Friday, September 9, 2011

The Cohen Tribe

If you've landed here lately, read some of the old stuff. It's pretty much my heart and soul.

Plenty more heart and soul where that came from, though. So join me on to keep up with all things dec-o-blog. It's just as fun.


Monday, August 22, 2011

The Safety Years

We are in what I like to call, "The Safety Years." Everything is about safety. (You know, injuries.) I've lost the ability to open, close, enter, exit, and and generally use most things in my home without first needing to unlock, unlatch, or ungate something. There is a latch to open and close the oven. There is a gate both at the top and bottom of my stairs. (This is following an incident during which I casually made a salad in the kitchen and entered the living room to find my son not playing with his toys on the floor but playing with his toys on the SECOND floor. Had a heart attack, died, ran up the stairs, grabbed him, and drove to Target to buy a bottom gate.) There are safety latches on most cabinets in the kitchen, sans the ones with knobs close enough together that we can use rubber bands instead. Abraham likes to "play" the rubber bands; a talent I call "Strumming the Cabinet Harp."
Every cord in our house that comes close to the floor is now tied around something tall, like a chair, so that my son can't put them in his mouth. We've already lost two Apple computer chargers to my son's desire to turn them into lollipops. There is a giant, rubber frog head wrapped around the spigots in the bathtubs which is, frankly, pretty disturbing if you know anything about heads and they way they attach to the body.
We have no pictures, table lamps, and no vacation momentos out anymore. Actually, to be clear, we do not set anything on anything. Tables are now for show and not for actual use. My son finds the entertainment center to be just that, which is why we can no longer turn any of the electronics ON in case he tries to push buttons that can never be unpushed in combinations that Bobby Fischer couldn't keep up with. Computers, cell phones, and iPads must only be used in the attic.
Plants must be hung from the ceiling or stored at the top of our closets. The one potted plant that is too large to move has given new meaning to the term "mud pie" on more than one occasion.
We can only load/unload the dishwasher during nap hours. All window shade cords must be tied up high, meaning that we never open/close the window shades anymore. Garbage baskets now reside in closets, cabinets, and sometimes on top of tables. (Oh! I guess we do use the tables.) Toilet covers must be put down, baby wipes must be put up, and no fun can be had out of doors unless someone is permanently holding Abe's hands away from his mouth. We even have a crib tent now in anticipation of the day he figures out he can get out of there without me.
It wasn't until I began writing this blog that I realized just how much of my house is some kind of "proofed" with this child in mind. I always said, "I'm just going to teach my child what he can and cannot touch," which was adorable of me. Because "no" is so effective at this age.
None of this madness happened at once. We didn't wake up one day and think, "We should make everything about our house inconvenient." It was one safety latch at a time until going to the bathroom required a schlage lock, a set of fingerprints, retinal scan, voice confirmation, and a secret knock. So think ahead if you might have to pee while at our house.

Friday, July 29, 2011

11 Months

Dear Abraham,

You are 11 months old today. I didn't even know babies got that old. I definitely never thought you would get that old; at least, I didn't think that in the first 4 months of your life.
So here's a little bit about you and the last two months:
You learned to pull yourself around the floor in a sort of, "my legs don't work but my arms do" kind of way at 9 months. You did that for over a month. I was worried we should be signing you up for the short bus, or at the very least, art school. As it turns out, you were just warming up. When you turned 10 months old you started crawling. And as they say, you never looked back. You're a FAST crawler, too. Your little hands and knees sounds like mice galloping across our wooden floors.
Dogs barking and mommy's hair are the two funniest things in your life. Also, handing things to people is a total gas. It never gets old and always deliver the perfect, little giggle.
You love just about every food there is. Even pulled pork.
You've got three and a half teeth. One of the top ones keeps tempting you with cutting through. Some mornings your little gums are all bloody and bruised. It's so incredibly sad for me when you are in pain.
You can climb. Everything. You climb stairs, cabinets, stools, window sills, the dogs, the dishwasher, the list goes on. You do not have great spacial awareness, as often times you hit your head and then get very angry. I try to warn you but you never listen.
Walks make you introspective and incredibly quiet. People who talk to you make you scream (I think you think you're talking to them). The swing gives you a sweet, peaceful disposition. And you're a perfect angel in every store. I love that about you.
You're not really a stay-at-home-baby. As long as we are out and about, or you are figuring out a new place, everything is kosher. Home, however, is a different story. You've learned how to throw tantrums at home. Whenever your daddy or I open the front or back doors, you RACE to get to them. Then, when we close them (even when no one has left), you lose your marbles. You throw yourself, face down, on the floor and scream and kick and seemingly shout, "WHY WOULD YOU OPEN A DOOR IF WE'RE NOT GOING THROUGH IT?? WHYYYYY?"
You also sincerely love dog food. There's no fair way for me to explain to you why you shouldn't eat it, and a happy Abe that does not make.
We've done so much traveling this summer and you've been a real champ. I think it's been harder on me than on you. Thank you for loving traveling as much as your daddy.
You are strong, strong-willed, handsome, determined, focused, and funny. I love your super tight hugs and your sloppy kisses and your scratched up knees. I am so thrilled to have you in my life everyday. And in one month, I'm going to look at you and say, "Happy Birthday, bud!! You're 1!" (Can you believe that?!)

I love you,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wanna Do Some Good?

There are a million places to put your money. 

I'm putting mine on the Do Good Bus.

The Do Good Bus is an opportunity to get involved and help your community. Just get on the bus and we do the rest. Each trip is different and the locations are a secret. You never know where you’ll end up and what you might end up doing. You will be wined and dined while on the bus and learn about causes in your neighborhood. If you have always wanted to get involved, volunteer or help others but didn’t know how, hop on the Do Good Bus!

They're partnering with Foster the People to do more than just tour around the country taking up space. They're making changes everywhere they can. Good changes that folks of our generation rarely take the time to think about (like planting a garden in the middle of an exit ramp...I did that once.)

And if you have a few minutes, get inspired and watch Rebecca (The Do-Gooder) talk about how important this is to her personally.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Multi-tasking is a blessing and a curse. Mom-Erin can do about 11 things at once and get them all finished correctly and in a timely manner. It's a gift that mommies are given in exchange for pushing another person out of their bodies. Not totally sure I would have turned down a Macy's shopping spree instead of the whole, "I can cook dinner, mop the floor, write an email, change the baby, and pick an unknown sticky substance out of the carpet without ruining my nails all in under 30 minutes," but whatever. You get what you get.

That being said, I've come across about 70,000 things in my daily life that I don't understand why someone hasn't redesigned yet for women like me who need to get things DONE. Like fitted sheets. Hello? Everytime I make the beds I put fitted sheets on a MINIMUM of 6 times before I get it right. WHY DOES THE SHORT SIDE ALWAYS END UP ON THE LONG SIDE?? IT SEEMS TO GO AGAINST THE VERY LAWS OF PHYSICS. There is a very simple fix to this. Just put a little tag on the bottom left corner that says, "Hey. I go on the bottom left corner." You hear that sheet-manufacturers? Do it or we'll stop buying fitted sheets.

Or bacon. I love bacon. It's full of good fat and protein and salt and good lord now I want bacon. But why did an OCD bacon packager design the layout of all bacon sold everywhere? All the slices are perfectly stacked and stuck together in a way that only a professional sushi chef could filet them. Why would no one come up with a better way to present the bacon to me? I would cook it soooo much more often if I didn't spend 3-4 minutes per slice trying to separate it from its neighbor. Not to mention, the plastic it's wrapped in is the LEAST user-friendly packaging in the world. I don't have a fix for this one.

How about Chinese take-out containers? Who's the Steven Hawking subordinate that decided it would be smart to include a metal handle? Are we supposed to heat up our Chinese food in the convection oven? I can't tell you the amount of times I've forgotten that metal handle and nearly blown our kitchen into Canada. And who wants to live in Canada? Chinese food is meant to be easy; a night off from cooking. I don't want to scoop the congealed leftovers out of the take-out containers, put them in a microwave safe bowl, and then heat and serve. I want to eat them directly from the container with a fork. Or chop sticks. Just take the handle off, guys. We don't need a handle on our take-out containers. We're not traveling with them.

Last one, I promise.

Can someone please design a dishwasher rack that makes some freaking sense? I've never seen one that fit normal bowls or normal plates. Whose tiny glasses are they using for their design strategy? The next time someone designs one of these things and they contact some kind of household item consulting firm, they should just save their money and ask someone who lives in a house with a dishwasher. Ask, "Hey, what kinds of things do you wash?" I can tell you what they won't say: shot glasses and lobster pots. All. Day. Long.

Multitasking is an awesome gift that makes me feel like superwoman at the end of the day, so all in all I'm really glad I got it. The only problem with multitasking is now, I have no clue how to be leisurely. It is impossible to just watch a show or take a walk or go to sleep. Or go to the bathroom. I must be doing 7-12 other things at the same time or I feel useless and like I've lost touch with reality. And eventually Abe is going to go to school and I will be alone for 6 hours a day. Maybe I'll start redesigning bacon packaging...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mom Romance

Hello World. It's been a while. It turns out, parenting takes up a LOT of time.

About a year after I got married I saw an interview with Julia Roberts during which she remarked her first kiss with her husband made her stop and think, "That will be the last first kiss I ever have." So sweet. Very romantic. Until I realized that my last first kiss happened in 2004 and I never acknowledged it and then I started getting very anxious why didn't I realize I'll never have another last first kiss again oh my God I'm going to be 30.
Romance is different after being with someone for 7 years. It's not that get-your-heart-racing-every-time-the-phone-rings. And after you have a kid, it's even MORE different. And for a minute I considered I might miss it forever; that is, until, I discovered Mom Romance.
When Abe was 6 months old we started going to Baby Gym. Thinking it was a gym, I wore a sports bra and running shorts to my first class. (I have since adjusted my wardrobe.) I entered the room to a bunch of moms who knew each other and knew each other's children.
"Oh he's crawling!"
"Hi Sydney, you are getting so big!"
"I don't know, he's still not napping."
I introduced Abraham and myself to a number of the moms who looked to be on my wavelength. Most were very nice, but their kids were five and six months older than Abe. Not a big deal when you're 30. A VERY big deal when you're 6 months old. We had nothing in common. But I stuck it out and attended week after week until Abraham became a Baby Gym favorite. And I got to know a lot of the moms. There are a few stereotypes that I have found in every baby-centered activity:

  • There's always that mom who needs to interject something amazing about her child and does so at a time that makes no sense. Like when we're standing in line to hang from the trapeze and she turns around and says, "When I put him down last night he waved at me and said, 'Buh buh!'" You want to care, but you don't. So you smile and say, "Wooow." This only encourages her to expound and then you're stuck listening to story after story about "amazing" things her child does.
  • There's the mom who brought her friend and only hangs out with her friend and even when you try and relate or make a joke she looks to her friend to decide if they think it's funny. You often want to high five these women in the face with a wet sponge. These are women who were popular in high school. Mean girls still exist. They're just not as thin.
  • There's the mom who knows more than you. About everything. So shut up.
  • There's the mom who clearly lives on a commune and refuses to cut her child's hair or wash her jeans. She makes comments like, "His energy is off," and can be seen lying on her back in the corner watching her child climb a ladder while the rest of the class is having circle time. Don't worry. She's benign.
  • There's vanilla mom. She's just sort of there. She giggles at the appropriate times and participates in conversations when it's right, but never really adds anything to the room. If you try and have a chat with her it is always awkward and forced. She also seems to be on the verge of tears for about 30% of class but no one knows why. Pretty much everyone is uncomfortable around her.

And finally, there's the awesome mom. I like to consider myself to be an awesome mom. It's something I strive for. We're a rare breed. "Normal" people who don't expect others to parent the same way we do. A "brush your shoulders off" kind of tribe who don't mind when other people scoop up our children to play in the middle of Baby Gym; in fact, we welcome the break. I met a few of these awesome moms, but their children were quickly aging out of the infant program. I soon found myself the only awesome mom left. Until I met Kick-Ass. (That's not her real name.)
Kick-Ass is just as frazzled as I was most days. She is always in jeans and t-shirts and usually cracks up when her kid falls over instead of rushing to his side. She laughs loudly and never cuts in line. I quickly realized I wanted this woman to be my friend. And the Mom Romance began.
I started engaging her in conversation. I totally love her kid and told her how great he was. A lot. I said things I figured she'd think was cool. Then I thought, "What am I doing!? Just be yourself, Erin!" When you meet a mom as kick-ass as Kick-Ass, you don't want to ruin the friendship before it even begins. You second-guess everything and wonder if she thinks you're rad like she is. It took me about 6 weeks to work up the nerve to have a personal conversation with her that didn't involve, "Where did you get that onesie?" I think I started with, "What side of town do you live on?" The conversation grew exponentially until we were revealing our hometowns and favorite foods (she loves sushi, I love everything). It was a whole new kind of romance. Mom Romance. And I was a smitted kitten.
Then, suddenly, Kick-Ass wasn't coming to class. Oh my God, did her kid age out and she never said goodbye?! Why wouldn't she at least ask me for my number?! Or meet me during Free Play?!?! Baby Gym started becoming this thing I anticipated every week. Would Kick-Ass be there? Should I ask about Kick-Ass? I didn't want to seem desperate.
 Week after week, I watched the door for Kick-Ass. And finally, and with no warning, there she was in a vintage Fraggle t-shirt and a big rat's nest on her head. Man she's so kick-ass.
She immediately sat next to me in the circle and we picked up right where we left off. Where had she been? VACATION. Her family goes on a month-long vacation every summer. And by the end of class it was clear she felt the same way about me as I did about her. We were ready for the next step in our relationship.
She invited me to lunch and we planned a play date for our sons and I practically floated home. No. It's not the same as when my husband got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. But who said life as a mom would be any less romantic?!?! Now the only question is, do you think she'd prefer ants on a log or goldfish puffs?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tricks, Shortcuts, and Talents

1. I don't believe in bibs. They either stain their clothes or stain their bibs. Either way, it's laundry for me to do. So Abraham eats naked. Every meal. If we're out to eat I will occasionally give him a bib only because of the judging stares. Otherwise, it's chicken and sweet potatoes, hold the onesy.

2. I have a VERY hard time wasting food. I clearly starved to death in a former life. I save chicken fat in case we "need" it someday. I also can't bring myself to become one of the moms who cleans up after their kid by eating what's left on the tray. So when Abraham is finished with a meal, the highchair tray goes onto the floor. I sweep out any crumbs from the seat directly onto the floor. And I call the dogs. Abe lunch? Check. Dog's lunch? Check. Two birds.

3. Abraham has a nasty habit of spitting up. I've done everything they say to do but he continues to spit up. The doctor assures us he's growing and his gut is fine, so we just have to wait until he matures out of it. If I had a burp cloth for every spit up, I'd have a LOT of laundry. So sometimes (ok, all the time) I get Abe undressed on the floor in the living room and leave his jammies there before breakfast. That way later on when we're playing and he spits up, I can use the jammies that I was already going to have to wash. Two more birds.

4. There came a point in my life when frozen breastmilk was taking up an entire section of the freezer. This was both disorganized and unattractive (and embarrassing when I had to direct my friends to, "Reach past the breastmilk to get to the vodka"). Then I saw a trick on the Oprah show (RIP) about freezing soup in ziploc bags lying flat. Then when they're frozen you can stand up them and stack them like files. So I did it with the breastmilk and viola, they all fit in the door and the vodka is in plain sight.

5. We have iPads. They are a completely unnecessary object that I LOVE and use every night before bed to read, play games, etc. And in the morning when Abe joins us for morning snuggles, he very quickly loses interest in us. This is where the iPad becomes my best friend. I put on a baby app and away he goes. He will know how to email by the time he's 11 months old. I'm also not afraid to load it up with Baby Einstein videos for road trips (why do kids LOVE that series???).

6. Every baby toy on the market requires batteries and the loudest, most annoying sounds on the planet in order to be labeled "6+ months". However, I have developed a keen ability to hear and discriminate the meows of baby kittens whispering in the other room amid the songs, beeps, and cranks of every toy that makes a noise in my house. I can have a complete telephone conversation with the president while shaking a rattle, sending the cars down the zoom zoom racetrack, and pushing the musical lady bug's head. It's a new gift that I attribute to motherhood.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Car Ride

Oh, I'm going to pass Target on the way home. I could stop and take back that deodorant David didn't like and pick up a Father's Day card.
"Bah bah bah bah bah."
"Yeah, bud? What else? Tell mama!"
I need gas. Wonder if Abe will last long enough to go to Target and get gas. 
"Bah bah BAH BAH bah bah."
"Wow, bubba. You're a loud dude! What else?"
"OK OK! Mama hears you! We'll just get gas and go home. Almost home."
Does he...oh. Damn. He kicked the mirror. I can't tell if he's got his sippy cup. 
<try turning around>
Hm. I don't see it.
"Do you have your sippy cup, Abe?"
"BAAAAAAAAAH, thhhhbbbbbbbt."
Red light. Perfect. I'll turn around and...yep. There is it. Shoot. Unbuckle my seat belt, reach, almost...
"I know, I'm getting it bud." it. 
"Here you go, sweetie."
Maybe that's why he was...
...yelling. Maybe not. It's 20 minutes from nap time. He's probably super tired. 
Good lord. Please stop playing Rhianna.
<change radio station>
Jesus, how many singles does she have?
<change radio station>

We can listen to NPR. Maybe Abe will feel like I'm talking to him. I should probably talk to him more. Especially when we're driving.
"Hey sweetie! What are your feet doing? Kicking? Looks like so much fun! WOAH..."
God, don't these people have children? Or know children? Or know about the fact that there are children? 
"Bah. BAH."
"You tell 'em, Abe. USE YOUR BLINKER."
Gas station! We can stop quickly and then run to Target. He'll make it.
<pulls into gas station>
"I'm going to put gas in the car, Abe. I'll be right outside your window! Ready! We're going to play the window game!"
Shit, where's my wallet. Oh come on, are you kidding me? WHERE'S MY WALLET? Ugh. I've been driving around without a wallet. That's just great. Where is it? 
How many miles do I have left, what's the range? 
Hm. I'm probably 4 miles from home. We can make it. And Target is on the way. So it's fine. Ok.
"Ok, all finished, Abe. Let's go to Target. Mama couldn't find her wallet so..."
Oh for God's sake, how am I going to go to Target if I don't have my wallet??!
"BAAAAAAAAAAH BAH BAH BAH bah bah bah bah."
"Almost home. We're going home now. No Target. We can just go straight home."
It's fine, I'll do laundry. I can go to Target tomorrow. 
"I know sweetie. We're going home right now. You're hungry, huh sweetie?"
Ok, I can give him carrots, sweet wait. He didn't eat those yesterday. I don't have chicken cooked. I think we're out of sliced turkey. Gosh, we don't even have an avocado. I could give him...hmm...bacon? No, I can't do that. Eggs. I have eggs. He can have an egg and some carrots. God, that's an awful lunch. 
"Almost there, baby. Mama's going to feed you a yummy lunch and then we'll have a nice nap."
I've gotta get him the pacifier. I'll have to put it in park. Reach. I can't keep my foot on the...
Oh, right, ok, HONK at me. It's been green for like 5 minutes, right?
"Next light, sweetie, I'll get it for you. Next light. Almost there."
I should just pull over. We're so close to home though. AH! Red light! Perfect!"
<reach back, pacifier to Abe>
"There, baby. Now we can just relax because we're almost home. Only 3 more turns. I looooove you."
Alright. I'll get inside, I'll pull the carrots out and I think there's a hard boiled egg in there. Great. Oh, and I'll let the dogs out. Or maybe leave them in while I get lunch so Abe can see them and play and be distracted. Ok, dogs with Abe, get lunch out, feed him and put him down. And then laundry. Perfect.
"Home bubbah! Ready for lunch? Look! It's raining outside! Just in time for lunch and a nap."
Aaaaand he's asleep.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Nine Months

Dear Abe,

My boy, you are 9 months old. You are incredibly curious and extremely short-tempered. There is nothing you love better than experiencing something new. You enjoy meeting new people, new babies, new animals. Everything new is good. Everything old, ordinary, and routine is BAD. Certain days I need to work from home or get some cleaning done typically leave you a heap of screaming baby on the floor, desperately trying to convince me in your baby language that you are bored and need to get out and DO!

Speaking of floor, you can crawl; sort of. You pull up to your knees, rock back and forth as if you're revving your engine, and then you flatten out like a pancake and inchworm to wherever it is you wish to be. It's a slow, painful process to watch. But it gets you places, typically near a dog or electrical cord. You like to explore items around the house that require you to figure out "how they work". You love gates, doors, cabinets, etc. You don't really care about what's on the other side. You just care about the opening and the closing.

Your recent growth spurt left you so much more aware. There are mornings during which I put you down for a nap, you fall nearly asleep, and then pop up remembering there's a whole world out there to explore. You rarely cry in your crib, though, opting instead to talk or squawk while exploring from one end to the other. You also discovered you could bang your pacifier against the side of the crib to make a loud noise. It did get me to come upstairs a few times, but I've caught on now. Bang away, Abe. I'm not coming in.

While I don't care what you choose to be when you grow up, I can tell you that at nine months old you are SUCH a boy. You found your little friend's tea set and decided to bang the cups as hard as you could against the saucers. When a toy is nearby, you pick it up and throw it around as if to say, "I'm picking you up, I'm throwing you, I'm getting you. I'm picking you up, I'm throwing you, I'm getting you." When you need more food on your tray you slam your hand down over and over again. You explore every new person, place, and thing by hitting. And heaven forbid you get near a magazine or other paper-made periodical...

Your smile is still like gold, and your laugh like platinum. You're careful to save both for special occasions. You squeal with delight when you see your Daddy or me. You refuse to let me feed you. You MUST feed yourself. And you love pretty much anything edible, and some things that aren't.

This week I watched cousins and past students post their "Class of 2011" updates all over Facebook. It occurred to me that someday you are going to graduate. Hard to believe I could be more proud of you than I am today. You are amazing and strong and so full of personality. I love spending my days with you. And I love you. Every inch.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Different and the Same

Everyday things are different with a 9 month old. I do all the same things I did before I had a child, but I wear a different hat. I'm veiled with baby, if you will. I'm constantly thinking about where in the parking lot I can grab a cart so I don't have to carry Abe and the cart seat-cover all the way to the store front, hold him while trying to (always unsuccessfully) correctly install the cart seat-cover, and then put him in. You won't catch me leaving the house without diapers, puffs, a pacifier, extra socks, sippy cup, wipes, did I mention pacifier?, hand sanitizer, extra clothes for everyone everywhere, burp cloths, toys, blankets, and a pacifier. And that's just to go to the store. (I won't bore you with the overnight trip packing list.)
Drivers definitely tick me off like never before. Like the Ford Broco driver who is completely distracted by the cd holder velcroed to his driver side viser. It's not that I can't forgive the simultaneous display of camouflaged deer antlers and, "Horn broken, watch for finger," bumper sticker. However, while The Offspring did put out one good album in the early 90's, it does not mean blaring it out his duct taped windows is enough to warn me of his impulsive desire to move into my lane. Unfortunately, there's no appropriate way to express my exasperation for the lack of blinker or HUMAN DECENCY while my child is in the car except to mentally wish ill upon the man driving while muttering, "There's a baby in this car! Don't you know babies are on the road, too? YOU COULD KILL SOMEONE."
How about stroller etiquette? I can't tell you the number of times I have rolled up to Starbucks with Abe in tow and faced the big, glass door. Attacking it straight on never works. So I must turn the stroller around and attempt to back into the door, open it behind me (of course it has to open out), hold it open with with my free arm and pull the stroller backwards through the door with the other. Inevitably my arm isn't log enough to synchronize the "door holding" pose with the "stroller pulling" maneuver. The door begins to close on the stroller and I have to lean forward over the back of the stroller, batting at the door and trying to pull the stroller hard enough to get it out of the jam. The cherry on top of this entire scene? The person standing behind the stroller WATCHING it all happen like he/she doesn't know what to do. Hello? A little help here? I may shoot a look like, "Gosh, I'm so sorry we're keeping you from your precious coffee person who has never seen or heard of children before," which often is enough to send the hint. He or she might say something like, "Oops. Sorry," and then hold the door just long enough for me to get the front tire inside. My hero.
As crazy different as this all seems from my "former life", it also feels absurdly normal. I can't imagine how boring grocery shopping was before I had a buddy in the cart or how lonely Target could be without Abe staring at the mirror in the dressing room making faces at himself. I never want life to be different from this again. But seriously, if one more person touches my baby's face without asking, I'm going to ram them with the stroller's front tire and then coyly whisper, "Oops. Sorry."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Better than High School

You know when you're in your senior year of high school and every single day is one step closer to the biggest celebration of you're entire life, the one that is both the most exciting and the scariest? And with every passing class you put your head down and just go go go to get through final exams and college applications and entrance essays. And sometimes it's maddening and other times you have an amazing moment with friends or a strong teacher and realize that this isn't going to last forever. And you eat like crap and you try to join the right groups and steer clear of the drama, although there's always drama anyway, and you remind yourself every morning that one more 6am wake up won't kill you because it will soon be summer and then, on with real life. So you sing as loudly as you can in the car with your friends and you shrug your shoulders and bite your lip on the days when the shit hits the fan and laugh at anything and everything with gusto and full heart. This is kind of what life with an 8 month old is like.

Whoever gave Abraham the 6:30 alarm clock, I request you take it kindly back. That is when my day starts; with a quiet cooing from a little monster who has just noticed nighttime has ended. My husband retrieves him from the second floor and I nurse him and snuggle him in bed. It is the quietest, calmest 30 seconds of my entire day.
"Can he crawl yet?"
No, no he can't. But he can scoot. 
The scooting is remarkable really. Abe gets up on all fours and scoots his knees closer to his hands. Within a millisecond, he flings his arms forward and lands flat on his chest (he's learned to lift his chin the hard way); he'll repeat until he reaches desired object. It is neither a prompt nor comfortable method of transportation. I often don't really notice he's moved until he is halfway across the room.
I, on the other hand, am now faster than it has ever been. My life is composed of 5-15 minute increments, during which I see just how much I can accomplish before the next round of, "Guess what I figured out how to pull?" starts. If I had known years ago that I could unload, reload, and run a dishwasher in under 6 minutes, I would have saved enough time to sit and think of a way to invent a faster washing machine. I was also unaware how much I could accomplish at Target. Did you know Target carries every brand of every thing ever invented? There is no need to go to any other store. Ever. Not to mention when you're there you learn of many smaller items you didn't even realize you needed. Like picture frames. And decorative pillows.
Nights are always a mad rush to finish dinner for my husband and I, eat, feed Abe, bath him, put him down, and spend 10 minutes catching each other up on our days before we watch a show or engage in parallel reading. It's non-stop and every time it's Friday again I turn around to look back at the week and wonder what I did.
During all the madness, one every few days, there is a moment when time stands still and Abe does something he's never done before. This week it was holding himself up on the end of the bed and cruising around the corner to reach my computer. I held my breath for about 5 minutes. What I'm saying is, my baby is growing up faster than I can understand and before I know it, he is going to be ready to go to school. I am loving every minute, or at least the ones that I remember. And what makes this whole thing way better than my senior year of high school is that no one has posted signs everywhere declaring I'm a lesbian. Or a troll. Or a lesbian troll.
Life is good.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

20/20 Part 3

After googling "Zoloft and breastfeeding" (for like 3 hours), I finally decided I would try the medication. I got q-tips and birthday cards at the pharmacy so I wasn't just buying antidepressants. Maybe the pharmacy techs wouldn't notice my prescription. Because clearly I was the only woman to ever buy antidepressants before.
I got them home and I set them on the counter. I started making dinner. David came home and saw them. "Happy pills, huh?" I tried to laugh this off, but in my gut I felt so stupid that "happy pills" might be the only thing to make me happy. I decided not to take them and to try it by myself for a few more days.

A few hours later Abe was screaming, the dogs were barking, and I burned half the dinner I was cooking. I turned around and like a movie camera I zoomed in on the pill bottle.
Fine, I thought. I'll try it.

So what's the irony of reading every possible side effect of Zoloft and breastfeeding? Not reading the possible side effects for the person who's actually taking the drug. Abraham slept for 8 hours that night. I, on the other hand, did not sleep a wink. At about 4am, I googled "Zoloft side effects." Guess what was #1?
I decided to wait a day and the start taking the medication in the mornings.

It took about 2 weeks. One morning I woke up and felt less cloudy. I had forgotten what it felt like to wake up feeling anything but cloudy. It's what I imagine someone feels like after they lose their glasses and find them after 6 months, put them on, and suddenly remember that trees are made of individual leaves and branches, not just a big blob of green and brown up high.
Day after day, I felt further and further away from sadness. And one day, Abe began screaming in the grocery store (for no apparent reason other than to emabress me). I hurried along getting the groceries and holding him while simulataneously shoving a pacifier into his mouth. We got into the car and I sang him songs on the way home. I nursed him in his room until he fell asleep and laid him down to go unload the groceries. It was that day I realized I was better. A few months ago, that epiosde would have put me so far down the rabbit hole that I likely would have forgotten the groceries in the car and laid on the bed until my husband got home or the baby started screaming, whichever came first. But instead, it was like water off a duck's back. Babies cry. They scream, even. It's a little bit of a bother, but it's not the end of the world. Not like it used to be.
I guess my point of all this is that it's hard to know when you're suffering from postpartum depression. A lot of women have a few days of blues, some crazy hormones for months, and many are terribly affected by sleep deprivation. But if you've never felt postpartum depression, you can't know how to tease out the side effects of a having newborn from the side effects of something more serious that you can't control. Looking back, I truly had no control over my feelings. I was sad, and all the things I tried to do to "fix it" didn't work because it was past the point of anything I could do on my own.
Today I am so madly, passionately, crazy in love with that kid. I want to squeeze him until he pops, kiss him until he's 18, snuggle him so long he can never learn to crawl away from me. This is what I was meant to feel. And for all the lies I told about being in love with him during his first 4 months and glorious fibs I told about how great life was, I feel so fortunate that NOW it is real and I can truly understand what people are talking about when they say they never knew they could love someone so much.
If you think it's even remotely possible that you suffer from postpartum at any point during the first year of your child's life, don't wait as long as I did. Just chat with your doctor about it. Even if it turns out you are just sleep-deprived, it's better to know that than to find out you could have been the mom you wanted to be 6 months ago. Either way, give yourself a break. Remember, WWAWIATD? She would ask for help from her friends.

Monday, May 2, 2011

20/20 Part 2

It wasn't until Abraham was 5 months old that I started to realize there might really be a problem with me, not Abe. He was eating well and feeling fine, sleeping most of the night, and even smiling all day long. And I was miserable. I put on a HUGE smile and big brave face. I made fun small talk with people at the grocery store and made jokes about my new role as a mom to all my friends. I wrote blog after blog about how funny all this was. And only those people closest to me knew how bad it got. Anxiety attacks, sweeping bouts of depression, and fly-off-the-handle anger. When Abraham would hit a new milestone, like sitting up or holding his own bottle, I would experience a temporary high thinking, maybe that was it. The cure. So I began waiting on the next milestone like an oxygen tank underwater. And when each one came and went, I felt amazing and then worse than before when I realized I was still miserable.
I tried exercising. I began walking, jogging, lifting weights, dance classes. I started taking time to myself while my husband took the baby. I talked to a therapist regularly. I even tried changing my diet to include more Omega-3s. No dice.

On a particularly bad day, I began googling postpartum depression and found a "postpartum hotline" of sorts. You could call or email and this doctor would help you. So I emailed and waited. I received a response fairly quickly and after listing my symptoms, the doctor told me she was surprised I was so honest and definitely felt as though I needed help. She told me about a postpartum group in the area and asked me to join. She also told me I could make an appointment with her anytime and that she knew some psychologists in the area as well. I thanked her and then didn't write back again. I never mentioned to her that I lived in a completely different state. I guess I wanted an unbiased opinion. And I got one.

Finally, at my 6 month postpartum check up (which I had scheduled for 5.5 months postpartum), my gynecologist asked me how I was doing. I began to ramble about Abe not sleeping and being so busy and blah blah blah. She looked at me and asked how my anxiety levels were. I shrugged. "Normal for a new mom, I guess." My doctor doesn't know me well, but well enough to know that I probably wasn't being forthcoming about everything in my head. By that point it had gotten so bad I think I subconsciously made it pretty clear that I was in desperate need of help. "What do you think about taking something for it?"
"No," I replied. "I'm not taking medicine."
"Ok, no problem. It's just a suggestion to get you through this time. I've got a dear friend who has 6 babies, birthed them all at home in a tub. She has been on antidepressants since #2. Her hormones just can't swing back after she has a kid. It happens to a lot of women."
"Yeah. That's tough."
"Do you want to give it a try?"
"No," I said. "I don't think so." I paused. "Maybe just write the prescription so I can think about it."
"Sure," she replied.
I sat at home with the prescription wishing this wasn't what it was going to take. Can I really not do this by myself? It's embarrassing. I tried for months to have a kid. I saw specialists. I prayed and cried. And when I got pregnant, I worked my ASS off to stay healthy and deliver a healthy baby. Now I battling the feeling of not even wanting a baby. I loved him so much, but didn't want him. I felt so conflicted. Was it all a huge mistake? And the only way to feel better is in this pill bottle? I don't want to rely on pills. Will I tell my friends? Will I tell my mom? Will I blog it?! There was so much to think about.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Ok peeps. We're getting honest again. They say hindsight is 20/20. I say postpartum is sneaky.

I started looking at pictures last week. First pictures of my big old belly, then of Abe's birth, and then of the subsequent weeks and months. I stared for a minute at one particular picture. This one:
So, so beautiful. But I don't know who that child is. I don't remember him. "Oh the first few months are hell but you forget it all and then you'll have another one in a few years." But I didn't experience that kind of "forget". I remember vividly lying on the couch with Abe asleep on my chest wishing someone would just come take him away. I remember punching pillows in the middle of the night when Abe woke up for the billionth time. I remember screaming and crying one evening when my husband came home and wishing I was a drug addict or an alcoholic so I would have some way of escaping it all. I remember asking a friend, "When did you fall in love with your baby?" and hearing her say, "Oh, the minute I saw her. The minute I brought her to my chest," and then feeling thankful that my head isn't made of glass and my thoughts weren't visible for her to see.
Those are the things I remember. What I forget is Abe. He doesn't look like anyone I know in his early pictures, let alone anyone I recognize as mine. I spent months assuming that I was just sleep-deprived and overwhelmed with new motherhood. Friends invited me out and I always came up with an excuse. My husband offered to help me but I often refused. Other mommies recommended fun baby classes to go meet other moms, but I always commented on how much I hated "small talk" and didn't want to go. Everyone kept reminding me that it would get better, but it didn't. It got worse.
I started demanding one day that my husband find the money for a nanny because I "couldn't do it all." I couldn't work from home, raise a baby, take care of the house, cook his meals, etc. Mind you, my husband wasn't asking me to do any of that except for raise a baby. But he agreed that I needed some help and got me a nanny. I think he was hoping the same way I was that she would help ME, not just the baby. She was truly amazing with Abe and, to be honest, I spent most of the day asking her questions. How do I get him to sleep, eat, be happy?? What I really wanted to know was why wasn't I happy?
As much as I hoped having someone else in the house with me was going to take the edge of this constant pain in my chest, it didn't. I was stuck with this pain for as long as I had Abe, and that would be forever.  There was no way out...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Seven Months

Dear Abraham,

I don't even know what to say to you. You're 7 months old. How did that happen?

I don't have as much time to blog as I used to! You and I are constantly on the move; you so that you don't get bored and me so that I don't fall asleep. We go to the baby gym, swim lessons, lunches with friends, baby play dates, the list goes on and on! It seems that teething has been particularly hard on you and we try to keep you comfortable at night so you can sleep. It turns out that some of the ingredients in homeopathic teething remedies keep you AWAKE instead of calming you down. If only we'd figured that out sooner. You do your best and, to be honest, I think you're such a trooper.
You don't yet crawl. In fact, I don't know if you ever will. You don't really get it. You seem to just want to stand up and walk away. I'm wondering if you'll just get up one day and wander on into the office and start paying bills.
You love to swim and to float in the water. You still jump in your Jump Up everyday. Now you have a baby walker and last week you figured out how to walk in it. It's great practice for me, watching what you go for and get into. I've already begun moving pieces of furniture around so there's less for you to knock into like a drunken sailor.
I'm pretty sure you could eat a pizza at this point. You love to eat. You don't yet have a pincer grip, but you have NO interest in purees or eating from a spoon. You want to eat what I'm eating, and I usually let you. I help you get it in your mouth and you "chew" with your knobby little gums. You also hold your own bottle now (and scream like we've spent your college fund on frivolous dinners out and trips to Mexico when we take it away).
You. Love. Your. Dogs. Every time one of them walks into the room, you coo and laugh and reach out for them. You love to pull Bella's jowls and tug Charlie's ears. Sometimes you just sit and watch them play like it's a live show just for you.
I love the way you stare at people who try in vain to make you laugh or smile with dumb baby tricks. And I love the way you smile at people who treat you like the little person you are. I am in awe of your patience and your strength (you held YOURSELF on a trapeze in the baby gym without ANY help!!).
You are waking up from your nap now, so I'm going to run upstairs and snuggle you all up while I still can. I want to freeze you at 7 months so I can hold you forever. They say it only gets better, but I just can't imagine loving you any more. We'll see. I've been surprised a lot already.

I love you,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Every time I'm about to make a questionable decision regarding Abe, I run the Dateline test:
Is this something that could possibly earn me a starring role on an episode of Dateline during which viewers across the country would exclaim things like, "What an idiot!" and "Who does that?!"? 
For example, the other day I momentarily contemplated giving Abe a bite of my spicy curry lunch dish. I ran the Dateline test. The outcome? Yes, in fact that could easily earn me a spot on a Dateline episode about a mother whose child lost his taste buds from a curry burn at the age of 6 months and would never taste again. I envisioned myself weeping and sobbing to Chris Hanson, "He was screaming for food! I didn't have anything else to give him! I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO!" Needless to say, Abe was hungry and angry, but he can still taste.
Until the other day when a long car trip and low blood sugar caused an inaccurate set of Dateline test results. After 4 hours in the car, Abraham was SO finished. He wanted to get up and stretch and get naked. So I brought him into our bedroom when he got home, took off all of his clothes and blew raspberries on his belly. We laughed and giggled for a few minutes until Abe made that unmistakable poop face. When it was clear he'd finished, I took off his diaper and cleaned him up. Seeing how happy he was to be completely naked, I decided to let him enjoy his birthday suit for a while. I tickled his feet and he grabbed some of his favorite body parts; and then my hunger overcame me. I decided to run to the kitchen to get a pear. I ran the Dateline test.
Would leaving my baby on the bed pass the Dateline test?
Sure it would. I'm only going to be about 15 seconds. 
Dateline test FAIL.
Before I even began walking back to my bedroom, I heard a sound no mother ever wants to hear.
It was the clearest "SPLAT" noise I've ever heard. I ran through the wall (I think) to the other side of the bed where Abe was on his belly, up on his hands, looking around like, "What the hell just happened?" I paused, he looked at me, and the following sequence of events came next:
1. Deep breath.
2. Horribly sad face.
3. Slight wimper.
I grabbed him and kissed him and apologized profusely until he finished screaming a whopping 45 seconds later upon noticing the remote control on the bedside table. Ordinarily an object I try to keep away from him, I immediately grabbed it and handed it to him. All was right with the world again.
Abe left nothing to the imagination about his trip to the floor. His path was marked by the stream of pee he left like Hansel and Gretel's bread crumbs off the side of the bed. He clearly scooted and then rolled onto Floor World as noted by the pee path. Before I put him to bed that night, I ran my hands all over his head and body to ensure I couldn't feel an welts or possible broken bones. I checked his eye contact and responsiveness one more time to ensure he didn't have one of those deadly concussions. Finally when I was satiated, I put him down to sleep. I put on jammies and washed my face before slipping into bed after an exhausting day. It was only then that I realized I'd forgotten to change the sheets. And the pee was on my side. I was laying in my son's pee. I was so tired and in desperate need of rest. I contemplated moving to another bed or perhaps the couch. But you know what I finally decided to do? Put on long pants so I couldn't feel the wet. Yep. That's what I did.
Dateline test?
There's a good chance I would have failed that one, but the ratings would be so high I'd likely get a book deal out of it so it seemed like an appropriate, if not lucrative, option.

Friday, March 11, 2011


You'll hear two lines of thinking when it comes to parenting: parent-led and baby-led. Do you incorporate your child into YOUR life or do you incorporate your life into your CHILD'S? Whose schedule rules? And now that Abe is 6 months old, what would I even put into my schedule?? I just started leaving the house again a month ago and to be honest, human interaction is still a little foreign. The other day a woman asked me how old Abe was and I said, "Thank you."

Most people who aren't yet parents will tell you that your child should fold into your life. They should do what you do. The world isn't going to bend for them. I hear this all the time and I, myself, preached this line of thinking B.A. (Before Abe). These people have clearly never lived with a 6 month old. It's true, if I want to go to Target, we are GOING to Target. However, I can't guarantee we'll be able to stay more than 15 minutes before nap time starts calling and the mission is aborted.
I agree that you should teach your child to go with your flow. A child cannot be in charge, that's way too much pressure. As Abe's mom, it's my job to plan our days. However, as a parent, it is also my job to give my son what he needs. Abe needs 2 naps a day. For some kids it will make no difference, but for him it will ruin 2 or 3 days of happiness. And if he needs 2 naps a day, I don't get to go to the mall during one of those naps just because Old Navy is having a 50% off sale on winter coats. (This is why, I believe, God is a woman and she invented the Internet.) Earlier this week my husband tried to get me to take Abe on a whirlwind trip to NYC for 2 days. For a split second I thought about it, and then I envisioned lugging a breastpump onto an airplane, trying to get a carseat into a cab, sitting in a hotel room at 1pm waiting for Abe to wake up from a nap, and brushing my teeth at 8:30pm before bed while the rest of New York was just putting on lipstick. I quickly lost interest.
So what's a fashion conscious Broadway-loving girl to do? My conclusion at the end of the day is if it's truly important to you to keep it a part of your life, you will be willing to suffer the consequences of a skipped nap or an early bedtime. And you get to weigh whether or not it's worth it to you individually.
Yeah, if it's really important to you, your baby should follow your schedule. But I find that after having a kid, a lot of things that used to be important just aren't anymore. And that's why I don't mind bending my schedule around. I can usually get everything done everyday that I need to without interrupting a nap or pushing bedtime back too far. It's become like a multi-tasking game called Motherhood, similar to Jenga, except all the wooden pieces have been rolled in a sticky and/or crumbly unknown substance and 7 of the pieces are missing altogether. Oh, and if you lose the game, you don't get to sleep more then 2 hours for several days. Take your time. Play it right. I hear it's over pretty fast anyway.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Six Months

Dear Abe,

Today you are 6 months old. We've lived together for 1/2 a year. I've never been away from you for more than a few hours. There is no one else on the planet I could possibly be that close to for 6 months and still like so much.
This past month you learned how to sleep at night. You still wake up once to eat, but I love that time I spend with you in the middle of the night. It's quiet and sweet. And I literally praise God everytime I walk up the stairs to your room for helping you learn how to sleep through the night. Sleep is so severely underrated.
You can now roll over both ways and if I prop your knees up underneath you, you can hold yourself up in the crawl position and rock back and forth. Yesterday I sat you upright surrounded by pillows and gave you a bunch of toys. You entertained yourself for nearly 20 minutes. It was amazing considering a month ago you could barely sit up in my lap.
Everyday you re-discover your hands. You'll be playing or waving or batting at a toy and suddenly you say to yourself, "Oh! The hands are back!" You open and close your fingers, twirl your hands, and bite your fingers.
We've decided to introduce you to solid foods. You eat avocado now. Sometimes you eat it with your fingers, sometimes I put some on a spoon and give it to you. You eat the avocado and chew on the spoon and smile. It's crazy we're starting this phase of life already. I'm hoping you don't eat me out of house and home within a year because you are a big kid. You're already over 16 pounds. And while you'll cringe at this when you're older, I just have to mention that you grew from 7 to 16 pounds because of my BOOBS. That is so sci-fi.
You still love walks in the stroller and the Johnny Jump Up. You also love the car seat now. Never thought I'd see the day!! One day I had to take a friend to the airport during your nap time and instead of screaming the whole way, you quietly played with a toy until you fell asleep. I will probably never forget that day.
The other day, you laughed. Abraham, it was the most incredible sound I've ever heard. Your father was bouncing a toy on your chest and as clear as day, you giggled. We laughed and screamed. Your daddy exclaimed, "That's the best noise in the world!" I think all of our hysteria frightened you a little bit because you haven't laughed audibly since then. But that's ok. That one laugh will get me through the next month. It was that good.
This month we are starting swim classes. I'm also going to start going to a gym that has daycare. That's right. I'm leaving you with people I don't know while I run on a treadmill or take a yoga class. I'm pretty scared, but I know that you are going to be fine and that the folks running the daycare are going to LOVE you. Everyone does. We are also going on an airplane for the first time to see where I used to live and re-introduce you to your Aunt C and Uncle J. You'll also get to see your twin cousins and a bunch of other people who already really like you. I hope that you are a baby that likes to travel, because we have a lot of plans this summer!
Six months ago the month of "March" sounded like the year 2022. I am so happy that the first six months of your life are over (they were very hard but very worth it), and I can't wait to watch you change and grow through the next six. I love you more than words can say.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Since my darling Abraham began sleeping 11 and 12 hours a night, I have been very, very busy. Mainly catching up on sleep. Though after a week of sleeping I decided it was time to have a little bit of a life again. And then I took a nap.
There is a local workout here called Dance Trance. This form of exercise is NOT your typical jazzercise or aerobics class. This place is for DANCERS. And seeing as how I danced for 10 years as a kid and young adult, I thought this would be the perfect way to get back into the real world of exercise and remember that part of my soul that loves to dance and express all those feelings that get bottled up in the first few months motherhood. Also, my husband bought me a month's worth of classes so I didn't really have a choice but to use them.
I showed up to my first class wearing tennis shoes. Amateur. Everyone else in the class had dance shoes on, as well as adorable workout outfits that ONLY women who haven't ever breastfed could wear. I was wearing two bras and some yoga pants with panty lines like a mountain range. I desperately wanted to put on a sandwich board that read, "I have a 5 month old at home, this is OK."
I took my place as close to the back of the class as possible between two women who were newbies as well. We enjoyed laughing at ourselves and bumping into each other as the new kids in town. We commisterated at the end of the class about how we should definitely try the beginners class next time. But then Jay, the class instructor, asked my name and told me I did a great job in my first class. Ha. Ego meet helium tank. I practically floated back to my car. Yeah that's right. I'm a dancer.
I got home that night and glowed all over my husband. I practiced a few of my dance moves in the shower and planned out my audition piece for So You Think You Could Dance because I am clearly next season's winner. I picked out a somewhat cuter outfit than my first Dance Trance class and went to bed dreaming of night 2.
I walked into my second class with my pass and my water and my "I know what to do, don't worry, I'm not new" face. I took my place in the second to the last row and started stretching. The music started and a female instructor shouted, "New faces? Any new faces tonight?" A few people raised their hands (not me obviously, this was NOT my first class), including a blonde girl next to me. We'll call her Flippy. Flippy looked to be about 19 years old and clearly didn't realize she should be in the BACK row being new, but I didn't say anything. The first song started and I did my best to keep up, feeling fairly confident about how quickly I was picking up the steps. As we began to rehearse the song, I couldn't help but notice Flippy. Flippy was picking up the steps, too. Faster. And adding her own flair. Like jazz hands. And hip thrusts. I began to resent Flippy. I began to compete with her. I started adding flair. And hip thrusts. By the end of the class, I was completely exhausted. Flippy was...well...flippy. She flounced off to the locker room while I caught my breath. It was the first time in my life I wanted to use the, "I'm almost 30" excuse. Thirty isn't old! But it's not 19.
When I got home, my husband was feeding our son a bottle and putting him to sleep. I was so filled with love and life listening to him whisper to Abe and care for him that I forgot about Flippy. Yeah, 30 is a little older than 19. I don't have the freedom or the flexibility or the body. Don't get me wrong, I still look great, but great in a, "I just had a kid" way. And I love that. I doubt that Flippy had a beautiful husband to go home to. And she probably looks in the mirror and thinks she's fat. Flippy is just another reminder that life is pretty flippin' perfect right now. And I'll see Flippy tonight when I dance her off the floor.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I am not an addict. I don't have the personality. You tell me I can never drink again? I'd be sad, but I'd oblige. You tell me I can never exercise again? I would always be emabressed about the extra flab on my tummy, but I'd live. You tell me I can never eat spaghetti again? I might fight you a little bit on this one, but OK.
My son, on the other son is an addict.
At about 1 month old he began the uncontrollable crying. He wouldn't sleep, wouldn't play, wouldn't snuggle in my arms. The only thing he would do was eat. And I can promise you, there was only so long I could feed him before the boobs needed a break. So, I ignored every fiber of my being that stood staunchly against the use of the pacifier from the moment I learned of Abe's existence. I reached into the cabinet and opened a package we received at a shower. I sterilized 2 pacifiers and put one in his mouth. Viola. My kid stopped crying.
A few weeks later, I shouted, "INSTINCTS BE DAMNED," once again. At 2am, in a desperate attempt to sleep, I put the pacifier in his mouth again. He instantly began sucking, fell asleep, and slept for FOUR HOURS. FOUR. This was the longest stretch I'd had since he was born. I became a believer. And Abe was hooked.
Fast forward. Abe is now 5 months old. He can sleep 8-hour stretches. He only needs to eat once a night. So what am I doing at 10pm, 11pm, 1am, 3am, and 5am? PUTTING THE DAMN PACIFIER BACK IN HIS MOUTH. Abe screamed all night when it fell out of his mouth. I imagined him negotiating with me when I walked in: "I can't come down now, mom. It hurts too much. Please, the withdrawals. I'm only 5 months old. I can get clean when I'm 6 months." And being the co-dependent woman that I am, I ate that dirty spoon of addict lies. But no more.
We decided to try and help him find his hand. I'd put the pacifier in his mouth, let him start to suck, and then pull it out and quickly replace it with his hand. I did it again. And again. Unfortunately, after 4 or 5 times Abe's laughter made it clear that this was the best game ever invented, but it wasn't solving the problem.
Then we decided to help him learn to put the pacifier in his mouth himself. We practiced and practiced and sure enough, he figured it out within a few days. "HE DID IT!" I shouted from upstairs. The cruel irony was that as fun as putting the pacifier in his mouth was, taking it out was even better. Why didn't he just replace it again, you ask? Because he's 5 months old and didn't understand that it was HIM taking it out of his mouth, not me. He'd get angry and scream and I'd be forced to put it back in myself.
Finally, the time came. My husband took me aside and said, "Erin. You're enabling him."
"But I'm his mother, David. I'll always be there for him."
"He has to learn to live without it."
"But what if it hurts him? What if he cries?"
"It's not Abe crying, Erin. It's Abe on the pacifier."
"He's too young to do this alone."
"He's 5 months old now. It's time for him to do this on his own."
"But I'd rather know he's here safe with the pacifier than somewhere out of the STREETS keeping me up ALL NIGHT LONG!"
It was time for an intervention. 
We gathered around him and I started. "Abe, your pacifier use has negatively affected our lives in the following ways: We cannot sleep. We cannot put you in the car seat without doing yoga to get the pacifier back into your mouth while driving down the highway. We cannot go anywhere without panicking that we forgot the pacifier. And your father and I cannot get through an entire conversation without the word 'paci'."
Then his father continued, "We're here because we love you, son. We love you and we don't want to see you suffer like this anymore. It's time for our family to heal."
And then, we took it away. Cold turkey. And I'm not going to lie to you folks. It was rough. For 3 nights I went in and out of his room for hours calming him, encouraging him. It was awful. We agreed to try this for one week and by the end of night 3 I didn't think I could make it. Abe was tired. I was tired. My husband was tired. THE DOGS WERE TIRED. Maybe we were all destined to live with a pacifier addict forever.
And then came night 4.
Sweet, sweet night 4.
My child slept for 12 hours. Straight. Without crying. Without screaming. Just slept. 
I slept about 4 hour of those 12 hours, waiting for him to wake up and scream. But he didn't. He just rocked his head gently back and forth and went to sleep. And our family began to breathe again.
I'm not saying he won't relapse. Relapse is a part of recovery, as any good 12-step program will tell you. But for him to see that he can do it without the drugs pacifier was a wonderfully positive step in the right direction. 
If you or someone you know is addicted to the pacifier, I encourage you to reach out. Get help. Find a sponsor. It could be the different between sleep and no sleep for your family. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Leaving the grocery store the other night, David and I proudly answered questions all the way through the check-out line. "Ooo, how old is he?" "He is so cute, what's his name?" "Look at the baby, is he your first?" One woman, though, she knew what was up. She smiled knowingly at the bags under my eyes and said, "I know they all say it, but it's true. They do grow up fast. Is this your first?"
"Yes," I smiled.
"Kids are so much fun. Ours are grown now. But to be honest, that first year is pretty traumatic."
And there it was. Right out on the table. "Traumatic." And that about sums it up. It's not that a new baby is horrible, or creates resent and regret. And life isn't always sweet dreams and butterflies with a new addition, either. It's traumatic. It's a trauma to your life. Things you expected to happen don't and things you never banked on happening cash in wearing a ski mask and holding a black bag. Everything flourishes and everything suffers all at once. Like relationships, for example.
My husband and I like to walk the dogs with the baby at least once a week. It's our family outing. Living on no sleep and carrying little patience, my husband began telling me a story. I tried to listen. I really tried to care. But it was such a dumb story. And you know how he ended it? "I mean, that guy couldn't find his way out of a...paper bag."
Now, on a good day I'd just let this slide and move on. But I couldn't. I had to rain on his parade; this is likely because my parade was not only rained out, it wasn't even rescheduled.
"You mean out of a wet paper bag."
"No, just a paper bag. He can't even find his way out of that."
Ok, granted, he was exhausted too and probably didn't even realize how ridiculous his defending that statement really was. But his tone was just snotty enough to make me shoot back.
"That makes no sense. It's wet paper bag because a wet paper bag just falls apart. Someone who can't find their way out of a wet paper bag is an idiot because all they have to do and push on one side of it and it will fall apart."
"Oh. Well, whatever. This guy was a real idiot."
It's moments like this that make me realize how precious sleep truly is. And moments like this:
My husband wanders into a room and asks, "Where is the..."
I wait.
"Where's the, um..."
"The what, David?"
"The..." He opens a drawer and pulls out all the neatly folded towels. "I thought I kept it in this..." He shoves them all back in the drawer.
"What, David?"
He opens another drawer and pulls out all of tea and shoves it back in all willy-nilly as if I didn't spend 10  minutes of nap time one day organizing it. "No, not in there..."
"I can't help you if you don't tell me what you're looking for."
"I know, I know. But I always, did you move it?"
"Did you move the, um..."
"Well, I thought I put it in the..." and he wanders away.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Be Specific

I've decided that it's not the millions of "just you waits" and "just remember to cherish its" (while I'm teasing spit-up out of my hair) that I've heard in the past 8 or 9 months that bother me so much. Sure, it seems completely counterintuitive for everyone to congratulate you on your pregnancy and then warn you that your life is now completely ruined. But it's more that no one is very specific about what it is I am waiting for or exactly how much cherishing I should be doing. It's just this vast, generalized unknown fear that parents lay upon each other with the best of intentions but an overwhleming lack of clarity. It's like when my husband tells me my boobs look huge. I know that what he MEANS to say is, "Man you look beautiful and I'm lucky to be married to someone I'm so attracted to." His delivery just sucks. And because of that, I can typically look at him and say, "Thanks so much, hun." It took a good deal of therapy to get to that point.
New parents simply can't understand what "just you wait" and all the similar warnings mean. Now that Abe is a little bit older and a little more sturdy, I see what they were all trying to say. So I'm going to try and translate:

You should cherish them when they're little. Sure you should. But know that if even ONCE during the first month you take a moment and truly realize just how tiny and beautiful your baby is, that counts as "cherishing". You're allowed to feel miserable the rest of the time.
Just you wait, you'll never sleep again. It's true, you aren't going to sleep very well for a while. And if you get my kid, it'll be 5 months and counting. But it's not like before when you couldn't sleep. It's waking up in the middle of the night to see a person you MADE. Way easier.
Cherish your freedom. It's over when your child is born. I don't know about you, but I'm free to take my kid anywhere I go. I have yet to see a sign that says, "No babies allowed."
Just wait until he starts crawling/walking/fill-in-the-blank. Now I can't speak for all the milestones, but I can tell you that every single one of them is awesome and exciting. And your life changes with every single one. I remember the first time Abe screamed when I walked away, as if he actually wanted me around. I did a double take and asked, "Who, me?" Don't dread the milestones.
Cherish your time with your partner now because it'll be gone when baby gets here. It's true, my husband and I do not go out to dinner weekly anymore. But we do order out and bring it home. We also lay on our bed every night with our naked son and laugh hysterically together at how much he loves life sans clothes.
Just you wait. It goes by so fast. Your child will learn at an unfathomable rate. Literally overnight he/she will learn to do something you thought was weeks, even months away. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with it all, but don't worry: if you miss something, there's another something right around the corner.

So just you wait, new parents. Your life will completely change and yet stay inexplicably the same. My husband looked at me tonight and said, "I just love every single minute with him because it's always something new." He's right. Don't "just you wait!" Enjoy this minute right here. It's the most beautiful minute of your life so far.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Five Months

Dear Abraham,

You are 5 months old today. FIVE. Five months ago, a five month old seemed like the oldest baby ever to me. And now, here you are. A five month old baby living in my house. The first three months didn't fly by, but the last 2 sure have.
So who are you today?
You are funny. You blow raspberries and mimic the inflection of my words. You smile HUGE smiles when I toss you up over my head. When daddy went away for 2 days on business, your ENTIRE body danced when you saw him again.
You are strong. You barely sit down in my lap anymore. You love to jump and kick your legs and experiment with what your hands can grab. You reach out for people and objects in a way you never did before. There is no telling how long a Johnny Jump-Up lasts, but you will see it through to the end of its days if left to your own devices. When I put you on your belly, you swim like a fish, desperately hoping it will get you closer to moving. Some days I feel badly for you because I know how much you want to move.
You are smart. Boy are you smart. You've learned which noises make mommy come running and then you smile when I get there. You know which toys on your Exersaucer make sounds and you immediately start pushing them when I set you in it. You know that when Bella walks by, all you have to do is open your mouth and lean and she'll give you doggie kisses. (And I think you also know how crazy that makes me.)

You sort of like your car seat now. The other day you fell asleep in it and didn't even cry. You've decided walking in the stroller is the BOMB and so we do it almost everyday. You've not exactly mastered the art of sleeping at night, but you're getting really good at taking naps. I miss you when you nap.
Every morning you and your dad greet me in bed with coffee. Daddy lays you down next to me and you smile and coo good morning at me. It's one of my favorite times of any day I've ever had.
I'll be honest, I've had a lot of anxiety and sadness. And the reason I know it's not normal "new mom" anxiety anymore is because you are an amazing, happy, easy baby as compared to 3 months ago. You go with the flow. Yes, I'm still sleep-deprived because, even though you go back to sleep when I give you the pacifier, I don't. But even sleep-deprived, I'm not sure I feel like my brain and body are communicating properly. I'm going to talk to my doctor about it next week. I want to be the best mommy, the one you deserve, and I don't feel like I'm able to do that right now.
This morning you woke up with your first cough. I freaked out for a while, but you have been smiling at me all day as if to say, "It's fine mom. I'm fine. Relax." So I'm going to try and do that.
You are amazing, amazing, amazing. I'm so excited for the next month. You grow everyday and I just can't imagine what you'll do tomorrow.


P.S. Please sleep.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


After another night of no sleep, I laid in bed wondering what in the hell to do next. I've lived by the baby-led boob schedule for 4 1/2 months now. Things are not getting better when it comes to sleep. He's up every 2 hours, 3 if it's a "good" night. This, of course, leads me to ponder how badly I would ruin his chances of getting into college if I gave him rice cereal or, wait for it, foooorm-uuuuu-laaaa (echo, echo, echo). Oooooh, the La Leche League just began making the signs they will use when they organize their picket in my front yard. I've only fed him breastmilk to this point, but I can tell you I might try anything just short of feeding him Hungry Man frozen dinners to get some sleep. And I use the phrase "short of" loosely.
Thoughts like these make me worry that I'm giving in to the modern-day niceties of raising children at Abe's expense. Pumping, bottles, pacifiers. Whenever I'm tired and worried that my parenting style is going against nature, I think to myself, "WWAWIATD?" (I thought making an acronym out of "What Would A Woman In A Tribe Do?" might be funny. Turns out it just looks like a misspelled word.) Anywho, what do they do when their babies don't sleep? Granted, they are more focused on survival so their day-to-day is gathering food or preparing food or seeking shelter. But that doesn't mean they don't need sleep. Can you imagine if in a sleep-deprived state one of them mixed up the red poisonous berries with the red nutritious ones?! The whole tribe might break out in hives. I guess it's not likely they reach for the formula or use a coconut to hold some extra pumped milk so someone else can feed their babies. This is about the time during this line of thinking I announce, "IF THE WOMEN IN THE THIRD WORLD TRIBE CAN DO IT, SO CAN I." But then I get a few hours of sleep and wake up thinking, "Erin, you dope, they wet-nurse each other's children. That's how they do it."
We do terrible things to motherhood in this country. We expect our moms to feed the babies, care for the babies, go to work, keep themselves healthy, and, of course, keep the house in order. Oh, if there's a husband or partner involved, don't forget to take care of him/her as well. The human race was created to raise children in tribes, within which the moms help each other ALL DAY LONG. I mean, did you see the documentary Babies? Those women don't even wear tops. They just sit together in a circle mashing corn until somebody's child wanders over and wants a drink. But the guilt we mothers feel for supplementing our children's diets to give ourselves a break, or for hiring Mary Poppins even when we might just take a nap instead of working while she's there, or for (G-d forbid) letting our babies cry while we finish lunch, it's overwhelming and unbelievable. Nope, we can't do ANYTHING we feel might be unnatural, but we're cool making a Starbucks run and pumping our bodies full of caffeine and sugar to get through the day. (I don't say this in judgement if you've done it, as it's what I did this morning.)

The amazing thing about the time/place we live in is that we have so many choices. I'm lucky enough to have incredible mommy friends who support each other despite the fact they may disagree or choose another route for their own kids. But I don't think everyone has this gift. So if you are a mom, I implore you to educate yourself and form your opinions while still supporting and accepting other moms for theirs. Give each other advice and ideas, and then be kind and understand that every kid is different, every mom's situation is different, and everyone has the right to do what works for them. In doing so, I think we create our own tribe in the modern world. Do what works for you and let me do what works for me. And the second you start to feel your Judgement Bone itch, maybe you should whip out a boob and feed a friend's kid. No? Then shut up and drink your latte.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

You Are Here

I work from home for my good friend's Writing Management and Book Packaging Company. I started a year and a half ago after the economy took a dump and no school on the East Coast was interested in hiring a school psychologist. I might as well have walked in with a resume that said, "Touchy-Feely Overpaid Educator" because everyone looked at me like I was nuts for actually wanting a job using my degree. As it turns out, I really like working from home and am pretty good at this job.

Now, why NONE of you decided to mention that having a kid and working from home would turn out to be IMPOSSIBLE is a little bit of a sticking point. But bygones, right?

On another note, we are in the midst of what is affectionately deemed the Four Month Sleep Regression. We moved from sleeping 6-8 hours at a stretch to 2 hours on a good night. And we moved right into this new phase of non-sleep OVERNIGHT. No warning. No slippery slide. Just BAM. Stop sleeping everyone! Ha! So now was I not only was I not sleeping, but I was completely unable to get myself back to work. The kid is four months old. Most moms go back to work at 12 weeks. Did I mention the anxiety this caused??
One day in my sleep-deprived haze I wanted to put out the Bat signal. "We need a nanny. I have to get back to work and I might also need a nap. And my son needs a healthy, whole mom." You can imagine how much it cost to write that whole thing across the sky in lights. So what did my husband and I do instead? We Facebooked it. "We are in search of a nanny." We got a few responses, interviewed a few folks, and found Mary Poppins herself. She's in love with Abe and is ALSO in love with doing my dishes. I started working and running errands and getting life back in order one day at a time. I finally began feeling like myself again.
Except for one thing...we still weren't sleeping. And everytime I put Abe down, the anxiety crept in as I lay awake wondering, "How long until he wakes up and starts screaming?" And it never failed. The nights he didn't wake up, I waited until it was too late to get any sleep. And the nights I decided to just go to sleep, he woke up 45 minutes later. I began going mad. MAD.
It got to the point that I began cry when he began to cry. 8:30pm, 11:30pm, 2am. It didn't matter. He cried, I cried.
I had to do something.
There's no telling if it was my therapist or my husband who told me to simply accept where I am in life instead of looking forward and waiting for the next phase. But that thought reminded me of something that started the change in my thinking. You know those maps at Disney World that say, "You are here"? It suddenly occurred to me that there is no escape and there is no cure. This is just where we are in life. We are here. And someday, we'll walk over to the overpriced soft pretzel stand and then we'll be there. Maybe next we'll hit up Magic Mountain or Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. But for now, we're here. And the only way to get to the next place is to keep walking. We could stand at the map and get totally freaked about how long it's going to take to walk to the Mickey and Minnie Go to Vegas Show (not sure that one actually exists, but it should), or we could just start walking.
So this week, I started walking. And I replaced the "Try (Less) Hard" words on my bathroom mirror with "You are here."

Sunday, January 9, 2011


There's an intense amount of anxiety related to new motherhood. So much so that I began having anxiety about my anxiety. "Oh gosh, should I do that? I might get anxious, and then I'd get anxiety." I found myself talking about my anxiety constantly; people were starting to get sick of hearing the word. Lack of sleep, a diet that consists of "Oh, is that food? Or sort of food? Or was it once food? Either way, I'll eat it," and a complete inability to get organized over the past 4 months created the perfect storm for AnxietyFest 2010.
So, it became my New Year's resolution to stop the madness. I started reaching out to other moms to find out if they experienced this and what they did to stop it. I can't TELL you how many new moms experienced anxiety that was unlike anything they'd ever felt before in life. It was so common that I stopped asking, "Did you feel anxiety?" and replaced it with, "When you felt anxiety..." Why are there a gazillion books on Yoga but only like 2 on postpartum anxiety?! WHO LEARNS YOGA FROM A BOOK? Moms had all kinds of suggestions, including supplements, exercise, meditation, and talking to a therapist. I tried all of them. Every suggestion definitely helped, but it wasn't until I went home over the holidays that I found the ultimate anxiety pill.
My cousin and his wife (I call her "Girl Cousin") gave birth to beautiful twins 3 weeks after Abe was born. We both wanted kids so badly and both worked hard to have them, so to share in the experience of pregnancy and raising kids at the same time was soooo Hallmark in a good way. I asked my Girl Cousin if she had anxiety. She laughed that laugh that was a little bit like, "Oh yeah, I sure have" and a little bit like, "Ha, like I have time to think about anxiety right now." Her answer to the problem? Have twins. She said that her days are so full of baby that she doesn't have time to have anxiety.
"But don't you get nervous when your kids scream in public?"
"Nope. I usually laugh."
"But aren't you worried about someone holding them who might be sick?!"
"No, I just ask if they're sick and if they say yes, then I ask how sick and whether or not they can still hold a baby."
"Really? But what about sleeping? And growth spurts? And college???!"
"There's two of them. I can never keep them both happy at the same time. So I just try to keep them alive at the same time."
Then, a little switch in my brain got tripped. In the days that followed, that switch tripped a bunch of other switches. Pretty soon it was like a physics experiment in high school and sparks were flying everywhere. Ha! She doesn't care if her kids get water in their ears when they're in the bath, because they're both still alive! This completely changed my perspective on parenting. And while it falls under the heading of Try Less Hard and Good Mom/Bad Mom, there was something about this one explanation of it all that turned it around for me. If I had two kids at once my main concern would be keeping them alive because I wouldn't have time to do much else.
So I told David we must get pregnant again immediately in order to quell my anxiety.
This gave him anxiety.
Now we're back to square one.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Past

Three years ago today I was waking up for the first time as a wife with my amazing husband. I ate spaghetti in bed because I hadn't had carbs in 3 months so I could look awesome in my wedding dress.

Two years ago today I was waking up with my friends in California after the best New Year's celebration ever. I went straight for the coffee. I had a lot of champagne the night before. And sake. And I think beer.

One year ago today I was waking up after having announced to the family that I was pregnant. Then I immediately went back to sleep.

This morning I woke up after going to bed at 9:30pm to a smiling, cooing little baby in my bed. I told him Happy New Year and sucked boogers out of his nose with a bulb syringe.

I'd say I've had it pretty good. Happy New Year, everyone. Here's to good sleep in 2011. :)