Category Archives: updates

Well, hello.

My mom says I have to put up a new post because every time she checks the blog she gets depressed about my anger issues. Fair point. Also … uh, how is it that I haven’t blogged in a month and a half? That was a longer-than-intended break! I guess traveling for Thanksgiving, hosting two Christmases (Christmasses?), traveling for New Year’s, cooking a ton, making a veritable shitload of gifts by hand, shopping, finishing up classes and grading, celebrating five family birthdays, hosting out-of-town guests … yeah, I guess I can see where the time went, after all. Anyhoo: Happy New Year! Does it bug anyone else that 2010 is being treated as the first year of the new decade rather than the last one of the old decade? No? I mean, I guess it doesn’t bother me THAT much. We’re not talking misusing-borrow-and-lend levels of bother. Just, you know. It’s wrong. That’s all. And how are you opting to pronounce the new year? Me, I’m going for the “twenty-ten” option. Goes more trippingly off the tongue.

Did anyone make any New Year’s resolutions? I blow hot and cold with them. On the one hand, I hate setting myself up for failure. On the other hand, it is kind of nice to take stock once a year and think about where you want to go. This year I decided against concretely measurable goals (Read a book a week! Exercise daily! Try ten new foods!) in favor of more, uh, abstract pursuits. Basically I have one resolution, if you can call it that: to become more Zen. By which I mean, essentially, to chill the fuck out about things generally, and be kinder to myself, and be more present in the moment. Frankly, making a resolution to be more Zen is a bit oxymoronic if not just flat out moronic, but there it is. I’ve always been interested in Zen Buddhism and Taoism, in particular, but haven’t had much time for it lately. But our pediatrician, who is this great guy with a sarcastic sense of humor and not at all the kind of person you’d think would be into eastern philosophy, is an unlikely Zen devotee, and once he found out I was also interested he started throwing vaguely Buddhist catch-phrases at me when I freak out about parenting things in our appointments. “Expect nothing” is one of his favorites. Like, when I’m all “the girls are going to have to share a bedroom and I don’t think it’s going to go well and they’re just going to wake each other up and none of us will ever get a full night’s sleep again but we don’t have enough bedrooms for them not to share and what should I do?” He’s all, “Expect nothing.” And I’m all, “Blink.” And he’s all, “Just do what you need to do, find out what happens, and respond accordingly.” Expect nothing is difficult for me, y’all. I EXPECT THINGS. Mostly baaaad things. Mostly in advance. And not just for myself – I can expect bad things for anyone. And WORRY about it. But I’m really trying to catch myself when I get into trouble-borrowing mode and remind myself to “expect nothing” and just do what I need to do. We’ll see how it goes, but I feel like it’s a resolution I can manage, that might also improve the quality of my life and the lives of those poor souls who have to live with my anxiety-ridden ass.

So … is this post less depressing than the previous one? I better throw in a cute baby picture just in case. LOOK! A CUTE BABY!

What a ham! (closeup)

Clearly, we’re having some karmic problems here

So I’ve been sick for basically the last three and a half weeks, much of the time the kind of sick where you’re really only fit for lying on the sofa and drinking hot tea. (I’m still not completely over it, but I have returned to functionality.) Now, usually when I get sick, I like to cut myself some slack for a few days, rest up, push fluids and recover, and then get back into the swing of things. This works pretty well for your average 5-7 day cold. Not so much with a three week fucker of a virus. This past month, even when I’ve been feeling my worst, I’ve still had to take care of the girls, ferry people around to preschool and playgroups, run errands, teach classes, go to meetings, etc. I’ve canceled when and where I could, but my life is currently arranged such that there’s not a lot of wiggle room for cancellations. I have, in other words, been “pushing through” and “soldiering on,” even though I am really not a “soldiering on” kind of squab. More of a “civilian-ing off” kind of one, actually.

The unpleasant side-effect of this unwonted stoicism has been that I’ve been madder than a wet hen pretty much all month. I mean, ANGRY. Angry about everything. Angry that I can’t get un-sick, angry that the weather is so damn cold and wet, angry that we don’t have any money and the kids need winter coats and boots and none of my shoes fit since the baby and all my clothes are cheap and ill-fitting, angry that being tired and sick all the time makes me an ill-tempered and impatient parent, angry that I haven’t gotten any writing done in weeks and months, angry that I don’t get any sick days, angry that I feel like I’m half-assing everything I do, as a parent, as a wife, as a teacher, as a friend, angry that I’m being whiny and annoying all the time, angryangryangry. And I guess maybe anger is a better response to crap than depression, but not by much.

So as I usually do when I’m having a problem, after stewing on it unproductively and no doubt alienating my friends with my bitching, I talked about it with Mr. Squab. “I’m angry all the time,” I said, “and I know it’s not fair, because you’re already doing more than your share, and I feel terrible about that all the time too, but I can’t keep being angry like this.” And we talked about ways that I could get some kind of break if I really need one, and things to do to make me feel less crazy, and Mr. Squab said all the things that truly superior partners say and I felt like, okay, I can make it through this. I can’t be sick forever, and things will be all right.

The next night (Friday) Mr. Squab sprained his ankle trying to avoid stepping on the cat.

Saturday the Hatchling had a complete breakdown while we were at an out of town birthday celebration, and we spent two hours at a local urgent care clinic diagnosing a raging ear infection.

Today I woke up with the entire right side of my head stuffed up, and the Sprout is either coming down with something or teething.

Breaks. I would like one.

Tired.

Well, hello. Ahem. Anybody still out there? Soooo … it’s been awhile. I guess I needed a break or something. Actually, that would be “or something” because it’s not so much that I needed a break from blogging (I mentally narrate my day in blog posts; it’s sad) as it is … other stuff. Part of it was the realization that many of my posts were causing concern among certain friends and family members as to my mental and emotional stability. I mean, I don’t want to make people think I’m about to go over the edge, here! And part of it was the realization that lately I’ve been feeling a lot like I’m about to go over the edge, here.

My stock answer when people ask me what it’s like, having two kids, is “It’s kicking my ass!” This is said – and meant – semi-jocularly, but the fact of the matter is that it’s also objectively true about 75% of the time. I constantly feel frazzled, stretched too thin, unfocused, inadequate, lacking direction, dysfunctional, and frustrated. In short, I am a BUSHEL BASKET OF FUN these days. Whoo. During one of my recent meltdowns, I explained to Mr. Squab that I don’t feel like I’m living up to my own (dwindling) standards in any aspect of my life right now: I’m not being the kind of mother I want to be, I’m not being a good partner to Mr. Squab, I’m completely overwhelmed even by minimal housework, I’m not making any progress in my professional life, and god knows I’m not taking great care of myself. My inner honors student is appalled at my inability to Get. Anything. Done. And while cognitively I’m aware that this, too, shall pass, I’ve been spending too much time lately feeling hopeless and dissatisfied. Which, let’s face it, is not the most fun way to be in the world. Also it is booooorrrrrriiiiiiiiinnnnnnggggg to talk about.

Mr. Squab, who I should say right now is basically a saint, pointed out that almost all of my funk can be traced back to one overarching cause: the lack of sleep. The Sprout, like her sister before her, wakes up every two hours all night long. Every night. Sometimes even more often than that. During the day, she takes wee naps in the morning and then a longer nap – as long as three hours, sometimes – in the afternoon, while the Hatchling sleeps. Which means that for the last five months I have not slept for longer than maybe three hours at one go … uh, at all. When the Hatchling was this same age, I was also profoundly sleep-deprived, but at least I could sleep whenever she did all through the day if I was really out of it. No such luck with two! And as any veteran parent can attest, after a few months of completely inadequate rest, you start to get a little psycho, and the worst of it is that you’re too tired to remember that fatigue is the source of your misery. I casually mentioned the Sprout’s poor sleeping habits at my weekly playgroup recently, and everyone immediately offered sympathy, remarking on how rough it is, how much you lose your mind, how everything goes all to hell when you’re so, so, so, so tired. It was like a revelation: Oh, yeah! That IS why I feel so shitty! Because I NEVER GET ANY SLEEP. It’s not that I’m an inadequate person! I’m just an inadequately rested person!

This realization does not, of course, help me get any more sleep – that will have to wait for sleep training in a month – but it does make me feel a little bit better about being such a mess. Because, really, I’m doing fine: I have lovely children and a wonderful partner and a good support system and a roof over my head and enough to eat etc., etc. I’m just bloody tired, is all.

Apparently my life is currently incompatible with blogging

It’s not like things haven’t been happening. The Sprout turned 3 months old, the Hatchling is coming up with new catchphrases and other awesomeness all the time, Mr. Squab and I celebrated our 7th anniversary, I finished rereading the entire Harry Potter series – I mean, the days are filled. Just not so much with the blogging. However, I know I need to post a 3 month letter for the Sprout, and we also have some lovely videos in the hopper, so, um … stay tuned!! Look! Cute pictures!

Crazy-eyed Ellie

Smiling for Mama

Sweet Sisters

Random Tidbits for the weekend

1. The Sprout has decided to try on being a fussy baby for the last two days. The mellow thing is SO last week. Apparently. This is not contributing to a positive mental state in her mama, who is finding herself really, really, really looking forward to being a mother of two girls about three years from now.*

2. It is (finally) a GORGEOUS spring day outside, and what’s more, I actually got out to enjoy it a little. Went to the plant store and got several nice perennials to put in the front yard, and a truckload of mulch. Was kicked out of the house to go on said errand by Mr. Squab on the theory that a little kid-free time amid flowers and sunshine would perk me up. And he was right, as he so often is.

3. I CANNOT BELIEVE that Adam Lambert didn’t win American Idol. WTF, America? Was it the eyeliner that put you off? Or the fact that he has more talent in his manicured pinky than you have in your whole vanilla bourgeois body? Feh.

4. I will soooooo be watching Glee this fall. Cheesy? Hell, yes, but I was a big-time choir kid in high school and it’s worth the cheese just for the trip down memory lane.

5. My 20th high school reunion is coming up this summer. How did THAT happen so fast? I keep getting requests to send my address to the organizers so they can send me the invitation. Which I guess I’ll do, since I don’t want to be anti-social, but y’all: there is NO WAY IN HELL I’m going to my 20th reunion. You don’t have to go to high school reunions if you’re still having the occasional anxiety dream about high school, right? That’s my stand and I’m sticking to it.

6. I have officially decided that I would like to travel back in time to when your average upper-middle class family had a baby nurse to help take care of the kids until they go off to school. Possibly boarding school. Depends on when you ask me. Just thought you’d want to know that it’s official.*

* It has been brought to my attention that I’ve tended, of late, to post updates that indicate a fairly stressed/depressed state of mind. Which, you’re damn right I’m stressed! But not at a worrisome level, in part because I have a blog to vent on. So not to fret.

Kids = Stress, Parenting = Anxiety

OK. So, we’re back home and starting the process of getting used to being a family of four. The good stuff: I totally missed the Hatchling (and the feeling was definitely mutual) so it’s been good to be back at home and get some snuggle time with my first baby. Baby 2.0 – let’s call her Sprout, shall we? – is (so far) an extremely mellow baby, sleeping like a champ, only cries when she’s hungry or needs her diaper changed, and is generally a very sweet little girl. The weather is getting warmer, we have lovely friends and relatives bringing us food and helping us out – I mean, objectively speaking, things are going pretty well.

So why do I feel like such a basket case? OK, some of it is post-partum hormones. Seriously, I could weep at the drop of a hat these days. It’s annoying. And some of it is cumulative lack of sleep and the whole recovering from major surgery thing. But also, Sprout is having some eating problems and it’s kind of making me want to stab my eyes out with a fork. Those of you who’ve been reading this blog since the early days will remember that the Hatchling had myriad problems on the nursing front, starting with being tongue tied and compounded by my low milk-supply and other fun. We had to supplement her with formula from the get-go and never managed to get her completely on the breast, though we did get into a decent groove with it and I nursed her until she was 14 months old. I had a lot of friends who had similar difficulties getting started with breastfeeding, and many of them had it much easier the second time around – copious milk supply, easy nursing, etc. And I had convinced myself that I’d be the same – you know, I put in my time in with the first one, this one would be easy sailing!

I should have known better. Now, Sprout isn’t tongue-tied, and she knows how to nurse. But she is also an extremely big baby, and my supply is not keeping pace with her dietary needs. So we’re supplementing again, which feels like failure. Sometimes she gets so mad that the milk isn’t coming out fast enough that she won’t even nurse. When I had to resort to putting droppers full of formula on my boobs while nursing so she’d keep sucking – something we had to do with the Hatchling – it REALLY felt like failure. Sprout had her first doctor’s appointment today, and she’s not gained any weight, so the doctor says we need to supplement even more, which at this point I’d be happy to do, only for the last day and a half she’s been so sleepy it’s hard to get her to eat anything at ALL. At a rational level (not a place I’m having an easy time getting to today) I know that this is something that we’ll work out, we’ll get past it, if I can’t nurse her it’s not the end of the world, etc., etc. But it’s driving me nuts. I’m not enjoying the really excellent baby she is because I’m feeling so bad about not being able to feed her. (Also feeling bad about: the upheaval to the Hatchling’s life; being a basket case all the time; not drinking enough water – yeah, we’ve hit absurd levels.) I HATE that I feel like a failure for the nursing not coming easily. I hate how much it will bother me if I end up not being able to nurse Sprout. I hate that I’m feeling so anxious when I really thought that the anxiety would be better this time around – when it SHOULD be better this time around. I hate that I’m already projecting that things will always suck when chances are that next week or even tomorrow I’ll probably feel much better. Argh. I also hate that I can’t write a more engaging damn blog post. OK. Sorry for the venting. Here are the positive things I’m trying to focus on when I feel fail-ey:

1. Look, she’s really damn cute, OK? I mean, she is a Very. Cute. Baby.
2. Having had feeding problems before, we’re at least prepared with all the techniques, so I have some idea what to do in response.
3. The Hatchling is being a total trouper even though all this is clearly stressing her out.
4. Mr. Squab continues to be a tower of strength.
5. This baby actually sleeps in the car, something the Hatchling never quite grasped.
6. My mother-in-law is here, cooking and taking care of us, and she brought a huge batch of my favorite molasses cookies with her, one of which I am going to go eat.

Just … remind me to focus on this list, ok?

Gah. Busy.

Relatives in town.
Prepping for Kid 2.0.
(One month left. ACK.)
Trying to catch up on teaching stuff.
Would prefer to be sleeping, eating or peeing most of the time.

NO TIME FOR BLOGGING.

I will post a cute video tomorrow, I promise.

In the meantime, is it just me, or does “the Island of Sodor” sound a lot like it should be a locale in the evil part of Middle Earth? I mean, “Sodor” is kind of a creepy name, right?

OK. I’m going to take a shower, pee, and go to bed. May your evening be equally satisfying.