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.