anxiety, family, gratitude, outdoors, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

“getting stuff done”

I’m in super mama blogger mode as I sway back and forth on my feet standing at my parents’ bistro-height dining room table, baby in the Ergo, willing him to stay asleep long enough for me to churn this post out. He just had perhaps his biggest tantrum ever, alarming even the neighbors. Why? I really don’t know. This morning, I took him on a relaxing, 3-mile walk in the stroller–he looked up at the trees with big eyes, napped, woke up happy. When we got home, I thought we’d do a nice nurse-ourselves-into-a-nap together. We’ve done it many times before, and I was predicting that our sleep schedules would align. We got upstairs and he nursed on one side. When I switched to the other side, he kept getting distracted–looking up at me with big eyes and bursting out in big smiles (and then doing it again, and then doing it again, etc., adorable)–and eventually I gave up and thought–maybe we’ll just drift off to sleep together. There was a moment, maybe 30 seconds, when we were both still and I actually started falling asleep. That’s when he began the gradual but steady ramp-up to five-alarm fire mode. I tried everything: shushing, swaddling, walking, bouncing, nursing again, every position, giving him to my sister, giving him to my brother-in-law (both of whom were impressed by the force of his crying despite their own significant experience with five-alarm gila monster), giving up and eating a cookie, etc. This doesn’t often happen with E. But every baby will have their moments!

I stepped outside with E in the Ergo and ran into the W’s who were worried they had triggered the ordeal by playing their music too loud (I never heard the music) and asked me how they could help and I requested an iced coffee to replace the nap I didn’t get.

I woke up today feeling like I’m not “getting anything done.” Everyone else around me has projects, events, outings, work calls, errands, and I recently wore the same clothes from one morning, overnight, and the next day till the following night and hadn’t showered and was just flowing with the baby’s needs and feeling like I needed to wash my hair and change my underwear and breast pads. I really feel like I can’t (shouldn’t?) complain, yet I simultaneously I felt like I couldn’t quite manage the basics. A little downward spiral. I perhaps underestimated how much the mom has to do no matter how many willing helpers are surrounding her. (My family is wonderful and will do anything I ask–I probably should be doing a little more asking.)

So I complained to my mom this morning that I wasn’t ” getting anything done”  which obviously is crazy when I have been caring for my baby boy 24/7 for 10 weeks, and she said, ” honey, what do you feel like you’re not getting done?”  and I said quietly, “like washing my hair,” and at that moment the baby fell asleep and I bounded upstairs for a shower and straightened up my room, put sheets in the laundry, and prepared for a stroller walk. Man, sometimes all you need is 15 minutes to feel like a new person.

So–biggest tantrum ever, no nap, small showering victory, and we’re still moving forward incrementally on the bottle. Let’s be glad for progress–yesterday, he took 1/4 ounce, today he took 1/2 an ounce. He’s willing to give it a shot but not really sucking on the nipple, kind of gumming it and pushing it in and out of his mouth. I probably should have started this process weeks before I did but it felt overwhelming. Then he starts arching his back (a new move–he can practically make a bridge when on the floor, j/k but not really) and we do that a few more times. It stresses me out though because I feel like I will never be away from him for more than 1.5 hours without putting someone through the torture of this afternoon (on top of the stress of actually leaving him for any length of time), and I wish there were a third option. But let’s focus on the progress–progress! We’ll keep trying again each day and he’s a bright young man and he’ll get it figured out. I have a few months still before I go back to work (so grateful, truly a dream come true).

And then there are recent days that flow so well that it’s truly easy–and seriously guys, that’s been most days. We wake up and he gives me a series of good morning smiles. I feed him, wipe the green stuff out of his eyes with a warm washcloth, change his diaper, put on his clothes. He stares up at the ceiling fan lovingly. Sometimes my mom does the diaper and clothes. Then he’ll play on the activity mat and then go down easily for a nap. I have to be well-rested and have clarity on what’s top priority in order to use those nap windows efficiently. And somehow the past few days I’ve not felt well-rested. And I think the young sir has had some tummyaches (a sizable spit-up preceded his outburst today).

So, that’s me today. My back hurts from standing here with my 16+ pounder on my front and my feet hurt because we already did 3 miles and someone doesn’t want me to sit down. The iced coffee was just delivered by my dad (thanks, T!!!), and the sun is shining, and my baby is the most precious, beautiful boy in the world. And I am grateful to be a mom and see what this is all about.

Three days ago, I turned 41, and Baby E’s gift to me was: he laughed. Like, we made each other laugh back and forth a bunch of times. It made my heart grow ten sizes.

Lots of love to you!

PS: Sad addendum is that today we lost our dear friend H, at 86 years old. We got together with him many times in SF over the years and played many Scrabble games (he was a master of the two-letter word and kicked our butts most of the time). He followed my story, not through my blog but through his niece A on the east coast who reads the blog.  If it was a girl, he wanted me to name her “Perseverance.” He came over just last month to meet Baby E and hold him and I’m so glad I have photos of that day, so glad that day happened, and that we got to know and love H in the last years of his long and full life. We will miss him so much. xx

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gratitude, parenthood, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

9 weeks

Goodness it’s hard to find time to write–even surrounded by so much help, when the baby is sleeping I need to eat, shower, sleep, maybe run or jump in the lake. Just now at 10:40pm, I brought the half-asleep baby into our bedroom, turned on a dim light, and put him down. As he did his sleep-kicks and turned his head from side to side winding back down, I laid here with my hand on his belly, shushing him back to sleep. I noticed how this is my only free time and yet I am always too tired and yet- if not now, when? Then realized my iPad is downstairs and the door is creaky enough to wake the baby. And then I thought- I’m going to write this post on my iPhone. Screw it.

So here I am, hopefully not giving myself carpal tunnel as I tap this out on the tiny keyboard. Gold star for effort!

I wanted to write about my body. After weeks of belly shots, I gave birth to my ten pound baby and came home from the hospital still looking quite pregnant. Maybe seven months pregnant. Once the baby is out, what IS all that belly stuff that remains?? I don’t know, but it felt jiggly and jello-y and so not my body. pregnant or not pregnant. A pot of jello that you really just want to ignore and never touch in purpose. (We toyed with the idea of doing reverse belly shots but I wasn’t quite as thrilled about divulging my pot.)

Mercifully, the belly started melting away pretty quickly. Along with losing the pounds, I started losing hair: after months of luscious and thick locks, my body was going back to status quo. My skin turned dry. All those extra nutrients that supported the baby draining away! Too bad we can’t hang on to that forever.

The healing of what I like to call my “undercarriage” was fine–nothing much to report, which is newsworthy in and of itself since, as I mentioned, I pushed out a 10 pound baby. I was tempted to look with a mirror but never did, but both midwives have confirmed that the tears have healed nicely.

I started walking and doing a little yoga. Then, last week, I strapped on my new running shoes and started running again after a year’s hiatus:

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I’d been jealously watching runners for months! The danger for me is overdoing it, which I did two days ago by running 3 miles at close to my regular pace, breezing through the summer morning and then only stopping to take off my shoes before plunging into the lake. I’ve been extra tired since then. Little by little, my fitness will return.

My little pot of jello has plateaued at around 5-6 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, and because I have a decent diastisis I am doing “How to Lose your Mummy Tummy” exercises to bring my abs back together. And babe is giving me plenty of upper body exercise as I lift, carry, and rock his 15+ pound body day in and day out.

But enough about me! This guy is growing and developing fast and doing cool new stuff all the time. He is now somewhat mobile while on his back in that he can launch the bottom half of his body to one side over and over until he has turned himself up to 120 degrees. So, for example, if I fall asleep beside him parallel, I can wake up later and find his head in the same place but his feet pointing to the upper corner of the bed. As a result, I’ve doubled down on pillows stuffed between the bed and walk and also installed a side rail.

He also kicks me now to wake me up. No crying or grumbling, he just turns his body perpendicular to mine and kicks kicks kicks. OK, OK I get it!!

He also is hugely enamored of ceiling fans–cooing and smiling at them like long lost old friends. Someone told me that new babies can still see angels and I think they must be hanging out up there, telling him jokes.

While nursing, I love watching him working his hands. They are gesticulating like he’s giving a lecture in an auditorium. Or flagging down a waitress. Or pumping his fist at a soccer game. One night recently, he went 6 hours between feedings, and when he woke up and I was about to give him the boob, his little limbs we’re fluttering with total excitement–and my heart blew up for this adorable tiny human.

He’s starting to hold his head up with confidence and minimal bobbles. And I’m just starting to notice that he sometimes wants Mommy–not necessarily milk, and not necessarily just to be held, but to be held by me. That feels so good.

Still working on the bottle–we have graduated from instant fury to interesting toy (and I’m the one giving it to him, which breaks all the rules) but we have yet to get more than half an ounce into his little bod. Still, I’m confident that if his life depended on it, he could figure it out.

I’ve almost finished up this post, sitting in an un-ergonomic cross-legged hunched-over position in this dim light beside the baby spread eagle in the center of the bed with his angelic sleeping face. And I realize I’m hungry again (there is no hunger like breastfeeding), and so I’m going to have to open the creaky door after all.

Good night!

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anxiety, family, gratitude, outdoors, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

8 weeks

OMG I am having the hardest time getting time to write! It’s been more than two weeks and the topics are piling up. When I get a little free time I usually want to nap or take a shower. Or get outside. See how I hit the trifecta this morning? Baby sleeping, I’ve already showered, I’m well rested, and it’s pouring rain!

Ever since my last post I’ve been meaning to write about our placenta-burying ceremony–so San Francisco, right? This came about thanks to multiple factors. I had written in my birth plan that I wanted to take my placenta home from the hospital. Maybe to have encapsulated (i.e. dried and put into capsules to take as pills) and maybe to consume in smoothies, but I didn’t have a precise plan and hadn’t researched it at all. As a result, when we got home from the hospital I kind of forgot about it in the fridge (not the freezer, oops) until Day 5, which seemed a bit late for any kind of consumption. My doula, A, agreed, and she suggested that we bury it.

Since M had given birth the same day as me just five hours later, A suggested that we have a joint placenta-burying ceremony in her Secret Garden, a beautiful garden space in the Mission to which she has access. We both loved the idea as a way to thank the placentas, return their nutrients to the earth, and to commemorate the end of the first 40 days–the sacred beginning. So, on a hot and sunny SF day 40 days after the day our babies were born, we met up at the Secret Garden with our placentas in tupperware buckets (mine, which caused the hemorrhage, was as big as a cherry pie–no exaggeration). A was at a birth, so she sent her dear husband and kids with a well-researched kiwi plant and detailed instructions. M and her husband P brought a pitcher of icy lemonade. The kiwi was to be buried next to a trellis where it will climb and climb into the future!

We said a few words and dumped our placentas together into a hole in the earth, covered them up with dirt, and put the plant on top. A lovely way to give our children “roots”  in San Francisco forever and a way to mark the intertwined beginnings of babies E and E. Grateful for our connection to these two families! (After polling a couple of key blog readers who happen to be in the room with me, I decided not to include a photo of my placenta, even though I am grateful to it for nourishing baby E in the womb and think it looks awesome! Proud of my pie-sized placenta!)

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About a week after that, I flew to Michigan. Flying with a baby is a rite of passage for any new parent–especially a single mom who is likely doing it on her own. I spent that week planning and plotting and accumulating everything we would need in a flurry of Ziploc bags. Miraculously, my sister in Chicago brought a bunch of key items that she had from her babies (breast pump, my brest friend, diaper changing pad, etc.) so I didn’t have to ship anything. I got everything to fit in one big suitcase (44 pounds), the Snap N Go stroller in my other hand, a carry-on backpack on my back and the baby in an Ergo on my front. I set the alarm for 3:15am for our 6:30am flight. I was admittedly nervous. I just kept picturing myself covered in sweat and milk and clutching a screaming baby.

E woke me at 2:45am to eat, so that was my official earliest wakeup time ever. I got myself ready, got him ready, got us and everything into the car and headed down the highway. E just took my word for it that it was time to start the day and was perfectly happy except for when his hat fell over his eyes, easily fixed from the driver’s seat by reaching back. We parked by the airport, felt like badasses as we rolled backpack and stroller to the airtrain and checked into the terminal and went through security. It was all super smooth–didn’t have to take off my shoes or the baby carrier. And when we got to the gate, the agent had the same name as my mom, so I chatted gaily with her as I attempted to be her BFF and get a good seat. She complied by giving us an ENTIRE ROW at the very back of the plane. Relief!!! I laid him down on a blanket beside me, and he happily kicked his legs and napped and had diaper changes right there. Only a couple of times did he get revved up into crying mode and I was able to walk up and down the aisle and rock him to sleep pretty effectively. Plus you forget that the white noise of the plane drowns out a lot.

The people who helped me most on the planes happened to be men (probably because by chance it was men, on both flights, who were sitting nearest to us). On the first leg, a guy across the aisle said to let him know if I needed any help, that he liked babies and that his baby was now the morose teenager sitting beside him engrossed in a video game. He smiled and said he preferred them smaller. I took him up on it when I couldn’t wait any longer to use the bathroom and handed E over. The second I shut the bathroom door, I heard E wailing and peed as fast as possible.

On the second flight, E was already wailing and hungry when we got on board (my moment to be covered in sweat and milk and clutching a screaming baby). For this flight, they gave us the more-leg-room seats by a window, with two guys in the inside seats. I’m sure they were full of dread when they saw us arrive. I tried everything possible to balance E in a way that I could get my hands free to put on my seatbelt but no dice. I asked the guy next to me to buckle it for me and he obliged! E settled right down once eating, and by the end that guy said, “Does he always fly this well?” Success!!!!

And now we’ve been up north for a week! I would have thought it would be easier to get time to write with all the help but we’ve had pretty nonstop activity. My sister D and her girls were here when we arrived. Then two dear friends and their families came through on different days. Then J decided to fly in from NYC (with literally one day notice) and is here now! Amazing how many friends have come through when we’re in such a remote place. Baby E draws many fans from all over!

We’ve also taken E on his first restaurant outing (he was an angel) and also to a Joshua Bell concert at Interlochen (he stayed outside with Chacha and J until I was summoned 45 minutes in and sent my dad in my place). These outings push me outside my comfort zone. Taking such a little baby into these loud and bouncy and completely new situations full of strangers can be stressful. But it’s good for us–with some balance. Now we’re enjoying a little down time, thanks to the rainy day.

J just said, “Are you writing?” from where he’s working on his laptop around the corner. He knows I’ve been trying to get to this for days!

It’s wonderful to be surrounded by people who love E and are delighted by his every teeny step of development (not to mention all the help!!). He is smiling a lot now and my mom got him to laugh! He’s eating less in the night. He loves to look up at the trees and feel the beach air. Once in a while, he’ll suddenly look at you with big, intense eyes and start telling you something critically important through pursed little lips, “Brlll.”

He’s almost always easily placated, so when he’s not, I get rattled. We came home early from a dinner party with our dear downstairs neighbors after everyone tried their magic with him and he was just over the edge. I really can’t stand listening to him cry! It’s awful! We came home and he calmed down right away. A side-lying nursing sesh and he was out. Aw, baby. Wish we could get a memo on what you need when you cry. Next up: getting him to take a bottle. We’ve made some progress on that but he’s so far pretty (understandably) offended by the idea of a bottle vs. the boob.

He’s a beautiful boy and growing fast–probably around 15 pounds now and I need to graduate the sweater he wore yesterday which looked more like a midriff top with 3/4 length sleeves.

J caught this photo of the little love the other day. Lots of love to you!

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