Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Headache Daze

2012 has been a strange year.

I started working part time about 10 hours a week which has been really nice and really interesting in a car accident sort of way. You don't want to look, but you can't not.

I really don't have time or clarity of mind to devote to working, but I really want to be one who can focus on both work and home and all the things in between. So I feel like my life and my responsibilities are piling up like the garbage in Shel Silverstein's "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out" poem and my role over the past 4 months has been to dash from one pile to another and catch the item on top that is toppling to the ground and add it to another stack in time to grab the next thing before it falls to the ground.

Not a whole lot besides the most urgent thing is getting done, nothing on the bottom of the piles is being touched, there is not much planning or control over anything. Car accident interesting. Will she be found days later buried under the pile she just couldn't conquer? But I also thrive in these false urgency situations.

The new wild card that has been thrown in in 2012 is the migraines I have been getting more often than ever in my life. I will be going along great, packing it all in, whittling down the piles of to-dos, getting childcare and help to make it happen and then I get knocked down by blinding, crushing migraines.

I had one today and the head pain part only lasted under two hours, but I have been wiped out and dizzy the rest of the day. The pain is at least visceral and makes sense to me. The dizziness and nausea and utter exhaustion is so strange. I feel like I am walking around in a dream. Am I drunk? no. Am I alive? I think so, but I feel like my blood is gelatin and every sensation is thicker, slower, odd.

Luckily my husband was home today and he did all my work for our home/family. I am going to bed early tonight.

Friday, August 6, 2010

It really IS "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius"

My baby boy is growing up. He is almost one now. And he has decided he does not want to breastfeed. The night of August 3 at bedtime he refused the breast by biting every time he went to latch. He had been biting lightly once a day for about 3 weeks but I would say "No Biting!" and set him away from me and take a break and then he would try again without biting. This time he kept biting and then cried when I offered him the breast again. After about 15 tries I got the message. He cried for hours, soothed by nothing except my reading to him. He pointed to each picture on the page and looked at me to name what he was pointing at. It was like he was telling me this is what he wants me to be for him now- his teacher, his guide, not his milk supply. It was heartbreaking and also admirable. He fussed a lot as if he was vocalizing what I was feeling and finally fell into a fitful sleep. In the morning he still would not breastfeed. He bit again. He would not take a bottle or a sippy cup of frozen or pumped milk. I could only get him to take 2 sips of breastmilk from a glass that I held up to his lips. He ate about 4 spoonfuls of plain yogurt and then pushed all other attempts away. He screamed and cried the whole time. And so we read. He pointed and I named. I got the girls to summer school and then I called the doctor's office and asked the nurse if I could give him regular cow's milk at 11 months. She said no. Not until 11 months 2 weeks at the earliest. She scheduled him for an appointment with a doctor that afternoon to make sure he didn't have an ear infection. I finally pumped- just for relief. He would not take the pumped milk in a bottle, sippy cup or glass. I called a lactation consultant and she was very kind and empathetic. She said she would guess he was sick and to keep trying, that I was doing all the right things. I needed to hear that. It was so hard to not be able to soothe him and to not be able to feed him. I needed to cry, but I knew that if I started I would not be able to stop. So I picked up the girls, took him to the doctor. He was fine. The doctor said he could start cow's milk with a vitamin supplement right now at 11 months. We got home from the doctor and I realized I had not eaten all day either. I looked back and all three kids were fast asleep in their carseats- the one break in the baby's screaming all day. I drove to Marin to get myself lunch at in-n-out burger. I forgot there was no drive-thru there. So I sat in the parking lot while my kids slept grateful for the quiet trying not to cry. When they woke up all three were cranky. We went in and got food and ate it in the car. Carter spilled her milk all over the car floor. David screamed for french fries. I wanted to curl up in a ball and sleep for days. On the drive home the baby screamed and the girls tried to sing to him in such a caring sweet way. The "Maint Req'd" light came on on my dashboard. Time for an oil change. I first thought- great- one more errand I don't have time to do. One more thing that my husband will prioritize over all the other things that need to get done when he is home. But then I thought: I wish I had an indicator light. I need to maintain myself too. I need to eat on time. And shower. And reach a minimum of organization so that I can relax and enjoy my house without dreading the attic or the garage or the drawers. I am a mess right now. Sad without an outlet. Rationally knowing why yet not able to emerge from the sadness. My baby is growing up. He does not want to breastfeed anymore. I am proud of him, but I also wish I knew that last time was the last. He is my last baby and I am saying goodbye to his total dependence on me. Saying goodbye to his infancy. I miss it. I know I will grow to like having it behind me, but it has gone so painfully fast. I treasured more of it this time. I relished those quiet moments with his baby's breath on my skin, the scent of his hair. But I can't hang onto it forever. In one night it was gone forever. I was not ready.

I am recovering. He finally finally took a bottle and with that boost of calories, stopped his incessant screaming. Some twisted part of my brain is making me think I should pump for 2 more months so that this baby gets breast milk as long as my first two did. So I am scrambling to fit 4 pumping sessions in to my already disorganized schedule. Pumping, bottle feeding, washing pump and bottle parts, tending to all 3 kids and the dog, trying not to mourn too much the passage of time. I can focus on the good of it- I will have my body back, other people can help feed and soothe him, he can get other comfort from me, he is growing up and is thriving and healthy. I am thankful. I am sad. Dave Eggers' title was exactly right.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Just finishing a week solo parenting. Some thoughts:

This season is going by faster than any other before. It is a bit easier because the girls are older and entertain each other. It is also harder because there are three kids now and the dog seems to throw up the fourth day David is gone. We took a long trip during David's longest road trip so far and it was really fun so that helped a lot. Only four road trips left of this season, including another really long one. The season is almost 2/3 over.

I want to find more time to write but I am so disorganized that whenever I do have time to do all the things I want to do, I am like a deer in headlights- frozen. I have no normal schedule or to-do list. I am not myself for the past 10 months in this regard. Mostly I think about what I want to write about as I am breastfeeding the baby.

I want to write about how he pinches me with tiny little thumb and forefinger just testing out the different textures of the skin on my hand, my forearm, my bicep. My chest, my neck, my chin. He lulls himself to sleep doing this. He is stronger and pinches harder when he is not nursing, but he does not go to sleep nursing unless he does this light gentle pinching while nursing. I hope I always remember how it feels to be part of his little sleep ritual. Meditation on my skin textures while drifting off. His little pinches.

I also want to write about how he has started pointing. His little index finger extended and his little thumb bent at a 90 degree angle and his other fingers curled. He has a perfect point motion and he points to things multiple times until I name them out loud for him. When I sing the ABC's and get to the Z while rocking him in his rocker, he points to the Z sign with a zebra on it. He loves Z.

He moves my chin to turn my head and puts his little index finger on a mole on my neck. I want to cry it is so sweet. He knows the landscapes of my face and he finds all the landmarks every time he sees me.

I want to write about how he discovered that the feet in his new moose pajamas are moose faces and he stared at one foot for a full minute in still silence. After the minute he took his leg in both hands and rotated his ankle to move the moose face on his foot. He used his brain to figure out how to make the new character on his foot move around. So interesting to see him put it all together.

I want to write about how much the girls are growing up. How they are fighting more now and I am both horrified by their fights and relieved that both of them are standing up for themselves equally instead of one always giving in all the time to the bossy whims of the other who knows her sister will always give in to her. Mixed bag, this fighting.

I want to write about how I just missed a trip to see Jon accept the Ford C. Frick Award at Cooperstown because I am not ready to wean, and then the baby started biting me at every feed making me feel like I need to wean. The thought of weaning could make me burst into tears. I am not ready. I don't understand why, but I just know I am not. Even though breastfeeding hurts really badly right now.

I want to write about how I got to read 4 books in the month of July (so far) and it was so lovely to read again. I missed it.

I want to write about how I finally paid the $10 to download the entire Indigo Girls Rites of Passage album and I listened to it for the first time since my breakup freshman year of college and it was so good to hear it again. Not emotional or heartbreaking like I thought it would be. Freeing.Liberating. Loved it. It only took me fifteen years.

I want to write about how I have really happy days most days. I am in love with my kids and my husband and am not feeling too bad about the death of my career because I feel like I am where I need to be right now and that feels really good. But then some hours or days I am very sad. Lump in my throat, could cry any second, and I feel really lost and like I am being buried alive and can't find my way out. It is such a strange feeling because logically I know my life is great and everything is okay, but I can't shake the sadness. I don't let myself give into it, I keep going and usually I feel better fairly quickly, but it is chilling sometimes.

I want to write about how I do not feel proactive about anything and I HATE that. I feel like life is just happening to me right now and I am taking it as it comes and rolling with it and doing an okay job of floating, but I have no idea where I am going. Then if there is any disruption in the current I am flailing and gasping for air and then exhausted from the tiny swell. I used to be a deliberate, planned, proactive person. I cannot seem to get that back now that it's the baseball season and I have three kids and an infant nap schedule and countless 4 year old activities to drive to and from.

I bought an elliptical machine to try to be more proactive about exercising while I am trapped at home for nap time or after bedtime. The first hurdle was the delivery scheduled for when I was out of town. Got over that one. Second hurdle was that it required two people for assembly. My friend Paige spent 4.5 hours helping me out of that one. My third and current hurdle is that I don't think we assembled one of the steps correctly and because of that it feels like it is going to fly apart when I use it. I am trying not to be bummed, but now I feel like this will delay use of it for a month while I try to resolve it with the company over the phone, order replacement parts, wait for their arrival, try to assemble the new parts, etc. It is under warranty but I dread what that means- do I have to dissassemble the whole thing and mail it back to get a new one that I have to assemble again? Or pay hundreds of dollars for the extended warranty with service calls included? Why can NOTHING you order to be delivered to your house ever be easy? So much for being proactive.

The baby is crawling! He started last Tuesday July 20. It is more like a three legged scoot, but he gets around. I now spend his waking hours following him around and making sure he doesn't put tiny dangerous choking hazards in his mouth. Still, I pull about 5 things out of his mouth every day and shudder when I think of how he could have choked on it. I fear the magnets that the girls insist on playing with- they are magnetic paper doll things and I really need to get rid of all of them. They play with them all day every day currently. Great.

The baby has five teeth now and counting. He grinds his teeth. He puts his teeth together and opens his lips and crinkles his nose and inhales and exhales through his clenched jaw to indicate impatience and that he wants to be picked up. It is a funny face that I cannot seem to capture on camera.

I have about 50 thank you notes to write. Laundry to fold, piles of paper to file, many areas to declutter and organize and clean. My life feels really unruly right now.

I always have this false hope while David is gone that when he gets back I will have time to do so many of the little things I have no hope of doing while he is away. That is never true. When he is home he still has to work so he comes and goes and spends time catching up on his own stuff and getting ready for work. He creates more laundry and dishes and to-dos. He is cranky about what needs doing and his list is different from mine so we both get annoyed. We spend a few days getting back into the groove of working together and then once we are back in the swing he has to leave again.

I guess I just needed a brain dump. I wish I could be more dedicated and organized about posting. Not in the cards right now.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sick Month

I am realizing this week that we have been battling illness in our house for the past 6 weeks. Girls have stayed home from school far too much, it has rained a ton, I have been sick myself for about a month now. I am not getting enough rest to get better and it turns out I had a nasty bug that is resistant to the first round of antibiotics I was on. I stalled going to the doctor myself because I was too busy, then I was hesitant to go on antibiotics because I am breastfeeding and don't want to expose the baby to too many antibiotics too early unless it is truly necessary. Last week I was at my wits end with it. I was on my 10th day with a sore throat- sore enough to take advil every night. I was tired of trying to beat it with hot water that burns my tongue, gargling and snorting salt water, gargling with mouthwash and drinking a ton of water and OJ. Nothing was working and I was exhausted and in pain and wanted my own mom to take care of me instead of being up all night holding a coughing congested baby as he moaned in pain himself. Every single person in our family has been on antibiotics. I on two types. The baby is now battling a double ear infection and will not nap for more than 30 minutes. He moans and moans in pain and will not be put down when he is awake. I feel so bad for him, but I also feel bad that there is nothing I can do to soothe him. I give him Tylenol as often as I can, but it clearly is not enough. I hope the antibiotics work for him soon.

All of this has made me realize a few things: First, I am so incredibly grateful for health insurance. We have been to the pediatrician and the pharmacy countless times these past six weeks and we are still barely getting better. If I had to pay out of pocket each visit, I know I would be putting off the visits to the doctor and it would be a lot more stressful than it already is. I know our bills for all these visits will still be expensive, but without insurance, this six week period could put us in serious debt. Scary.

Second: I don't want to be a mom who puts herself last. It was really stupid of me to put off going to the doctor for so long. I know I was in a fog of sleep deprivation and worry about my kids and their health, but I need to also consciously take care of myself so I can better take care of my family.

Third: I have had too much comfort contact with my kids and not enough with my husband. I realize I have been holding at least one child every waking hour, and even in the sleeping hours. I am so glad that I can be there for my kids and that my body can be a comfort to them, but I need a day without dried snot on my neck and shoulders and in my hair. I need to give my hands a rest from constantly washing them. My back and hips and neck are so stiff from rocking and holding and lifting and soothing sick kids, and coughing as far out of their face as I can. And yet, I have barely touched my husband even for a hug since I have been sick. At first I wanted to stay as far away from him as possible. I don't want to get him sick and I have a hacking cough which is not nice to have in someone's embrace. Plus, when you can't breathe the last thing you want is someone crowding out your breathing room. But now, it's been over a month that I have been like this and I miss him! I still don't want to get him sick, but I just buried my head in his shoulder for a long hug. Adults need comfort and soothing too!

Fourth: Fevers are freaking SCARY. Part of me is in awe that our bodies can raise their temperatures to fight a bug. What a cool system! But when it is my own sweet babies who are burning up and glassy eyed, I am not so thrilled. My girls become motor-mouths when they have a fever. My first instinct now when they wake me up in the night to tell me something is to feel their forehead. 100% of the time they have a fever. I can handle it when they are talkative with a fever. The 104+ fevers that make them really quiet, so that you can hear their hearts beating out of their chests and see their gaze looking distant, those scare me to death. I cannot dose the Tylenol fast enough. I become the motor mouth, asking them questions, trying to get them to come back to themselves just so I am reassured that they will be okay. I stay awake and stare at them and hold their hands until I can feel the Tylenol start to work and their fever start to come down. I can't sleep myself until it is below 102 again. Any sound and I am back checking their temperatures. What did mothers do before the 5 second ear thermometers?

Last, These past six weeks could have been a lot worse than they have been. My kids are happy kids, and healthy and strong except for this cold/ear infection/throat infection bender we've been on. I am so grateful that we have what we have.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


In the great parenting file this week we find me flipping through the channels when I should be cleaning up the kitchen or folding laundry. I stop on Fatal Attraction, the scene where Glenn Close is kicking Michael Douglas out and as he goes to leave she asks for one more goodbye hug and says, "Let's Be Friends." When he hugs her he sees she has slit her wrists and her blood is all over him. At this moment my daughter who has been watching from the upper steps, out of my view makes a whimper. Excellent. I have no clue how long she has been there. I tucked her in and she said, "What were they doing in that movie?" Wonderful.

Friday, January 15, 2010


I am about 36 hours into my few days of solo parenting and I really should be resting up for the night ahead, but I am thinking about so many things that I thought I would try to get some thoughts out so I could really sleep. (I hear laughter at the thought of actual sleep.)

My girls were incredible today. I needed to move quickly and go many places today and it could have been impossible. I would normally have had to cut my losses and prioritize what had to get done vs. what would be nice to get done. Today I didn't have to do that. They were up and playing at 7am. When I asked them to stop their very intricate pretend game they didn't completely ignore me as they usually do. They let me convince them to get dressed and clean their room and walk the dog to the bank. They didn't stumble over minor catastrophes that would normally sideline us for 10 minutes picking up the pieces of their detailed plan in their heads gone awry. They took turns and resolved disagreements quickly, they didn't throw a fit when I told them no or not now. They went with the flow! They were nice and aware of adults who tried to help them and acknowledged them with a response to their questions or suggestions. They did not lose it when I had to leave their sight to get their baby brother weighed and measured at the doctor. They are growing up. I can't believe how much they have grown up. My baby angels.

The dog even listened to me when I told him to be quiet as he waited outside for us while we ate a bagel for breakfast. He sat quietly until we came out. !

And baby David. He was a true angel as well. He fell asleep upright and facing out in the Baby Bjorn! He happily watched his sisters in gymnastics class. He ate when I could feed him and slept when I needed him to sleep. He didn't even cry when he got 3 shots in his leg at his 4 month check up! Someone was watching over me today.

And the house cleaners came today. The feeling of coming home to a clean house almost makes me weep with happiness.

My kids had a great report at the doctor for their 4 month and 4 year checkups. We are so blessed to have healthy and happy children.

It was a great day. And I am basking in its greatness. Full of gratitude.

But I am also heartbroken that so many people in Haiti are not having a great day. I can barely breathe when I think of the moms there, looking for their kids or trying to soothe their injured children. On CNN they said they witnessed a c-section that took place in an open-air makeshift hospital. I am thinking of that mom and her new baby. It is incomprehensible how lucky I am and how much my day surely contrasts with that of anyone there in Haiti. I am praying for everyone there. It is devastating.

Two very polar realities in one very memorable day.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Year, A New List

I took a long break from this blog. Mostly because I got too pregnant and overwhelmed and then I had the baby and had even less time. A little tiny bit because my husband told me that all I ever wrote about was how tired I was... Guess what!?! I WAS tired! Taking care of twins while pregnant with a huge baby boy by myself while he was on the road is tiring! There I go again...

So it's now 2010. And while time is still hard to come by, I have been thinking about blogging again. Let me start out slowly with a link to a list on one of my favorite blogs, Mightygirl.*


I think it is a good list to start the new year.

* I crossed paths with Maggie who writes MightyGirl this past summer, about a month before I had the baby. I was very pregnant and was waddling around a store on Fillmore called PaperChase. She was walking out as I was walking in and she gave me a HUGE, very genuine smile, probably in reaction to my giant belly. By the time I realized how I "knew" her, she was gone. But it was fun to see her in person- she is someone I would like to know and be friends with.