Dreams, Distrust, and Doctor’s Appointments

When I was young (I can’t honestly remember how young but old enough to remember and young enough to still be scared of things like witches), I would sometimes have a nightmare that the witch from Hansel and Gretel had come to our house to get me.  My parents would be in the living room talking to another grown-up, and I would run to them (my mom or dad), jump in their lap and bury my head in their chest expecting them to protect me.  Instead, they would slowly but forcefully break my grip on their clothes and coldly hand me over to the witch.  It was as though they were handing her a bag of groceries.  They wouldn’t even be looking at me; they would keep talking to the other adult in the room, completely indifferent to my screams for help.  I would wake up terrified and, I’m sorry to say, a bit distrustful of my parents.

Obviously, my struggle to trust as a child was based on more than just a dream; the dream just illustrated what my fear was.  Most likely, it was something totally innocent and simply insensitive or overly authoritarian on their part that made me doubt.  As far as I know, my parents never really did anything to warrant my not trusting them in a life or death situation and these days we enjoy a healthy adult parent-child relationship.  The memory of that though, of being unsure of my parents, has definitely influenced my own parenting style with my main goal being for Hiccup to trust us and feel safe.  (If he trusts then things like obedience should naturally follow.  Too many parents get that backwards thinking that trust is something children need to obediently do, but they can’t.  We obey because we trust, not the other way around.)  Not recreating whatever scenario had led to such awful dreams has been of the utmost importance to me as a mother.  Clearly, I was doomed to fail from the start.

Fast forward many years from my mysterious childhood anxiety to Hiccup’s recent 18 month check-up.  Up until six months ago, taking him to the doctor had not really been a big deal.  He would fuss while they weighed and measured him and of course cry during the vaccinations, but it was always a brief cry that lasted only while it was happening and then he would instantly recover.  He would flash his flirty smiles at the nurse and be relatively calm as the doctor examined him.  Then came the 12 month check-up at which babies now receive up to six shots (one in each arm and two in each leg) in addition to having blood drawn.  He was hysterical; my heart was in shreds; it was a bad day.  He slept well that night though (because trauma is exhausting); and the good news was that we wouldn’t need to go to the doctor again for six whole months.

Except that we did, exactly one week later, because he had a fever that went from 99º to 102º rather quickly and scared us.  He was fine, it was just a brief reaction to one of the vaccines, but it was too soon to be back at the doctor’s.  Even though all they did was take his forehead temperature and weigh him, Hiccup seemed to remember the place and was inconsolable.  He was frightened still a month later when I had to take him back for an ear infection, and again a month after that when the doctor decided he needed to double check Hiccup’s head circumference (seriously, a whole appointment just for that), and then again right before Christmas because of some tummy trouble that required consultation.  Perhaps if we had made it the whole six months without stepping foot inside any sort of clinical space, Hiccup would have fully recovered from his last well-visit, but instead my son now has a full-blown phobia.

So there we were again for his 18 month well-visit, sitting in the doctor’s office with Hiccup having been temped, weighed, and measured (barely – it was sort of like trying to bathe a cat).  The pediatrician hadn’t even come in yet and my little boy was already in extremis, arms clamped tightly around my neck, head buried.  The doctor came in.  He had a children’s book about a dog to give Hiccup.  It was sweet, he remembered the last couple of times we were in and was trying to win his patient over again.  He checked what he could with Hiccup clinging to me – ears, eyes, lungs – but then needed to listen to his heart and feel his abdomen.  Hiccup needed to face the doctor, but wouldn’t let go of my neck.  I had to pry him off of me and press him towards the doctor and as this was happening – I suddenly remembered my dream.  Correction: I was hit with the memory of my dream like a deer being hit by a truck.  My nightmare was happening in real life only I was the parent pushing my child towards their fear.  It was all so completely blindsiding and depressing.  Needless to say, I cried all the way home.

Maybe we’ll be able to avoid any extra visits between now and Hiccup’s 24 month check-up.  Maybe this one thing won’t be enough to undermine all the other times we have successfully protected his heart.  Maybe he will even forget – truly forget without being plagued by nightmares later on.  God willing.  Here’s hoping.  If anyone out there has advice for helping little ones overcome their fear of the doctor, I’d be grateful to hear your suggestions.

12 Reasons Why We’re Not Coming to Your Christmas Party This Year

  1. We’re introverts.  Yes, both of us.  The Professor puts on a good show but by the end of the week even he wants nothing more than to curl up on the couch with a movie alone (I can be there too as long I don’t say anything – which suits me perfectly).  We used to have the stored energy to face the onslaught of seasonal get-togethers, but now that we’re married to each other with jobs and a baby who is on us all the time – we’re maxed out on engaging other people.
  2. We have a baby (okay he’s technically a toddler now, but just barely) which means the amount of fun we will have at your party is not equal to the amount of effort required to get us all there on a Friday night after work (right when we should be putting him to bed) or the time spent recovering the next day.
  3. Running around all evening attempting to keep our toddling baby from losing an eye on one of your many pieces of sharp-edged furniture or taking sips out of people’s wine glasses (or, you know, the toilet) is not our idea of a party.
  4. You actually specified “no kids” on the Evite this year (which we get and it’s totally fine but it also means we can’t come, or at least I can’t, because our toddler still nurses at night and just started walking which means he’s got a colossal case of separation anxiety so getting a babysitter is out – plus babysitters are expensive).
  5. Babysitters are expensive (It bears repeating.  As a teenager, I was making more money per hour sitting for the families from church than I did for the first several years in my entry-level job at my current place of work).
  6. Your party starts at the exact time I was planning to go to bed.
  7. Darn… looks like it’s the same night as our wedding anniversary, which as introverts we don’t want to spend with you.
  8. We’re actually having a small party over here that night.  Looks like I forgot to invite you (mom-brain…sorry).
  9. I’m ovulating (i.e. we’re having a small party over here that night, hehe).
  10. We really just want to stay home and check out A Very Murray Christmas on Netflix.
  11. My lifelong ban on themed clothing means we have no ugly sweaters to wear and no desire to change that.
  12. We’ve already offended half the people on your guest list by not coming to their parties.  It would just be awkward if we showed up to yours.

And considering that we are currently the overly tired, socially apathetic, party-poopers who feel the need to take their destructive toddler with them everywhere, you probably aren’t going to miss us.  Do keep inviting us every year though.  Please.  Someday our time will be our own again, and we’d love to see you.

Merry Christmas!


One of the things I miss most about being pregnant, honestly, is the freedom to unabashedly let my belly hang waaaay out (okay, so feeling my baby kick and roll and respond to my pokes is pretty high up there too, but it seriously felt good to just let that belly hang).

I took a pregnancy test several weeks ago and it was negative.  This was after feeling certain ovulation had occurred several weeks before (felt that twang and everything) and that I was therefore three weeks “late.”  I felt pregnant too: consistent but mild lower abdominal cramping, indigestion, headaches, my belly seemed to be expanding, and all following a smiling OPK with no period.  Turns out I just needed to take it easy on the Thanksgiving leftovers.  It may be worth noting at this point that my periods haven’t actually returned at all yet, and my great hope as I pulled out the Clear Blues was that we had managed to catch that first egg.  ‘Tis the season of miraculous conceptions, right?

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d already started planning how we would tell our families when we saw them at Christmas (which, based on when I felt that twang, was going to fall exactly at the end of the first trimester – perrrfect!).  Our moms both loved receiving a calendar last year with different pictures of Hiccup each month and had each requested another one this year; so the plan was to feature the new baby’s sonogram picture on the month s/he would have been due (June).  Hey, I’m a planner.  I like to plan; and false modesty aside – this was a pretty good one.  Actually, if any of you are expecting and planning to tell your families at Christmas, feel free to use my calendar idea – it would be a shame to let it go to waste.

Admittedly, my hopes may have been set a little high, but it didn’t seem that way a few weeks ago.  We conceived Hiccup our first month off the pill so there was precedent on which to hang such hopes; but now I’m just hoping not to go crazy with phantom pregnancies.  This post is in no way a ploy for sympathy, by the way.  With friends who have been trying for baby #1 for five plus years, the Professor and I know we’re lucky and we’re both filled to the brim with gratitude for our little squish.  I’m just wondering what to do.  The Professor and I have not been in our twenties for a few years now but would like to have more children (more than two) so there does seem to be a little bit of pressure to speed things along.

My old-nature reaction is to push forward (make it happen!).  There are quite a few things we could try like force-weaning Hiccup in order to jumpstart ovulation (we had thought that being gone for ten hours at work without pumping would do this, but alas, it has not).  I could take herbs which supposedly help, go back on the pill temporarily to regulate my cycles, explore acupressure/puncture, and so on.  None of these things however are guaranteed to work and some of them almost certainly would jeopardize my milk supply for Hiccup.  As someone whose needs, in at least one sense, were pushed aside as a child for those of a younger sibling, I’m pretty committed to not doing anything that would make Hiccup feel “abandoned.”

Perhaps we’re wrong though.  Maybe that sense of pressure (and the idea that we can control what happens even if there is pressure) is false, and we just need to wait.  Not do anything except be ready.  That seems right in light of the One on whom my true hopes rest.  So we’re going to just wait.  Wait and hope and trust.  Christmas (and especially Advent) is a great season for doing just that.

Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
 in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
 to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Spoonful of Sugar, My @#$!

Liquid medicine for toddlers is a joke, right?  Doctors get together at the end of their workday and laugh about how many prescriptions they write for the stuff?  Who are the kids making people think this is an acceptable form of delivery?  Are they the same ones making everyone think it’s normal for babies to sleep through the night on their own at six weeks old?  I’m calling BS on both of these things!

Hiccup has a cold – congestion and a cough that was bad enough the other night to make him throw up (twice).  This of course sent us running to urgent care; and providentially too, since in addition to the cold it seems he has also developed an ear infection.  He hasn’t been pulling on his ears or doing anything to indicate they were bothering him which the doctor said can sometimes be the case; so who knows how long the bacteria would have been having a field day in his ears if we hadn’t gone in for the cough.  That being said, as glad as I am to know what we’re dealing with, I’m not sure we’re any better off.  Even as the doctor was writing the prescriptions for bubble gum flavored cough syrup and strawberry-peach amoxicillin, I knew it was pointless.  He won’t take the cherry flavored acetaminophen which I think tastes like candy.  Why would he take these things twice a day for ten days?!

Naturally, I went to the one source of reliable information all young mothers turn to when they need advice – the internet.  What do other parents who have been in this situation suggest?  Here is a sample of what I found:

  1. Ask the pharmacist to flavor the medicine. (I’m sorry, are there actually places in which medicines for children don’t automatically come flavored?  Seriously?  What is prehistoric advice like this doing on the world wide web?)
  2.  Use a syringe so that the medicine can be squirted directly at the back of the throat or along the side the cheek, bypassing the child’s taste buds. (HAHAHAHhahahahahaha! That’s Hiccup laughing by the way, not me.)
  3. Give them a piece of ice to numb their mouth first. (Tried it. Fail.)
  4. Mix it into juice or yogurt. (Tried both. Fail again. Hiccup doesn’t actually like either of those things on their own.  The Professor once successfully gave him some baby acetaminophen in a bottle of heated cow’s milk, but he’s so congested our instincts are telling us to lay off the cow’s milk until he’s better.  I don’t think I’m producing enough anymore to pump a full bottle of breastmilk twice a day for 10 days, and he won’t take a bottle with me here anyway.  I thought about mixing it into his water cup but would hate to turn him off from accepting water right now.  All that to say, I don’t think hiding it is going to work for us.)
  5. Let them see you give the medicine to a favorite stuffed animal or toy and then say it’s their turn (I asked Hiccup if his stuffed zebra needed medicine and he deftly took the syringe from my hand and administered strawberry peach antibiotic to Zebra’s mouth. He then refused to give me back the syringe or try it himself – I guess extended breastfeeding really does make them smarter.)
  6. Explain to them that it will make the hurt go away and then they’ll just take it. (I’m going to assume this was from the parent of an older child.  If not, they need to shut up and get off the internet.).
  7. Hold them down and force them to take it.  (Can I just take a moment to gently, respectfully, but earnestly discourage parents from forcing anything into a child’s mouth ever; unless of course you want them to develop an eating disorder as a teenager.  Seriously.  Just don’t.)
  8. Ask if the medicine can be made into a chewable tablet (DING DING DING – we have a winner!  This is clearly what I should have done.  The only medicine Hiccup has ever taken gleefully is the Hyland’s Teething Tablets and Tiny Cold Tablets.  If it wasn’t for the childproof cap, he’d have overdosed on those things a long time ago.  Why didn’t I ask? Why?!)

And why isn’t that more of a thing?  Why didn’t the doctor think to ask if a chewable would be preferred?  I just checked online – amoxicillin comes in tablet form.  What the heck?  Why is liquid medicine the default for children?  I don’t personally know any children who take it easily.  Is it a dosage thing?  No problem, just make each tablet (or, you know, amoxicillin-filled M&M) the smallest possible dose; and then depending on their age and size, the child can just take more.  It wouldn’t matter how many they had to take if it was M&Ms!  Based on the gummy vitamins I recently saw at the store for adults, there’s clearly a market for this sort of thing.  You’re telling me the pharmaceutical companies have never had a sit down with the candy companies?

All right, so maybe providing prescription drugs for children in the form of actual candy is not the great idea I think it is right now as I listen to Hiccup coughing in his sleep.  Chewable tablets though?  I am definitely calling the doctor to see if that is an option.

*UPDATE (10/10/15): Success! We were able to get the amoxicillin in strawberry flavored chewable tablets and Hiccup takes them with no trouble!

Just Deal With it

Summer is officially over and I find myself reflecting on a bit of criticism we received recently regarding our parenting of Hiccup.  Nothing relationship shattering, but definitely worth examining.  Overall, summer was a great season for our little family of three.  Starting with Hiccup’s first birthday, we spent lots of time with friends and extended family.  There were parties, beach trips, picnics.  One set of grandparents has a pool, the other lives near the ocean.  It has been apocalyptically hot this year; and as long as no one is brandishing a wash cloth and soap, it turns out Hiccup loves the water.  A good time was had by all and we feel incredibly grateful to everyone for their hospitality and for their willingness to travel various distances to visit us at times.  Of course, even now that Hiccup is toddling, he’s still very much a baby; so there were times when the fun had to be cut short.  His threshold for certain things is low; his patience and understanding are just beginning to develop.  Overall, he handles things pretty well (he’s what some people call “a trooper”), but he definitely has his limits.

Some of you will know what I’m talking about: the meltdown mark.  The point at which your little one simply cannot go one more minute without a change to their present circumstance.  To unsympathetic outsiders it looks like a tantrum, but to a pre-verbal child it’s really just effective communication.  My husband and I are learning that the one common thread to any meltdown is that some need (for food, sleep, safety, etc.) is not being met and the only cure is to quickly meet whatever that need might be.  Knowing this, there were times over the summer when we needed to decline making plans with people or had to cut our time with them short.  I’m afraid we disappointed a few people who are important to us.  Some of them handled this really well, confident that they would see us again when the timing was better; while others implied (or directly stated in one instance) that Hiccup should be made to “just deal with it.”  That was the wrong response.

You see, my son (any child) is already in a constant state of learning to “just deal” with things.  The whole first year of his life was one new, exhausting, frightening thing after another and that’s not going to be changing anytime soon.  He has to just deal with things like doctor appointments where he’s poked and prodded without knowing why; with having a brain that has developed to the point of knowing exactly what he wants but not having the words to communicate effectively with the imbecilic giants who have somehow been entrusted with his survival; with having a body that can’t quite keep up with other kids at the park yet.  He has to just deal with having a working mom who disappears for ten hours at a time; and he has to just deal with not understanding any of it.  Yes, encountering opportunities to stretch beyond one’s comfort zone is a part of growing up; but as Hiccup’s parents, the Professor and I are responsible for making sure those opportunities occur at age appropriate moments, when he is not already worn down and in a state of mind that would make learning impossible.  We know him and we know that there are times when he just can’t take being strapped into his car seat one more time. So we deal with it.  We sacrifice what we want (and sometimes what someone else wants), because we are the adults.  If someone is going to suck up their feelings and deal with being disappointed it should be us.

Wanting Hiccup to develop at a healthy, reasonable pace in a way that doesn’t also grow resentment in his heart is why the Professor and I will sometimes judge that it’s better to stay home or do something just the three of us rather than leave him with a friend so we can have a date or drive 60 miles in the hot car to visit family for two hours.  To our loved ones who struggled with the fact that we didn’t take you up on every invitation this summer, please know that we are truly sorry to have caused you disappointment.  That being said, I don’t think we’ll be changing our parenting tactics anytime soon.  So…you know…

An Annotated Reading List for New Mamas

I’m a reader.  Was conceived by a couple of readers.  Married a reader.  Together, the Professor and I started reading to Hiccup when he was just two months old (Sherlock Holmes: A Sounds Primer from the BabyLit collection was his first favorite book, and the “hounds howl” page still gets a smile out of him).  So it is no surprise then that when faced with anything new, challenging, or uncertain – I read about it beforehand.  Below is a comprehensive list of everything I and/or the Professor read, pre- and postpartum, that genuinely helped us through the nine months of pregnancy and our first year of parenthood.

NCNatural Childbirth the Bradley WayYes, we took a Bradley Method birthing class, but before I lose you or you start to feel unnecessary guilt about your epidural, let me explain why I recommend Bradley books and classes even if you’re planning to get the drugs or schedule a c-section.  The one thing a Bradley book/class does better than anything else out there is prepare you to handle the pain of childbirth – and there will be pain whether you get the drugs or not (that’s the dirty little secret your OB may not be telling you).

It may be worth noting that what caused me to consider Bradley in the first place was actually listening to other women’s birth stories.  When polling my mama friends about their labor and delivery experiences I noticed a striking difference in their accounts depending on how they had prepared for the birth.  When asking those who had either taken another type of birthing class or who – gasp – had not taken a class at all, their stories were all different with one common line: “The pain was so bad even with the epidural, I would never have been able to do it without the drugs!”  Whereas, my friends who had prepared themselves for a natural birth using Bradley all had stories that ended like this: “It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done!  It’s a lot of hard work and there’s definitely some pain, but I loved it.”  I’m not kidding.  Search online amongst the many other mom-bloggers out there and I think you’ll find something similar.  I’m not actually going to tell you whether or not I succeeded in having a drug-free birth, only that I had a very positive and empowering birthing experience: it was a lot of hard work and there was definitely some pain, but ultimately – I loved it.

Husband-Coached Childbirth – Written by Dr. Bradley himself, this book is meant for the daddas to help them help you.  In twelve short weeks, the Professor went from knowing almost nothing about pregnancy and childbirth to knowing more than some women.

51CP+piTAgLThe Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – This is the La Leche League International’s tome on the subject – probably the only book you really need on breastfeeding.  Having known very few women myself who exclusively breastfed their babies, I found there were a lot of erroneous assumptions I had been making.  For example, thinking that supplementing with formula was always necessary (admittedly not a very intelligent assumption when you realize how many mamas there are in the world without access to this synthetic form of nutrition, but I had just never thought about it).  Another was that I would inevitably have trouble producing enough milk because of my little ballerina boobies.  Ha!  I could have fed twins. Apparently when it comes to milk production – Size. Doesn’t. Matter.

Not only did this book answer every question I had on breastfeeding plus all the ones I didn’t know enough to be asking, it actually made me excited to try (and keep trying).  Not sure whether breastfeeding is for you?  I’d recommend at least skimming it.  If you decide breastfeeding is still not for you, you can feel confident knowing you made a fully informed decision.

61ehkftyEjL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_What to Expect When You’re Expecting  – I think nearly everyone is given a copy of this by someone they know after announcing they have a bun in the oven (I was given two).  If not, you can access all the info and more at www.whattoexpect.com.  Also, there’s a movie version (currently available on Netflix).  While not a replacement for the book, it is cathartically humorous.  Enjoy along with a healthy portion of whatever you happen to be craving!

51Rnxe88QWL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Happiest Baby on the Block – Easy to remember tips on how to help your newborn feel secure (and by “feel secure” what I mean is “cry less”).  You need this book.  In my opinion, the science behind the tips is a bit muddled by all the silly caveman illustrations the author felt the need to include, but regardless of that – the tips work.  If you’re pregnant, start practicing your swaddling now!  Do not wait until the first night you’re home from the hospital like we did (you don’t need that kind of drama in your life and neither does your baby).

51oo5m6mNzLThe Baby Book – For when you bring that baby home!  This is a great searchable reference book covering the many symptoms and milestones you’ll be encountering the first two years of your baby’s life.  The topical index in the back makes it easy to search one-handed while breastfeeding in the middle of the night.  The information on silent reflux (which I hadn’t found anywhere else) helped clue us in to what was causing Hiccup’s frequent waking and trouble eating, which led to our asking better questions at his next check-up so that his pediatrician could accurately prescribe something that finally brought our little guy (and us) relief.

The parenting style presented in The Baby Book is a sort of customizable brand of attachment parenting – one you can tailor to fit your modern life.  As a working mom who had no choice but to return to her job, I drank in the advice on how to maximize the bonding time I did have with my baby and put into practice as much of it as I could with great results.

Attachment theory definitely calls for taking the “long view” of parenting, so if you’re dead set on sleep training your child at six weeks old, this may not be the book for you.  My two cents?  I value taking the long view on most things.  Parenting is a long, hard road.  Advice that promotes immediate gratification in one area may come at the cost of something greater later on.  That being said, the absolute best thing for any baby is to have parents who don’t go bananas; do what you can and don’t worry about the rest.

imgres-1Baby Led Weaning – There are three things I ask myself before making a decision where Hiccup is concerned.  Is this loving?  Is this healthy?  Is this affordable?  (and that is how I ended up an attachment snuggling, long-term breastfeeding, cloth-diapering mama.)  When it came to introducing solids, BLW just made perfect sense to me and this is the book that helped define the movement (which is really just a return to an older way of doing things).  When it comes to nutrition you should definitely consult your baby’s pediatrician, but I highly recommend checking out this book beforehand so you can ask the right questions.  It’s worked well for our little guy.  You want to know something else?  Between not having to buy formula, diapers, or baby food, we’ve saved at least a thousand dollars this first year.

51AfvNQo+4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Five Love Languages of Children – Growing up, did it ever feel like your parents just didn’t “get you”?  Did they say “I love you” but then act in a way that made it hard for you to believe them?  Wouldn’t it be great if your children’s answer to those questions was no?  The information in this book can help you identify and speak your child’s love language(s) in a way they will be able to hear and believe.  You could probably put off reading this one until your child is older, but reading it now will help you both start out on the right foot.

AskMoxie.org offered the best advice I could find on how to decide what strategy to take at bedtime and why CIO might not be the one-size-fits-all miracle solution some parents claim. (Hint: if it worked for you and was easy then it also probably wasn’t necessary – you just have a baby who’s a natural self-soother.  Congrats.  You won the baby lottery.  Now be quiet while I rock my one-year old to sleep.)

Speaking of sleep, I’d also recommend checking out information on 90-minute sleep cycles for babies.  Understanding when to begin soothing or laying your baby down to sleep based on when they last woke up will save you from wasting a lot of time trying to get them to sleep when they’re brains just aren’t ready.

Also look into the concept of “wonder weeks,” explaining when and why your baby may experience sleep regressions with advice on how to see them through those times as smoothly as possible.

Let’s see…I think cloth diapering has earned its own post.

Happy reading!


I did it.  I broke up with my pump.  The reason?  Hiccup is now one year old!  Woohoo!  The Professor and I can hardly believe it.  When our little squish was born, he was so tiny and delicate.  In my new-mama insecurity, it never felt like I was holding him quite right, and I dealt with this fear by looking ahead to the stage in which he would be able to hold his head up on his own.  I told myself that if we could just make it to that point, we’d be okay.  We breastfed like crazy, subjected him to the daily tortures of tummy-time; he grew and became stronger.  We navigated obstacles like tongue-tie, acid reflux, and some well-intentioned but nevertheless bad sleep advice from various friends and family members.  We reached that three month mark and it felt great!  Hiccup could hold his head up by himself, smile, laugh (he has one of those great, belly-jiggling laughs – still kills me), and we were exclusively breastfeeding like a couple of champs.

Then came a new obstacle.  It was around this time that I returned to work with my five bags and a new goal in sight – continue breastfeeding my baby until his first birthday. This meant needing to pump while at work; and if you’ve been following this diary then you know that has not been easy.  My head was not always in the game, and there were times when it seemed like my milk supply was in danger due to my consistent trouble with release at the pump; but I made it!  We made it, and Hiccup could not be healthier!

He is definitely not ready to give up breastfeeding completely and I’m happy to continue for as long as he is interested, but it is with great joy and zero guilt that I am releasing myself from pumping.  No more pump, no more expressed milk.  Hiccup eats a wonderful variety of solid foods now; and while he still enjoys nursing when we’re together, he doesn’t seem to be missing the bottle at all.  He was never a big fan to begin with and would sometimes hold out until I got home anyway (stubborn like his dad!).  Our plan going forward is to continue breastfeeding upon request when I’m around, while weaning him more onto solids and cow’s milk when I’m not. Wish us luck!  So far cow’s milk has failed to impress our little developing foodie.  He will be okay though.  He’s getting older and part of getting older is learning to take one for the team.  Mama needs a break.

It may sound selfish, but I’m excited to have my lunch hour back and to wear some of the prettier dresses that have been going to waste in my closet simply because they lacked easy boob-access.  I wore one today with a pair of celebratory new shoes and it felt really good.  Also, I’m looking forward to developing a relationship with my son that is increasingly less about my ability to feed him.  Right now, if you ask Hiccup to say “Mama” he makes the hand-sign for milk instead!  It’s cute…but also not.

There’s one more thing I hope breaking up with my pump will help facilitate and that… is the return of Aunt Flo (yes ladies, you read that right).  I’m looking forward to my body kicking back into reproductive gear because this working mama and her hubby are ready to start trying for baby number two!

Stay tuned…


I woke up this morning in a wet spot.  Before you finish that smirk, you should know that the “wet spot” being referred to here was due to the fact that my husband and I are currently bed-sharing with our wee little one, who likes to wee a lot.  Hiccup wet the bed, and here’s my confession: I realized his diaper had leaked sometime around 3:30am but did not get up to change him (or myself or our sheets) for another three hours.  His sleeping through the night is a relatively new and suspect development.  After experiencing one sleep disturbance after another – wonder week upon wonder week, an insane holiday-schedule that is not to be repeated, teething (One. Tooth. At. A. Time) and then yet another wonder week – we’re understandably skeptical that this will last.  Considering how many months it has been since his birth, nothing – NOTHING – is a big enough deal for me to risk waking him when he is sleeping peacefully, not even the realization that I am lying in the dampness of another person’s urine.

The kid’s a light sleeper and the kind of full wardrobe/set change that was required at 3:30 this morning, I can say from experience, would have been more than enough to usher him into full-mode wakefulness.  It then would have been an hour and a half to two hours before he was tired enough to shoosh to sleep again and by then, well it would have been time to get up.  So this was a legitimate dilemma and I stand by my decision!  This story illustrates a new trend in my life however that I’m not exactly proud of.  A trend towards grossness.  In my previous life, I was fastidiously ungross, especially when it came to what I was willing to touch, taste, smell, or lie in; but motherhood is making me gross and the evidence is really beginning to stack up.

For instance, this is not my first “it’s only pee” story.  In my early weeks back at work, there was one morning when I sat down with the baby for one last nurse before I ran out the door and his diaper leaked onto my skirt.  It was a black and white, patterned skirt so you couldn’t really tell and there wasn’t another outfit lined up that was pumping friendly; so I just went to work in the pee skirt.  It dried fairly quickly and didn’t really smell.  No one knew.

The other day at the park, I brought graham crackers for us to snack on but forgot wipes to clean up my little cookie monster’s face.  In hindsight I could have just wiped the mess off with my hands and then onto my jeans but no, not this mama.  Without even hesitating, my instinct was to lick the pasty cracker streaks off his cheeks.  In my defense, I once read there are some cultures in which parents do this with their babies’ runny noses, which is probably what planted the idea in the deep recesses of my baby-addled-brain (so if you’re going to judge, do so within the context of knowing that!).

If I’m not going to work, I don’t always bother taking the time to brush my hair or wash my face (FYI, real life messy ponytails are not that cute).

That partially sucked-on piece of cheese on Hiccup’s tray that he was clearly done with yesterday – I ate it.  Waste not, want not.

Cleaned poop out from under my finger nails the other day.  Not my first time.

Made dinner…after cleaning poop out from under my fingernails.

Speaking of poop – we’re cloth diapering.  Our laundry is gross now too.

I frequently wear the same tank top for two or three days (and nights) in a row.  It’s comfy with easy boob access (I should probably just buy more though).

Squished a spider with my bare fingers when it got too close to the baby (pretty proud of this last one actually – that fight or flight instinct finally resulted in a fight, and it was a fight to the death!).

All I have to say for myself is that being a full-time working mama (which basically means having two full-time jobs…two and a half even) is very consuming.  It doesn’t leave much time for sissy stuff like napkins and personal hygiene.  What I’m realizing is that this is totally fine.  For the record, we’re all ridiculously healthy here at Casa Lovejoy; and Hiccup couldn’t care less that his mama sometimes smells like old man sweat.   You might be thinking, “Poor Professor!” (I certainly do some days); but this is where I get to brag because my hubby loves me with a heart so true, he doesn’t seem to see my grossness.  The days I’m feeling particularly worn down or unattractive are frequently the ones in which he will spontaneously take note of how beautiful he thinks I am, how huggable, how kissable, and then quickly take steps to prove it to me.  Somehow he’s able to look at me with my greasy hair pinned back from my makeup-less face, still wearing that milk-stained tank and just see his beautiful wife.

That’s a pretty lavish love…I must confess.

La Leche Said There’d Be Days Like This

Happy Pump Day!  Huh?  The other day at work I overheard one woman greet another by saying, “Happy Pump Day!”  Having had a terrible pumping day myself, her words stirred up startled feelings of self-consciousness.  Relief and a bit more self-consciousness set in when I finally realized it was Wednesday and what she had actually said was, “Happy Hump Day!”  I may need therapy.

The La Leche League book on breastfeeding that I read while pregnant said there would be days like this – bad days, when I’m barely able to pump an ounce.  What the book didn’t mention, or what I failed to comprehend in the optimistic glow of prenatal innocence, was that the inability to pump might have nothing to do with my supply.  That there would be days when the milk was there but simply unable to release.  As stated in a previous post, if you know anything about milk production (human or otherwise), you know that’s a problem.  While my body’s ability to produce milk may stretch to meet Hiccup’s demand, its ability to store milk comfortably caps at around six ounces (about four ounces on the right and two on the left – don’t ask).  Pumping’s not as simple as sitting back and pushing a button though.  You have to actually relax while doing it; something we have already established I’m not too good at.

Now that Hiccup is on solid foods, I’ve cut back to two pumping sessions instead of three.  Even so, on a good day, I can still net 10-14 ounces (for those without a point of reference, that’s an enviable take).  A bad day however looks more like four ounces which means dipping into the freezer stash next time I’m away.  On what turned out to be the hump day of pump days, I took home only two ounces – in the cooler that is.  The day began promisingly enough.  Around eleven o’clock, I drew my screen, turned on the wave sound generator, and got pumping.  Normally, 15 minutes later, I’d be bagging 4-6 ounces of milk and getting back to work.  Instead, I sat there for 20 minutes growing increasingly agitated by the fact that, though my girls were full, the milk would not come.  Barely an ounce had leaked out.  At noon, my coworker and I headed outside to play a weekly inter-office game of bocce (I know, I know – what aristocrat died and left me their life?).  Someone on the other team asked me about the baby and BOOM!  Release.  There I was the winner of my own personal wet t-shirt contest.  The same thing has happened in meetings.  Thankfully, I always carry a sweater.  Heading back to my cubicle after the game, I fired up my pump expecting great things only to be disappointed again.

Looking at pictures of Hiccup helps; closing my eyes and visualizing him in my mind is usually more effective; and even more poignantly – picturing him a little bit sad and holding his arms out to me seems to be most successful at stimulating a release.   Some days though the stress that comes from continued sleep deprivation, various work issues, and certain familial pressures just gets to me and focusing on the baby becomes impossible.  The cold, clinical nature of pumping doesn’t help either.  You try relaxing to the mechanical whooshing and whirring of a plastic pump motor which on my darker days sounds like the whispered chanting of redrum, redrum, redrum

That evening, after coming home to my little boy and sitting down for a cuddle, all was well.  I was even able to pump five ounces from one side while Hiccup nursed on the other.  My goal is to continue up to his first birthday and then retire the pump.  Just two and half more months to go.

Lastly, and really as just a side note, I think we should stop saying “Hump Day.”  We could probably remove the word hump entirely from our vocabulary and things would be just fine.