baby!” I remember pushing until I looked down on my stomach and there he was. There was the person I’d been waiting to meet, pink as a rose and loud as a train.
David cut the cord and followed Abe to the scale and then to the warmer where the nurses tended to him for five long minutes. Doula was at my side smiling. I remember her saying, “Isn’t this cool, Erin?!” Finally, they handed Abe to me and I placed him on my chest. Here he was, and everything felt right. Life was never life until he fit right there beneath my chin.