Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blindfolded, with both hands tied behind my back

Holy cow.
This was one of the most stressful four day weekend I've had, ever. Neither Patrick nor I have been sleeping. Want to know why?

Exton is teething. This time around it seems to be much harder on him then when he got his first teeth (four on the top, two on the bottom). He gets very cranky, clingy, and wants to nurse constantly. I think the teeth coming in now are the bottom ones next to the two he already has, and the molars. That seems like a lot of teeth at once for a little guy like him, no?

Two words: human pacifier.
Two more words: That sucks.

It sucks for everybody. (Pun not intended. Mention the pun and you will get kicked.)

He also had a slight fever starting Saturday, and I was keeping an eye on it and giving him Tylenol. Fevers are even more fun these days because of what happened last time. Late last night a friend on Facebook recommended switching to Motrin, so we're going to try that today.

Surprisingly, he slept pretty well last night. I, however, did not. He went to sleep around 8:30, and I, in a desperate attempt to get. out. of. the. house, went for a walk. It was a really pretty night, and I needed some razors, so I walked down to Walgreen's. I've been shaving my legs with the same crappy dull razor for about 2 weeks. It's about a 15 minute walk to Walgreen's. On the way back I walked through the park, which was a little creepy and I probably won't do it again, not at 9:30 at night anyway. Using my iPhone map, I dropped a pin and emailed it to somebody, in case I didn't make it back. When I got home, Ex had woken up and was in the living room with Patrick, watching TV. I took him back to his room, nursed him (some more), and he was almost asleep... and then he got all fussy on me. Patrick took over and had him in his crib in 10 minutes. I honestly don't know how he does that.

Then we talked for a few minutes about how fucking tired we are, brushed our teeth and got ready for bed. A wise friend to whom I was complaining about my lack of sleep reminded me (in a well-timed email) to take things one day at a time. This friend is both smarter and better looking than I am, so I tend to listen when they speak. You know, I know being attractive isn't supposed to matter, but I'm just going to spit it out: sometimes it does. Especially when it comes to childcare and parenting.

(I'm laughing right now but maybe you can't tell that I'm being silly. Still: my friend is pretty cute.)

Patrick went to snore/sleep on the couch and I got in bed, where I slept from about 10:30 until 12:30, when I woke up from the Bookstore Dream (Variation 102).

(Bookstore Dream: I'm working in a bookstore with my buddy Bo, with whom I worked in real life at Rizzoli. Each bookstore dream is a little different but that part is always the same. This one involved a creepy mansion type place, a guy having a stroke and then miraculously recovering while in the arms of my friend Bo, and me finding a huge wad of cash and checks from 2004. Drama!)

I don't know how I got dressed or showered or helped Patrick with Exton this morning. Apparently I drove here without killing anybody. Everything is making me giggle: the guitar in the second bar of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the fact that my co-worker and I couldn't remember what day it was even though there's a big ass calendar less than 2 feet away from us, the fact that I have a meeting with my boss and her boss this afternoon at 1:30 and can't leave early. Some of these things really aren't that funny.

The good news is, I emailed my big Excel project to the person I needed to email it to (a day early). The bad news is, it's not perfect even though I might've sold it that way to my boss. Look, it's a shitty assignment. Maybe nobody will notice. Right?

Oh, and so what's up with that title up there? Those words came to me while parking my car. It's kind of how my brain feels, if it had eyes and hands. I'm moving slowly; I feel almost drunk. Have you ever used your nose to type on your iPhone? It works, you know. Try it.

and no, it has nothing to do with 50 Shades of Gray. Gross.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Parenting lesson no. 1: You can only make one change at a time

I don't profess to be an expert on anything (though I do have strong opinions. Opinions are fun, because you don't have to prove anything).

It has always been my way to express doubt about my abilities and knowledge. This may be a character flaw, but whatever. I'd almost always rather double-check the facts than definitively state something for the record (the other day I told someone that Dave Grohl wasn't playing drums on Nirvana's album "Nevermind." I remembered it wrong: Chad Channing and Dale Crover shared drum duties on the first Nirvana album, "Bleach," but that's totally Dave on "Nevermind," aside from a few cymbal crashes. My bad. However, it is my opinion that Dale Crover kicks Dave Grohl's ass). I also realize that other people almost always figure shit out before I do. Still, if life is a learning process (is it?), just like everyone else, I will grow at my own pace, and if I keep an open mind, I will reach the level of enlightenment or whatever you call it that's right for me. Something like that.

What do I know, it sounds good.

Anyway, so I am approaching parenting in this same, "I don't know what I'm doing but this seems to be working for now" style. And reading lots of books and online stuff and consulting with my friends. Really, parenting a 15 month old is pretty easy. He doesn't have any discipline problems, he's clearly going to be a musical genius, and he's lately been trying to put his socks on by himself  - both on his own feet, and mine. Come on. What's cuter than a little tiny boy trying to put his miniature socks on his mommy's big old foot? That has to be a sign of something awesome, right? Maybe he'll be a doctor! A podiatrist! Maybe he'll sell shoes! Maybe he'll design shoes!

So let me get to the point of this post, which is, I have figured out that you can only make one change at a time. You're saying "duh." I see you, I can hear you saying "duh." Fine. You're smarter than me, which we knew already.

Actually, it took me about a week to realize that I was even trying to make too many changes at once, which, you know, self-awareness is a good thing but not necessarily a strong point (fine: you should know that I also suck at math. And geography. Look, playing the flute is pretty much the only thing I'm really good at, let's just get that out there, and even then, when I don't practice I also suck at that. And lately, practicing the flute hasn't exactly been a priority). This is an incredibly sloppy sentence and/or paragraph but I'm not going to fix it. I'm just saying that I didn't even realize that I was trying to do too many changes at one time!

Three weeks ago I stopped pumping at work. Or maybe it was two weeks ago; I'm also not good at dates. Freeing up all that break time has been awesome - I've been walking a lot, and I really enjoy that (add to the list: I'm not a fast walker so I have to go with someone who is, or else my walks are incredibly leisurely). So: there has been practically no more milk during the day for the little guy. He adjusted to that pretty well, surprisingly.

Then, we started trying to get him to sleep in his crib again. He'd been doing it for a few hours for awhile but in February, he'd started having trouble with it, so we started taking him to our bed when he woke up around 2:30 a.m. I would nurse him back to sleep, and in our bed he would stay.

Then, I started trying to curb the night nursing. It was just getting to be too much for me. I am not one of those mommies who can sleep while their baby nurses. How do they do that? So, he would wake up, and I would wake Patrick up to take over, and try to go back to sleep. Patrick sleeps OK with JP on his chest but lately JP hasn't been comfortable there, either. Instead of being an easy way to soothe him back to sleep, he would stay up, apparently wide-eyed. Patrick would bring him back to me, and he would fall back asleep nursing.

The night nursing has been kicking my butt. I haven't been sleeping very well. Not sleeping very well makes me crazy - I get all emotional, grumpy, irrational. Not sleeping well for like 15 months in a row amplifies all of that. It's bad, man. My decision making skills have suffered. My personal interactions with people have suffered. I'm all my usual doubt and insecurities, times 10. Maybe times a hundred: you tell me. I think this post is an excellent illustration. Or I would be up and happy, and then down and slightly insane. Mood swings are no fun for anybody.

And then I even started wondering if all I knew how to do as a parent was breastfeed. Crying baby? Feed him. Sleepy baby? Feed him. Cranky baby? Feed him. I saw Patrick picking up the slack and (it felt like) being a better parent, and that made me... sad. I know that I can do (and I do do!) more than that, but on Tuesday night, I kind of lost it. I felt like my role as a mother is changing, and I'm not as prepared for it, for any of this, as I thought I was. And I'm so much older than a lot of my friends were when they had to do all this for the first time. Now there they are, with their 7 year olds, their 13 year olds, and they know everything. And I'm still figuring out the toddler stuff! Or, I should say, not figuring it out. I felt really lame.

I felt like the nursing stuff, which may or may not be coming to an end, which has defined my life for all this time, that connection, that job that I had to do whether I felt like it or not, was a bigger deal, emotionally, to me than I thought. I thought I was ready to chuck it, to say to my sweet little boy, "Okay, buddy, it's cow's milk for you! You can handle it!" But I'm not ready. I mean, on the one hand, I really want to be done with it. But what does that say about me? On the other hand... it's what we do! It's our little thing. What will replace it? I have to figure that out. And all of this, all of that, felt very overwhelming to me on Tuesday night.

Anyway, we will figure it out. I mean, he won't be a baby/toddler forever. And eventually I will figure it out. Hopefully before he starts wanting the keys to the car.

Cymbal, meet hanger.
Hanger, it was nice knowing you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I've been playing "Draw Something" with my friends for a couple of weeks now, and it's made me question what I thought was a long-held truth about myself:

I am not very creative. Or artistic.

My friends take the challenges in Draw Something and create these masterful drawings that use light and shadow and texture and using their little index fingers, they make things that look like what they're supposed to look like. My finger must be defective, because I just am not that good.

No matter what the thing is that I'm supposed to draw is, I almost always draw it in relation to a person. Locket? I draw a woman wearing a locket. Claw? I draw someone with a "normal" hand, then draw someone with a "creepy" hand. (My friend Will, who is an actual artist, took the time, while drawing his own word, to demonstrate what a "claw" should look like. "Claw" is now a code word for us. I think it means "fuck!" My best drawing, which was supposed to be of the word "badge," was a portrait of my friend Will dressed in his Crown Books apron [he was a clerk in Malibu with me when I worked there as an Assistant Manager], wearing a badge that said "Will." He didn't guess the word, even with three of his friends helping him. Perhaps that trip down memory lane could've been illustrated better. Note what I said above about my drawing skills.)

A couple of days ago I chose to draw the concept of "nirvana."

Hmmm. How should I do it, I thought?

This is how I did it:

Not an albino.

I have to say, I was pretty proud of myself. Luckily my friend Jeanne got it... but I don't think my drawing helped her, because she was all "what was that?" Still. I loved my creation! And I decided to save it to my iPhone, and share it with you, now, here.

And for the record, no, I didn't look it up first. This is from memory, yo.

For those of you unfamiliar with this album (yeah, right), here's the real thing.

This kid's name is Spencer Elden.
Also not an albino.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My adventure with LensCrafters, plus Bonus

I started writing this story out with paragraphs and parenthetical comments, and even I got bored. So here are the (mostly) salient facts:
  1. I got my glasses adjusted on Saturday at LensCrafters at the Fox Hills Mall (AKA "Westfield Shopping Center Culver City." Yeah: no). Apparently, during the adjustment, one of my lenses got damaged. Gotye and Def Leppard were the surprising soundtrack to this part of my adventure.
  2. Sunday, I went back and was all, "hello, my lens is damaged." They were understanding but told me I would have to go to the LensCrafters where I purchased my glasses.
  3. Sunday and Monday, I worried about replacing my lens. My prescription is strong: I am blind. My lenses are expensive. I just bought these glasses in January, and they are just barely out of warranty.
  4. After work on Monday, I went home to nurse my boy, who promptly fell asleep. Then I went to the Lakewood Mall (somebody told me this is the oldest mall in California, but I think that somebody was mistaken) LensCrafters, which was really really busy. Generally this kind of craziness in a store makes me totally batty, but they handled it well: they were polite and good about acknowledging my presence, so I waited patiently. I know. It's hard to believe.
  5. Finally the store manager, a pretty Asian woman (I have to get her name! She is only identified by a number on my receipt), came over to see me, and she examined my glasses. It didn't take her long to diagnose "crazing," probably caused by the heat of the adjustment. She accepted responsibility, and wrote up an order for new lenses, and would charge me... nothing. I practically jumped up and down (well: on the inside).
  6. Afterwards, in celebration, I went to the Gap, where I purchased two pairs of size 8 pants. They were also playing Gotye. What are the chances? I haven't been a size 8 in about... forever. I know there are people out there reading this to whom a size 8 is no big stinking deal, but to my fat ass, size 8 is pretty damn awesome. Also, the salesguy helping me was really nice. I didn't get his name, either, but he was very helpful. Also, nobody else was in the store. He tried to convince me that I'm not too fat/old for the Always Skinny (or whatever they're called) style of jeans, but I just laughed and stuck with my straight pair. Size 8, man! Sweet.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pump free, and other business

I'm not sure how much I've said here up until now... I haven't been keeping a good blog, I guess, because I think of a lot of things to write about but then I just don't, or I don't remember. Oops! There are a few things to catch you up on!

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been ramping down (is that a phrase? I know you can ramp something up...) my pumping sessions at work. I went from 3 a day (for over a year), to 2, to 1... and this week? I'm at none. I was all excited when I walked out of the house this morning without my pump (and on Friday, when I washed all the pump parts and got them ready to be finally put away, probably forever), but then I walked past the lactation room on my way to the restroom, and I totally started to cry.

What the hell was that all about? I know that the timing is right, I know that my milk will not necessarily just "dry up," I know that I can continue to breastfeed at night and on the weekends and that lots of people do that just fine and that I can probably still meet my self-imposed 2 year goal, I know that I am a good mother, and that lots of people don't make it this long (not to make it sound like I think that people who don't breastfeed or pump at work are not good mothers! Not at all!)... but wow, it hit me surprisingly hard. I can tell this is going to be a long day. I didn't want to cry every time I passed by the restroom. Because that would be weird.

And then... I didn't write about this when it happened because I was freaked out about it for a long time. Only a couple of people know about it, actually. This is a long story, so I suggest you get comfortable.

On Thursday, May 3rd, I got home from flute choir a little later than usual. Patrick was in Jules' room, sitting in the chair, holding him. We just started this month getting him to sleep all night (or as much as possible) in his crib, but Patrick likes to hold him and rock him to sleep when I'm not home. I rushed in to take over: this quarter for flute choir, I haven't been able to leave work early so on Thursdays, I'm back to going to Culver City straight from work. It's a long day, and I miss my boy. When I picked him up, I could feel that he was really hot, so I removed the blanket Patrick had him snuggled up in, and sat down to feed him.

He was still pretty hot, so I took his temperature: 101.5. I took off his clothes and fed him in his diaper only. We gave him a little Tylenol, but it was late, I was tired, and I couldn't remember if I should give him one dropper-ful, or if he had graduated to 2, so I just gave him 1. Then he fell back asleep and we took him to bed with us. I checked his temperature every hour or so and it went down a little. It was 100.5, 100.3 at various times during the night, and I thought, well, that's high, but not super high... I didn't sleep that much.

At 2 he woke up, and I fed him again. His temp was still around 100. Patrick took him to the other room to rock him to sleep, and so I could get some sleep, too.

At 4, Patrick came back into the bedroom, and woke me up. He said that Jules was "staring" and he couldn't snap him out of it. I woke up right away, and said, "What do you mean, staring?" He was holding him and I could see that he was just sort of blankly staring, eyes wide, body kind of limp. He was still hot, at about 100.5. Patrick said he'd been like that for about 5 minutes. He sounded scared. Jules was also kind of breathing funny - I don't really know how to describe it. It was like a tiny hiccup.

I didn't know what to do, so I got a damp washcloth and wiped his face. I took off his little t-shirt. I held him myself. About 30 seconds or maybe a minute passed of us watching him, and then I said, "I think this is a seizure. I'm calling 911."

We didn't discuss it: I made the decision.

The 911 operator was awesome. She told me lay him down, and stop holding him. I put him on the couch, and in a few minutes, I felt him relax a little, and then he woke up, rolled over onto his tummy with his butt in the air, and he fell asleep. The paramedics got to our house in about 6 minutes. By now Jules was sleeping normally, and seemed comfy as can be on the couch. They checked him out and said that everything seemed to be fine. They asked if we wanted to go to the hospital, and I said no. He had an appointment with his pediatrician at 9:15 for his 15 month checkup - by this point, that was only 5 hours away. We gave him some more Tylenol and took him back to bed with us. Patrick seemed to fall asleep, but I didn't, not for a while.

At 6:30, Jules woke me up as usual, by climbing all over me. He was perfectly normal, his usual happy self in the morning, laughing and playing. Patrick was getting ready for work. We were both exhausted. I fed him, and we got up to eat some breakfast and get ready for the doctor. He was a little whinier than usual but he didn't have much of a fever (about 99), and I let him pretty much do whatever he wanted: play, eat, whatever. By 8:30 we left for Kaiser.

Once there, I told the nurse all about our night; I thought that might get the doctor in to see us quicker, but it didn't, really. Once she finally came to see us and I told her my story, she was great. I didn't cry when it was happening but after she told me that these types of seizures are mostly harmless and very common, I kind of lost it. She was so nice, and told me that though in the future, we will have to be very careful when he gets a fever, most likely he will suffer no consequences. We did all the right things, and obviously he was fine now. She said that he was developing great, and was clearly a healthy, happy boy. And I cried through all of this. She instructed me to continue giving him Tylenol every 4 hours for 2 days (2 droppers!), and to keep an eye on his temperature. If he still had a fever on Monday, I was to call right away. She said she saw no signs of any infection or other problems. I wondered if maybe he was teething, but she wasn't sure.

I didn't want my parents to worry, and I had a date with some friends that night (my sister was going to babysit), so I decided to keep my plans. I felt a little weird about it... Patrick's band had a gig that night and I hate to be home all day and night by myself, so I told my mom that Jules was a little sick, and headed up to Culver City anyway. He seemed to enjoy his visit, and when my sister got home, I told her what had happened. The timing was perfect: I gave him his Tylenol before I had to leave to meet my friends. I checked in with her while I was gone, and she said he was acting as he always does: playing with her and my parents, having a fun night. He was just a little hotter than usual.

It was good for me to go out, and I think too, that letting my sister take care of him that night was a good idea. He has so much fun with her.

We kept up all the Tylenol, and he was a pretty good sport about taking it. By 7 p.m. on Saturday night, he was totally fever free.

It's been a couple of weeks since then, and we're not exactly sure what caused the fever. I don't see any new teeth... and he's been fine. I check his temperature all the time, though.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Weaning from the Pump: Week 2

As of today, I have been back at work for exactly one year. Exton is 15-1/2 months old.

This is mostly what I'm thinking about today:
LLLI | Weaning from the Pump

As of two weeks ago, I was still pumping three times a day (my work day is 10 hours, and I'm away from home for a full 12... it's a long time to be gone). Last week, I cut down to 2. This week I'm cutting it down to once a day. Yesterday I came in to work late (the exciting weekend cut into my sleep) so I didn't take a break in the morning, but today I'm looking forward to taking a walk at 10. I hope the sun comes out.

A lot of people have indicated that they weaned from the pump and it in no way had a bad effect on their milk supply or their nursing relationship with their child. I hope it's the same for me! I also hope it doesn't mean Ex ups his night nursing again... I was just starting to get used to getting a little more sleep.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Checking in

The weekend was a big combination of highs and lows, none of which I'd like to describe, right here or right now. The one thing I will say is that JP had a pretty high fever and there was some scary stuff involved but now he's just fine, and I guess all I can do is chalk it up to a learning experience.

We went to Fatburger, and I had my usual Fatburger with cheese, relish, pickles, lettuce... and then I added a fried egg, and I will tell you that it was quite possibly the most decadent thing I've eaten in weeks. It was also delicious. Surprisingly, Patrick was pleased with his veggie burger (he never likes veggie burgers). And, JP loves French fries. Oops.

I had time for only one bike ride on Sunday, and though it was a beautiful day, it was so windy! But, almost everyone I saw smiled or waved at me, and one guy called me "baby" (as in "on your left, baby!"). I have to admit: I thought that was pretty cool.

Good news: this morning, every single pair of pants I own was too big.
Bad news: I really can't afford to replace all my pants right now.

I've been pretty swamped at work lately, and it's continuing into this week unfortunately, but I hope to get on top of everything by the end of the week. I have a couple deadlines coming up, one for a project I'm managing but not actively doing the work on, and another project that starts whether I'm ready or not. My part will be figuring out how to keep our employees informed and interested. Another project involves reviewing driver records of about 1,000 employees. I now know the California Vehicle Code numbers for a variety of offenses. Let's just say I'm not the only one around here to get a "cell phone" ticket. I'm no longer embarrassed by my stupidity; instead, I belong to club of wrong doers, and I have to admit: I think that's kind of cool, too.
(This is a joke. Sheesh.)
Right now I'm taking a break from doing my "How Am I Driving" related paperwork. I just processed one for an employee whose first name is Terence. I am truly a child of the 80s, because this quote instantly came to my mind.
"Name's Terence. Owns a pet shop. We'll see what happens."
- Iona, from Pretty in Pink
Remember Terence? How he asked Andie to tell Iona to "shake her tail feather"? and the awesome white suit Iona wore for her date with him? Annie Potts is a gorgeous woman, but what's up with the pearl bolero tie?

Don't you wish Iona was telling Andie:
"Andie, honey: lace is not your friend."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I don't know how to start this one other than by jumping right in, so here goes:

Since last week, my milk production at work has been waaaaay down. Since I came back to work, almost a year ago, I've pumped 3 times a day. I've gotten anywhere from 12-16 ounces a day (total). Yesterday, though I still pumped 3 times, I only got 5 ounces.

This scared the hell out of me.

This is the milk that JP needs to take to daycare, to drink when he's with his daddy, when I'm at flute choir.

Yesterday, I talked to my friend Teresa, who has a lot of knowledge about this topic (she works with nursing moms, and she also has an adorable 10 month old, and a teenager; she has experience!), and she helped me calm down.

I know that JP is getting older, and eating more "real food," and that just because I stop pumping during the day, that doesn't mean I will stop nursing him when I'm home. For some reason, though, I felt weird about it. I'm glad I talked to her because she reminded me that it's totally normal. So, over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to taper off at work.

On the one hand... my little man is growing up, and that makes me feel sad. I learned so much from that little baby, about my body, my abilities, and about him as an infant. Now that he's getting older I know I will learn even more.

On the other hand, I was so sick of pumping! It used up my breaks; when I went to training or meetings, I had to make sure there was a lactation room. I'll get to go for walks again, or take a nap in my car: these are good things. And I won't miss having to wash everything every night to make sure I have bottles and parts for the next day.

I called his daycare this morning and talked to the director. She's so nice - they take such good care of him there. They're going to start him out slowly, and I think today he's going to try drinking what the other kids are drinking (milk, I mean; they've been giving him a little juice and water for a few months). I hope he doesn't mind it.