Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Supermom is a Sleep-Deprived Mom

There is this set of bloggers using a series of themes, kind of getting to know each other and blogging on the same topics week to week. They use #wholemama on twitter, and I've been following along and meaning to get more involved with it, but just haven't found the time. Which I suppose is kind of the definition of parenting - I'd like to, but when?

In any case, last week's blog theme was on being empowered or kind of your mommy superpower. I wrote kind of a treacly blog post that I didn't even like and shoved aside. It's not that it's dishonest - it's not. It's not even that bad, but it talked a lot about the newborn days and my memory of those days is one of incredibly strong, hyperbolic feelings, a kind of weird fierce pre-civilization protectiveness that is hard to write about, tough to define without falling back on cliches. It's rough and it's saccharine and I think I can do better. So I've got it saved and there it will stay until I want to look at it again.

But, when She Who Shall Now Be Known as Teethy McFussybritches woke us up at 1:30 and then again at 3 this morning because Teeth #6 and #7 are not easy teeth, I thought of that theme, all sarcasm and bleary-eyed desperation. Jason took the first crying time, and the second I got up with her. While I settled in with my fussing, distressed 10-month-old wiggling like a 22-pound goldfish and gnawing on literally anything that came within two feet of her, I thought of that theme. Forty-five minutes later, when she finally, finally fell back asleep, I thought of that theme.

I also wondered how it is that the more tired I am, the more my brain and body slow to a crawl, but as Teethy McFussybritches gets more and more exhausted she ramps her energy up like they've invented Infant Cocaine and it's 1983.

At 4:30, when I was still awake and had to concede it was time to make some coffee and start my day, I thought of that theme. I also thought a lot of varied and colorful swear words.

In my sappy post, I wrote that our superpower as parents is that we are always there to protect our children, even at the cost of our own health if need be. This morning, I thought that while it's a hyperbolic thing to say, it is pretty true. The real superpower of parenting is that you keep. getting. back. up. when they need you, even when it means you can't think or do math or put words together or suddenly forget how to spell "equivalent".

At 6:30, we woke up our peacefully sleeping daughter, who seemed for all the world as though she had dreamt the night away with nary a peep (unless, of course, you were the one holding her while she tried to throw herself backwards away from her own teeth in the middle of the night - or the one whose fingers she chomped down on as hard as she could to comfort herself when you made the terrible mistake of checking to see which teeth it was that had popped through). At 7, Jason left to take Teethy to daycare and to go to work, and I settled down with my laptop to start in on my own workday.

Asleep around 11 and up at 1:30 and then again at 3 am for the day? Ten years ago that would have been rough, and ten years ago I would routinely skip hours of sleep just because I was eighteen and there was nobody to tell me to turn my light off and go to bed any longer.

As a parent, you just... keep going.

That's our superpower.

Our brains, in many cases, are taking some of the worst beatings of their lives thanks to sleep deprivation and stress. I have put a mug full of hot coffee in the fridge for three hours before remembering I'd brewed any. I packed baby food instead of lunch for myself one day. I've worn two different shoes, a shirt on backwards, driven to work without remembering a single second of the drive.

Granted, she's not bad now - she mostly sleeps through the night, except for when she's sick or we have fresh teeth making their appearance. There are still nights like last night, when my eyes were so heavy I think I was in her room and holding her before I managed to pry them open, finding my way down the hall entirely by memory, feeling like I was dreaming even this.


I got up.

So... that's the parenting superpower, if you think about it.

We may wobble down the hall, but somehow we stay up until they're in our arms.

Like Weebles.

Parenting is like Weebles.

You can see why I get paid to write.

I'm clearly a genius.

(If you don't know what Weebles were because you're too young, don't tell me. I'll suddenly have gray hair and need bifocals if anyone reminds me how long it's been since they were popular.)

Whole Mama

Saturday, June 27, 2015

In Brief

This is the face of a child who thoroughly believes she is helping me pack for our trip to Illinois.

She isn't.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Start 'Em Young

I'm a nail biter. Or... at least I used to be.

I suppose it's more accurate to say that I'm a head-scratcher. I scratch my head as a nervous habit. I grew up biting my nails. In what I feel was probably a bid to somehow encourage me to stop (the first of many, until she just gave up and started sighing heavily and accepting my neuroses as set in horrible twitchy stone), my mother bought me that clear nail-polish-for-kids that just peels off so you don't have to use harsh chemicals on it.

Eventually she had to take it away from me because I would just paint my nails, let them dry, peel off the polish, and repeat the process.

It's most likely part of having an anxiety disorder. I'm a worrier, and part of that is that I worry at myself. I bite my nails or tear up the skin around my nails or scratch my head or twist hair around my finger and if you take all those habits away from me somehow I will figure out something new.

It's only within the last few years I've been able to (mostly) stop my nail biting. Even then, I start it right back up when I'm stressed, stuck in traffic, or when one of my nails tears and I'm not anywhere near clippers. I count how many fingernails I actually have at least once a week, proud if I have 8 or 9.

When I (mostly) stopped biting my nails, I started scratching at my head without realizing it, in the same situations or when I'm reading a book. It's such an ingrained habit that I can't stop. Except that I mostly did stop scratching at my head about a year ago... and immediately began biting my nails again

Basically, I have to pick a nervous habit and declare it the lesser of fifteen thousand evils and go about my day, because if I really tried to stop all my nervous habits I'd A. have to lock myself in a room for a year by myself with no distractions and B. still wouldn't succeed.

Oh, there was one time I stopped biting my nails and scratching my head.

I started picking paper apart into little shreds compulsively instead.

I am a magical creature, and frankly I'm just trying to be happy that I don't flip light switches a specific number of times yet. Although I have been known to check to make sure I turned the oven off like four times.

In my defense, though, that's because I occasionally do actually forget to turn the oven off when the cornbread is done and I won't remember until Jason and I have just settled down to eat dinner.

Wait. I got off track here.

Over the course of June, Audra has gone through her first serious round of ear infections. She had them in both ears, and they didn't respond to the first kind of antibiotics. We ended up having her on SOME form of antibiotics for over three weeks altogether, which I don't like; Jason and I are not fans of antibiotics, as their overuse has made antibiotic-resistant bacteria much stronger and more common. That said, if the doctor tells me she needs a medicine, she's getting a medicine.

Plus, she wouldn't top scratching and pulling at her ears, and that worried me too.

I mentioned to the doctor today that despite her ear infections being taken care of, she's still pulling at her ears regularly, although it seems like she does it more often when she's tired and trying to stay awake.

"Oh, that's probably not anything to worry about," Audra's physician cheerfully informed me. "She's probably just picked it up as a nervous habit. I'm sure it'll go away on its own."

I looked down at my 29-year-old fingernails - 9 perfectly normal and one bit down nearly to the quick.

Well, I thought, I'm never buying her that peel-off nail polish...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

For the Love of a Good Toothbrush

Audra fell in love with her toothbrush. This seems like a good thing, on the surface.

She happily accepts it and its "safe to swallow" toothpaste before bed (which is good, because I don't even know how one would teach a baby to spit something out on purpose and not just when you're out in public and really need her to actually contain food within her mouth for five seconds). It has an Elmo on it, came with the toothpaste, and was on sale at Publix. This was not a fancy toothbrush. We're not as diligent as we probably should be about brushing her wee little teeth, but I normally make a good faith effort to clean all five of them (which are, thankfully, all at the front of her mouth right now) and call it a night.

We've run into a problem, though.

She really is in love with the toothbrush.

Once she has ahold of it - and she will grab it, it's not a matter of 'if' but 'when' - that's it for the toothbrush. I just frantically try to get her teeth clean in the fifteen seconds or less I have before she figures out how to get her Hercules-grip on it and steadily pulls it out of my grasp. Then she rubs it all over her own gums quite cheerfully, so I figure, hey, it's probably helping clean her teeth a little that way.

She chomps down and chews on it. She sits there smiling around her toothbrush at me, cooing happily.

This is all well and good for a few minutes, but eventually that child has to go to bed and while I'm all about breaking the "no stuffed animals or blankets in bed EVER EVER EVER or you are a BAD MOMMY" rule that the internet has proclaimed the Gospel As Told by Random Doctors on Parents.com, I'm... not so much about "hard plastic things she can actually choke on".

So when it's going on bedtime and we need her to be calm and chill in the very dim light and drink her last bit of formula before bed for the night, we try to take the toothbrush away.

That's when the rage begins.

You've never seen a baby so devastated by the heartlessness of the world.

She'll start with the "eeeeehhhhhhh" whine that she learned God-knows-where (okay, it was me, she almost certainly learned it from me), ramp up into short, staccato'd "EH EH EH EH EH" and then finally wind it on up into the full on whine-shriek that is the calling card of all toddlers everywhere. She doesn't even toddle yet! Sometimes she goes for the full make-Mommy-feel-like-mud treatment, which involves her yowling "NUH NUH NUH MA MA MA" until I want to sink into the floor or buy her a pony with a solid gold saddle.

I want to tell her that there will be many toothbrushes in her life, and she will not love them like this one, but she can rest assured that her toothbrush will always be there for her.

I cannot tell her this. She understands like nine words altogether, and complexities of toothbrush relationships cannot be explained using the words "hello", "goodbye", "yay!", "no", and "doggy". She continues to yell. She is heartbroken

The love of her life is gone and Mommy (or Daddy) is the villain who stole it from her.

Then I hand her the empty plastic cup I just drank water out of and she chomps down on the edge of it, starting chewing, and forgets that the toothbrush ever existed.

She's happy... until I have to take the cup away.

Friday, June 12, 2015

5 Things - The Daisy Dress, Dad Gifts, and Yet More BabyGap Edition

1. This dress from Lands End. I am in love. I bought this dress from them for summer wear, and I'm not supposed to be buying clothing until I'm through this whole "weight loss journey" I'm working on right now. I'm still considering picking this up with next month's clothing budget. The adjustable waist means I could really pull it off for a while even if this whole fitness thing doesn't blow up in my face like it has the last six times I tried it (and got shin splints. Over and over and over again.)

What do you think, whoever reads my rambling thoughts on dresses? Should I buy it with July's clothing budget? Beg for it as an anniversary present? Just start crying and declare I can't possibly stop being an emotional mess until the dress is mine?

... I think I know what I'm going to do.


Ugh, this is rough. I love daisies! I hate florals but I love this print! I could wear it with a cardigan in the fall! It's so cute! I waaaaaaaaant it.

What should I dooooooo

Life is hard, people.

Life is hard.

2. NPR's been doing a series on prisoners released after years of solitary confinement that is really worth a listen/read.. One thing they've pointed out is that prisoners who are in solitary confinement serve out most or all of their original sentences, so there's no parole, no help adjusting to the outside world, which could have changed rapidly in their absence.

They're just tossed out into the streets to whatever family or friends is left to take them in.

At one prison, departing solitary confinement prisoners were taken in shackles onto a public bus and the shackles only unlocked after they sit down in a seat. So every random member of the public who happened to be on that bus that day witnesses this person in shackles, someone so dangerous they can't take them off until they're off prison grounds.

And we just toss these people out and tell them so long, good luck, don't come back.

It's a truly maddening series of decisions made by lawmakers and the prison systems that ensure that we take the people least able to handle social interactions and society itself and throw them out with no help and then wonder why they can't just figure it out.

Solitary confinement can induce mental illness even in people who did not experience it before their incarceration.

Just a really interesting series. I highly recommend checking the articles out. This is another in the series.

I recently came across another Greenville blogger, Truly Unruly. I kind of find myself clicking around trying to find other bloggers in this little city. It's kind of cool, to realize they were at the same farmer's market I was. Often, though, the local bloggers I had been finding were either super preppy or insanely hipster style bloggers who didn't really talk that much about Greenville itself, just about their outfits.

Which is fair enough; that's, uh, kind of what a style blog is for. But I've been more interested in lifestyle blogs, really. I follow both The House of the Hill and The Reedy Review, but I'm still looking for more locally-based blogs.

Enter Truly Unruly.

I've been enjoying her quite a bit, so I thought I'd share the link to her blog. The image is from her Greenville Father's Day Gift Guide. And I can say from experience that that peach 'shine is delightful, Dogfish Head is delicious beer, and... shamefully I have yet to eat at Bacon Bros.

The time is coming, though, people.

The time is coming.

4. This. Book. Is. Hilarious.

I bought my sister a copy of one of her earlier books a couple of years ago, back when my niece was just exiting the toddler years and it seemed appropriately funny. I decided to pick this one up kind of on a whim at my local bookstore. Jason actually got to it before I did (that's what I get for buying two other books at the same time - I have no time for reading anymore. I thought parents were lying when they said that. They weren't).

Finally, I've been able to pick it up.

And it's amazingly hilarious. Anyone who has had to navigate modern, internet-soaked parenthood will probably hurt themselves laughing. Highly recommended.

Go buy it.

Go buy it right this second.

I'll wait.

5. Somebody's baby may need this entire outfit. That baby may indeed be my baby

THIS is how you do pink stuff right when you want to catch the eye of tomboy moms. No frills, no ruffles, no horrible "sassy" text, just adorable strawberry print, striped shorts, and cute little sandals. BAM.

Of course, I kind of feel like Audra should at least occasionally attempt to walk before I start putting cute shoes on her when it's not cold, but you know what, sometimes you need to wear turquoise sandals to be happy.

My baby is better dressed than me.

I'm okay with that.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ten Months

Audra turned ten months old on Friday! Here are a few things going on with her right now:

- We have five teeth! Her two bottom teeth she's had forever, one of her top front teeth and one next to it are coming through, and her other top front tooth is a white spot just underneath her gums, just about to make its appearance! Of course this latest round of teething coincided with the Ear Infection That Would Not Die (the dreaded cousin of The Sinus Infection That Would Not Die), but still, teeth are a happy time for me, since that makes it less and less likely I have to watch her like a hawk to ensure she does not choke. I still do though.

- Still not crawling, but she does scoot! She will occasionally do the pre-crawl move of getting onto her hands and knees and kind of rocking back and forth, so we're either going to see some crawling soon, or she'll skip it and head straight to walking. My money's on the latter. My baby is a lazy, lazy child, and she isn't going to learn how to do a skill if she has to immediately drop it to work on another one.

- Basically, I'm pretty sure she's saying "mama" to me on purpose. So I'm calling that her first word, although Jason and I did hear her refer to Indy several times very purposefully as "ug". But I refuse to let the dog win.

- She has begun to "forget" how to do her 'tricks' when we're around new people. Like, she waves hello and goodbye, claps, and gives high fives - but if we're out and about and she decides she doesn't want to do it for something she doesn't know, she'll just pretend she can't hear us or has no idea what we're asking her. I'm not fooled. Mama's on to you, little miss. I'm on to your game.

- We are gradually shifting the amount of 'real food' vs. 'baby food' she eats to more and more 'real food'. She still eats her pouches, but we're making sure she's eating a lot of whatever it is we have, too. She was home with Jason Friday (thanks to the daycare's policy of 'please don't bring your baby back until she is no longer the plague vector she is right now') and had black beans and barley for lunch and loved it. Today, Jason and I ate lunch at Pita House (one of our favorite spots in Greenville) and she ate lots of falafel, hummus, and pita bread. Her illness killed her appetite and she had actually lost weight in the last week, so to see her appetite come roaring back with this new antibiotic makes me feel a lot better.

- We have definitely entered the "whine if you don't get what you want" stage of life. Which will, if I understand it correctly, be the stage she's in for the next eighteen years of her life. But she definitely has started to make these horrible whining noises whenever I commit the grievous sin of taking something she's not supposed to have out of her hands, or walk three feet away from her, or (God forbid, the shame) insist of going to the bathroom instead of carrying her everywhere I go forever. So the next couple of years until she's speaking full sentences are gonna be super awesome.

- This is the second month in a row she's not only noticed her monthly sticker but immediately tried to tear it off and/or eat it. She tried to tear it off first, but when I stuck it back on her and said "no", she decided to just skip the step I clearly didn't like and eat the sticker right where it was. We made it through photos, but man do those stickers basically dissolve. Infant saliva is apparently acidic or something. I think it could take the finish off cars.

- She has discovered she can actually take the stuffed animals out of the shelves they're on. Previously, her innate unwillingness to do anything she has to really work for has meant she just sort of looked at the toys in her organizer but otherwise would ignore them. Lately, she'll scoot over there and start pulling them out, one by one. Her favorites are her Simba and a big floppy giraffe or possibly horse, it's not exactly clear. I call the Giraffe And/Or Horse Bilbo Baggins for no discernible reason.

- She has a single stuffed animal in her crib - Holly Bear, a striped BabyGap teddy bear Jason and I got her for Christmas. I know the rules say no toys in the crib and definitely no stuffed animals, but I put it in there right when we got it and it lives in her crib. Spoiler alert: she's always slept with a (crocheted, with large holes in the stitching) blanket, too. Who wants to sleep on a bare sheet with absolutely nothing for comfort or warmth? Not me. But that's not the point. I thought it was just nice for her to wake up to a friendly face when she's in that room by herself, you know? She's starting to really bond with Holly Bear, and I've caught her lying on her side, babbling happily to Holly Bear while she waits for one of us to come get her after she wakes up. The other night, when Jason laid her down to sleep, she rolled onto her side, reached out to grab Holly's foot, pulled her close, and snuggled in. It's sort of wonderful to see her differentiating between toys and how they are played with - that stuffed animals are different from her singing books which are different from her toy pots and pans which are different from her stacking rings. Watching a little person form herself out of the baby potato I brought home from the hospital is probably one of the greatest gifts there is to parenthood.

Only two more months until you're a year old, baby girl! I have no idea where the time went. Except for that last two weeks of pregnancy. I remember every. single. second. of that.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I Am a Delicate and Graceful Swan.

So I had this idea to lose weight.

I decided to join a gym, and I'm currently on a three-day trial with a local fitness place that has machines, a small track, a pool, and group fitness classes. I realized I could fit a lunch-hour yoga in, as long as I stayed an hour or so later than normal at work when I came back.

This seemed like an exciting prospect! I enjoy yoga a lot, although I've taken maybe one class before in my life and have heavily relied on Youtube videos and a cell phone app I have.

Today, I packed up and left work, went in, changed into the closest thing I have to "yoga" clothes - ie, a tank top and some dark gray cotton pants. I went into the studio a few minutes before the class to let the instructor know I was new.

I settled myself in between two older men, figuring I wouldn't be out of place doing a little bit less of the poses, since it'd been so long and I lost what little flexibility I had after Audra showed up. I tried hard not to notice that I was the least fit woman in the room.

I noticed that I was the least fit woman in the room, and also the only woman not wearing skintight pants.

My legs suddenly felt voluminous, like giant elephant trunks next to all these whippet-thin calf muscles around me.

I comforted myself with the reality that if I had to, I could probably kick someone in the face better than them.

You know. If I had to.

Still, I was a little bit crippled by nervousness. What if people turned their nose up at my pose attempts? What if they considered me the Yoga Hobo, in my slightly baggy, non-thematic clothing and old Walmart yoga mat? What if I made a fool of myself because I couldn't lean over, or stretch out, or whatever I was called upon to do?

I took a deep breath, and I started the class.

About halfway through, I fell over on an old man. All those other worries just melted away.

That's right.

I fell on my first day in class, and I nearly took an old guy out with me.

I had to balance in a very certain way with my hand on the inside of where my foot was, one leg bent under and pushing forward, the other stretched out behind me. I could tell as my weight came down on my hand that I hadn't balanced right. I just couldn't tell quite in time to stop myself. I had that moment of horrified wobbling, when you try so hard to catch yourself, and you almost do, and then...

Then I fell on an old man.

Well, sort of. I didn't actually fall on him.

 I fell onto his mat and he moved back in time and I just sort of stumbled into the space where he would have been.

So that was nice. That was a super nice way to begin my new life as a Person Who Goes to Yoga. I'm officially the Girl Who Fell On an Old Man.

I apologized in mortified whispers, and he said it was okay, and then I apologized in mortified whispers some more. We all went back to posing, and I spent the rest of the class trying hard not to think about how I nearly fell on an old man. It... kind of ruins the "peaceful breathing and serenity" thing.

Maybe if I try super hard and believe in myself, I'll fall on the instructor next week.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dog TV

Our neighbors have chickens now. About a month or so ago, a strange structure went up in their backyard. We can kind of see it from our deck. We figured either a rabbit hutch or a chicken coop, and sort of hoped if it was rabbits they'd keep that locked up, as two of our three animals think it's their calling and their duty to bring us dead rabbits whenever possible.

Everyone's in luck! Especially rabbits!

It's a chicken coop.

They have fluffy, pretty lady chickens strutting around like they own the place back there. Our neighbors' dog is perfectly content to coexist with them. Our dog wants over there.

He wants over there badly.

Because he is a good dog, he only dug a hole deep enough to look under. This is what he does, whenever we let him out into the backyard. He sticks his head into one of the three spaced-apart under-the-fence viewing windows he has dug for himself, and he just watches them.

He wants those chickens, people.

He wants them.

He hasn't even tried to dig a hole he can actually get through. He just watches them, the way I watch reruns of Iron Chef America on Netflix or the way I watched Frasier three times in one year; with an abject fascination and entertainment coupled with shame that he just can't go do something useful.

I'm kidding. He probably doesn't feel any shame. That's me.

I feel that. When hitting the play button to start the seventh episode today.

Getting him inside at this point has become more and more difficult. He's just too busy to hear us calling, or so he pretends. We don't worry too much about it - it keeps him out enjoying our big backyard, frees us up time to deal with the other needy creatures constantly begging for food in our house.

I mean... he still begs for food.

He just does it on the porch now, instead of in the kitchen.

I'm okay with that.