Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Room Reset

Playroom

For weeks, I waffled on the idea of rearranging things so Ivy would have her own room. Keeping her crib where it was—at the foot of Rob's and my bed—was not a good long-term solution. It was too easy for us to disturb her when we got into bed, and way too easy for her to disturb us with her late-night, awake-but-not-really-awake noises.

But moving the crib meant that Westley would have to give up his playroom. This idea did not sit well with Westley.

Playroom

"Ivy could sleep in my room!" he offered.

I almost took him up on it. I loved the idea of Westley and Ivy sharing a room—I still do. But Ivy was waking up every three (and sometimes every two) hours at night. While Westley is awesome at sleeping though loud noises in other parts of the house, I was pretty sure a wailing baby in the next bed over would disturb his sleep. And at the same time, I didn't want to take his playroom away. As much as possible, I wanted Ivy's things to be her own, not something she stole from Westley when she arrived.

But it was undeniable: three of the four of us were not sleeping as well as we could. So a couple weeks ago, we did it. The toys (mostly) moved out of the playroom, and Ivy moved in. As an attempt at some kind of fairness, I rearranged Westley's room also, so there would be more floor space to play in.

Playroom

Westley wasn't thrilled, but he liked his new floor plan. And Ivy started waking every four hours at night instead of every two. She even did a six-hour stretch once.

Westley still plays in the ex-playroom, though he's stopped burying the floor completely under toys. Sometimes he even picks up after himself without my having to remind him that this is where Ivy sleeps now, and I don't want to step on a tiny plastic Aquaman in the middle of the night!

Maybe some day the kids will share a room, and Ivy's room will be the playroom again. Maybe not. But overall, and for all my worrying, the reset seems to have worked out pretty well.

Playroom

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Parent Trip

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Sometimes the part of my mind that juggles everyday knowledge shuts up for a moment, and I'm suddenly awash in disbelief: I have a baby.

The fact that I have a baby usually occupies the same headspace as the fact that I have legs. Then awe strikes like lightning, and I say it over and over again inside myself—and sometimes out loud to Rob, who gently rolls his eyes at me for seeming so out of touch with reality—I have a baby.

Today I caught myself staring at Ivy, just staring and completely lost in the realness of her. (I did this with Westley, too, over and over again, until eventually the disbelief stopped feeling like a rip current yanking me out to sea.) In my closet, I have a picture from one of the dozen or so ultrasounds I had while pregnant with Ivy, and every time I see it I can't believe—but I can't not believe—that the little electric ghost profile is my daughter's face.

I don't know what to do with this information. It doesn't make sense. I can wrap my head around the whole sperm-egg-cell-division-new-human thing (sort of), but where did this baby come from? How is it that this very real thing—reproduction, the biology of why we're all here—can shift so easily into the surreal?

I have a baby. It's like holding an abalone shell. One side looks like boring old beach rock. The other side is the aurora borealis.

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Far out.
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fighting Back

K'tan A'gain

Three days before my 30th birthday, I woke up and my back was missing. I think it decided to leave me for someone else—perhaps it's unhappy about all the baby-carrying—because I could barely move without pain searing through my lower body. At one point, mid-morning, I put Ivy down in her bouncy chair. And then I couldn't pick her up out of it.

Life came to a screeching halt (as is has to when Mommy can't move or lift things). I was very briefly suicidal, as in, "I'm not depressed, but I think the only way the pain will stop is if I'm dead." And after my mom and Rob helped me calm down, took care of the kids, and reassured me that this too shall pass, I felt better enough to get angry. I got smoke-coming-out-of-the-ears angry that I should be wasting so much time feeling sick and hurt when I have two children to love and a life I'm supposed to be living.

Anger is the fire that often motivates me to change, and this time was no different. This year, after five years of feeling at best so-so, I am going to prioritize wellness. I am not going to accept 70% vitality as the new 100%. I will become strong and healthy, not only because I have two children who depend on me, but also because I deserve it. I deserve to feel well, so that I can do whatever it is I was put on this Earth to do.

This is the only human body I'll ever have (in this lifetime), and it is not allowed to hurt me anymore.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Five Months

Five Months

Before Ivy was born but after we'd named her, I wondered what nicknames she might end up with. Ivy is not the most nickname-able of names. I thought I might call her "VeeVee." Westley was planning to call her "Sunflower."

Now that's she's been here a while, we've settled into calling her "Ives." Rob also calls her honey—which melts my heart into pudding—and I call her my chickadee. Or Chick-E-Dee, or chica. We also call her Ms. Ivy, which seems to suit her best of all, as she is wholly determined to grow up and get on with her life.

It kills Ivy that she can't crawl. She can do all of the motions (separately), and she can propel herself across the floor (but not in any particular direction). I'm worried that she's going to get herself wedged under the couch accidentally. Her favorite thing in the entire world is to be propped up on a yoga bolster with her knees under her. She pushes up with her arms and looks all around like a prairie dog. My goal is to capture a photo of her doing this—complete with the "ta-da!" look of glee on her face.

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Just a day or two ago, Ivy learned to scream. It's not an unhappy scream or a pain-scream, but it's sharp and shrill and impossible to ignore. It's a cross between, "Hey, my voice can do this great noise!" and "Why am I not saying words yet?!"

Night before last, Ivy was unhappy on the changing table, crying, "Mmm-uh! Mmm-uh!" It sounded so much like a request for milk, and I leaned over her and said, "Let's just get your jammies on, and then you can have some milk." She beamed at me: You understand me!

I'm pretty sure this is just a coincidence—my five-month-old is not actually saying pre-words—but it's clear that she recognizes a lot of what I say to her. Especially "milk."

Navy
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Ivy's favorite pass-time is watching Westley. Her second favorite pass-time is watching people eat. If I'm eating something while holding her, I have to be careful that she doesn't lunge for it. (And if she's hungry and I make her wait, she'll lunge for my chest.) She's also very interested in toys. Ivy has her own toy basket in the living room, and Westley likes to play with her toys with her—making for lots of heart-pudding moments. But Ivy's favorite toys are her own feet. I took half a million pictures of Ivy today, on her five-month birthday, and she's grabbing her feet in almost all of them.

Five Months
"Everyone, this is my foot!"
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"Whoa, this thing is great!"
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"Have you seen this thing?"
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"Here's my foot from a different angle. Great, isn't it?"
TOES
"Oh, and it has toes on it and everything! One, two, three...Amazing!"
Five Months
"Feet are seriously the greatest thing ever, you guys."

Five Months
("Oh, foot, I love you so much.")

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Friday, January 11, 2013

A Few Things That Happened Last Year

Lately I feel like I have about 15 minutes in the evenings to tidy up, fold laundry, exercise, check e-mail, read, have sex, watch TV, organize the budget, and write. Most of the time, I end up doing none of these, paralyzed with indecision. Or something else entirely different and hugely pressing comes up—like our possible need of a new car—and then Rob and I discuss that for an hour and then, shit, it's time for bed and we never did anything to wind down.

Here are some of our December adventures that I didn't write about in a timely fashion because life got in the way of writing.

* * *

Ivy's First Trip to the Children's Museum

Children's Museum
She got totally overstimulated, and I didn't even notice until she completely freaked out. And then I kind of freaked out because I couldn't soothe the baby.
Children's Museum
Also, it was the first and last day I wore this black sweater. It's soft as bunny fur, but has the unfortunate problem shedding little soft bunny furs on everything it touches—especially the baby's face.
* * *
"Santa Dive" at the Seattle Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Westley was age-appropriately impressed/awestruck/not sure what to make of the whole thing.
Aquarium
He does this one crazy pose whenever the camera comes out. 
We also introduced Ivy to the rest of the aquarium. It was another first for her. She seemed right at home.
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aw(e)
Ivy probably would have watched the fish swimming over her head in the underwater feeding dome for hours if we'd let her.
* * *
Nana's (My Grandma's) Birthday
Nana's Birthday
Nana's Birthday
Nana's Birthday
* * *
Christmas Day
Christmas 2012
Christmas 2012
Christmas 2012
This might be the best picture I've ever taken of my children.
* * *
New Year's Day
2013
We were up all night. Can you tell?

My resolution was to sleep more, until I realized that that's still not entirely under my control.

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Birthday Eve

Pre-birthday Lunch

My birthday is tomorrow, but we celebrated today, so Rob, my parents, the kids and I could all go out to lunch together. I think this is the first year my parents didn't tell me my birth story. (We were too busy talking about Ivy and her sleep. Nothing like an actual here-and-now baby to get my mom to put on her Infant Mental Health Professional hat.) Westley, who hates mushrooms, ate about a million pesto-stuffed mushrooms.

Bowl

I photograph my food in restaurants now. This is something my mother used to do when I was growing up, and I never understood it. I'm not sure I understand it now, but I feel compelled in that direction anyway. However, for what it's worth, the beautiful bowl topped with avocado and tomato and cilantro was Westley's, not mine. I was too busy eating my soup to take its picture.

Smoothies
Pre-birthday Lunch

I've always felt kind of uncomfortable about my birthday, for two unrelated reasons. First, because it falls one week after New Year's Day, the day after the 12th day of Christmas, everyone is just about partied out—including me. Observing another special occasion seems almost chore-like. It's hard to rustle up the energy to celebrate. Second, because I think birthdays are important milestones, I always expect to feel different when my birthday rolls around (especially if it's a divisible-by-five birthday)—and I never do. Ever. I just feel like my regular, non-special self, but I have this new number to get used to. And I've felt that way for as long as I can remember.

I always thought I should be in the "yay, it's my birthday!" camp, but I'm just not. This year, I finally decided to be comfortable being uncomfortable with celebrating. I don't party the way other people party, and that's cool.

This year, when I thought I might actually be planning a fancy shindig (since this is a divisible-by-five-and-ten birthday), I'm really enjoying that the fanciest thing I did to acknowledge the end of my twenties was eat flourless brownies that just happened to have zucchini in them.

Simple-fancy. My favorite.

* * *

Pre-birthday bonus simple-fanciness: Ivy can almost get her whole foot in her mouth.

She

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Radio Silence

Thank you for the wonderful love and support around my baby-sleep-WTF issues. I put the sleep books away, tweaked the nighttime routine a bit, and now things are a little better. (I think.) Except my back, which is worse—but that's another story for another time.


* * *

IMG_1255

In my head, I'm writing all the time. If I'm not narrating my actions out loud for Ivy's benefit, I'm monologuing silently for my own. I propel myself forward through the day with a mental chain of words. I try to file away a few shiny phrases and sentence fragments, just in case this is the day I find time to write them down.

Well, here I am, and I have absolutely nothing. There is static between my ears. I guess I could talk about today—how Rob terrified me by running out for coffee first thing, how the four of us went to Whole Foods for allergen-free chocolate chips so I can have chocolate-chip brownies for my birthday, how we picked up a rental car for Rob to drive while his car gets repaired and it's way sexier than either of the cars we own. I felt so busy and I had some rather astute observations mixed in will all of this everyday stuff, but it all seems so frightfully, flatly mundane now. The shine is gone.

My brother was in town for that post-Christmas, pre-New-Year's time between worlds. Where we're "out with the old" but not quite "in with the new" yet. We talked briefly about Marina Abramović and performance art, and I was reminded that I do have a scholarly brain in there somewhere.

The problem is that when I have a moment to actually focus on thinking, any complex thoughts I might've had are gone. I'm mush. Ideas fizzle away in the few minutes of quiet-alone time before bed (hence the recent silence on this blog), only to be remixed into nightmares about a bear invading my campground and eating my blue umbrella.

Writing—which is to say my ability to write anything more elaborate than a grocery list—is no longer in sync with my life.

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