M got better after a few days, then, last Sunday, got sick again. Snotty cold plus more vomiting. A new stomach bug caught back-to-back by weird coincidence? Some scary chronic digestive condition?

My worries were assuaged on Monday when my familiar first-trimester queasiness slowly crept toward all-out nausea that, by the end of the work day, had me projectile vomiting out the door of my car onto the pavement of the parking lot.

It got all three of us. Since Tuesday, we’ve done almost nothing other than puke and do laundry. Today is the first day I’ve felt almost human.

This will usher in an era of obsessive handwashing in the Pants household, I am certain. We do not want anything like this again.

I know that most of you are only here to try to sell me Viagra, but please let me give you this advice: Don't get this stomach bug. It is nasty.


Home with a Sick Monkey

M had the best night of sleep of her life last night. Then she woke up and nursed, asked for cereal, refused cereal, asked for banana, took one bite, and threw up all over the floor.

A few more pukey episodes and a long morning later, she is napping. She is wearing her snowsuit. Poor baby.

The weather today is the epitome of gray. We have already sent matchbox cars down ramps made of old wooden skis, sorted out the box full of baby outerwear, organized the front closet, drawn on big pieces of paper with purple crayons, read the "Skip to My Lou" book half a dozen times, coaxed the cat into entertaining us by chasing her orange stuffed rabbit, and spent 45 minutes locating each and every dog in the Boden catalog that arrived in the mail.

A couple of months ago I visited a friend who had one of those books of fun activities to do with your toddler. One of the items was, "Get out a box of Kleenex and let your child pull each sheet out. Then put them all in a grocery bag so you can use them later." At the time it seemed ridiculous that this was considered an "activity" at all, let alone something you would look to a book to be inspired to do ... now I'm thinking that it's not a bad idea and I could even use a few more ideas like that.



Lucky. We know we want another child someday. We knew we would probably have to go through some rough times to get one (17 months to get pregnant with M!), and that it might not even be possible for me to get pregnant again. We practically willed M into existence, and now it seems someone else is headed our way pretty much unbidden, just like that. Sweet.

Sad for M
. She has been at the center of our lives for her whole life. Everything is going to shift for her, and she has no control over it, and she isn’t really old enough to understand.

Terrified. M’s infancy was skull-splittingly, brain-meltingly, lie on the floor and drool HARD for me. She nursed constantly and I never figured out how to do anything but sit on the couch while I fed her. She spit up after practically every feeding and I spent months and months wearing the evidence and lacking the energy to clean up the many, many spit up spots on the floor, the furniture, the bed. She had a hard time sleeping and I did not cope well with sleep deprivation. People say you spend the first three months in a fog? I was in that fog for at least six months. Maybe nine. Maybe twelve. I am afraid of doing it again and really can’t imagine how I will get through it and also remain a decent mom to M, who will be two months past her second birthday when the baby comes.

Also, terrified
. I am afraid about the period of sleep deprivation we may be entering (when M’s sleep has FINALLY become somewhat tolerable). About what this (pregnancy plus nursing, which M is still doing pretty often, at least for now) will do to my body. Our marriage. Our lives, all three of us.

Foolish. I knew I was having somewhat regular periods. Well, every 30 to 40 days, which is damn regular for someone who in the past has gone the better part of a year without bleeding. I even kind of suspected I was ovulating. But after all the months of trying to conceive before, it just seemed wrong to use birth control. So we … didn’t. We talked about it and agreed we would be happy to get pregnant “by accident,” but it just seemed so unlikely I don’t think we thought very hard about what it would really mean to get ready for a second child so soon.

Guilty. See Foolish. And Terrified.

Excited. It will be hard, but in my more clear-minded moments I kind of know it will be ok. We have a lot of time to get ourselves ready, and the hard parts will be ok, and about three years from now and maybe sooner it will be GREAT. Last night, my husband said, “I’m so excited that we get to have another baby.” I am too.

Skeptical. It still seems so unlikely, all this. The thought has crossed my mind that maybe that pregnancy test (um, I mean those three pregnancy tests) was the sort that show a “+” when you are NOT pregnant. I feel like we can’t tell anyone about it until we have some proof. Like an ultrasound. Or me no longer being able to fit into the booth at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

Worried. This is a given for me, really. Despite all my complicated feelings about this, there is the ever-present hum of “What if something goes wrong? Or already has?”


A Second

Well, I guess it takes big news to get me to post anything these days. And I think this qualifies:

I'm not sure how to say this or what to say next but it seems as though somehow. Erm. Seems as though I am pregnant.

There it is. It is a surprise and we are terrified but how could we not also feel lucky and thrilled? To have this as a surprise. The surprise of our lives.



So, a poem of mine was published!

I'm too proud to remain entirely quiet about it here. I know in the grand scheme of things (you know, the riches one can eventually earn through the craft of poetry) this is not a huge deal, but it's the first time a poem of mine has made it out into the world, and I'm thrilled about it. And the fact that the other writers featured there seem to be, like, actual poets with actual respectable other publications, makes it all the more exciting.

(edited to remove link)


Occasional Happy, Followed by Continued Grumpy

Another friend stepped in to babysit last night, a total huge and welcome favor on such short notice, and we had a lovely dinner. M was even asleep when we got home, which doesn't always happen as the bedtime routine is much harder for her without the nursing. Happy anniversary, us. Woohoo.

Then last night I dreamed that I laid an egg that had two yolks. The yolks turned into cute fuzzy ducklings that we were happy to have. We put them in the pen with our chickens and went to work for the day. By the end of the day they had grown into giant geese and had killed the chickens. We decided we had to turn them loose before they killed each other. Would it help if I mentioned here that our nice dinner last night included a discussion of our fear of having twins?

Then I dreamed I was having my picture taken for work among a big group of people, and without my permission the photographer cut my hair and gave me bangs. Uneven bangs.

Then, this morning, our Thursday babysitter announced she is quitting. A problem that can probably be solved, but annoying and sad nonetheless. Oh, also, time-consuming. See below.

Then there is the project at work that's unexpectedly kicking my ass. Why did I think I knew Illustrator? I do not know Illustrator, and everything is taking approximately 20 times longer than I thought it would.

And then there is this other project which should have been done FOUR WEEKS AGO and which I'm going to have to work on during every spare moment this weekend.

Other than that, blue skies.



Because tomorrow is our anniversary and our really good friends who had promised two weeks ago to babysit so we could go out apparently just forgot and scheduled a visit with other friends coming into town and now can't make it and don't really seem to see how important it was to us.

Also, because a document I modified in InDesign CS2 could not be opened in InDesign CS without an update that took almost an hour to find, download, and install, so I pretty much got no work done this evening and also didn't really have any fun.


Just Another Teenaged Mom

Some background:

Down the block from us lives a woman who is either constantly drunk or has some sort of mental illness or both. She walks up and down the block in the middle of the day. Often when I cross paths with her she has something to say, and usually it's something bizarre like a rambling joke about rocks and God. One time she told me I looked like an angel. Her name is Mary, which always makes me think of that Pearl Jam song.

More background:

I am 32 years old and am starting to notice that I, um, no longer look just like I did when I was 19.


Yesterday I was returning from the park, carrying M, when we crossed paths with Mary. She stopped and staggered a little and stared up at me. You know what it is now? she said, stabbing the air in my general direction with a soda cup. I slowed down and looked at her. It's children, she said, waving the cup toward my face, conductorlike, and then, gesturing toward M, taking care of children.

I just busted out laughing. Thanks, Mary. You made my day.


Lest you mistake that for a happy ending...

M woke up at 11:30 last night all out of sorts. One thing and another: Ibuprofen (though no real symptoms of pain other than awake and cranky); yogurt; nursing. She was awake until almost 3, then nursed again at 5 and slept/nursed until 7:30.

I mean it about not talking and thinking so much about sleep any more, though. Let this be the last word on the matter: It still sucks.


Through the Night

For the past several nights M has slept from the eight o'clock hour to the five o'clock hour without waking up (or waking up only to fuss herself back to sleep within a minute), and then nursed and gone back to sleep until seven or even eight.

I had stopped believing that this would ever happen. Over the past year or so, well-meaning people, noticing my exhaustion, have said things like, I hope M starts sleeping through the night soon, and I have thought, You might as well wish that she would fly off to the moon.

But we have reached that magical point. Tthe one that coworkers and random strangers began asking about when M was (no joke) less than two months old. The one that people finally stopped asking about around the time she turned one. Not, I think, because they noticed how I seemed to want to scrape my brain out with a grapefruit spoon and wipe it on the pants of whoever popped the sleep question, but because pretty much everyone (except for a few cherished friends who are also blessed with rotten sleepers) started to assume at that point that she must have been sleeping well by then.

And it is amazing, this new development. I can't say I have gotten a ton more sleep over the past few days than during the times when we were in a good co-sleeping and night nursing groove. I've been up late drinking wine (great side benefit of night weaning, by the way) and eating goat cheese with old friends in town for the weekend, and, before that, scrambling to finish a proposal for work, and, before that, knitting like a maniac on the thick grey scarf I'm making for my husband. But if I were to go to bed at a decent hour! Just think! I could sleep for, like eight hours in a row! Uninterrupted! It could happen.

These sleep changes, and my many, many posts here on the matter (for which, forgive me. Unless you are also trying to night wean your 16-month-old and get some rest, in which case, take heart and lay in a good supply of dark roast coffee and madeleines and let me know how it goes) have made me think a lot about the overshadowing role sleep has taken in my life and identity as a parent.

For which I blame forces larger than myself. See above comment about random stranger sleep inquiries starting super early in baby's life. See also, some blogger I can't remember who wrote about how sleep is the big flashpoint for our generation of parents the way potty training was a big enormous deal for our grandparents. Also, decisions about sleep are one of those litmus tests that it seems people use to determine What Type of Parent You Are: Where does she sleep? Oh, you're still nursing? Oh, you let him cry? Etc.

But of course I'm to blame, too. It's still my inclination, when meeting another parent, to ask about sleep, to compare nap lengths. How many baby sleep books do I own? Three! I'm starting to think about what I've missed during all this obsession. What else could I be talking about? What other parts of my identity as a parent have atrophied as I've clamored for the elusive goal of spending more than four hours at a stretch with my eyes shut? Now that I am no longer so desparate for a decent rest—and even, dammit, if things go south and we end up awake at all hours again for some reason—I'm going to find that out.


9 to 5

Actually, 9:30 to 5:30, but who's counting? The only sleep intervention of the night was a 30-second period of my holding my hand on M's back when she woke up crying after about an hour of sleep at 9:30. Could be lots worse.


Maybe it is just going to suck forever.

Night 9: Down at 8:30. Asleep until 1:30. Brief pat/soothe. Awake at 5:30. Briefly back asleep after some soothing. Then up at 6 wanting milk, milk milk milk milk and not buying the whole It's still night time line at all. So I nursed her and then she fell back asleep until I woke her up at 8.

When I whined to my coworker this morning about all the recent 6 a.m. wake ups, she pointed out that if M usually goes to bed at 7 or 8 and is mostly asleep until 6, that is a pretty decent night's sleep and may be all she needs.

On the other hand, the fact that today she slept another two hours after nursing tells me that at least sometimes she needs more than the 10 hours or whatever. And those damn sleep books sure say she should be getting more than 10 hours.

Either way, though, if it were 10 straight hours, minus this 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. business, I think we would all be happier.

Also, I think I am losing my ability to evaluate what is a better or worse night of sleep, and as I think about it I realize maybe it is actually a little bit insane to try. Is it better to wake up at 1 and 4, and 5:30, but only briefly, or be solidly asleep from 11 to 3:30 then mostly awake for an hour? Would you rather wake up at 5:30 every morning, or not fall asleep until 2? Would you rather lose a finger or a toe? Would you rather eat a can of peaches in heavy syrup every day for the rest of your life, or spend 3o days wearing a wet suit?



So, last night was bad. The usual wake-up around the time we go to bed. Then she slept untli 3:30. And then from 3:30 to 5 or so, she went back and forth between sleeping and fussing/crying at such a rate that I would just be starting to drift back asleep when she started squirming again and demanding more backrub. Ack. And then she was up at 6 wanting milk and we were out of bed by 6:30. Double ugh.

If this continues, I will lose my mind.

This seems like a good place to tell you that M is totally delightful during the day. She is learning about a zillion new words per day. My three favorites from this week: boogers (did I mention we've had a cold?); outfit (cute clothing Grandma sent); and caterpillar (as in Very Hungry. Pronounced cabbadidda.)

She is rarely cranky and often very funny. She giggles a lot and has an impressive attention span and thirst for repetition of her favorite books and songs (See caterpillar). She doesn't show evidence of being sleep-deprived—not that I can see, anyway.

However, a lot of the time I feel like I'd be a much better parent to her (more energy, creativity, attention, etc. etc.) if I could just get some more damn sleep.


Are you bored with this yet?

Night 7: Down at 8, up and fussy from 11 to 11:30, then asleep until at least 6, maybe 6:15, but then up for the day.

So that's like, six and a half hours of sleep in a row, which might be record-breaking. Somehow I feel no less exhausted, though.


Six Hours

Last night: Down at almost 9; fussing, etc. at 10:30; asleep on her own until 4:30; up at 6:15 demanding milk; finally back asleep at almost 7 and up for the day at 7:15.

Six hours of uninterrupted sleep is about as good as we've ever had it. Still, I feel pretty fogged in after so many 4 am's in a row.

Today was the music class again and there was much, much less Barney this time. Phew.

She's down for a nap now and my well-honed nap radar predicts it will be short. So I have my priorities in line: update blog, drink tea and read new Anna Quindlen book, and if she's still asleep then maybe make a grocery list.


Ever So Slightly Bitter

Night 5: Down at 8:15, wake ups at 12 and 4, a half hour to 45 minutes of intermittent back rubbing each time. Up at 7.

I’m not sure where I got the idea that once M didn’t want to nurse at night any more, she would magically start sleeping all the way through on her own. But it appears I was mistaken. How many more years until I get a solid night of sleep?


Amnesia, and a First

I don’t remember exactly what happened last night. She needed a little back rubbing once or twice before I even went to bed, and there was a lot of fussing that she recovered from on her own. I think she must have woken up about twice during the night, and I don’t think I rubbed her back / murmured to her for more than a couple of minutes each time.

What I do remember is that she was awake for the day by 6:20. A bit early for my taste.

Is this progress? I don’t know. I’m afraid we’ve hit a plateau, where back rubbing has replaced nursing and none of us will necessarily sleep any better than we were and the main change is that I’ll have to cut down on the ice cream because I’m not expending so many calories nursing.

We'll see. Maybe we'll do a few more days of this and then try to move her out of our bed.

This morning we went to the first day of the parent/child ed. class, which was unexpectedly good. No Elmo in sight, for one thing. Also, there were a few moms who seemed promisingly introverted.

M fell asleep in the car on the way home despite my loud singing and tickling and then, for the first time ever in her life, I was able to carry her from the car up to her sleeping spot and put her down. She was awake on the way up the stairs and asking for milk, and I thought I’d nurse her when we into the bedroom, but the second I put the blanket over her she dozed off again.

A kid who sleeps without milk! It’s like an alternate universe!


Progress, Apology, Thanks

M has a sniffle, and I was worried that would jeopardize this whole project. But last night went the same as and maybe a little better than the night before. More wake ups (9pm, midnight, and I think a bunch of stirrings in the wee hours), but less time to get her back to sleep, and a bunch of times she fussed and started to cry and then got herself back to sleep. Hurrah!

Several posts by other bloggers yesterday made me think about what I'd written (and not written) that day, and why, and now I want to write a little about why it seemed ok to post nothing but the mundane details of our family's sleep life on the anniversary—the big, round five-year anniversary—of such an awful day. In retrospect, I think it would have been better to hold the ordinary post and, in the absence of anything to say in observance of the day, have a bloggy moment of silence here.

But before I read, yesterday, a few really moving reflections on the anniversary, I felt very, very far from that day five years ago. Geographically, chronologically, and emotionally far. And I'd gotten so used to "the tragedy of 9/11" being used as a rhetorical tool in the service of wrong-headed foreign policy and sensationalistic, ratings-seeking TV programming that I'd started tuning out most talk about it and had pretty much disconnected the part of me that hears words about terrorism and tragedy from the part that, five years ago, spent weeks and weeks in a state of raw anxiety and sadness over what happened.

What other writers—people who live much closer to the physical landmarks of this tragedy than I—wrote yesterday made me remember that before it was a trope, before it had a name, before it was fodder for bumperstickers and justification for an unjust war, September 11, 2001 was a clear fall day that turned into a nightmare that stripped what had seemed to be a solid, certain world down to its naked fragility.

Thank you, Moxie and Brooklyn Girl and those who wrote comments on your blogs yesterday. Here in the middle of the country, September 11, 2006 was a cloudy day. But I felt the sharpness of that blue New York sky with you.

And as I kept going yesterday, as we all do, with the ordinary tasks of my day and night—as I woke up again and again to soothe my daughter back to sleep—I could see more clearly that lying next to a crying toddler, her loud mad voice in my ear and her snot soaking my pajama top, is not just drudge work, is not just a chore; it is an exquisite privilege. To be here for this, to be alive for this. We are so lucky to have this life.



Yesterday was kind of a blur. M was cranky, clingy, and nurse-y. Not surprising: bad night of sleep the night before, plus inexplicable short naps for the past week (this happens for no reason sometimes). Plus, I think she was testing out the We can nurse all you want when the sun comes up promise. Really, Mama? All I want? Even now? Even when you’re trying to finally eat breakfast?

Anyway, last night she woke up at 1 but went back to sleep after 15 minutes of off-and-on back rubbing. Then the same thing about 4:30. And then she slept until almost 7.

The back rubbing calms her down but we try to keep it minimal because I am worried about switching to a back rubbing addiction. Better than a nursing addiction, because anyone can rub backs, not just Mama, but still not ideal.

The daytime clinginess worries me, but it seems less intense than the last time we tried this. She was 11 months old then and I think the change was too drastic at that point. During that experiment, the transitions to babysitter time on the days I worked were awful. Today she greeted the babysitter with her usual happy demand of Shoes. Shoes. Park! So, phew.

Last time, as I remember, night 3 was the worst. I hope that’s different this time, too.


Went ok, ended weirdly.

She went to sleep about 8, which is on the late end of normal. Woke up shortly before 11. Almost fell back to sleep about 15 minutes later, then woke up again and got all worked up, yelling for Daddy (who for a bunch of reasons slept downstairs last night) and, more querulously, for book and bubbles. Finally fell back asleep about 12:30.

Didn't wake up again until 6:20, which I figured was close enough to a reasonable wake up time. I nursed her. Then she threw up all over the sheets. She seems fine now, though.


Night Weaning

We're doing it. Starting tonight.

M is 16 months old and still nurses down for naps (except the two naps per week she's with a babysitter), nurses to sleep at night, and nurses back to sleep after at least two, and often three or four, wake-ups at night. I'm ready to be done with the midnight nursing, and I really believe (remind me of this tomorrow when I'm slogging through on too little sleep after a night of screaming baby) that, though she'll need to get over her inital pissed off reaction to the change, she's ready for it too.

For the past few days I've been talking to her about how the milk needs to go night night when mama does. And I've been trying to shorten her night time nursing sessions for the past week or so. But I think from here we just need to go cold turkey. Wish us luck.


Lowbrow Snob

This morning was the first session of the toddler music & fun class that I signed us up for at the neighborhood rec center. There were a dozen kids there and their moms (plus a nanny and a couple of grandmas), and the teacher was the kind of person I can barely believe exists: she sang and did silly dances and puppet games, etc. for the better part of 45 minutes, while the kids and grownups in attendance did some combination of singing along, clapping, staring at her in awe, wandering aimlessly about the room, or chatting quietly with one another.

Then, at the end of class, she turned on a CD player and played two Elmo songs and two Barney songs, and got out a giant bag full of stuffed animals, some of them regular old cows and bears and sharks, but a good 40% of them Elmos, Barneys, and Cookie Monsters.

There are probably a number of politic0-social or intellectuo-philosophical or anticonsumero-educational arguments to be made against these little characters, but here I just want to take the opportunity to state that I find Elmo and Barney DEEPLY IRRITATING.*

I know it is not really possible to keep these creatures' existence a secret from the Monkey until she is old enough to, say, move out and get her own apartment, but until now she had been innocent of them, and I wish they did not have to rear their squeaky furry little heads in the music class that I thought would be a fun, cheap, and somewhat peaceful diversion for us on Friday mornings.

I am starved enough for human company during the weekdays that we will still go to the music class. But maybe I'll bring earplugs to wear during the Barney part, and I will be looking around to see who else is wearing them and inviting them over for a play date.

Please note that we also went to a Music Together class last spring, and I found it WAY too earnest, with the little pitch pipe to start every song and the small, smug tips about Your Child's Musical Development. Apparently I'm a picky consumer when it comes to toddler enrichment activities. Who knew?

It's kind of a chilly day here. We're having four friends over for dinner and I'm making carrot ginger soup, grilling some good sausages, making some kind of nice green salad, and heating up some good sourdough bread til it's nice and crispy. Elmo and Barney will not be invited.

*I don't have anything bad to say about Cookie Monster, though. Maybe it's because his voice is several octaves lower.


Parenting Tip

Although Julia's wheatberry salad is wonderful, don't feed it to your toddler for dinner, no matter how much she loves it.

Unless you want her to wake up at 5 a.m. with the biggest, stinkiest poop ever and then not be able to go to sleep again for all the farting.


And take her shoe shopping, too.

My husband got back on Wednesday from 10 days away for work, and Labor Day weekend was a long, long weekend together. Though for most of it we were still wading through the period of annoying the crap out of each other that always happens when we are apart and then together again (does this happen to you, too?) , there was also—thanks to said return of said husband and a visit from two friends who are great guests and love to help with the cooking and dishes—an unusual amount of time available to sit on the couch and read magazines. Like, I read three New Yorker articles!

One of the articles was about Elizabeth Spelke, an infant development researcher at Harvard who does all kinds of super interesting experiments to determine what kinds of mental capacities very young babies have.

The article was mainly about how people are drawing pretty far-reaching conclusions from her work: things about inborn gender differences in scientific skill (she maintains there are none) and innate tendencies to classify others by race (her research hints humans might have a biological propensity toward this, though she's vocal about the need to overcome rather than reify it).

But then in the middle of this article about all the high-sounding conclusions and heavy implications of her research, there is this paragraph, which feels like a calm, strong heart at the center of it all:
Spelke mistrusts products that are marketed as brain boosters for babies, but, in an e-mail, she said that she thinks it's "a good idea, whenever possible, for parents to expose their babies to people, places, and events that they themselves love and want their children to enjoy with them later on. There's little explicit memory for events or places that are experienced in infancy, but I do think (and some research supports this) that there is implicit emotional memory for them." Spelke may never test this notion in her laboratory, but she is satisfied with the data generated by her family. She went on, "My hunch is that my own children love the things I love—travel, movies, blundering along in new languages—in part because they have been exposed to these things with me, literally since birth."
I like her advice—in part, of course, because I agree with it. But somehow it is especially nice to read it, in these simple words, from someone who has clearly had plenty of opportunities to be bogged down by her abundance of knowledge about the inner workings of little minds. That she can stand in the middle of a lab that (I imagine) whirs with little infant brain testing contraptions and crawls with babies and is lined with books full of Important Things to be Said About Children, and say this simple thing...well, it just makes my job seem a little easier and a lot more joyful.

And it reminds me that we have got to get M out on a camping trip or two before the snow flies. What are the things that you love to do, that you are doing (or wish you were doing) with your kids?


The Details

There was some talk last week about mommyblogger bashing. I don't think the bloggers in question need any help defending themselves, but hearing that these entertaining, engaging writers are being criticized for the perceived triviality of their subject matter has got me thinking about what it is that makes this type of writing worthwhile.

While we were visiting my parents I went through some boxes of my old stuff and found a book I read as a teenager, Breakfast at the Victory: The Mysticism of Ordinary Experience. I don't remember the specifics of the book, except that as I read it I had the strong sense that every detail of life was full of something transcendent; that the mundane tasks of everyday life were much more important than you'd think.

I'd kind of forgotten that this book existed, and I haven't re-read it yet, but I bet that when I do, I'll find that over the past 15 years a lot of its ideas have gotten rolled into the way I look at the world. (Also,as always happens when I re-read something like this, I'll find plenty of drivel to be embarrassed about having swallowed uncritically as a wide-eyed youth.)

Which is a roundabout way of saying that I think this kind of writing (blogging about personal life in general and conceiving/adopting/raising kids in particular) has value of a kind that I don't think people talk about much. It is important in a way that goes beyond entertainment (a fine reason for blogging if you're funny and a good writer) or community building (a function for which I'm also grateful).

What I want to say is that by noticing and writing about the daily details, we are getting at something transcendent. I don't exactly mean that I think an image of the Holy Virgin is going to appear in the swirl of leftover peanut butter on my kid's high chair tray. But sort of like that.

It matters that you know about my ugly dishrags and I know that your kid pooped in the tub and your babysitter quit and what wore you out last week and what you're scheming to do next and how little you've been sleeping. Not just because these might make good stories, and not just because we are getting to know each other, but because the tapestry of all this together has beauty, the kind of beauty that gets us all a tiny bit farther toward figuring out what it's all about.

The cheese cubes and the hostas and the stain removal and the cute toddler words are not all there is in the world. Writing of all sorts is better if we keep some kind of broader context (like, one that includes all kinds of people not exactly like ourselves and not even like our audience) in mind. The world would not get any better, and would probably get much worse, if no smart person were writing anything but mommyblogs. But also, the world would be worse—for me, and maybe for lots of others not quite like me—if no one were writing them.



Once simply a wildly popular blogger, I now take the fiber arts scene by storm with these stunning new pieces:

Stingray Dishrag I

Stingray Dishrag II

Coming soon: Photos of the ribbed, tubular dealie I made this weekend as a result of my mother in law's lessons on double-pointed needles.

Now all I need is a pattern for a winter hat with strings that tie under the chin. One that will fit a big-headed 15-month-old.


One Mom's Filth...

On Tuesday I took M to the playground in the morning and ended up chatting for a while with a woman who was there with her two kids. We had a nice, normal conversation about stuff in the neighborhood, and she told me about a couple of nearby things to do with kids, and I hope we run into her again.

While we were talking, she was giving her kids, aged about two and three-ish, a snack. Juice boxes and those gummy fruit things. The two-year-old accidentally dumped her whole packet of gummy fruits into the sandbox, and the mom very calmly and matter of factly picked them up, placed them back in the packet, and put the packet away in her bag, saying, These are dirty now. We'll have to have another snack when we get home, as the toddler cried and then, eventually, recovered.

I watched the little girl sniffle over her lost snack and though thought, I’m glad I’m not giving M a snack right now. Because then this nice neighbor and potential new friend would see my filthy habits and never want to talk to me again.

Really, I routinely pick little pieces of broccoli and squares of cheese back out of the sandbox, brush off the larger pieces of sand, and give them right back to M to eat. By this woman's standards, I probably might as well be living in a landfill and scooping garbage into my daughter's mouth for each meal.

On the other hand, I don't exactly agree with her choice of snack foods (sugar! bound together with horse hoof byproducts! colored with dyes! and molded into the shapes of cartoon characters!) and that didn't keep me from thinking she was a pretty cool person to talk to. So maybe she'd be able to tolerate my dirtiness, too.


k2 tog

Talked to my dear friend E on the phone yesterday:

E: It was so great to see you guys.
Me: Yeah, it was like the parenting commune I wish we lived in.
E: When are you guys going to start that? We'll move in with you.
Me: We just need some land.
E: I know how to pickle carrots. I pickled some carrots this week.
Me: And I'm knitting a dishrag. We'll need dishrags.
E: Because on communes there are lots of dishes.

Visiting E and family several weeks back, the adult:kid ratio was 5:3. The end of July, we were with my parents and many other relatives coming and going. Always the option of talking to another adult, and often the option of, say, going to the bathroom alone.

Back here last week, I was hit all over again with how lonely it can be on the days I'm home with M, how often it feels like I have to scramble to fill up the hours with somewhat fun or somewhat useful activities to keep from getting swallowed up by the enormous quiet of it.

By Friday, I'd frantically signed us up for not one but TWO toddler activities (a thing through the school district that's kind of parent support/education coupled with playtime, and something at a nearby rec center where apparently the kids sing and play with instruments). Both start in mid-September.

In theory, I don't like the idea of so many scheduled activities for a one-year-old, and I wish I hadn't just shelled out over a hundred bucks just to have these things on the calendar. But in practice, what on earth else am I going to do with all these days coming up, you know? I'm still looking for my tribe around here.

And I AM learning to knit. You should see this dishrag. It is completely cattywompus, but I am nonetheless inordinately proud at having made it. Er, most of it. Got about a dozen rows left to go.


More Later

We are back from a lovely vacation. Have been back four days. We have one still packed suitcase (untouched but for my having fished out my toothbrush and a bra on Sunday night) on the living room floor; one bag (M's) dumped out on the floor of her room; one baby who has not had a nap longer than 30 minutes nor fallen asleep for the night before 9:30 since we returned home; and two parents who, despite M's newfound mega-cute word use (makkee for macaroni: brillant AND adorable!) are about to lose their goddamned minds for lack of waking moments sans toddler.



I work about 60% time, and for the last month I have been plugging away at preparations for a big event that's happening next week. And for the past week I have been totally mired in the details and spending way too much time in the office and away from M and the mister.

I have tangled with the apologetic but ultimately unhelpful customer service staff of discountmugs.com. I have made an illegal U-turn to get to Kinko's while wolfing down a Frosty for lunch at 3pm. I have calculated and recalculated how many pounds of fruit salad 150 people (or perhaps 100 or perhaps 200) will want to eat on a hot (or perhaps rainy) Tuesday morning in July.

I have not yet, but will soon, visit my local hardware store and purchase fifty feet of rope, two big shovels, and a can of gold spray paint.

And will I ever be glad when this is done. It's like planning a wedding, only I'm not in love with anyone who will be there.

So forgive my lack of posting for a few more days. I'll be back.



I found the bottle of milk. (Here, if I knew how, I would link to the post called "Worse than an Easter egg?")

It was in the basement in a bag of old doll clothes I keep meaning to iron. And it wasn't the slightest bit moldy inside. It didn't even smell that bad. Kind of yeasty, kind of sweet. I'm not saying I'd drink the stuff, but it could have been a lot worse.

I might even be able to salvage the bottle. We'll see how it tastes after a run through the (two months old and still a thrill!) dishwasher.

We are home from a blissful long weekend visit with two dear friends, their two kids, and one wonderful grandma. We are well rested, we've had great talks with people we love, and we have a kid who requests the book she's currently obsessed with by saying siipssh. And we are godparents. Pretty heathen, still, but godparents. More on this later. For now I must sort mail and feed the cat and eat ice cream and go to bed.



There is also Ariel Gore's little essay, "It Takes a Heap of Loafing to Raise a Kid."

Which is half of the reason that I'm sitting in front of the computer drinking tea and eating salt and vinegar potato chips at 10:30 a.m.

The other half of the reason is that M's morning nap has returned.



Don’t judge me for this, but last week I signed up for the FlyLady mailing list.*

Her thing is that if you do a little bit of cleaning here and there, you never end up with a giant mess that takes hours to deal with. For example, for bathroom cleaning (stick with me, here!) her gimmick is, You never have to clean your bathroom again! The fine print reads, Do a little something every time you are in there. Clean the mirror, wipe down the edge of the bathtub, wipe out the bathtub while you’re in the shower. And then it never gets to the point where bathroom cleaning is an event, it’s just clean all the time.

To me it starts to sound like you are always cleaning the bathroom, then, but I guess it works. And it’s got me thinking about things that can be done a tiny bit at a time.

These days, free time comes in small packages, but if I look at it right, I can see that there’s still plenty of it. I find myself looking for projects that help me grasp that time, harness it for something I can be proud of later.

At the beginning of 2006 I bought a pocket-sized (maybe three inches by four?) journal with the dates marked on the pages, and every day I write something about what M has been up to, how she’s changing, what we’re doing together. It’s a way to grab not only the fragments of free time that come my way (at the end of the year I’ll have a book about M), but also the changes in her that are so breathtaking. It’s a way to try to freeze on paper the moments make a drooling, crawling, barely signing baby into what we’ll have next winter, which is, I guess, a girl who runs and who says new things every day.

It’s so promising. If I sew together four pieces of cloth every morning, someday I’ll have a queen-sized quilt. If I write two paragraphs every evening, eventually I’ll have a novel. Maybe a bad one. But a novel.

What are you doing with your piecemeal time, I wonder, besides reading this?

* My self-love is unrelated to the shininess of the kitchen sink, but I need a little kick in the pants about the household cleanliness. So I delete eight annoying emails a day and open one that tells me to go scrub the countertops, and fifty percent of the time (maybe) I follow instructions. So far, so good.


Because that wasn't enough...

This morning we ran into the play group friend who witnessed the bad morning scene last week. Thinking I needed to apologize somehow for the ugliness, I said, "I think you saw me in one of my less pleasant moments." He had no clue what I was talking about and apparently had not really noticed what was going on, besides me waving at him from the car. But of course, having made that comment, I then had to explain to him what on earth I meant. It all ended up lighthearted and fine, but how embarrassing.

The outing on which we ran into the guy was notable in that it was a long! outing! in the morning! M seems, over the past week, to have switched over from two naps a day to one, and it is an unexpected thrill to be able to be out of the house from, say, nine to noon. It had crossed my mind that this switch was coming, but I hadn't anticipated how freeing it would feel. Yeee ha!

In other news, the zinnias in the backyard are blooming furiously; the magnolia sapling we thought would die is thick with big leaves; our lawn is brown and crunches when you walk over it; all three of my pepper plants have fruit on them; the catnip has gone to seed and been mangled by Lucy and the neighbor cat; and all of the sunflowers remain inexplicably stunted.

Oh! And the best thing—last week we got our hands on a rain barrel. Not an attractive wooden recycled whiskey barrel, but an ugly blue plastic one made locally from recycled materials. We installed it yesterday; now we just need rain.


In Which I Behave Badly

I was supposed to work in the office all day, so we were ready to go, but the babysitter was five minutes late, then ten, fifteen. She usually calls me from the road if she's going to be a mere two minutes early instead of her usual ten, so I was worried. You know, worried that she might be dead. When my husband, to whom I somewhat tearily explained this concern on the phone, expressed slightly irritated surprise that my thoughts had so quickly turned so far toward the morbid, I replied, Well, we have to think about these things. His response: No. We do not. Food for thought.

I finally reached the babysitter on the phone. She had forgotten she was supposed to come today, which isn't surprising, as we'd re-arranged three weeks' worth of scheduling because of the holiday, her vacation, the other babysitter's vacation, my gyn appointment, etc. etc. She said she was on her way.

But by the time I reached her I needed to be leaving pronto for a meeting a couple of miles away, and had already determined I'd bring M along. But first M needed a diaper change, something that she's lately developed a serious distaste for. And then she was sad and cranky in the car, and I took one detour to avoid road construction and accidentally got into some weird-ass one-way neighborhood streets with dead ends and diagonal roads right and left, and thought I was finding my way out of that but instead came upon a school bus parked in the middle of the street, blocking anyone from passing.

For what I did next there is no good excuse. Let's just say I was experiencing, um, a lack of mindfulness. A lack so great that I stopped the car, got out, ran up to the bus door and, um, kind of yelled at the bus driver.

Well, I am from quiet, WASP-y stock and probably some people would argue that I don't actually have a clue how to yell. Call it what you want: I ran up to the door of the bus and made the bitchy arm movements you might have seen people making in cars if you once accidentally pulled out in front of them, and said, loudly, to the driver, "You're blocking the road! I can't get through!" And the driver seemed maybe confused or possibly a little slow, and said, "I'm waiting for the kids to..." and pointed at the park building next to the road. And I interrupted him and said again, "I can't get through!" And, without waiting for any sort of response, stomped back to the car, reversed rather quickly for several yards, and turned around. And, um, noticed a guy I sort of know from a play group standing on the sidewalk probably within earshot of the whole awful scene.

And then I took another, more major road toward my destination, only to come upon a train where I have never seen a train before, a train at least 35 cars long moving at about zero miles per hour. A train that first went very very slowly all the way to the right and then—just as the last car was finally beginning to clear the road on which I was hoping to continue travelling—stopped and began moving very very slowly in the other direction.

In the car—with no unsuspecting bus driver in the crossfire, no potential new friends watching from the sidewalk, and the impressionable Monkey beginning to doze off in the back seat—I was all full of equanimity. There is nothing to be done about this. I will get there when I get there.

There's got to be a way I can be more selective about my moments of mean childishness. I hope the bus driver was feeling good enough to shrug me off as some kind of lunatic.

By my watch I was almost 15 minutes late for my meeting, and apparently by the watch of the people I was supposed to meet I was 20 minutes late, because they'd already given up and left by the time I showed up. M slept all the way home and for 15 minutes in the car while I chatted with the babysitter, who had arrived while we were gone.

At work I finished eight things on my to do list and until three o'clock forgot to eat anything but those malt balls with chocolate over them. Do you know those things? I have a little bit of a problem with them because the food co-op I frequent sells them in the bulk bins right next to the pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries so I sometimes forget that they are candy and not a fruit or legume.

And after work I came home and fed M beet greens and eggs. I gave her a bath and demonstrated bubble blowing about 47 times, leaning over into the water and getting my face covered with bubbles. And I read her her new favorite book. She signed more more more almost the whole time I was reading, and we went through all the pages at least three times, and she gave goodnight kisses to the duck, the frog, the bug, the snake, and the narrating mouse with the guitar before putting the book down and being nursed to sleep.

It felt in every way like a Monday. The beauty of my crazy part-time work schedule is that tomorrow's already Friday.



For five days last week, my husband was out of town at a conference. Before that, it was 14 straight days of working 13 hour days. He'd spend a half hour with M in the morning, then leave for work and not be back until well after she was in bed. Before that, about a week of normal work hours and maybe one normal weekend thrown in. Before that, another 14 days of the crazy long work hours.

Last Thursday marked the end of the nutty series of projects that kept him on the hateful schedule. This weekend we were all home. We went to the park together, the three of us. I took several showers all by myself with no one else in the bathroom. On Saturday night my brother in law and his girlfriend watched M for several hours while the two of us went out for dinner and a long walk and dessert.

Everything looks better with him home.



Shortly after M was born my husband's mom dug out of her storage room a big metal wash basin. It has some deep family history that I've forgotten. Three generations have bathed in this thing as babies? Four generations?

Anyway, the M had two baths in it last summer ... one good (staring up at the leaves in the backyard and cooing) and one bad (screaming, me crying, both of us soaked, lots of grass clippings, no one especially clean or happy), and then it went unused for many months.

Today I got it out, threw in a few stacking cups and a toy watering can, let the hose run in it at a trickle, and turned the Monkey loose with it. She elected to sit IN the washtub, getting totally, totally soggy and thorougly enjoying the running water, the splashing, the general fun of being out in the backyard and all wet.

And I sat ten feet away and picked a big colander full of red currants, which were on the verge of being too ripe.

I chatter at the Monkey a lot during the day, but while we did this I was quiet and it felt like we were both content, just soaking in the colors and sensations of a not-too-humid midwestern summer day in the backyard.


I S S T T N Y ?

Hah. Most times, I say, “mmhmm” and change the subject.

On a good night, the Monkey goes to sleep at 7:30, then wakes up to nurse at around 11 or 12, again at around 3:30, and sometimes around 6, and then is up for the day at around 7.

She sleeps on a pack-n-play mattress on the floor in our bedroom until the first wake up, and then we bring her into bed with us.

She naps twice a day, still. A half hour in the morning and maybe an hour in the afternoon. Naps, too, are on the floor of our bedroom.

Going down for naps or for the night entails either my lying with her, nursing off and on, for between 15 minutes and an hour (lately, closer to an hour a lot of the time, especially at night), or Dada or the babysitter holding her while she screams her head off, mad about the lack of nursing, then falls asleep.

We did not set out to be co-sleepers, but here we are. And while I am glad to have given the M the nighttime closeness that she seems to have needed for this long, I am ready—have been ready for a while—for a change.

However, I cannot stomach the blood-curdling screaming that ensues when the Monkey’s drive to nurse is thwarted. Nor does my first choice of sleep solution (me checking in to the Hilton for a month or two while the mister and the Monkey sort this all out) seem very realistic. There must be a happy medium. I’m open to suggestions.


Extended Breastfeeding on the Prairie

Since the Monkey turned a year old, no fewer than four people in my office (with a total staff of ten people) have asked how much longer I’m going to breastfeed her.

By and large, people ask this in an even and pleasant tone, as if they are simply curious about the content of my daughter’s nutritional intake and how it might be changing over the next few months. Some are even skillful enough to phrase the question as if it were purely theoretical rather than an inquiry into an area of my life that, while not exactly intimate or secret, they otherwise aren’t really a part of. “How long does breastfeeding take?” they say. “I mean, how long do most people do it?”

The zinnias are blooming, the humidity is low, and I am feeling optimistic and willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. So I’m refraining from assuming that my coworkers are horrified at my decision to keep nursing this long, or that when—having answered their (in almost all cases, nosy) question with, “I don’t know. I don’t really have a schedule for when I want to wean her,”—I leave the vicinity, they are giggling together behind my back. I’m assuming they’re really just curious.

But how funny that everyone’s curiosity about this topic should rise all at once like this. I don’t recall a single person asking me this before a month or so ago, and now suddenly the duration of our breastfeeding is sufficiently fascinating to cause half of my coworkers to find ways to work the question into conversation. You’d almost think there were some kind of cultural norm that kids shouldn’t nurse beyond one year of age.

Something tells me that if I lived several hundred miles closer to one ocean or the other, I’d be having very different sorts of conversations with my coworkers, indeed.


In My Grocery Cart This Afternoon

six bananas
one package frozen waffles
one package brown rice cakes with tamari and seaweed
three cans Orangina
one jar peanut butter
one half gallon hormone-free milk
one loaf multi-grain bread
one package Newman's Own oreos

Guess which items I walked in planning to buy and which were the impulse buys. Bonus question: Which will the M and I have consumed by the end of the week?


Things to Carry

The M and I spent the middle part of the day (between naps) doing errands. Well, errands of the sort that you invent to get yourself out of the house.

We went to a fabric store—a fancy one with racks and racks of beautiful silks and batiks and things that people with actual sewing ability use to make gorgeous outfits. We went there to buy a couple of yards of oilcloth. The bright colors and 1950s-style flower prints had caught my eye before, and I wanted to get a big piece to use as a table cloth to keep art messes contained. (We aren't that far from the day of art messes!) So I bought a yard and a half of red with yellow and pink and blue flowers, and it turns out the Monkey is as enraptured with the design as I am. The woman rolled it on a 46-inch cardboard tube for me to take home. The M is thrilled with her new ability to carry things, the larger and more unwieldy the better, and this was her ideal object. She helped me carry the rolled up cloth out to the car and then could barely stand to be separated from it for the three seconds it took to maneuver her into the car seat. A match made in heaven: a girl and her oilcloth.

And we needed a birthday gift for some friends' baby's first birthday, so we hit the nearby somewhat fancy toy store and picked up one of these, for which I hope my friends will forgive me. It seems to have quite a pleasant sound.

I'm not usually a big shopper and never have been one to covet baby items much, but before the Monkey came on the scene I kept encountering these little suitcases in various gift shops, and I resisted buying them, not wanting to have a lot of stuff around reminding me of the lack of baby. Today I bought one—a red one that's yellow inside—for the Monkey. She has a gazillion toys and is entirely happy carrying around the watering can or an empty grocery bag, so I'm putting the suitcase away until an especially rainy day. It's fun to know I have this sweet surprise for her tucked away.


Not Complaining Either

This post makes me wonder why I've been surprised in the opposite way.

This is hard for me to think clearly about, because I have to work hard to keep the "because I'm a bad mother" sirens from going off.

I am shocked, almost every day, at how immensely I love the Monkey. Things that, pre-baby, I anticipated would feel like hellish drudgery, are simply not. And I find myself reacting with nothing but empathy for things (i.e. toddler frustration turned whining / screaming) that, pre-baby, I feared I'd have no patience for.

But I'm also surprised at how heavy the life of taking care of her sometimes feels and how intensely I sometimes wish that I were not the main person on that job all day and night all the time. I didn't expect this at all.

I expected to hate going back to work. And it is always difficult to spend a day at the office, away from her (which I do two days per week). But at the same time, my hours at the office feel refreshing: a break. That surprises me.

I attribute my perspective on this to: high expectations (somehow thought I'd love every second?); parenting style (attachment-ish—still lots of night nursing); spouse's work schedule (lately, insanely demanding—we both hate it); and something else. Introversion? Intense need for down time?

And I don't know whether this feeling means something needs to change. I have the sense that working more is not the answer. I think I would hunger for more baby time. Division of labor is, as I have mentioned, a topic of discussion around here and something we're still figuring out. Maybe coming to a new understanding, if not a new arrangement, will help. As will getting, someday, more sleep (do I keep mentioning sleep?)

How do your expectations from before baby line up with how you feel now about how you spend your days? Why do you think it happened that way?


She Toddles!

She'd been taking a few steps at a time for weeks, but last weekend, overnight, the Monkey suddenly switched from mostly crawing to mostly walking. Before, she'd take a few steps, lose her balance, fall, and continue crawling to her destination. Now when she falls (which is suddenly more rare) she gets back up (via the downward facing dog position) and keeps walking.

Her pace is really slow and deliberate. A friend's baby, who's a few months older, started walking a couple of months ago and he looked like he was constantly dancing/falling as he walked, and he bopped along so quickly it looked like he was pretty much doomed for a skull-cracking fall every two feet or so. The Monkey, she takes one little shuffle at a time.

Fun. Also, now I have an easy answer for the grocery store people. What's the next question everyone asks, I wonder, after, "Is she walking?" Probably, "Are you trying for another one?", right?


Worse than an Easter egg?

A couple of weeks ago, while I was carrying the Monkey in the backpack and getting a few little things done around the house, I ran across a half full little (capped) bottle of breast milk. It had been in the diaper bag (sent with her back from the babysitter's) since the night before, so I would have just thrown it out. But the Monkey is fascinated with milk in bottles and so, thinking it would buy me a few more minutes of peaceful backpack time, I handed it up to her and continued to putter around the house and the backyard.

When I took her out of the backpack, I realized she no longer had the bottle. I've looked everywhere and not found the thing.

So if you're curious about what happens to breast milk after long periods at room temperature and above, stay tuned. I'm sure we'll find it one day.

Time Theft

What I've done since 1 p.m.:

  • Eaten lunch at a quiet place all by myself, while reading this book.
  • Wandered around Target looking for a basket to contain small items in the dishwasher. Did you know they keep them in the baby bottle section?
  • Came home, sent the babysitter away, and put Monkey down for a nap.
  • Finally bought some of these on line, despite qualms about plastic product near boobs (my bra is part polyester anyway, right?)

What I should have done since 1 p.m.:

  • Eaten hummus and pita at my desk.
  • Started new and daunting project at work.
  • Come home in time to accomplish unsavory tasks (e.g. dispose of two roadkill bunnies found right next our car this morning) before Monkey woke up from nap.

Ah, well. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, right? Now I will write for a while, drink iced tea, and find my dad a fathers' day gift. And, oh shit! find my husband a fathers' day gift! instead of beginning the daunting work project, dealing with the bunnies, doing situps, and mopping the kitchen floor.


More on That

If there were a scorecard, I'd lose points today, because she seems to be taking a decent nap.

Obsessing a little over our division of labor angst, I fished around some on a message board where I used to spend a lot of time, and right away found a thread where poster after poster (independent, smart women, all) was complaining about the exact same thing: I am doing all the work, or I am doing more than my share, or, My partner does a fair amount but I resent always needing to be the one in charge.

How can this be?

I'm a dropout from a graduate program in a social science department too smart for its own good, so I'm no stranger to the idea that we participate in systems we don't necessarily understand, and that free will may have far less bearing on how our lives turn out than we think it does.

But it confounds me that so many of us who thought we were getting into really egalitarian parenting situations are feeling so overburdened and sometimes so resentful of our partners.

And I am too deep in it to figure out what's real unfairness and what's my perception. Do I just feel like I'm doing too much because the night nursing is, well, too much? Do I need an unusual amount of downtime to feel sane? Where have we gone wrong?

One possibility is that a lot of this comes from the unnatural way that so many families (including us, so far, dammit) raise kids: pretty isolated. Without extended family really nearby to give us breaks. Without neighbors we know well to share our days with. If one thing has become clear from our family's recent discussions about this, it's that we need more community to take some of the stress off of both of us.

And then there is the larger sense in which ... hey, we are so well fed, so well clothed, and have such a delightful little Monkey in our midst. Who cares if all we can do is lie on the cat hair-matted floor while she uses our bodies as a jungle gym ... we are as lucky as can be.


Division of Labor

The mister and I have been talking a lot lately about who does what around here.

We're both feeling pretty stretched: He works full time (and lately a lot more than full time); I work part time and have a number of big, stressful deadlines approaching all at once. It's clear we've each got to hold down our own jobs; it's the sorting out of baby- and home-related tasks we're hung up on.

Somehow, I feel like I'm doing, oh, 90% of it. And he feels like we're pretty close to a fair fifty-fifty.

It mystifies me. I don't consider my husband any sort of traditional, patriarchal, housework-shirking guy. Nor do I consider him particularly clueless about what constitutes a fair division of labor. So why does he pretty much feel things are ok, while I sometimes feel so overburdened?

The night parenting (which—long story—falls pretty much entirely to me) is a particularly heavy part of it, and I do think the constant inadequate sleep is keeping me from being very charitable about much of anything. I think that bit actually is quite unbalanced and unfair. But beyond that, it's hard to say what's really a "fair" scheme. How would we quantify it, if we wanted to make a score card? How does a half-day in the office plus ten hours of baby play / diapers / bath / meal planning / laundry balance against 12 hours in the office? Does the value change if the person at home is too tired to even throw together a meal and we end up ordering pizza? Are there extra points for vacuuming?

My latest answer is that of course it can't really be quantified, and that the only thing that's going to make it feel right is constant respect, from each of us, that the other one is doing the absolute very best they can.


"If you could do anything in the world right now, what would it be?"

I wonder when my answer to that will stop being, "Sleep."


Long Story Short(er), Part I: Last Summer

Sorry for all the false starts there. I had to put those out there, kind of like, when on your sixth chocolate chip cookie the only way to stop is to announce, "This is my last one," and then again after the seventh cookie, "This is really my last one" before finally breaking the inertia.

So, to make a long story short, the bleeding stopped and did not return and I gave birth last May to our fantastic and wholly healthy baby girl. Monkey Pants.

I feel like I'm tempting fate just by writing about it, because it's the luckiest, happiest possible outcome. An uneventful and even enjoyable pregnancy, a smooth labor (maybe I'll tell the story here some time), and a great baby girl. With bright blue eyes, a delicate little mouth, long legs and arms, and big round cheeks.

Most of last summer, the Monkey and I spent on the couch, nursing. The "My Brest Friend" took on the shape of my (still very round) body, as well as (warning! shameful housekeeping revelation ahead) accumulating a coating of milk in various stages of digestion. The Monkey was born big, grew fast, nursed a lot, spit up a lot, and then nursed some more. And I sat on the couch and nursed her and read A Fine Balance and As the Crow Flies and many issues of The New Yorker and, embarrassingly, every book I could find on the subject of infant sleep, and watched her sweet little face.

And, unlike (apparently) the babies of every friend, acquaintance, and television personality we know, the Monkey did not like riding in the car. Early on, she would occasionally drop off to sleep in the car seat after some yelling. But then there was a period of many, many weeks where a car ride pretty much meant "they're killilng me!" type screaming from door to door. So, for a while, there wasn't a lot of car travel. Except for stressful and quick runs to the grocery store or the post office (5 minutes away), sometimes interrupted by (God, did I really do this?) several nursing/comforting stops only a few blocks apart. And more than once ending in crying in the front seat as well as in the back.

Every day, though, I'd take the Monkey out for a walk or two around the neighborhood in the sling or (later, when she got more squirmy) the Baby Bjorn. She loved—still loves—looking at the trees and watching the world go by. We got to know the neighborhood (pretty new to us) so well that it started to feel like maybe we should move to a new house just to have some new walking territory to explore. Those were sweet times, those walks. People I met all wanted to peer into the sling and talk about their own babies, and almost without exception the baby was peaceful during those times. Sleeping or gazing up at the leaves.

On the one hand, the whole summer seems kind of like that: dreamy. A timeless time to just be with the baby, a time I feel so, so fortunate to have had. On the other hand, I was utterly sleep-deprived, perpetually smelled like rotting milk, and was desparate for adult conversation. The extremes of it were pretty amazing.

That was the fourth trimester around here: nursing, walking, and not driving a lot. Next up: the end of the honeymoon.

Meanwhile, a little note from the present. It turns out there is still a lot to learn about my neighborhood. I discovered this afternoon that not six blocks from our house there is a place where you can get gold decorations (for lack of a better word) applied to your teeth. This is not a dentist's office; it's more like a nail salon.

And now, while the Monkey keeps sleeping, I will zip out to the front yard and plant the big bucket of hostas that a friend cleared out from her garden and brought over this morning. Did you know you can split each plant into four pieces and each part will grow big again? How fortunate for them, don't you think, that they have such an easy time reproducing. I wonder if gardening will continue to be fascinating when I am no longer such a novice.


Reason Enough

Two readers or two hundred or none, what I really want to do is write about this new and crazy life. So I will. Stay tuned.


Clearing My Throat

I so want to write here again. But it's been AGES! And my whole life is different and is anyone even still out there? And what would this be, then...a post-infertility mom blog with junk about running and garding and poetry and such thrown in? And would I tell my real life friends (some of whom have great blogs of their own that are a big part of what's made me want to come back here) about it, and if so would I delete previous posts with overmuch mention of my private parts?

These are questions to ponder while I squander naptime chuckling over the funny toddler moments in {i}Waiting for Birdy[/i] instead of editing the thing I need to edit for work, or unloading the dishwasher, or pulling out all the rude little millkweed plants that are encroaching on my iris and rhubarb. For now, I'll think about these things. In the meantime, is anyone there?