Friday, July 31, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A few nights ago, Finn and I were asleep. Actually asleep. Like, so asleep, that we did not wake up for the screaming OR the gunshots.

Pete had to tell us about it in the morning.

Well, he told me.

Finn's not always so good at The Listening.

Turns out, a 14-year-old kid was shot at the corner store half a block from our house. He was attempting to break in with a hammer. Someone saw him and called the cops. When they showed up, the kid threw the hammer at one of the cops, hitting him in the stomach. The cop shot him in the abdomen. The kid ran away. They caught him. He's going to be OK.

My first reaction was "Oh man, I wonder if the family was having money trouble, and the kid was trying to 'help.'"


That afternoon, Finn and I walked past the store on our way to the library, and talked to the reporter who was there. He helped me get Finn's baseball cap on, as Finn was in the backpack, and it's hard to do by myself. (Finn took the hat off again immediately.) The reporter said that they had interviewed the mother, who is 7 months pregnant, and she confirmed my suspicions.

Everyone who works in the store is pleasant. It sucks, though, that this kid went from being a nice boy to a felon.

We live in a good neighborhood, so I don't feel unsafe at all. The only problem we ever really have in our area is dumb, white, Methodist college students making too much noise and peeing in our garden. I think that perhaps the cops may have over-reacted, but, hey, I was not there, and it's easy to say that when I was not the one in the stressful situation.

This would be a good story for one of those "How has the recession affected you?" radio call-in shows. Give people some perspective.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sleep. Yet Again.

I tried to put Finn into the crib when he was drowsy and not quite totally asleep, like the book says. He got on all fours, sat up, and stood up. He then proceeded to be cuter than I have ever seen him. He then proceeded to get upset. I sat on the floor by the crib, like the book says, making shhhhhh sounds and saying "Time for night night," and he got more and more upset. By the time he was screaming, I picked him up (which I am not supposed to do), and handed him over to Pete (which I am also not supposed to do, it's supposed to be consistently one parent, if possible), and Finn just kept screaming.

I had some whiskey.

He finally went to sleep out of sheer screaming exhaustion, I can only imagine, and he slept until 1:11. Then he thrashed and whined more than he has recently.

I am not cut out for this, and I think that Pete may have to be in charge of bed time rituals.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sleep. Again.

I could not sleep last night because of a sleep book.

Friends of ours recommended another book that is supposed to help you help your baby sleep. I started reading it yesterday, and by the time I went to bed at 10:20, I was mulling it over, and I was wide awake.

This is the third sleep book I have consulted, and I am still marveling at the concept of baby sleep books, as most parents of a non sleeping baby who are therefore not sleeping themselves are too tired to read entire books on sleep and definitely too tired to digest a plan and then implement it. These books should be pamphlets.

That say "Deal with it."

All the books I have read tell you they can fix it. They sound like magic.

And I don't buy it.

I have already decided that there will be no crying it out, so that rules out a number of books, which actually seem like they could be pretty short:

Put baby in crib.
Leave room.
Close door.
Commence drinking.

The last book I read was too involved for me in my sleep deprived state, even though it specifically dealt with co-sleeping and had all sorts of ideas. There was no way I was capable of keeping a ten-day sleep journal and whatever else the plan asked for. I can't remember it now, and I could not remember it then.

This book seems to be trying to walk the line down the middle between the warring cry-it-outers (CIO) and attachment (AP) camps. But I get the feeling that she thinks the AP's are too touchy-feely, and I think the techniques fall more onto the CIO side of the line. Again, it's a three week process. And while I know that if it works, those three weeks would be worth it, it's hard to imagine being able to devote three weeks to the kind of consistency that is required of following a "program."

It's called "sleep coaching" or "sleep training," and, again, I don't know if I buy some of her premises. They seem to be tailored to make parents feel better about sometimes letting the child cry, though you let the child cry while you are sitting right there in front of it, watching it wail. She does the thing that all these books do, which is put words into the baby's head, telling us what the baby is thinking. In the CIO case, I gather it's "Ah, no one is coming for me, I guess this is a good time to develop my own methods for getting to sleep." For the AP's, it's "No one is coming for me; the world is hard and cold, and I am all alone." This book is saying "Mom and Dad are here for me, and I can do this myself because I have the support I need, when I need it."

I don't buy it.

It seems to me that if Finn is going to be thinking anything if I am sitting there watching him cry and reach for me, it's more likely to be "What the fuckwhatthefuckwhatthefuck? You are RIGHT THERE! What the FUCK?!"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We're doing pretty well

Here, look at some pictures.

That's a baby toothbrush. Genius.

Cupboard made for me by my grandfather.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

1:14 a.m. Ice Cream at least makes things seem better.
He's still asleep at the moment. Now it's time to try the same for me.
On Sex and the City, Miranda is having trouble with a screaming baby who won't stop screaming and let her sleep. She's frustrated with her friends, frustrated with her life, frustrated in general.

Have I mentioned that new mothers always think that no one told us how hard this is?

Well, no one told me how hard this is, except for when they did, and I did not believe them. We all think we are different or better or that our babies will be different or better or that our relationship is different or better. So it won't be that hard for us.

It is this hard; it's that hard. It's hard, and now the phrase "It's so hard" has lost all its fun.

12:31 a.m. He's been asleep for 13 minutes this time.
12:18 a.m. Tylenol, diaper, comfort, crib.

Fire trucks, paramedics, and cops came to a house down the street, and we saw and smelled smoke.

So it could be worse.
12:06 p.m. aaaaaaand, more crying.
It might be time for Tylenol.
12:00 a.m. Asleep again?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

11:54 p.m. Was that baby noise?

Yes. Definitely baby noise.
How can he not be tired?!
11:06 p.m., and he's finally in the crib.

11:34 p.m. He's still asleep, and I have only checked on him twice. I can't get over the need to see his little chest rising and falling, to know he's still alive, even though he's so quiet. He's almost 14 months and beyond the point where we need to worry about that, but I can't help it.

Pete's at a gig, and I know I should go to bed, because the baby will most likely wake up soon, but I need some time to myself.

I have had two nights of at least five hours of sleep. Ok, they were separated into 2.5 hour chunks each night, but it's better than what I have been experiencing. Pete has taken over primary night-time duty to get me some rest. I did some light reading and discovered one commentary on night waking that proposed that babies going through developmental changes will start to wake up at night to "practice" what they have been learning.

So I watched him.

When Pete brings him to me, Finn latches on, chills out immediately, nurses for about ten minutes, unlatches, and thrashes around. Asleep. He gets up on all fours; he flips over; he scoots around; he sits up; he throws himself down and then stays still. It is exactly the sort of thing he is doing during the day since he figured out crawling and moving his little baby body around.


We bought a new book about getting babies to sleep. It worked for a friend. My hopes are not high, especially when it comes to getting through a book that is not related to Revolutionary American History, but we'll see how it goes. It means I have to stay out of "Founding Brothers" and "Alexander Hamilton" once I am finished with "His Excellency."

I don't know if I can do it...

11:50 p.m. Still asleep. Still breathing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Time Travel

Pete's Facebook status:

"I dearly love our baby boy - but sometimes I wish it was still the summer of '04...

And though I was thinking something very similar at 4:00 in the morning yesterday, it still makes me irretrievably sad to see Pete feeling this way.

Babies change everything. It is the height of idiocy to have a baby to save your relationship. Baby comes in, and the relationship as you knew it is over. It's stressful, exhausting, and emotional. Pete has been in a wasteland of tired, resentful wife for a long time now, and when I say "wasteland," I mean it. Get ready for an Overshare, but it's been since Christmas since we had any grown up fun, and the real kicker is that I really don't care, aside from how Pete feels. I do feel bad that he's not getting any, but I have absolutely no place in my life or body for such activity right now. I have enough physical demands being put on me by our little man to have to worry about the physical demands of his father.

Not that Pete is being demanding. He's not, but it's there; it's lingering under the surface of our interactions. I can barely stand to be hugged for too long, if at all, or be touched by anyone, let alone work up the enthusiasm for physical intimacy. Even cuddling feels like work, not a relaxing time to reconnect with my partner.

Basically, everything feels like work.

Pete and I are still partners; we're partners in keeping the house and family from falling apart. Any extra stress monkeys that come along, like other people's problems, insensitivity, egos, and issues are infuriating. I simply don't have time for someone else's obtuseness.

Pete choosing the Summer of 2004 is telling. That was our first summer together, when it was fun, new, and exciting. We were also five years younger, and it was easier to party and function the next day. I had a housefull of friends on many weekends, and we went out the rest of the time.

I should be happy that Pete did not chose a time before he met me.

Wait... the summer of 2004 was our first summer, wasn't it?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dear Future Me,

So you think you want another baby because you keep seeing babies and they are adorable and lovely, and you miss their tiny cuteness. You look at your son, all toddling and talking, and you wish he was still nursing and needed only you, and you could sit there and gaze at his lovely little eyes, and he didn't talk back, and he was all yours?

These last posts are for you, Future Me, so you remember reality. That tiny ball of cuteness kept you up for over a year, thrashing and flailing. That adorable fluff ball made you incapable of keeping the house clean or making extra money or doing anything creative. That nursing little lovely-eyed boy pinched and bit and slapped you while you held him. He was never all yours because you never really wanted that anyway, plus people had to put their own wish fulfillment all over the experience.

You're into your forties now, Future Me, and you have nothing to prove in the reproductive arena. You did it. Good job. Think how tired you will be if baby number two is as terrible a sleeper as baby number one was, and perhaps still is. You'll be that tired and still have to take care of baby number one.

And this post is for Present Me, so you remember to try to savor all the moments when you are not overcome with exhaustion and frustration because you will miss this sweet little baby and his toofy mouf and da-da-da's. And you will miss nursing and how he reached for you like his life depended upon it.

So pay attention.

And don't do it again.



Sunday, July 19, 2009


Pete forgot his keys last night. He had a gig not far away, and we have my dad's car, so his house keys were a separate set. I can totally understand that, as my house key is separate from my car keys right now because we need to leave one here with whoever is taking care of The Boy. Plus, I lose my keys all the time.

Thing is, I don't come home at 3:00 in the morning and have to scratch on the screen to the bedroom, waking up both mother and baby at a time when they were actually asleep.

Thing is, I don't come home at 3:00 in the morning when my gig was done at 11:15.

Thing is, I don't get out of the house alone at night much at all, and I would never ever come home so late. Because I can't. Because I am needed. I can't think something like "I wanted to stay and hear the other bands; it was fun."

Yesterday when Pete came home from working on his freelance stuff, and I had suffered through a particularly bad baby night, I was practically in tears, giving my whole "Moms are no fun" speech, and over dinner, Pete gave his heartfelt "If there's anything I can do" speech.

Here's what you can do. For starters, you can not stay out until 3:00 a.m.

(Sorry, Pete. I had to tell on you.)

(No comments from the peanut gallery, please.)


I did not make it to those yarn stores I mentioned and that mostcurious asked about. I wound up getting wrapped up in the personality tests that the retreat participants were taking. I didn't take one, but my colleagues want me to. They say it will be easier to work as a team if they know what letters I am. I find that weird. And I don't particularly want some letters to change how someone decides to treat me. Already, one of them thought I was an extrovert, which is certainly not how I see myself. Putting on my work persona is tiring, and it's probably one reason I am often in a bad mood when I come home--aside from The Tired. It's a lot of work to pretend to care how someone's weekend was and remember to ask about their pets or kids and even say hello and announce my presence. It's not that I don't care, it's just exhausting to do because it does not feel natural to me. Especially right now. If I could just slink in, work, and slink out without bothering anyone, I would probably be just fine.

I guess that someday, I'll take the test, but I would rather not tell people.

And by now, all you MBTI people know which type I probably am.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's no fun being the mom

Grandparents can swoop in for days to take care of the boy, and they have a great time. Even Pete gets to look forward to taking care of the boy. I am too tired to look at it as fun. I am too tired to enjoy it; too tired to be any fun for him. It gets to be fun when you have nothing else to do. It gets to be fun when you have slept more than two hours at a time. I think that The Tired has stripped me down to my basic personality: morose, scoffing, bitchy, impatient, and unable to think of another adjective.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Autumn in July

It's 64 degrees, and the house feels chilly. Pete is in the bedroom, humming "Amazing Grace" to the boy to settle him down. It wasn't my choice, and I don't know where it came from. Sue just went to bed, and I am ready myself once I get the word that it's safe to enter.

There's not much excitement about; there rarely is. The new co-op opened today, and it's nice, but I miss the old one. I managed to cook a real dinner, and then it burned while Finn was nursing. I went to a re-located craft store in Minneapolis and found almost all the Malabrigo in the world. And it was good. I started sorting though a month's worth of receipts from a colleague's trip to China; I have to submit his reimbursement. This is harder when the language is entirely unrecognizable. Beautiful, but complete nonsense to me.

I'm behind on the house, behind on the book, behind on the yard sale, behind at work. But I finished "Renegade" and "American Sphinx," and I am into "His Excellency" about George Washington. "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" was profoundly disappointing when compared to the book, and even fell flat in places when thought of only as a movie. I'm so tired that I feel like I am moving through warm water, but I am also used to it to some degree. I should floss, but I am just going to go to bed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Area: Where's the Yarn Store?

I am at a work retreat up in St. Joseph, MN.

This means: on the way home to St. Paul (there are a grillion St.'s in Minnesota), I can stop at two brand new (to me) yarn stores for no reason. That plus the new one I found in Minneapolis not far from my office, and I am a happy camper. I don't need yarn nor do I have the money to buy yarn, but I am going all the same.

Truth and Space

I just went through a salad bar behind a monk. A monk. Black robe to the floor, rope belt, and all. I am on a ecumenical college campus for a secular training, and I am thinking about self, truth, and space.

I started this blog as a space for me as I moved into what was uncharted territory. Pregnancy, birth, and child care are not new, of course, but they were and are new to me. I figured it would be a good place for me to tell my truth of what it's like to go through this. It could be my own little therapy experience, as actual therapy is anathema to me. Secondly, I thought that my truths might resonate with some other woman out there who is going through the same or similar things. Or perhaps, I could wade through all the dreck of an issue, come to a conclusion, and save someone else a lot of work. Finally, it could be a portal for family and friends to see into our lives because once there's a baby, everyone wants a part of you. A different part.

When I started writing, only a select few people knew about it because only a select few people knew about the blastocyst that became an embryo. I knew who was reading, and I knew that I did not have to worry about what I said. I could say pretty much anything. As more and more people knew, and finally, pretty much everyone knew, I started to feel constraints on my narrative. My audience was bending my arc of history, sometimes in a stifling way. Once that audience broadened, my public narrative narrowed and became, consequently, less interesting. At least to me.

Truth and space. This space has become less about truth and more about "what's the baby doing now." Blah. Blah blah blah. Babies are everywhere. They are not that interesting unless they are your own. Sometimes they are not even that interesting to us.

Not that truth is something that must blanket everything we touch; there are times and places. When it comes to truth and self, as they intersect with space, truth is inevitably shaped. It's how life works. It's part of keeping society together. None of us ever gets to be 100% ourselves 100% of the time. It's not appropriate. We all have something that we keep to ourselves, and that thing or things change with the space are in. Everybody's got something. It's something to remember and consider. If you know who you are, you know that no one else can change that. If you know who you are, you don't need to impose yourself on others. You can just be.

I don't expect to suddenly burst out of the shell that this space and my reaction to it have created, and totally change the rules, but it could be that it's not as nice sometimes, or I stop censoring myself as much. I need to stop thinking of this as a baby update because that's not how it started; it was not my intention.

It's motherhood, and all bets are off.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Brain Dump 2

I don't have anything interesting to say, too bad for you. It was a long day at work, woe-is-me, about 4 hours longer than I had initially hoped for, but shit happens, right? Pete's trying to get The Boy to go to sleep, and it's not going so well. It's quiet, no crying or screaming from either Pete or Baby, but they just walked through the room on the way back the bedroom, and one of them was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and it wasn't daddywhumpus.

Finn had a good day with his grammasue, from the sound of it. I did not manage to get over to The Bunker once today, nor did I eat or take a break, so I don't have anything for him tomorrow. I hope I have a couple of spares in the chest freezer, because I sure as hell ain't gonna get four ounces outta these puppies at six o'clock tomorrow morning.

On the way to work this morning, Pete got all misty about how fast Finn's baby time is flying by, and I kinda wanted to punch him. He's right about it going really fast, and we are going to miss this baby when he's a toddler, and especially when he's a teenager, but in the midst of this fugue of tired, I don't have time for emotional husbands. I can't feel like I am the one who has to hold it together because as evidenced by my little breakdown of July 5th at 10:34 p.m. (scrawled notes as yet un-transcribed), sometimes, I can't. Mostly, it all comes out in snarky comments or exasperated eye-rolling directed at Pete, but that night, it came out in tears.

It's been awhile. I guess I had it coming.

I'm mortal after all.

Though I think that my response to queries that start with "how...?" will be answered with "I am made of magic."

Such as:
"How did you get that crib moved?"
"I am made of magic."

Really, I am made of perserverence, stubbornness, and, in that case, geometry.

Pictures that would have gone with last night's entry

In our very small bedroom lives a bed, a crib, and a giant hutch. Both our dressers have to live in the guestroom now. Mine has been in there since he came home, now Pete gets to sleep in a different room than his clothes, too.

Because it was time, because he's too huge for his co-sleeper:

Yeah, that doesn't work.

The first crib night went as follows:
Pete put him into the bed, asleep, at 10:00.
I went to bed at 10:30, reset the clock at 10:32, read four pages, and he was whining and sitting up.
I got him out and put him back in, asleep, at 10:49.
At 10:59, he was rolling around and crying.
at 11:02, he was standing and whining.
At 11:10, I gave him to Pete.
At 11:16. Pete put him back into his crib, asleep.
At 2:37, he woke up, fussing. He nursed to sleep and did not wake me up again until 4:00 or so, but I can't remember exactly what time. I think he only bothered me once after that, but he did not go back into his crib after I got him out at 2:37.

I suppose it could have been worse.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Brain, Shut Down

As I lay awake last night, into this morning, all the way until four a.m. when Pete brought Finn to me, leaving me awake for a few more hours, I listened to my brain grind. I churned over things that I had to do. I thought about not being able to sleep. I figured if I did fall asleep, the baby would just wake up at that moment, and I'd be on again. I haven't had what used to pass for sleep in a couple of weeks. My patience has been worn down to a shiny, though not attractive for its luster, nub. Even what used to pass for sleep was at most three straight hours followed by fitful spans of 30 minutes or so.

I decided last night that, before I try to go to sleep, I need to sit down and dump the contents of my brain somewhere, preferably not by unloading on Pete or howling at the moon. Perhaps by writing. Something. Anything. It does not have to be in this space, but it has to get the bits and pieces out of my space.

Today, Pete's mom arrived for a week's visit, during which she will be Finn's primary care giver during the day. The day care is on vacation. The main accomplishment so far has been the rearranging of our bedroom to accommodate a crib. I'd take a picture, but he appears to be sleeping in it at the moment, though I doubt it will last long. Last night he slept in bursts of 30 minutes. We finally gave him Tylenol, and he finally settled down, but I could not sleep. I got up and hung up and sorted clothes. I looked up how to make a fruit fly trap. I read. I listened to my brain clicking away.

The crib is the next thing. At the very least, it uncluttered our room a little bit, getting the cosleeper and pack-n-play out of there and stowed away, though I am a bit sorry to see the cosleeper go. He's just too big for it, and we had to listen for him very closely as the moment he would wake up, he was sitting up and ready to get himself right out of it. With the crib, at least we know that he can't hurl himself over the edge yet.

It's the crib my brother and I slept in, and it bears his teeth marks. Finn started chomping on it immediately the moment I set him in there to check it out. He crawled all around it and seemed quite pleased with himself. I doubt he will feel the same when he wakes up in there.

When I go to bed in a few minutes, I resolve not to think about work or the book or the savings account or the bathtub that needs scrubbing. I won't concern myself with what I am going to be when I grow up. I'll leave off fretting about family and friends. And I'll put a notepad by the bed.

I did get my haircut yesterday.

That was nice.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Feel Like There's Something I am Missing

As you may be able to tell from the lack of postings, it has not been the best of days. The first four teeth came in without fanfare. The next two are more bombastic. The Boy has been running a teething fever off and on, is biting and chewing on everything, and is generally a pain in the ass, especially at night. So it's me; I am the one who has to deal with the night-time problems, and I am exhausted. To the point of staring and being unable to think at times. I have plenty to say, much that I wish I were writing about, even some notes that I have yet to type in, but I can't bring myself to do it. Even logging on to do this was difficult, and I love to write.

It seems lately that I can't go an hour without yelling "OW!" Ultimate Fighting Baby is biting, pinching, slapping, and clawing me quite regularly. Were I insecure or deranged, it would be easy to think that he does not like me or is a budding sociopath. Neither is true, though I do believe that I had my first taste of bald defiance today.

While out in the garden snipping some herbs for dinner, he wanted the scissors. I tried to tempt him with a bit of plant. He wanted scissors. I said "No," and kept them out of his reach. He swiped at me and clawed my neck. I yelled "OW!" and he sat there on my hip, looking at me impassively. I brought him in and gave him to Pete.

He's asleep now, and Pete just went to bed with his book (He's reading John Adams). I should go to bed, but I don't want to, even though I am tired. I have so little time to myself, time that does not involve chores or baby or husband or work, that I just want to be by myself in a silent house, enjoying a Guinness until I DECIDE that I want to go to bed.

I'm reading two books right now. "American Sphinx" about Thomas Jefferson and "Renegade" about Barack Obama (I have not read the review I just linked). How's that for juxtaposition? I am almost done with the former and half way through the latter. But the latter is from the library, and I know I won't be able to renew it because someone else will want it, so I have to finish it first.

Both of them are quite interesting. Especially when read so close together. I have an enduring fascination with Mr. Jefferson and a great respect for Mr. Obama. Both are interesting characters, and it's nice that I am around to witness this small section of history. I wish I could go back and witness the other.

It's an interesting time, this small section of history, the one transpiring in my house. Until he sleeps, I don't think it will be much different, and I am not sure how to get him to sleep. We plan on setting up the crib, but we have to figure out how and where. Our house is small, and the bedrooms don't have much room for maneuvering. I have some crib measurements with which I plan to experiment, hopefully this weekend, but I also have to clean and work on the book I am editing. There's not much time, in the time that is mine, to make room for these things, as the time that is mine is divided between baby, husband, house, work, and then me. Though Husband would probably say that he gets little or nothing, it's not true from where I stand.

Tomorrow, I am going with a friend to get her hair cut. It's long and beautiful, but it's boring her, and she wants a change. I offered her a haircut as a belated birthday present. It should be fun. At least it gets me out of the house. Maybe, if Jonny has time, I'll get mine cut, too. It needs it, and he's awesome. I've been to the salon numerous times in the last few months, but not for myself.

It smells like baby poop in here.