Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wobbling on the brink of madness

Griffin seems to have decided to make it much easier for me to return to work next week by becoming VERY difficult recently. Doesn't want to nap in his swing, won't fall asleep in my arms, screams when laid down in his crib, waking up at night umpteen million times, etc. Last night he woke up at 8:45, 10:45, 1:30, 3:30, and 4:30. YEEHAH!

He seems to have embarked on a lovely little adventure in reverse cycling - lucky me! I know this can be common when moms go back to work, and it appears he's quite the overachiever because he seems to be getting an early start. Most frustratingly, I can't rock him back to sleep when he awakes - no, he just gets increasingly fussy until he's picked up, at which point he usually flings himself in the general direction of my boobs. Sometimes he goes back to sleep after nursing, and sometimes I need to hold him and bounce him until he sleeps.

I suppose this is karma biting me in the ass for yammering on about what a GREAT sleeper I had a month or so ago, when he'd conk out from 8pm til 3am, wake to nurse, and sleep til 6. Oh, those beautiful days of long ago...I don't remember Carter doing this, though frankly, memory doesn't serve me well these days in my current state of stupefying exhaustion. At some point around 4.5 months I started doing dreamfeeds with Carter, and around 6 months I slowly cut down on the times of the feeds until I eliminated them altogether, which was an effective and painless sleep training. I would love to do the same with Little G, but he'd have to sleep longer than, oh, TWO HOURS IN A ROW in order to do it.

So there you go. I'm cranky, frustrated and (occasionally) MAD at my baby, and that's the worst feeling. He can't help it. He's four months old (15lbs, 11oz at our last appointment on Saturday). And yet, when he's exhausted but refusing to sleep or nurse and just wants to scream at me, my delirious mind starts racing with thoughts like You have been sent here to drive me mad! The gods must hate me!

I know this will get better. I've read enough baby development crap to know that we've been contending with the three-month growth spurt and the four-month sleep regression and all that good stuff. Plus, I recently stopped swaddling him AND last night moved him into a mini crib in our room instead of the tiny bassinet. Lots o' changes for one small person.

Today I asked my mother how she did it, how she coped with THREE of us under 5 (and according to my aunt's stories, we were kind of little assholes), and my dad who scarcely diapered a day in his life. That must have been a special kind of hell indeed. She said she had no idea. BUT she lived to tell the tale. So that's something.

Monday, January 23, 2012


You know what I love? I love that I am blessed with honest mom friends, the kind that love their children but don't sugarcoat just how freaking HARD it is to parent, instead of being all "oh, what? Every single second of this sh*t is MAGICAL! Rainbows and sunshine and bunnies!! I want six more! WHEEE!!!"

I love that I just texted my darling Katherine, saying that Griffin just had the most epic crying session of his young life and ISWEARTOGOD I almost left him in a basket on someone's doorstep. And she just responds with "Don't you wish there was an off switch?"

And yes, yes I do. And I'm no less of a mother for admitting that. Because this crap is HARD, ladies. So more power to you - every single one of you.

Oh SWEET MOTHER OF GOD, the crying is about to begin anew. Is 2:14pm too early for a stiff drink??

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My return to work looms ominously close on the horizon, and for the past few weeks I have been a bit melancholy. It really started when I discovered that of all the six couples in my birth class, I am the ONLY mommy still working (well, truthfully, we lost touch with one of them, but I am pretty sure she's SAHMing now). Earlier this month, the last two workin' moms from birth class quit their jobs (I'm looking at you, Erica!) to do the stay-at-home-mom thing, and for some reason this really hit me hard.

I remember exactly how difficult it was to go back to work and leave Carter. I remember standing over his little sleeping body, weeping, desperately wishing I could quit my job and stay home. I remember feeling so tremendously guilty for depriving him of a full-time mom. And then, when I did go back to work, feeling more guilty for (somewhat) enjoying it.

Leaving your baby in the care of someone else, no matter how loving, how capable, is gut-wrenching. You are handing over your heart to an $8 per hour daycare employee and trusting that - that what? That they will love them like you do? That they will coo at them, talk to them, give them kisses, play games with them, read books to them, make them know how special they are? That they will love them more than the other ten kids in the room? Or just that they will somehow, in some way, try to minimize the trauma your little one faces?

I read today that at 4-5 months, babies experience little separation anxiety because they're too busy being amazed at all the great stuff there is to look at around them. I really want to believe that's true. All I know is that when Carter started daycare at four months, he screamed for two days straight, refused bottles, wouldn't sleep, and generally freaked the F out. SIGH. But Griffin is a very different baby with a very different temperament. Where Carter was high-strung, the Finnster is mellow, which I hope will serve him well on February 1st when I slap some makeup on (for the first time in a loooooong while), throw on something presentable, and totter off to the office.

It's such a strange thing to return to work after having your child. Everyone treats you basically the same, but you're not the same. The you before children is an entirely different person than the you with children. I have little fantasies of leaping on top of a cubicle, yelling "I'm not just PAIGE - I'm someone's MOTHER, you a-holes! Which is more important than ANY FUCKING SPREADSHEET and all your DAMN BUDGETS PUT TOGETHER." Because by damn, I will tell you this - there will be no more 3:30 meetings that are pushed til 4, that are then pushed til 5:30, that I am then guilted for being unable to attend because I need to leave at 5:45 to pick up my children. Well, there WILL be those meetings - quite frequently no doubt - but I WILL NOT let them break me down about it. And if I get yet another "I know you're a mother now, so you have new priorities, BUT you have to understand that many of us here work until 8 or 9 at night, and maybe we're just more ambitious than you are..." (YES, I DID GET THAT SPEECH. NO LIE.) talk, I will damn well stand up for myself and let them know that I am quite capable of doing my job, and doing it exceptionally well, between the hours of 9am and 5:45pm, thank you very much, and I don't need to sit in my office until 9pm to prove my worth like the others who are so DAMN SCARED of you. And if that gets me fired, so be it.

Ahem. That felt good. Thanks.
I was really down for a week or so, but the clouds are parting lately. I'm feeling brighter, and I'm not going to waste one moment of the remaining days with my baby feeling cranky.

In other news, Griffin has FINALLY taken the bottle. And after spending approximately $40 trying various bottle/nipple combos (including all the "best for breastfed babies" fancypants ones), what did he like? The same $5 for 3 classic glass Evenflo bottles that his brother used, the same bottle that Betty Draper probably gave her kids in the early 60's (okay, I guess Betty never got off her bitter, depressed ass to give those kids bottles, but the housekeeper sure did), with a Dr. Brown's nipple - same as Carter. Go figure.

Also, I have been a cooking FIEND since last I wrote:
Turkey Meatloaf
BBQ Chicken
Turkey Tacos
Chicken Mole Tacos
Curry Tofu (recipe TBD)
Chicken Stir-Fry
Veggie Lasagna
Pesto Pasta
Sesame Noodles
Turkey Chili

Plus other stuff that I am too lazy to write down. Perhaps most shocking is that I am really ENJOYING making dinner. Who knew making something that didn't involve chocolate could still be so satisfying?

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I am one of those people who makes 87 zillion New Year's Resolutions, and promptly forgets 95% of them by January 15th. So this year I've streamlined a bit, and made precisely one: I WILL LEARN TO COOK. Come hell or highwater, I shall feed this family of mine, and feed it well!

As I've mentioned before, my mom knows her way around a kitchen and I was raised on pure deliciousness, so the time has come to step it up and get cookin' myself. Mind you, if you were to find yourself at Chez Me in the morning hours, I could whip you up some ass-kicking pancakes or muffins. If you wandered into my home after dinner, I could bust out the big guns with the world's best brownies and the like. But actual meals, involving proteins? Save for some quick veggie stir-fries, I'm pretty much hopeless.

NO MORE, friends. In a few weeks' time I will be a working mother of two, so it's time to get down and dirty with the meal planning, cooking-stuff-ahead-and-freezing, and becoming good friends with my Crock Pot.

So far I've done of lot of web surfing in search of easy, tasty recipes to try (keyword EASY), and this month I will be doing run-throughs and letting y'all know how they turn out (you're welcome, friends). Here's the list so far (with links!):

Turkey Meatloaf (I've already made this one - it's my mom's favorite - and it is fab, although I think I overcooked it slightly)
BBQ Chicken (already made - although I cheated and used bottled sauce - but it was delish)
Turkey Tacos (no recipe yet...must find)
Chicken Mole
Curry Tofu (recipe TBD)
Chicken Stir-Fry (ditto)
Veggie Lasagna
Pesto Pasta (I'll add some chicken or tofu to this, and probably ditch the cream)
Sesame Noodles (ditto, with some broccoli too)
Turkey Chili (if you can't tell, I really like mole)

Note: I am in the midst of a love affair with all things Pioneer Woman, clearly. Second note: as a former vegetarian, I just can't bring myself to cook red meat. And I know nothing about ham, except that it tastes really good in split pea soup (oooh, gotta make that too).

Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I am a better mother with caffeine, and other such confessionals

It's true. I've been trying to shake this cold for the past ten days or so, and as such have been largely avoiding my daily cup o' joe. This has resulted in my wandering about in a hazy, dream-like state for much of the day (though now that I think about it, it could also be the eye infection and subsequent lack of my contact lens for the past several days contributing to the haziness). I play with and love on my boys, but I haven't felt like I'm momming at the top of my game. Fortunately, both of my maladies have improved today, so the Finnster and I Ergo-ed over to my neighborhood Starbucks for a tall coffee with gingerbread syrup (get it while you can! It's a seasonal item, y'all!).

Mind you, I've always been a strict one cup per day coffee person. And although I worked in a coffee shop throughout college, I never touched the stuff until my mid-twenties, when I was performing in a play in a little podunk town in the middle of nowhere for a couple of months, and caffeine seemed like the appropriate thing to do (although in retrospect, I also got arrested while performing in said play - another story for another time - so perhaps my judgement was somewhat off that month, no?).

During my teaching days, I would prefill my little pal Mr. Coffee so that one flick of a switch in my bleary-eyed early morning stumbling would produce the life-affirming liquid tar that jaunted me into consciousness and enabled me to get in the car and fearlessly roar off to who-knows-where and commune with the youth of America.

I've never been a caffeine addict. I've never even had a soft drink, or at least not since an ill-fated grape soda experience as a child left me puking at the community pool, at which point I determined that bubbly beverages and I must henceforth part ways. Much more than one cup of coffee per day coupled with my natural Tigger-like nature equals a frightening amount of perkiness that really is best left to the imagination.

That said, it's not until illness causes me to forgo my daily cup that I realize just how much I adore it. I sit here with my gingerbread-infused caffeine burbling happily in my guts, and I feel like anything is possible. Griffin and I had a jolly play-session this morning, and he is now down for his long nap. I will clean the kitchen! I will scrub the floors! I will disinfect surfaces! I will make Carter granola bars! I will achieve total world domination!

To you caffeine-free moms - I salute you, you crazy, crazy broads. But when my three-month-old has decided to go from waking once per night to three times, please pass my mug and flip the switch on Mr. Krups (I have since upgraded from my old Mr. Coffee, but we feel that our Krups machine still deserves a distinguished title).

More on the night wakings - for the past several days I have attempted to move Little G from sleeping swaddled in a bassinet by my bed to sleeping unswaddled in a pack n play. Something is NOT working, and I'm not sure if it's the lack of swaddle, the new sleeping space, or the fact that it's been four billion degrees in Los Angeles recently, and even nights are fairly toasty in his lil' sleepsack. He's outgrown the bassinet, so it's not really an option to wedge him in there anymore. He is a big hand sucker, so I thought he'd like to gnaw on those little guys for some self-soothing in the wee hours, but it seems that he's more into flailing about aimlessly. Yet he seems to be resisting the swaddle recently. Hrmph. Oh, transitional periods, what FUN you are!

In other news, it seems I've screwed up yet another baby by letting Griffin nap only in his swing or car seat. WHOOPS! My goal for January is to teach him to love his pack n' play for naptime. We don't have a crib for him yet, and won't until he and C are sharing a room - this won't be for several months until I feel confident that Carter will not chuck a dump truck on his baby brother's head at the first opportunity. So far Griffin will happily hang out in the p n' p for a few minutes before realizing that he's tired, at which point the squawking ensues.

So OOPS, I guess I did it again. It all starts so innocently - la dee dah, let the baby sleep in his swing, isn't that cute? There's PLENTY of time to wean him off of it before I go back to work! And then it's January, and I go back in (less than) four weeks, and OH SHIT, I've ruined another baby.

But hey, two years in, my once-a-crappy-napper Carter is doing fine, thankyouverymuch. Oh yeah, except for the pesky fact that about six months ago he decided that he would only nap in the car while being driven around the highways and byways of the greater Los Angeles area. We have tons of friends who do this for their kids, and I was always like "SUCKERS! That's crrrraaaazy! I'll never do that!" Well, KARMA IS A BITCH, people.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel - the swing does not actually have to be swinging for him to sleep; he just seems to like its soft, cuddly seat. I can't say I blame him - I could totally go for an adult-sized My Little Lamb (take heed, Fisher Price). And at his daycare, most of the tiny babies sleep in swings anyway. So my crap parenting in this arena is somewhat forgivable, no? Yes, I'm going to go with that.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Working Mother's Lament

Back to work in four weeks. SIGH.

I go back and forth on this. On one hand, I am looking forward to regular adult interaction, and to seeing my friends in the office. I am even somewhat looking forward to the challenges of working motherhood (HUH? What? Why?!? I am sure I will be regretting that statement all too soon). On the other hand, I will be LEAVING MY BABY.

Said baby, incidentally, LOATHES the bottle. Hates it with every ounce of his little body. Despite my repeated attempts to convince him that it is the SAME stuff that comes out of Mommy, he isn't having it. And oh yes, I've tried, for over two months. Different bottles, different nipples, different times of day. Jiggling him, talking to him, walking with him, all while offering the bottle. Other people have tried - Max, my mom, Max's mom, Max's sister, my aunt, etc. etc., all to no avail. No one can convince that little sucker to drink more than an ounce from the damn thing, and that's on a good day. I did everything you're supposed to do - introduced it right at three weeks, with a wide-nipple, had Max feed him, the whole works. He had no problems with it and would happily chug-a-lug until early November, when Carter got croup and Griffin got his first cold. And there it went - no bottle, no way, no how. Carter never met a bottle he didn't like, and when he went to daycare, he still rejected his bottles for days in protest. This AIN'T GONNA BE PRETTY, FOLKS.

I also feel guilty, because I've told HR that I will return on February 1st, but technically I could stay out until later in the month - the 25th, I think. A wise friend of mine said "it's okay if you're ready to go back." But am I really feeling almost ready, or am I just feeling guilty for taking such a long leave, even though I am fully entitled to EVERY LAST DAMN DAY, especially considering how I worked like a dog all year?

One of my good friends at work keeps telling me that no one thinks that I am coming back. Apparently two kids translates to certain stay-at-home-mommyhood in their minds, to which I say um, COST OF LIVING, people! We're in LA, as in Los Angeles, not Louisiana. Sigh. We could live on one salary, but we wouldn't be able to save for a house, fund the boys' 529 accounts, have awesome, cheap health insurance - all that good stuff. Plus, my pragmatic side knows that I am happier working - I always remind myself that when the boys are in grade school I'll be glad I held onto my career so I don't flounder about with empty nest syndrome when Griffin (or potential Baby #3) trots off to Kindergarten. I do wish I could go part-time, but that's not an option at my company, even though I work for a MASSIVE corporate conglomerate and you'd really think it would be. So off to work I go.

Also influencing my decision about when to return to the office is the fact that I have a new boss. On one hand, this is good, as theoretically I won't be doing the work of two people like, oh, ALL of 2011. But I haven't even met her yet. By the time February rolls around, she'll have been there three months. If I delay further, will it reflect poorly on me and influence the opinion of someone I haven't even met yet? They all think I'm going to quit anyway - was all of my ass-kicking from last year lost on them? Do they really think that my career is so disposable to me? Should it be?

....so yeah, I have some stuff on my mind these days. For the past month, the four of us have been trading various colds amongst ourselves, including a humdinger that Max has now passed on to me that leaves me coughing all night. Oh, and I have eye infections in both eyes. I am pretty sure I sleepwalk straight into dumpsters.

It's hard to believe that one year ago today I still didn't even know I was pregnant. Oh 2011, you were one hell of a ride. I worked harder than I ever have in my life, both at work and at home, delivered a perfect little person, and made us a family of four. Holy bejesus.

What will 2012 have in store?