The heart that naps broke

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“I can’t wait until Reiden starts napping in her crib!”

“I really have to nap train her soon.”

“I wish I had time to do stuff during the day, but she’s always napping on me.”

“This napping on me thing is killing my back.”

“I heard that sitting all day is as bad as eating like ten Big Macs a day.”

“Err, what do bed sores look like?”

“PLEASE COME BACK AND NAP ON ME AGAIN OMG I MISS YOU SO MUCH OH GOD IT HURTS.”

My heart is broken, and the worst part is I broke it myself. Rei is crazy affectionate but isn’t a sit-still-and-snuggle baby. Napping was our special time.

Solution: breastfeed forever!

(I did the holding her for naps thing for almost six months…my body just couldn’t take it anymore. Stupid body.)

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PS: I know that’s a toy in her crib. I’m right here watching her. In 100 years when I’m okay with leaving the room while she naps, I’ll take it out.

Why?

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Last night we were talking about how Reiden is quite, err, precocious. This kid has never sat still since she was about six weeks old. The only times she does sit still, we’ve accidentally left the TV or a computer screen on (I know, we will lose this battle eventually), someone new is holding her (anyone want to come over?) or she’s pooping.

She wants to be bounced, sung to, walked around, entertained all the time. She will sit by herself and play, and she’s willing to let us eat dinner while she sits in her bouncy chair, but there’s a short time limit on everything. She’s smart and wriggly and impatient and we would not have her any other way. She rarely cries, but she protests a LOT. She’s an amazing kid. It’s all good, all of it.

“Wait til she’s older. She’s going to run circles around us,” I said. “She’ll ask why about everything.” We talked about how we won’t always be able to answer her questions, like why don’t the rich people just give more money to the poor people? But we’ll try to set a really good example by doing things like volunteering.

Then we watched this, and reminded our future selves to remember how full of crap we once were.

Milestones

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It’s been a big two days around here, folks. Hold on to your hats and your jiggly parts because this post is a doozy.

In other words, we’re still trapped inside and this is all I could come up with. I’ve been feeling a bit blue, and lonely and missing my family.

Small things. Gotta celebrate them.

Also, it was either this or bitch about the weather.*

1. That Tripod Thing

It’s not really sitting up, and I had to help her into it, but Reiden stayed in tripod for several minutes, all by her own self! Even when I ran to get the camera!

Then she cried, so I picked her up. 

I may have left her there just a few seconds after she cried. Pictures!

Tripod! What is that thing called, that sitting but not sitting thing? I should read some mommy blogs. Or a book about babies.

2. Espresssoooo!

We have a fancy espresso machine, the kind that coffee shops use. It was a wedding gift; we aren’t rich, nor fancy.
No really, we found one of our couches on the street. 

Please don’t tell anyone about the couch. 

Anyway, I made a perfect cup with the most glorious, perfect crema, which is not easy because there’s tamping involved, and getting the water temperature right, and getting the doohickey into the machine and okay it’s kind of easy. But I did it while holding Reiden, my own damn self!

Pete, this was a fluke. Please continue to make my coffee every morning. 

Also, I have no idea how the kitchen got cleaned. I certainly couldn’t have done that while holding a baby. Please keep cleaning the kitchen, so I can brag about you on the Internet.

3. Independence Day

Speaking of being overly reliant on my husband, today was the first time he had to work on-site at his client’s office for an entire day. He’s almost had to before, but has always been able to come home early. As I write this it’s only 1:30 so I’m hoping for a reverse-jinx. 

Universe?

I know, I know…please don’t hate me. My husband works from home. I am unbelievably lucky to have him here most days. He’s kept me from becoming a muttering, hysterical shut-in, especially during this stupid vortex. 

Anyway, so far we are managing, though it is nice to have someone else around when the diaper blow-outs require two sets of hands. 

Anyone want to come over?

4. That really expensive monitor? We used it. Finally.

Last year I got a referral bonus from the company I work for, and we used it to buy a top of the line monitor, with the video that zooms and pans and all that stuff. We even set it up and turned it on.

But every night after Reiden went to sleep, I couldn’t leave the room. I just sat there in the dark, hunched over my phone with the brightness on the lowest setting. 

(I am really afraid to go for a vision test.)

I bought a LOT of baby “necessities” on Etsy. And some clothes for myself. And a ring.

Shut up, we have a street couch. 

Anyway, I realized that with all the Eiko never being away from her baby for one second unless Pete is holding her, we don’t ever see each other one on one. And that’s kind of sad. 

So last night, I came downstairs! And we sat together! And watched two TV shows! 

And stared at the monitor the whole time. 

I actually came down on Friday night, but I was too paranoid and we were watching True Detective and I felt creeped out the whole time. So attempt #1 did not count. 

TV! It’s so shiny.

5. I hate winter 

I have never hated winter before. I spent part of my childhood in northern BC, where it was -40 all the time, yo. I love the sun and the cold and the freezing snot and the unflattering snow boots, all of it. 

But, as need not be detailed, winter becomes much more difficult with a baby. The getting the snowsuit on. The hat, and subsequent crying. The gloves, and subsequent crying. The “how many blankets should we bring it’s pretty cold but we don’t want her to overheat but remember she’s not moving around like we are” arguments. The stuffing her into the stroller, and subsequent crying. By the time we leave the house, we’ve got maybe an hour before her next nap. And it’s too cold for her to be out for an hour, but if we go into a store or cafe she gets too hot and freaks out. So we end up taking these piddly little 15-minute walks and we’re panicked the whole time that she’s freezing. 

Sorry about all the detail.

So for the first time ever, I hate winter. The worst part is, I hate the summers here too; the extreme heat and humidity and more warnings not to go outside and I’m terrified we’ll be stuck indoors then too.

Not that it’s all bad, I guess. 

But seriously, why do I live in Toronto? 

People keep posting photos of springlike Vancouver on Facebook. I am suffering from some serious jealousy and angst. 

Angst, yo.

Wait, I hear a tiny violin…

*Sorry.

The Quality of Memory

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The other day I wrote about how incredibly hard it was, dealing with a newborn. How it was draining and confusing and often baffling. How lost I felt, so much of the time.

But here’s the thing: it was also hard to recall. I wrote the piece partly because Peter and I had trouble remembering a lot about those early days, and I figured that breaking down the day hour by hour might bring some of it back. I didn’t want to forget any of it, even the crappiest, most agonizing parts. 

Love does funny things. It’s the best kind of drug: you know the pain is there, but the pain no longer matters. It’s what makes romantic love so dangerous, and having a baby so survivable. Love colours our memories.

Or maybe it’s just me. Years ago, I worked for an online gambling company, the last place I thought I’d find myself. When I was trying to decide between accepting that job and a prestigious position at a high-profile advertising agency, I said to Pete, “It’s sort of like trying to decide between the popular kids (ad agency) and rock and roll (gambling). And I want to be rock and roll.” 

I found my people there. Several of my closest friends came from that place. Even now, I miss it dearly. But Pete always reminds me that there were times I was miserable, and stressed out and desperate to leave. “Yeah,” I’ll say. “But the people, Pete. Some of the best people I’ve ever known.” Because today, all I see are the friends I made and kept. 

It’s funny how love can do that, can pull a gauzy curtain over things that are hard. The times when Reiden hated being put in her crib, when she insisted on being bounced or carried all day long, when I was the only person who could comfort her in the evenings: they’re faded, and vague, and no longer tinged with the same worry that things might never change. How love illuminates and fixes in my memory, in crystal detail, the first time she laughed, smiled at a stranger, babbled to herself in the mirror.

And now, after several nights in a row when Reiden kept thrashing around in her crib and waking me up and then I couldn’t sleep and kept waking her up and she needed a diaper change at 3:00 and wanted to eat at 2:00 and 4:00, even though child there’s no way you can be hungry and 5:30 is not an acceptable time to get up…

When it’s finally morning for real, and I lean over her crib, and she smiles even though the room is still mostly dark: everything else fades away, and I think about how lucky I am. How lucky all of us are, not just parents but people, to be able to love like that.

(Plus, I am banking every cute thing she does for later, when she’s a teenager and driving us crazy and I hate all her friends, especially that one kid. He’s sweaty and pimply and wears these stupid misogynistic t-shirts that are meant to be ironic and his name is Holster.)

Life With a (Teeny Eeny) Baby

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Lately I’ve been thinking about how different things with Reiden are now, four months later. In the days and weeks after she was born, life was joyous, yes, but also chaotic and frightening and sad. I celebrated my new life while grieving the old. I was not ready. Can you ever be?

Call it hormones or sleep deprivation or a zesty combination of both, I was overwhelmed. I felt like I was constantly chasing time, such that looking back it has all become a mustard poo-streaked blur.

So, for some masochistic reason I decided I should write things down before I forget the details. Here then, is a factual account of what I fondly think of as: The Shit Storm.

(Note: for anyone who hasn’t had a baby, and wants to, I’m not trying to scare you or get all down on breastfeeding. Nursing, and the rest of it got better at around six weeks, and now things are incredible! glorious! rainbows! kittens! much of the time. It just took a little while, and a lot of nipple cream, to get there.)

Day In the Life, 1 Week Old

6:00 am

Wake up to the sound of my iPhone alarm. It’s still dark outside and I’m furious: who set an alarm on my phone? Was it Pete? Why would he do that? It’s Saturday. I get to sleep in, and then we’ll go for breakfast, and we’ll stumble back here and watch movies all day. Weird though; I don’t feel at all hungover and OH HOLY CATNIP WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?

Register presence of baby.

Register single awful fact: must feed baby every two hours.

6:05 am 

Struggle into nursing pillow. “My Brest Friend”, my ass. Curse nursing pillow and still-massive stomach. Wrestle pillow into a position where it almost doesn’t hurt also-tender stomach.

Take screaming baby from Peter. Pray that this time she’ll find the nipple. Pray it won’t feel like needles stabbing into my chest. Pray she gets enough to eat. Wrestle baby’s clawing, scratching hands away from clawed, scratched nipple.

Clench teeth.

6:10 am 

As Reiden “nurses”, madly Google “baby can’t find nipple”; “what are symptoms of thrush”, “should breastfeeding hurt this much?”, “My Brest Friend sucks”, “new baby does it get easier?”, “breastfeeding and alcohol?”.

Repeatedly call for Peter to bring food, any food, no not cereal I can’t eat that with one hand are you kidding me? No come back I love you I’m so HUNGRY!

6:45 am

Wonder if it’s supposed to take this long for a baby to eat.

6:55 am 

Finally, Reiden falls off boob. Ogle her sweet, milk-drunk face. Try to take photos without boobs getting in the way.

7:00 am

Hand baby to Peter. Wonder how people do this without family to help. Wonder how single moms do this. Feel bad for feeling sad. Go upstairs to cry.

7:30 am

Stand in front of the shower. Take bra off and cry again because the air hurts. How can air hurt? Ponder stupidity of current situation. Put bra on again (really) and get into shower. Cry because everything else hurts. You know, down there. HURTS. Think about calling the doctor.

8:00 am

Hold sweet little baby while Peter takes photos. Veto posting of photos because holy crap I look awful.

8:05 am 

Ask how long I have until the next feed. Answer: zero. There is zero until the next feed. Demand to be shown the baby tracking app because there’s no way that’s right. Accuse Pete of starting timer too early. Try not to cry.

9:00 am

Sit on couch, stare at wall. Snap at Peter when he suggests I have a nap this afternoon.

Feel guilty about snapping at Peter, at neglecting our poor cats, at not feeling happier. Start to cry — and I am not kidding here — over the fact that I never got to see the placenta. (I forgot to ask to see it. We had named it Patrick. Am not kidding about that either.)

(Actually know what? Am still a little sad about it.)

9:15 am

Hold Reiden as Peter tries to convince me that her jaundice is getting better. Point out the yellow in her eyes. Pray that she’s gaining weight and that this afternoon’s doctor appointment will go well.

9:30 am

Stand in bedroom, stare at closet. Pull the one thing out of the closet that might fit. Try on, do happy dance. Realize there’s no way to get it off easily for breastfeeding. Stomp around bedroom. Try on Peter’s clothes. Blink at ridiculousness of outfit. Resign myself to wearing maternity clothes. Try to hide tummy with a scarf, because if anyone asks when I am due I will DIE.

10:00 am 

Feed Reiden, terrible pain, frantic internet searching, self-flagellation, etc.

11:00 am

Walk from the rental car to the doctor’s office. Walk very, very slowly. Try not to grimace. Notice that, in addition to the fact that “down there” feels held together with rubber bands, uterus must also be held or it SWINGS. Wonder if this is normal.

12:00 pm

Feed baby in doctor’s office. Raise eyebrows when told yet again that her latch looks fine.

1:00 pm

Book another car for tomorrow’s trip to the hospital. Try not to think about how Reiden is not gaining weight. Try not to think about how yellow she looked under the lights in the doctor’s office, or that she hasn’t pooped in days. Pray for poop.

2:00 pm

Nurse, cry, Google. Try the “football hold” for breastfeeding. Remind self to laugh about this later, because worst advice ever. Football boobs even more sore now.

3:00 pm

Attempt to nap. Cry, then go on Facebook. Savour nice comments from people about baby. Lie there staring at the ceiling, counting the minutes until my mom arrives from BC.

3:30 pm

Wake up to the sound of the bedroom door opening. “Sorry,” Pete says. “I think she’s hungry.” Convince myself that this is somehow his fault.

4:15 pm

Beloved cousin (who keeps dropping off food on our doorstep, who is a SAINT) texts to ask how things are going. Begin itemized list: Reiden can’t latch, isn’t gaining weight, is jaundiced, hasn’t pooped, might have to stay in hospital, is it my nipple cream is that why she won’t latch should I try olive oil, my boobs are killing me, I have tennis elbow, the nursing pillow hurts, I look so pregnant I’m starting to wonder if there’s another baby in there, I am sad, Reiden won’t sleep on her back, is gassy, is adorable I love her so much and why did I leave that to the end am I a bad mother? Erase, write, “It’s going great! Breastfeeding is hard though!”

5:30 pm

Feed baby.

7:30 pm

Feed baby.

8:30 pm

Try to comfort gassy, screaming baby. Fail.

9:00 pm

What? How is it 9:00? Discuss food with Pete, decide dinner is too much effort. Discuss bathing baby; same conclusion. Commence shared staring at wall.

9:01 pm

Realize Reiden’s swaddle sack is in the wash. Panic over lack of available options. Watch videos on how to swaddle using blankets. Tear out own hair when she busts out within three seconds.

9:30 pm

Feed baby.

11:00 pm

“Go to bed.” Attempt to comfort screaming baby while avoiding direct contact with boobs.

Set alarm for 12:30, 3:30, 6:30 for baby to feed every three hours instead of two because hey, live a little.

11:30 pm

Lie awake wondering if I will ever, ever feel normal again.

(I did.)

(Better than normal, in fact.)

(So, so much better than normal.)

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Life on an iPhone

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When Rei was born, my world got infinitely bigger. Responsibility for the survival of another human being, and all that.

It also got much smaller. I was suddenly and abruptly at home for the majority of the time. I had a lot less daily contact with a lot less people. A dwindling amount of TV. Limited range of motion. The same outfit, day after day after day after please don’t nominate me for What Not to Wear.

Also small: my screens.

I spend my “spare” time on two devices, my Kobo and my iPhone. I read on my Kobo when Reiden is nursing and napping. It would be awkward to try and balance an actual book on my nursing pillow, and if I didn’t have an e-reader I wouldn’t be flying through books like I am. I’m reading War and Peace, for crying out loud (a fairly easy read as it turns out, except Tolstoy loves referring to the same characters by their first names, last names, nicknames and titles all at once. Anna, Annie, Anna Povlovnazinski, Princess; the Count, Shinshin, Larry, Uncle Shinshin, The Hair On My Shinny Shin Shin. And there are zillions of characters. And there is no Larry, and most of those names are wrong.)

A good chunk of the rest of my life is channeled through an even smaller screen, without which things would be much different.

I don’t love technology for technology’s sake. At times I’ve hated it. I am not a gadget person. And I dislike how smartphones make us disengaged in “real life” situations. I hate being in a restaurant and seeing groups of people and couples on their phones. I hate it when I realize I’m doing something on my phone that isn’t important, that can wait, that’s taking my attention away from Reiden. I’m hunched up all the time, my eyes are probably getting worse and sometimes I feel like I’m looking at the world through a peephole.

That said, I shudder to consider life without it. Because I maybe have 20 minutes in a given day when I’m physically able to be on my laptop. Because computers, the Internet, home delivery! Because it enables many great and essential things along the hierarchy of needs:

1. Physiological

Diapers
I go to website. I point at the diapers, you send them to me. A monkey could do it (could I train a monkey to shop online?).

Yes, diapers falls here. See: Excretion. And yes, I put it first.

Food
I love you, Grocery Gateway. I love you and your mobile app and I don’t care that you charge me $9.95 for delivery; we are carless and cabs cost more than that, easy. Without you it would be Thai or Indian for every meal and we’d go broke and have to scrounge expired frozen hamburgers that inexplicably turned up in our freezer except we don’t eat meat so we would also starve.

2. Safety

Including calling for actual help, but also texting Pete to bring me coffee. See 1.

3. Love/belonging

Facebook, you drive me crazy. At least once a day, I actively hate you. All the same, it’s nice to know that other people exist, that they’re doing things out in the world and that they like my baby’s photos. (Unless none of it is real and all the posts and likes and comments are run by computers and did I just think of a great movie plot or what?)

4. Esteem

See FB, “Like” and “Comment” functions. Less used: “Retweet”. Rarely used, but a possible backup when Facebook implodes: Google “+”.

5. Self-actualization

There’s this app, and she’s called Notes. You may feel sorry for Notes, thinking she’s all lonely over there, wishing she could hang with the big kids like Springpad and Evernote. Except everyone uses Notes, because she’s easy and no-frills and comes with the iOS. And, turns out she’s great for writing.

I write exclusively in Notes. I blog in Notes and then move the posts to WordPress. I am writing a novel in Notes. There are probably easier ways, apps that I don’t want to buy or learn. I’m loyal to her because I am absolutely certain I would not be writing at the speed and volume I am were it not for her. I love her. And she doesn’t even sound like Scarlett Johansson.

Our relationship was a bit rocky at first, before I figured out how to change her font from Comic Sans. Ain’t nobody got time to write a novel in Comic Sans.

Yes, much of this would be possible using other devices, such as pen and paper; a servant bell (Pete?); going to actual stores instead of having things delivered (but oh, the delight of doorstep packages!). But for me it’s an issue not of could, rather of would. Would we have all those gratuitous cans of beans and chickpeas in our cupboards? Would Reiden be stocked with such critical necessities as suck pads and bandana bibs (thank you Etsy). Would I be writing as much as I am, producing great works of literature like this long and rambling post?

You’re welcome.

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The secret to having it all

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Like much of North America, this polar vortex has done a number on Toronto. I didn’t go outside for an entire four days last week. The closest I got was the doorway, when I opened it to show Rei how cold it was. Just to have something to do.

I am no wimp, but I’m not willing to subject an infant to -40 degree temperatures. So, we’ve been staying in. Over the weekend the weather improved significantly, however the temperature appears to be plummeting again soon.

Once, when I was in Las Vegas for a conference, I realized with horror that I had been inside for three days. I was staying at the Luxor, which is connected by indoor walkways to both the Excalibur and Mandalay Bay, where the conference was. I had been breathing stale, smoke-filled casino air for 72 hours.

At home, at least, I can open a window, but the square footage in our house is a tad less than three Vegas hotels. Plus, no blinking slot machines or foot-long margaritas or lounge bands here. Nope, to entertain my baby it’s all me (and Pete, of course, whose hair provides much amusement). We play in one room. We play in another room. We do a diaper change, just for fun. We have a new ritual in which we cuddle on the bed after Rei wakes up in the morning; I told Pete that I started doing it to have a bit of bonding time before the day really starts–in truth I’m just trying to stretch out the time.

Of course, I adore my child and love spending time with her. But without even a small outing to Starbucks-I-mean the LEEDS-certified green organic vegan coffee shop every day, things can get a little dull. And I’m getting just a bit tired of Raffi.

All this to say that I was ready to write a post about the ways in which being trapped inside is damaging my psyche, but aside from a few Facebook posts made while I was deliriously under-stimulated, I realized tonight with chagrin that I’ve been rather productive this week:

1. My house is extra clean (and so what if the cleaner just came).

2. I finished The Stand and am now reading War and Peace (oh yes I am).

3. I’ve been writing for two hours every day (OH YES I HAVE). Novel writing, yo.

4. I ordered groceries and made a from-scratch, vegan meal.

5. I pestered Pete enough to get him to write and send some baby thank-you cards, which was more work than if I had written them.

6. Same with putting away the Christmas stuff.

7. I washed my hair when it wasn’t even dirty.

In conclusion: As a new mom, are you wondering How, Like Me, You Can Have It All? For $9.95 I’ll send you a copy of my e-book, The Secret* to Maximizing Productivity and Actualizing Your Dreams, featuring my patented three-step program, Cut Spacial Clutter By Staying Inside**.

*The secret is staying inside

**May cause vitamin D deficiency, bed sores and inappropriate activity on social networks

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