From the category archives:

Parenthood

Hello everyone! Happy New Year!!

I was stopped so many times in the past few weeks and asked about this blog! I didn’t realize that there were so many people following our story and want to thank you all so very much for your support!

We haven’t been updating over here for a few reasons. First of all, Milton has started a new company and is really dedicating every second of his time to making that company work. If you’re interested in checking out those digs, I would really recommend it, especially if you are resolved to improve your health during 2011.

Second, I have been in sleep deprived mommy swirl. I barely remember these past few months. I have skimmed every book that anyone ever suggested to try and get our Crane to sleep more than an hour at a time, with little success. He’s just not a good sleeper. Yet!

Here is a comment I shared in an entry below that I thought should be shared on this blog, in general:

The whole sleep regression never really ended for us. We’re just maybe, sort of rounding the bend now, when our guy is almost 8 months of age.

I have had a lot of thoughts about sleep and parenting in the past few months. I’ve felt mentally ill. At my worst, I’ve felt that mothering was an exercise in misogyny. I’ve had 3am mommy meltdowns that have SHAMED me when 9 am rolled around again and I made myself a cup of coffee.

I’ve rallied, again and again, telling myself that I CAN handle it! If he only wakes every other hour, I CAN handle it. And it’s true, if he only wakes every OTHER hour, I can do it and still go to work and smile and cook and go for walks. But where does that leave me when he wakes every hour? Every 30 minutes? Because, believe me, that has been more the norm than him waking every other hour.

Two things that have recently helped me:

1) Calms Forte. This is a homeopathic sleep-aid that my naturopath suggested I try. I take three every night before bed. They have helped me avoid MOST mommy meltdowns and have kept me groggy through all the feedings, whereas before, my sleep deprived brain would get mighty anxious and keep me awake with all its incessant and bitchy blather.

2) This is a new development, but now Milton is taking a long middle of the night parenting shift. We are going to gradually start night weaning so that Mr. Crane ultimately doesn’t ask for it between 12 and 7am. Last night I fed him at 11, and then again at 2. Then, Milton came up from his couch and I went downstairs. Between 2-7, Mr. Crane punched his pop when he woke, but knew he couldn’t get any, so ultimately went back to sleep. I fed him again at 7 and we had family bed time until 8.

I feel GREAT today. This might just work for us. I am closing my ears to anyone who tells me that I shouldn’t night wean until he is a year old because I really don’t think that my crazymaking stress hormones are good for any of us. Mr. Crane is a 25lb 7.5 month old, and he will get through this alive and sweet, I am SURE.

I hope to be blogging a little bit more over here once my brain is kept clear for a bit longer. Until then, here is a holiday photo of our lovable dude:

Mr. Crane meets Santa for the first time!

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4.5 Month Old Days…

by Esther on Wed, Oct 6th, 2010

in Baby,Challenges,Month 5,Parenthood,Sleep

Oh internet, where does the time go? Oh! Wait! I know where it went…

I lost it to the so called 4 month sleep regression. This, of course, came in tandem with my triumphant return to the VAIN beauty world and our baby’s first cold.  Seriously, the world of baby parenting decided to throw me three difficult things at once and see if we would sink or swim.

We swam.  We swam our hearts out!  We swam even when we felt we were sinking.  We adults navigated through exhausted rows with each other, necessary naps that were foiled by the ever-present boogers, and nights peppered with our sweet baby waking every 45 minutes to nurse.  We swam because we had to.

There were days when I wondered how I was even standing by the end of my shift at work.  There were even days when I dove right into a glass of wine as soon as the baby went down.  But one thing that came out of it was this:

The further we went down the path of no sleep, the further we went down the path of shifting the baby from one partner to another to facilitate sleep before a productive day at work…  the further we moved from fighting with each other to actually working with each other.

I meditated soundly on keeping my mind quiet.  Every time my exhausted brain tried to tell me some story about why things weren’t working for ME, I went for a walk, took a bath, or just left the stupid laundry and dishes to fester.  In the meantime, my husband, who is really so amazing, did his absolute most to give me a break when ever I looked like I was going to break.  We worked better on the mechanics of parenting together, and I would say that ultimately this month of sleep regression/boogers/work has come out making us much stronger.

Of course, it helps that our child looks like this:

Yep.  Not sure.

I mean. Seriously.

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Reunion!

by Esther on Mon, Aug 16th, 2010

in Baby,Month 4,Parenthood

Baby Pile!

Yesterday we went to our birth class reunion!  It was such a blast seeing so many healthy and happy babies all up in a pile, and wonderful to reconnect with our doula master, Penny Simkin.

Just a few short months ago, when our class last met, we were a bunch of nervous and very very pregnant almost-parents.  We wouldn’t have known what to do with a baby if you had chucked one to us!  Milton and I hadn’t even changed a diaper in decades, since our long past junior high school baby sitting gigs.  We sat in class to practice breathing, voice our concerns, and watch videos in which women made harrowing sounds to bring their babies into the world.  We were totally labor focused, of course, because it was a home BIRTHING class.  I for one could hardly imagine what it would be like to hold a silky three month old in my arms, much more imagine how I could possibly become a breast feeding champ and screaming baby wrangler (luckily the screaming part doesn’t happen often).

Yet, yesterday, there we were!  A parcel of relaxed and experienced baby parents who could carry on conversations with one another while flipping a baby from one side to another to keep them entertained and quiet!  Amazing!!!

It was so great to see everyone and get a look into the essential selves that all of those babies had on display.

Here are a bunch in a pile, with my sack of potatoes son rising a whole head and shoulders above the rest.  Aren’t they sweet?!  Look at those little faces!!

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Had someone told me during all of those years that I spent being my own selfish self that I would love a baby as much as I love you, I probably would have laughed them off.  If I could have felt even a tenth of that love, like watching a preview for a fantastic movie, I might have called all my own selfishness off and gone ahead with The Parent Agenda a bit too soon.

I don’t regret having gotten around to my parent agenda a bit late in the game.  I got to spend many years becoming my own person, operating by my own whim, and cultivating my own character.  That’s a pretty awesome thing and I consider myself very fortunate to live in a modern age where women even have the option of becoming 100% of their possibility before offering some of that possibility up to the whim of a little baby.

Now that you are here, while I look back on the years before you with some nostalgia, I would never go back to a time when you weren’t a part of my life.  Rather, I want to take every magical thing that I learned during my time before you and show you just how wonderful life can be.

I hope that you have all the opportunities that I did, and more.  I want to help you feel free enough to experience every emotion, free to trod down any path, and free enough to try your hand at any craft that will help you develop your own special brand of person.

I spent a lot of time getting to know myself, but it wasn’t until I started getting to know you that I felt all of my experiences close in full circle.  The best way I know how to thank you for that is to be the best parent I can possibly be for you.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to be that parent if you had come into my life a decade sooner.

I’m glad we both waited.  I’m glad you’re here now.  I know that I’m happy.  So far, you seem pretty happy, too.

Love,

Your Mom

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Will You Look at This Guy?

by Esther on Mon, Jul 19th, 2010

in Baby,Documentation,Month 3,Parenthood

So satisfied with himself for sort of holding up his own head while sitting in his Bumbo seat.  So ridiculous I crack up every time I see this photo!!  I mean, really!  It’s verging on too much hilariousness.  Babies are surely the greatest invention of the whole round human race.  So delicious that it’s amazing we don’t eat them up for real.

Chuffed Chubs

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So.  I want to lose 10 pounds of baby weight by the end of the summer.

I kept in pretty good shape through my pregnancy!  I did yoga very regularly and walked everywhere.  My eating habits are pretty darn good, too.   But, still, I gained 35 pounds.  2o of that came off right away, and then 5 more were sweat into the bed in the first week or two after his birth.  That was great!  I had never undergone such a physical change so quickly.  There were days when I looked into the mirror and said things like, “I can’t believe I EVER thought I needed to lose a single pound before pregnancy!”  After all those weeks of growing bigger and BIGGER, I felt so tiny in those first weeks after labor and delivery.

That said, my skinny feelings are over.  Like, really over.  Nothing fits.  I have a closet full of pretty dresses that won’t zip over my anything.  I have a shelf full of size 28 jeans that can barely fit around my ample thighs.  It’s not horrible.  It’s not earth-shattering.  It’s certainly not a deep and meaty thing to talk about… but it I do feel a little disheartened.

I am stoked to be a mom, but I want to be a hot mom!  I want to be a mom with something that resembles my old body.  I realize that I’ll have a little bit of extra that requires me to wear my Spanks a little more often, but I at least want my dresses to zip.

SO!  With all of this in mind, I have eaten my last almond croissant for a while and I am getting down to business with proper eating.  I’m sure that I’ll feel like eating the floor often enough, and I’m also sure that I’ll let myself eat the floor since I am breast-feeding a boy who is above the 95th percentile for size… but the floor had better be made of whole grains, veggies, and lean proteins.  No more fish and chips from Ivar’s, no more sneaking cookies, and no more rationalizing french toast for breakfast.

I am also glad to have the green light to work out to my heart’s content again.  Mind you, my heart’s content isn’t all that much… it’s usually just enough.

To help my workouts, I have made a promise to myself to be more outdoorsy. We live in the Pacific Northwest, and this is absolutely stunning country.  When I moved here, it was my intention to get more in touch with my love of nature.  I had lost touch with the land after all of those years living in New York City!  It can’t be helped!  So I figured I’d get back in touch with mother nature in the Olympics and the Cascades, no problem.  Yet, I’ve been here for two and a half years now and have only been on ONE single hike.  It’s just hard to get moving in the great outdoors when you’re a total downtown dweller with no car.

I vocalized all of this to a friend recently, and she let me know that she too needs to be more outdoorsy!  AND!  She actually has a car.

We made a date to head out to our first hike today with another girlfriend in tow!  It wasn’t a huge hike, but it was still a pretty impressive feat for our first time out.  We hiked the trail to Rattlesnake Ledge, which is 4 miles, roundtrip, and about a 1200 foot elevation gain.

Axelrod rode in his Ergo carrier, which is so perfect for longer walks.  He fared pretty well!  I had to stop in the middle of the climb to nurse him.  Once we got to the summit point, I changed him like a big brave hippie with all of these totally stunning views around us.  Then, he lay there on the rock with us, wide eyed.  He really loves being outside in the sunshine!  He gets so alert and I wonder just what he can see out there.  He always cries when I pick him up to move to our next destination.  I love that he can sit still and enjoy himself so much, and don’t take a moment of that peace for granted.

On the way down the mountain, he got a little difficult and I figured out how to nurse him in his Ergo while hiking down the mountain.  I felt very proud of myself, like the La Leche League should give me a special advanced nursing badge or something.  And now?  I guess I’m fully a PNW mom.

I did learn a few things for our next hike.  Like!?  Maybe I should have had pants and booties on the baby to keep his little legs and feet away from all of those mosquitos.  And maybe I should have brought a banana with me, because I sure wanted one.  Maybe I should have brought a little pad for him to lay on (though laying on the Ergo seemed to make him happy enough).  But we did a pretty good job, and boy am I ever tired tonight.

And, all that diet talk aside… and I totally ordered a beer when we went out for lunch after our hike.  Gosh, was it ever deeeelicious.

Burping on the trail

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We three got all gussied up last weekend for a lovely wedding! It was my first real night to play dress-up since our boy was born, and I really tried to represent for all new and exhausted moms out there.

I bought a new dress, dictated outfits for Milton and Axelrod (they only rolled their eyes at me a little), and hopped up the street to the salon I work in to (finally) get my legs waxed earlier in the week. The day of the wedding, I even had my makeup done at VAIN! Thank goodness it’s only a few blocks away and my girl Belinda can work fast on under eye circles.

The bride walked down the asile to Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space and I about crumpled in a thousand romantic tears.  I even missed the perfect shot of her walking down the aisle because I was just so overwhelmed taking in the beauty of it all.  Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to set me off these days.  All anybody ever needs to make me cry is a mix of love, family, and gorgeous music … add some pretty dresses on a sublime Pacific North-West day and a couple making a life-long commitment to each other and I am done for!

We took some photos of each other holding the baby in all our sunny day finery!

My Handsome Gentlemen

Getting used to his monkey suit

Sadly, the little vintage romper that our little boy is sporting barely fit his baby flub!  I had to leave his zipper partly undone.  I’m so glad he got to wear it out once!  He’s growing out of his adorable duds way too quickly.  Between the both of us being so chubby, I don’t know how I’ll ever keep up with finding outfits that work.

I have to admit!  I made one big fat mothering mistake with our outfit planning.  I couldn’t find a dress that I liked that was good for nursing.  Milton and I figured that we could just bring a few bottles to the wedding with us.  I don’t mean to sound cold when telling you that I choose fashion over nursing, but the boy doesn’t really have a problem taking bottles from his dad in the middle of the day or in the evening when I go to the gym!  But, apparently! nothing but a boob will do for his 6-8pm bedtime witching hours.  Now we know!  I spent a good portion of the wedding reception in the bathroom with my pretty dress around my waist and my baby at my breast.

That lesson learned, I think that I’ll be going out in our neighborhood once a week this summer so that Milton can show him just how great it is to be dadded down with a bottle!

Once I momed him down, we put him straight into the Ergo on Milton and had ourselves some cake and dancing times.  We were home by 10 for a final bedtime, enjoyed by all, high on love and romance.

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This Guy

Please don’t crucify me for admitting this to the public at large, but I was a little worried all through my pregnancy that I wouldn’t bond with our baby.  It’s not that I didn’t want to be a mother… getting pregnant and extending our family was something I worked pretty hard at doing for a while.  From making sure I was healthy in every possible way to making sure I was somewhat financially sound before walking down the road to parenthood- I planned everything.

The thing is, I planned everything on a suspicion.  I suspected that becoming a mother might be a good step for me as a woman.  I suspected that having a child would be a great experience for Milton and me.  But like so many other times in my life, my faith was constantly questioning.  Would I be good enough for this guy?  Would I love him enough?  Clean our house enough?  Engage with him enough?  I even wrote to Milton in the middle of my pregnancy with worries that I would leave him with the baby, trotting back east to resume my selfish city girl high life because I just couldn’t take the parental heat.

I was worried that I would be one of those women who just didn’t connect with their babies.  Maybe I worried because having a baby was never a really concrete part of my life plan.  Maybe I worried because I have a hard time keeping up with my own business, much less the business of someone else.  Maybe I worried because I was so free and easy with abusing my body and burning the party candles at both ends for so many years that I wondered if I could really, REALLY be a responsible parent.  For whatever reason, I really worried about taking the heat and giving this guy the responsibility he deserved.

Being a responsible parent, to me, means being a loving parent.  Babies beg for love.  The children, teenagers, and adults they grow into beg for love.  Parental love is the first love any of us can beg to get.  If you care for a child, you are responsible for fulfilling all of that child’s needs, especially the need for love.  I wondered if I could possibly have enough love in me to put up with the spit, the diapers, the plastic baby gear, the aching back, the sleepless nights, or the belly that would lay beside me like a sad puppy after pregnancy.  I figured, if I can adapt to these MAJOR life changes, maybe I could hack my way through the other many years of parenthood.

Today, I am happy to report that I woke up on the second morning of our child’s life, after going through the shock of childbirth and the barely remembered haze of his first 24 hours, and saw my baby’s face in the first morning’s light.  He looked like such a sweet little buddha laying there, stirring in his swaddle and newborn cap!  I felt a surge of LOVE that I couldn’t believe, referred to him as Mr. Snugglepants, and kissed him all over his beautiful face.

Since then, I’ve only gotten worse with the doting.  This guy and I are bonded, for sure.

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Swingers

by Milton on Tue, Jun 15th, 2010

in Baby,Baby Gear,Challenges,Design,Home,Month 1,Parenthood

Baby on one knee... iPad on the other.

With the exception of our nursing and napping enabler, the marvelous iPad, we’re both super sensitive to baby gear.  Most of it is junk.  I see it in the store and immediately visualize it in a landfill.  It’s pretty much all badly made molded plastic crap, and much of it requires a batteries.  Gross.  I cringe at the use of even a disposable water bottle or plastic shopping, so you can imagine how all of this other stuff makes me feel.

I tried to get around the baby gear issue by only registering for very few things and buying vintage.  The furniture I bought to house Axelrod’s little onesies and pajamas is midcentury stuff that matches all the blonde wood we have in our space, refinished a little with some fabric that will eventually translate well into his own room (someday, someday!).  Our pram is a fantastic mid-70s vintage.  We co-sleep when he’s not in the pram, and hope to totally avoid ever owning a crib.  The little books and toys we’ve gotten for him are stashed in bins on the blonde wood shelves.

The big, amazing, SUV style BOB stroller is the big item in one of our only big closets.  The ugly Graco infant seat was my one plastic concession in our living room, along with a vibrating chair that is on loan from another family.  We found that we could strap him into the car seat and rock the seat with our foot, creating a swing effect, OR put him in the vibrating chair.  They both work, depending on his mood.  I thought it’d hold out through the infant swing phase nicely.

And then he started to get fussy in ways that only a good rock would suffice.

He’s generally not a fussy guy.  He doesn’t cry unless he has a really good reason.  He cries when he’s hungry.  He fusses when his diaper needs changing.  He cries when he has gas.  The thing is, that whole gas issue?  Yeah.  That happens a LOT.  He’s always working something out, be it a man sized burp or a series of charming farts.  He grunts and pushes and cries.  I can’t blame him.  Digestion issues are the devil.  We use a little Gripe water from time to time, but this stuff certainly doesn’t put him down for a nap, hands free.

The thing about infants is that they get all worked up.  They’re happy and gorgeous and smiling, and then something will happen to tip the scales and you could be looking down a rocky road for the next few hours of family peace.  It’s not that he screams, really.  We are very fortunate to not have a baby with colic.  He just fusses.  He grunts.  He squeaks.  He squirms.  If it goes on for two long, the scales get tipped and his head gets all messy and refuses to sleep.  You’ve got to reset that baby brain with some white noise and swinging to lull him off to sleepy time, thereby lulling yourself off to some precious sleepy time.

For us, the worse time is in the morning.  It starts to happen any time from 4am to 6am and can sometimes (luckily not often) last until 2pm.  He starts to get gassy and he starts with the grunting and the squeaking.  Sometimes, this makes for parental shambles for the whole rest of the day.  A baby who nurses at midnight, 2, and 4 and then decides to be mostly awake until late morning or early afternoon makes for a parent who is trying to survive the day on only 2 hours of sleep.  Exhaustion makes everything worse.  We will start to snip at each other and argue about areas where we generally feel peaceful.  That’s not a pretty way for new parents to go!

Enter… my bratty foot stomping insistence on buying a baby swing.  I was lucky to have the backup of my mother and sister-in-law on the swing front.  They were all visiting- Milton was uncertain of this ugly plastic monstrosity, but it’s rather hard to argue in the face of so many mothers.  Our family needed a swing- it was decided.  We headed to a local baby gear consignment shop and put our fussy baby into some of the ugliest swings I’ve ever seen to test them out.  In the end, Milton and I decided to come away with the cheapest one.  His sister used the same model for her little girl, and it worked for her, that was good enough reason for us!  We bought it and brought it home.  My mother sent me to bed for a much needed nap and commanded absolute silence from my very young sisters and step-father.  She scrubbed the swing while I slept.  It now looks practically new and now doesn’t have that sweetly rancid other-people’s-baby smell that I associate with day care centers and baby consignment shops.  Phew.

Today is the first day we’re getting to test the swing.  His little head flops around a little in it, so I’ve got him supported with an adorable purple elephant that a good friend of ours knit.  I put him in that swing when he was grunting, squeaking, and badly in need of a nap… and he went down for the count.  After 10 minutes, I moved him to his pram for a proper sleep and breathed a sigh of relief.

The swing will go right back to that consignment shop in a few months.  Our living room will look worse for the wear in the meantime, but we three will get some sleep in the meantime.  We’ve learned that a sleepy baby by day means a sleepy baby by night… so I don’t doubt he’ll be lulled to many naps in this thing.

Once he grows a little more and can focus on some different things, I’ll tell you all about the ugly playcenter hand-me-down that was dubbed by it’s previous owner as the “Neglector 1000.”  We’ll use that thing (currently stashed under the couch) and pass that right along to the next baby, too.

In baby world, the fussbucket motto must be, “By Any Means”. Even if those means are plastic.

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I’m afraid I haven’t been keeping up with my baby blogging since our guy was born!  I admit to having been busy.  It seems that the usual time it takes to get anything done must be multiplied by 10 when you are caring for an infant.  Whereas my afternoons at home prior to baby-time would see me cleaning the house, playing dress up, going to a yoga class, blogging, drinking wine, etc… my afternoons now are a great success if I can see the house clean, get the dishes done, do the laundry, bathe, bathe our son, find clothes that fit me (impossible), find clothes that fit our son, and go for a walk.  All this happens only with 50% of the effort coming from my husband, who is a champion.  Honestly, I don’t understand how single moms do this job!

I have a lot of posts in my head about lots of baby related things.  Maybe, at some point, I’ll get some of the posts out.  For now, I’m leaving the bulk of family blogging up to my husband.  He is keeping a blog under our son’s domain, where he writes a little bit about our baby’s firsts, every day.  We decided to keep this blog password protected because there’s no telling what our small fry is going to think about internet privacy issues in the future.  Milton and I are obviously pretty open people…. you wouldn’t have to look very hard to uncover our real names- and once you had those you would find a couple of professional blogs, hobby blogs, even private journal blogs that were started long, long ago.  You would find open Facebook profiles and profiles to every other social networking site that ever got popular.  But, there comes a time when you have to ask yourself how your son will feel when his first girlfriend googles his name and finds old entries about his baby acne online.  As we don’t know just how self-conscious he’ll feel, we’ve decided to keep his personal logistics a little bit separate.

Of course, I can talk about baby generals right here!  And I will, between nursing, sleeping, and trying to hold our stuff together.

Currently, our little man is wrapped snug in his Moby Wrap across my tummy.  He seems happiest when he’s being worn.  He’ll sleep for a good long strapped to our chests and bellies while while we take him for walks or eat out at a restaurant.  Today is the first day I figured out the Moby well enough to sit in front of the computer with it.  Baby wearing is a plus for both of us.  Milton loves dading him down; I love moming him down.  Sometimes we argue a little about who gets to have the baby wearing fun.  It’s a beautiful thing to have a warm little snugglepants snuzzler so close to your heart.

Axelrod also loves the following, in no particular order:

  • Bouncing on the ball (best reserved for the witching hour and other intense times)
  • Bathing with his father (this wins my award for cutest)
  • Smelling the basil (this startles his senses to silence when he’s in the middle of a cry)
  • Playing peek-a-boo (makes him smile, BIGTIME!)
  • Having his cheeks stroked (more safe baby smiles)
  • Having his neck kissed (ahh, sugar!)
  • Hanging upside down (see below photo)

Of course his #1 favorite thing, ever, is breast feeding.  I must say, it’s also my #1 favorite thing.  No matter how much it exhausts me (especially when he hit his 3 week growth spurt, geez!), I am thankful for all that special face time with my boy.  It’s a pretty wonderful thing to be such a provider for someone you love in such an epic way.

I’ll report more very soon!  Axelrod is 11lbs, 9ozs (!!!!!!), and has been social smiling since week two (GENIUS).  I am honestly trying not to miss any of this miraculous process.  I don’t want to forget a thing, which means that I might remember a good 50% if I try real hard.

This guy's perspective.

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