Monthly Archives: January 2012

On Mornings

Several months ago, Amalah (of amalah.com fame) wrote this post over at Babble.  In it she confesses that she is not a morning person.  At all.

I’ve been thinking about that post quite a bit lately, because, unlike Amalah, I was a morning person.  I have always been a morning person.  Generally speaking, I have always gone to bed between 9 and 10 PM.  Exceptions to this rule are made only with the assistance of 1) coffee 2) wine or some other combination of caffeine and alcohol.  Even in college, I was an insomniac, but for me, it meant that I routinely woke up at 3 or 4 in the morning.  I still went to bed most nights by about 10.

Then I started having babies, and I have never, in my life, been so tired for so long.  My mornings are no longer about the quiet stillness of that first cup of coffee and watching the sun come up. (I know, I KNOW! Barf.  But I really liked that once upon a time.)

This morning, Beckett woke up at 3AM to nurse.  And then he did not feel like going back to sleep.  He was not cranky or crying.  In fact, he spent two hours babbling happily in the pack ‘n play in our room.  But while he was happily babbling, I was becoming more and more irritated.  I couldn’t sleep.  I wanted DESPERATELY to sleep. At one point I stumbled over to the pack ‘n play to try to shove a pacifier in Beckett’s mouth and I was so irritated I shouted. At my not-quite-five-months-old baby.  Who I wanted to go to sleep. That, right there, is a parenting WIN.

By the time I do actually drag myself out of bed (usually around 6 or 6:30), both of the kids are usually already awake.  So the serenity of the still, quiet morning is gone.  Everything is changing diapers and cutting up bananas and making toast from the get-go.  Coffee is no longer a slow luxury.  Instead, my first cup of coffee is shotgunned so that I can wake up enough to make sure Maggie does not feed her LIFE cereal to Beckett when I’m not looking. Even though I’m often awake when the sun is coming up, I almost never actually see it.

So now I am not really a morning person.  In fact, from an emotional standpoint, the hardest part of my day is actually that point when I start to hear the kids stir, but I keep trying to convince myself that they will quiet back down and I might be able to milk another ten or fifteen minutes of sleep out of the morning.  Eventually, I give in, get up, change diapers, make toast, shotgun my coffee, and dream of the day when I will get up first.

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Cleaning Out the Stuff

This weekend I spent a good deal of time cleaning.  But it wasn’t just standard house cleaning. It was more of a cleansing.

Life in our house, and particularly in our bedroom had become overrun with clutter and stuff.  Beckett is still sleeping in our bedroom, and so his bassinet was in the middle of the only open space we had in the room.  There were dirty burp cloths that had gotten lost under the bed, various unmatched socks (both mine and the kids’), and a couple of Maggie’s books that I didn’t even know were missing.  It had become nearly impossible to get to the dirty laundry hamper, which means that a lot of dirty clothes just piled  up on various surfaces.

Add to all this that about two months ago, a leak in our roof caused our ceiling to grow a gaping hole in our den/family room/place where the carpet and futon live.  That has meant that, for the last two months, we have been living without the room where we do most of our, well, living.  Furniture is moved aside.  There is plastic stapled over the hole in a desperate attempt to keep the outside out.  The resulting feeling is that of camping out in our house.

Piles of stuff have worked their way into most corners.  Boxes of too-small baby clothes and outgrown diapers fill what used to be nice empty-looking spaces.

The fact is that some of this is just par for the course of having a new baby.  Beckett is just nearly five months old, which means we’re still in those months of poor memory and sleeping takes priority even over folding laundry and cleaning out corners.

So we arrived at last weekend and I had at least three laundry baskets full of my clean laundry, a hamper full of dirty clothes, very little underwear left that I actually like to wear, and a bedroom that we couldn’t walk into without tripping over or stepping directly on something.

I had reached the end of my rope.  I set a goal for myself: that I would get all clean laundry put away before the next load of laundry was dry.  I would also pack up the Co-Sleeper/bassinet which Beckett was about .03 inches away from outgrowing.  I would make our bedroom functional!  I would get my life in ORDER! (Cue Liz Lemon-like optimism.)

Anyway, I did clean.  I sold the co-sleeper on Craigslist.  I set up the pack-and-play in our bedroom to replace it.  I put away laundry and I cleaned out several drawers in my dresser to get rid of all of the clothes that I have in size XS, which for me, after two babies, is simply no longer a size but the clothing equivalent of a bitchy teenager insisting that 30 is SO OLD!

This is all to say, it felt good, to finally reclaim some space in the house that has been lacking since we had a baby and the ceiling fell in and we also have a two-year-old who seems to stash toys EVERYWHERE.  It was like pushing a reset button.  We’ll see how long the fresh start lasts.

My guess is about 1.47 seconds.

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I Hope My Kids Fail

When I was a teenager, I got my driver’s license somewhat late.  The legal age to take the driver’s test was 16. While I managed to get my learner’s permit fairly early in the game, I was almost 18 before I was able to get behind the wheel without an adult in the passenger seat.

The reason for this is simple.  I was terrified.

Now, I was not terrified for any of the sensible reasons.  A car is a huge piece of machinery and driving means handing your life over to lots of other people who are also operating these huge pieces of machinery.  Though I was sensible of the dangers inherent in driving, I was much, much more afraid of something else: failure. I took the driver’s test exactly once and I failed the parallel parking.  After that, I was so afraid of failing again that, even though I could drive quite well, I just could not get up the gumption to take the test again.

A great deal of my early life was like this.  Most things in my life have come fairly easily to me, which makes it very easy to not take risks and the possibility of failure absolutely terrifying.  In fact it is only recently – only after getting married and becoming a parent – that I have begun to actually take risks that feel like risks.  When I finished graduate school, I took a year and worked as a chaplain in a hospital in a CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) program.  Then, when I was 20 weeks pregnant and we moved from Nashville to Memphis, I got a contract to write for the Church Health Center, and that was it.  I had become a writer.  But it has taken me another two years after that to come to the decision that led to this blog.  I want to be a writer, and in order to do that, I need to, well, write.  My husband likes to say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”  It’s his way of cutting through the perfectionist junk that holds us all back from doing the things that we really want to do.

So now I am a parent, and I look at my kids and I can’t help but thing, “I hope they fail.”  I don’t mean that I want them to be failures at life.  I highly doubt that they will be.  What I mean is I hope they learn early in their lives how to fail and not be frozen by that failure.

Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids, writes often about the importance of measured risk in childhood.  Children learn how to take risks, which means that they must learn how to fail.  If, as a parent, I protect my kids from all failure, then they will simply never learn how to pick themselves up, dust off their knees, and keep on going.  Worse, they will come to believe that they are not capable of picking themselves up.

I eventually did take my driver’s test again, though in the end, I think I failed it twice.  (I am still not a great parallel parker.)  There was a moment, though, when my mother took the opportunity to teach me a lesson that I have never forgot.  I had failed the test for the second time.  I was devastated and frustrated and terribly embarrassed.  I announced to the world and my parents that I DIDN’T CARE and I was just NOT GOING TO DRIVE. EVER.  I sat on the floor of our upstairs hallway, and my mom said, “You know how you’re feeling right now?  That is how a lot of the kids you go to school with feel all the time.”  I didn’t know at the moment how on earth anyone survived that.  But I have never forgotten that feeling, and I have tried so hard to remember that failure does not necessarily mean death.

I am a parent, and my daughter is a rambunctious two years old.  When she falls, my first instinct is to run to her side and scoop her up, make sure that she is okay.  But the truth is, she can pick herself up.  And when the stakes are much, much higher, I hope that she remembers that she can pick herself up.

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Home Births, according to NPR

I might as well start this blog off with a confession of sorts.  I gave birth to both of my children at home, and I liked it.

Now, having experienced pregnancy and birth and the incredibly personal, individualized experiences that they are, I cannot sit here and call myself a “home birth advocate.”  I am certainly in favor of women and their partners making the best, safest, most informed decision possible when it comes to pregnancy and birth, but that may be home birth, hospital delivery, or some other option.

Of course, I do tend to get a little… annoyed… when I hear stories like the one I heard on NPR’s All Things Considered last night.  The story was a report on the CDC’s findings that the trend of home births are increasing.  Or rather, that they have increased.  From 2004-2009, home births in the United States increased 29%.

The problem with the NPR story, as with many reporters who write and speak about home birth, is that the Home Birthers (if I may use a phrase that I find weird) end up looking like a bunch of women who are out to beat the system.  They are trying desperately to avoid a C-Section or a repeat experience of a hospital birth they had previously.  They interviewed a woman who is not a midwife  and they interviewed two OB/GYNs.  They did not interview a home birth midwife, and they failed entirely to include a list of all the various precautions that a well-trained midwife takes in the context of a home birth.

For example, when I went into labor with my daughter (who is now 2 years old), my midwife came and set up oxygen tanks, saline IVs, antibiotics, pitocin (in case of hemorrhaging), sutures, and many other pieces of medical equipment that I never even saw.  My temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure were closely monitored, and the baby’s heart rate was checked every 10 to 15 minutes both during rest and during contractions. After I gave birth, I got several sutures while my husband walked around with our newborn baby and the midwife assistant did laundry. Before they left for the night, the midwives trained my husband to take care of me and the baby; he spent the next twenty four hours checking temperatures, heart rates, respiration rates, bleeding, and even urine output.  Our midwife then made house calls for a week to monitor me and the baby.

Midwives are field medics. They are trained for normal birth and for emergency management. But when home births are reported in the news, so often, they make it sound as if the choice to give birth at home is risky, dangerous, and anti-medical.  In fact, it is simply choosing a different medical professional to assist.

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Testing, Testing

This is the seven thousandth blog that I have attempted to start.  Most of them are now floating around in the internet ether.  I can’t even remember what I called them or what the passwords are to access those accounts.  I am a writer, though. I write professionally – meaning I write what people pay me to write.  Sometimes that is fun, but a lot of the time it means that I have very little time to actually … wait for it … write.

I’m starting this blog in the earnest hope that I will start to write a little something every day or two.  Maybe I can cut out a shower or two and actually just write something, even a couple of sentences, in my own voice.  After all, my PUBLIC NEEDS ME!

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