Monday, December 31, 2012


Hello (if anyone is indeed still listening!) Sorry I disappeared for a while. Life was complicated and shitty and I really needed a break from pretty much everything. Things have stabilized and I'm very excited to be back.

Last year I did a "year in review" for 2011. Good god a lot happened that year...I got pregnant and had my second child, got a faculty job, and earned a masters. In contrast, nothing of great note happened this year. In fact, on thinking back over the last 12 months, the time was mostly defined by how much L was or wasn't sleeping. Fascinating stuff, ya'll. (If you care, he's sleeping like shit right now, goes to show that my smugness re: sleep training was a bit premature...wait for n=at least 2 before you go spouting off about your parenting success).

I started off the year with lofty intentions. It came from a reasonable place...wanting to exert more control over my life and my happiness. And things were really going well for a while...until they weren't. And while I have been accused of being harsh on myself, I honestly didn't really care.

Which brings me to this year. I'm going in with a very different mindset. I've surrendered. Life with two kids and a career is really fucking hard. And so far its not a matter of "but when he's sleeping better" (yeah, when will that be?) or "when he's x years old". No, things are not magically getting easier...each phase is bringing new and exhausting challenges and we are barely keeping our heads above water.

Yes, I want to be healthy. I want to have a strong marriage and friendships, to work on my career and even on some hobbies. But really, right now, I am going day to day and just doing the best I can. And that's OK. There is a deep and faint...but definitely present...satisfaction to simply making it through the day. Every day I am being a mother. A wife. A scientist and a physician. A colleague and a boss. A daughter, sister, friend. I am doing things that make a difference to someone. Every day.

Thus, I am not going to set up impossible standards for myself this year, and I'm coming to terms with the fact that even modest seemingly do-able goals are, in fact, impossible for me these days. I've definitely got some lifestyle changes in mind---for our whole family---and coming off a really chaotic few weeks of sickness, injury, and travel, this does turn out to be a good time to start them (more on that later). But its coming from a different place this time. Its about healthier and having more fun, not about changing myself into this idealized vision of uber-career-mother-wife-person. While I am still a great fan of self-improvement in the abstract, I am sitting out this season. I don't need to be better. I'm pretty damn good as I am (if I do say so myself). ;)

Happy New Year! May 2013 bring amazing things to all.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Yesterday morning I watched (shrieking helplessly and un-helpful-y) as L tumbled down the stairs to our basement. The door was left open to let the dog up behind me, and I only turned my back for a second. He cried less than I did, and was back to his regularly scheduled antics after a quick cuddle and some kisses from big brother.

G and I discussed getting a baby gate for that entry way. Its not that hard to to do, and you know, just in case.

At our noon conference at work, we discussed an article showing a weak (really really weak) association between BPA levels and certain health risks. After tearing the paper apart, most of us in the room admitted that we did go for the BPA-free products for our children. In fact our specialty's organization was pushing for a government ban on BPA in food packaging. It may not help at all, but you know, just in case.

Many people say banning assault weapons will not stop gun violence. That people with evil intent will find a way. That the statistics that show (pretty convincingly to me) that countries with stricter bans have less gun-related fatalities are not applicable here.

But I figured I'd make my voice heard doing this. And this. And this. It wasn't that hard. And you know, just in case.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What holiday?

Well I'm back. I got my grant in, and then went through the usual cliched existential crisis. You know the one---our protagonist is going through a particularly challenging and busy time. She is working herself to the bone and missing out on what she perceives to be all kinds of fun. She dreams wistfully of said challenge finally coming to an end, upon which the world will erupt in rainbows and butterflies and life will be amazing. The challenge ends. No rainbows. No butterflies. Certainly no "amazing". Just the usual mix of mundane and suck. She wallows briefly wailing "what's the point !" but then moves on to find beauty in the mundane and joy in the suck. And life goes on.

Until the next challenge comes up. Which for me was last week's marathon 7 days of consults and Total Thanksgiving Coverage. For the 4 days of the long-weekend I left the house at 7:30 and returned between 2:30-4pm, after rounding on 20+ patients per day (and the myriad extended family that was able to come visit for the holidays and all needed full updates & their list of questions answered!) and writing 30+  notes per day in our spanking new EMR.

Those keeping track may realize that, yes, I was away for the majority of my childrens' waking hours. So G had his own marathon. It is finally over. Cue the rainbows and butterflies....

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Four years ago, on an unseasonably warm November Tuesday, G & I walked over bright and early to the polling place near our apartment and quickly and easily cast our vote for hope and change. Today, it was bitter cold. Voting was less quick and certainly less easy as we brought both boys with us, one of whom heard "voting" and "president" as "boating" and "presents" and was sorely disappointed in the experience. Our hope is a bit bruised and battered and change, we've learned, comes quite slowly. But we cast our votes and now we continue to wait. Anxiously.

I've shied away from posting anything political on this blog because I haven't been able to write anything even-handed. I've got many half-written rants in my "Drafts" but really, what's the point? If anyone reading agrees with me, I'm not saying anything new. If they don't, well, I'm unlikely to change their minds.

When B finally got the vague sense of what were doing, that there were two men running for president and we picked one, he predictably asked "why?". I gave him a quick age-appropriate answer, but realized I've never actually articulated the reasons behind my vote.

So here are a few reasons, briefly stated (and heavily edited to remove most rage and rantiness).

 I believe...
  • that the measure of a society is how it treats its weakest citizens...not its strongest.
  • in equal rights for all, straight or gay, rich or poor, male or female...
  • that basic healthcare is a right for all humans, including reproductive healthcare for women. 
  • in science. and the teaching of it to our children, and the use of it to improve our health.  
  • and finally, that the most critical aspect of our leaders is character and integrity. Yes, policies about specific issues are important, but life is full of the unexpected. We may know how a candidate will deal with A and B, but what about the X, Y, Z we never anticipated? I want someone honest, compassionate, and fair in charge.
 Back to waiting. I'll remember this day as B and L's first presidential election. B even got to push the "VOTE" button for me as we made our choice in support of our President.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


All essential clinical personnel made it in yesterday so I stayed home and worked on my grant in the basement, trying to ignore the thunderous elephant stomping and banshee shrieking noises from upstairs. I got a bit done, but was distracted by the constant internet news stories about "battering", "hammering", "slamming", that was quickly approaching. The total shut-down of transit and later highways and bridges drove home the fact that this was really happening. We were right in the middle of the "cone of uncertainty". We got out our flashlights, brought everything valuable up from the basement, filled the bathtubs, found candles.

Water started leaking into the boys room right into B's crib. Fortunately we noticed it well before bedtime and moved them both into the guest room and set up pots and buckets. They took it in stride.

Despite my complaints about living inconveniently close to work, the upshot of living in the city is the lack of isolation during major storms. Though it seemed like it should be deserted outside, when G went out to walk the dog at 8:30, there were lots of fellow dog-walkers and he told me the neighborhood bar across the street was hopping. 

Proving that my anxiety was mostly NOT weather related, I managed to sleep like a baby through the howling winds and rattling trees. I woke up a few times and noted by the hum of the fan and the static on the baby monitor that we still had power. I woke up to L crying at 5:20 in the morning and picked him and assessed the house. Just some water in the buckets and pots.

Later, B and I went for a walk to stave off some crankiness and assess the damage in the neighborhood. I could not believe what I saw.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not a tree down, a window smashed, or a jack-o-lantern out of place. Stores & restaurants were up and running. Cars were filling the roads, and dogs and kids were venturing out. The river was ominously high, but overall, we were so so so amazingly lucky.

Unfortunately not everyone was as lucky. Hoping for minimal lives lost and a speedy recovery for the bruised and battered Jersey shore and Manhattan.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm Surge

So this whole storm thing has thrown a major kink in my productivity. The kids will be home today & tomorrow at least. Even if I do make it to work, I think I'm going to be pulled for clinical duties. That's what I get for being the only attending that lives within a mile of the hospital.

 I was so anxious I couldn't get to sleep last night & then woke up crazy early,  feeling all nauseous and gross (like you do when you don't sleep at all). Not about the storm, but about my grant! How's that for f-ed up priorities? But unless they extend the deadline, I'm kinda screwed here. I got feedback from my mentors Friday & Sunday and despite much of the grant being the EXACT SAME stuff they said was "good" in the original submission last year, they tore it completely apart. My suspicious that they were being soft on me because I was, actually, 40 weeks pregnant (and prone to contractions) when I submitted last time, are true. Also, a tech was supposed to run a bunch of assays for my prelim data this week, and they closed the entire university (except for essential---i.e. medical---personnel) so that isn't happening.

Maybe the NIH will end up under water by tonight?

Friday, October 26, 2012


I'm at a great point in the grant-writing process...really in the zone and enjoying the work. Its the sweet spot in between trying to start up and getting burnt out. I've managed to get a lot done during working hours, by cutting out all non-essential meetings and projects and delegating some lab work. I was sick last week and exhausted, falling into bed at 8 or 9 pm most nights. This actually jump-started a really good habit, because going to bed that early means waking up around 5ish. Instead of trying to work at home, I've been getting ready and coming to work by 7 or 7:30 (instead of 8:30-9).

This has many advantages:
   1) The simple fact that more time=more time
   2) Getting to work before most others=no distractions
   3) More complex---leaving home before the morning struggles with the kids=much more mental energy and willpower.

As typical for his age, B has been quite challenging. The defiance, stubbornness, and whining oh lord the whining. Dealing with that for an hour and a half in the morning leaves me spent, and not at all in the frame of mind to jump into work when I get to my desk. On a more long-term note, we do have to streamline our morning routines because it is ridiculous, but for now, I'm using the avoidance technique.

The disadvantage of leaving early---the whining from G. He complains about how much longer it takes him to get ready and how late he got to work. But I don't honestly think my  leaving early has anything to do with that. I can (and will) write a whole long post about how his inflexible morning routine is ruining my life hampering our productivity.

Back to work...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Friends we haven't met?

I'm trying something new...more frequent, shorter, and less edited posts.

B, who was establishing himself as so so very shy suddenly pulled a 180 on us. Now he's downright gregarious. Not just talking constantly to us, which he's always done, but obsessed with meeting new people. Everyone, from the 1 year old at the playground to the guy delivering our pizza gets "What's YOUR name? My name is B!" Its so fun to watch, though sometimes (for us introverts) a bit uncomfortable. Not every sullen old guy on the bus wants to talk to him, nor do people who are briskly walking by want to say "HI!!!!"

Last weekend we went to a nearby small park. There were two families with a few kids apiece there together already. Four of the kids were older than B, 4-5 years old. B was playing happily in the play structure when one kid yelled "Hey D, lets play hide and seek". Well never mind that we had never seen or talked to these kids, B heard "D" as "B" and his eyes lit up. Mommy I'm going to play hide and seek. I thought he meant with us---he loves when I crouch behind the slide and he "finds" me and gets a big hug. But no, he wanted to play with the older kids!

They ran to the other end of the yard and B trailed behind yelling "Where are we going!" repeatedly. Finally one of the kids turned to him and said "NOT YOU! We don't know you!"

Ugh. G and I looked at each other and cringed. My heart just about broke for my friendly yet sensitive little guy as all the exclusions of my past (and present) rushed back to me.

What do we do?  Tell him not to talk to strangers or to play only with the kids we know? Remind him that not everyone is a "friend" despite that our words over the years have led him to believe that "friend" simply means "child close to his age"? Explain about nice people and not-so-nice-people?

Well, he's only 2. He didn't even notice what they said, and he ran around with them for a few minutes and came back to play with us. We didn't have to say a thing. For now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


The pressure is on. I have a big grant deadline in...gulp...three weeks. And I'll let you in on my shameful secret...I haven't started writing. Well, revising, really, its a resubmission. But a substantial amount of re-writing is required. And none of it is done. Its a "career development" grant, so it also requires letters of recommendation and mentorship letters...all of which I'm expected to "draft" (i.e. write) and I haven't done those either.

The thing is, I just haven't been able to carve out the time to work on this. I'm doing a lot of experiments for preliminary data, some of which are quite promising and should strengthen the application (yeah!), but they are worthless unless I have a well-written proposal in which to showcase them. But the bulk of my time is spent in meetings, clinical duties, and other projects that just HAPPEN to be coming to a head at the same exact time (and you can't put off live human or murine subjects for your convenience). So my work days are full.

That leaves the rest of my time, my "free" time. Evenings and weekends, early mornings. But after getting home & taking care of dinners, bedtime, & chores from 6-9pm, I'm done. I've tried working and just can't get anything substantial accomplished.  I could probably push through late nights & less sleep for a couple of days, but sleep deprivation for days/weeks is not feasible for me and would probably backfire as I'd be less productive during the day. Plus I'd be a total bitch.

Weekends are even more impossible these days. It is really hard for either of us to manage both boys on our own...they are just both at a very difficult physical and emotional stage. So we try to stay together as much as possible. Yes, G could give me some time to work if I asked for it, but it would require a level of forethought and planning I haven't yet applied to the problem.

But the grant isn't going to write itself, and hours aren't magically going to appear in my day so I need a strategy. I've come up with a few options and I'll see what works best:

a) 8:30-9:30 PM weekdays. this would involve cleaning up & making lunches AS we're eating dinner, but may be doable most days. Also I am pretty braindead at night.
b) 5-6AM weekdays. if I go to bed at 9 or 10 I should be able to get up and mornings are a good time for me to focus. its just so disgustingly early. And sometimes L wakes up before 6. Its a crap shoot. I'd hate to get up and settle into work and have to feed him breakfast instead (if I'm still in bed, I can roll over and let G take care of it)
c) 2 hour time slots on the weekend. this could work but needs to be very carefully & specifically planned & re-planned and reminded about for it to actually happen. Ideally this time would be in the morning or late afternoon (times that are better for me, motivation-wise). Having time right after lunch would be stupid, for example, I'm in a big slump then & I generally avoid intellectual work.

Any other ideas? Inspiring stories of grants written in 5 days and funded? Time Turner I can borrow?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Everything and nothing at all.

So so much to say that I haven't been able to prioritize what to write about...hence the silence. I decided to just write a little bit about each and expand in the future.

Little L: Is walking, weaned, ONE year old! Bittersweet this milestone. Its funny because he is still so physically tiny (the same weight as our friend's 5 month old!), and it seems plain wrong to switch from bottles to sippies, and brush his teeth, and have him in the "toddler room" at daycare. He's walking like an absolute super star, climbing, going up & down stairs. Strangers are astounded and I'm having to frequently explain that he's small for his age, not some sort of baby genius. Already he's starting on some toddler dramatics (he's learning from the absolute best!) and can cue the tears on demand when he's thwarted from whatever mischief he's up to (generally involving putting his food/toys in the dog bowl/recycling bin/toilet). But after every few minutes careening around the room, he orbits back for a quick sweet snuggle, only to launch again.

Big Brother B: More beginnings and endings. Daytime potty training happened, and he's loving his big-boy underwear. Seems to have shot up an inch or two overnight. The new shoes we bought (a whole size up from last year's shoes) are looking snug already. He can actually count things up to 5 (he could recite numbers to 20, but never actually got the counting until now). Got obsessed with the solar system after reading some strange book from the library and knows all the planets. So so quick to anger, eleventy-billion times a day he is shouting NOOOO! complete with fist clenching, foot stomping and throwing things over such heinous crimes as being asked to sit on the toilet, getting off the toilet when done, putting shoes on, taking shoes off, taking a bath, getting out of the bath, being offered food, not being given cake and ice cream for breakfast, etc...He is smart. So the bookish way. He remembers things, knows things, that kids his age may not know. But he's on the slow side for basic life skills---he can't yet use a fork or spoon, drink from a cup, dress or undress himself. And anything he can't do he refuses to do...easily frustrated, he will immediately say "I can't do it. Help me". How to get him over the fear of failure, to learn to try and try again?

Me: Hanging in there. I feel completely overwhelmed at work. Overwhelm generally leads to paralysis for me, so... yeah. I've got a big grant deadline approaching and I'm uncharacteristically behind.

I love fall weather, the crisp cool mornings are so energizing. But the shortening days remind me that soon I'll be coming home from work in the dark. There was a tinge of winter in the air this weekend, and I'm dreading the days we can't just send the kids out into the back patio while we're trying to work in the kitchen, or run to a nearby park when they get their cranks on. Winter with tiny ones can be tough.
Physically I'm always tired, despite getting enough sleep most nights. Migraines are coming back as my periods are returning, after a couple of years reprieve. Can't get my allergies under control despite oral antihistamines, nasal steroids, optical antihistamines daily. May have to break down and use that damn gross neti pot contraption that everyone is raving about.

Emotionally, the anxiety and occasional sadness keep bubbling up despite my efforts to suppress them. I have blamed sleep deprivation, infertility, pregnancy, nursing hormones, etc... etc... but I'm currently at baseline for sleep & hormones so I have nothing to blame. I think its just me. I'm still lacking motivation for anything beyond the basics in life. The general response to this is "be kind to yourself", which sounds so nice, but I'm not entirely sure what it means in practical terms. Relax? Shop? Eat? Drink? Veg? Those things sound nice and ARE nice in the moment but leave me empty after the fact. Sometimes the best thing for me when I'm a bit down on myself is to push myself to meet a challenge---which involves giving myself a kick in the ass initially; could this be the best "kindness"? I had to quit my ballet class to take B to swim lessons for a few weeks, and now I can't remember why I liked it so much. The weather is perfect for running, but I can't seem to bother. I've got a whole cabinet full of fabric I bought in a fit of motivation to sew things---including fun cartoon material I got in spring to make PJ shorts for the boys and several different patterns for making myself tank dresses---shorts and tank dress weather is over. I haven't ready a book in months, I started our last book club pick two days before the meeting and obviously did not finish (it was boring). Went to the meeting anyways, though, not missing a chance to get away for a couple of hours.  

G & I are falling back into our old pattern of going our separate ways once the kids are in bed. We talk, but its 100% about the kids, logistics, household maintenance type stuff. At the end of the day I don't have the energy to "work on our relationship", and I sense he feels the same way. I used to wonder how married couples "grew apart" when they clearly spent so much time together. Now I totally get it.

I realize this all sounds incredibly depressing, but honestly I still think I'm pretty damn lucky, and I often do feel a deep sense of contentment with my life. I am maturing---growing---into this new and bigger and deeper stage in life and these are my growing pains.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

On-call etc...

Another call weekend. These seem to get tougher over time instead of easier, probably because both boys are sick this weekend (and consequently, L is sleeping poorly). I've got to admit its likely tougher on G, dealing solo with both boys all day (I didn't get home until 4 yesterday, today it is 1pm and I'm eating lunch while the fellow gathers information on a couple of new consults, so I'll be here at least another hour).

We are required to start rounds at 7:45 AM because the residents have to go home; in the past, we started at 9, and it was SO MUCH BETTER. You'd think we get out earlier by starting earlier but that has not proven to be the case. Sit down rounds with post-call & on-call resident take about an hour, and then the fellow and I round on the inpatient team, see follow-up consults, and then tackle new consults. So one extra hour to our day from addition of sit-down rounds, and then extra time for overall greater volume of inpatients and of new consults due to asinine protocols for checking labs you have no idea how to a) order correctly and b) interpret.

If you're still reading, btw, thanks again for the great advice and support on my "falling behind" issues. I liked the idea of picking one thing to add back and making it happen. Problem: I can't decide what to pick ;) I feel like I SHOULD say "exercise", but, you know, urgh.

The other major problem is a profound lack of motivation. I've read a lot lately that one may have a finite supply of willpower or decision-making capacity. I think I use all mine up (and then some) trying not to lose my ever-loving sh&t at my suddenly completely insane 2.5 year old. Thus, the well is generally dry by 9 am. So...yeah. I guess its good I start so early on call days so I can avoid all that nonsense and save my willpower for dealing with difficult patients.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Falling short

You know when you look in the mirror and you get a little twinge of dismay, because how you look in real life is just how you imagine yourself in your head?

I've been feeling that way about my life lately. My reality just isn't living up to how I envision myself in my head. How do I picture myself? Hard-working, successful, organized, physically active & fit, creative, social, and eking all I can out of each day. What my days have been like lately? Falling behind at work, disorganized to the point of missing deadlines and misplacing important items, haven't exercised in MONTHS, much less sewed/baked/etc.., isolated &  blowing off any opportunities to meet new people, and feeling like I'm frittering away the limited free time I do have. I trudge through the workday and the dinner/bed routine and then stay up for hours surfing the internet or watching TV with a glass (or two) of wine. I can't even bring myself to read a book. I tell myself the most productive use of time would probably be going to bed early so I can get up refreshed and energized in the morning, but I seem stuck...

I need some way to motivate myself, because I know that when I DO accomplish these things, I feel so much better about myself.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Ache-y Break-y

thank you thank you thank you everyone for your advice and support on my  last post. You guys are the best. And so helpful. I'm definitely going to try to continue nursing at home, though the problem is mostly that L isn't we'll see how it goes. I definitely think my pump needs upgrading, but figuring he was 11 months old I didn't feel like shelling out $300 for a  new one (new tubing/flanges/etc... didn't help increase the suck-i-ness, so I called and they said it may be the motor---i.e. you need to buy a whole new pump).

So I am officially not pumping anymore. My body didn't quite get the message, so I'm a bit...ache-y today. Hopefully ache-y doesn't lead to explode-y. It was definitely gradual, but after a full week of vacation barely nursing at all I figured a work day would be no problem. Somehow, however, being at work seems to have turned the production back on a bit.

I had a bit of a forced break from social media last week. We were away on a long anticipated beach vacation with my family. Fun in the sun for all---except Ana who was holed away in misery suffering through "presumed viral meningitis". Yup.  At  least the kids had fun, right? Right? As much as I hated missing out, I was thankful it happened when there were grandparents around to help G and I didn't have to painfully extract myself from bed to change a diaper or calm a tantrum.

So now that I'm not pumping, I get an extra hour or so to my day (50-ish minutes pumping plus 10 minutes washing/drying). I'm going to use that time to work, blog, and organize our house because it suddenly has hit a level of tear-my-hair-out clutter and chaos. I already put a bunch of toys on the street for people to take because our 'hood is ghetto like that. Plus I'm lazy.

I just interviewed a research tech candidate. She was really good, personable, sweet and interested. I think I might hire first employee! Hopefully this can be a catalyst for me to get off my a&s and get stuff started in my own little space!

I've been really really exhausted the past few months, and I can't completely blame it on the kids. So I've decided to be extra diligent about clocking at least 7 hours of sleep/night, drinking several glasses of water,  avoiding junk food & random weekend "day drinking" to see if I can up my energy a bit. The next step is exercise, but I need to muster up enough get-up-and-go to actually do that. If all that doesn't work? I don't know. Stimulants?

This post turned into a bunch of tangentially related updates, and here I was going for a theme. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Weaning woes

I've had a hard time writing this post because I am floating down the river of denial.

We are nearing the end of our "breastfeeding relationship". In fact, I did the lactational walk-of-shame to our local drugstore to pick up my handy failure-in-a-can (now with extra vitamin G for guilt) this week (on sale! 3 dollars off!) and L will be trying it at daycare for the first time today at 10.5 months old.

Honestly I've been slowly getting over the formula "issues" as my supply and then my freezer stash dwindled these past few months. I'm just not ready to stop nursing. Despite (or maybe because of?) my early struggles, I really fell into the rhythm of nursing L. Even with the recent distraction and the biting (ouch!), I am in no way ready to let go. I'm still pumping despite practically non-existent yields so that I can keep up some semblance of a supply to justify nursing him at home a couple of times a day.

Some of it is clearly emotional. My baaaYYYYBEEE is growing up, I may never have another, etc...

Some of it is logistical. What excuse will I now have to escape to the basement for 20 minutes several times during the weekend and just SIT in QUIET. Also what the hell do I do with L at 5 AM every morning when he wakes up? Now we just bring him into bed to nurse, and I get to lie down for at least 20 more minutes (and if we are REALLY lucky, like yesterday, he fell sleep nursing until 6:30!!!) I can't handle having to get out of bed and give him a bottle. ugh.

L? He's pretty much over it. He nurses pretty well before bed and in the morning. Maybe before naps on the weekends, but he's easily bored & ready to move on.  His bottles are also coming home mostly untouched...he waited til 7.5 months to take to solids and he's not looking back. He eats more than B does at meals these days (though toddlers produce ATP every time they say "NO!" so they don't need food as an energy source)

I try not to think about it. G packed up the formula and took it directly to daycare. I refused to mix it up ahead of time. I keep attaching the pump to myself 3 times a day, and dutifully bring home the total 1oz I eke out at the end of the day.

I never thought I'd make it this far, but now I wish it were further....

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bowl Full of Mush

My brain, that is. Here's some of the jumble....

L is not sleeping anymore. It started 3 weeks ago, after explaining to a friend how well he's been sleeping for the past five months. Yes, I believe I jinxed it. He's a little night time monster. But damn that baby is irresistible during the day.  Such a fantastic age, 6-12 months. Pure joy at being alive. He wants to eat EVERYTHING and does so with gusto. He is so proud of all his new, daily growing skillz, like eating, cruising, clapping & blowing raspberries. He shrieks, jumps, claps in sheer delight of anything, nothing, everything. If only I could bottle that & save it forever.

B is two and a half. He is 50% sunshine, 50% black clouds. You never know what you're going to get. Its a difficult age. He is very sensitive & has such strong feelings. He has been crying & withdrawn sometimes at daycare lately. Yet he comes home jumping and singing. He was, is, and will likely always be a challenge to parent. He asks "Why?" constantly, repeatedly & sometimes it makes me laugh & sometimes it breaks my heart. "Why do you have to go to work mommy?" "Why????"

We've been trying to do a lot together as a family this summer, and its been good...but we both feel isolated a lot. One of the best days we had was when some friends came over for dinner & we wrangled our combined 5 under-three-year-old boys together. I think we were meant to do this in a community, not shut off in our little houses by ourselves. I wish we had more neighborhood friends. The drop-in, spur-of-the-moment, spend-an-afternoon-together kind, not the plan 3 months in advance to meet for a one-hour brunch kind.I remember my childhood being spent in the company of my parents' friends & their families...I think my children are going to remember a different kind of life.

I'm tired. And its not just the sleep. Or maybe it is...and the sleeplessness is permeating everything else, too? When we're tired, G & I talk less, its back to survival mode, where I go up to bed as soon as the chores are done, even though I know I won't be able to sleep for a couple of hours. I just don't want to do anything.

Sometimes I wonder if I am capable of being truly happy. The constant thinking, analyzing, worrying, planning going on in my brain are a bit of a buzz-kill. When things are good, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. When things are bad, well...sometimes I feel more comfortable in that scenario, as there is nowhere to go but up?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


 I always wanted 3 children. Growing up our family of 4 felt small & quiet. To orderly. Another child, I figured, would add some delightful chaos and asymmetry. I vowed to have 3 children, and when I mentioned it to G, he thought it sounded just dandy.

And then the realities hit. The emotional, physical, and financial expenses of infertility. Draining & debilitating (though medically uncomplicated) pregnancies. The colic and subsequent PTSD for the newborn period (really, it was that bad). There were times in B's infancy that I declared tearfully that I was never doing this again. But it passed, and we mustered up the courage & quickly went for round 2 before we lost our nerve, just to get it over with, provide our child with a sibling, and move on from the family-building. Two boys. Healthy & happy. A nice neat family.

But I don't feel done. I never understood, before, when people said they wanted more children because their families felt "incomplete", but that's what I feel right now.Our kids are so amazing, why not have more, right?

There is a "why not", though. There are several, that stop my careening dreams in their tracks. First, who knows if we can conceive another child, carry it to term, deliver a healthy baby. Who are we to expect THREE healthy children when so many have so much less? Every potential child is a gamble. A roll of the reproductive dice. A possibility of walking away from the table with nothing except lost time, money, sanity.

Honestly, I'm afraid. I've been so so lucky and I know too much and I'm afraid its our turn. That we should walk away, happy with what we have instead of being greedy and pushing our luck.

I don't know what we're going to do. I'm thankful I've got some time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I've gotten pretty good and focusing on the here and now. Nine-month-olds, with there newfound skills in constant shenanigan-seeking will do that. One mind-wandering moment and you're fishing dogfood out of a mouth or a toy out of the commode. Every once in a while, though, I see my future flicker right in front of my eyes. B will actually answer a question without "I dunno", and I imagine  discussing the cool volcano experiment in science class or how fractions are hard. We'll sit down to dinner (L in the highchair flinging sweet potatoes & B on the bench painting on the wooden table with avocado), & I'll picture us gathered around talking about our days (and 99% of the food NOT ending up on the floor). L substitutes a human sound for his usual pterodactyl shrieks and I can almost hear his little voice singing songs. L has outgrown the bouncy, the infant tub, and sleeps in a big boy crib. B has dropped his nap, sometimes uses the toilet, tries to drink from a regular cup, likes to take a shower instead of a bath (!)...soon all this assorted paraphernalia of young childhood will be done with, the gazillions of garish & loud toys will give way to books and electronics, we'll be reading chapter books for bedtime after they brush their own teeth. Its bittersweet, but kind of exciting to more diapers, teething, tantrums, pumping and being up all night! While my heart aches a tad, I also feel my shoulders lower 2 inches and my eyes brighten at the prospect!

The other day I was on the floor doing puzzles with B as L crawled around trying to eat the pieces. I felt my lower belly & I instinctively laid my hand there with a familiar sense of relief, until it hit me a second later---there is no burgeoning life there, probably things just settling back into working mode after months of lactational inactivity. The emptiness and sense of longing was unexpected, but I tuned in to it. And my view of the future? Flickered and changed 180 degrees.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


A comment I received on my last post (from a loyal reader who I consider an online friend) left me a bit uncomfortable and led me to dig a bit deeper into my motives in developing and tracking progress on my Intentions. I have to quote the comment here for context into what I'm going to discuss but I want you to know that I truly appreciated your thoughtful responses, and am not trying to "call you out" or make you feel bad for what you wrote.  One of the main reasons I write this blog is to engage in meaningful discussions, and that absolutely includes disagreements & differing viewpoints. Not everything I think about is logical or rational, and its healthy to get an outside opinion once in a while. End disclaimer.

"the process you go through these areas of self-improvement to grade yourself seems really harsh and not very healthy to me today. I guess this is a normal thing that women are supposed to do..... always actively try to be better, but why not just try living life and doing what you can and being ok with that?....That's not an "F" that's just reality."

This  definitely hit I pushing myself too hard, disguising self-loathing as self-improvement? Shouldn't I just be "going with the flow" and enjoying whatever life brings? Does trying to be better imply that I don't think I'm good enough?

I think it is the grading system that seems harsh. Definitely giving myself an "F" seems a bit punishing from the outside. Truly, I started using the grades because I saw another  blogger do this, and it seemed a useful way to track my progress...when I started, I kind of assumed that I would get poor grades in some categories and then I could focus on those areas and "bring my grades up" to end up with all As. Halfway into the year I realized that is not the case. There is a lot of ebb and flow to it...I'll focus on one thing for a while & then another, I can't possibly do it all every day or even every month. Energy & time put into one area obviously can't be put into another.

But. That does not mean its not worth doing or thinking about right now. There are times in life when you have to cut your focus down to one or two're in pure survival mode and everything else simply has to wait. I've had LOTS of those times. My entire 20s and early 30s was survival mode. Med school, residency, the difficult first year of fellowship, studying for 3 different board exams, moving, pregnancy, newborn phase... I didn't have the time or energy to even THINK about what I wanted in life, much less to make them happen. And that's OK. It wasn't all grim endurance, I tried to have fun, do things that brought me joy. I met my husband, we got married, we traveled a lot, I squeezed in a social life and exercise. I learned to cook, read lots of books, I lived life.

Then I found myself in my mid-30s, on the other side of all these "major life-changing events" and I was still living like I was in survival mode. "I don't have time for that" "Lets just make it through the weekend" and it was kind of...grim. I wanted something different & better...what was I waiting for? There wasn't something we had to "get through" to get to the life we wanted, we simply had to make it happen. So I thought about what was important to me & came up with these Intentions. By and large, I think I'm doing pretty good with them. I use them to make decisions about how I spend my time but also to shift my attitude from that of endurance to enjoyment.

These areas I chose to focus on are 100% my priorities in life. Others may have different ones. Getting up early to sweat on the elliptical may seem a bit harsh, but the endorphins & confidence that come from pushing your body...I need that. Staying up late to watch a movie I don't really love with my husband may seem annoying, but his appreciation with me for sharing something important to him & the closeness it brings...I need that. I chose these goals not solely to push myself or change myself, but to bring myself joy. The proportions might change over time but I need all the ingredients in my recipe for happiness.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

2012 Intentions 2nd Quarter Results: All-in-one

And now its summer. As I think through my progress on my intentions this year, I am reminded afresh that life is indeed a zero-sum game. There is finite time in each day, and even more finite energy & motivation in my body. Any focus I shift to one activity must by default come from another. This is incredibly clear as I contrast my 2nd Quarter grades to those from the 1st Quarter; all my As from before have slipped, while I've managed to pull up my Fs in the other areas of life. Give & take, seasons of life, trade offs, the juggle, balance, opportunity costs, the impossibility of "having it all" (ick), whatever you want to call it, its real.

Anyways, I'm condensing this to one post since I'm already late on this.

Updated Intention: Exercise at least three days a week.
Grade: C

So I trained for and ran the 10 mile race in early May. And have run a total of two times since then. And no, I haven't shifted those workouts to strength training or yoga. They just...disappeared. My only exercise is my weekly ballet class (more on that later). The "C" is the average of the A I had in April/early May and the complete F afterwards.
Why did I quit? There are a million reasons excuses, including getting sick with bronchitis & then lingering energy-sapping allergies (still going on), periods of bad weather, kids getting harder to deal with in the morning & more to do (because of L crawling & eating solids). Really it just stopped being a habit, and I can't seem to get it back. Though my actions do NOT show it, I still believe exercise is essential to a healthy life, and I am sticking to my original intention. To address the lack of energy I've been feeling, though, I'm adding on another self-care issue. I am going to go to my doctor to discuss additional treatments/options for my terrible allergies. More importantly, I'm going to be compliant with the treatment regimen & follow-up that she suggests (I tend to slack off, for example, not using my nasal spray or avoiding the eye drops). So my new intention is really:
Exercise at least 3 days a week & look after my medical needs.

Updated intention: Fun & focus
Grade: B

This is always going to get a B. Some days better, some days worse. As I've mentioned---work in progress for the next 20 years, I'm sure. Since this is boring I'm going to kick it up a notch for the summer---G & I both independently realized that we wanted more spontaneity in our family life---less routine & strict adherence to nap & bedtimes & more "adventures" with the kids. Summer seems the perfect time to try this out. We've been getting out more, doing things that would previously have been dismissed as "a hassle", like renting a ginormous van & taking the boys & dog to a friend's pool party out in the 'burbs (yes, all were explicitly invited). During the heat wave last week we left work 30 minutes early & raced the boys to the city pool for half an hour. This weekend we're going to watch the fireworks over the river from G's office window (he's on the 17th floor). Yes, it'll be late. But B doesn't really go to bed on time anyways these days---if he naps, he stays up til almost 9, kicking & singing in his crib. If he doesn't nap, he's down by 7:30 on the dot. So...he needs to nap.
The other part I want to work on is really figuring out a better way for us to address the more ummm....challenging moments of parenting. I ordered this book, on recommendation of a reader, and my goal is to read it & distill it for G and see if we can apply it to our kids. If not, there are more books. I'm not generally a huge fan of parenting books, but I think having it laid out by an "authority" may help G get on board.
So my mothering intention for the summer is kind of contradictory: adventure and discipline.

Updated Intention: Touching and helping out.
Grade: B

No, I didn't do a single of those things I planned to do (daily hugs/kisses, or doing things for him without telling him). But we're talking more. I feel more connected. We've had a few nights out ourselves lately (for my birthday and our anniversary) and are planning more for the summer. We either do chores together & talk as we work, or one or us rushes through them while the other reads B his bedtime stories so we can hang out afterwards. We've been sitting on our deck with a book or a drink at least once a week (my idea of fun) or I've been watching a movie with him in the basement also at least once a week (his idea of fun). 
We've also been doing much more as a family on the weekends that ends up being fun for us, too. We've had 2 Saturday morning "tourists in our city" adventures, where we leave the house really early, walk to another part of town, and play there, have breakfast, etc... The kids are in good moods in the morning, we have the whole weekend ahead of us, and its fun to go somewhere simply to experience it, rather than on an errand. G mentioned that he's much happier the past few weekends since I'm "around"---I've had work obligations & social events a lot this spring and he felt really alone with the kids. Oops.
Since things are going well I'm going to stick with marriage intention for this summer will be to talk every day, date nights at least monthly, and trying really hard to "be around".

Updated Intention: Efficient & productive at work
Grade: B

Another work in progress. I'll keep the same goal for the summer. There are specific projects & ideas I want to advance but I don't really want to talk about them here (because its booooring, not top-secret) so I'll leave it at that. 

Updated Intention: Sew & bake
Grade: A

Funny enough, as life sometimes is, I haven't baked a thing, and only sewed one item since the last update. Spurred by my new Kindle and the borrowing of the Hunger Games trilogy, I've found myself reading again. My stash of fabric is sitting unused and my sewing machine gathering dust as I plow through novels, magazines, etc... Whatevs. I figure that as long as I'm doing something enjoyable for myself, I deserve an A on this one.
As I mentioned above, I've also started a new & surprisingly fun activity with a friend. I've been taking a weekly Adult Beginner Ballet class. Its for real---we wear ballet shoes and do exercises at the bar and then on the floor for an hour and a half every week. I haven't taken any kind of dance in over 10 years and ballet I quit when I was 10 (I have a whole post about the tricky subject of when to push kids in an activity & when to let them quit...but I always regretted quitting & wish my parents pushed me in this one). I forgot how much I LOVE to dance. Having to remember steps & perfect my positioning really gets me out of my head in a way that running or yoga doesn't do for me. We had a one month pass but we are definitely going to continue. The teacher is funny & encouraging and one of the best parts is the diversity of women in the class (yes they are all women but all shapes, sizes, ages, colors...very different from the identical girls in the classes I used to take as a child). Some of the women have been taking the class for months and they are really good. Its cool to see an overweight middle aged woman suddenly turn into a graceful swan at the bar. So so empowering.
For the summer I'm going to keep this one flexible---just do what I feel like when I feel like it. No need to get all rigid about how I spend my free time, right?

Updated Intention: "Make new friends and keep the old"
Grade: D

I haven't done much more on this one. I've taken exactly ZERO opportunities to make new friends, and in trying to be more "around" on the weekends, doing less with the friends I do have. We are doing more social things as a family, which is nice, but its really hard to talk to anyone when you're herding two little ones all the time. 
Honestly, this is the one part of life that I'm finding the most lacking these days. I love spending time with my family & G, but I sometimes crave a good talk or laugh with a girl friend. This is one of those trade-offs for me right now, though...the more time I devote to my kids & marriage, the less time I have for building and maintaining other relationships. G is so so good about saying "OK" whenever I mention an outing, its not him. Its me. Honestly I'm racking my brain and can't find an answer. I'll just reiterate that this is still a priority for me, and I want to try to fit it in whenever I can.

So there you have it. Some up, some down, some completely in the toilet. But if there is nothing to strive for, what's the point, right?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Benign Neglect

So one of the (many) things I angsted over during my last pregnancy was how we were "ruining B's life"---snatching him out of the warm garden of perpetual undivided attention and throwing him straight into the arena of sibling rivarly at the tender age of not-quite-two. Remembering his own infancy, I figured that the new baby would require most of our attention for several months, and he would be thrust into independence.
The reality---and from what I've read/heard its pretty common---is that B didn't give up a damn thing. Our family's life still revolves around him and his over-sized, attention-whore (and ridiculously adorable) personality. L is just along for the ride. We plan our outings around B's naps/meals/wants/moods...if L is sleeping, he's roused & plopped in the stroller, he eats on the go, and grimly endures the community pool when B wants to go for a swim (L doesn't appear to be a fan of cool water).
I'm OK with this...if we tried to plan around both kids' naps & meals, we'd never go anywhere...and really, at L's age, he is happy just to be out & about---crawling around & eating grass & leaves wherever we happen to land. Plus he clearly adores his older brother. He follows him everywhere and bubbles with joy when B deigns to acknowledge him.
But there are some aspects in which I do feel we are short-changing poor easy-going L. We used to read to B constantly. I tried establishing some bedtime stories with L, but these days he's exhausted & falls asleep nursing before I can get to the stories (and the one time he WAS awake, I reached for the books to realize that B had taken them back to his room as part of "cleaning up"). We mean to read to him at other times, but hasn't happened. We used to talk to B, sing him songs, ABCs, recite nursery rhymes & passages from his books. The way parents do with their adored little babies. Now we're still talking to B---not L---and since B actually responds, he's a much more stimulating conversation partner. If we do try to talk to L, B will interrupt, or  insist on knowing what was said (SUCH busybodies toddlers are, I tell you, worse than little old ladies!).  Its not all B's fault, though, G & I both admitted that when we're alone with L, we are so "talked out" (or "sung out" or "read out") that we take advantage of the lack of demand for conversation, and relish the silence.
Honestly, other than the reading part (which hopefully will fall into place over time, as he gets less sleepy at bedtime), I'm sure the whole thing will even out. What L lacks for in direct attention from us, he makes up for with the stimulation & motivation to develop to keep up with his big brother. And besides, the one who's really neglected? Their furry four-legged older sister.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


We've been having some super-nanny-requiring discipline situations with B lately (or so I've heard, I never actually watched Super Nanny). The problem isn't just B's behavior, which I am pretty sure is age appropriate, its the fact that G & I are not exactly on the same page about how to deal with him. Basically he thinks I'm too soft and "coddling" and I think he's too harsh and "mean". For the first time in my parenting journey I'm considering searching for a book or manual about effective yet not-scarring discipline techniques for toddlers. I'm not looking for "the best" way, just a "pretty good" way, something we can agree on, and refer to--like a third party mediator--when we are at odds.
B has problems with 3 different situations:
1. Transitions: I know this one is definitely age-appropriate, but he gets really upset and tantrums whenever we end one activity to move on to another. This includes mundane things like watering plants (he wants them to drown) or helping to spoon-feed his little brother (he wants to recreate foix gras). I try to alleviate this by talking through the steps ahead of time, and repeating while we do the activity (we are going to water this plant, that plant, the other plant, then we will go inside and play!)...he usually catches on and will repeat the words with me, but this doesn't always stop the tantrums. Routine helps with this one, too, he knows his bedtime routine and though he might kvetch a bit when I tell him to stop playing, he immediately runs up the stairs for his bath.
2. Sibling Rivalry: Oh brother (pun intended). Since L started crawling (and his main, nay ONLY, impetus for mobility is to get into B's stuff), B has gotten really physically violent towards his little bro. Hitting, knocking over, kicking. Even when I tell him not to do it and am right up in their faces, he will willfully push him in the face until he falls. He is not apologetic and responds to "why did you do that?" with "I don't like my brother". I am usually flabbergasted and have no idea what to do. I've tried taking away the toys in contention, putting B in "time out", or just separating the two. It happens several times a day.
3. General stubborn-ness (or selective hearing):  This is the one that gets G steaming mad & yell-y. He argues that B should listen and obey us as a general rule; i.e. when he tells him to come here or do something (even something as mundane as saying "good morning") he should come, so that when his safety is at stake, we can expect the same. I consider this the "dog training" method, and am more into picking battles. These are the situations that really escalate, as B exerts his independence and G tries to exert his authority, and I sit there cringing yet not wanting to show that mom & dad aren't on the same page. He tries time-outs, taking away toys, etc... and nothing really works to be honest. This is where I think a book or some "authority" may help us decide which battles are worth fighting and how we should best fight them.

Any tips, recommendations or general advice? I have a feeling this is one we'll be dealing with for, oh, the next couple of decades!!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Body Woes

I'm having a hard time accepting the fact that my body has irrecoverably changed with my last pregnancy. I think it was getting pregnant again so soon, before I got back into shape after my first pregnancy. I gained a lot of weight quickly, right up front, and my ab muscles split. They are still split 8 months later, despite running & ab exercises (I heard you weren't supposed to do crunches, so I've been doing planks, and standing ab workouts). So I have this weird pooch thing under my belly with lots of wrinkly leftover skin. It looks exactly like a prune. I keep thinking of "prune belly syndrome" whenever I look down. Since its mostly spare skin, and the muscles underneath are...gone (?)...I can't "suck it in", it just hangs there, protruding from my clothes. Ick.
If it was just a little pooch of fat, with regular taut skin over it, it would be no big deal---really. But this just really really bothers me. Even physically, it feels uncomfortable, pushing through or over my clothes. Buying larger pants doesn't help---they just fall off me, because the rest of me (even the rest of my abdomen) is the same, its just this concentrated area right up front under my navel.
I've seen this on women, and I know it doesn't necessarily go away with time. Women I know who had large babies, twins, or pregnancies in their mid-late 30s tend to get it more often & its generally a permanent thing (though I don't know specifically how hard they worked to lose it, I imagine they were---like me---bothered but not enough to devote hours a day to tackling it).
So, while I'm going to continue exercising & eating well for general health, I really don't see the point torturing myself trying to "fix" this if its not fix-able. I realize this sounds incredibly whiny and vain, but I've been frustrated by this issue for the past 5 months, since I lost the majority of baby weight and this area didn't go with it. Whenever I see a mom rocking a flat stomach I get insanely jealous. I just need to come to terms with it, and move on. Which works fine until the next time I look in the mirror or try to wear anything but my PJs. I've heard "spanx" are great for this. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Past, Present, Future, and alternate universes

We just got back from a week visiting my parents in my hometown. It was relaxing, except for L's sleep disintegration which still hasn't resolved, and has me exhausted & sucking down coffee (OK, so maybe staying up past midnight reading wasn't the best idea, since he got up at 4:30 this morning...but my new easy to hold...and The Hunger ADDICTIVE!). So this post is kind of disjointed, I hope it makes sense to someone!

It is always weird going back to your childhood home as an adult. The town has grown so much that it is hardly recognizable, except for the parts that are exactly the same. Similarly with the house---many things are new or gone, but so much is completely unchanged. It stirs in me equal parts nostalgia and bewilderment.

Spending time with my parents is also a mixed experience, in that I find myself slipping back into my role as a child, groaning and snapping at them, and expecting to be somewhat cared for in their capable hands. Yet, while still quite healthy (and not OLD, they are in their mid-late 60s) they are slowing down slightly. The house isn't as sparkling clean as it used to be, they are walking slower, things are taking longer. What is going to happen 5 years from now? 10? I can't bear to think about it.

All parents know that vacationing with kids can be challenging. It was nice to have uninterrupted time with them, but off their routines they were cranky and difficult. We still had to do all the parenting things that had to be done. Activities my parents planned excitedly for B sometimes went disastrously, due to his fickle moods. He was surly at the zoo, & asked to leave, then wanted to go back every day and still talks about it. Who knows the mind of a toddler?!

While there, I saw 2 of my childhood friends that came down to visit (from the big city they live in, a couple of hours away). Both of these friends are single, working in demanding careers, and living alone. I know for an absolute certainty that both want (ed) to marry & have children, but now they are in their mid-30s with no immediate dating prospects, and I feel that they have given up those dreams.  I may be biased, since they are my friends, but these are attractive, intelligent, fun women who would make awesome wives & mothers. Of course, I can't really talk to them about this issue---I just don't know how to broach it without highlighting the fact that I have what they do not. It makes me really sad to think their dreams may never be realized, and grateful to the universe that I met G when I did, or my fate could well be very different.

G & I talked about this a our lives are chaotic and exhausting right now, but we chose this path & we are so so lucky to have had those choices. You may see a single person, or a childless couple, and envy their freedom & respect their choices, but maybe they were never allowed to make a choice at all.

In summary, it was a week of mixed emotions...of simultaneously seeing my past, present, and future, and reflecting on what might have been. And it sucked to go back to work.

Friday, May 25, 2012


L started crawling this week, and he couldn't be happier about it. Even before he figured out forward-motion, though, he's been going through a transformation. My cuddle bug has been exploring his independence. No longer content to be held and hugged all day, he perilously lunged out of our arms towards whatever shiny fun thing caught his attention (usually his older brother). So we'd mostly been plopping him on the floor surrounded by toys and while we went about our business we could see & hear him laughing and babbling...until suddenly he got tired or frustrated and shrieked to be picked up. And then lunged out of our arms soon after...rinse repeat. He wants to be free, yet he wants to be held...and he can't really have both so he is torn. He's simultaneously asserting his independence while still needing the safety & comfort of our care. I've been talking to a colleague with a teenage daughter, and its amazingly similar---as much as she thinks she wants to just be free from any parental restrictions, she actually needs those firm boundaries to push & rebel against (or what's the point, right?)

I notice these same contradictions in my own psyche. As much as I love & appreciate caring for and being part of my family sometimes I seriously envy the freedom of my single friends to plan their present and their futures based solely on their own dreams and desires.  From career moves to vacation plans to simply what to watch on TV in the evening, they can make their decisions for themselves and themselves alone. Not only do all my decisions require consideration of multiple other people, these other peoples' moods can affect my own so profoundly. They say a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child...I'd expand that to say that anyone is only as happy as their unhappiest family member. In other words, in a family unit, everyone's emotions are inexorably tied together, for better or worse. When G is impatient & cranky, I feel it. When I am overwhelmed & anxious, he feels it (and then I feel guilty for making him anxious...and so on and so forth).

Maybe its because I came to marriage & motherhood so late in life, got a little too used to the freedom of being completely on my own, but I really can't help occasionally feeling trapped & constricted. The feeling generally leaves as abruptly as it comes on, and is replaced by overwhelming love & gratitude for my family. Because, coming to it late, I know first-hand the alternative...freedom & independence for me came at the high price of  loneliness. I have no regrets with my choices, nor would I realistically want my life to be any other way. I think I'm just settling into my new roles & responsibilities, and a few years later I won't remember any other way. Is this universal or is it just me?

Friday, May 18, 2012


I feel anxious today. The trigger was a small (MIL-related, of course) thing that kind of grew and became stomach-churning, motivation-destroying and all-consuming.

I don't really have good mechanisms for dealing with acute episodes of anxiety in my life. I've come across ways to feel more grateful, less grumpy, more energetic...but can't seem to find a good method for alleviating anxiety. One trigger can set off a month of sleepless nights and endless worry spirals.

I know there is medication for this kind of thing, but I really don't feel I have a clinical anxiety disorder right now. Much of the time I'm not anxious at all. And even when I am, its not debilitating---doesn't keep me from going through my day & doing what I need to do---it just makes it so much harder. I know people that have crippling clinical anxiety so I do have a comparison.

Everyone has stressors and worries in their life, some more than others. And everyone processes the stress in different ways---some healthier than others. I really believe that I can work towards doing better at this, I just haven't hit upon the solution yet.

So when a lovely walk home on a Friday evening in gorgeous weather didn't lift the feeling, I decided to be proactive. I got home & knocked out some chores for immediate satisfaction. I over-the-top doted on the dog with hugs & petting, took her for a walk, and ran around the park with her until we were out of breath & laughing. I smiled at my fellow dog-walkers and struck up a conversation with my neighbor. Then I sat down to write out my feelings. Accomplishments, exercise, acting loving, and social connection. I'm feeling a bit better already, but the real test will be when I try to sleep!

Any other good methods for coping acutely with anxiety?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This. That. The Other

This: The moment I hit publish on my last post, B woke up  from a drastically abbreviated nap...crying, feverish, and red-faced. The redness spread quickly down his body and by bedtime he had a full-body rash and a fever of over 104. The rest of the week...was. We took turns staying home with him...and his cheerful demeanor gave way to the expected crankiness & whining of a very sick boy. Thursday morning I finally took him to the doctor---scarlet fever. Started antibiotics and he was finally back to normal, albeit itchy and peeling all-over by Sunday.

That: To add to the fun, L also came down with a 104+ fever on Tuesday evening. Never got the rash, so likely had something different, and went away on its own, but not without some terrrrriiiibbbbblllleee nights.

The Other: Mother's Day was. It was a nice Sunday---both boys finally healthy, weather warm and sunny...but we did nothing to really mark the day. G had brought me some flowers when he went grocery shopping on Saturday (and they gave me SEVERE allergies so we banished them to the backyard). Other than that, we did our usual Sunday chores, park outings, etc... I didn't ask for or get any special treatment. I just took care of my family & enjoyed them. Isn't that what Mother's Day should be about? Not only to be appreciated, but...appreciating.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Best. Sick day. Ever.

B had a high fever this morning so I am staying home with him. Its weird, he was 103 last night and 102.5 this AM, but no other symptoms and seems mostly fine, just quiet when the fever recurs, and totally normal after meds kick in.  So we've had some fun.

We ate peanut butter & raisins---mine on crackers, his on a spoon. We planted the flowers & seeds G brought home yesterday in pots and window boxes. Well, I planted them, while my OCD little princess squealed about dirt possibly getting on his hands. (I know, I have NO idea where this came from. We have pictures from a year ago where he is digging in same planters and shoveling dirt into his mouth). Then we went to the park, with a detour for ice cream. We finished some long overdue errands while B picked at lunch in the stroller. Now he's napping and I'm hurriedly checking email/putting out fires at work, pumping, eating lunch, and doing laundry (and writing this, duh).

I was planning to take a day off work this week sans kids, to shop, get my nails done, and finish some sewing projects. Its been such a busy & stressful few weeks & I wanted a day all to myself. I figured having a sick kid at home would be just another stressful & exhausting endeavor, but its actually been fun. One on one is SO MUCH EASIER than wrangling the two, and B is...well...practically human these days.  I think I want to do mommy-B days more often, but next time we'll skip the 102 fever.

Friday, May 4, 2012

8 years

G & I met in August of 2001. At a beach party I went to with a guy friend, back when hanging out all day, eating, and drinking in a bikini seemed lack a typical Saturday activity. It was a veritable Cinderella story, in that I lost one of my flip-flops in the dark and left without, and G drove around slowly with the headlights on until he found it, and then called me up and asked me out under the ruse of returning my $5 Target footwear. I wouldn't call it love at first sight...he wasn't exactly my type...a bit on the nerdy side, and some of his jokes & one-liners literally  made me cringe...but they also made me laugh, and slowly but surely his big heart, admirable loyalty, and our ability to talk for hours about everything and nothing won me over.

I know this is a typical pattern of relationships growing and changing with the demands of kids, jobs, and life...but as I've mentioned before, we don't find much time to talk---really TALK---to each other anymore. From the few times I've brought it up, I've gotten the impression that this was only a problem for me...that G was perfectly happy with our status quo.

And then I was blindsided by an impromptu conversation standing in the kitchen last night. As always, I asked G what he wanted to do this evening (though it was close to 9PM by the time we got the kids to bed and cleaned up the kitchen). As always, he said he was going to "try to work" since he hadn't gotten much done this week with his days divided by contractor meetings, vet appointments, pediatrician appointments. Then he sighed, and admitted that he thought something was wrong with him, impeding his ability to concentrate at work. He thinks he may be depressed---he didn't come out and say those words, but in his typical vague & geeky manner mentioned needing more seratonin or dopamine . In my astonishment at this revelation, I went into doctor/fixer mode...urging him to make an appointment with our primary provider right away to see if he needed treatment. He said he wasn't sure medication was necessary or would be helpful, so I then urged him to see a therapist, someone to talk to. Then he said "I'd like to talk to you, but you're just not around".

Hurt & defensive, I jumped into examples of the times I was around (like, always!) and he was busy. And he countered that yes, I was physically around, but I was tired, or just on my way to bed (this is true, I've been exhausted lately & do go to bed early in general) and didn't seem open to talking. I had no arguments left because he's right. I want to be there for G...but I have precious little physical or emotional energy left for dealing with what I'm now realizing are pretty serious issues. Just knowing that he is suffering right now has me anxious, upset, and flustered...and reaching for my typical coping skills of ignore, evade, and deny.

He went into a little bit of what's on his mind...he is bored & unmotivated at work, isolated, lonely and has no friends to talk to about this, he is worried about the future (jobs & living situation), worried and stressed about the house issues (roof leaking, etc...) that have been plaguing us since we moved in, and doesn't have time to pursue the hobbies/interests that could keep him sane. All the predictable stressors that seem manageable on their own, but can pile up and weather down even the strongest rock. And he is a rock. He's my rock. And I am realizing, maybe too late, that I also need to be his.

Eight years ago this week, we went on a trip to NYC. On the last day of the trip, literally hours before we had to catch the shuttle to the airport, G insisted we go back to Central Park because he "loved it so much and wanted to see it one more time". Once there, he spends an inordinate amount of time hunting for the "perfect spot" to hang out in. Finally we find it, no one around, and grassy with flat rocks we sit down on. And he proposed.

We've gone back to NYC multiple times since then and tried to return to that spot. We just can't seem to locate it.  I think we've gotten a bit lost...hoping we can find our way  back.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Just a quick shout-out to my favorite month. Is there a lovelier month than May? Flowers & sunshine & my birthday, whoo hoo!  Here's hoping it turns out better than the last 30 days. WTF April!? Why so full of snot and vomit and poop and night-time waking up and cold and rain and leaks and general yuck. Already off to a better start with no 4 AM wake-ups by L and no-winter-coat-needing weather (though still rainy enough that I had to skip my run, which was fine because I am STILL congested, headache-y, and coughing).

I haven't done much to celebrate my birthday the past few years what with pregnancies & newborns, so I am going to borrow a tradition from my sister and celebrate "birthday week" at the end of the month (you pick 7 days around & including your birthday and do something fun/special each day, what's not to love?) While I generally try to avoid attention at all costs, I do like a little pampering for my birthday, since I certainly don't get any in my regular life! I think I'll have more fun planning what to do than I'll have actually doing it...I realized that the anticipation is a huge part of enjoyment for me, so I'll maximize the fun by having everything planned out as early as possible.

Anybody else have a favorite month, or have any fun birthday traditions?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Work and Pump dot STFU

Yes, another bo0b-related musing. I spend a pretty reasonable chunk of each day on breastmilk-related activities so its on my mind I guess. I've mentioned before that supply has been a major issue for me since going back to work. I'm just not an effective pump-er. When I first noticed the drop, I reached out to the lactation consultant for advice, and she pointed me to a couple of websites that I found less than helpful (to put it nicely). In fact, I found some of the advice (ASSvice?) misguided and harmful.

The most egregious issue I have is with the dogma of "send only what you pump" when leaving your child with a care provider. In fact, there are whole posts dedicated to the "dangers of the freezer stash", urging mothers to never break into it to make up for the demand>supply issue. I get the logic of supply and demand---if you pump 10 oz, and you send 15, your child will be satisfied and not demand the extra 5 oz later, and your breasts will never be stimulated to supply additional milk. It makes sense in theory. But lets play out the real-life scenario...

Your child wants 15 oz. You only pump 10, so you send 10 oz to daycare with him the next day. Your child is hungry. He cries & fusses. The care providers have their hands tied and do not have access to what he needs to soothe him. You hear at the end of the day "Mom, baby was hungry all day. He needs more milk. He cried all day long."

You cannot rationalize to your 3 month old infant that he needs to be patient until the evening so that you can ramp up your milk production! Hungry babies cry! And care providers that are not empowered to care for your child appropriately will be (rightfully) frustrated. You will feel (even more) terrible dropping your baby off at daycare or leaving him with a nanny when you know he's going to be hungry and miserable and the providers are giving you the stinkeye looking at those measly little inadequate bottles. It is a lose lose lose situation. Yes, it is supposed to be temporary but how long might it take? Several days potentially, to repeat anytime you experience a drop in supply or your baby undergoes a growth spurt and increased requirements. Recipe for miserable & anxious mother, stressing over every single drop of breastmilk you do or don't produce.

Then there is the other aspect of these logistics: you are at work all day. So the extra milk your baby is demanding? Will be demanded when you are home. At night. Not sleeping. This day-night reversal thing is heralded as "breastfeeding dynamics in action!" But you need to work all day, now on no sleep (which by the way, is bad for milk production).

Never fear, though, there is a post on "dealing with night feedings". The advice? Co-sleep. Yup. That is all.

Now I'm all about convenience-related co-sleeping. Any time L is going through a wake-y phase, he ends up in bed, because it simply is easier for me. But many parents I know are uncomfortable with co-sleeping for a myriad of perfectly good reasons, or they quite simply don't wanna.

I don't think "just co-sleep" is empowering or encouraging advice for a tired mother who is struggling with breastfeeding and working. It implies that if a mother wants to successfully breastfeed, she should co-sleep, which is simply not the case. I strongly believe that the association of breastfeeding as an "attachment parenting" behavior is working against the goal of increasing breastfeeding in this country. There needs to be more advice out there on successful breastfeeding for all kinds of sleeping arrangements, working situations, and parenting styles. I know it is possible, some of the women I know that breastfed for >1 year worked full-time outside the home, sleep-trained their babies at 6 months of age and NEVER co-slept. They traveled without their children. They judiciously employed the freezer stash for various reasons and used other ways to boost their supply. Or some combination thereof. I want to read about THOSE experiences, too.

I hope my breastfeeding posts don't come across as anti-breastfeeding. I think it is a wonderful experience and I am so glad I have been able to pull it off these past 6  months with L. I encourage every new mother to try to breastfeed. I just think that in the zealousness to promote "exclusive" breastfeeding, the sources we go to for help are losing sight of reality and practicality. They are giving advice that, frankly, may be discouraging women off from continuing down what is admittedly already a difficult path. Hungry, screamy baby miserable at daycare & up all night, while I pump 8 times a day and take 50 pills to boost my supply? No thanks, I'm working on emptying out my freezer stash. I need room for the processed chicken nuggets & dye-filled popsicles I'm feeding my 2 year old anyways ;)

Saturday, April 28, 2012


With all the focus on "Baby's First ____", I think we overlook the equally poignant (but perhaps more heart-wrenching) parenting moments---the LAST time our kids do something. Some of these milestones are much anticipated (i.e. diaper-changing or anything else involving bodily fluids), some ambivalent (spoon-feeding, drinking from a bottle), some too heartbreaking to even imagine (reading bedtime stories, being carried in our arms). Only thinking back do I realize how many "lasts" we've already had with B, and are starting to experience with L. We aim to record & photograph the firsts, but the lasts are seldom celebrated and often slip by unnoticed. Maybe because beginnings are much more unequivocally joyful than endings. Or maybe because, as bittersweet as it feels, we know our kids are moving on to bigger & better things and we don't want to cling so hard to the past that we hold them back from the future. Good practice for the inevitable results of parenting, I suppose!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Off my game...

A lot goes on behind the scenes of our lives these days. Keeping this operation afloat requires both myself & G to be working at 100% capacity.  He tends to be the muscle, while I'm the brains (only because I enjoy & excel at planning, list-making & remembering minutiae). When I'm down for whatever reason, he can make up the slack as long as I am capable of reminding him of the details. For ages I packed for him so as not to repeat the forgot-glasses-on-beach-trip and long-weekend-with-one-shirt debacles, now I just help him make a list. I like lists. These days, I need lists, or my tired fuzzy mind gets overwhelmed.

Well, Friday I woke up sick. Fever/bronchitis/asthma/etc... It was pretty bad. I made it through work and entertained G's cousin & her boyfriend who were in town for the weekend & came by for dinner. Then I collapsed in bed, completely ignoring the fact that we were supposed to leave at 9AM to go visit my sister for my niece & nephew's birthday party. Woke up, even sicker, and decided to pack (she lives 3 hours away so we were staying the night) sans list. Threw things for myself & the boys into a suitcase. Its only one night! Easy peasy!

B got carsick. Twice. I only brought one outfit for him. Yup. I only brought diapers for him, no pull-ups, which he generally wears during the day. Also I forgot my PJs. And socks for B for the next day. Thankfully we were at my sister's so we could borrow everything once we got there, but B had to sit in dirty clothes for 2 hours in the car. Once we got back, I forgot to give the dog her special medicinal bath (she has a skin thing, the vet fleeced us out of $250 last week for 2 weeks of antibiotics & antifungal bath soap).  I told G I could stay home today for the roofers,  then realized I had a meeting and an experimental procedure I had to be at work for, so he had to come home after walking all the way over.

Physically, I'm feeling better, but mentally, still off my game. I hope it doesn't last much longer...

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Any new parent or parent-to-be eagerly anticipates their child's firsts: first smile, first tooth, first steps. These are the quintessential milestones & memories of a child's early years. There are spaces in baby books to record the dates, circumstances, and photographic evidence of these momentous occasions. I've noticed, unfortunately, that the idea of potentially missing these important events... specifically by a working mother using childcare...has also been used as ammunition in the "mommy wars" and feeds into a lot of working-mom guilt. I see a lot of "Oh, I couldn't go to work and leave my baby! What if I missed her first steps?!" I admit, those thoughts worried me during my first pregnancy. How horrible would it be to miss the very first step/word/jump/etc...?
Of course, what you realize soon enough, is that the "firsts" are not a one-time-only, line-in-the-sand transition. Your baby does not go from grimly not-smiling to suddenly smiling. Its fuzzy. It comes in fits & spurts, and it may take you a while to catch on to what your baby is doing. "Was that a smile" Or gas? Probably gas"...and then the next day "No, that must have been a smile? Nope he's pooping"...and finally 2 days later "OH, that IS a smile...maybe those other ones were, too?" Its the same with walking, and talking. Even in the midst of it, I wasn't sure what B's first word was. Was it the "goggy" he kept saying, that I thought was babbling, but later learned meant "doggy"? Or the loud and clear "BUS!" he yelled on the street one day? Did the "da da" count as "daddy?" or the "bobby" as "mommy"?  For the most part, childhood is a continuous progressive development and not markers on a time line or lines in a baby book. Unless you literally do not see your child for days at a time, there is no way you are going to miss the "saying the first words" transition or the "learning to walk" transition.
The other point is, of course, even if you stay at home full time, unless you are constantly with & have your eyes on your baby you may indeed miss parts of their life. L started rolling over recently. G saw him do it last weekend, while I was showering. That evening, I spent 30 minutes playing with L on his playmat, trying to coax him to roll over again. No dice. Then I went to go get B some milk, and when I came back, he was on his tummy! I haven't seen it yet, but when I do, it'll be just as exciting to me because its new TO ME.
And that's the bottom line. Maybe your child does take his first tottering steps at the daycare, or sing his first song during circle time. Until you really see it, its hard to believe that he's actually doing it. When he does it in front of you, it'll be amazing for you. And when you exclaim and grab the camera, and hug him'll be amazing for him, too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Reality Check (The Cost/Benefit Analysis of Breastfeeding)

L is 6 months and 12 days old and we are still exclusively breastfeeding (we have tried solids...despite reaching & grabbing for our food for months, he is not keen on actually eating any of it and much barfing has ensued). So I suppose you would call our "breastfeeding relationship" a success.  We feed in the morning and evening every day; throughout the day on weekends/holidays. I pump about 1/2-2/3 of what L gets by bottle each weekday (he gets 18 oz at daycare, plus up to 4 oz bottle at night if still hungry after nursing). The rest comes out of the dwindling freezer stash. Sometimes the pumping, and the anxiety about supply, and...lots of things, really...get to me, and I am enraged by the whole: "Its free and convenient!" breast-is-best mantra. So indulge me while I unburden myself of 6 months of observations I've gathered about the realities of breastfeeding. Maybe it should go without saying, but I'll say it anyways: these observations are my own and apply only to my specific situation/personality...I am not trying to discourage/encourage anyone towards a specific way of feeding their baby.

Financial: Free! Ha! I actually calculated this with B, and given the upfront costs of breastfeeding, the savings of avoiding formula wouldn't kick in until 6 months. Given my early breastfeeding difficulties, my costs were substantially higher than others: Lactation visit at doctor $120, Home lactation visit 10 days later when I was about to give up: $150 (and that was with a discount because she felt sorry for me!), breastpump: $300 (with 20% off coupon!) + $50+ for extra flanges, parts, etc... Over $100 in freezer bags so far, Over $100 in nursing pads, soothie gel pads, nipple shields, lanolin. Already $100 in herbs for supply-boosting. 5 nursing bras at approximately $40/each=$200. I'm probably forgetting stuff, but you get the point. That would buy a LOT of formula. Plus we had to buy bottles anyways, for when I'm at work. Oh yeah, and all the extra food & snacks I'm eating? Probably a HUGE money suck, since I rarely plan well enough to bring what I need from home and end up buying overpriced snacks at work.

Convenience: A LOT to say here, so I'll break it into sub-categories.
  • BFing in Public: Yes, when I'm at home or in a seated/private location somewhere with the baby, there is nothing more convenient than just feeding him when he's hungry. But how often is that? Something I didn't think about was how difficult it is to breastfeed in winter clothes. Most of our outings when L was wee were taking big brother to the park. It was winter. Mild, but still requiring a coat & uncomfortable to strip off coat & layers...and would draw a LOT of attention, I'm sure. So I had to pump & take a bottle. Not everywhere has an appropriate place to feed, I've had to go out to the car or a nurse in a bathroom at times. At the beginning, L had a LOT of trouble latching and I needed both hands to help him, so it was difficult to cover up or be discreet. Now that's better, and I cover us with a blanket---but its getting too hot for a blanket so now what? 
  • Pumping: It is disruptive and time-consuming at work and is definitely affecting my ability to get things done, especially long experiments with specific time points that you can't just switch around. When doing clinical work, forget it. I pump when/if I can and hope I don't leak/dry up in the process.
  • Siblings: Since I've got the equipment, when we divide and conquer children, I get L. This definitely caused resentment from B early on and even now at times. It is also logistically difficult to tend to B's needs while L is glued to my chest, or worse, when I need to pump. I've wanted to spend a day with B just the two of us, but if L isn't with me, I'd have to pump---how would I work that out?
  • Timing/Getting Away: Because of wanting to keep my supply up & protect my precccciiiioouus freezer stash, I have declined any traveling (and chances to present my work and add to my CV) and very very rarely go to any evening events---even the monthly ones touted by our chief as "great networking opportunities". I have to time any outings carefully around feeds on the weekends, or bring L with me, because I don't want to pump during the day. I have skipped book club & other social opportunities so I didn't have to work out pumping/feeding logistics. I pump one side EVERY morning (including weekends), which adds another complexity to our crazy morning routine, and taking time to pump & feed before I can go on my run cuts way into my potential running time.Now that its hot out, I will have to hurry STRAIGHT home from work with the pumped milk (which I keep in the fridge at work), no summer happy hours or park trips.
  • Clothing: Yes, this is frivolous, but I like clothes & dressing a certain way. I can't wear a LOT of my clothes because they just aren't convenient for nursing or pumping. You cannot pump in a dress unless it had functional buttons on the top, which eliminates a lot of my favorite summer outfits. When I'm already feeling fat & unsexy, having to wear loose button downs or clingy (in the wrong places) knits with stretched out necklines is just the icing on the crap-cake.

Physical Health: 
  • Baby: I've realized in retrospect that L's poor weight gain & extreme fussiness was due, at least partly, to my decreasing supply. Once we started giving him more than what I'd pumped the day before, he perked up & plumped up. But breastfeeding makes the diagnosis/treatment trickier, since you have literally no idea how many calories are coming made the whole thing take longer & poor L suffered. Of course there are the potential health benefits of breastmilk. My anecdata (n=2) show no protection from illness/infection but no one will thankfully ever be able to see what L got & B didn't. 
  • Mom: I am really lucky in this regard, I don't have any chronic illness or condition that I have to leave untreated because of breastfeeding. I don't have to avoid any foods because L is allergic. I've known mothers that had really rough time it; my biggest issue was not being able to take decongestants when I had a sinus infection. I have had to limit exercise and limit any calorie restriction because I noticed a major drop in supply---so I guess my "healthiness" may be impacted a bit, who knows. There may be potential beneficial effects that offset that. 
Mental Health: It is really satisfying to be the sole source of nourishment for your child...but with that great power comes great responsibility. The anxiety I felt when L wasn't gaining weight, knowing it my failing boobs that were the culprit... I still stress over every drop. One might say I am a bit CRAZY about it...I will save 1/2 oz bottles...I found frozen milk more than 3 months old and decided, meh, can't hurt and used it anyways...I begrudge every spit-up and vomit and practically cry over spilled milk. As much as I logically know that supplementing with formula is fine and have no judgement against anyone that uses it (I've done it myself and  I KNOW IT IS FINE) I just can't turn off the internal pressure telling me that "formula=failure, breastmilk=success". Its really a craziness; I see it in lots of bf-ing mothers...I must name it and get it on the DSMIV. It must be the hormones.

      On the upside, I quite simply enjoy nursing L. Its actually a nice excuse to sit down (usually) and browse blogs or just be. The positioning isn't conducive to really interacting with L, but its nice to snuggle & the sleepy milk-drunk grins when he's done...priceless. I will miss this. This is what makes it worthwhile.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

One of those mornings...

Wake up before the sun rises to baby monitors a-buzzing...a symphony in stereo of cooing and singing from L & B respectively. What the...what? B shouldn't be up for another hour, at least. But up he is, and the singing is turning to insistent conversations with himself about wanting to play. And L's cooing is starting to sound downright angry. G has already left for his run, so I hop out of bed to get the boys. I go to B first, pick him up out of his crib (but not before our daily game of pretending-to-sleep and scooting-away-so-mommy-can't-get-you). Diaper change, clothes on, teeth brushed (this is new...I had to implement morning brushing because good gravy my baby has killer morning breath now!)
Go get L and get ready to go downstairs. Where is B? OK, change of plans. B has run back to his room, dumped out all his blocks & is fully engaged in the activity. My offers of breakfast are met with firm refusal and lots of whining. So I plop into the glider and start nursing L. Of course, as soon as I sit down, B wants to sit there with us, and read books. Awkwardly, he squeezes in beside me, and more awkwardly I try to hold the heavy book he chose with one hand, while the other hold a squirmy L. He has become quite the distracted nurser lately and I have to keep getting him back on task, but god help me if I miss a beat on the book-reading. SAY IT MOMMY! SAY THE BOOK!
Just as soon as L finishes up I am assaulted by the unmistakable sound & smell of a diaper needing changing NOW. I hurry back to L's room, B whining behind me, and begin the process of XTREME diaper changing---the kind where you remove the soupy full diaper just in time for more ummm....squirting... Grab a new diaper to catch that, grab some wipes----aaagh, who left them open, they are dried up!!! Suddenly B wants to have MILK! and PANCAKES! Is that really the time? Where the X&*(() is G? Did he forget today was my early clinic day? Try to pay attention to what I'm doing, because as unprofessional as it may be to show up late, it would be a 1000X worse showing up late with excrement in my hair. OK, poop disaster averted, now putting on new outfit. Why the &*!% are there so many buttons on infant clothes? Are they purposefully f-ing with tired parents of wriggly babies? "Yes, sweetie, we will get you some milk in a minute"
I'm trying to carefully do get each tiny little snap but finding it hard to see with the tears swimming in my eyes. Because...because how in the hell did I ever get so freaking lucky and why does it have to go by so fast?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Living the dream?

Based on the congratulatory comments I got on my last post I have decided that I must be misrepresenting myself. I do not for a minute believe that I have achieved "career success", nor do I feel confident that such success is within my grasp. What I do know, is that I have come to a point in my life that I am no longer willing to sacrifice my health, my relationships, or my sanity for my work. Been there, done that, and declined to purchase the commemorative T-shirt. Ready for something else.

I have seen colleagues put their families first and still manage to get ahead career-wise. I've seen others put all their eggs into the work basket and have it backfire. The sacrifice:reward ratio is NOT a constant, it seems to be completely arbitrary, in fact.

For some reason I imagine that these years in my mid (/late) 30s, more so than others, are important & defining ones.  This is partly due to the magical & fleeting ages of my children and partly to the fact that I seem to have arrived at that indeterminate "later" I've been awaiting all these years. Yes, this is a critical point in my career, but there were many critical points before and there will be many more ahead. It doesn't really ever end, does it? I was  content to put non-essential projects off for "later" because I believed that "later" would actually arrive. Now that "later" has come and gone, I realize the whole thing was an illusion. Life never slows down, you never feel secure, there is never a good time. If I want to align my life to my priorities and focus on the things that are truly important, I better do it now, because my "later" is here.

I know my career productivity has suffered lately; I just cannot put in the same hours and be the mother & wife I want to be. I am trying to be optimistic that I can still do it, by making more efficient use of the hours I do have, delegating more, and settling for "good" when I would have aimed (and spent countless hours working toward) "perfect". I very well may be fooling myself, but if I am, then I know that this career isn't the right one for me. I NEED my morning runs, my weekends soaking up my family, and a few hours a week to focus on myself. I can give them up for a week or two before a deadline, but that is the maximum I am willing to sacrifice. Watch me over the next few years...I'll either crash and burn and find myself on the job market, or I'll muddle through.  Either way, no regrets.