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. :)