Saturday, December 31, 2011


"If you think back, and replay your year - if it doesn't bring you tears of joy or sadness, consider the year wasted." (John Cage, from Ally McBeal). 

Replaying highlights:
January:  Finish round 1 of Clomid started on B's first birthday. Start paperwork for faculty job I was offered at the end of December (!) Start lots of resolutions to try to reclaim my body, relationship, friendships, career, and self after B's first year and before (hopefully) getting pregnant again. Miss scheduled IUI due to huge snowstorm and resigned to waiting another month, because we certainly need additional people in the room to make babies. Test at end of month because period is a day late and I want a glass of wine. Oh My God. Test again. And again. And again. Yup.
February/March/April: Whirlwind of nausea, exhaustion, and anxiety interspersed with wicked winter viruses and 5 ear infections for B. Have scary (to me) numbers on first trimester screening but opted to forgo CVS. All resolutions clearly went down the toilet along with most of my meals.
May: Emerge. Travel to see friends. Find out we're having a brother for B and that he is perfect. Turn 35. Cry a little on the bus on my way to work that day because I am just so happy.
June-September: Get huge, hot, and uncomfortable. Cry one weekend because I am JUST. SO. TIRED. and cannot enjoy B or anything else. G takes on most househould tasks and a large percentage of toddler-wrangling, and is subsequently also exhausted and depressed, and I feel like a waste of space (oh so much space, too!) Put in 2 major grants and defend masters thesis at 36 weeks pregnant. Start this blog. 
October: L arrives. Breastfeeding kicks my ass for a bit but in the end I emerge victorious!
November: Our first weeks alone as a family of 4. Glorious. L starts sleeping better, too. Bliss.
December: Back to work. Faculty position kicks in. Struggles with MIL and in my relationship with B. L is becoming such a delight and a balm to my soul. G & I grow closer through all the tumult.

Excuse me while I get a tissue. It's been quite a year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Press Play to begin

As I've written before (here and here) I've been struggling lately to accept and truly live this life that I've spent so long building. I'm so used to overcoming hurdles and trying to fast forward through the challenging times that I really don't know how to just be. I've been told recently by several (older, wiser) people that "these are the years" to cherish; these times when the kids are still in that cuddly and needy phase yet growing and developing so quickly and amazingly, when our careers are taking off--and the slope of the trajectory will be set by what we do in these early years, and we still have our relative youth and health in order to manage and enjoy it all. Busy, chaotic, and oh-so-full.
This living-in-the-moment sounds so easy in theory, yet so difficult to put to practice. Sometimes it's like my fingers itch to grab the remote and hit the rewind or fast forward buttons, going backwards or forwards to a time that in my mind is simpler, easier, or more exciting. I fantasize sometimes, as I walk home exhausted from work yet gearing up for the next few hours, about skipping ahead 5 years through these challenging little-kid years, or going 5 years to back to a life spontaneous and free. And on rare occasions, I even think about the completely different paths that I could have taken in life.
Yet for so many years I longed for exactly what I have right now. I wonder why I cannot embrace it. Is this just my personality? Am I inherently unable to enjoy my life for what it is, constantly wanting something more or less or maybe just different?
It isn't that I'm not grateful. I am. Every single day I am grateful for my amazing fortune. And it isn't even that I don't find joy and wonder in so many moments throughout the day. Because I do. And I recognize that. It's more a general physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion sometimes. It's that sinking feeling on Friday night, that the weekend will be busier and more exhausting then the weekdays and then the ache in my heart on Monday morning when I miss the constant togetherness with my boys.And perhaps also a lingering wistfulness for the girl I used to be. The girl that may still be there, but is buried under to-do-lists, sensible shoes, and emerging worry lines.
I think maybe it's just recognizing that life as an adult can be rich and fulfilling but will always be tough and tiring. I think it's growing up. And I'm not sure that I like it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Worst. Christmas. Ever. Part 3: A lifetime of pain?

This is the last MIL-drama post for a while, I promise! I have so many more cheerful and useful topics I want to discuss, but I need to finish the saga!

Part 1 and 2 deal with the specifics of MIL's recent crazy behavior. This part will get a little bit into our ongoing struggles over the years. This is something I've wanted to write about for ages, but couldn't really bring myself to, as the whole thing was too painful & I've been avoiding thinking about it; but now that it's front & center in my everyday, here it is.

So G is an only child. His mother got married young & had him right away. Mom & dad moved to the U.S. while G stayed with his MATERNAL grandmother for a couple of years, and then came over. The marriage was not good. Eventually G's dad up & left when he was 9. Divorce papers came in the mail, but no money or support. There has been no contact. MIL worked multiple jobs trying to support the two of them. She's had a hard life, and probably feels like she missed out on a lot of fun times with her child. She lost her job in 2009 and has been trying to find another one to no avail. Unemployment has run out and we are sending a lot of money to support her. G insists she was different in the past, but since I've known him, she's always been bitter & controlling, wanting to keep G with her all the time & run his life. She has lots of family around, but few friends, and while she is uber-religious and believes a lot of nonsense and superstition, the religion doesn't seem to bring her any true comfort or bring out any generousity or empathy.

I've left something out of my retelling of the recent fights we've had with MIL--the real crux of it all is that she believes that she should LIVE WITH US. This has been her mantra from the beginning of time.  In fact, before G & I married, she bought a big house without consulting anyone believing that G & I would live there with her. (Just to assure you, G had never told her anything of the sort, she just made it up, or perhaps he may have said it once as a young kid, and she's glommed onto it in her crazy head). In fact we had firm plans to move >1000 miles away. Yet EVERY SINGLE DAY she mentions this on the phone to G (yes, she calls him EVERY DAY, repeatedly). Every time she visits she gives me a 30 minutes lecture about it and he gets a separate one with more crying and emotional blackmail. She is fixated on this. The end of every visit is always a nightmare because of this. She cannot be happy with what she has---quite frequent visits with us and her grandkids, either here or at her house. No she wants it all and will be unhappy until she gets it. When we had our big fight she said she thought I was the one telling G not to have her come live with us, because in her mind G has always wanted that arrangment. I told her that was a big lie, and of course she was pissed that I called her a liar.

Now when G & I were dating, we talked about this a little; he told me that when his mother was old and couldn't care for herself, he wanted to take her in & not put her in a home. I said "of course"---I really can't imagine putting my parents in a nursing home unless they had needs beyond my ability, so I get it. However, since she's been out of work for a few years now and we are basically supporting her and her stupid empty big house, we've discussed potentially having her come stay with us sooner. I was frankly depressed a lot of the past few years because of this. Its constantly in the back of my mind---I feel like all our lovely time together as a family of 3 and now 4 is on borrowed time. That any day it'll come to a head and we'll have to take her in, and I'd be miserable for the rest of my life. I thought about how I could leave the family, thinking through all the details, the visition, the finances, etc...

Then I realized I was making myself miserable  so I spent most of 2011 trying to come to terms with what seemed to be a foregone possibility. I didn't want to leave my family and I understood that G couldn't abandon his own mother, so I'd have to find a way to live my life with her in it.

It took a LOT of soul-searching, and "happiness-project"-style exercises. but I came to accept that perhaps it could be to all of our advantage to have childcare available and a third person to love the kids, plus something to bring joy to a lonely and sad old lady. She was always so loving towards B and lately had been making an effort to be nice to me, as well. She was here for 3 weeks in October while I was on maternity leave and while she did little things that annoyed me, it was nothing major and life was quite pleasant. I told myself that if she came to live with us, she'd be even better, because she'd finally have what she's always wanted. I was the one who asked her to come for 5 weeks so that she could help watch the baby while I transitioned back to work, and be here with us for the holidays and B's birthday instead of being alone.

Yeah. This was BEFORE. As miserable as I am about what's been happening lately, at least we've both realized that we CANNOT have her live with us. I flat out told G I would leave him (taking the kids) if she came to live with us. We talked a lot about it, and he asked if I was sorry I married him and I said quite honestly "yeah, kind of, but not because of you". And I reiterated that I could never live with that woman because she is poisoning our lives and I will not subject my children or myself to that. I am the primary breadwinner in our family and I have my own savings. I can and will leave if it comes to it. She will never be happy unless we concede to all of her wishes, and as that will not happen, these power struggles & fights will continue, creating a toxic and stressful home environment. None of us deserve that and I'm not going to do it.

G says he agrees, and we'll have to come up with some other way to support her (he won't abandon her). He talked about getting her an apartment nearby so that we can help her out if needed (she's pretty young, only 59, and has no major health issues, but eventually will, as she doesn't take great care of herself & does have high blood pressure & cholesterol on top of her obvious mental health issues that she refuses to acknowledge), and she can see the kids. If it comes to a point years down the road where she needs to be cared for, then we can take her in. I told him she won't accept this, and he said he'll tell her the only other option is her staying >1000 miles away. Yet, when she mentions living with us, he never tells her flat out that its not going to happen. He always says "now is not the right time", as if there will be a right time. He says its because she won't get it, but I think she needs to hear it. But its his mother & I'm certainly not going there with her.
The only other good that's come of this is that G & I are talking openly about it. Before I completely avoided the topic because of the anxiety it caused me. But I thought about it constantly, literally every single day of my life, and not talking to him about it created a huge rift in our relationship; I realize now that I distanced myself from him. Now I feel we are coming closer together as a united front against her & for the children.
We're trying to figure out the best way to navigate the next 3 weeks, because she refuses to leave & he won't throw her out. One night we decided we'd just avoid her & use her as free babysitting....go out to dinner, a movie, shopping. Then we felt bad abandoning our kids just to get away from her and scrapped those plans. I just can't spend too much time in the house with her there. She's not talking to us, but her silence is so dramatic it's deafening. She refuses to take her bad mood to her room, she insists on parking it right in the middle of the house where we have to see it and feel the toxicity. I'm sure B knows something is up, he's been really weird, he was on her lap this morning when I came to say good morning---she give me a mean look & then he refused to let me kiss him; when she left he ran up and hugged me. Thankfully L is too little to be affected.  
Part of me is hoping she snaps and does something truly horrendous like hits me (nothing to the kids, of course) so that we have ammunition to keep her the hell away.
I was telling G that these holidays should've been so joyous for us. We have everything we've ever hoped for, and so much newness to look forward to with our sons. Its really a shame that one person has the power to ruin it for our whole family.

UPDATE: since I've written this, things have been calm on the surface. She is talking to us (barely) and we are trying to let her have more time with B to keep her placated until she leaves. I know its a bit like negotiating with a terrorist, but I honestly don't want any more blow-ups, for the sake of my health & sanity. Yesterday evening went so well, I actually felt happy for the first time in weeks. 17 more days to go!!

Worst. Christmas. Ever. Part 2: The birthday

(go back and read or skim part 1 for the backstory). B=big brother ( just 2), L=little brother (12 weeks now) and G=my husband. MIL=crazy bitch from hell ruining my life.

This is how my crazy MIL ruined B's birthday.

She had gone to get him when he woke up, and we let her be there with him for a while while I fed L. Finally we decided to go down together and wish him a happy birthday. We found him in her lap, they were reading stories and she had already given him some presents. When we came in, she handed him to G without a word and went to the bathroom and slammed the door. B cried when we wished him happy birthday, and wouldn't let me hug him. I was planning on just saying happy birthday and going back up to pump and change L's diaper & clothes, and G was going to take the dog for a walk, but now I had to watch B, so I took him down for breakfast, waiting for MIL to come back. B wanted me to read him a book, but I had L in my lap who was crying, so I stalled him and told him grandma would read it. She came down soon after & I told her he wanted to read the book but that I needed to go upstairs for a few minutes. I really thought she'd be happy to have one-on-one time with B.

Later that morning she wanted to Skype with all her family so they could say happy birthday to B. G forgot his account info and it was logged onto my account, so his relatives couldn't find him online. She didn't know what to do so he told her to tell them to look up my name as a contact. Something about that pissed her off (because it was MY name, and I have kept my last name, maybe?) and she started yelling at him. So he took the phone & told the relatives what to do. She called & chatted with B in her lap, as if he was HER son. She called me over to say hello & show off L and I did, quickly, but I was trying to both console an uncharacteristically fussy L and finish up B's birthday cake decorating. Then it was time to call the next family member. The same nonsense ensued, and G was pissed and kind of threw some books off the coffee table to make room for the laptop. The dog was terrified & ran away shaking. I was feeling sick and anxious again, hadn't eaten anything and it was nearly noon.

At the end of the conversation with this relative (I was sitting there, too, showing off the baby at her insistance), they asked when he would have his cake. We were planning to do it after his naptime, around 4ish, but all morning he saw us making the cake and was freaking out to try it. Plus the friends that were coming over canceled due to being sick so it was just us. So G decided at the spur of the moment to do it at lunchtime. MIL told the relatives "oh we're doing it in the evening", then G came by and said "No, we're doing it now".

She FLIPPED. She insisted that we all needed to dress up so she could pictures to "treasure" and that she should've been consulted on when to do it and we could NOT do it now. It was just a quick decision so we sighed and said fine, we can do it later and G said sarcastically "whenever is convenient for YOU, since its all about YOU". She proceeded to completely LOSE IT. She made me and G come over to her and lectured and YELLED at us for about 20 minutes (yes, in front of both kids). Mostly actually she yelled at me and I kept my mouth shut and just stared at her. She kept saying I wasn't supportive, wasn't acting like a daughter-in-law should: "since 2005, you've never once supported me" and then "you should see how daughter-in-laws get treated in other families" and that "I am such a nice person and so nice to you and this is how you treat me" and "What goes around, comes around, I hope you will be treated so badly by your sons and DILs in the future". It was like a soap opera or something, she was crying and yelling and had just the worst most hateful look on her face. I have never been yelled at like this in my entire life, and here it is the third time in 2 weeks, and all in front of my boys.

She kept insisting that we should dress up so the day is special, and that I should support her in that. G told her basically that this is our son's birthday, we can plan it however we want, and it is not her place to tell us to dress up or anything else. He told her "you've had your chance and did whatever you wanted for my birthdays, and now it's our turn"

She stormed off. G went up to tell her we would do the cake at 3:30 and she was all "WHO decided that?". He told her to come or not but that was the plan. We debated going to the park with B but it was already noon and close to his nap. We gave him some food & then he insisted on seeing grandma so we took him upstairs and she took him into her room. We left, taking L in the Ergo and went to go get some lunch and a drink. I was too anxious and sick to eat a thing, but I a managed a few bites of sandwich & had a glass of wine. We decided that this birthday was not going to count and we would do another celebration in January after she left, when my parents were here & my sister would come up with the twins and we'd invite friends. My parents are out of the country now, and I'd invited my sister & friends but canceled last week because of how stressful & tense things have been in the house with MIL, I didn't want anyone to come over. I saved the books I had bought B for his birthday because I figured I'd never have a chance to sit and read them with him anyways.

At 3:45 she came down, all dressed and made-up (she insists on putting on her "face" all the time, but says its not make-up). She held him during the cake, and got her precious pictures. She didn't smile or say a word to us, except to ask me to take the pictures. G & I tried to act like everything was fine, and B seemed to like the cake. She gave him a card at the end and told him to give it to daddy. Instead he brought it to me, since daddy was busy, and I told him to open it. Money fell out. So I told B to pick it up, but he was just playing with it and she huffed over and grabbed everything out of his hand, muttering about something.

After all this, she took B with her to play with the gift she gave him. G & I took L and the dog for another long walk, and then it was dinner time. I took L up for a bath & feeding while G heat up B's dinner. When I came down, she was sitting/sulking on the couch and G was feeding B. B was so happy, he actually ATE some dinner and then asked for some cake and we obliged. I joined them and then we both went up for B's bedtime routine and he was so so happy. I hadn't seen him so happy in days, it was like he was trying to be good for us. He didn't protest the bath or toothbrushing, and picked all the books we like to read to him. He told me "I wuv you" several times, and leaned in for kisses. It was such a wonderful time for the 3 of us, we snuggled on the floor and sang "snuggle puppy" together twice and acted out all the parts of "guess how much I love you". He went to bed without a peep (no nap again today), and I finally felt some calm in my soul.

Part 3 will have more backstory on the craziness & how I am (trying) to deal with all this.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I have Part 2 & 3 of the MIL saga written and ready to publish but I'm hesitant. I think I will end up publishing them, just to complete the story, but I want to take a step back for a bit...

I came into work Tuesday morning anxious and upset, unable to concentrate on anything. So I just sat and furiously wrote out the events of the weekend in 3 parts, trying to purge all my frustration and sadness through my fingers onto the screen. It felt pretty good. Reading over the details reinforced my belief that I was in the right, and that I had every reason to be angry and depressed.

But now that the words are out there, I wonder what my real intention for posting about this is. If it was just to release my emotions, why did I publish it? Couldn't I just put it in a journal never to be seen by anyone? Why place such raw ugly honesty where the world can see? And poorly written, at that! These words are not going to entertain or educate. They aren't designed to encourage one to think or grow. They are reality. Yup, these posts are like reality television. And I HATE reality television and have never ever watched it. I have no interest in watching other people's trainwreck lives. Why am I contributing to this phenomenon, adding my own side-of-the-road freakshow? And why defile this lovely space, that I have created to record and store my thoughts and ideas, with such ugliness and hatred?

Am I looking for support? Possibly. I don't have many readers, but I've been touched by the empathy and thoughtfulness of the comments and emails I've received here. Sure I could talk to some friends about this, but I really didn't want their pity and "I told you so's". I certainly don't want my family to know---imagine what my parents would think! They might try to DO something, or talk to her...which would worsen the situation immensely! So yes, I think a lot of the reason I posted was to get some sympathy, or empathy, or maybe some advice on how to cope.

The other is that I want to have a tangible reminder, when things are going OK and I think "Oh, she's changed! That was just an anomaly! It's not so bad!". I want to be able to read these words and remind myself how terrible this weekend was and ensure that I will never subject myself or my children to this kind of torture again. Because these things have happened before. It's been long that I thought things really HAD changed. But no. Some people never change.

In thinking this through I've realized how much emotion and thought are likely behind all the blogs and posts I read, and that for everything I DO read, there may be a couple of saved drafts that never see the light of day. What someone reveals about themselves is usually very carefully filtered---whether on a blog or in real life---and we should never assume we know the whole story.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Worst. Christmas. Ever. Part 1

Warning. This is really really long. I just need to get it out of my system because I really can't think straight.

Ugh. Just....ugh. My MIL is seriously mentally unstable and managed to completely ruin Christmas and Big Brother's (B's) birthday with her craziness. I've been trying to be nice to her since our big blowup a couple of weeks ago, without becoming a total doormat, yet I guess doormat is what she wants in a daughter-in-law.

So to back up, the reason we fought in the first place was that I felt she wasn't letting me spend any time with B. They had just come back from a 2 week trip (she, G, and B had gone overseas for G's cousins wedding...I stayed home with L), and I had a few days before going back to work that I had hoped to spend soaking him up. Yet, she constantly had him with her, on her lap, in her room, such that I didn't really have a chance. Of course, being the toddler that he is, the more time he spent with her, the more attached he got and the more  he didn't want to come to me...and so it perpetuated.  I was trying to explain to her that I missed him when they were gone & he kind of grew apart from me, and I really just wanted some time to re-establish our relationship, yet I felt like she wasn't allowing that....she said I was being crazy, that she isn't doing anything wrong, and that I should WANT her to spend time with him as his grandmother (which of course I do! I never said otherwise!) and then she went on to say that I was ALWAYS rude to her and a terrible daughter-in-law, and breaking up the family (?). Anyways, I had to apologize.

Then the daycare wars began. My husband (G) wanted B to go to daycare to get back into the routine---he'd been out most of the fall, with my parents being here for 3 weeks, then MIL again for 3 weeks around Little Brother's (L's) birth (she insisted he stay home then & I capitulated because I didn't want him bringing germs home when L was so young), and then the 2 week trip. She insisted that B stay home with her and L at least a few days because she wants to spend time with him. I thought that was fine, so I convinced G to have him stay home a couple of days each week. I thought she'd be happy with that, but no. Every daycare day she huffs and puffs and sulks. However, even on NON-daycare days, she sulks in the evening that she didn't get enough time with B because she had to take care of L. Ummm. yeah. That's the reality of having more than one kid.

She continued the naptime/bedtime battles, too. She hates that we have strict nap and bedtimes, and always complains when we try to put him down for naps or take him up for bathtime after dinner. Its EVERY time..."oh poor thing, mom and dad are making you go." "Oh, I wanted to play with you but THEY say you need to go" And the ugly ugly faces at us when we insist.

Sunday (Christmas) evening she flipped. We are all home all day, didn't go anywhere, she had every opportunity to hang out with B, yet she was being sulky because we insisted he stay in his crib from 1-3 and TRY to nap (he didn't). She kept making these little digs "Oh, I wanted to come see you baby but mom & dad said NO. They make you a prisoner in that crib". By the evening, G & I just wanted to get away, so we planned to go take the dog on a long walk with L in the Ergo. We were going to leave B with MIL so she could have some one-on-one time & we could walk quickly without bringing the stroller and snacks and entertainment for B. She said no, she wanted to get some cooking done, and we should take B. We were gone for an hour or so, and when we got home, she grabbed him and had him help her cook. We all had dinner soon, but B was insisting on grandma reading a book for him. She told him she'd do it after she finished eating, but it was already 7:20 (we TRY for a 7:30 bedtime, and the potty/bath/brushing/stories takes more than 30 minutes, so we were already late). G said "No, its getting late, maybe tomorrow". I was planning on taking B up for his bath but I started feeling uncomfortable and told G to take him, while I grabbed the baby. I had just left the kitchen, G & B were on the stairs going up, when I heard a crash 2 feet behind me. The crazy bitch had thrown her plate full of food on the ground and it shattered. I shouted "HEY WHY DID YOU DO THAT?", and she started yelling at me "Don't ever yell at me that way! Don't talk to me like that!" G & B came back down to see what happened and then we all left. I went up to the 3rd floor, and G & B to the bath.

I was livid. Shaking. Wanted to vomit. I just sat there with L and tried to calm down. After the bath, G brought B upstairs and insisted we come down to his room for the 4 of us to do bedtime stories and try to have a nice family moment. We were at the end of one book, and B was giggling and happy when she stormed up to his room and asked to read him stories. G hesistated but we really didn't want shouting in front of B so we said OK and left her with him.

We hoped she'd just hide in her room but she apparently wanted to say something to G so she just kept coming up to him to talk, and he told her he didn't want to listen to her, so she parked herself on the couch and STARED at us while we cleaned up the kitchen & did our thing. We retreated to the basement but she was still SITTING there so I told him to go deal with her then or else he'd have to deal with it later and we were tired. So he went up to "talk" (i.e. listen to her explain how everything is our fault, and we drove her to it). I could hear them talking from the basement. The gist of it was that she felt like she had no time to spend with B, that I acted like they were "just my children" (um yeah. they are) and that SHE should get priority to spend with them, since she is the grandmother and is only here for a few days (um. like FORTY DAYS, I AM F&&ING COUNTING THEM DOWN). She complained that I'd come home and swoop up B saying "Oh I haven't seen you all day I missed you!" (yeah.) She hinted that she was "more important" than me, but wouldn't come out and say it when G asked her "WHO are you more important than?" The daycare stuff came up again and she complained that we didn't respect her opinion in how to raise the kids. G listened to her, and then told her that I am their mother and I do get priority over her and that the two of us make the rules for the kids, not her, and that was the way it was and if she didn't like it she could leave (yeah, we should be so lucky). So that was that and we went to bed while she stayed on the couch watching TV.

I was so anxious I barely slept that night, and had terrible dreams. B woke up crying once and G went down quickly but not quickly enough, she had already gone in & we didn't want to create a fuss. We both heard B wake up the next morning (his birthday) but knew that she'd get there first, so we let her. Finally we decided to go down and see him....

Part 2 will go over B's birthday. If you think THIS was bad, just WAIT.

Friday, December 23, 2011


I wanted to write one of those beautiful birthday posts people have for their children, delineating all the wonderful recent developments and the promise of what's to come. I just can't pull it off, though, because this most recent stage? Its breaking my heart.

Through what I believe is a combination of the new baby, his being away from me for 2 weeks on a trip (they returned more than 2 weeks ago), my return to work, and his staying home part-time with my mother-in-law, my darling boy has decided I no longer exist. It's "bye mummy". "Go away mummy." "No mummy, gramma do it." Refusing to look me in the eye, sit on my lap or even near me, and pushing me away when I try to get a hug. And last night, a major screaming, writhing fit when I tried to do his bedtime stories (my favorite favorite thing) that couldn't be stopped with all the usual distraction techniques and only abated when I told him I would call his daddy to come. I come home from work and he runs away, into grandma's lap. On one of his daycare days I left work super-early & went all the way across town to go get him and he screamed when I got there & asked to go home to grandma.

Really, I want to cry, it hurts when your child prefers others. Instead I put on a happy face and try try TRY to obtain his interest. I sing, I dance, I try the tickle games & the lifting him up in the air, I try to read the books with all the funny voices. I feel desperate, like a woman trying to "win back" a boyfriend that has SO TOTALLY moved on, and everyone pities her because "how pathetic, can't she see that he is so OVER HER?" I thought it would get better with time, but it seems to be getting worse; his attachment to his grandmother grows stronger (and she's here for 3 MORE WEEKS) & he's losing interest in all of our "inside jokes" and games. I've read that we need to not give in to his preferences, but its hard when he screams & tantrums, especially at bedtime when we really don't want to get him wound up and affect his sleep. My husband says I have to "keep trying" but its exhausting, especially when I get no reward.

I knew going into motherhood that one day my children would grow away from me, I just wasn't expecting it so soon.

Friday, December 16, 2011


You know how people say "when you look back on your life, you will only regret what you HAVEN'T done"? Hmph. Clearly these people have never lost their temper and acted ugly & shamefully.

I am full of deep shame & regret after a fight (yelling, screaming, childish, ugly ugly) that I instigated with my mother-in-law, mostly because I can no longer say that "at least I've always treated her nicely & acted like an adult". I have completely lost the upper-hand in our ongoing power struggle. To paraphrase what my husband said: "I've got your back & I will always take your side, but it would make it a LOT easier for me to do this if you act irreproachably and SHE is clearly the only one being unreasonable."

My friends have told me to forgive myself...that it was completely expected for me to lose my temper given what has been going on lately (too complicated & don't feel like talking about it lest I get worked up again!). And in fact, I never said anything nasty or hurtful to her (which she certainly did to me), but the tone I used and the overall act of starting the fight is not appropriate behavior towards an older family member. I've apologized profusely (hell, I'd say I GROVELED) and I'm putting on a great show of calmness and respect. As Scarlett O'Hara would say "Butter won't melt in my mouth".

But the fact is, it happened, and it is a large and very dark spot on my otherwise unblemished record with her. And it has obliterated any confidence I had in my success in deliberately creating inward and outward calm & balance in my life. Clearly I haven't changed at all, I've just been packing and packing all the worries & annoyances & sadnesses deep inside and I finally burst open like a too-full suitcase. I really thought I had made some progress and I am severely disappointed in myself.

Life is really really hard sometimes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blah humbug...

I used to love the holidays...our family always celebrated the secular aspects of the Christmas season with great enthusiasm. We did the tree, the decorations, the presents, the baking. In my memory, a lot of our holiday activities centered around my mom & sister & I getting crafty & creative--from iced sugar cookies, to pine cone ornaments and cross-stitched stockings, we embraced all the cheesiness of an American Christmas & our home in December looked no different than that of all our non-immigrant neighbors, minus the nativity. When I think upon this now, I realize how much effort & thought my mother had to put forward to make this happen; as an immigrant from a country that did not celebrate Christmas, I know she did this all for us.

As I grew up, the intense excitement leading up to Christmas day & the opening of the presents under the tree certainly faded...but my love of the season continued. What's not to love about twinkly lights brightening the darkest days? The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting out of coffee and cookies? "It's a wonderful life" and "The Christmas Story" on TV?  The end of December isn't just about Christmas, its about the turning of the year, marked by the calendar and by nature. Its the end of the semester (and the fiscal quarter), a break in the routine, a time to focus on family & friends.

But once I stopped being able to slow down and be with family & friends (I worked 4 out of 4 Christmas Days during residency) my enthusiasm for this time of year was hard to keep up. It doesn't help that my husband is a bit of a grinch. When I met him, it was my waning enthusiasm up against his staunch negativity. I think it was the family obligations and general abundance of tackiness (this was Texas, ya'll) that led to his distaste of the festive season. Our first few years together, I tried to overcome his influence, but I've since succumbed.

I want to change this. I'm tired of apathy & negativity killing all the joy in life & I've decided  to put some work & caring into this holiday season. I've put up the tree & the wreath, and I'm hunting for ornaments. I want my kids to experience the love, excitement and magic that I recall from my childhood. And as I sit in front of the tree, looking at the twinkly lights, and smelling the gingerbread baking in the oven, I realize I also want to experience it again myself.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


A comment by a fellow blogger about infant colic and parental temperament got me thinking the other day. We talk about & expect a lot from our little ones in terms of self-soothing, yet how well (and HOW) do we do it ourselves?

We expect babies to learn to "self-soothe" at a very young age (after 2 months, say the experts!) by holding a lovey, or sucking a pacifier. My toddler sucks on his blankie &sings to himself or recites lines from books when he's trying to wind down at night or naptime. 

What is my in-the-moment tool to assuage anxiety and fear so that I can function or sleep? Its hard to think of an answer. Long-term, sure, I try to exercise, plan well, socialize, get enough sleep, get alone time---these things help keep me from feeling overwhelmed & burnt out. But despite my best efforts to live a calm and peaceful life (hah!) there are moments when I am angry, afraid, worried. Moments when I just can't calm my racing mind to be able to relax or sleep.

Honestly, my soothing techniques are decidedly NON-self. I am not one to meditate or use calming imagery or the like. When I am anxious and can't sleep I go straight to my favorite life-avoidance activities: games on my phone, reading blogs, re-reading old books.  Anything to take me out of my head & stop the incessant thinking. If I can finagle it, it also helps to get a backrub from my husband. After a particularly tough day, a glass of wine might do the trick.

Turns out, though I am a full-fledged adult with 30+ years of practice, I still require lots of help to soothe myself. Helps me empathize more when the 2-month-old or even 23-month-old just won't "calm the f*() down and go to sleep already"!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stages of life

If you'd asked me a few weeks ago, I'd tell you unequivocally that I did not like newborns. Don't get me wrong, I love children. I especially love MY children, but if I could choose to skip over a phase then this would be it. With Big Brother, things just got better and better after the 4 month mark. The crying ramped way down, and the cuteness way up. So much interaction & discovery---you could actually play with him, in a more 2-sided way (vs just singing & making faces at your crying or ambivalent newborn). As the mobility & communication skills grew, so did my interest in my child. I just couldn't wait for all the milestones, and I was constantly amazed and surprised at even the most mundane aspects of development (eating the feet! solid foods! babbling!) I fell more and more in love each day.

I realized yesterday that I have 4 weeks left of maternity leave. I was surprised to find it made me anxious and sad. I am actually enjoying this maternity leave. For one, the weather is much MUCH better (remember the 2010 winter when news programs were throwing around words like "snowpocalypse" and "snowmegaddon"? Yeah that was my other maternity leave). I'm getting out of the house more especially on those lovely 60-70 degree November days.

Second,  and likely more important, I am acutely aware of how fleeting it all is---this intense neediness, where I am fully responsible for his care, feeding, comfort every minute of the day and night---it won't last long. In a few short months he'll be (hopefully!) sleeping longer stretches & not in our bed. He'll be hurtling himself out of my arms to creep & crawl around the house. Few months later & he'll want to feed himself, "read" by himself, walk & climb the stairs by himself ("no helping mama!"). Breast will give way to bottles to sippy cups & regular food. Then the pieces won't need to be cut so small, and one day he'll be eating a whole banana, peeling it himself, then biting into a sandwich...all after climbing himself into the high chair and buckling it on his own (really! Big Brother does this.)

And thirdly. Oh the third reason is probably the most meaningful of them all. I'm sad for this all to end because this is almost certainly the last time for us. While I'd always wanted three kids, given my age & where we're at in life right now, it just doesn't seem logical. My husband has flat out said that he does not want any more children. Two children is a nice round number. I can live with that, but yet...

But yet, I find myself holding him more than he probably needs to be held, bringing him into bed when he'd probably fall asleep in the bassinet. I know I can't hold him back but I definitely want to hold him close.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This & That

Little brother is following in Big Brother's footsteps...with the COLIC. So...that explains why I haven't been around much, its hard to type while walking & bouncing a screaming baby.

The breastfeeding is actually working! We hit a breakthrough around week 3, when I tried nursing in the side-lying position & he actually latched on! So we did that for a while, and a couple of days later, I was at the lactation support group run by the LC I saw, and she got him to latch on in the cross-cradle hold while I sat on the floor, with no pillows or support or all that jazz. So I tried THAT later, just sitting on the bed---not the "nursing chair"---with no arm support or footstool. And it WORKED. We quickly got off the bottle-feeding, but I was still pumping since I wasn't sure when I'd need a bottle, and I built up quite the oversupply.  Gradually was able to stop that (after a few clogged duct episodes that necessitated ramping up the pumping again). Now we are exclusively breastfeeding EXCEPT when he needs to feed in public---I always take a bottle with me because it still takes him a while to latch on and it may involve some screaming on his part, and milk leaking everywhere---not exactly a show I want to take on the road! I pump once a day, in the morning after his feed; additional pumping after he takes a bottle, also. I am now only filling one freezer bag per day (sometimes not even) vs. 4-6 7 oz bags/day. Which is good because my freezer is literally bursting.

My MIL left on Saturday so we are on our own for the first time in 6 weeks. It's actually going fine. It IS easier the second time around, since we already have a finely-tuned morning & evening routine, that can be easily be managed by one person. So we kind of switch off---one of us doing the usual with Big Brother while one of us (usually me) tends to Little Brother. Not sure if it'll get easier or harder when Little Brother becomes more of a real person (i.e. not an accessory that we can wear or put down in the bouncy seat at our convenience).

The colic. Oh the colic. Its tough to listen to the little guy scream as if he's being tortured---head back, tears streaming, body stiff---for HOURS at a time. I'm trying to be zen about it---I know he is not in any real pain nor is he purposefully trying to torture me, that I just need to try and soothe him until it goes away (3 months later!) & that it is no indication of future behavior or psychological issues (our very real fear with Big Brother---we were so sure that this was patently abnormal behavior that spoke to some sort of inborn personality disorder).

Talked to the pediatrician about it yesterday (we saw the new guy at the practice: young naive fresh out of residency, so cute!) & he agreed it sounded like colic though reflux is a possibility (I have a script for zantac just in case). We tried the antacids with BB; I was SO hoping he had reflux because then the medicine would MAKE IT STOP, but to no avail. I think I'll skip it this time. In a fit of desperation I DID order probiotics online (found some studies showing decreased crying vs. placebo and vs. mylicon in infants with colic). I gave the first dose today. We shall see. I also am off dairy this week to see if it helps. Blech. I like cheese a lot. In fact, I accidently had some the second day into the experiment. Went to meet some work friends for lunch---ordered the vegan burrito with vegan cheese & sour cream (tip--skip it. its neither sour nor creamy) yet the accompanying side salad was full of blue cheese crumbles & the "vinegraitte" had parmesan in it. Oops.

OK, the monster is stirring...better go pick him up! I am going to try to be more regular about posting, not that anyone is reading or anything :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Two steps ahead

Sometimes I feel like I design my life to be a series of challenges. I consciously choose difficult paths, persevere to get through them by checking off each task/day/month, and then bask momentarily in the satisfaction of completion until I move on to the next. I don't have a concrete set of longterm goals that I'm working towards. Instead, I take it one thing at a time, driven by this constant feeling of "What's next?". This is particularly true in my professional life (schooling, training, and each difficult project I undertake), but I've recently discovered the same pattern in my personal life.

My current challenge, of course, is parenting a newborn---the breastfeeding, colic, sleep deprivation, all coupled with the lack of any meaningful positive feedback make this phase particularly harrowing for me. I keep looking ahead to each milestone not as a beginning but as an end of a more difficult phase. 3 months, 4 months, 6 months....I  realize that soon...much sooner than I can imagine...the challenge of early infancy will be over. Then the inevitable enters my mind..."What's next?"

I mentioned this before, but the idea that I have finally "arrived" is terrifying and unnerving. Its easier for me to keep my eye on the prize and power through to a finite endpoint then to really dive in and live this life fully & deeply. I wonder if this tendency comes from the years and years of study & training where life was divided neatly into semesters/blocks/rotations that you weathered through, crossing days off a calender. If life sucked, just wait a few weeks, it would change completely---without any personal effort, just the routine changing of the schedule. I never really had a consistency to my life, where I knew that the next month, season, year would by and large have the same structure & rhythm, and that I would have to consciously work to improve, but also, enjoy it.

I have been attempting to change this mindset. To learn to stop pushing ahead and wishing my life away one challenge at a time. To appreciate & even enjoy the career, family, and life I have built for myself. Because as much as I tend to wish away the present times, I know how fleeting life can be, and that there may come a time when I will be wishing wishing wishing to have these moments back.

For now, I want to savor (for the last time) the wonder of a newborn baby...the way he smiles in his sleep & flashes his dimples, the way he moves his arms around so aimlessly as if he is still underwater, the way he clings to our chests like a treefrog when he's sleeping, the lovely warmth of him snuggled up in the crook of my arm in bed on these cold nights. Simultaneously I am trying to savor the amazing transformation of a nearly-two year old...the way his vocabulary is expanding daily & everything we say is fair game for copycatting...yet some words persistantly come out so adorably wrong (bicy-kickle for bicycle, go-wanna for gorilla, mo morning for good morning), the way he's developing interests (music, books) and personality quirks (shy, but with a sense of humor like both his parents; he wants to see "KIDS!" at the park but then hides behind my knees when they come say hello. He's making jokes---saying daddy is a gorilla or that the he wants the dog to read his stories tonight.)

There is just so much going on right here & right now...I don't want to look back and realize I missed it all because my eyes, mind, and heart were too busy looking ahead.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


First, a quick update on the breastfeeding saga. Things are getting a bit better. Turns out I've created an enormous oversupply by all the pumping (40+ ounces a day!) and babies do not like having firehoses of milk gushed into their gullets. Huh. Damned if you do (have milk) damned if you don't. So I'm working on that by NOT pumping so frequently and have subsequently developed clogged ducts which I need to relieve by...pumping. Some might call it a vicious cycle. Keeping at it, though, because I love me a challenge. And this is one the biggest challenges yet.

I think I've made it through the "baby blues" emotional rollercoaster from hell. I am no longer crying rivers several times a day. But I'm left a bit empty-feeling. I believe a lot of it is the sleep deprivation catching up to me. LB is taking after BB in the not sleeping camp, getting up around 3:30-4 and grunting/crying/fussing for a couple of hours after that. So, yeah. 3:30-5:30 AM are spent walking the floors with a fusspot crankypants. Of course by the time I get back to sleep, its about time for his next feeding, and then BB wakes up and the day just needs to get rolling. I have had a hard time staying awake past dinner these days, and the thought of months more of this is just so...defeating.

The other contributor to my blah state is quite obviously the weather.   The lovely Indian summer of 2 weeks ago has suddenly changed to the "wintry mix" keeping us holed up all day today. It's made me realize how NOT ready I am for winter yet! Cold, grey days after long, frustrating nights do not add up to a happy me. Again, the thought of months more of this...

I am very much in need of some non-familial conversation & socialization. I'm trying to get some work-friends together for lunch next week but finding the scheduling difficult because they are...working. Crazy, right? I had a dinner planned with a friend tonight but she's lost her motivation due to cranky kids & the icky weather. We may still get together for a drink at her place at least. Anytime I get someone to chat with I've been talking a mile a minute & over-sharing like nuts. So not like me. I just need to get things out of my system after behaving myself all day everyday with a challenging toddler and even more challenging mother-in-law on 3-4 hours of sleep (more on THAT situation later). Yeah, I guess I COULD blog about it, but putting thoughts into readable words is really hard (it took me 8 tries to get THAT sentence down...and it STILL doesn't make any sense!)

OK. Time to pump again, my right breast is screaming.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I think the title says it all?

Baby vs. mommy: baby is winning.

LC visit was last Friday. Little stinker decided to SHOW OFF and did not do his usual fighting/screaming torture-victim impression but quietly latched on and ATE TWO OUNCES. I was livid. So basically it is me. Either my anxiety or my ineptitude is hindering our "breastfeeding relationship". There is nothing physically wrong with him or with me, but somehow we are NOT CONNECTING. Decided to keep trying, got some more pointers on positioning and the OK to not try at EVERY feed, but to pick 4-5 per day that I can really put some time into. Also spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I was having extreme toe-curling eyes tearing pain on the right side (not just at latch on, but throughout & even after feeding) despite good latch, no yeast, no vasospasm. really no clue still.

It went OK for about 24 hours. Maybe every other feed he latched on. Then it all went to hell again and I got clogged ducts bilaterally and the "trying" started to slip again.

This morning we had a successful latch on, the first in 72 hours. He only took one side, but fell asleep and seemed satisfied until his next feed 2.5 hours later.

Why is this happening to me!! (she whined like a little b&itch)

During my training I did a lot of procedures. Some I felt fairly confident and proficient at. others, not so much (there is a reason I went into one of the "thinking" specialties). The worst part was when I was causing someone undue pain because of my inexperience. Of all the times I had to hide in my callroom and cry, usually this was the reason. This is how I feel when I'm trying to breastfeed my son and he starts screaming and arching away, and I keep trying to get him to latch on. I know he's not in real pain, but it is agonizing to listen to those screams that bring back memories of babies being held down for blood draws or catheter placements. I know babies cry (BB cried for HOURS a day for MONTHS of his life, it would've been called colic if colic happened round-the-clock like that. I am  not new to pointless shrieking). But its different when I am causing it, and I know exactly how to stop it---stop trying to BF and give him his bottle. Yet, I know the only way to get this to work is to keep at it. "patience, perseverence, and desire" is the text I got back from the LC yesterday after my response to her "how's it going" text.

I am not ready to give up. I know that how I feed my child is not the only indication of my fitness as a mother. I have living proof that a bottle (and formula after 6 months)-fed child can turn out perfectly perfect. But I just can't keep thinking that I gave up too quickly last time, and if I really really loved my child, I could keep on going, despite the frustration and pain that I am feeling. What if he would die without breastfeeding? Would I be strong enough to keep at it? I realize this is crazy-talk, but this is what is going through my heart right now. I just don't think I could face myself if I gave up right now. So I'll keep on keeping on. I've got to make it to a month. Its been 20 days so far. I can do it.

I promise the next post will not involve nipples!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Battle of the Breast

 I am mainly recording this for my own benefit. I want to record these experiences so when the guilt hits me 3 months later when I read some other study about why breast is best, I can assure myself that yes it is, IF IT WORKS. So if anyone is reading this, I apologize for the hastily & poorly written style.

While pregnant with BB (big brother), I was 100% planning to breastfeed. So smug was I that we did not even unpack the bottles that someone had given us at a baby shower. We didn't need all that crap! I was going to nourish my baby at my bosom, the way nature intended and pediatricians have suggested! It started off OK. Numerous nurses at the hospital told me he was latching fine & it was supposed to hurt. He was born over the holidays so there wasn't really a lactation consultant readily available; we made an appointment to see one at our pediatrician 10 days later. Our second night home from the hospital, we were faced with screaming infant fighting and clawing at my bloody cracked nipples, not pooping or peeing, and just freaking out every time I tried to get him to feed. We boiled those bottles, mixed up the Simi.lac that the evil hospital snuck into my take-home bag, and the little devil happily chugged it down, burped, smiled, and slept! I continued to try to get him to latch on and feed, we spent tons of money on a lactation consultant, and tried every trick I could. 3 weeks later I gave up and exclusively pumped 8 times a day for over 5 months. So he got breastmilk for nearly 6 months, but in the roundabout way, via Medela & Dr Brown's.

For the past year and a half, when I think back on why I didn't breastfeed, all I could come up with was that I was lazy & weak, couldn't take the pain & hassle, and gave up.

It has been eating at me all this time. The guilt. The failure. The fact that I clearly DID NOT LOVE my son enough to make this sacrifice.

This time around was GOING to be different. No caving in the middle of the night. I would ask for help right away in the hospital. If we needed multiple visits to the LC, we would suck it up and pay for it. The bottles stayed, packed away and unwashed. I did not want to make it easy to give up.

Welcome to the world LB (little bro). He latched on soon after birth and it HURT immediately. Knew where this was headed so insisted on help from nurses and LC at the hospital. Again, was assured that he was doing fine. He lost less than 10% of weight at 24 hours, and was pooping (meconium) and peeing. He wanted to feed CONSTANTLY after the first 24 hours of sleepiness, and I gritted my teeth and let him. I couldn't really tell if he was getting anything, since the milk hadn't come in yet.

Day of life 5: Baby hadn't pooped for over 48 hours, only peed 3 times and was very minimal, concentrated, and with those red crystals. Went to see Ped and had lost more weight. He suggested supplementing 1/2 oz after each breastfeed. I ignored this. I could feel my milk coming in, I figured it'd be all good by the evening.

That evening: suddenly the boy was FREAKING OUT. He refused to latch on. Just fought & clawed & arched away. I was hugely engorged and hurting. Thought maybe the rock-hard-boobs were making it hard for him, so I broke out the pump and pumped several oz of milk. Tried again. Nothing. He fought until he got tired and fell asleep, still starving. Decided to feed him the pumped milk but to use an "alternative system" to avoid the bottle---used a syringe (so messy!) and got 1.5 oz into him. He burped, smiled, and slept. I cried for hours.

DOL 6: Same story. Fighting, clawing, hands in the face, arching away from the breast. We got tired of the syringe and went to the bottles, but I tried each feed for over 30 minutes to get him to latch.
I pumped after each feed and got barely enough for the next feed (1.5 oz) each time. Lots and LOTS of crying.

We saw the LC. She got him to latch...OF COURSE he didn't fight & scream in her office! But after 45 minutes of switching positions and waking him & all that jazz the kid took in 5 MLS. That is ONE TEASPOON people! He needed 60 mls per feeding. DO THE MATH.

Had a long chat with the LC about why he was doing this. I revealed my secret fear that there was something wrong with me. The fact that this happened BOTH TIMES cannot be a coincident. She kind of agreed that it is very rare for infants NOT to take the breast (makes sense, of course) and for it to happen twice in one family is exceedingly unlikely. She was very kind about it, posing it as a positive thing---nothing is wrong with the baby or with my milk supply---I just need to experiment with positioning, technique, etc... She did reassure me that it is unlikely my anxiety or ambivalence transferring to the baby---they aren't that smart at this point, and their primitive urges to feed themselves and NOT DIE are the main things they are working off of at this age. So I didn't need to FEEL calm, as long as I could physically handle him & position him correctly, he should catch on. She also gave me a nipple shield. It gave me enormous confidence that he wouldn't shred up my nipples which helped me actually WANT to keep trying. Self-preservation is powerful.

The recommendation:
Step 1: try bf for no more than 30 minutes total---try both sides, both positions (football hold & cross-cradle hold), stop unless baby is "productive" (swallowing milk)
Step 2: Then give bottle using "pause method": hold bottle so that milk influx is horizontal. Make baby open wide before giving bottle. Allow a few good swallows and then remove bottle & make baby suck on your finger for a few seconds, then start again---this will teach him that he needs to work a bit for food. It should take approx 15 minutes to give a bottle.
Step 3: pump for 10-15 minutes, until breasts are empty
additional stuff: skin to skin with baby as often as possible. try feeding when kind of sleepy. if freaking out hungry, give little bit of bottle before putting on breast. Try herbs & hand expression to increase supply.
Give it 7-10 days & then re-assess.

DOL 6-12: I faithfully tried the tactics suggested by the LC. I tried to latch him on each side, in different positions, awake or asleep, before any bottle, after 0.5 oz, after 1 oz, after the whole thing. Once or twice he did it---but always took himself off before really taking in any milk, despite feeling a letdown & leaking. Started getting severe pains in my wrists from trying to hold him. Ended up ditching the nipple shields because he kept batting them off onto the ground whereby they became covered in dust and dog hair, necessitating getting up to wash it off---baby in tow. REally wasn't seeing an improvement. Tears for both of us (I KNOW they aren't supposed to make tears yet but he IS!)

Had a panic attack one day and just couldn't face another feeding. Was in the shower and just couldn't catch my breath and didn't want to get out of the shower in case baby was hungry again. The whole thing felt familiar---I had this same anxiety/panic with feeding BB. In fact, that was a big reason I decided to stop trying to breastfeed---it was interfering with my mental health and my husband was really really worried about me. Last time it had a lot to do with physical pain from the feedings; this time more psychological pain from the disappointment that I would never ever successfully breastfeed a child (this likely being our last one) due to my own incompetence.

DOL 13-now. The lack of any improvement is getting to me, and I'm starting to lose my resolve. It started with the nighttime feedings. I had husband give the bottle while I pumped so that I didn't have to be up for over an hour doing the whole shebang---and then not be able to sleep anyways because the whole thing was so discouraging. Then the "30 minutes" became a little less. And a little less. And now sometimes I just flash him the boob and stick it in his face---if he doesn't attempt to open his mouth after a few seconds I whip out the bottle. LB seems to have gotten wise to the whole charade. He screams and cries until that bottle is in his mouth, and he is losing patience for the whole suck-on-finger game, too. He knows where the good stuff is, and he wants it NOW. Is it too late?

I called the LC again earlier this week & she is coming for a home visit tomorrow. I am hoping that just the act of going through the consultation (and shelling out big bucks for it!) will re-energize me to continue trying. I have set a personal goal of keeping at it for 4 weeks.We shall see how it goes!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Welcome little open your mouth and EAT SOMETHING

He arrived 10/5/11 after an emergent induction.

-Now we are in the midst of the great breastfeeding crash & burn. We have broken out the bottles & I've hooked myself back up to the moo machine q2 hours. Can't even write about it without bawling, gotta love the hormone roller coaster. Will definitely discuss this later when I can see through my tears.

-Thankfully my not-so-little boy has taken to his big brother status without too much fuss....yet. It helps to have doting grandparents around, and daddy home from work for a few days, aunt & uncle & cousins visited this weekend---having more hands than little ones is great. BB (big brother) has had more attention than he knows what to do with & he's loving every second of it. We'll see how it all shakes out in a few weeks when everyone goes home & its just the 4 of us.

Gotta go pump again.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A watched pot...

a big humongous filled to the brim with water pot, placed on very very  low heat. That's what I feel like!

Got review from sponsored projects about my grant---minor things. I took care of them.
Cleaned the house, did laundry, stocked up on food.

Already won one bet on when I'd go into labor (friend said Friday night; she owes me a glass of wine). Hoping to LOSE the second bet (by Wednesday night).

Saturday night was interesting. Contractions started in the evening. Irregular and mild. Then regular, and stronger. q10 minutes. q7minutes, q5 minutes. Starting to really hurt, I had to really breathe through them and push on the wall. Then got a little less intense. I laid down. q5 minutes. q7 minutes. oh 10 minutes since the last one.

Woke up 2 hours later, nothing! didn't feel baby moving so freaked and called the doctor on call who, upon hearing the beginning of the story, and knowing from my chart that I was 3-4 cm last week, thought I was going to end in---OK I'm coming in. When I told her the contractions stopped she seemed surprised, but told me to go to bed, and hopefully I'd wake up in labor. Then when I told her about the lack of movement, told me to stay awake and do kick counts. I did. He "kicked" (there is no room to kick, its just a bunch of squirming now. I've got to think this kid is as uncomfortable as I am by now, you can literally see all the parts poking out of my belly).Went back to sleep.

As you can expect, still nothing. Up all night last night, just uncomfortable & impatient.  I am at work. Walked in the whole way, which I haven't done in a while....walked as fast as I could. Nothing. Sigh.

As I was walking, I was thinking to myself "Ugh. Nothiing's worse than having to come into work after your due date". And then immediately realized what an a**h*le I am. Nothing's worse than THIS? Having a seemingly healthy baby squirming around for a few more days in my uterus? The ability to walk briskly through a sunny crisp morning to get ahead on some work that is going to be incredibly helpful come December? A few more days to focus on my toddler, and spend with my parents. Maybe another date night with the husband. Hopefully a good night's sleep.

I know there are worse things than this. Much worse. I won't even mention them because we all know. I've been flitting through the ALI (adoption/loss/infertility) blog community a lot recently and I've read about some real heartbreak.

At the worst, my situation is a minor annoyance. At the best, its a reprieve. Some bonus days to savor my current life, and maybe even get ahead.

Perspective is good.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Waiting game

Have a lot of interesting topics brewing in my head, but haven't been able to get fingers to keyboard for more than a few lines. So I'll just focus on what is REALLY on my mind these days!

Things I will miss:
* waking up to singing toddler heard through the monitor. such bliss not to wake up to screaming/crying! And its impossible to be grumpy in the morning when you wake up to "winkle winkle wittle tar. mamamama whachu are"
* being able to do bathtime/bedtime together, all 3 of us. We are going to have to tag-team it from now on, at least until the littlest one can go in the big tub.
* eating dinner together. Despite pickiness, food-throwing, screaming, and temper tantrums, the idea of eating as a family just feels RIGHT. I think we'll be eating in shifts again for a while.

Still waiting for any signs of labor. It is like a flip literally switched in me last Friday & I went from hoping the baby wouldn't come early to suddenly wanting it out immediately. I'm currently 3 days away from my official due date. Just had (hopefully) my last OB appointment. After months of being harangued about my (excessive) weight gain, my total gain has come in at...32 lbs. Right in range (25-35 recommended if you are normal weight starting off). There are some...changes...but since I'm not having contractions I consider them meaningless. They asked me to schedule an appointment and non-stress test for next week, which I grudgingly did, all the while telling the receptionist that I had no intention of coming in so she could make it whatever time she wanted! (I know! I'm usually such a pessimist, so this is uncharacteristically hopeful for me)

I submitted all that I need to for my grant on Friday. Still waiting on the review by sponsored projects & for someone (who?) to add my mentors to the system so I can add their biosketches. It was supposed to take 48 hours. Its been 8 days. Its frustrating me because I timed MY submission so I'd have this week to make any necessary changes before I left. Now, if there is an issue, I'll be likely dealing with it whilst in the full midst of newborn chaos. Ugh.

The good news/bad news of being uber-prepared...I'm kind of done with all my urgent work. I've spent the week obsessively re-checking over my grant documents, and half-assedly writing a paper that I hadn't planned to work on until December. The rest of the time I've been flitting about the internet & reading and commenting on a lot of blogs.

I have a date tonight with my husband (my parents are here to watch little guy), dinner at a place I've been wanting to try out. Only problem, its set for 8:30 PM---that was the only reservation we could get. It'll be my second dinner, no way I can hold out that late, we generally eat at 6:30! Also the late timing means no real break from the usual post-work chores (dog-walking, kid-feeding/bathing/bedtime). I'll be exhausted by the time we get there!

Huh. I can't believe that I am posting all this minutiae about my life. I considered just not writing today, but I want to stay in the habit of writing at least twice a week. Hopefully at least one of those will be ABOUT something.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Between Days

I'll just come out and say it. I do not enjoy being pregnant. I did not particularly enjoy it the first time, and I have enjoyed it even less this time around.

My first pregnancy came after a long wait and a lot of heartache. I was overjoyed and disbelieving when I saw those two lines…and terrified that something would go wrong and take it all away again. Yet at the same time I was NOT one of those women that fully embrace their pregnancy symptoms, deliriously happy and grateful to be puking my guts out ‘round –the-clock.  As much as I was grateful to BE pregnant, and to have a medically uneventful pregnancy, I could not make myself enjoy the nausea, exhaustion, and discomfort. And I felt guilty about that. I knew how lucky I was and how many women would give anything to be in my position…yet feeling like utter crap just doesn’t do it for me. I was quite active and fit prior to my first pregnancy and had every intention of continuing, but this pregnancy thing knocked me flat on my ass and kept me there for nearly the full 9 months.  This time around was no different. I started puking at week 5 and that seamlessly transitioned to migraines, intense heartburn, shortness of breath, and now insomnia. I am used to being very active and efficient---it is SO hard to have to slow down, delegate, rest.

It’s not just the physical changes, though. My everyday emotions and tendency towards anxiety are heightened by the hormones. I am overwhelmed at all that needs to be done, and not having the energy to deal with it makes me feel like I’m drowning. Being a planner through and through, the unknowns of this time don’t sit easily with me. I realize this is an incredibly pessimistic mindset…that many people adore this time of expectancy and possibility. I just happen to really like knowing what is ahead. I like to research, to plan, to prepare myself mentally and physically for what is coming. This time of limitless “possibility” opens up way too many nightmares in my head.  What if What if What if?

And I can’t even have a glass of wine to take the edge off!

I am simultaneously impatient to move onto the next phase and dreading the potential (OK, let’s face it, inevitable) chaos. I definitely wanted to have a second child. I want my son to be a big brother and have a playmate. To have “kids”.  But I also feel that we had finally gotten into a rhythm. Things are GOOD. I love being able to give my son my one-on-one attention, and I feel sad for him that he only knew it for such a short period of time. There are a lot of moments of our days that I absolutely cherish, that I am going to miss. I know it’ll smooth out and we’ll settle into a new normal…but the transition is going to be hard on all 3 of us. The whole process has been tinged with an ambivalence that resulted in a bit of denial early on, and a longer bit of depression later on that has finally mellowed to acceptance. 

Because it’s happening.  Soon.  And there ain’t a damn thing I can do about it!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

...And I'm not ready for this sort of thing

I found myself googling "mid-life crisis" this summer. Part of it was turning 35.  But that (come on, its just a number) wasn't entirely the issue. I felt unsettled, and strangely disconnected from my life. Objectively, good things were happening. But I kept getting this "now what" feeling.

Finally it dawned on me. For as long as I can remember I've been striving, striving, striving. Education, overeducation, training, career, meeting a mate, planning a wedding, struggling to build a family, buying & fixing up a house....there seemed to be one thing after another to aspire to, and I rose to each challenge, rode the temporary high that came from fulfillment, and moved on to the next.

Now here I was, done with education & training and having received an offer for a job at my current institution. Married for 6 years, in a  little townhouse that we've finally fixed up to a reasonable status. A healthy, happy toddler and his little brother on the way.

Oh my god. This is my life. This is IT. I'm an adult.

And its not how I pictured it. Obviously, in my earlier fantasies, I imagined I'd be overcome with deep inner happiness to have finally arrived at this place. Calmly and joyfully navigating my fantastic marriage, fulfilling & successful career, fully enmeshed in making a comfortable & beautiful home, and the ultimate joys of motherhood. Mmmm....yeah. Not so much.

Anyone who's been here knows what I'm talking about. Parenting a toddler is physically and mentally exhausting. Work---even work you have studied and trained years for--can be boring and demoralizing at times, not to mention the endless anxiety of competing for ever-shrinking funding in the current academic climate. Marriage is hard, especially when both parties are stressed and tired.  And the house---don't get me started about the absolute crock of the "american dream of home ownership". Cue financial worries. And aging, ailing and financially needy parents and the resultant family drama.

This isn't adulthood. This is EXTREME adulthood. And it all kind of comes on at once, doesn't it? Has me sometimes overwhelmed, wanting to run, hide, get away and get back to my old life.  Or jump ahead a few years to where I'm sure everything has worked itself out, and I'll be calmly and joyfully navigating my fantastic marriage, fulfilling & successful career, fully enmeshed in making a comfortable & beautiful home, and the ultimate joys of motherhood. Oh wait....

I'm coming to terms with the ultimate "secret of adulthood". That life is full of bad weather and happiness is not about sourly enduring until the sun comes out, but of cheerfully weathering and even ENJOYING the storm.

So Ana change her own mind.

Monday, September 19, 2011

And so it begins....

I set up this account in January. Yes, January. I've procrastinated on this for 3/4 of a year---long enough to gestate a human child...and in fact, that is exactly what I've been doing. I wrote and re-wrote this opening post a million times, and never had the nerve to publish. I realized that if I don't do it before having this baby, its extremely likely never to happen.

As an introduction, I'll simply start with the Ws:
Who: Ana (not my real name). mid-30s, married, mother of a 21 month old son with another boy on the way and of course my first baby--a 45-lb mutt that rarely barks but sheds more than I think is reasonable. I am a full-time working professional in academic science and healthcare employed at a big-name university on the east coast.

What: Really, anything that's on my mind. At this point, I don't have a "theme" or a "gimmick" for this space, but I'm willing to go with the flow and see if I settle on something. Topics I'll likely touch on include: parenting, academics, marriage, and infertility. Sorry but you won't see any pictures of my family. This is going to be as anonymous as I can make it, so that I can be open and honest in my writing and tackle the tough topics.

Why: I'll get more into this in a subsequent post (gotta save up something!), but in a nutshell...
1)I wanted a space to process the thoughts and emotions involved with finally (and frighteningly) feeling like I have arrived at my adult life.
2)I've found a lot of support over the past few years in the blogging community---I read and comment on quite a few sites regularly and would love to deepen the connections by really adding my own voice (whether or not anyone is listening!)

Yes, I skipped some Ws.

Here's another one, in case there is anyone actually reading....