First letter to Max

Dear Max,

I have just finished nursing you and placed you in your crib for the night. Even though I spent a good 35 minutes in there with you, I almost wish I had sat there with you a bit longer. I know you needed to be in your crib to sleep properly and that I needed to get out here and get on with the evening chores and activities. In fact, this blog entry started writing itself in my head and I was a bit anxious to get it down while the creative juices are flowing. I’m like that. Ideas start coming to me when I’m not in a position to capture them on paper or record them in any way. However, you had fallen asleep while I was nursing you, which you never do anymore. Your little head would loll back, but you would wake up, determined to nurse some more. And part of me wanted to let you do that all night, because I know my chances to hold you like that are coming to a close.

The past six months have been the best of my life. They have been exciting, difficult, heartwarming, and heartrending. I look at you sometimes and my love for you suffuses my entire being with joy. It always happens at the oddest times. Today, it happened when I was sitting up in bed, exhausted from not sleeping well. Daddy was holding you on his lap, giving me a break from nursing to have some coffee. I hadn’t even had one sip, but I looked at your face, so happy and expectant simply because you were sitting with your parents, and I was struck again by how unbelievably beautiful you are. That feeling is better than caffeine. (Although I did still drink it. Mommy needs her caffeine. That’s another thing you will learn about me.)

My first chance to really bond with you was my second night in the hospital. It was about 11 p.m., I think, and poor Daddy had fallen asleep in two armchairs pushed together. It was our first chance to be alone since your birth. I held you in my arms (You were sleeping, too.) and I just stared. And stared. And stared some more. Your face was peaceful and glowing. Really. You seemed so perfectly content with me. And, for the first time in those two crazy days, I felt perfectly content, too. These were the moments I had been waiting for for 41 and a half weeks and really, my whole life. I looked at you for so long and just memorized your face and the way you felt in my arms. I should have been sleeping, because, like Daddy, I hadn’t slept much in the past 72 hours. It was worth it, though.

You are different than I ever imagined you would be. You’re better. And I’m better because of you. You have started me on the path to the person I’ve always wanted to be. I get up early because of you. I go to bed earl(ier) because of you. I plan meals, shop, and cook for you. (Even though you can’t eat it yet.) I’ve read entire books about sleep and learned all about feeding you as well. I’ve started going with the flow and doing whatever works at the time. Thinking on my feet. I’ve even (gasp!) started getting rid of things, including books, for you. It is perhaps ironic that having you has made me feel freer than I’ve ever felt in my whole life. You have made me brave enough to try to be a better person and not worry about the consequences. If it doesn’t work, you try something else. That’s motherhood and life, in a nutshell.

You are so adorable and so good. Those are the two things everyone mentions about you. You have the biggest blue eyes and two adorable little teeth on the bottom. You have a dimple in your left cheek when you smile and laugh, just like me and your cousin Cailyn. You are calm and relaxed most of the time. You don’t fuss much and when you do, it rarely escalates to screaming. You are so patient with your father and me. I thank you for that and will always try to do the same for you.

I love you, Max. You and your daddy are the best things that ever happened to me. You are my dream come to life. I waited so long for both of you and you were both worth every minute of the wait.

Happy first half-year, my little man.

All my love,

Mommy

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Sleepy parent dialogue

Me: Honey, turn over. I’m having trouble sleeping and you’re snoring.

Husband: Wha??

Me: Turn over. You’re snoring.

Husband (attempting to scoop me up like a baby): It’s ok, sweet boy. Go back to sleep.

Me: Honey, I’m not Max.

Husband: What?

Me: I’m not Max.

Husband: OK. (Goes back to sleep.)

Me: Why didn’t I just let him scoop me up?

Husband remembers nothing of this the next morning. Isn’t he sweet? He’s so nurturing, even when he’s sound asleep.

Sleep shouting

Sleep is one of my favorite topics these days, for obvious reasons. Anyone with a baby is VERY interested in sleep. How to get it, how to prolong it, how to stay asleep once you get there. I have had many sleep troubles in my life, but I have never had trouble staying asleep once I got there until after I became a mother. I would have trouble getting to sleep, yes. Staying asleep, no.

My husband has absolutely no trouble falling asleep most nights. He sleeps so hard, in fact, that he has no idea who he is or where he is when he wakes up, especially in the middle of the night.

Max is also a very good sleeper. He has been falling asleep between 6 and 8 p.m. (The time varies with his naps.) and sleeping until either 5:30 or 6:30 in the morning. He eats and then goes right back to sleep for at least an hour or more, thank goodness. (I’m sorry if I have detailed Max’s sleeping schedule on this blog before. If I take the time to check right now, there will not be a new post tonight.)

So, you can imagine our surprise when Max awakened at 3:30 a.m. a few weeks ago. I figured he wanted to eat. Chris got up to get him for me. As I was lying in bed waiting for him to come back, I suddenly heard a loud, sprightly shout of “BABY!” over the monitor. “What the HELL is the matter with him?” I thought. I waited for him to come back in the room and asked him why in the world he was shouting at Max at 3:30 in the morning. Turns out Chris did not realize it was 3:30. In fact, I had to tell him three times before he realized what I was saying.He thought it was time to get up.

Turns out you have to strike the right balance between sleep and lack thereof when parenting. Since you cannot be guaranteed a regular amount of sleep on a regular basis, you have to stay just sleep-deprived enough to be aware when you wake up, but not too sleep-deprived as to be dangerous. I have noticed myself that I seem to be slower and, well, stupider on the mornings when I suddenly get a little extra sleep. It is evening out now, but it turns out that, even with sleep, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Luckily for our son, I am usually pretty with it when I first wake up, and Chris generally sleeps better than I do and gets better as he wakes up, so there is always a lucid parent to pick up the other one’s slack. Lucid enough anyway.

Big Brother is keeping you awake

I don’t know if I have mentioned this on this blog before, but I have suffered on and off from sleep issues since high school. Becoming a mother has not helped with those sleep issues. Between night sweats, hormonal highs that caused my mind to chatter incessantly even while I was asleep, and sleeping in the same room with my husband and son (Sorry, I love you both, but you are both loud sleepers at times.) there were about three months there when I really never shut down completely at night.

Luckily, I can handle a certain amount of sleep deprivation due to my years as an obsessive-compulsive, night owl student. However, three months is a little much, even for me. “Just wait until he is back in his own room”, I thought, “That will fix everything.” (Meaning my son, not my husband.)

Boy, was I wrong. I have decided that baby monitors are a huge scam, unless you have a huge house. Our son’s room is right next to ours. We hear him if he really needs us. In fact, you can hear a baby when they really need you in practically any size house. The child is not going to let up until you hear them, believe me.

Still, I spent that first night on alert, listening to every sound he made, believing that I was keeping him alive by staying awake and monitoring his every breath. Finally (Actually, later that same night.), I came to my senses and turned the monitor way down. I reasoned that I needed to sleep at least a little in order to properly care for my son. My guilt over turning down the monitor kept me awake. Sheesh.

So, I am tentatively and conditionally adding baby monitors to my list of scams in the baby merchandise world, along with changing pad covers. They do serve a purpose at times, but they sometimes make it seem like you’re never off duty. Of course, as parents, we never really are, but sleep is the closest thing we get to a break. Embrace it as much as you can.

Stellar parenting day

Chris, Max, and I spent most of the day on the couch watching Sex and the City reruns and eating cookies. Hey, the kid is teething and I have PMS. Plus, our coffeemaker is broken. My motherly instincts told me the only way to salvage the situation was with an SATC marathon.

BTW, I love hot tea, but it just doesn’t cut it in the morning. Gots to have the coffee. It’s going to be an interesting week.

First book of the year

I’ve already read an entire book and we’re just over a week in to the new year! And I have a five-month-old! Yes, it was a children’s book, but it’s over 200 pages long, so it still counts and … wait. Why am I defending myself? A book’s a book!

The New Girl (Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls)

Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors. She is the Judy Blume of the early 21st century due to the sheer number of age groups for and genres in which she writes. She writes for kids, young adults, and adults. She writes mysteries, supernatural thrillers, chick lit, period romances, and teen romances. She is best known for “The Princess Diaries” series (PLEASE, do not judge them by the movies, especially the atrocious sequel. The books are sharp, funny, snarky, and just completely un-Disney. And I say that as a fan of Disney.) and I highly recommend those along with the “Mediator” series. Her new series for kids “Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls” is a riot. Allie is an animal-loving fourth-grader who wants to be a veterinarian. In the first installment, her family moves to a Victorian house and she learns she will have to switch schools. In the second, she starts at her new school and immediately incurs the wrath of a female bully. The basic premise underlying the series is that Allie writes down “rules” she observes about life in a notebook, thinking that slavishly following these rules, such as “never eat anything red”, will make life easier. It doesn’t.

The supporting characters, especially little brother Kevin who likes everything “fancy”, are funny and quirky. The book has a heartwarming ending, but avoids sappiness. (Although I enjoy a little sappiness at times, so maybe I’m not a good judge.) The only jarring element was the language used by Allie and her friends. I’m not sure most fourth-graders would use such advanced vocabulary. However, if this encourages kids to improve their vocabularies, as many of my childhood favorites did for me, then that’s a pro in my book.

The BABY is supposed to be the one keeping me up

“Thump. Meow! Thump. Meow! Thump. Meow!” (Angus attempting to open a bathroom cabinet that doesn’t completely close.)

Belle uncharacteristically walking over our sleeping bodies in the middle of the night.

Angus puking for a grand finale, just as the sun was coming up.

Me, wondering why I ever became a kittymomma.

Bottoms up! Please!!

Why do cats stick their butts in your face when you do not want to look at them and walk around with their tails in the air showing off their business, but act outraged if you actually try to look at them? (Before anyone asks, you are supposed to periodically glance at your cat’s rear to check for signs of infection or illness.) To be fair, I guess my cats aren’t actually trying to stick their butts in my face. It’s just an unfortunate side effect at times when I am lying on the floor petting them.

I thought I noticed a lump on Belle’s posterior the other day. I think it’s nothing, but I wanted to do a comparison by checking the boys’ butts before I rushed her off to the vet. (Such is my glamorous life. Bottoms have become a big part of it. No pun intended.) I just couldn’t remember if her butt always looked like that. Of course, now that I need to get a look, no one is obliging. (They don’t like it very much if you actually try to hold their tail up and look. I knew that, but I was desperate.) So, I guess she will be off to the vet when Fort goes in for his annual in the next couple of weeks. I can’t be too careful, since she is technically a senior cat now. Think good thoughts! I am a little worried about my sweet Belle-cat.

In my Mommy bubble

That’s the only explanation I can come up with for the fact that I did not know there are at least three new Meg Cabot books on the shelves. Shameful.

Mommy’s Night Out

This past Wednesday night, Chris convinced me to take a night off and go to the movies. Actually, he did everything but force my arms in to my coat, throw my purse at me, and shove me out the door. For some reason, I resisted committing to going out that night, despite the fact that he had been attempting to convince me I needed a break since the previous Monday.

Max has been fussy this week, probably due to the traveling and general hullabaloo which is Christmas. It may be the “most wonderful time of the year” to Johnny Mathis and many others. Kids may think they like it. But honestly, it seems to stress them out more than anything else. I really thought my niece Cailyn was going to explode. Secretly, she wanted to explode, because at least then the wrapping paper might be blown off the presents that had been sitting under the tree and TORTURING her with their mysteriousness for weeks. Or maybe it was days. I’m not sure how long my mom had them under there.

Anyway, Chris was right about me needing a break, but Max was once again fussing when he got home and I felt like I couldn’t possibly leave the baby with his father when he was fussing! Who ever heard of such a thing? Leaving him with his other parent? The “not-the-momma”? I would probably be stripped of the title of Momma if I did such a thing.

He finally got me out the door and I arrived at the Alamo Lake Creek, thinking it would be easy to get in to the movie of my choice with two minutes to showtime, since it was a Wednesday. Wrong. EVERY MOVIE I WANTED TO SEE WAS SOLD OUT. And that list constituted almost all of the movies the theater was showing. I couldn’t wait for a later show, because I didn’t want to stay out that late. After asking the ticket person for verification that, indeed, most of the movies were sold out (Prompting her to remind everyone to look at the screen before approaching the ticket window. Hello, everyone in line was ignoring that warning, because the screen was flashing too fast, which was why they kept asking and annoying her.), I found out that the 7:30 showing of Did You Hear About the Morgans? was still available. I was feeling kind of lukewarm about that one, so I stepped out of line to think and call my husband. The only spot I could find to call Chris where I wasn’t assaulted by secondhand smoke was in the corner by the front door where loud Nirvana music was blaring.

Me: Honey,  you’re not going to believe this. ALL of the movies are sold out. (Not true, but more dramatic.)

Chris: What? What are you going to do? (He then proceeds to list many suitable alternatives to each of which I respond with a wan and self-pitying “Maybe. I don’t know.”)

We hang up after I have made him feel suitably guilty for doing absolutely nothing but try to give me an evening off. I start back to my car through the cloud of secondhand smoke and stop about halfway there. Should I go to the 7:30? I would actually have time to order food before the movie starts, with the lights on, and maybe jot down some blog ideas while I waited for the movie to start. I decided no, that I didn’t want to wait forty-five minutes for the movie to start and I DEFINITELY couldn’t wait fifteen minutes for the movie to start seating and then wait to have my order taken and then wait even longer for food. My crazy breast-feeding momma appetite would not allow that.

I got back to my car, waaaaay at the back of the parking lot (Did I mention that it was below 50 degrees outside, which is the equivalent of an Arctic freeze to me, since I have never been north of Albuquerque during the winter and I spent most of the week I was there inside?), jotted down the blog ideas, and then had second thoughts. Maybe I should go. I didn’t want to go to a restaurant without a book to read or a person to talk to. I didn’t want to go to the bookstore, because I needed a decent dinner. I didn’t want to drive to another Alamo or other movie theater, because they were probably just as crowded. I decided that if I found a closer parking space, it was a sign I should go.

I didn’t find a closer space, but I went in anyway, screaming “satisficer” in my head the whole way. (One of my new mantras, thanks to Parenting magazine. It means to be happy with what you get, instead of making yourself crazy always trying to make everything perfect.) I had popcorn, an Italian soda (I wanted a margarita, since I have not had one since before I got pregnant, but I was driving home and the Alamo Lake Creek apparently makes their margaritas with wine or something crazy like that, since they have no liquor license.) , a “Diggler dog”, and fries. The food was awesome (Although the popcorn was way too salty.) and the movie was pleasant and entertaining. I don’t know why the reviews have been so bad. Then, I do like silly, sappy rom-coms. The sillier and sappier, the better.

Alas, I did not make my post-movie trip to the bookstore, since I went to a later movie. I was too anxious to see Max by the time I got out. That is saying something since I have not been to a bookstore since he was born. I am the bibliest of bibliophiles. I don’t just love to read books, I love the actual physical books themselves. The smells, the cover art and dust jackets for different editions, the little notes that previous owners wrote in them. My husband doesn’t have to worry about me buying expensive clothes, jewelry, or makeup. He has to worry about me getting on ebay and buying lots of obscure and/or expensive L. M. Montgomery books. (But, honey, it was the 50th impression of the 38th edition of Anne of Green Gables in Polish!! Come on!) Or at least, he would have to worry about it if I hadn’t banned myself from ebay after racking up a pretty nice collection (and the attendant credit card bills) in grad school. (It was for my work.)

Hopefully, the next Mommy’s Night Out will be about my trip to a bookstore. Or maybe I will go some afternoon and take Max with me. He has never been to a bookstore and it’s high time his education began.

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