Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son


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High Quality Neglect Pays Off

For the first year and more — oh, who am I kidding? — for all of the Bean’s life so far and probably for the foreseeable future, Starrhillgirl has had to periodically pull me off the ledge of parental panic. She has often reassured me that my tendency to let the Bean do his own thing while I do mine — whether my thing is the laundry or reading blogs — was a good idea, that I shouldn’t feel guilty for not spending every available minute on the floor playing with his toys, even when he was tiny. (Here’s an article she tweeted recently about why.)

Today the parenting style I think of as High Quality Neglect is paying off, not for the first time, but in spades. I have a migraine, and it seems that the nifedipine, which I recently stopped taking, was indeed making them milder. Nice while it lasted. The Bean’s babysitter came in the morning, when I would usually be teaching, and took him for a walk, but she left before noon. I’ve spent the afternoon on the couch with the curtains drawn.

And the Bean? After lunch, he spent more than an hour doing this:

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Reading. To himself. Peacefully and quietly and happily.

+1 Starrhillgirl

Edited to add: mea culpa, gentle readers, I have committed one of the parent-brag sins that irritates me most in others: taking credit for something I can only really claim I have tried not to impede. Lord knows there are plenty of things the Bean hasn’t or won’t do, despite my making the same attempts to encourage them that other parents may claim created the desired behavior in their children (see: un-picky eating, sleeping). The Bean’s apparently enviable level of independence is, I am sure, largely his own nature (perhaps related to what my mother refers to as “ferocious concentration” in me and my father, a trait that makes us great at taking tests and very irritating to live with). All I meant to credit myself with was not destroying or standing in the way of his developing concentration.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go capitulate to his demands to watch Thomas the Impulsive Engine.


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Quickly Thursday

Internets! I keep thinking I’ll find time for real posts, but the semester is kicking my ass pretty hard. So. Let’s see what I can speed-type before the Bean wakes up (and God, heap blessings on the head of his babysitter for taking him to the playground to get worn out). ETA: He’s peacefully reading his Donald Crews truck book from the library (OMG it is such an awesome book), so you get pictures, too.

Item: Naptime nursing session is done! And pretty painlessly, at that, if you don’t count this weird engorgement kick my boobs went on about two weeks in, who knows why except to continue their tradition of driving me nuts.

I’m away from the Bean at nap time Mondays through Thursdays, so on week one, I nursed him down on Friday and then made Sugar do naps on the weekend. The following Thursday, we were on a train to Virginia, it was hours past nap time, and he was a wreck, so I did nurse him. I thought this would be bringing us back to square one, since he would still have the pattern of nursing before naps when I am available, but I gave putting him down with a bottle a try for the two days (Friday and Sunday) that I had to handle naps in Virginia, and it worked! It was the wildest thing, and I am certain it is due to the magic of Starr Hill and starrhillgirl in particular — he slept through the night with almost no problem there, despite our sharing a room, and woke up happy, every time. Who wouldn’t be happy to wake up in starrhillgirl’s bedroom, though, I ask you?

On that Monday, we were back on the train, and I did nurse him, but that’s been that. Woo!

Item: I haven’t started doing anything about the next feed to go, partly because being down to two is such a relief. I have a lot more patience for the whole business now that it is only two, short sessions, neither of which is supposed to end in his falling asleep. I’m even finding I don’t mind going without a book or iPad to look at, which is saying something. (I know there is a school of thought that it’s Terrible to do anything but Gaze Adoringly at a nursing child — I have recently been admonished by one book that even talking while nursing a newborn is an inappropriate distraction — but frankly, I have been grateful for distractions that let me at least feel like a milk cow with a brain. Clearly, I don’t hate nursing, or I’d have given it up long ago, but as miraculous as the whole thing is, the moment to moment…. It gets a little dull, and I get stir-crazy.) Anyway, it’s a nice way to be winding down with the whole business.

Item: I imagine bedtime makes the most sense, although it’s true that he is already going without the morning session two days a week. Hmmm. We’ll see.

Item: Bedtime is becoming baroque. For a week or two, he was refusing to go down for me at all, but when we tried making it Sugar’s job, he balked at that, too. So now the deal is that Sugar gets him pajama’d and brushed and so forth. Then I try to read him a story, while he alternately demands to nurse (Guess who started saying “nurse? Nurse?” the very week I started weaning him? Dab hand at guilt, this one) and to have his bottle with Sugar. I nurse him for a few minutes, sometimes while Sugar plays the piano, then I leave and she takes over with a bottle, and then (if all goes well) he goes down pretty peacefully.

It’s a Bit Much, but oddly it still takes less time than it used to for me to put him down, so there’s that. I’m also hoping that adding elements will mean there is still some routine left to follow when the nursing part goes. We’ll see.

Item: we visited starrhillgirl! It was The Greatest, as I bet you can imagine. Bourbon was had, as was gin. Country ham made its way into biscuits. Classrooms were visited, as was the local grocery I am terribly fond of, what with their house-label canned goods and their county ham and their canning aisle.

The Bean read his first Dykes To Watch Out For book…

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…and seemed to love it.

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There was chicken watching and boudin-eating (thanks to shg’s terribly generous friend) and almost enough just sitting on the porch swing and talking. Sugar did more work on her long-running photo series of houses inhabited by the same family for 20+ years. (shameless plug for Sugar here. Any of you have family or friends she should visit around NYC?)

Item: So much talking! I feel like the Bean adds three words a day. God, I just love it. He’s also playing with language in different ways; for instance, he spent a couple of weeks adding “ie” to the ends of words he uses a lot, such that walk became walkie and book, bookie (heh), and so forth. I ask his babysitter if he got it from her, but apparently it’s just something he thought was fun. Probably because it makes everything sound more like a cookie.

Item: The word of the day is pee. For a few weeks now, he has been saying “pee” to us when we are in the bathroom, but it has not at all been clear to me that he knows what the word means, except that it’s something we talk about in there. But today, he was saying it, and after we wrestled off his diaper, he peed in his potty. I am shocked. And pleased. And apparently now a person who talks about pee on the Internet. Other people’s pee, I mean; obviously mine has been fair game for some time.

Other bathroom skills:

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Item: Night sleep is rocky again, and now he only settles for Sugar. Poor Sugar. I will say again that the smartest pre-baby parenting decision I ever made was to insist on buying an Ikea chaise so that there was an adult sleeping place in his room.

Item: Eating is still picky as all get, but at least his caloric needs seem to have dropped enough that failing to eat a big meal doesn’t ruin the whole day and night. I still rather want to stab people — including my former self — who smugly believe that raising a child with a broad palate is just a matter of confidently offering the foods you want them to eat. I’d love it if the Bean would steal things off my plate or even open his mouth to taste a new thing, but it’s not happening. (I know it takes 15 or whatever tries to get used to a flavor, but how many sightings does it take to get a try?) His doctor says his diet is okay and that the pickiness could be worse, and that in the long run, children eat like their parents. I sure hope she’s right.

At least he will touch brussels sprouts.

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Item: I ran out of nifedipine for a couple of days (yes, I’m bad at this), and even only nursing twice a day, the nips still need it. Sheesh. I am really, really, really hoping they aren’t just going to be like this for the rest of my life, as I don’t like the idea of taking this pill forever. Nor of giving up grapefruit forever, especially if that means no sea breezes with May.


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Good Item, Bad Item

For reasons that will be clear by the end of this entry, my computer time is being used for much less fun things than blogging at the moment, so just a quick hello:

Good Item: the illustrious Starhillgirl visited us last week! Yes, I am bragging, because it was the GREATEST. The Bean lit up like a Seasonally-Appropriate Decorated Evergreen when he found her in our living room every morning, and I can’t blame him. The whole family was blue when she went home. Pictures to come, one of these days. Oh, look, in the meantime, I can just steal these from her other blog:

All that and she makes chiles rellenos.

The Bean dares to eat a peach.

Bad Item: on Monday I found out that, due to a very dumb snafu, I don’t have a job in the fall. I’m not going to go all Dooce on this one, much as I’m tempted, but I’ll just say that it doesn’t have anything to do with how long or well I’ve taught that course, which is rather and, if I do say so myself, quite. The situation involves an exquisitely balanced blend of things that are out of my hands and things that might have worked out had I been more proactive than I thought necessary, so that I feel both helpless and to blame.

This course is the best money I make all year, and losing it is…bad. My current mood, to borrow a little LJ speak, is: pretty fucking lousy. It’s lucky the Bean is here to keep me getting dressed, leaving the house, not drinking in the mornings.

ANYWAY! I am pulling together resumes and so forth and am very touched by the number of friends who have come through with advice and contacts. I am hopeful I will find something. The trick here is to find enough work that we can afford to live, but little enough time out of the house that we don’t end up paying (or paying much) for childcare, since that expense would eliminate the benefit of my working most jobs. Meanwhile, I am likely to be back at my usual gigs in the spring (different department), which means I can get back on the insurance that would allow us to do an FET.

(Did you see what I did there? Yeah. We are pretty definite about wanting a sibling for the Bean and about my uterus being the one again (I think). On Sunday I was feeling all warm and fuzzy and ready to Just Do This Thing soon, before I lose my nerve at the idea of having an infant in the house again, but really, that isn’t what you’d call a plan, and the spring would be plenty soon enough, assuming I can keep the aforementioned nerve that long.)

Meanwhile, if anyone happens to know someone in the NYC area in need of writing, editing, or related teaching work, resumes on request, dawg. Lots of experience with science-y writing, including intervention manuals, education pieces, and video scripts of all sorts.  Note that I am one of perhaps three people on earth who genuinely love teaching freshman comp. It’s strange to imagine not doing it.


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Edibile Items

Hi, again.  Sorry for the outburst; things seem to have returned to normal, which means I’m back to being fairly sane as long as I don’t hear about any mythical “sleeping through the night” -type babies.  It’s like when Wile E. Coyote runs off a cliff or Peter walks on water: I’m okay as long as I don’t look down.

ANYWAY.  I thought it might be good (and service-y!) to write a post with some more detailed information about how we do food around here, since Bunny and others seem to have come away with the false notion that I have some idea what I’m doing.  The Bean knows we need to go buy Sugar an anniversary present, so naturally he’s napping like a doped cat — this is not typical, let me just point out — so rather than wait around for a good narrative and structure to come to mind, i’m going to make bullet points while the sun shines.  (…so it goes without saying that I’m continuing this hours later, right?  Right.  With no present purchased.)

Item: The Bean eats at the table three times a day; it was two until recently.  He eats a fair amount, and he definitely does not go down for naps without those meals.  He eats some combination of whatever we’re eating right then (he loves scrambled eggs with cheese and broccoli), whatever leftovers we have in the fridge, and usually something we’ve made just for him.  I try to make sure there’s some protein and some vegetable on offer.

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The Bean and I demonstrate the ice tea spoon technique.

I keep a supply of extra spoons on the table because he likes to take them, and the day I found myself snapping at a seven-month-old for dropping a spoon on the floor is not high on my list of Best Parenting Moments.

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I am going to drop this spoon, and I am going to look good doing it.

Some things the Bean likes to eat:

  • WAFFLES!  OMG, the waffle-love.  We (read: Sugar) make these yeast-risen ones once a week or so and freeze most of them.  A quarter waffle, toasted and cut into three narrow wedges, is a good distraction while we get other food ready.  (If you haven’t tried yeast-risen waffles, YOU HAVE NOT LIVED, waffle-wise.  Bittman drives me crazy for a whole host of reasons (COUGHpretentiousprivilege-blindgrill-obsessedsnobCOUGH), but I’ve got to hand it to him on the overnight waffle recipe.  Except use butter on the waffle iron.)
  • Banana pancakes, which also do pretty well frozen and toasted.  The way the kid puts those away makes me think he’s part locust; he’s one-tenth my weight, and he can eat more of them than I can.  I fear adolescence, I really do.
  • Mashed sweet potatoes.  Boiled, mashed, frozen in ice cube tray, microwaved and served with butter.  Yum.
  • Sweet potato fries.
  • BANANA.  At least one a day.  And here’s where Sugar is a genius: she figured out that instead of peeling the banana and putting it in a bowl, you can cut the banana in half crossways and USE THE PEEL AS A BOWL.  It fits right in your hand, and keeps the banana from drying out in between meals in the unlikely event the Bean doesn’t eat the whole half (?) in one sitting.  This is the kind of thing ninjas would do, if they spent less time jumping out of trees and more time thinking about ways to make housework efficient.

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  • Cheerios.  Cheerios and cheddar bunnies (read: hippie goldfish) are a fabulous stroller/subway bribe.  We also usually throw some on the table at mealtime to distract him from hollering in between bites of other food.  Spoons require transit time, kid.
  • Cheerios and banana combined into a thrilling little amuse-bouche, like so:

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FANCY.

  • Eggplant, particularly in pasta alla norma, but raw and fallen to the floor is also devoured.  Weird kid.
  • Apples.  He likes to scrape his teeth on a raw one, but mostly he eats ones I’ve cooked in water on the stove (or sometimes the oven).  Lately I’ve served them with ricotta cheese in an attempt to get more protein in him.
  • Bolognese sauce.  Big pieces of pasta are fun to pick up and try to eat; the fancy organic pastina with the baby farm laborers on the box is, like all grainy foods, abhorrent.
  • New Orleans-style red beans and rice (only not the rice so much, see above).  This fills my heart with gladness.  Also, anything else with beans.
  • Sardine pasta.  Yeah, I don’t know.
  • Pumpkin muffins.
  • Donuts.

Which brings us to:

Item: I have no problem giving him sugar.  None.  This could be a secret confession except that I really have no problem with it, so it doesn’t feel confess-y. In lieu of a real post, some sub-items on the topic:

  • He loves to drink water with and after food, so I’m not so worried about his teeth.  Neither Sugar nor I have problems with caries (one risk factor for his potentially having problems with cavities), and Sugar, who works on a pediatric dentistry project some of the time, is constantly looking at his teeth.  She brushes them, too.
  • I reject the societal freaking out about the “obesity epidemic.”  I just do.  Obesity exists, yes, but — and I could write a whole, whole lot about this — I don’t think being hyper-controlling is any help.  So help me God, if the Bean ever comes home with a report card that includes BMI, THERE WILL BE BLOOD.
  • I am vehemently, even rabidly, opposed to rules about food.  Habits, okay, but not rules.  In my world, rules about food have been tools for learning to stop listening to my body, which has been the path to lots of sadness and terribly unhealthy behavior.
  • I don’t really hold with the idea that exposure to sugar means you’ll helplessly crave it forever and eat nothing but bon-bons until you expand to fill all available space.  I’m hopelessly grounded in my own experience (as usual), but I grew up in a house with easy access to lots of sugar and yet I have less of a sweet tooth than most people I know.
  • I don’t think lack of exposure means you won’t crave sugar.  Human beings like sweet things.  That’s in our nature, and I don’t think exposure changes that much.  It’s kind of like original sin that way.

Whew!  For a really good time, ask me what I think of reduced fat products.

Item: Turia asked about adding water or breastmilk/formula to food.  Early on, we did that.  We would mill whatever we’d been eating and add enough water that it was easier for the Bean to swallow.  He’d let us know if there wasn’t enough.  These days, we don’t, nor have I used the mill in a few weeks.  We either break foods up a little with the spoon, as with red beans, or cut them up small, as with yesterday’s shrimp curry or this weekend’s pasta norma.

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Not the world’s greatest picture, but you get the idea.

Item: I’m not sure what I think of vitamins.  His doctor — whom we really do love — told us at four months to start giving him trivisol, so we duly brought some and let it sit on his shelf for months.  (THIS I do feel a little confess-y about.)  More recently (read: MUCH more recently), Sugar has been giving him some at bedtime.  I hate that, because he smells like blood when I nurse him and…gross.  Then I did a bunch of research into the history of vitamins, which left me feeling pretty cynical about the whole business of supplements for people who aren’t at real risk of beriberi or pellagra.  On the other hand, I also just read quite a bit of history about lead poisoning, and NO, THANK YOU.  (This matters because low iron can make it easier for your body to absorb lead.  Also because it scuttles my plans to make the Bean earn his keep in a paint factory.)  I think the Bean will get his lead levels checked soon-ish, and I’m glad that’s standard around here.  So expect either smugness or panic on the vitamin front some time after that, I guess.

Item: I just asked Sugar what else I should tell you, and besides reminding me about the Bean’s love/hate relationship with seltzer (drinking it = love; listening to the angry farting of the soda stream machine = hate) and how he has been eating the lemon wedges out of my water glass, she said, “I don’t know.  I don’t feel like we’re really DOING anything.”  And that’s just it: we aren’t.  Three times a day, we put the Bean in his chair and offer him three or four different foods, some of which he eats.  If he finishes them, we offer him more.  Between those meals, he nurses, eats cheerios, and scavenges among whatever waffles and sweet potato fries he’s dropped on the floor.  If I’m eating something and he’s interested, I share it; if I’m trying to put away groceries, I offer him bits of whatever leftovers are in the way.  It’s all pretty low-key.

Early on, I had a brief panic that we are now responsible for offering him a balanced diet, whatever that is.  Ack!  I’m going to break the baby, I just know it!  I’ll forget about taurine* or something and he will WITHER AND DIE.  …but then Sugar pointed out that in fact, we do eat a balanced diet.  Right.  So maybe, just maybe, he will survive.  Humans have been surviving, even without food pyramids and RDA percentages, for quite some time now.  Yes, I know none of that matters because foods are all frankenfoods now and we can’t eat well like our ancestors and all that, but frankly, it’s hard for me to imagine that any of my ancestors who lived prior to the 20th century ate as well as we do, in terms of sufficient calories, variety of fresh food, and access to nutrients.  They didn’t leave the old country because things were perfect over there, you know?  Nor were things so great over here, most of the time.  I keep thinking of this old cajun man in a Calvin Trillin piece about a crawfish-eating contest in Breaux Bridge.  I’m too lazy to find it, but the gist of the story is that this man, who had been the reigning champion for years, had been forced to retire because he’d been put on a limited diet by his doctor.  Trillin asks him if he is sad to sit out the contest, and he says no, that he’s had many years of eating well and that, “there been kings who didn’t eat as well as me.”

Sugar and I do a couple of basic things to ensure that we eat well: we cook almost all of our own food, we mostly buy organic or minimally processed ingredients (when available at a reasonable price, which is where the hippie coop comes in), and we vary what we eat.  It’s taken both of us many years to become confident in our bodies’ ability to balance themselves, but in general, I think we do pretty well.  I’m sure we’ll have periods of panic about what the future Bean is or isn’t eating at a particular moment**, but right up there on my list of top parenting wishes is that we can save him the years of struggle it took us to get here.

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*That’s a little cat-lady joke, for the lesbians in the house.  Where my cat ladies at?  Starhillgirl?

**Really, I’m just terrified that his teenage rebellion will take the form of tedious veganism.  (I did a (very) little of that in my day, but only to support an eating disorder, so it wasn’t the evangelical strain.)


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Oh, For Pete’s Sake

(Um.  This got really long, possibly because — see below — I am really tired.  But I added pictures!)

Big changes afoot chez Bionique.  I went back to work on Thursday, later than expected thanks to Irene.  It sucked.  The farther I got from home, the sadder and more frightened I felt, and I work very far away.  As in, no way to get home in under two hours.  Work itself was lonely.  I teach writing at the college level, which means that in the fall, I teach freshman comp.  I love teaching freshman comp, but it does mean that on the first day of the new year, my students don’t know me yet.  I’m an adjunct, so I don’t know many of my colleagues, either.  It can be pretty lonely.  The building I teach in is falling apart and is now wrapped in a fence to keep people away from the plummeting masonry.  So my office window looks out on chain link.  I know, an office with a window!  It is not grand and it is shared — think linoleum, dank half basement, horrible overhead fluorescent lights that turn off if I sit still for ten minutes — but I don’t get one at all in the spring semester.  For a prison, it’s very nice.

The good news is that Sugar gets to stay home with the Bean on Thursdays.  Yay!  Sugar’s office probably agreed to that schedule only because they are so terrified to lose more staff, but whatever, they did agree.  I’m really happy that the two of them are getting some regular time alone together.

Despite our attempts to rush the Bean’s interest in food, he really isn’t eating much yet.  He likes to grab things and put them in his mouth and taste them but feels quite betrayed when bits of them try to get down his throat.  At least he’s grown out of the exuberant gagging that led to vomiting.  I’m still glad we started giving him solids over the summer, as it’s made me feel less sad about giving him formula now; instead of the formula intruding on our perfect little wonderland of breastmilk (which I didn’t think I cared about until it was so fucking miserably hard and painful to create), it’s just one more “food” he’s trying in addition to nursing.  I do hope I will be able to keep enough supply that I don’t need to give him formula when I am around, though, principally because I am lazy and don’t like doing dishes.  This may be a little tricky without pumping much, so we’ll see.

Speaking of pumping, the bad news is that the manual pump is not gentle enough not to have kicked the vasospasms into action again.  On Thursday I pumped three times and only enough to keep from exploding.  (Okay, a little extra on that last round because I had just heard from a friend with mastitis.)  On Friday, spasms all day, plus white patches on the ol’ nips.  Ugh.  The spasms weren’t really painful — more pins and needles — but they left me feeling nauseated with fear.  It’s just possible I have a little lasting trauma in that department.  Maybe.

Meanwhile, in what I meant to be writing about when I started this post, we have come to the end of our ability to deal with the Bean’s preferred sleeping patterns.  Those patterns being: couple of naps in the day, followed by a trillion wake-ups all night.  When he was younger, this made a lot of sense: he was small and very hungry and clawing his way onto and up the growth charts.  Of course he needed to eat, and I was pretty damn irritated at the people from our birth class who, after telling us that “babies don’t like” to be rocked in the way that he liked, informed us that at 8 weeks, he no longer needed to eat at night.  Maybe your giant (dumb) baby doesn’t, I thought, but my little one does.  He never wanted to do anything but eat at night (where night is defined as ending at 4:30am, lest you get too jealous); no interest in playing or otherwise being awake.  If he did not get enough to eat, he would cry until he did, period.  Since he was eating every five minutes all day, it wasn’t surprising to me that he couldn’t go more than two or three hours at night, and I did my best not to begrudge him, though I admit to a few ugly moments during the vasospasm hell period.

At around three months, he had gotten big and strong enough to nurse with me lying down.  Or maybe it was an issue of coordination?  Regardless, my life improved so much that I didn’t really care about the wake-ups for a while.  I couldn’t sleep while he nursed, but at least I didn’t have to rearrange a million pillows every time and then hold my head upright for 45 minutes.  Ah, the good life.  He slowly started dropping a few feedings, such that he’d take a longish break when he was first put to bed and then often go three hours rather than two.  I was getting pretty tired — I hadn’t slept for more than 2.5 consecutive hours since he was born — but I also kept hearing about babies his age who were sleeping through the night, and I was sure he’d get there soon.

And then…he just didn’t.  And I started hearing about more babies sleeping through the night, babies who were younger than he was.  For my own sanity, I told myself their parents were lying or, in the case of parents I liked, delusional.  (You’re welcome!)  When the Bean hit the four month sleep regression, the spring 2011 moms on the local listserv started complaining about their little cherubs’ waking up sometimes.  After not one replied with a “me, too” to my post about the Bean’s relatively awful sleep, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and unsubscribed.  Meanwhile, I got my period, my milk supply dropped, and the Bean started waking more than ever.  You’ll recall I was thrilled.  My mood was not improved by reading all over the internet that my period should stay away as long as I didn’t stop feeding overnight.  Ha bloody ha.  As it were.

I tried to content myself with the knowledge of the Bean’s superiority in every other way.  (Cue photo break.)

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He eats pickles.

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He’s learning to swing.

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He loves the cats.

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He vogues.

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He almost crawls: forward motion occurs, but not predictably yet.

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He likes our favorite Mexican place

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He helps Sugar look for four-leaf clovers.

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And he’s going to get that beer, any day now.

And then a miracle occurred.  He had three nights of only one wake-up.  Three nights!  Not in a row, but still.  It was amazing.  I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Sure, it had taken two and a half months longer than the American Academy of Pediatrics had promised, but it was happening!  It was!  …the week we were going on a big trip to visit Sugar’s parents.

You all know how this part goes, right?  Sleep in a strange house.  It was an unqualified disaster.  We came home, and it was still terrible.  More wake-ups than ever.  We gave it a week; it didn’t improve.  We gave it two weeks; it got worse, as did my cough from the cold I couldn’t shake, thanks to never sleeping.  I started to wonder when I had last slept through the night myself.  Given the exigencies of late pregnancy, it certainly had been longer than 6 months, maybe 9.  I read this paper (tip o’ the nib to The Blog That Ate Manhattan), and despaired of ever fitting into my clothes again.

[Yeah, weight loss not going well.  Another rant for another day.]

So.  It is time.  This weekend, we started a little sleep training.  Our present goal isn’t no wake-ups — Weissbluth thinks two feedings per night is normal in a baby of the Bean’s age, no matter what the moms at the swing set are shouting into their cell phones — but I’d like to get down to one or two, knowing he can do that without starving.  At the advice of wiser parents, we have started by not feeding him before midnight.

The first night was horrible.  After waking and going back down fairly quickly in the early evening, he woke up for real at 10:30.  He screamed for an hour while Sugar sat with him.  At that point, she was wailing, too, so I sent her to bed and did something that made me feel like a total asshole: I sat on the couch and did not go in to him.  (This made possible by the amazing Starhillgirl, who should seriously run a sleep training skype hotline.  This is not a joke, and I will be her agent.)  I have always imagined rocking my baby and singing him to sleep, but it has been true since the beginning that he hates that.  Any comfort measure you can think of only aggravates him and keeps him awake.  Every nap time begins with crying, no matter what, so it is not ultimately surprising that the kinder forms of sleep training — the lady-shuffling, the rocking, the singing — don’t work.  Makes me feel like mother of the year, I tell you.  But after another half an hour, he fell asleep.  Incredible!  He had never fallen asleep at night without eating, ever.  Took me a bit longer to drift off, what with my own soggy face and feeling like a horrible person: call this a mutual cry it out program.

Or, Dr. Sears and me: still not BFF.

In the morning, Sugar turned to me, eyes still red, and said, “I guess this is what people mean when they say this sucks.”  We stumbled through the day.  We turned our backs for a moment, and the increasingly mobile Bean dove off of our bed with a terrible thud.  (He’s fine.)  This is why we need to do this, because we just can’t be good parents without sleeping more, now-ish.

The second night, he woke up again, at the same times as before.  This time, Sugar went to him, patted him and told him he was okay, and then left the room.  And, within two minutes, he was silent.  On the third night, he was silent as soon as she left.  Mirabile dictu ain’t in it.

He’s still waking up two or three times in the second part of the night, and in general things in the early morning hours are a bit messy, but things are looking up.

Except not for me.  I’ve gotten less sleep than ever.  I’ve spent the past several nights lying awake until after midnight, later last night.  Turns out I’m an oxytocin addict, and I a several-hour stretch without nursing leaves me restless and unable to relax.  I had certainly noticed that nursing would help me get to sleep on anxious nights, but I had no idea it had come to this.  After all the complaining I’ve done about breastfeeding and night-wakings, it turns out the Bean wasn’t the only one using nursing as a crutch for sleep.  Dammit.


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Items From Our Catalogue

Item: This post is coming to you from my dismal office, as I wait an hour for the next bus to ferry me to the train station, the first step of my 2+ hour commute. It will be even longer tonight, because I missed the early bus. I had (somewhat irresponsibly) let class out early so I could catch it, and then I spaced out and missed it anyway. Is this “pregnancy brain” (gag) or ordinary incompetence?

Item:
I have become too lazy/dull/generally pathetic to participate in my own meme. Will this be in the DSM-5?

Item: You should check out (and submit to, in all senses of the word) starhillgirl’s very fun new tumblr blog, Lunch. Make your lunch famous on the internet! I’m going to pull a fast one and call my Thanksgiving Sandwich entry my Come And Eat post for this time.

Item:
I made half as much sweet potato pudding this year, since Sugar had requested a savory sweet potato dish. I should have made more pudding — it was gone in a day, and I only got one sandwich out of it. The savory option is currently dying a quiet death in the back of the fridge.

Item: All that frantic eating seems to have led to another growth spurt. Internets, I am certifiably enormous. I am back to running into things every five minutes. I am in denial about the fact that turning sidewise to slip by objects or people has become comic in the extreme. (Imagine it — I, not un-wide, approach a narrow passage. I pause, turn 90 degrees, thus rendering myself twice as wide, and proceed to shove my way through.) I would say picture to follow, but I think we can all agree that said picture is more likely to actually happen if I don’t make any promises.

Item: While spending a very nice weekend with friends outside of Boston — and the fact that I can call the weekend very nice, despite how much of it was spent dealing with a teething toddler, a sudden lack of heat and hot water, and an obstreperous landlord ought to give you some idea how wonderful these friends are — I discovered that I could cleverly heft my (considerable) self out of their comfortable but very low armchair by pushing down on its arms and hovering my butt in the air such that my legs swung perfectly underneath me. I was very proud of being strong (and short) enough to manage the feat and performed it more than necessary.

Item:
Pride ever goeth before costcochondritis, as it turns out.

Item:
This is plenty bad, but how much worse it would be without Dr. Russian, who was on call last night when I left a tearful message with the answering service, after a day of increasing agony. “Take the percocet!” quoth she. Good doctor, that.


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Photo Friday + Come and Eat Update

Since Calliope’s fantabulous Photo Friday theme this week is food, I’m going to cheat and just re-run my the pictures from our inaugural Come and Eat post….

Yes, this is in fact a shameless plug invitation for you to use your Photo Friday submissions for Come and Eat, too.

C’mon, y’all. All the cool kids (Schroe, starhillgirl) are doin’ it.

imperfection

summer is coming

filled in with peaches

RIMG0597