Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Myths, Damn Myths, and Statistics

"Breastfeeding will make you sooooooooo skinny. You can eat a whole pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you'll still disappear when you turn sideways. It's like MAGIC."

Reality:

I guess that's true for some people? But for me, it's a preview of menopause. I count every calorie and run like an escaped convict and still, I cannot lose an ounce. The same thing happened after Grace was born, but it was no big deal, because I was only up five pounds or so, and your body is so different after you have babies, I couldn't even REALLY tell. This time, I am somewhere between ten and fifteen pounds up. None of my clothes fit. I look awful. I am completely frustrated and pissed off and I swear to God, if one more person tries to perpetuate that myth about breastfeeding making a person skinny while in my presence, I will stab them in the eye with a string bean and spritz some nice lemon in it for good measure.

(also, memo to my children: I'm sure you think it's hysterical how you timed it so that one of you took an hour to fall asleep at naptime, during which time the other was out cold on my chest, waking just seconds after big sister fell asleep, but it is actually not remotely funny or charming and I would REALLY PREFER YOU NOT REPEAT THIS CRAP THANK YOU AND YOU'RE BOTH GROUNDED.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Warning: May Be Habit Forming

So, I briefly alluded to our sleep issues yesterday, but I have more to say about it. I know, you're shocked.

I just don't make easy sleepers. I've accepted that. This is an extra-mean joke from the universe, because oh my GOD, I need my sleep more than the average ten people combined. Some people can go days and days without sleep, and they're all, "Yawn, I'm tired, pass the salt." I go ONE night missing out on just a few hours, and I'm like, "oh my god my eyes are filled with sand and my skin is too small for my body and WHAT are we going to do about the ECONOMY and THE CHEESE TRIANGLES DON'T GO LIKE THAT!!!" And even though I've always known that, I REALLY learned it when Grace was born.

Hence, cosleeping with Katie.

And in the beginning, I was really not happy about it. It made me nervous and was uncomfortable and I just didn't like it. I hoped it would be short-lived. I did it because I had to.

Then I started to get into a little ritual every night. And some of you might already know this, but SRSLY: you have never known a bigger ritual person in your life. For realz. You know how Mr. Rogers walked in the door every day and changed into his sweater and changed his shoes? If you put me in a functional MRI scanner and showed that to me, the happy-calm center of my brain would light up like a frigging Christmas tree. I love me some routines. So when each evening started consisting of sitting in the bed with Katie asleep on a pillow in my lap while I read a book (and may or may not have watched TMZ), it was the beginning of the end. After that came waking in the morning with her sweet face just inches from mine, and after that, the naps with her warm little body sprawled on my chest. The next thing I knew, I was getting ready to go back to work and not only was she in the bed full-time, we also had no routine or bedtime. And really, that last part isn't really appropriate, especially since she has to wake up so early on my work days.

So we're working on it. She has a bedtime, which I suspect will get progressively earlier (and probably, she'll be a 6pm bedtime kid for awhile, which is awfully nice when your kid wakes at 5:30, but totally sucks nuggets when you work til 7.) And last night, she even slept four whole hours in her crib. But then she woke up and I scooped up her warm snuggly body and carried her right back to my bed and snuggled up to her.

So when I said you don't need to worry about forming bad habits? I still think I was right, because all those so-called experts are talking about the babies. They never really warn you about how YOU'RE going to feel. So, uh, consider yourself warned.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Three


I know it's a stupid, obvious thing to say, but how on earth has it been three months?


Katie decided much earlier than Grace that the world might not be such a bad place after all. It was probably in the last month that Her Royal Highness started allowing me to put her on the play mat or in her bouncie seat. She grabs at the toys on her playmat- half the time she misses, and the other half of the time, she's so shocked to succeed that she just kinda sits there staring at it and trying to figure out how to let go.

She LOVES the Wheels on the Bus, and Patty Cake will sometimes induce such a state of rapture, she will furiously stuff both hands into her mouth, drooling and sucking furiously, like she's so happy, she doesn't even know what to do with herself.

And yay, sleep! That is where she is...totally NOT a Viking. sigh. We are learning to go in our crib for bedtime and the pack n play for naps. The pack n play usually lasts for about 45 minutes. The crib is super hit or miss, sometimes we only get 45 minutes, once we got three hours. So far, I haven't been able to put her back in the crib after her first waking. Initially, it was just because I was so tired, but now that I'm back at work, I have to admit it: I miss her. And I like the snuggling. It has to stop soon, because I'm noticing she's not sleeping as well in my bed as she used to, and being back at work, I just think she needs her own, quiet space. Naps, well....her afternoon nap usually happens on my chest. Partly because she needs the sleep and she does well there, and partly because *I* need the sleep, and she does well there.

Sometimes, too, when we're all snuggled up on the couch, with her perfectly curled up in the crook of my arm, and she starts to fuss and root and gets herself a little snack, I think about how amazing it is that we're doing the same thing moms and babies have done since we climbed out of the primordial ooze.

...Then I laugh at myself because I'm pretty sure the oozy people weren't lying on couches inside climate-controlled houses while something tivo'd off the History Channel played for background noise.

A quarter of the way to her first birthday. *sigh* She's going to be starting kindergarten in, like, a week.

Monday, May 23, 2011

An Example of My Personal Growth

Today at work (*sob*), I went to the coffee shop with a gift card for my daily decaf. Because our coffee shop is a little archaic, they deduct from the card (which is actually just a square of paper, by the way) by writing the new total on the back.

Today, I had $2.29 left on my card, and my coffee was $1.99.

I handed my card to the coffee lady, who sighed heavily (as is her way) and pulled out a calculator.

And although I desperately wanted to, I did not smirk at her and say, "It's thirty cents." I just waited patiently for her to punch the numbers into the calculator.

See, it's true, having kids CHANGES a person.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Screw you, bills that need to be paid. Screw you forever.

There should be a word that describes how something can feel like it was ten million years ago, and just yesterday, all at the same time. I think back to being rudely awakened by painful contractions at 4:something in the morning, three months ago, and it seems like a year ago. And at the same time, Katie MUST be just a few weeks old. I have not been home for three months.

I hoped that, since I had so much practice leaving Grace three days a week, it would be easier this time. I was...really, really wrong. I mean, no. Well. It's not easier, it's less hard. For about a week before I went back to work after Grace was born, I would rock her to sleep and weep into her hair and whisper that I wasn't leaving her forever. There have been no such theatrics this time around, but the stress is different. I don't want to leave Katie, who is still so tiny and helpless, and also just way too small to be away from me that long, in my opinion, just like with Grace, but on top of that, Gracie has gotten used to me being home every day. We have a routine, too. Morning errands and playing, post-nap popcorn, tubby every night (and she grabs my pump from the hallway every night, chucks in the bathroom, and says, "mama make baby nokies!!!") It's all stuff we've done every day, and even though yes, I really loved it, I know she did, too, and it's stressful to think about disrupting that routine.

It'll be fine. We'll all survive.

But I don't have to like it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

But I just HAD her!!!

I'm going back to work monday.

SIGH.

I've actually already been dealing with a lot of work-related stress that I can't get into here, for obvious reasons (although I always feel kind of douchey saying it that way, like I'm Heather B. Armstrong or something. But really, it doesn't matter that I only have, like, ten readers, I know, the internets are wide open and I need to be careful and blah blah blah, it still makes me feel like I have delusions of grandeur), so in some ways, it will be good to be on site, so to speak, and able to address a few things.

...but that doesn't mean I like it.

I keep saying, if/when we go for the Trifecta/aka our Caboose, I want to move to Canada or Sweden or some other civilized nation that gives a full year of maternity leave, because I just really, really hate leaving them this early. I hate leaving them, period, but I felt like the one year mark was when it stopped ripping my still-beating heart out of my chest. Obviously I'm not ACTUALLY going to do that, any more than anyone else who claims they're going to move to Canada if THAT PERSON becomes the president, but if all of those people can be all hyperbolic about it, then so can I.

Going back to work means working on sleep. We handled Katie's sleep toootally differently than Gracie's, which means that she actually has no real structure at all and I am woefully unprepared for the transition. And, look. I get it. Half the people around me think it's totally asinine that I've had her in my bed for the last three months, that she just sleeps in the carrier or on my chest whenever she sleeps (to my credit, she DOES have a morning nap in the pack n play...), and the other half will be happy to inform me that it's NOT NATURAL for babies to sleep away from their parents and I should continue to have her in my bed. Both groups can go pound sand. Maybe we DID form some awful habit, but? We also really, really enjoyed the last three months. Katie's introduction to our family was so pleasant and I have so many good memories of curling up with her each night. We've been fully functional, and oh hell, I already covered all the reasons why I think co-sleeping was just fine for us. I just don't make babies that sleep independently, and so we did what we had to do. And to the latter group, the ones who would tell me it's not natural, I say that it's also not "natural" for me to be going to work when my baby is three months old, but this is the reality we have, and we need to make it work. So enjoy your sand-pounding, I'll be over here teaching my baby to sleep in her crib.

So far, it is going...not well. I'm just starting to give her a bedtime (for the last three months, she either slept on my chest, or next to me on the Boppy in the evening), and that part is actually fine. Her best stretches in the crib typically come in the early evening. It's around 11pm when all bets are off. One night, we got three hours out of her, but most nights, it's just the jack-in-the-box routine, falling asleep in my arms, waking up as soon as I get back to bed. My cut-off point is midnight, when we get there, I just can't take it anymore, and she comes back in the bed.

We'll get there. And eventually, going to work won't feel like an occlusion of my left anterior descending artery. It'll all happen. In the meantime, UCH.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How Old Is Your Little Guy??




The man asked, when she was wearing the outfit pictured here.

Three months, I told him, without correcting him.

He called his wife over and they started telling me about their grandchildren. I was cornered, between the pears and the grapefruit,so even though Grace was getting antsy, I listened to him tell me how he got ripped off at the Brookfield Zoo. His wife eventually asked, "what's his name?"

"Katie," I smiled and said.

And the best part wasn't saying it, it was watching the woman smack her husband and say, "She's wearing pink!!!" As if she hadn't been standing there talking to me and staring at Katie's pink outfit the whole time. And he just took it and laughed.

THAT is a strong marriage.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

These Are The Good Old Days

There is absolutely nothing in this world that will make you feel more lame than hearing a cheesy Carly Simon song on the radio and thinking, awww, yes! Totally!

But whatever, because it's true. It is really hard right now- I constantly question my decisions and I'm pulled in ten different directions every day and I cannot remember the last time I went to the bathroom by myself with the door closed, but I also know, as surely as I know Taco Bell bean burritos are sent to us from heaven, that I will look back on these as some of the happiest days of my life.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Oil Change FAIL

I had big plans for today. Grace is with her Grammy, it's just me and Katie, and I have a few things to take care of before I go back to work in two weeks (SOOOB). Namely, an oil change and a stock-up trip to Costco.

We got a late start, but I figured, eh, no worries, it's just me and Katie! Cheap Oil Change Place (name of business changed to protect not the HORRIBLY GUILTY, but myself because even though everything here is utterly true, I just...yeah.) was remarkably fast, didn't try to sell me a new air filter I didn't need (FORESHADOWING!!), and I was on my way to Costco.

I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for my delicious decaf-skim-2 splenda coffee (seriously, they make the best decaf in the entire universe, and with Katie's extreme reaction to caffeine, it's been an addiction. anyway.) When I left Dunkin Donuts, I was headed towards the expressway rather than the surface road that would take me to Costco, so I figured, eh, probably faster! And I hopped on the Kennedy. I noticed a state trooper right in front of me and was glad I wasn't talking on the phone or anything (MORE FORESHADOWING!!)

Shortly after getting on the expressway, I abruptly lost acceleration. Well SHIT, I thought. Bet they screwed up my car. I stayed in the right lane and hoped to make it to the next exit. As I lost speed, it became increasingly clear I would not. I made it to the shoulder juuuust as I lost steering and all the car's warning lights came on.

I would like to say the nurse in me took over, and I calmly assessed the situation. However, there were mere inches between me and the cars whizzing by on Chicago's busiest expressway, because I wasn't actually on the shoulder, but the little space right before an entrance ramp. It was probably 90 degrees in the car. Katie was screaming. I had NO IDEA what exactly was wrong with my car. I don't have AAA. And did I mention Katie was utterly losing her mind and I could not get to her because cars were whizzing by, mere inches from my door? So the mama in me overtook the nurse in me and I promptly freaked the fuck out. I'm not gonna lie here.

Although the state trooper was several hundred feet behind me, he was busy doing SOMETHING with a truck and I knew he couldn't do anything for me at that moment. So I thought to call 911. The see-you-next-tuesday who answered the phone bitchily asked if I had called my motor club. I had no patience for such dipshitty inquiries and told her that if I HAD a motor club, I would call them. She promptly put me on hold without another word, because apparently being on the expressway in a disabled car with a screaming infant in extreme heat is not a reason to be concerned. She had, in fact, transferred me to 311 (I was going to link to them, but nobody really cares THAT much, so I"ll briefly tell you that it's Chicago's non-emergency service line.) When they finally got to my call (because remember, they're for non-emergency services, there's quite a wait time), the person was at least really helpful and reminded me I needed to call *999. Which, okay, DUH. But the, ahem, woman at 911 couldn't have told me that? I will say a nightly prayer for her that God helps her to not be such an unhelpful, hateful shrew.

So *999 tells me they've called IDOT and they're on the way, and assures me he's told them there's an infant in the car. An infant who is STILL screaming, in a car that is still a billion degrees even though all the windows are down, and I can't get to her without risking life and limb.

And I sit. For approximately fifty years. I honestly have no idea how long we sat there. Eventually, the state trooper finished with the truck and pulled up behind me. It was pretty obvious I wasn't just lounging, since I had my blinkers on and also was just sitting on the side of the expressway. And I will seriously NEVER stop kicking myself for not getting his name, because he was the nicest, most calming and helpful person I encountered in this whole mess. He suggested I try starting the car again, and when it started fine, told me he would escort me off the ramp (which was not far ahead at all) and that I would be okay to make it back to Oil Change Place of Death.

And he was right. I did make it back there alive, jumped out of the car, and furiously told Oil Change of Death employees what had happened. Pulled a screaming, sweat-soaked Katie out of the back seat and went into the waiting area, where I had to towel her off with a burpy dampened by the drinking fountain. Long story short (too late!): they had re-installed the air filter incorrectly, leaving a huge gap that allowed too much air to be pulled in. He reinstalled it correctly and drove it around the block to make sure the car was okay. I pointed out the car was fine on surface roads anyway, but whatfriggingever.

He was the manager. I did not get my money back. I will not be returning to Oil Change of Death. Their corporate headquarters will, however, be receiving a really awesomely bitchy email from me, which they will promptly delete without reading but I will feel better for having written.

We never made it to Costco. Katie is fast asleep on my chest, stripped down to her diaper, and while I doubt she is as traumatized as I am, the memory of sitting in that car with traffic flying past us, with her screaming and me unable to do a damn thing about it, is enough to keep me off the expressway for today. I'll have to get the 64-pack of toilet paper another day. Today I have bigger things to do. Like signing up for AAA and sending nasty emails.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thwarted at every turn!

Grace is a massive mudpuppy. Last summer, she basically lived in these cheap little sundresses made out of bathing suit material, because it was totally pointless to dress the kid before we went outside. Today it was unseasonably hot, but I couldn't find her darn water dresses, so we put on a t shirt and a cloth diaper and headed outside.

I had a stroke of genius as I was setting up her water table- if I add Dawn to the water, it'll be bubbly, which will be FUN, and also keep her clean!



Grace, however, had other plans.



Namely, recreating Woodstock. (the original Woodstock, not the bad one in the 90s where all hell broke loose.)



She was SO proud of herself.



You guys. She BATHED in that little mud pit of hers.



I literally hosed her off before we came inside, and she was STILL so caked in mud, I had to strip her down by the back door, bring her upstairs and put her in the tub, and then mop the kitchen floor because there were globs of mud eeeeverywhere. And the best part is, now that she's done it once, it is ALL she's gonna want to do, all summer long.

She does, however, occasionally act like a girl, too. Look, purple flowers!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Smart Girl

I got double-teamed big time today. Neither girl was really especially difficult, they just managed to time allll their meltdowns simultaneously. Plus it kept threatening to rain, so poor Gabba barely got any outside time today (and the kid NEEDS to have time to roll around in the mud every day in order to be entirely happy.)

Naptime was exceptionally frustrating. Normally, Katie naps while I'm getting Gabba down for her nap, but was wide awake today and refusing to ride in the Babyhawk, so I had to tuck one girl under each arm and truck up the stairs. (If you haven't seen Grace lately: Girlfriend is a TANK. She's gonna play middle linebacker on the powder puff Varsity football team.) We got upstairs, and both girls proceeded to ramp up from vigorous whining to balls-out screaming. Grace wanted sit in the glider for stories instead of the bed, a request I tried to accomodate, but Katie was not exactly down with. I tried to move us all to the bed, at which point everyone melted down and there was just absolutely nothing I could do but walk out of the room and close the door. Katie promptly fell asleep, which was great except that I had too much to do to lie down with her, so I got a bit done with her in my arms, and then tried to put her down so I could finish. Nope. Not havin' that. However, she DID decide the Babyhawk was acceptable, so I got a bit more done like that, gave up on the rest, and sat on the couch. Normally, she will sleep thru G's nap, and then be sleeping so soundly when G wakes up that I can set her on the Boppy and go get Grace.

Not today. Oh no. Today, she woke up ravenously hungry just five minutes before Grace did. I really had no choice but to wrangle Grace out of her bed with Katie hanging off me, gulping furiously, while her sister screamed with rage over the unfairness of having to share mama's attention after naptime. She then screamed because I wouldn't give her the bottle of fake butter-flavored oil we put on post-nap popcorn (nutrition WIN!), and again when I only let her shake half the salt shaker over her popcorn.

SIGH.

So, after about fifty years, it was finally bedtime, and even though she had my full, undivided attention, her mood remained foul and screamy. But after the day we'd had, I just....I couldn't just tuck her in screaming and walk out. Not tonight. So when she started begging for the rocking chair, I knew she was stalling, but I couldn't tell her no. I scooped her up and carried her over to the chair, where she told me that she has brown eyes but I have blue eyes and daddy has green eyes and Tatie has blue eyes and we both have noses and then we rubbed our noses like the bears in her book. Then she wrapped her arms over my shoulders, nuzzled her face into my neck, and whispered--

"No no touch fire. Too hot."

And see, the problem there? Was that I could. not. stop. laughing, and my chest was shaking so hard she woke up, saw me laughing, and kept saying it over and over to make me laugh again. BUT, I did tuck her in with no tears, so the day that was mostly a fail, ended a win.

In honor of Mother's Day, maybe let's not be so hard on ourselves for the days that feel like epic fails.

Monday, May 2, 2011

It never gets old...

and I seriously wish I could get it on video, but you'll just have to use your imagination.

The scene: my car

Katie: waah! WAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM DYING BECAUSE I AM IN MY CAR SEAT AND NOBODY IS HOLDING ME SWEET BABY JESUS SAAAAAAVE MEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Gracie: BABY!! Stop cwying. STOP STOP STOP STOP!!!

Me: Hee. This is teh awesome.