Friday, November 29, 2013

Holidays with Toddlers

This seems to be a theme in my blog feed tonight, and is certainly a theme in my life at the moment, so I think I'll run with it. Holidays with babies are magical and fun. Holidays with toddlers are exhausting and difficult.

This is well traveled territory for this blog, but I'll say again that the minute my child threw his leg over the edge of his playpen and skittered to freedom, my whole life turned upside down. Up until that moment I could still largely go on about my business as I always had. Sitter cancel? No problem, bring the baby and keep him up until 1 AM - he'll be up anyway! Low on groceries? No problem, you've got boobs! Need a nap? Great, because the baby does, too. Need to work on a project? No worries - the baby will sleep, or play in one spot on the floor, or hang out safely in a swing or playpen. All of that is shot to hell now. And even months and thousands of dollars in baby proofing later, I am still reeling from the aftershocks of that one moment B's feet hit the floor after climbing out of his playpen. 

I felt it for sure this Thanksgiving. Despite all my planning ahead, things still didn't go as I would have liked. I got a jump on the cooking the day before - and B drove me completely nuts the whole time. He whined and cried and yelled "no!" and threw things the whole time as I rolled out pie crusts and chopped apples and zested lemons; he kept squeezing himself between me and the counter, then pushing me away from the counter with all his strength. Not to mention the floor strewn with crap he pulled out of the garbage, and the need to move everything higher and higher so he couldn't reach. It was an ordeal. However, I'm pleased with myself that I didn't snap - I stopped and played with him when I could, devised things he could play with, made sure I paid attention to him. I didn't rush or get annoyed when it all took forever to do; I knew expecting him to sit tight while I cooked for hours would be a lot to ask. But boy, was he irritating!

On Thanksgiving day thankfully my sister and brother in law were here to entertain him while I finished everything; and finish I did - glazed parsnips, apple pie, pumpkin pie, sautéed Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, a brandy cheese ball for a appetizer that never made it to the table in time. But any ideas I had about me, or the table, looking presentable, were shot to hell. I never even got to brush my teeth, much less do anything with my hair or put on a cute outfit or any makeup. I wasn't able to do anything with the table other than just throw everything on it in a desultory manner and have us sit down to eat. This is all unimportant stuff, I know. In the end my relatives were gracious enough to come to me this year, everything I cooked was good, B was happy, I got to use my grandmother's dessert plates for my homemade pies, and it all worked out. Still I have to say it just wasn't how I pictured it. I just wasn't as organized nor creative as I wanted to be. I'm an event person and everything has to be perfect; and it wasn't. I felt frazzled and too wired to appreciate the moment, too worried about B losing it any minute, too worried about the lighting not being right and not having enough serving dishes or spoons, etc. Yet another instance of my not being able to relax and be in the moment. I swear planning big dinners is always more fun than actually having them. 

Today it poured rain all day so there was absolutely nothing for us to do. We did get out for a nice Mexican lunch, and B did ok with that, but the rest of the day we had to just sit around the house. We didn't dare go out to any public shopping type areas, and the weather meant we couldn't go to any natural outdoor spaces either. I hope it clears up tomorrow so we can get out and get some much needed exercise!

I am definitely learning that all bets are off when it comes to toddlers. You just have to drastically lower your expectations of everything - especially yourself - and cling to the hope that when the kids are older you can start feeling somewhat normal again. So I'm having a mellow Christmas - no tree, just some basic decorating in high spots B can't get to. I probably won't hang lights either - I don't feel safe climbing around the outside of the house while pregnant, and there is no time to do that unless it's after dark when B's asleep, and I'm sure he'll get all tangled up in any electric cords I'd have to jerryrig. So this year it's just not worth it. 

I will: do a Santa train and get a Santa pic, send out cute holiday cards, make coconut balls for the one party I'm attending, do basic decorating, get B some cute presents.  

I won't: attempt any crafts, buy any presents for anyone other than B, do an expensive holiday photo shoot, throw a party, have a tree, light the house, or drag B to anything past his bed time. 

It's all about managing expectations. Accept these little kids for who they are and what they can handle, and keep in mind some day they'll be older and the real fun can begin. Until then - just hang in there!

Here is the one picture I had the presence of mind to snap of B's second Thanksgiving:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Great Doula Search

Yesterday for the first time in ages, maybe forever, I began to actually think there's a chance this birth experience might actually be ok. It might be just my being on a general mood upswing, or it might have been the doula I met with.

She was an older lady, very experienced (500+ births!), and very comforting without being saccharine. She recounted her own crappy birth experiences in the 60s & 70s where they just knocked you out and then handed you the baby (which honestly doesn't sound that bad to me - but that's me for you!), so she gets the bad birth experience. She also was the first person I've talked to who said she *might* be able to arrange transport for me if necessary - she said she got stuck driving herself to the hospital one time because the neighbor that offered to do it got stuck with no car at that moment. I'm sure I have people who would agree to drive me if I needed - but everyone is at least 1/2 hour away (most more like an hour or more away), most have kids and jobs and things that can't just be dropped at the last second. So even with the best of intentions I may find myself with no way to get to the hospital. It would be nice to know I could use a doula's resources as well as my own. Or worse comes to worst - cab it, or drive myself!

So I really like this lady but she's twice the cost of anyone else. I can cut the fee by a few hundred if I agree to have a trainee along as well (totally cool with that), but still. Ouch. But then I ask myself - is a few hundred $$ more than another doula that much money, in the scheme of things, for the sense of comfort and protection this person could offer me? Ten years from now am I going to look back on this birth and wish I'd saved a few hundred dollars to work with someone I felt less comfortable with? Probably not.

So I am definitely leaning towards her. But I meet with another in an hour and have one more I can call; I also may meet with the one I just talked to on the phone. 

For the most part, I'm finding these ladies are all very similar. They're all nice women who love birth and think the way it's done in this country is largely all wrong; they want healthy babies and happy mothers. They go with your wishes even if you want super medical. They just want you to have the birth you want. So beyond that it's just a question of their fees (ranging from $850 to $2000 so far) and your level of comfort with them. But after yesterday I'm beginning to think age and experience are worth paying for.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dark night of the soul

Last night I had one of those dark nights of the soul. I didn't feel well (lingering nausea and intense fatigue, making me worry that, like a friend of mine and her family, we survived the stomach virus only to catch it all over again days later). And I had had a rough day with B and was just miserable. And so The Thoughts came in. I'm not going to get into what The Thoughts consisted of - just the usual self-pitying crap. I kept telling myself, "just go the fuck to sleep. You know by morning all of this will be over." And it was. Funny what a night's sleep can do, isn't it?

Both of us still have wonky tummies - B absolutely refuses any kind of dinner and starts screaming if I even take out the pot with his favorite meal in it. Then he wakes up in the morning too early and positively hysterical from hunger. It SUCKS. Every night since Wednesday I have tried to introduce his usual dinner to no avail, and have found much to my chagrin that he'll only eat cottage cheese and strawberries. At least it's something. But I can't wait for him to be back eating a proper meal! This morning was an hysterical kicking/scream fest as I blearily tried to strip off his soaked and poop-filled diaper, get him dressed, get him in the kitchen, and then have to try to repair his broken high chair before putting him in it (the center strap for between his legs broke). The whole time with him screaming that intense bone-shattering scream right in my ear until I snapped and yelled at him to SHUT the HELL up and that he was driving me CRAZY. So yeah, good times. Just how you want to start your day, huh?

Honestly I'm just so glad I'm no longer scrubbing puke out of carpets while feeling like puking myself that I think I'll take whatever kind of day I can get. Let's face it - we've been through an ordeal. I think it's ok if I'm not completely cheerful and full of joie de vivre at the moment. Here are some things coming up that I'm looking forward to:

Thanksgiving, and the visit of my sister and brother-in-law. I'm excited to cook us dinner and set a nice table which is something I never get to do because I'm always someone else's guest. They'll be here all weekend so we'll have lots to do. I just hope B can handle all the excitement and that it doesn't screw up his sleep/eating, make him behave badly, etc. 

I've talked to two doulas on the phone and am meeting three this week. Hopefully I will have one chosen by next week so that will be nailed down. I'm pretty bummed that doulas by trade are not allowed to drive you anywhere or technically help with your other kids - so I still have those elements to figure out, which sucks.

A friend is loaning me her maternity clothes, which is great since I currently have one pair of pants and three shirts that actually fit - and the pants are way too long so I have to roll up the cuffs which means sand and bark from playgrounds always get caught in there and then get strewn all over the house. It's extremely irritating. And I hate not having anything to wear, ever. But can't really shell out for a whole new wardrobe I'll only wear for three more months, either. 

One of the doulas I talked to on the phone made a comment that has been resonating with me. When I recounted my lengthy, shitty birth experience, she said "there's a difference between pain and suffering." We all know and accept labor pain - it's pain with purpose; it gets you somewhere. But the suffering, the suffering! That's the part I remember most vividly - how it dragged on for three days, how hungry I was, how thirsty, how fed up being strapped into a bed and sleep-deprived. That's what I remember. She said she would have snuck me food! So far she's the front runner.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Surviving the Plague

So, I have now faced one of my biggest fears regarding becoming a mother, and especially a single mother - both being horribly ill at the same time. And it wasn't pretty.

While the worst of B's intestinal distress was over by Thursday, that's when mine started. I started to feel awful while djing, and then had a horrible night crouched by the bathtub. I won't elaborate. It was horrendous.

Yesterday I still felt pretty bad so just had the two of us locked up in my bedroom all day. It was all I could do - just let B dump out all my drawers, and be there to take the Legos he handed me over and over. One of the worst things was because it was Friday and shopping day, we had no food - we pretty much lived on applesauce and rice cakes all day, and it was miserable. I thought I could rally enough to get to the computer and order some food from the grocery store, but I couldn't even do that, and everyone I know works, and I figured I could wait until today to go buy some food, which I will. But all day I had this panic going because there was nothing to eat. We desperately needed bananas, oatmeal, milk, etc. I'm a little too efficient in making sure all my food runs out just as I need to buy more, apparently. 

It was definitely one of those moments when I wished I had a partner - but of course reality sets in there, too; you'd have to hope that this partner could take time off work and wouldn't be sick himself and become yet another person you'd have to take care of. Let's never forget that the burden of children's illnesses has always, and probably always will, fall on the mothers, whether she's sick or pregnant or not. 

So after B went to bed I busied myself in cleaning the whole house - I just had to get a sense of order and normalcy back. I folded the 50 shirts B had pulled out of my drawers, I did the piles of dishes, I tidied and picked up. Then I put some scrambled eggs on my wonky stomach and went to sleep. B had applesauce for dinner. He screamed pitifully when I tried to feed him anything else, and I figured this is not the time for a "no dessert without dinner" lesson. 

So being as it's been cold and rainy for days anyway, we're just going to hang out at home today (short of grocery shopping). I still feel pretty weak and lousy and B isn't 100% either, so I have no problem spending much of the day on the couch. Baby T still kicking around, so that's good. Sigh.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Viability tomorrow

So yeah, another milestone met. If born now, baby T has a chance of making it. Which is a huge relief, even though I know the prognosis for micro preemies is fairly grim, at least I know if I went into labor now the healthcare providers would make some effort to save him rather than just throw up their hands. 

No danger of this scenario, however. Had my appointment yesterday and cervix is long and closed. Yay for that. Also, good fluids, despite the fact that I never feel like I drink enough. So as of this moment everything is a-ok for baby T. No protein in the urine, either.

Thanks for the helpful medical advice about B's illness. As some of you may know I have zero experience from my own childhood regarding normal treatment of children's ailments (my mother's method involved handing me a bible to read) so I desperately need the help! I do believe what we're dealing with here is a bug and not a reaction to food. Apparently every kid in Los Angeles has been throwing up all week. After a two-vomit night, B was ok yesterday apart from the large pile of diarrhea I discovered on the floor (hardwood and not carpet, thank GOD) at one point, and a random throw up as I was putting him in his high chair for dinner. We were both shocked and upset by this. Pretty random after a whole day of nothing. There is no rhyme or reason to this stuff, which makes every minute of every day stressful and unpredictable. What if he throws up in the car? What if he throws up in my bed? What if he throws up on the couch? I've been restricting us to the linoleum floored kitchen for the most part, but that gets old FAST. And now it's raining, and I don't want to take him up to the play room because that is the WORST place for him to throw up. What the hell do we do???

The good news is he never had a fever or even seemed remotely bothered by any of this other than upset right after vomiting - he's happily ransacking the house as always, and sleeping normally (apart from me checking him at the slightest sigh or movement all night). Also despite feeling pretty queasy yesterday I have not actually been sick. Although I recognize this thing could hit me at any time; I won't be convinced we're out of the woods until several days have gone by with both of us being well. And of some concern B is off his food - he's lived on cereal puffs, bananas, and bread pretty much exclusively. But God knows I'm not about to push food on him right now!

Anyway, so I have survived one of my biggest fears about being a parent - how to handle your sick child throwing up on everything in your house. The only thing worse would be B being really sick - fever, lethargy, etc, which would scare me to death - and/or me being simultaneously sick. Which would be awful. How glad am I this didn't happen in my first trimester, or around my event??? Ugh. 

So tonight I am going to take a chance and nip out to keep a djing obligation despite some misgivings. He seems to be ok at night, and I desperately need to do something other than clean up vomit and worry about cleaning up vomit for a couple of hours. Let's hope this is the end of it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I accept the vomit, part II

Shortly after this adorable picture was taken (yes, he put the horse in that box himself), Bumpus promptly and enthusiastically vomited all over himself and that nice white carpet. 

Just a warning, there is a lot of vomit in this post. If you feel the need to move on I promise my feelings won't be hurt.

I have never seen him throw up like that. He was immediately very upset, so I stripped off his soaked clothes, wiped him down with the burp cloth I keep up in the playroom for just such an occasion, and held him for a while to comfort him (I know to me throwing up is just about the worst thing ever, so I sympathized). Then I tried to formulate a plan to clean up the mess. Again, this is up in the playroom where I can't get access to the rest of the house unless I take B with me. So he can't be left up there alone while I go get cleaning supplies, and I can't leave him downstairs while I go up to clean. There was nothing to it but to wait four hours until bedtime. I cracked open a window and took us downstairs. 

Put B in a new outfit and figured we'd just have to mess around in the living room for a while. He played and flirted happily. I couldn't imagine what caused him to be sick other than the restaurant mac 'n cheese he had for lunch just didn't sit with him. On rare occasions when he's thrown up a little in the past it's always been cheese related...yet he'll eat some cheese, lots of milk, yogurt and cottage cheese with no issues. So who knows? 

Then out of nowhere he throws up all over the dining room carpet. I clean him, and it, up, and figure it's time to be in the linoleum floored kitchen now. I start piling the foul clothes and rags into the thankfully empty kitchen sink. It's almost dinner time and I don't want him going to bed starving, so I figure I'll see if he wants to eat. Maybe some stomach-settling food - banana, bread, apple sauce, milk - will be just what he needs. He eats it all enthusiastically, then throws it all up on himself. More crying, more comforting, more wiping down and adding to the pile of clothes and cloths in the sink. More wiping of the floor. More wiping of myself. Everything in the house positively reeks. I thank God I'm not nauseated myself but almost lose it a couple of times. It is just SO disgusting. How can that tiny little belly hold gallons of food???

He's clearly exhausted, so I put on his jammies, change his diaper, and hold him extra long before lying him down to sleep. He conks right out. I head up to the playroom to do the massive and ultimately utterly ineffective job of scrubbing the carpet clean and bring downstairs the clothes, toys, and cloths that have been soaking for hours, and start up a load of laundry on "hot" with lots of soap. I sit on the other side of his door, too nervous and grossed out to eat, wondering if he has a stomach flu, wondering if I'm going to get it now, picturing us all at the emergency room in the middle of the night, picturing the thousands of dollars that will cost, wondering when he'll stop throwing up, wondering how awful this night is going to be, texting the babysitter who's supposed to watch him through my dentist appointment, my OB appointment, and my book club tomorrow that maybe I'll have to cancel everything. 

Within an hour I hear coughing and he's thrown up all over the bed. More changing, more stripping of bed clothes, more laundry. I force some dinner down and retire to my bedroom with both of our doors open so I can hear him breathing. It's been three hours. I check him constantly. Afraid he's thrown up again and is sleeping in it. Afraid of the worst thing ever - that he'll choke on it and I won't even know. 

Realizing this was one of those scenarios I had so dreaded when I thought about being a parent - the all-night puke-a-thons all little kids have. God knows I had  plenty. How do you clean up the mess? When do you know to get them to a hospital? And what the hell is exactly wrong? He's been off his dinner for three nights, even when I made him his favorite. But he's eaten huge breakfasts and good lunches; I thought maybe the dinner issue was because we'd had lunch way too late and he just wasn't hungry. But why do kids just randomly throw up for hours? I think back on my episodes and there was no rhyme or reason there, either - it just happened. No other symptoms of anything, nothing I can put a finger on except restaurant food that may just have been too rich or strange for him. 

So I am steeling myself for a horrid night. I so hope he just wakes up well and we can put this behind us. But I don't know. If this continues into tomorrow I think we're going to the doctor. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013


You hear that? That's the sound of Bumpus not pulling all the pots and pans out of the cupboards and wrecking them, thanks to my newly installed cabinet latches. Hurrah! I feel so much better with this house in order and less noise and chaos on a daily basis. He doesn't seem to care, either - he just moves on to the cupboards he can access. I call that a win.

Also last night's stay at the baby kennel went spectacularly well - but I truly believe it was a fluke. I picked him up at eight and much to my horror found him still up (!); obviously they ignored my notes to put him to bed at 6 (not the first time). I was dreading what the night would be like - but it turned out totally fine. I got him home, put on his overnight diaper and jammies, and put him to bed...and he slept until 8 AM!!! It was the best night's sleep I've had in ages. Oh how I wish this were the secret to getting Bumpus to sleep later - putting him to bed later - but I know from experience that that is not how it works. If it were, believe me I'd keep him up until nine or ten like I used to when he was half his age. As we all know, though, kids at a certain age just wake up with the sun no matter how late they go to bed. And even today after waking up at 8 he was still super cranky and tired by 5 PM and I just had to tolerate his crankiness for an hour until it was dinner and bedtime. Keeping him up two more hours? Ugh.

So I haven't needed to use Bumpus Plays in His Room tactics the last couple of days - the day before he slept until 7 which I thought was reasonable enough. Is his schedule adjusting back to more human hours, I hope? It's impossible to know. Just when you think you're on to something, everything changes. 

All I know is I finally got some sleep last night and suddenly everything looks bright and new. It just reminded me how intense sleep deprivation is and how it can really contribute to fatigue, depression, your whole attitude about life in general. Today I feel more optimistic about just about everything.

Not sure what to do next regarding getting more sleep. I have been making an effort to get to bed earlier...but it still does not create in me any desire to get up for the day at 6 AM. Also it makes me wake up every hour on the hour and be "up" for good at 3 AM despite still being exhausted. 

I keep telling myself this is what it will be like when baby T is here - up all night, etc. But at least I won't be pregnant then. And the birth will be behind me, and I'll have some idea of the costs. So, not saying it'll be easier, but at least I'll be better physically able to handle it. 

I will try a late night at the baby kennel once in December, too, so I can go to an early evening Christmas party. I don't plan to make a habit of that but there are no sitters for that night, and boy would it be great if he just happened to sleep in the next day-!

Friday, November 15, 2013

23 weeks

I ran into my ex-friend the other day. I was in a coffee shop with a play area I had set up as a meet up for my mommy & me group and someone said, "Hilary?" and tapped me on the shoulder. I thought for sure it was one of the group members, but no, it was my old friend. As a little recap, when B was about five months old I was at her house and her eight year old son asked who B's dad was and she blurted out that he was a very bad man who ran off. Although I asked for, and got, a sincere apology, I just couldn't get past it and brushed her off after that. She showed up at my door early one morning and I pussyfooted around the truth, mostly just telling her I know she meant nothing by it but I didn't feel comfortable around her anymore. I believe she called me once after that but then left me alone. And then there she was, right behind me.

I've thought about her a lot since the whole incident. I have zero interest in returning to a friendship with her, but the whole situation just sucks. I hate it when things end badly and unresolved, you know? But I accept that's the nature of human relationships. That's how it remains between me and both of my parents. Sometimes you just have to move on.

Anyway I could tell she was very happy to see me, and kept asking what I'd been up to and what was going on...I of course had to reference the pregnancy which felt awkward since her multiple miscarriages attempting to have a second child were always a huge issue (and the source of her anger, I think). Finally I had to order and then get to the play area because I didn't want people from the group to be wondering where I I left her without saying anything and she came to see me and said to call her if I ever need anything. The whole thing just made me sad. Friendships are so complicated, especially between women.

23 weeks today. The fear of preterm labor is always on my mind, particularly as the odd "saying goodbye to the group" post shows up on my WTE app of yet another woman who delivered a 22 or 23 weeks baby who just couldn't make it. Then someone on my FB group mentioned IUI as well as IVF are risk factors for preterm labor. I thought it was just IVF??? Or did she mean anything involving drugs (which I didn't use)? I googled this question but found nothing except multiples resulting from IUI causing risk of preterm labor, not singletons. I can't imagine an unmedicated IUI would cause a risk like that - I mean, you're not messing with your body's natural function at all; physically, it's the exact thing as natural conception. But anyway. None of this matters - I'm just obsessing for no good reason. Midwife appointment next Weds. I will for sure ask if I'm showing any signs; maybe she can measure my cervix. It sure would put my mind at ease if I knew everything looked normal. 

I am afraid of being shamed for my weight again, even though I'm seeing a different midwife this time. I did not gain the two pounds the first one wanted me to - it's more like four or five. I am currently 150 lbs which at a gain of a pound a week from now on puts me right at 167 again - even though I started 10 lbs lighter. I'm pretty bummed about it. But this definitely chalks up as yet another "things that won't matter in the long run".

Tomorrow I am trying out an experiment that might be a miserable failure. I have to be out during B's bed time and I couldn't get a sitter, so I am taking him to the baby kennel where they will put him to bed and I'll pick him up. When he was littler I did this all the time; but of course now it's different. Will he be ok being woken up and then put to bed at home three hours later than usual? There's no telling. But I feel like I should try it once. With babysitters booked for holidays and/or getting sick all the time, I may need this as a backup. Only if it doesn't disrupt his sleep, though. I feel somewhat buffered by the fact that since he's spent a lot of Saturdays there lately, he now loves it - runs off to play the minute I take him, and runs happily to me when I go to get him (before it was a sob fest on both ends). 

I have to admit he's been ridiculously cute lately. He is just so engaged and personable - he kept going over to one of the mommy group moms so she could poke his belly, and played really well with the other kids. He's imitating sounds like crazy, and today started saying, "ummmmm...yeah!" which I'm sure he picked up from me. He loves to play peekaboo with the curtains, and gets a huge kick out of sitting in the rocking chair (although I have to monitor him closely because he can easily flip it over in his enthusiasm). 

I was added to a Facebook group for mothers in my specific area and the name of a local parks dept preschool came up, one I had never heard of, that is right up the street from me at a rec center. I checked it out and it is an astonishing $85 A MONTH, for four three-hour days a week! How is that even possible? The catch is the kids have to be at least two and potty trained. But B is just four months short of being two, and potty training can follow any time. It looks like you can only sign them up in the summer for the coming fall so it may be a while, but if we could go there - oh, it would be so great! So cheap! It just shows you really do have to shop around when it comes to this stuff. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


This morning's experiment with Bumpus Plays in His Room Alone kind of worked, until it didn't. I was happy that at least after giving him some snacks, a clean diaper (pull ups worked well, btw), a cuddle and an explanation of what was about to happen, he didn't issue a peep and seemed quite happy in there for quite a while...until he wasn't. Needless to say I was a ball of nerves the whole time, and had a contractor coming over at 8:30 AM, so there was zero sleep or even rest to be had. But hey, at least I tried.

And will continue to try. I think it's worth a shot to see if this scheme is even possible. If it were as simple as just going to bed early I would have done that ages ago and his 6 AM wake ups would be a non-issue. Unfortunately I have work-related functions that keep me out until midnight or later at least once a week, sometimes more. So those mornings after are miserable, and trying to adjust to being in bed asleep by 10 is just physically impossible when every week I'm required to be driving home for an hour or more at 1 AM. 

So for now I'll keep trying the "play in your room" method for a few more days. At least now I know I can stash him in there for a few minutes so I can shower in the morning again which would be awesome. I really despise showering at night. Although it does make my sheets fresh and shampoo-y. 

Handyman came around today to install more cabinet latches. I decided I can't handle his tearing apart the whole kitchen several times a day. There's always this fine line between being the crazy control freak mom and the loose "the world is your playground" mom. I guess we all just have to find our comfort level in this department. I came to realize stooping over to put away my banged-up, dirty (after he stepped in them) pans fifty times a day, with a big pregnant belly and when he doesn't even seem to enjoy playing with them but instead just dumps everything and then runs off to find something else to dump, simply does not work for me. So, call me the mean mommy. I'm already about 50% more relaxed knowing those cabinets are now out of bounds. 

I have also secured the broom closet so he can no longer pull out the broom and whack me in the back of the head with it when I least expect it. Yesss. I will get this child to play with his actual toys if it kills me.

People love to issue platitudes like "you don't need toys, just let them play with real life objects". Oh, how I wish this were true. Unfortunately I have recently discovered the following: most (modern) toys, unlike adult objects, are designed to protect against cuts, choking, poisoning, strangulation, falling and poking an eye out, etc. Also, you may not so much want your enthusiastic toddler "playing with" (read: banging, smashing, chewing, throwing, slobbering on) your adult objects, like books, keys, phones, remotes, etc. One TV programmed to Spanish forever or car alarm going off at 6 AM and you'll see what I mean. Oh, and that cute toddler banging your pot lids together on the kitchen floor? It might look sweet on camera but it's not so fun to live with the splitting headache that racket causes, nor discover that your pot lids are now all bent and won't fit on your pans anymore. Good times. I say bring on the toys. And awesome, Big Boy-style independent play.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Operation Momma Needs Sleep

So...after a week of being dragged out of bed at 6 AM, often after not getting to sleep until midnight or one or later, and trying everything to keep B entertained so I can at least lie down a little longer (taking him up to the playroom, letting him ransack my bedroom, cartoons, etc), and failing, I think it's time to bring out the big in, it's time to make B stay in his bedroom in the morning, whether he likes it or not.

I have no idea how to accomplish this, or if it even can be accomplished. Unlike sleeping in his own room which could have gone either way, trying to shut him in his room I know is going to be a huge scream fest. Even now if I put a closed door between me and him he completely freaks out. But if I were afraid of a scream fest, he'd still be keeping me up all night breastfeeding and sleeping in my bed with me. And I am desperate - DESPERATE - for some sleep. I just don't know what else to do other than encourage him to hang out in his room and play while I sleep just a little longer. 

I could put a gate rather than a closed door...unfortunately the gate I have is missing pieces and unusable; fortunately I have my handyman coming over tomorrow so he can maybe jerryrig it. But this also means one more morning of being tortured if I don't just try to put him in there this moment I'm not sure how to handle it. All I know is that I'm tired.

I spent much of this evening shifting crap around in anticipation of doing more baby proofing tomorrow. I have decided to make more of the cabinets off limits to B. He has a million toys he never touches - and I'm just kind of over everything in all of my cabinets being dumped all over the floor all of the time. Again, he's not going to like it, but it's time to set some limits. He can bring toys into the kitchen and play if he wants - but I'm a little sick of cast iron skillets being dropped on my
toes, pans being banged and dented, and frying pans stepped in with dirty feet, slipped on, and resultant screaming. Over it!

I'm also over his overnight diaper coming undone and sodden every night and poop smearing all down his legs and into the footies of his pyjamas. Over it! I bought some pull-ups and he's got one on now. We'll see if it works out any better. 

Nothing on this earth would make me happier than B entertaining himself for an hour or two after waking up. Is this even reasonable at his age? Am I asking too much? Should I try to survive the remainder of this pregnancy on four to six hours' sleep a night? Ugh!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


This morning I caught the tail end of an NPR story about a woman who gave up her cubicle job to row across the Atlantic. It was a harrowing tale of near death experiences, fear, loneliness, and exhilaration. At one point the interviewer asked her why she put herself in that position - couldn't she have just gotten another job? She answered that the fear of not doing it was worse than the fear of doing it. This really struck a chord with me, since it so much sums up how I've been feeling lately. It's the "damned if you do..." concept I touched on earlier. It sounds a lot more negative than I mean it. But even in my worst moments lately I've been cognitive of the fact that yes, raising small children on your own is hella hard at times, but life with no children would have just been unacceptable to me. And that's why I had one and am having another. Because I know myself and I just never would have been satisfied with anything else.

So, to me, not having children is far scarier than facing the challenges of having them. There have been many times lately where I've felt sad that I had to miss out on something fun or felt resentful that I have to get up so &/!@ early or run myself ragged keeping B busy and entertained. And those feelings are very real. But I always ask myself, have you considered the alternative? The way life would really look for me right now - 41, still single, childless, while all my single friends get snapped up and have one and then another child, while everyone asks, "have you tried e-harmony?", while I get invited to more baby showers and weddings, while people fifteen years younger than me get get my point. And again it's not to devalue my former life or make me look pathetic and lonely, which I was neither. But at 38 I could see the writing on the wall and I didn't like it. So I did this dramatic, crazy thing, and created two people.

So, was it worth it? This phrase, "worth it", is used a lot on my birth boards. Whenever a woman complains about her miserable pregnancy everyone chimes in that once you hold your baby in your arms, "it'll all be worth it." Do I believe this? Maybe on some level, but I would never use that term. Is extreme emotional or physical pain ever worth anything? When I held Bumpus for the first time, did I "fall in love" or say to myself, "it was all worth it"? Nope! I said, "thank God that hell is over!" and then prepared for the next thing - getting us out of the hospital, getting us breastfeeding, and learning the ropes as a new mom. So, was Bumpus "worth" that unpleasant pregnancy and horrible birth? I just don't look at it that way. I simply accept that this is (sometimes) what it takes to make a person. And that the alternative - not doing it because you're too scared - is not acceptable. And so we march on to the second and last baby.

As I've noted many times, I wish I could be more sanguine on this issue. But I think I can safely say at this point that it's just not my style. I don't believe in platitudes or glossing over reality. Babies and little kids are hard, period. But so is anything "worth" having. Thankfully I was blessed with a happy, healthy kid who much of the time is an utter delight. And the times when he's not...well...I may be gritting my teeth and thinking "I hate this I hate this I hate this", but I never wish I hadn't had kids; I never think this was all a big mistake and I'd be better off without them, because I know that's just not true. 

So in my worst moments I think of this, and it does help. Most of us parents of babies and toddlers just get through each day, sometimes exchanging deer-in-headlights glances, sensing each other's pain, and exhilaration. And sometimes that baby's giggle does kind of sort of make it all worth it. 

Doin' it

Readin' it

Standin' on it

Ridin' it

Wearin' it

Rockin' it

Growin' it

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I'm pleased to announce that Bumpus slept the whole night in his own room last night. He woke up a couple of times but soothed himself right away. Before I went to bed I went in to check on him - and found his door really hard to open for some reason; I thought he had gotten out of bed and fallen asleep in front of it (I used to do this, apparently). I contemplated leaving him there rather than waking him up and risking a whole to-do, but the thought of his little body curled up on the cold floor was just too much for me so I pushed the door open, only to find him safe in bed. 

I was surprised I had zero anxiety about his not being at arm's-length for the first night in his entire life; I guess when you're ready, you're ready. Also I discovered I could practically hear him breathe right through the wall, so there was no worry about him climbing things in the night and falling and me not hearing it. I kept running through everything in the room in my mind and telling myself I had baby proofed as much as any person reasonably could; outlets covered, no dangling curtain cords, very little to climb on, nothing to choke on, nothing sharp, etc etc, and that if anything happened now there was no way of preventing it. Not that that's a terribly comforting thought, but there is something to be said for giving something your best effort.

This morning I popped awake just before 7 and waited, wondering if I should check in on him again - but within seconds I heard him talking to himself, then a thump, little feet, a door opening, then my door opening. So, good, he didn't wake up scared or disoriented. I asked him if he enjoyed sleeping in his big boy room and he shouted, "yeah!" I think it was good he spent some time in the room over the last few days so he got acquainted with where everything is. We'll see how tonight's bedtime goes. I *think* now that he's done it once, he'll be ok. I dismantled his pack 'n play so there's no turning back now. 

He still ransacked my room a bit this morning but I hope his own room will have more allure for him soon. 

After our awful morning yesterday I took him to a nice park in South Pasadena because I just didn't know what else to do with him - and it worked; after clinging to me for a few minutes (he was just in an awful mood yesterday, what can I say? He's entitled) he jumped up and played and we actually had a really nice time. I met a nice couple with a one-year-old who were eager to compare notes. When the wife was off rinsing sand out of their kid's eyes, the husband asked the famous question, "does your husband have red hair, too?" I debated for a minute, hesitated, and then said, "it's kind of more auburn." Why didn't I tell this obviously non-judgy hipster the truth? Well, it's going to sound stupid, but I didn't want the wife coming back over and hearing I'm single and feeling all threatened. I find married women are very threatened by single women - well, some of them. Some are certainly threatened by women who choose to have babies on their own because they can't imagine the strength it would take to do that - and it makes them question their own choices. This was a topic of conversation at our last SMC meeting. Again, this doesn't apply to all people, just some. And, well...I just thought it would make everyone more comfortable if I pretended to have a husband. Some women commented on the Facebook SMC group that they always tell people the truth so that donor conception can be more normalized and "out there". And I'm all for that. It really makes me think I should start telling the truth from now on no matter how it makes people feel. I mean, it's kind of like pretending to be straight when you're not, just to "keep the peace", isn't it?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

First Night

It's only 7:30 so this night is far from over - it's only just begun. But B is, for now, asleep in his own room. I am completely paranoid about all noise and have been tiptoeing and whispering (to myself) for the last hour, which is beyond silly. I was going to just hang out in my room tonight so he wouldn't be disturbed by the noise from the living room, but decided like everything else in this process it's best to just go for it. So far so good.

To put him to sleep I just walked him in there in his pjs, sang him his goodnight song ("Now it's Kinda Time to Go to Sleep"), and attempted to lay him down on the bed. No go. He was breathing heavily and distressed and kept trying to get off the bed, not understanding what was going on. I went out to rinse his toothbrush and he completely lost it, so I just lay down with him on the bed for about a half hour until he fell asleep, then tiptoed out. I think he woke up a few minutes ago and then went back to sleep, which is a good sign. 

I have no idea how the rest of this night will go. Last night even in the familiarity of his pack 'n play in my bedroom he suddenly woke up hysterical around 11 PM and when I went in he had climbed up onto my bed and was perched there. It made me nervous about doing the switch tonight - but again, there's no time like the present, right? I've waited a long time for the opportunity to move B into his own space and I'll be damned if I'm going to sabotage it now. 

This is another one of those milestones that are now permanently met - much like feeding him real adult food, he'll never go back to breast milk. He's in a real bed in his own room - where he'll be until he moves out. The next big one is potty training which I have no intention of attempting any time soon, and then entrusting him to the LA school system every day. One giant leap forward, huh?

Why did the children put beans in their ears?

"Why did the children
            put beans in their ears
            when the one thing we told the children
            they must not do
            was put beans in their ears?

            "Why did the children
            pour molasses on the cat
            when the one thing we told the children
            they must not do 
            was pour molasses on the cat?"

- Carl Sandberg

God bless 'im, I do believe Carl Sandberg summed up the dilemma of parenting in those few lines. Right now I am asking myself, "why???" Why does Bumpus have to be so utterly exasperating sometimes? And there is no answer to this except to say, "because it's his nature." Because he's a normal toddler boy. Because I was like that, and my mother and father were like that, and their patents before them, and on and on. 

I think of my mother often at these times - I think about my personal issues, the things that plague me every day; fear of birth, financial woes, house stuff, issues around my business - and wonder what she was dealing with when I was B's age - a crappy relationship, feeling trapped and oppressed, exploring a new (dangerous) religion. I think about my aunt, who is closer to my experience in that she had two boys two years apart (my mother had two girls ten years apart). How did she feel? Did she bemoan her house being ransacked on a daily basis as I do? Was she as fed up with the kicking, screaming, and tantrums as I am? Probably. Just like every mother of every toddler since the beginning of time. And so it goes.

Today did not begin well. Honestly, none of my days begin well - they are always a morass of being kicked in the uterus, elbowed in the eye, cleaning up the pee and poop positively pouring out of B's overnight diaper (and having to wash all of his bedding and pjs), feebly entreating B to please stop banging the door into the wall over and over and over again (all of my walls now have door knob-shaped holes in them), watching helplessly as he pulls down my lamp, climbs on the dresser and throws himself back on the mirror over and over, pulls down all my jewelry, empties all the drawers on the floor, and tips over the glass of water by my bed, each time throwing a fit when I tell him no or take something out of his hands. This is what goes on from 6:30 AM until 8:30 AM when I finally give up trying to get any more rest or trying to interest him in whatever cloying children's programming is on and just give up and get him breakfast. I would like to point out that he screams, struggles to get out of his high chair, and kicks me all through breakfast, too, until he *finally* settles down just a little bit. Then I strap him in the car and drive somewhere - anywhere - just so I can get a fucking BREAK. And then I only have eight hours to go. And this is our day, every day. And I hate it.

Today I was all excited because I'd set up his room completely the night before, so left both of our doors open in the plan that, bored with my grown-up room, he would trot on over to his own room and play with the rocking car, tent, and bevy of toys when he woke up. Nope. He just went in there, saw that the door from his room to the living room was closed, and stood in front of it crying hysterically until I came and got him. No amount of distraction with the toys or TV would help. He just came in and slammed my door over and over and tore my whole room apart again. I would like to point out that he does not want to be held or cuddled during any of this. It seems like the only thing he wants to do is slam doors, throw everything on the floor, and throw things in the toilet. These are the only things that make him happy.

I shudder to imagine what it's going to be like trying to get him to sleep in that room tonight. I can only see it as a big fat failure. I think I have a lot of rough nights ahead of me. But I have to at least try. He has to sleep in there eventually, right? So, try I must. But considering the reaction to the room this morning it does not bode well at all.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Operation Big Boy Room

Bumpus' room is done - sort of. Since the inside of the doors and the inside of the door frames were the last to be painted, I was advised not to close the doors at all for 24 hours, and the longer I could hold out, the better. Which sucks considering I wanted this whole transition to the big room done weeks ago. But truth be told there's a ton I need to do to make it habitable - a bit of painting (although honestly I may just say the heck with the painting), a lot of moving furniture around, and general organizing. I tried to do it all last night but it was just impossible - after getting B to bed, taking out five bags of trash (down three flights of stairs), carting a bunch of junk up the ladder to the playroom, carting a bunch of stuff down the ladder to the bedroom, two loads of laundry, setting up his bed, sorting a bunch of newborn clothes, unscrewing (with a quarter) his vintage high chair set up and remaking it into a table and chair, and being thirsty, starving, and having to pee, I decided to make it a two night process. 

So tonight I'll wheel the crib into my bedroom in preparation for Theo, wheel the impractical vintage buggy into the living room in preparation for being sold, organize more clothes, and in general make the room safe and clean for him to be in without my supervision. 

The last two days I've been plunking him on the bed with some toys to make it a safe, fun place for him in the hopes that it's not scary. I have NO idea how he's going to react to being put to bed there instead of his (now tiny) pack and play. So I'm trying to get him used to the idea of the bedroom being the fun place where the toys are and where he sleeps. Alone. Like a big boy. Can he do it???

I think tomorrow night's the night. My one big concern is the room is not at all sound proofed from the living room - just testing it out with the door closed and the TV on in the living sounds like the TV is right in his room. Which could be a major problem. Or could not matter at all. Maybe it'll make him feel safe knowing I'm right there?? 

Anyway, operation Big Boy Room is in effect. Tonight will (hopefully) be the last night I spend with B in my room. Four short months of autonomy and then T will be in there. Not sure when I'll move him in with Bumpus. I guess like everything so far, I'll play it by ear!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Braxton Hicksing

I was Braxton Hicksing all over the place yesterday. It really had me worried, and had me looking up "signs of preterm labor" again and again and wondering if I should drag B out of bed and go to the emergency room. In the end I tried to remember what I'd had to drink all day and realized it was a cup of tea in the morning and just a couple of mouthfuls of water during the day - no wonder! I had a bottle of water and immediately the almost constant contractions stopped and haven't been heard from since. So yet another thing I'm going to have to do better. I've been reluctant to really fill my
bladder lately because when I sneeze (and I sneeze all day long) and have a full
bladder, I pee my pants. And not just a little squirt - a full-on accident wherein I have to change my underwear and pants. Now I get those commercials for Depends which depict a woman joyfully jumping on a trampoline saying, "I've had four kids!"

Bumpus' room can't be ready fast enough. I'm soooo tired of him pulling apart my whole bedroom in the morning. I was hoping I'd get an extra hour of sleep due to the time change, but of course not - he had me up at 6:45, and would not be satiated by cartoons; he was a ball of energy today, just ripping the whole room apart until I finally gave in and got up to make him breakfast. Now we're up in the playroom where he can horse around at will. I don't know that he'll even want to spend time in his room - he usually wants to be where I am. But I figure if I put all the fun things in there...maybe...? He seemed very content sitting at a kid's table at a friend's party the other day and messing around with crayons - I'm not quite ready to unleash him on the world of objects that make marks, but I did just order him some of those markers that only write on a special mat. I can live with that. Maybe, just maybe, I can sneak out for a shower...?

I'm also so glad he'll have a playmate in the next couple of years. As noted I completely suck in that department, so the idea of two boys who can play together is awesome. Just thinking about being able to go to a playground and be able to sit and watch rather than follow him around on the damned thing to make sure he doesn't crack open his skull - heaven!

Finally have made some decisions regarding my upcoming event and who to hire. I will send out all offers next week and see what I can get. Nothing would quash my anxiety better than having my event set up and ready to go for next year. In other news, I have been sending out DVDs for this German couple for nearly ten years as a little side job, and this week they wrote to tell me they're closing their shop. This has been coming for some time so honestly I'm somewhat relieved - I sure could use the space their DVDs and old VHS currently take up in my office, and with a new baby the job will be very stressful. But this does also
mean I am now out a guaranteed $200 + in income a month for something I only have to deal with every other week or so. Still, it isn't bothering me like I'd been expecting - I guess because I know I need to simplify my life now, and although it'll hurt now to not have that money, someday when things turn around I won't even notice. Sunrise, sunset, huh?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Stuff, Part II

My mood has been astoundingly good since my meltdown last week. I can legitimately blame hormones for this roller coaster, right??? Now I feel like myself. I don't know what came over me last Monday. I blame the music.

Tonight I spent some rare quality time with my computer. I try to never use it unless it's something I can't do on my phone. One thing I can't do from my phone (I don't think) is work on Amazon wish lists. I need to update B's for Christmas and his birthday, take off all the books and DVDs I no longer want from my own wish list, and start a registry for baby Theo. So I got those tasks done (mostly) tonight.

Can I just say what a pleasure it is to work on a baby registry when you know from experience what you actually use??? It's AWESOME. I remember last time I had a LOT of anxiety about "stuff", and rightfully so - so much of the stuff I got I never used. And I hate not using things, almost as much as I hate having to figure out what to do with the things I haven't used. The only thing I'm having a hard time selecting is a baby monitor - I never used one with B because he was always in my room with me, but babysitters could really have used one, so I would like to invest in an IPhone compatible monitor. I have to do a lot more research first, though. That's a big ticket item. The other stuff, though - I just need another Brest Friend, a double stroller, some Halo swaddlers, a diaper genie (I'm waving the white flag with my cute vintage diaper pail - it positively REEKS), and...that's kind of it. Mom Guru gave me a ton of newborn clothes so I am set there, and if I do have a shower (I hope...?) I'm sure I'll get lots of clothes anyway. It's just such a joy to know exactly what you need for a baby, and realize, yeah - not much!

B's room is still not done, of course. The doors are hung but not finished; lots of little details still to do. I have to say, I love the look of the doors. Especially the new kitchen door which has a window in it and which festered in my shed all this time and I'm finally using. I cannot wait to set everything up in B's room. I never did get to set up a proper nursery that B would spend any time in, so this is kind of my chance - he will sleep in there, get dressed in there, hopefully play in there. I'm excited. Probably not 'til next week, though. I'll take pictures.

In other news, was semi convinced I was in pre-term labor last night. I'm still not entirely convinced I'm not; I'm Braxton Hicks-ing all over the place, but only when I sit a certain way (in the car, or the glider). Obviously I'm not overly concerned - I know Braxton Hicks start around now and it's totally normal. I just think last time I didn't know what this feeling was, but now I do, so I'm more aware of it. Last time I remember I'd been having Braxton Hicks for months before I could pinpoint what they were. That odd tightening of the belly along with a tingling along your skull - there's really nothing quite like it. And they're nothing like actual labor. But I'm just in that funny in-between zone where I'm just pregnant enough but still three weeks from any kind of viability - and at the point where things seem to go fatally wrong for a lot of people. So it's a bit nerve wracking.

I have two - count 'em, TWO - movie dates with girlfriends this weekend, while B goes to play at the Baby Kennel. Boy do I need it!