Friday, June 25, 2010


Ah, Chicago, the Windy City... how I love you so. Funny thing about spending my adolescence in the Mid-West, everyone within 12 hours of Chicago considers it their town because it's the closest big city, and yet no one in Chicago could give a hoot about any of those places in the vast wasteland of Middle America. (I mean wasteland in the nicest way, it's not all car-racing and trailer parks as some Chicago-dwellers might think.)

So as I mentioned, we headed there this past weekend for my cousin's wedding. I was really nervous about the trip and I handled these nerves by over-preparing. I had ziplock baggies of just about everything a person could need while traveling. Most of it went unused, but I felt very secure the whole trip with my nice, neat ziplocks to go to in times of need.

I know, you want the good stuff, the juicy details. Well here was the baby on the flight out:

No, we did not drug her, apparently she likes white noise and there is ALOT of white noise on planes. She made some funny faces in her sleep every now and again, I think when her ears were pressurizing, but we would shove various things to suck in her mouth and she was fine - never even woke up. (Look at those chubby arms, a whole separate post on that coming your way soon!)

Funny thing though, I had dressed her up in a very ruffly dress and we kept getting oohs and ahhs, but if she got even a little fussy, people changed and ran away quickly. I wish I could make her cry on command, that might come in handy when I get cornered by crazy people.

Speaking of crazy people, our hotel room was not exactly baby-friendly. The room was not actually big enough for the crib they brought, so we had to choose whether to have her directly in front of the air conditioner, blocking the armoire, or blocking the door to the bathroom and sharing a wall with the elevator. We chose the bathroom option and she did fine.

The day after we arrived, after her 4 to 5am feeding was over, I decided I was hungry and that I should go find us something to munch on. I stopped at the desk and asked if I saw correctly and that there was a Dunkin' Donuts on the corner, and proceeded out the door. What the desk agent neglected to warn me about, is that the street we were on was still in after-party mode at 5:30am. So my baby and I walked past a lover's tiff, a more serious fight, a small pool of blood on the sidewalk and made our way up to the corner.

As I made my way inside, a very large truck with some very loud rap music pulled into the spot near where I was walking, and a man hopped out and kind of ran inside in front of me. By the time I got inside, the man from the truck was being solicited by two transvestite prostitutes while two other men looked on. The rap music man started to joke with them and things started to get very animated. At the same time, he whispered "Go ahead, Ma'am" to me. I realized he was taking the heat from the ladies to spare me... thanks kind Sir!! Good thing too, because later after he left and I was waiting inconspicuously at the other end of the store, I heard them saying how high they were and talking about whether they wanted to get higher or sober up. All in all a little scary.

But I made my way back to the hotel, napped a little, got up and showered, and had a lovely second breakfast with one of my three lovely aunts that we spent time with this trip. Later, Charles and I walked to Wrigley Field and took some snapshots. We watched a World Cup match. Got dressed in fancy clothes, went downstairs and met some fellow wedding party folks who were going to walk to the restaurant, wished them well and went to hail a taxi.

No taxis.

Finally a few blocks down, we found one!

We got in and told him where we were going, but he turned right on Belmont instead of left. Charles and I grumbled back and forth a bit and reminded him of the address we were going to. He assured us that he was just trying to avoid traffic. "Okay" I said, "But this is a wedding, please don't make us miss it." Next thing we know we are on Lake Shore Drive headed downtown. He gets off at Roosevelt and starts mumbling that he cannot find the street number we gave him.

"But we are on Roosevelt, we told you Roscoe!"

So long story short, we took a very tense taxi ride instead of watching my cousin get married. Luckily, I had long enough in the taxi to go through the full range of my emotions: shock, sadness, anger, and acceptance. I realized that we would be walking into a party full of people that had just witnessed a wonderful declaration of love, and that I needed to be happy! I may not have been totally successful, I think I told the story too much, but at least I tried to just be in the moment and leave the taxi behind.

Besides, my sweet aunt met us at the door, took my sweet baby from the carseat and started to introduce her like she was a celebrity:

Yes, that's me in the foreground and YES, I did match my shirt to my baby! She's my very best accessory.

We had a great time, despite the difficulties and despite the challenge of being out of our little nest. Look at our sweet darling in the airport on the way home.

She did look around when we got home and smiled like crazy, despite being overtired from the late arrival back home. She seems to have popped back into her routine fairly easily as well.

However, I asked my husband what we could have done differently to make it easier. "Wait until she's older" was his response.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One minute please...

"One minute please..." I say that phrase over and over in a single day. Living with a 10 week old demands immediacy, quickness, and sometimes I just need a minute. It's amazing that sometimes that one minute seems like an eternity for both of us.

In this case, I need a minute to get myself together after our trip to Chicago. Fun was had. Adult conversation abounded. The wee-one was amazing.

But, I now have a cold. I have at least temporarily lost the camera cord. And Charles is back to work with his usual gusto.

That reminds me of a question that I have... how does one find a babysitter?

I must say that Oprah has not done me any favors in trusting just any old babysitter. I LOVE her. I want to write her a letter and thank her for keeping me sane in the long afternoons of my teenage years, the emotionally tumultuous 20s, and now in my marathon day-into-nights of maternity leave. I love you Oprah.

BUT, she had a show on a couple of weeks ago about sexual abuse. The statistics are alarming - not just that one in four women will be sexually abused, but that over 90% of those people are abused by people they know - not strangers. How do I live with a beautiful child AND that statistic in my head? I may need some therapy - because that is just unbelievable and it makes keeping her safe from harm seem like an even more daunting task.

I am a helicopter-parent in training.

Alright, well I am off to nap while my angel naps. I promise to find the camera cord as soon as I can swallow without pain...

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Mythical Happy Baby.

In Yoga, there is a wonderful pose called "Happy Baby Pose" in which the person lies on their back, bends their knees up and out and grabs their feet to roll back and forth. It feels great on the lower back.

But much like the misleading expression "I slept like a baby last night" I have come to realize that before people have children they have this incorrect perception of how babies are. We see them everywhere in commercials, in movies and television programs, and we may even catch glimpses of them out and about - these mythical happy babies.

The reality, I have learned, is that babies move rapidly from one state to another. A happy baby, especially in the first few months, is one that is rested, full, at the perfect temperature, and fully-engaged in an enjoyable activity. The problem is, that it is nearly impossible to keep those four elements balanced in the rapidly changing landscape of a small baby.

Oh, I know all will change over the next few months, and it will become infinitely easier to keep my child happy and giggling for hours. But in the meantime, it sometimes feels like I emerge from our nest with a ticking timebomb. We can get to Starbucks, order a drink, coo at the other patrons, and then dissolve into screaming on the way home. We can get 3/4 of the way to a friends house with squeals and fascination, and then it can all turn south and end with red-faces and tears streaming down cheeks (and if it's a really bad day, it could end that way for both of us!)

But we keep trying and we are learning. I have successfully taken walks with the stroller a half-dozen times, but tonight we set out like usual and ended up 6 blocks away, with me sitting on the steps of the municipal building nursing her while my husband came to rescue us.

A few days ago, I had an interesting trip to Trader Joes. An old woman came up to me to see the baby, and asked how old she was. "Two months!" she said, "That is TOO young to be out!" "I don't really have a choice." I said, "I have to buy groceries!" In the next aisle over there was a woman with an absolutely angelic sleeping baby about the same age - amazinglg to me - in a carseat. We stopped to talk for a minute and she complimented my baby carrier - I thanked her and told her that my sweet girl would not tolerate a carseat for long while shopping so the wrap is the best option for keeping her quiet for as long as possible. "Oh, me too, he fell asleep in the car and will be very unhappy when he wakes up, I'm just hoping that he doesn't start to scream before we get back out to the car."

Ah, sometimes all is not what it appears to be!

Because the truth of the matter is, they ARE too young to be out. Certainly too young to be out with the expectation of consistency. Their timelines are not your timelines. They don't understand why they are alone in the carseat and why they cannot be held or nursed when the mood strikes them. And they only have one way to communicate a variety of negative emotions - crying. I know all of this, and yet I want to try. I want to be able to do things now.

So I get out into the world and I pray... I pray that she will be okay. That I've fed her enough, that she's rested enough, and that we can get through whatever the task is at hand before she melts down and needs the comfort of home and mommy.

We are going to Chicago for my cousin's wedding this weekend. A potentially ill-advised experiment of three days and two nights away from home at a time when I could not successfully walk six blocks. At least since we are flying, I will be able to nurse her on the plane and in the airport when she has trouble, but I also plan to bring earplugs. Not for me, but for my fellow passengers! Let's pray it does not get ugly.

No, seriously, pray for us.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Worry Wart.

I have always been a worrier. I worry about what people think and feel. I worry that I do and say the wrong things sometimes. I worry about safety. I worry about germs.

I always needed to soothe myself away from those worries. As a baby (and throughout my childhood) I sucked my thumb and had a security blanket. As a teen, I depended on my mom to help me talk through and reason out my worries.

Even with all that practice worrying, I was unprepared for how much I would worry about this little girl. She is great - healthy and happy - and still I worry.

Today's worry is about going back to work.

I had a wonderful day at a friend's house. She and I walked our sleeping kids around the neighborhood, played on the floor, chatted and chatted and chatted, and then had a nice dinner with her husband before I headed home. They are doing everything right, and they have a darling boy to show for it.

She asked me if I was going to put my sweet girl in daycare when I go back to work, and ever since all I can think about is going back to work.

I don't want to do it.

Let me rephrase, part of me doesn't want to do it. I have helped women reenter the workforce after being stay at home moms for the last 5 years, and that is a TOUGH transition. The world just does not have any respect for mothers in the workplace. Even the most progressive place wants to see that you have done something during that time. I've seen it countless times in people that I counsel.

And yet, this little girl counts on me. She looks to me for everything, and I am having a hard time imagining pulling myself away from that. I need to practice. I have resolved to give her up a little more, let visitors hold her and not rush to take her back at the first pout. And I probably need a babysitter. How does one find someone that they can trust?

Ah Trust... the elusive element for a worry-wart. Nearly as elusive as it's friend Faith.

I still have a few weeks to figure this out and another month of working from home after that, but I know I need to prepare myself. She will be fine.

But I worry.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I'm a "sometimes" mom.

Sometimes I sleep. Sometimes I do a good job. Sometimes I get overwhelmed. Sometimes I'm happier than I could ever have imagined.

But the thing you learn is that being a mom is "always". It is always you, you are always needed. I spent my entire twenties wanting to be needed, I had no idea how needed I would be.

I have been surprised that one can put off even normal human behavior in order to care for your child. Are you so thirsty that you could drink an entire gallon of water in one sitting? Sure. But if it involves waking the child that you just got to sleep after an hour of crying, then you will sit there and wait. Wait until it's your turn and then take care of what you can in the time you have.

Before my sweet girl, I have to admit I spent alot of time wasting time. I took long walks with no destination. I spent all day thinking about what I would do for dinner. I talked to friends for hours and hours. I feel silly saying this, but I really did not realize that all of that would disappear instantly. I am now on call. Forever.

But I also have to admit that I am shocked by small things that I enjoy. If my sweet girl wakes up at 4am smiling, then I smile back and kiss her chubby cheeks. I thought I would grumble. I thought I would hate it. I can get exhausted, but I am shocked at how much I enjoy the small girl and the person she is becoming.

She was two months old yesterday. I celebrated by loving her, kissing her,reading to her, comforting her, rocking her, playing with her, singing to her, and watching her sleep. I know I have months to go before this all feels like a normal part of my life, but I am so glad I have this opportunity.

Because in this case motherhood is really an always that is ever-changing, life-altering, and so incredibly welcome and wonderful, (despite what I may say sometimes).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Our Crazy Neighbor

The stories of how crazy our neighbor is started long before I moved in. At some point during our dating life, Charles told me about how he came home one day and she opened her door wearing very little clothing. At the time, I was jealous. Now I know better - I had NOTHING to worry about - Charles doesn't like crazy (and she is crazy with every cell in her body.)

Now she is nice enough most of the time. She seems somewhat gentle, has some kind of facial paralysis, maybe due to some past drug use or something? She also dresses like a homeless person, but has a very nice family that comes to visit her on the holidays and always speaks nicely to us when we see them coming and going.

But my introduction to her craziness started with a Saturday afternoon when I heard a crashing in the hallway. Well, not really a crashing, more like thunderous booms. I had two friends sitting on my sofa that were petrified. I looked out the peep hole to see her trying to kick her own door in.

Some minutes later she knocked on our door. I looked at my friends and said "You have my back, right?" They both looked back like "You have got to be kidding me, don't you dare answer that door!" But answer it I did. She asked me to call the police and have them come let her into her apartment. I lent her the phone and she did it herself. Two days later she left a dollar with my brother in law to pay for the phone call.

She calls the police several times a week. She also has her locks changed at least once a month. She sometimes puts notes on the door that say "Don't come near this door."

But all of that was eclipsed a couple of nights ago when my sister in law and niece were over to visit the baby and the police knocked on the door. Now I immediately thought "Oh no, my niece pressed the 911 button again?" Because she has done that twice before.

No, no that was not it. The police asked "Do you have an emergency maintenance number because the lady across the hall put her hand through the glass window downstairs and there is blood all over the hallway."

First of all - Do I what? She did what?

Second of all - Do you mind not mentioning phrases like "blood all over the hallway in front of my niece and baby?

Third of all - You are the police, aren't you supposed to keep these numbers around? Don't you know everything? And even if you don't, aren't you NOT supposed to knock on a random door across the hall and ask them? (I know, that's a double negative, but forgive me, I've got issues here)

I know what you are thinking - yes, we are going to move. But not with a 7 week old baby. We will not renew the lease again, but we just did since we were not in the position to move with a brand new baby and the Obama tax credit mini-bubble frenzy was too much for us to handle.

In the meantime, I talked to the owner's son and he said to call them the next time she does something crazy. Oh, I forgot to mention that she's been knocking on our door at crazy times - like 6am and 12:30am. I no longer answer.

But man, I feel uneasy about this. Very uneasy.

O What a Night...

I have a very good baby.

She no longer hates baths or diaper changes, she loves them. She also loves any game that involves hand movements: like patty-cake and the itsy-bitsy spider. She sleeps from 9 or 10pm to 3am every night. And she is getting very, very chubby.

Are you sensing a BUT?

Well, there are nights like this one has been, where she starts getting fussy at 7pm, cries like she's being tortured from 7:45 to 8:45, finally falling asleep and letting me put her down at 9:30pm.

Fine, that's not that unusual, but it's cramping my social life. Knowing that any guests need to be out of here by 7pm is tough- because if we don't start our routine: a walk, some reading, then serious sensory deprivation by 7pm, the screaming and flailing starts. Oh, my friends and that is not pretty.

But by 3am, all is forgotten. By then, I am so engorged, I want her to wake up and give me some relief. She wakes up happy and hungry and usually goes right back down to sleep for at least another hour or two.

Except on nights like tonight.

When I got up to get her, I did my usual: change her diaper. "Weird", I thought, "it's dry".

Well then when I was feeding her, she pooped. Okay, time for another diaper.

Then she did what I lovingly call, the Urine Puddle. That's when a little girl sneakily starts to urinate while you have pulled away the soiled diaper and are still preparing the new diaper. My sweet girl like to splash her feet around in the puddle too, a friend recently bought her some rainboots, perhaps I should start using them for diaper changes?

So then it's time for a new changing pad, a new onesie, and some more nursing. Then I have to pretend that her feet aren't vaguely sticky, because a bath at 3am would wake us both up in a way that is irreparable and inappropriate.

But soon enough, the girl is back to sleep. Now, it's time for the checklist of how to tell she is REALLY asleep:
1) Can you pull her away from her meal without any whimpering or protest?
2) Are her feet and hands still kneading, or have they relaxed into death-like limpness?
3) Is her breathing still a full-body experience, or has it settled into a little bird-like puff that barely moves her ribcage?

Speaking of birds, after the Urine Puddle, I put on a new onesie - one that has a cute silkscreened bird on it. Apparently it is made of sandpaper, as it was nearly impossible to get on and felt scratchy even to me as I nursed her. Now putting your baby back to sleep at 3am in a onesie made of sandpaper is ill-advised for sure, but so is taking said onesie back off to put another one on, I mean, I do want to get back to sleep eventually tonight.

But after nights like tonight, I am left a little wound up. The evening crying alone is so tough. I just hate to see her so upset, it's so ... well tough.

It's now 4:07am, and my time to sleep is ticking down, so off I go. Remind me to tell you the tale of my crazy neighbor. It's a doosy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ah, now I understand!

I started babysitting at 9 years old - for a sweet two year old boy from my church. I was way too young and I made lots of mistakes, but he and I both survived. That was the beginning of a very lucrative career of childcare that continued well into college. I also taught Sunday school and worked in the church nurseries of two different churches.

None of that has prepared me for the last seven weeks.

John Wilmot has an oft used quote: Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories. That exactly describes the predicament in which I find myself: the perennial know-it-all about childcare now knows nothing and trusts nothing.

So, I have apologized to my sister and my best friend for not fully understanding the struggles that they had in making decisions with their children - especially amidst the early motherhood 'fog' that I now know so well. And I have pledged to a public apology here to anyone else that I might have judged, either vocally or secretly. You parents out there are awesome, and I had no idea how hard you had to work to make your beautiful children the wonderful people they are today! Great job.

May I be half as successful.

Now, an update.

Here is my sweet Emmah on the way to her baptism last weekend. We didn't end up using my christening gown, because it made her look like an old porcelain doll that had been holed up in some crazy lady's attic for too many years. At the last minute we got this outfit. My dad said the bonnet was overkill. He was wrong. (well, judge for yourself...)

We are very excited to be going to my cousin's wedding in a few weeks. We plan on matching our baby to our luggage- I think it will make the baggage carousel infinitely easier and more fun:

Our little tiny daughter seems to have doubled in size... she easily fits into 3 month clothing at 7 weeks old. I am no longer worried that the 3 to 6 month summer clothing will not get used, instead I am concerned that she will outgrow all the clothes we have for her in the next few weeks, and will start stealing my favorite t-shirt to wear to the mall.

(P.S. Thanks Auntie Laura for my new favorite summer rompers... here's a sneak peak)

Wow, that was fun... typing with both hands, finishing a whole blog post. Now, I sincerely hope the time that it took me does not mean I will not get a shower and breakfast before the girl wakes up... that's the way life is these days: it's all about choices with the 20 minutes of time that a nap allows.