Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The sound of my husband dropping something on the floor in his "attempt" to be quiet this morning is what woke me up. What kept me up was that my back was stiff, the room was hot, and I had to pee. For a change, the baby was still sleeping soundly. So when my attempts to return to sleep failed, I dragged myself down to the coffee pot. My husband said (not at all remorsefully) "Sorry you are awake". I didn't respond. I started trying to assemble our son's bottle and my own coffee and breakfast around the dirty dishes in the sink. I opened the dishwasher and found it full. Of dirty dishes. I could feel the irritation growing. One more attempt at conversation from my significant other (how dare he try to engage this sleep-deprived momma?!) was all the invitation I needed to let loose. "Do you think you could at least TRY to be quiet when you get up in the morning? It takes me a lot longer to fall asleep than it does you, so I really don't want to get up at the same time as you in the morning!" And so it begins - the bickering back and forth brought on by a lack of sleep, messy house, fussy baby, etc.

The reality is that though my morning wake up call may be somewhat attributable to my husband, the lack of sleep at night certainly is not. Nor can I attribute it to my blessing of a son who has the unimaginable ability to sleep 12+ hours every night with only an occasional peep. It's all me. It's the hamster on the wheel in my brain that won't stop running. Last night I was tossing and turning for an hour. And it's not like in days past when I would lay awake worrying about something of consequence: a work stress, a conflict with a friend or family member, financial woes. I spent some time imagining which preschool our tot should go to (you know - 2 years from now), whether or not we should buy a new car, trying to decide our next big family outing, and also wondering what I would wear in the morning. Seriously.

My inability to lay down, close my eyes, and go to sleep is only further highlighted by the snoring lump next to me. My husband has the incredibly enviable talent of being able to snuggle up and fall asleep within two minutes of laying down. This only increases my irritation at 11:30 when I am still trying to get comfy. And can bring me to a full on tantrum when I am woken up at 6am after only a few hours of solid sleep by his less than "mouse-like" movements. Hence the verbal assault this morning.

I'd like to say that tomorrow will be better, but unless I can find a tranquilizer for this hamster - no promises!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

It's one of those days. You know the kind? Where everything you do is the wrong thing? Today I did the wrong thing. I lost my temper at Ben and I screamed at him and grabbed his hand. Not hard. In fact, he laughed when I did it. But I felt like the worst mother in the world. Like a monster. Even writing this, I am ashamed of myself and somewhat glad that I have no followers to read this. In my previous life, I was a therapist. I have an education in cognitive behavioral therapy for Pete's sake. So I know darn well that physical punishment is an ineffective means of discipline and teaches children nothing more than to hit. Not to mention that reacting out of anger to anything a child does is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. And, given the fact that he is only a year old, it is completely pointless to get frustrated at his behavior and expect to be able to modify it. Right after "the incident" (as I will heretofore be thinking of it) the voice in my head was very condescending in it's criticism. It went something like this "You moron. He's only 12 months old! He doesn't know not to throw his food all over the kitchen! He's not trying to piss you off. He just likes the sound of the splat on the floor and to see how far he can fling it. He is also probably enjoying the cause and effect of your reaction. Get yourself together and stop being such a monster and a bully!" Or something like that. Well, those were some of the thoughts I had. Aside from the "I suck. I suck. I suck." and "Poor Ben. I hope I didn't hurt/scare/mentally scar him."

I feel like one of the worst things about working from home is it feels like this "work" is a job I will never quite get the hang of. I have always had a lot of performance anxiety when starting a new position. I have always agonized for the first several weeks after starting a new job that I don't know what I am doing, I will never be good at this, I will never get the hang of it, and they are going to fire me. Typically within the first several weeks, I get the hang of it, I learn the new stuff that I need to learn and they don't fire me. In fact, sometimes, I get promoted. But being a mom is a job that is always changing so it feels like it's impossible to learn. I definitely went through a huge phase of "I can't do this. I can't do this. I can't do this" when Ben was first born. But, I started to figure stuff out and get better at knowing when to nurse, how to burp him, how to rock him, etc. And, I started to feel more confident. Of course, right about when that happened - he changed. And the challenge wasn't how long to nurse, but how to get him to nap. Or how to teach him to take a bottle from his dad. Or how to soothe him to sleep at night. Or how to get him to eat cereal. Or how to get him to eat finger foods. And on and on and on.

Sometimes I think about one of those old school scrolling screen video games, like Mario Brothers, where you have to jump from one moving ledge to the next and the screen is moving to the right the whole time so that if you don't keep jumping, it will eventually push you off of the ledge you are on and you will get squished. I try to keep adapting and I want to be this awesome mom who is always on top of things and never loses her temper or her patience. I want to always be full of hugs and kind words and never stomp my feet or raise my voice. If I could just be perfect, then I think I would be really great at this parent thing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Before and After

A year ago this past Friday, I went to my OB appointment for my weekly check up. I was 37 weeks pregnant. I picked my husband up on the way as he was still at work and in the middle of an important meeting. We were both excited to hear the baby's heartbeat and make sure things were still running smoothly. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the baby's heart. We had been having premature atrial contractions (better known as PACs) for a few months which made it sound like the baby's heart was skipping a beat. What it actually meant was that one end of the baby's heart was pounding a split second faster than the other side so the other half would have to pause every so often to catch up. I had undergone a consult by a neonatal specialist and was assured that not only was this perfectly normal, but that the condition typically corrected itself at birth so there was nothing to worry about. However, on this day, in addition to the hear skipping a beat every so often, the heart rate would also slow way down after each pause. Instead of the usual 150-155 beats per minute, it would drop between 70-80 beats per minute. My OB was naturally concerned and put me on a fetal monitor in order to better assess the situation. After 15-20 minutes of monitoring, during which time my husband repeatedly got up and checked the readout to see if it was improving (and increasing my anxiety with each check), she came back in to talk to us about her concerns. She advised that our options were to continue monitoring the baby which would mean being admitted to the hospital or to deliver the baby right then. Essentially - I would be staying at the hospital either way. The only real question was, would I have an infant as my room mate? While discussing the pros and cons of an early delivery, she explained that boy's lungs mature faster than girls so we would likely not have a problem. I don't know that we even heard the part about the lungs, we were so focused on the news that we were having a boy! She tried to cover herself quickly by saying that she assumed it was a boy but didn't have the chart in front of her and didn't actually know for sure. We didn't care at that point, we were too full of anticipation and nerves to even acknowledge she was in the room much less what she said. I was excited to meet our son and the idea of being admitted to the hospital for another 2 weeks was somewhat unappealing so we decided to go ahead to the delivery and have an emergency c-section.

Our doctor was very calm (externally anyway) and walked us across the building to the hospital to be admitted. And that's when I went from excited momma-to-be to human pin cushion! I had to undergo all of the necessary pokes and prods in between hollering at my husband to contact my work as I would not be returning for my going away party the next day. After several minutes of paperwork, IV's, catheters, and wardrobe changes, I was able to walk to the operating room and get up on the table for my spinal block. Most people probably cringe at the idea of a spinal block or epidural but due to a previous neurological concern, I had experienced a spinal tap before so I wasn't feeling too anxious about it. Clearly I was too cocky! When the anesthesiologist put the needle in, I felt a jolt up my spine that made me jump and I jerked a little. Just a tiny hair. Just enough to make it so the spinal block only took on one side of my body! But the anesthesiologist wasn't concerned. He just loaded me up with more drugs than a Grateful Dead show. I was somewhat aware of what was going on but kept slipping in and out of what was happening. At some point, I realized a very nice doctor had come and sat next to me to hold my hand. After a minute or two of him asking me how I was, I realized I was married to him. In my defense, the mask and scrub hat also made my husband hard to identify. During this haze, I felt a burning pain in my abdomen and I let out a moan. Had I not been so high, it might have been closer to a yelp. After that, things got really fuzzy and all I remember is my doctor vaguely saying "She can feel that. Put her under NOW!" There was a mask over my face and I drifted off.

Sometime later which seemed like minutes but was probably closer to an hour, I came to. There was a horrible pain in my throat and it felt like I had swallowed glass. I felt woozy and couldn't speak. A woman was in my ear saying "You had a boy! Does he have a name?" I croaked "Ben" and she said "Oh good! That's what his dad thought but he wasn't sure." My sweet husband had told them he wanted to wait for me to wake up and make sure the name we picked was still the one I wanted! I was wheeled to recovery where the nurse taunted me with ice chips. She so graciously offered as soon as I got there but then promptly forgot. Lucky for her, my throat was too sore and I was still groggy or I might have had something to say about that. After what seemed like an extremely long wait, I was wheeled to my room. And, just a few minutes later, my son was wheeled in too so we could finally meet face to face.

He was so small! Ben weighed in at only 6lbs 8oz and 18 inches. I could not stop grinning at him and I could not believe that he was mine. I felt a bit of an initial shock mainly because I hadn't really been "present" at his birth and I struggled to comprehend that this tiny little human had just come from me. He was on a heart monitor but the nurse assured me that it was just a precaution and he was fine. And then, miracle of miracles - I finally was able to hold and snuggle my tiny bundle! From that moment on, I was someone's mother. That one moment in time felt like it segmented my existence in to two parts. Everything that happened up to me up until that point was neatly categorized as "before" and everything since has been "after". As in "Before I had Ben..." or "After becoming a mom..." My life has been turned on it's head and shaken about like a snow globe. But, like a snow globe, the result has been truly beautiful.

Happy Birthday, Benjamin Miles. My world truly does begin and end with you.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Type A

I am a planner. This has been true for as long as I can remember. I have always wanted to be one of those girls who could just jump in the car with a group of friends and go...wherever. I feel like I may have been that person in another lifetime. But in this life, I like to know where we are going, who is coming along, what will we do when we get there and, most importantly, when we will be back. I don't really like surprises. As a child, I would imagine how wonderful a surprise party would be. As an adult, when said party came to fruition, I found it to be anxiety-inducing. Difficult to hand the reigns over to someone else in my own house and awkward to be caught off guard with no warning and a inability to act instinctively as hostess without any preparation.

Unfortunately, flexibility is practically a job requirement for motherhood. Ambiguity is a daily occurrence. You can bet if the baby is supposed to take two naps for at least an hour a piece, he will skip one. Or he will take both but decide an hour is much too long and make his presence known after only about 30 minutes or so. If you expect that he will eat sliced banana for part of his lunch because yesterday he adored it, you should know that today banana will be the food he despises most in the world. If you think that you are going to run errands in the afternoon when his nap is over, today is the day that he will take the super-mega nap and wake up just in time for you to have missed your opportunity. Many women probably aren't bothered by this. In fact, most people probably would say "Just roll with it". But for a planner (read: control freak) like me, this can wreck havoc on what would be an otherwise orderly existence.

The worst part is the anxiety that comes along with the unexpected change in plans. Did my tyke not nap this morning because I didn't rock him long enough? Did he need more play time? Or did he sleep too late this morning? Did he have a smaller bottle because he was still full from breakfast earlier? Should I have fed him upstairs instead? These are the days that Google becomes my enabler and I spend copious amounts of time scouring the internets trying to find the solution to help my baby sleep longer, eat better, fuss less, etc. This is truly a case of too much information being a bad thing as every blog post, baby center query, and Yahoo! answer that I find only causes me to wonder what I should be doing differently. What can I change to get a better result? The realistic answer to all of these queries is "Nothing". There is nothing I can do from one day to the next to guarantee that my kiddo will do what I expect him to. For a Type A person like me, that is the toughest part to accept.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Battle Begins...

In my head when I imagined being a mother, I had all these ideas of what it would be like. I would have this miraculous baby who slept 10-12 hours every night and during the day took two long naps during which time I would clean the house, read books, catch up on my TIVO and make dinner. Ha. Ha Ha HA! The reality ends up being much different as every mother who might be reading this already knows. I really don't mind that I am not as productive as I had imagined. And I am mostly accepting of the brief interruptions in my sleep on occasion (now that we are done nursing, of course). But the naps were hard to adjust to. I remember reading several books on parenting when our son was a few months old and feeling pretty anxious that he wasn't napping at ALL like they described! In fact, many days, he wasn't napping at all! My wonderful pediatrician informed us at his four month check up that this was actually somewhat common for his age and that he would eventually "learn" to nap better. Thankfully, she was right and his brief 30-45 minute naps eventually became as long as an hour and sometimes even two. However, she neglected to mention that once he was able to sit up and move around, the battle would begin. As an adult, I cannot imagine anything more wonderful than sitting in a soft cushy chair being cuddled by someone and rocked to soft music. Just the thought of it makes me sleepy. But, apparently, to a baby who is just a breath and a hair away from walking, it is the worst thing that could possibly happen to him.

My opponent in the nap wars is, unfortunately, a worthy one. He uses all manner of tricks to keep from losing each battle. There is the aggressive defense which consists of fussing and twisting about in my arms to keep from falling asleep. The entertainment strategy which entails engaging in all manner of cute or funny behavior in order to make mommy laugh and keep him awake longer. I am sad to say that it is a fairly effective technique. And then my personal favorite which I like the dub the "Harry Strategy" after one of my favorite movies, "When Harry Met Sally". This is the one where the little guy attempts to moan at strategic points where sleep might be imminent in order to keep himself awake. Surprisingly, I think it may actually have the opposite affect and he ends up moaning himself to sleep much the same as Harry does in the movie. The first few times this happened, I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing and waking him up!

I am proud to say that more often than not (despite his valiant efforts) mommy wins the nap battle. However, I am now being told as we near the year mark that we will be eventually moving from two naps down to one. And then the battle isn't as much about getting the nap to happen as it is about getting the nap to last(sigh). And the war rages on...