Blog Migration

I’m moving the blog to tumblr. Much easier to create really short posts over there. I can post from my iphone! Still playing with the design so be patient.

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Boobaholics Anonymous

I will never update this blog again. Arlo will not sleep unless I wear him or lie with him for a nap. WITH a boob in his mouth. Otherwise he wakes. Immediately. And this is if we are alone. Henry is a wonderful older brother, full of energy and enthusiasm. Arlo is completely captivated. Good and bad, I guess. This means day 1 of spring break Arlo woke up at 6a (Adjusted time – otherwise it would be 5! And guess which one I’m still on?) and napped a total of maybe 30 minutes today. It’s now 7p and he’s completely wired and won’t go to sleep. He’s on my back now while I bounce on the birth ball because I just gave up after trying to nurse him down for an hour in my bed.

What the fuck am I going to do this summer?! Arlo is almost 6 months and I still feel like I need a full-time house cleaner, cook, and sitter for each child. We’re going to start with sitter and house cleaner. I’ll do some camp. I want Henry to have a free and easy, unstructured summer.

This is by far the hardest job I’ve ever had. My most balls-out moment as a publicist was negotiating an exclusivity contract for an author and authority on Pope John Paul II’s death with a couple of VPs at CBS at their studios in west Manhattan. I learned later that that was a pretty dumb move as a publicist. But that’s not the only reason I want to smack 28-year-old Jojo in the face.

Posted in Arlo Beckett, sleep, child | 1 Comment

What Pisses Me Off

… are people who say:

“Hyland’s teething tablets worked perfectly for us.”

“Just give him a frozen watermelon rind. He’ll love it.”

“Frozen washrags bring instant relief.”

“A little Tylenol will make him sleep.”

“Rub some whiskey on his gums.”

MY FAVORITE IS, “Sleep him at least every two hours so he doesn’t become overtired.”


I am at a loss.

I should make a new category on my blog: “TRENCHES.”


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January Newsletter

I used to write monthly letters to Henry, but after a while I couldn’t keep up. I realized a few weeks ago that I write updates *about* Arlo, but I’ve never written him a letter. And Henry still gets neglected. (Isn’t that supposed to be the younger’s lot in life??) I’m changing things up in 2011. I will write one monthly update that discusses both children. I want to better document their lives. (Don’t even get me started on the disorganized state of our photos—if Flickr ever goes down, we are so effed.) It’s been so hard to find balance with two children. When I was pregnant I told myself Arlo would just have to fit into our flow. With an entrance like his, I should’ve known our worlds would be turned upside down. Still, I’ve been completely focused on him all day, every day, for the last four months. That has to change. Starting now.

Last week we got an email from Henry’s teachers saying that he and his best bud were in tears one morning. Henry had pushed his friend because he wanted “some body space” and he “very clearly felt horrible” about it. His friend was upset about being pushed, of course. Henry wanted to work alone and so he did. His friend wanted a lesson so the teachers gave him one. The point was, the teachers said, that they are and will continue to be great friends and they are learning to navigate boundaries. I’m just so blown away by the fact that Henry has such complex friendships at age 3.5. And not just with this friend; he has a whole playgroup of friends whose hands he holds, whose disappointments he shares, whom he plays with, not alongside. I know part of that is that I’m lucky to have such great mama friends. We are forming a tribe the best way we can. And Henry clearly benefits. I’m so proud of him.

January was the month of sickness for Arlo. He started out with pinkeye, then a cough that sounded eerily like pertussis and which thankfully was not. Nothing is scarier than a sick infant. We’re getting it a lot earlier and more often the second time around, thanks to the germs Henry brings home from preschool. We closed out the month with a 2nd trip to the ER (the first was for my violent and unrelenting stomach flu): Arlo had been coughing for 2 days and suddenly his fever spiked to 105*. My worst nightmare came true when the doctor told us he had RSV. Nothing we could do but wait, and “if he turned blue,” bring him back in to the hospital so they could help him breathe. It was just too much like his first days in this world. I stared at him, watched his chest rise and fall around the clock for a week. I breathed with him and struggled to find and maintain, yet again, that place of calm.

I’ve had enough of this shit, let me tell you.

Milestones: Arlo can now sit up independently. He is totally teething. Henry got his first tooth at 4.5 months, and I know Arlo is about to do the same. His lower gums are swollen and he chomps anything and everything ferociously. I felt I used Tylenol and Motrin too freely with Henry, so, for now, I’m really committed to homeopathic remedies. We’ll see if it gets too unbearable.

Just when I thought Arlo was developing some kind of sleep pattern, everything changed. Isn’t that always how it goes? He never, ever naps longer than 40 minutes. But thank the universe I don’t work that stupid effing publicist job anymore where I had, for financial reasons really, to fit a nap schedule around my work hours. Now I just go off his cues. If he doesn’t nap, I won’t say it still doesn’t completely derail me some days, but at least it doesn’t take away from my bottom line. I’m so happy to be able to just be a mom this time, even if there aren’t some days when it totally sucks. My boss is an 18-pounder who screams upwards of 4 hours a day. I’ll take it.

Oh yeah, so the crying. Arlo is a colicky little dude. I can admit this now. He cries inconsolably about 3-4 hours each day. I feel like a huge failure. I haven’t eaten dairy or soy since he was born, and only very little wheat. It took me until two weeks ago to lose my shit so much that I decided to go back to mung beans and rice, steamed sweet potatoes and squash, and avocadoes for fat. The crying has improved. I’m going to slowly add things back in and see what the trigger really is. I have a horrible feeling it’s eggs and corn, tomatoes and the onion family. I had a minor binge on corn chips the other night and, sure enough, Arlo fussed all night. Hopefully it’s not the nuts, too. No more tacos for Jojo for the time being. So, so, so sad.

I had to up my meds after the holidays, which were epic. Feeling better now. Though don’t get me wrong: being on meds does not mean you feel any less. It means you still feel quite intensely, but you can actually fall asleep at night. That’s huge. Not a day goes by that I don’t say a little gratitude for Zoloft.

I started a monthly group therapy. It’s a conscious choice, every day: What am I going to feel?

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Highlights of 2010

2010 was quite literally a year of growth: I confirmed my pregnancy on January 9th, gave birth September 26th, and emerged from my 4th trimester cocoon December 26th. Make no mistake, this was not just the birth of my beautiful son, Arlo Beckett. It was the birth of a new mother, a mom of two, and the death of the mother on the other side, the side of unknowing.

I wondered many things in 2010: Would I get my homebirth? Could I leave the scars of my previous cesarean behind? How would I be able to love another child as much as I love the first? Would my marriage withstand another child? Was my support system as real as I thought it was? Would I get PPD again?

Well, I didn’t get my homebirth. I had another cesarean, this time a true emergency.  My love for both of my children at the same time is gigantic and real and I have no idea how it happens. The marriage is stronger than ever—when doctors tell you how close to death your son was, the only thing you can do is hold tighter than you imagined. I was floored by the support of my friends and family. And still, I managed to get PPD again.

2010 reminded me to find my breath and accept the circumstances of my life. I looked out the back window after days in bed with first trimester nausea and saw a 5-foot tall snowman constructed by Henry and Matt; I found my breath. As I lay on my midwife’s couch and heard Arlo’s heartbeat for the first time, I found my breath. Henry graduated from his nursery school; as his balloon soared over the green lawn, I found my breath. In the cold waters of Deep Eddy, I held Henry’s warm little body close to mine, looked up at the airplane on the end of his index finger and found my breath. As I kissed my Henry goodbye and sent him off to a new, bigger school with 5- and 6-year olds in his class, I found my breath. In an ambulance, hooked up to oxygen with my hips elevated to keep my son out of my birth canal, I found my breath. The first time I saw Arlo, under an incubator and hooked up to a thousand wires, I found my breath. Quite simply, it is what it is. I have a choice. And I choose to be grateful.

These are just some of the highlights of 2010, my gratitudes:

I’m grateful for Matt, my rock. His constant quest for knowing. His humor and company. The yin to my yang. I could not do it without him. In the moment before I was whisked off to the OR, he held a lavender scented cloth under my nose and spritzed Rescue Remedy on my tongue and I knew, once again, until death do us part.

I’m grateful for my Henry. Especially on those nights when he calls for me after Matt has put him to bed. I get to curl up around his little body and feel his warm breath on my arm, his hair on my cheek. How did my little baby get so big? And on nights like tonight when I find my mums uprooted and a roll of paper towels around my roses I secretly relish his sense of humor.

Arlo teaches me how to begin again, in every moment.

I’m grateful for my midwife GB Khalsa, who gave my pregnancy the space to unfold. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in birth and if it weren’t really completely and totally crazy, I’d get pregnant again just so I could keep hanging out with her every week.

I’m grateful for Amy Nylund who offered her doula services to us gratis. She is a true friend and I would not know most of the people I know in Austin if not for her.

I’m grateful for Lanell Coultas who helped prepare me for Arlo’s birth and his aftermath. Lanell is a birth warrior, and I love her.

I’m grateful for Carrie Contey who helped me heal my past and unfold into the present.

I’m grateful for Erin Stangland, my best pal who washed my bare ass in the hospital. That’s what friends are for.

I’m grateful for Terry Benaryeh, Sarah Waggoner, Diane Hoffman, Mary Silverstein and Debby Wolfinsohn. I love my playgroup buddies and our crazy nighttime emails.

I’m grateful for my family of origin and their support this time around. Special thanks to my sister, Leia, and my brother-in-law, Tyler.

I’m grateful for Kholoud and Bianca, for Nichole and Lissadell, the guides who have cared for my Henry in the mornings over the past year. He has reaped the benefits of their sensitive and attentive souls.

I’m grateful for my yoga practice. I’m grateful that I finally got a bind on my own in Marichyasana D 3 days before my positive pregnancy test.

I’m grateful for running and for the way the wind feels on my cheeks when I’m really rushing. I may not be 22 anymore but I’m still fast.

If I didn’t have a rice cooker/steamer, we’d starve.

If I didn’t have a fantastic breast pump, I’d never get to go out longer than an hour. I wouldn’t get any sleep. I thank the universe this son takes a bottle every once in awhile.

I could go on, but I’m tired now. I just want more of the same for 2011. More breath awareness. More acceptance of the present moment. More of the here and now.

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Three Months

It seems like yesterday. It seems like ages ago. Three months have passed since I gave birth to Arlo. Our fourth trimester is over. It feels like new life has truly begun. We are emerging now. We are all here. Us four.

I’m overflowing with gratitude this time around. Gratitude for perspective, gratitude for patience, gratitude for friendships and family, gratitude for all the things I did not have the first time. I only wish Henry could have gotten this mom. Gratitude for modern science and medication and the ability to proudly ask for help. And I’m so grateful I don’t have to return to a job I despise, like I did 10 weeks after Henry was born.

Our days finally have a pattern, a rhythm I find most comforting. Arlo and I usually wake around 6:30 to cook breakfast and finish packing lunches for Henry and Matt. Arlo loves to watch Henry get dressed and brush his teeth and hair. Once they leave around 7:15, Arlo plays under his play gym for about 15-20 minutes while I either sit with him, check my email, or clean up the kitchen. Usually Arlo can’t stand to be awake longer than 90 minutes. I change his diaper, swaddle him, nurse him, and he’s down for his morning nap before 8:30. This first nap typically lasts 40 minutes.

When Arlo wakes he likes to nurse again (he’s more of a snacker, whereas his brother was a vacuum with actual hours between feedings). We play or I lay him down near me while I fold laundry or cook or whatever. We usually leave the house around 11 and drive down to Town Lake. In the early days, Arlo screamed the whole way, but now he falls asleep within the first 5 minutes. I run a 4-mile loop around the lake (soon better increase to 5- my comeback is going to be the Cap 10K in March!) while Arlo sleeps in the stroller. After this I eat lunch or run some errand (with Arlo usually asleep) and we go get Henry from school by 1. Arlo wakes to nurse before we drive home or to a playdate and then he usually falls back asleep until 2 or so. Then he takes a third nap, usually around 4ish.

The times change but generally he naps 90 minutes after he wakes. The morning nap is the shortest at 40 minutes, the mid-day nap is the longest at close to 3 hours, and the late day nap is usually around 1 hour. I put him to bed at 7. He wakes again at 7:40 and I have to put him back on the boob or he freaks. Then sometimes he wakes again around 8:30ish. Usually after this wake-up I can get him to sleep until sometime between 10:30-midnight. After that he pretty much wakes to feed every 2 hours but he is always easy to put right back to sleep. He never fully awakens. We ditched the cosleeper and bought a Fisher Price rock n’ play sleeper, based on a piece in Babble and excellent reviews on Amazon (thanks, Heather!). We all love it. But the medication has calmed me enough that I no longer stay awake all night long worrying about rolling on top of him (among other things), so many nights now I just keep him nestled close to me in bed.

I will say we’ve had a handful of nights where I put Arlo down around 7p and he slept straight until 1 or even 2a. These nights give me great hope for our future.

Arlo rolls front to back and back to side. He’s working on back to front so I think that will mess up his sleep pretty soon. He constantly chews on his hands, so I think that will mess up his sleep, too. (Meaning he may be like his brother and have a tooth at 4.5 months.) Whether it does or not, I’m gradually phasing out the swaddle so he can get to his hands better. If I can lay with him for a nap, I don’t swaddle him anymore. I change his diaper once at night, usually around 4am or so (ha! I remember being so neurotic about changing Henry’s diaper every time he woke up), and sometimes after that I just keep him unswaddled and next to me. I love the way he kind of holds me in return, his arm rested over the top of my boob, his head cradled into the underside of my arm, his little legs curled into my belly.

The unswaddling still feels so weird to me, like I’m running errands in the nude. We swaddled Henry until he was 8 months and the only reason we stopped was that he’d ripped all the Miracle Blankets to shreds. I mean, on one hand, it calms Arlo down; on the other hand, he is obsessed with his hands. Might unswaddling make him less obsessed with my boobs at night? Sometimes I think I need to be swaddled more than Arlo does.

I can’t believe I’m writing a 3-month update. We made it three months! The early days were marked by sleepless nights (mostly me, though there were a handful of nights Arlo would stay up for a few hours in the middle of the night), traumatic car rides, and many, many tears. Tears for everyone (but again, mostly me). It’s one thing to be on the outside, supporting families through this transitional time. It’s another to be inside, to never get to leave. But I dare say, for now, anyway, we’ve found our stride. Even in the darkness of winter, in the midst of sick season.

Arlo was born just days after a harvest moon. Three months later, here we are: winter solstice, lunar eclipse, full moon, all in one.

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Mother’s Helper

Two weeks ago I had to go back on the happy pills. Something about this recurring fantasy I have about beating my husband for getting me into this mess (which I did, while he was holding the baby. Oh, in front of Henry, too) and then getting in my car and driving up I-35 until I can’t drive anymore (which I haven’t done yet) didn’t jive with the doctor.

I know from my experiences with Henry and my subsequent training as a parent educator and doula that this is a phase, that it is hormonal and will pass. But it is scary when you are in the thick of it. I hope the meds start working soon.

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