Friday, November 25, 2011

Napster

Jackson has become (note the perfect present tense, it is intentional) a good sleeper, but not without some hurdles to overcome along the way. In the wee early months (oh gawd, months) we had colic. He transitioned to his crib just fine but liked to get up 3-4 times minimum each night to nurse, for a long time (oh gawd, months). In the past 4-6 months, we've made huge strides in sleep with him going to bed quite easily around 7pm and sleeping through the night until 4-6am, when he wants to cuddle and have some milk (I used to nurse until The Strike led to the Self-Weaning, and now it's just a sippy with a few ounces of moo-milk). He then goes back to sleep until around 7am or so. Last night we began the project of eliminating the wee-early-morning milk run. If it was consistently happening around 5-6am or so, I wouldn't really care because, seriously, cuddling with your bebe when he's half asleep and the house is quiet is like leisure time. But some nights he's up for that sippy as early as 3am, and we've tried comforting him back to sleep without it and it fails. Must.have.milk. Last night went okay, with minimal fussing, and he slept in until 8am. Win-win so far. Wish us luck tonight.

And the napping. He's been a crap-napper since day 1, hardly staying out longer than 30 minutes. He whittled his naptime down to one per day a few months ago and would not fall asleep in his crib at home. Bollocks. So we've been strapping him in the car and running around town doing errands to get him to nap in his carseat, which works but can be a pain in the asshole. Last weekend I said, "Enough." He naps at school, even if only for half an hour and once a day, ergo he can do it at home. I plopped him in his crib with a blanket and a toy and some rain forest-y sounds and he babbled and played for half an hour and then, boom. Slept for an hour and a half. Hour and a freaking half. He did it again today, twice. Twice. I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to get to this. The more you know.

And speaking of, he's waking up from his second hour-plus nap today, right now. Huzzah. Off I go.

p.s. Here was this morning's prelude to a nap:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

I'm thankful today and every day for my boys. And for all of you, Bloggy Friends. That is all. Now let's stuff our faces with turkey and side dishes. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

(To my International Bloggy Friends, today is Exhibit A, as to why 115% of Americans are obese.  Gluttony, it's what's for dinner.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bosom Buddies

The long-forgotten post about my therapist/bosom buddy is here. Stop holding your breath, darlings!

She was recommended to me years ago by a friend who is also a therapist. The friend is a bass player and we played in a band together at the time. To cut a 33-year story short, after my wedding reception, during which my mother made it all about her and provided the 100-pound straw that broke the camel's back, I decided ENOUGH. I knew at that precise moment that I could not manage her brand of crazy anymore and I had to figure out what to do. So I explained enough about it to my friend to convey my therapy goals, and with recommendation in hand, I was off to get my head shrunk.

We started right off the bat with some deep, dark shit. Abusive and neglectful childhood, narcissistic and delusional mother, and so on. I left most sessions crying a mix of agony and relief. And then we worked through a lot of that, and I came out the other side with a confidence I had not felt before. I did not have to endure this anymore. I could walk away. And so I did. My therapist essentially, actually literally, gave me permission to cut my mother out of my life to preserve my own happiness. And so I have. It still requires a degree of active management (Krazytends to not take hints or honor requests) but it's been a huge weight lifted. So, yay therapy.

When my job at that time (management! business development! travel! 60-hour workweeks!) started to feel shitty, and then we got The Diagnosis (super shitty sperm syndrome, SSSS), I continued going to therapy to deal with these emerging issues. And we worked through them, too. But once I got pregnant and had started a new work-from-home job, I stopped going to therapy. I thought, I've got this.

Oh, stupid me. You've never got this.

So in the wake of returning to work full time after a nearly 4-month maternity leave, at which time I kind of lost my shit and my mind, I quit the job and immediately called to make a therapy appointment. Like, 5 minutes after I gave my resignation. I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety and we talked about drugs, talked about behavioral modification, talked about self care, and without even needing the drugs, things started to get better. She shared stories with me about her kids' colic and breastfeeding struggles and sleepless nights and the first thing she said after our first session back together was, "Girl, we've got to get you some sleep." So, once again. Yay therapy.

Now for the interesting part. The friend who recommended her to me started a private practice, and my therapist joined him in a shared office. (I now typically go to appointments a few minutes early to catch my friend in between his appointments, and we chit chat.) Anyway, the friend just got married and both KB and I AND the therapist and her husband were invited. No, scrap that. We were all in the wedding. Yeah. KB and Mr. Therapist were both groomsmen, Dr. Therapist Lady gave a reading (the "love is patient" one for you biblical scholars), and I sang a couple of songs. We all sat together at the rehearsal dinner. We looked at pictures of each other's kids. We drank tequila together. We also sat AND DANCED together (white people dancing, natch -- it included The Lawnmower) at the reception. It turns out we have a lot in common as civilians and we make good company. Huh.

Both KB and Mr. Therapist said to us (separately), "Jen needs to find a new therapist so we can all hang out." What a strange compliment, you guys. But the truth is, if I had met Dr. Therapist Lady at our mutual friend's wedding or anywhere else under different circumstances, I think we would have become fast friends. When we talk about my mother-in-law issues in sessions, it almost feels like two friends bitching together. (Except I get a bill.) It's simultaneously weird and comforting. But that's how I'd sum up therapy in general, anyway.

Our current discussions center around A) how to deal with my in-law's brand of crazy (the mild variety) and how to deal with the anxiety that creeps in over planning for Operation Der Kinder Nummer Zwei. And I learned my lesson about foolishly thinking, I've got this. Maintenance, man. Just because you change your oil doesn't mean your taillight won't go out. I plan on continuing to go, even if we cut back on frequency (every 2 weeks now and longer stretches around the holidays) through the next 6 months or so, at least, as we embark on another embryological journey to the center of my bank account and my uterus. And then I'll be sure to go back after Hypothetical Bebe Deux is here to head off postpartum-whatever at the pass. This dog can learn new tricks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ugh. Times Twenty.

The Duggars have bred again. Good grief.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Don't Be a Fool, Stay in School

So, here goes.

I'm glad Jackson is in daycare. Er, school.

Side note (aka, just the facts, ma'am): His daycare is actually accredited as a school, since it is a certified Montessori program. They have an infant classroom that takes babies from 3 months to around 18 months, after which they transition to a toddler classroom that holds kids up to 3 years, and then there is a pre-K and a Kindergarten program. Parents who have put their older kids through public school Kindergarten have all told me they intend to put their younger kids in the Montessori Kindergarten because they believe it is better. And since Jackson has a fall birthday that would make him one of the youngest kids in a public school Kindergarten class, this might be a good option for us in a zillion years when the time is right because my baby will never be that big (denial, it's not just a river in Egypt!). The teachers have childhood education degrees, the kids all know each other, and the parents are really involved. It's everything I could hope for as a learning and social environment for Jackson and a place to meet other parents for KB and me.

So, anyway, when I returned to my full-time job back in January, when Jackson was 14 weeks old, I was worked to the bone right away and I got sick with repeated mastitis and sinus infections and crippling anxiety and I quit THE END. KB and I were in a financial situation where we could live without my salary and that suited me just fine. I had a vague notion I might return to work, but I desperately wanted to find a way to make it more flexible, part-time, and overall less stressful. I didn't object to sending Jackson to school full-time in general, but it added to my then-horrific level of post-partum anxiety about Making It All Work and Being Everything to Everybody. That shit will kill you. I actually kept him in school while I stayed home, starting seeing my therapist again, and just relaxed my schedule with him so that I dropped him off whenever I felt like it, after we'd spent time together in the morning playing and having breakfast and maybe going for a walk, and then I picked him up as soon as I felt like I had gotten some chores done around the quiet house and felt ready to give him my undivided attention for the afternoon before KB came home. Lucky for me, he warmed up to the teachers and his classmates/friends right away, and they are as thick as thieves to this day. They've learned to crawl together, walk together, and play hide-and-seek together every weekday. He gets visibly excited when we pull into the parking lot. It's about 6 hours a day of pure playtime joy. And they have a Spanish and a music teacher. Jackson plays a mean tambourine. Educational. And Jackson has never suffered a single serious episode of separation anxiety (he whines for me sometimes, but never throws a fit). He's learned to play with other children, to respect other adults, and is by everyone-who-meets-him's account an extremely happy and easy-going kid. Huzza. Oh, and to squash one favorite counterpoint, he's had just one ear infection (which occurred while I was home with him), only a couple of minor colds, and one bout of pinkeye. Kid is healthy as a horse.

When I decided I was ready to begin picking up freelance work, and the contracts came in, and then more contracts came in, I was careful not to overdo it. I had some wicked anxiety and do not desire to fight that demon again. I successfully avoided Better Living Through Chemistry (and no judgement passed on anyone who is on that path), and have had a successful transition back into working on a part-time, flexible basis. It doesn't hurt that I make as much doing this part-time as I did on full-time salary (no corporate overhead, higher consulting rates). This sounds like a humblebrag, and I guess it totally is, but I am now in a position to make more doing less and I have never been happier about it. I get to interpret cool clinical data, write cool regulatory documents outlining the key results, and help send it off to the FDA. I get to run meetings with other scientists and statisticians who listen to what I have to say and then do what I say. I get to learn new things and use what I've learned and it pays bills. To me, that rules. And I need this to be the best "me" I can be. Otherwise I just see myself sitting alone in a room peeling yellow wallpaper until I die. (Where are my literary nerds?) And our family is better off financially for it. We live more comfortably; we know Jackson will be able to go to college. And it's the only way we afforded IVF (times three) in the first place, and are able to consider it again, to even HAVE children to think about putting in school or not. It makes our life as we know it possible.

But none of that is really the point. The whole situation boils down to this: I like having time to myself. I like being able to engage in something I find intellectually challenging (work) and also having time to finish the laundry or prepare Jackson's meals in advance or sip a cup of coffee in silence. I like the break. And it has taken me a while to accept that this does not make me a bad, or in any way worse, mama. It makes me human. It's just how my brain is hardwired and my chemistry balances. And I can tell you, when I send Jackson off to school, and then pick him up, it ensures my time with him feels special and that I'm not too worn down from a long day of chasing him around and the random toddler-ish standoffs and struggles (see also: tantrums) to enjoy playing with him or to do the necessary wrangling to get him into a highchair or in his sleepsack for bedtime.

And there's no way this doesn't sound judgy to the stay-at-home mamas, but I like to think that I am sending an important message to Jackson as he grows and learns that both mama and daddy earn a living for our family. My job clearly is different from KB's, and is sort of a hybrid of stay-at-home and work, but I like that Jackson will know that ladies bring home the bacon, too. I will be proud to tell my son that his mama is a doctor. A lady doctor, y'all.

Second side note: I detest getting mail addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. B___" almost as much as I loathe seeing something addressed to "Mrs. K. B_____." ZOMG I did not surrender my identity for realz use my goddamned name and by the way I am a doctor. Full stop.

So, to my bloggy friends who stay home with your bebes, I salute you. You do what I cannot, and I am okay with that. And to my bloggy friends who work and send your bebes to school, I salute you, too. We all do what we must to make ends meet for our families, and to enrich ourselves. And THAT makes us the best mamas we can be.