Sunday, December 12, 2010

Losing my marbles...and my keys

I have always had a remarkable memory. Really. I could memorize whole plays in a single day. I once memorized two Shakespeare plays in one and a half hours (the length of my high school chemistry class). My memory is so good I actually put it down as a "special skill" on my acting resume.

Then I had a kid and everything that didn't have to do with her flew out of my ears. I forget if I have brushed my teeth. I can't remember if I drank that glass of water or left it upstairs. I ask my husband how his day was at least three times before I realize I've asked him. Worst of all - I lose my keys.

Oh I try to put them in the same place each time. When I get home they live in the same pocket of the diaper bag. When I got for a trip I always put them in my pants pocket when I lock up. And yet they are never there when it's time to open the door or start the car. They're in the bathroom. Or sitting on the stove. They hide under the baby blanket. Or they move into my shoe.

The other day I opened the car door with my keys. I buckled my girl into her carseat and then answered a quick phone call from my husband while I held my keys in my hand. I hung up, sat in the drivers seat and there were no keys. In the space of possibly two minutes my keys had disappeared. I got out of my car and looked in the back seat, in the carseat, in my purse, on top of the car, in the trunk. I even checked the ignition. No keys. I had them. I had to have. I opened the car with them.

Fifteen minutes of searching produced no results. I was simply too tired to keep searching and my brain was too full for me to even imagine where I put those keys. I could not get my mind to organize enough to do this simple task. I rested my head in my daughters lap and shrugged. We simply weren't going to be able to go anywhere. She shrugged too and grabbed my nose.

We stayed that way for twenty minutes. No useful memory flooded back. I couldn't retrace my steps. All I could think about was how soft my daughters hands were. As she grabbed my hair and bopped my face I could remember the day she first started using her hands, but I could not remember where I put my keys. I could remember three months ago when I brought her home in car for the first time. But not where I left my keys today. I could remember to the minute when she had last ate. But I didn't know where my keys, which had been in my hand less than an hour ago, were. I was losing my mind. And my keys. And now I was stuck in my car in the parking lot of a mall. I would have called my husband for help but I realized then that I didn't remember where I put my phone.

I used to have a really, really good memory.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Emily is a great name but for some reason she's collected a few new names along the way:

Emi-lily (My favorite)
Green Bean
Potato (Are you seeing the food trend?)
Bunny rabbit
Baby bird

My nickname, Katydid, eventually changed my name for life. My Dad still calls me Scooter. I wonder which one will stick to my little baby bird.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Do I know you?

I decided before I ever got pregnant that I did not want to know the gender before birth. So we spent nine long months waiting to find out if we had a daughter or a son. We also spent nine long months fending off questions about what we thought we were having and what other people thought we were having.

Then of course there was that foggy, hazy moment when I heard a voice say "A girl" and felt a soft, small cheek pressed against mine. Finally, we knew.

But the interesting thing is after three months I feel like I've both known my daughter my whole life and have absolutely no idea who she is. We waited nine months to know the gender. Now we wait to know what color eyes she will have. What color hair. Curly or straight. Where on earth did that red color come from? We wait to find out if she'll be loud or quiet. Will she be happy or serious or determined. Will she be the kind of person that accepts the world or insists things bend to her?

Is she going to like the color pink as much as I do?

And of course there are the unhappy wonderings of whether she has inherited my demons or will she create her own? What will she struggle with? What will be easy for her? What questions will she ask that I won't be able to answer? And will she forgive me for not knowing? For making my own mistakes as a mother?

The other day a friend looked at her and asked who she looked like. I couldn't say. Sometimes she's the spitting image of her Dad. Sometimes it's like I'm looking in the mirror. But often it's like looking at someone who is terribly familiar - but who I've never seen before.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dress Up

When I was a little girl I played with dolls. A lot. Dolls were my thing. I had three dollhouses and numerous types of dolls. Eventually I had to start making my own porcelain dolls just to feed the habit. I liked dolls.

Now as a mother I can't quite get over the fact that I treat Emily much like my favorite doll. She goes with me where ever I go. I carry her from room to room as I do other things. She fits right in the crook of my arm when it's time for bed. And of course I dress her up. For Halloween she had three different costumes. During normal days she is still subjected to pretty little dresses. Now that the holidays are here and I'm surrounded by frilly, shiny, party dresses. I feel the need to dress her up like a princess all the time. There is no denying she's a beautiful girl, I just feel she should dress pretty too.

Although I have to wonder if I am creating a girly-girl like me or if later in life Emily will wear nothing but baggy skater clothes and baseball caps just to spite me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Year of the Military Family

I've noticed that most of my blog (and most of my IRL conversations) are about either my daughter or my breasts. These seem to be the two most pressing issues in my life right now. Ironically, in my daughters life the two most pressing issues are also her and my breasts.

It feels an awful lot like I haven't had a thought outside of my own home in a long time. The other day I told my husband I was going to cancel the subscription to the Sunday NYT because honestly I didn't need to bother with all that national news. Who cares.

Except I do care. One thing I really care about is the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" issue. Just this past week Marine commandant General James Amos said it was the wrong time to repeal this policy. His reason: unit cohesion and combat effectiveness would be diminished because "There is nothing more intimate than young men and young women — and when you talk of infantry, we’re talking our young men — laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear, and loss of brothers."

Somewhere in that quote there seems to be the idea that a gay marine lying next to his battle buddy would somehow put the moves on. That in the midst of the stress, fear, and exhaustion of battle sex would be the only thing going on in a homosexual marines mind. Or a heterosexual marines mind. Seriously?

The fact is there are already gay soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. They don't have sex in the field, or on the ship, or at work. They do the same thing heterosexual military members do. The only thing they don't do that heterosexual military members do is go home at the end of a long day and enjoy the company of their loved ones.

Because they can't have loved ones.

When it comes to morale, unit cohesion, and combat effectiveness family plays a big part. Knowing that there is someone out there who loves you, and who you love, plays a big part in being able to face the worst of the world. And that is what a lot of our military personnel have to do. Coming home to a wife or husband is a good thing. Having your significant other supporting you is a good thing. Being able to have a family while still serving your country is a good thing. Even the military admits this. 2010 is the year of the military family after all.

Unless you're gay. Don't Ask, Don't Tell means gay service members can't have a significant other. They can't fall in love with someone. They can't date. They can't raise a family with a partner. They don't have that one person to love and support them through thick and thin. When they move to a far away land they can't take their families with them. They don't get families. They have to do the same job, with the same stress, alone. Their support structure outside of the military is severely crippled. And since they have to worry about someone "finding them out" their support structure inside the military is limited too.

Honestly, it isn't about sex. It's about families. If this is really the year of the military family then Don't Ask, Don't Tell needs to go.

Friday, October 29, 2010


The other day I woke up with what felt like a golf ball stuffed in my mouth. I was sore and bruised. I looked over to one side and saw my daughter sleeping soundly in the crook of my arm. I was certain that Emily had wonked her head onto my jaw sometime the night before and I was just too tired to notice.

Then the day wore on and I started to drool. Opening my mouth wide enough to eat yogurt hurt. Everything was metallic. My throat hurt. My stomach started to hurt. I was tired and feeling awful. It was awful. That's when I realized my wisdom tooth was pushing up through my gums and trying to make itself known.

Two days later I noticed my daughter chewing on her hands more than normal. Not just sucking, not just signaling for lunch, but chewing. Her shirts were soaked with drool. My shirts were soaked with drool. She was generally more fussy, her tummy aches were worse, and she was just miserable without recourse.

She was teething.

I was teething.

Not that I needed any help, but nature found a way to remind me how miserable and painful it is to get new teeth. I can totally sympathize with my girl when she whimpers. I sorta envy her teething rings. When she's feeling really bad and just needs to snuggle up close and cry I am right there with her. I get it. Teething sucks. I remember what I felt like as a kid. I know what it feels like now. If I needed any help feeling empathy with my growing girl I don't now.

Nature is amazing - and kind of a big meanie head.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nap! Surprise!

Starting around 3am this morning Emily would not allow herself to be put down. She needed to be held at all times. If she fell asleep it was only for a few minutes before she started to fuss again - whether or not she was in my arms.

So we swept, vacuumed, and cooked together. I had one hand free, the other was being clenched tight by two little fists.

Ironically, when she nursed I was allowed two hands (normally unheard of) and I took the opportunity to try to finish knitting her a toy.

Finally, after 14 hours of almost non-stop cuddling (I did have to change her diaper a few times) I sat down at the computer and browsed as I bounced. She fussed. And fussed. And fussed. Then all of a sudden silence. She was slumped over my arm - fussed to sleep.


In the time it took me to type this one handed she has woken up and is getting ready for round two.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Other Kid

I've lived with a few men (not all of whom I had an obligation to like) and they have some pretty strange habits and a lot of them are pretty gross. Over the years I've learned to pick my battles about changing them...gym socks on the kitchen table (gentle nudge), re-wearing dirty jeans (ignore), drinking straight from the jug (click of the tongue).

Recently, we had a bunch of house guests so my husband stopped drinking straight from the jug (because sharing germs with the Mother-in-law is pretty gross even to him). But now it's just the three of us so it's back to the old trick. But not when I'm looking. No clicks if I don't catch him.

So how do I know it's happening? The other day I was pouring milk from jug to cup when I noticed chocolate stains on the rim. It was a little like a little kid with chocolate stains on his mouth saying he didn't get into the cookies.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Everyone is a Mother

Today I got my first unsolicited mothering advice from a stranger.

D has been talking that, since Emily showed up, people who would normally never talk to him have started conversations all about the new baby. It's strange to him. I however went through about six months where strangers would not only strike up conversations but would give me tons of advice on being pregnant. Or worse, they'd tell me their pregnancy or birth horror stories.

However, for six weeks I got through with people just telling me how sweet she is, or how fast time flies. Until today when I realized she was getting a little too fussy to let me stand in the pharmacy line. I took her, still whining and about to cry, to the front of the store to finish buying what was in the basket. I was bouncing the baby, singing silly songs, and trying to pay when a man came up behind me and said "You need to feed her! She's too hungry."

Yes, because a mother who is willing to make a fool of herself doing the chicken dance in the middle of Longs is also the kind of mother who would starve her child.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Breast Advice

All my life I've been certain that my breasts would be perfect for breast feeding. My husband even joked that his attraction to me was an evolutionary response to the fact that my breasts were big enough to feed a good sized family. Which is why I have been so frustrated and surprised by how many problems I've run into. I was prepared for the pain, for awhile. I knew it'd hurt some. I didn't know I'd bleed so much. Or that every minute of the nursing would be painful. I wasn't prepared for the wounds and blisters.

And I wasn't prepared for the experts. It started from Day One. Every nurse in the hospital wanted to check my nursing style. And every nurse had a different opinion on how I was doing it wrong. The last day I finally saw a lactation consultant and she declared "Perfect Latch! Stick it in a textbook!" Finally. I thought I was home free.

But then came the milk blister, and the crack, and the wound, some blood, an infection, more and more pain. I looked for help in the books, on the internet. I contacted the La Leche League - they copy and pasted the book. I contacted a LLL Leader - she told me my nipple was the wrong size for my daughters mouth. I contacted a Certified Consultant - she told me I had to have my breasts massaged Japanese style every week (for a hefty fee of course). I contacted another - she wanted to charge $200 to read the text book version of a latch over the phone. We started to call them the "Capital "E" Experts." But even so sisters, friends, other moms - they told me what the books said. They told me to pump. They told me to stop nursing. They told me it gets better in a few days, a few weeks, a few months. Some women told me it wasn't worth it.

In a moment of pain and exhaustion I declared that I hated breastfeeding - then latched Emily onto my cracked, open nipple for another hour long session. My husband sent me links to fix oversupply.

I spent every minute worrying if she was on right, if she should make the noise, if she was getting enough milk, if I was using the right side, or squeezing enough, too much. I wondered if I was too big or too little, or made too much milk. I wondered if I really was the wrong size and shape for my daughter.

Finally, I met with the last lactation consultant in stroke of luck. She looked at us and said "She's fine. Latch is fine. Don't listen to them anymore."

Breast - I mean Best - Advice Ever!

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Emily has been making all sorts of new noises lately. She coos and whimpers and sometimes barks in her sleep. But one thing that's been the same from day one has been the hungry cry.

It's a bit of a two parter. First she starts with a typical wah-wah. A few wah's and it's clear what she wants.

However, if she's super hungry the wah's link together and her mouth won't close long enough to wah properly. Then she sounds like a bad evil laugh. In fact it sounds exactly like The Count from Sesame Street. Wah-ah-ah-ah-aaaaah. She even gets the warble right. I keep expecting a crash of random lightening after each cry.

Instead I get hungry baby. Ah-ah-ah-aaaaah.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Yellow Wall

When we first moved into our house we knew we were going to paint. Choosing colors was horrifically painful, but we finally settled on a bright yellow/gold for our downstairs living room. A few people have mentioned that the walls are a little too bright.

For the last few days I've been looking at those yellow walls as my own personal yellow wallpaper. The trapping walls of a wife stuck in just a few rooms, ignored by a husband, tortured by her own thoughts. Only I don't have wallpaper and I do have a screaming baby in pain.

But last night I spent three hours with Emily staring at those walls while she tried to get comfortable enough to sleep. We started at 2am and she didn't sleep till 5am. Those few hours of sleep deprivation on top of sleep deprivation on top of sleep deprivation made my yellow walls seems lovely. Swaying back a forth till neither of us could see straight those yellow walls were a little bit of happy.

More happy because my little girl was looking at them with her much brighter blue eyes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Look what I made!

Emily has been going through a phase where she eats every 30 minutes (for 30+ minutes). In between eating she either naps for 10 minutes (enough to tease Mom into thinking she'll get some sleep) or she fusses. She fusses about having hiccups, burps, gas, poop, dirty diapers, clean diapers, or just cause she's hungry...even though she just finished eating.

This morning was pretty rough. After a few nights of very little sleep and a lot of fussing we spent four morning hours of eating, rocking, eating, and rocking some more. Finally she was sated and I could carry her back into the bedroom and lay her on the bed next to my sleeping husband and my oh-so-cold (figuratively) side of the bed. I should have curled up immediately to catch some extra sleep, but I took a moment to admire what I had achieved through hours and hours of work:
A sleeping baby!

(And yes she woke up ten minutes after that to eat again.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Kind of Baby

The other day Emily started to snuffle as the sun rose. It wasn't an urgent snuffling, but it was pretty clear she wanted Mom to wake up. Which of course I did.

Instead of her big blue eyes staring at me, which is often what I get to see when she wakes me up (sometimes accompanied with a screwed up face ready to get red and angry) I saw a pile of white blanket. One corner was folded over nicely and when I lifted it I saw a grinning little girl peeking from under it. Emily had grabbed her blanket, covered her face with it and wanted Mom to see her new trick.

She's done this a few times. Usually during diaper changes. However, this time I wasn't awake to see her do it, so she made sure I knew how incredibly cute and silly she is. And how much like Mom, who also likes to cover her face with soft things (I've been known to sleep with a pillow over my face), she is.

There are other similarities in our blanket and sleeping styles. Emily also likes to cover her eyes with her forearm, a trick I've perfected in most napping positions. She likes to curl to the side, both arms pressed against her far cheek. Head propping on laced fingers is also a favorite of hers and mine. It is in fact one of the things that D. first noticed about me and one of the things I first noticed about Emily.

What kind of baby laces her long, thin, elegant, fingers together on her first day? My kind of baby.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Starting at week 7 of my pregnancy people started to ask if I could feel the baby moving. I understand why this is such a prevalent question. My Dad, for instance, was the first person to ask if I could feel it kicking. Because he likes babies and I'm pretty sure he likes me, he wanted to be a part of my first pregnancy (and his third grandchild). Babies and families are happy experiences (usually) so it is no surprise everyone wants in on the action. A baby kick is one of those things people who aren't carrying a baby can feel and touch and experience. So my Dad asking if the worm that was currently attached to an egg was moving around yes was really my Dad wondering if he could start connecting with his grandchild yet.

Nope. Not yet.

Then of course once you start getting close to the time when the baby actually has legs to kick with the books get really excited too. I can't blame the authors of these guides. They spend chapters upon chapters explaining and detailing all the really yucky stuff a pregnant woman has in store for her so finding a bright spot to focus on is probably a relief for the writer...and the mother.

Unless you're me. Around 18 weeks I'd had no movement, no quickening, no sense that anything was wiggling inside. At 19 weeks I was trying to be so aware of my belly that I didn't even notice when my legs were going numb. For weeks I'd talk to my belly, sing to it, pat it, rub it, do all those crazy "bonding positions" that make you feel like a very fat pretzel. And nothing. I felt nothing. I fretted that I was too fat to feel it, had gained too much weight, was perhaps not aware enough to notice, was a horrible mother-to-be because I wasn't paying enough attention to my child. I worried that maybe the pregnancy was really in my mind. Maybe there was nothing there. I honestly wondered if I had somehow lost or misplaced the baby and didn't notice. Like making myself check that I have my keys with me every 5 minutes, I felt like I needed to check if the baby was still there. Maybe I left it in the cab...on the subway...misplaced it in the laundry...why wasn't the baby moving!

Well I finally felt it. And it was as amazing and wonderful as everybody says it was. It was also a huge relief that whatever was growing in me was really alive and...well...kicking.

A lot.



The books and the articles and my friends all remind me that the baby will move one day, then nothing the next, then some more later when you have a piece of candy. The idea is to just go with it and be happy. Unless, again, you're me. Pretty soon the bumping and jumping and moving around started to worry me. Now that I knew there was really something in there I wondered if it liked being in there. Was I giving my child the best accomodations? In a both totally awesome and totally frightening moment one kick was so strong it moved my laptop from against my belly to my thighs. I couldn't help but wonder if this was some protest from mini-me against the computer, or the way I held it, or the way I chose to sit.

So the past few days everytime I feel those kicks and somersaults (and there does seem to be a great deal of gymnastics going on) I worry that the baby is uncomfortable. That my belly is just too small, or too large, or too round, or not round enough. Perhaps the pants don't work. Maybe the dress is too loose. Maybe I should sit up, or lie down. Right side? Left? On my head? I wiggle almost as much as the little one does and by the end of it I'm terribly uncomfortable (and tired) and the baby is still kicking.

If some little jabs can send me into a tizzy now exactly how am I gonna handle it when this kid decided they really, really want to play soccer?