Thursday, December 10, 2015

If I had it to do over again

Looking back to this time last year, I've been thinking about the whole pregnancy and childbirth thing.  I keep reading blogs from other people who are having babies in the near future and I find myself wondering if there are things I'd want to do differently if I had it to do all over.  Like anything, hindsight is 20/20, and I know that if we were to have another kid at some point, there are a lot of anxieties I wouldn't have to deal with.  I wouldn't have to constantly question whether I was cut out for this, because this past year has proven that I'm ok at it.  Not the best, probably, but certainly not enough to cause her any permanent psychological damage just yet.  Those are things that only experience can really help you settle, and while I'm sure that if we were managing another kid, I'd be worried about my ability to handle two kids at once, I don't think I'd be as distraught over whether I could be considered "good" at this.

There are things, though, that I think about as I read other blogs or see other people's photos and wonder how I'd handle differently if I had it to do again.  I think, first of all, I'd be less focused on proving to everyone that it was no big deal.  The first time around, I was really committed to not losing my identity.  I didn't want to be "the pregnant lady", even in private.  I was so focused on it that I was on the edge of just pretending it wasn't happening most of the time.  I didn't get excited about anything.  I compartmentalized all of it.  The pregnancy things were firmly in a box that was labeled "Do not open" in my brain.  Looking back, I sort of wish I had appreciated the first time she kicked, or the times she was wiggling around.  I just put those things in the box in my brain and walked away.  My fierce need to not romanticize the process also robbed me of my ability to appreciate it.  I'll never be that mom who says things like "Sometimes you miss them kicking around in there", because I honestly don't.  But, while it was happening, I wish I'd acknowledged it and appreciated it since I don' really intend to do it all over again.

I'd probably be more willing to talk about things a little more if I did it over again.  Again, I was highly focused on keeping everyone at arms length.  I didn't want to be the whiny pregnant lady.  I didn't even want my husband to view me differently.  I think, looking back, it would have been ok to talk about a few things every once in a while.

I'm also not sure that I'd be so focused on hiding the whole thing if I had it to do over.  I hid everything from everyone at work for as long as humanly possible.  A few people knew, but very few.  I didn't talk about it.  I tried to wear clothes that hid everything as much as possible.  I was really unhappy with the whole body image thing that came along with growing a human, so I didn't want anyone to notice or talk about it.  It was like they were highlighting all of my insecurities.  Looking back, I still don't love how I looked while I was pregnant.  I don't think I'd ever be that celebrity mom flaunting her little baby belly for everyone who wants to see it, but I do think I might handle it a little differently.  I refused to buy maternity clothes last time, and largely I didn't need them.  But, I think if I did it again, I might be willing to buy a few pieces that made me feel pretty.  I think that was my big problem.  In trying to hide it and whatever, I just felt gross and frumpy.  I bought oversized cardigans to wear over a few select tops so that I wouldn't have to worry about sweaters, and now I have a hard time convincing myself to wear those cardigans because I associate them with being frumpy and unattractive.  I think if I'd dressed in a way that made me feel pretty, despite being in a physical state that made me feel the opposite of pretty, it might have helped.

In the aftermath of actually having a baby, I would have slowed down and taken the time to appreciate that I had a baby.  Our first days home were a blur of medications, exhaustion, visitors and activities.  I think, in retrospect, I probably should have slowed down.  Again, it all comes back to being highly focused on keeping everything the same, even though life had changed.  The house had to be cleaned.  The dishes had to be done.  The laundry had to be done.  I had to get up and get dressed and be a normal human every day.  I had to keep moving.  As a result, I lost a lot.  I lost the appreciation of how new she was.  I lost the times when she was content to just be held and loved, and now I have a girl who grew up to never want to snuggle.  I won't get those early days back when she would have been completely happy snuggling in with me.  I also didn't give myself enough time to ease into my life.  I didn't expect to be as rocked by the hormone crash as I was, so I found myself on the verge of tears for no reason multiple times throughout the day.  Did I take some time and give myself some space?  No.  I pretended it wasn't happening and entertained visitors and went to family gatherings and pushed myself further than I really needed to.  I remember there was a moment when my husband's whole family was over and I was sitting on the couch trying desperately not to burst into tears, trying to smile and participate in conversation.  What I probably needed to do was step out and let the tears fall.  I needed to just let things happen, but I kept fighting for control and in the end I don't really remember much of the visit because I sat there uncomfortably trying not to sob.  As much as I wanted to show my daughter off to friends and family, I think maybe I needed more time.  I think I needed to give myself the space to breathe and actually feel normal again instead of pretending that everything was normal.  And, maybe, I could have let the house get messy.

I also fell into the trap of people asking if they could do anything to help out, where I would just smile and say "Oh no, we're fine thank you".  Would it have been better to say yes?  Absolutely.  It would have been nice to have someone cook dinner, or do the dishes, or vacuum, or do the laundry.  It would have been amazing.  But it would also have been admitting that I didn't have everything under control, at least in my mind, and I couldn't do that.  I look back at the few kindnesses we accepted, like my friend bringing over meals for us to keep in the freezer so we didn't have to cook for a few nights, and that was an immense blessing.  The problem is that when you ask "Is there anything I can do?", it puts the burden of asking for help on my shoulders, and I can't bring myself to do that.  It's not who I am.  I'm the sort of person who needs someone to say "I'm coming over in an hour to do your laundry and look after the baby while you nap.  You don't get a choice".  Taking away my say in the matter is part of what forces me to accept help.  It's so hard for me to admit when it would be nice for people to do nice things.

So, here I am, a year later, reflecting on how I might do things differently if I had to.  I don't think I'll get a chance to do things differently, since I don't plan to have more biological children, but maybe some day I'll see someone who is a lot like me, who wants to keep things as normal as possible just like I did, and I can offer some words of wisdom.  Or maybe this is just for me to reflect and understand that it's ok to admit things are changing sometimes.  And it's ok to want help.  I think my big lesson here is to understand how to find a balance between the way my personality is wired to handle things and the way I wish I would have handled them when I look back.  I hope I don't have as many times in this next year where I think "I wish I'd spent more time appreciating her as she is now than washing dishes".

Monday, November 23, 2015

With a grateful prayer and a thankful heart

I guess the title of this post is somewhat ironic, since I'm going to be writing about how hard it is for me to be thankful this time of year.  This year, in particular, it's rough.  But it seems like the holidays bring a heaping dose of bullshit pretty much every single year.  There's always turmoil somewhere, whether it's in my family or my husband's family, but it's always somewhere.  There's always a blow up with someone.  Some war or feud going on.  Something that makes you wish that you lived on the side of a mountain and could ignore everyone.  My husband's uncle actually did that, incidentally, and sometimes I wonder if there was a wisdom in that decision that I had yet to consider.

The sad thing about this is that I love the holidays.  Truly.  I love the music and the decorations and the opportunity to see people you don't see often.  I love the generosity that comes out of people.  I like gift shopping.  I like going to the mall with crowds of people and finding gifts.  I like all of those things that other people hate.  And somehow, despite all of the turmoil that goes on just outside my door or on the other end of my phone, I manage to love the holiday more and more every year.  I dread the onslaught of BS that comes with it, but I love this season.

That said, I have a hard time being thankful at Thanksgiving.  Most of the time I just look at the life I lead and think "Other people don't deal with these things...." and it makes me feel frustrated.  It makes me feel like everything crazy happens to me because I somehow deserve it.  Or it's my fault.  Intellectually you can know it isn't your fault, but it's hard to keep that feeling from gnawing at you every time something ridiculous happens.  Where my friends will be going to lovely holiday dinners with their families and everyone will chat and get along and probably watch some tv together, I'll be bounced from house to house, trying to manage the rounds and trying to minimize damage as groups of people collide with the force of an A-Bomb in my life.  Love is hard sometimes, and lately I find myself having a hard time finding a whole lot of it to spare for some people.

The nice thing is that when I close my door and don't answer my phone, I have this lovely nuclear family that is all happy and healthy and safe this season.  I have traditions that kick off this Friday and carry through the weekend.  I have love and joy that radiates through my house during this time of year.  I have a beautiful little girl to start sharing these traditions with, and the most beautiful thing about all of this is that while I stand at the front line of the nonsense, I can shield her.  Her life will not look like mine.  Her world will not look like my world.  She will grow up with only a vague awareness of what goes on in the world I grew up in.  She will know love, and happiness.  She will know stability and understanding.  She will grow up in a life that sometimes I wish I had gotten myself, but that I'm lucky enough to provide for her.

So I guess that's enough to leave me with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart.

Well....if I prayed.  But the heart part is accurate.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Balance - Is there such a thing?

Lately I've been struggling with balance.  I have these weird hangups about things.  Like, I love my daughter and I want to spend time with her, but I also am faced with a million other things that need to be done all the time.  I'm not one of those mom's who is like "Oh, the house is a mess but that's just how it is, I'm a mom".  Lately, it's been a lot of "The house is a mess because I just don't have time to get to everything" and that makes me crazy.  But, more than that, it means I spend a lot of time in the evenings trying to make any sort of headway.  That means less time spent with my daughter during her awake hours after work.  That feels crummy.  Leaving dishes dirty, or carpets unvacuumed, or clutter everywhere also feels crummy.  So, I don't know how to balance it.  And as much as I want to play with my daughter while she's awake and then work on things after she goes to bed, I find I have a finite amount of energy and I am just tired.  At some point it just becomes too much.

The tired is another issue that needs dealt with.  I'm starting to worry that it's related to something medical and not just chasing a 10 month old, because no matter how long I sleep, I always wake up feeling like it wasn't enough.  I wear down easily.  I am back to getting semi-regular headaches that last for days.  There are some other things going on as well, so that's going to be addressed in the near future with a doctor, but still....I don't think I'll ever just not be tired.  I feel like I've been tired my whole adult life.

So, I find myself trying to balance chores with baby time.  Saturday mornings are ours.  I wake up with her at 6:30 and I don't do any chores until she goes down for her nap.  She gets her bottle, we play on the floor, we eat some snacks or some breakfast and then she goes down for her nap.  The tv doesn't get turned on.  I try to leave my phone on the counter so it's just me and her, and I hope that makes up for the lack of time during the week.  Thursday nights are also ours.  My husband has class so I don't work on dinner until after she goes to bed because he's not home until late.  So, I feed her something quick and easy for dinner and then do a quick pick up of the house and vacuum really fast, then the rest of the night is with her.  It's very nice, actually.  Sometimes I wish I could spend all nights just hanging out with her and eating dinner really late, but that's not the reality of things.  But, it's at least two nights that she gets some solid mommy time.

I have an issue balancing my needs with her needs, though.  I still haven't figured that one out.  When we're not working, my husband and I have her pretty much 100% of the time.  I take her grocery shopping, or out to run errands.  If I need to run errands that would be faster and easier without her, I wait until she goes down for her nap and leave her sleeping while my husband works on homework.  That's about the only "me time" I get.  A stolen hour here or there.  Sometimes I do just want to have an afternoon to go to a movie or to get lunch without having to tote a baby along.  But the thing is, I don't feel like I have a right to get that.  I feel like I can't complain that I don't get enough time with her during the week and then dump her with a sitter on weekends.  That seems wrong.  The one time we've gone out to a friend's house lately without her, we put her to bed before we left so someone just had to sit at the house and make sure it didn't burn down.  I feel like not spending time with her when I have the opportunity would make me some sort of hypocrite.  Sometimes I wouldn't mind the break, though.  Sometimes it would be nice to just have quiet, and to not worry about whether I brought enough snacks to keep her happy etc.

And maybe that's part of this constant tired feeling.  Maybe I just don't pull myself away enough.  I know it's not a "fun" thing, but my husband gets several hours every Thursday night when he's in class that he doesn't have to think about her or chase her.  He just gets to handle himself and this one thing he has to focus on, and sometimes I wonder if that's a little bit nice.  That even though it's work, it might still feel like a break.  I don't know.

Yesterday I cried, because I feel like the last couple of weeks I've been having a really hard time.  I feel too tired, everything seems like too much work, I can't force myself to really care about anything I should be caring about, and it's just such an out of character way for me to feel.  It's not me.  And I worry that I'm losing some sense of me.  But, I cried.  After bottling everything up for weeks, I broke down and cried to my husband and then apologized for crying because I don't feel like I have a right to be having a hard time.  I feel like it makes me selfish.

So, here I am, wondering if balance is really a thing people achieve, or just some sort of unattainable mystery we all delude ourselves into thinking exists.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Working Mom Struggles, and How Not To Relate

So, at the risk of sounding like one of those "It's so hard for a working mom" whiners, I have to say that being a working mom can sometimes suck.  After I went back to work I had a really hard time the first few weeks because I felt like I had just started to get good at being a mom and then I had to give it up to go back to a job that I felt like I sucked at, working for people I didn't think gave a crap whether I was there or not.  It was not an ideal situation.  But, I'm the breadwinner in our family and I knew I wouldn't be happy being a stay-at-home mom for the long term anyway.  So I ripped off the band-aid and went back.  That was hard.  It was hard because I dropped my daughter off at my mother's house at 6:30 in the morning and often didn't get back to pick her up until 6:00 at night so I wasn't even home until 6:30, and when she goes to sleep at 7:30, that makes life rough.  I felt like I never saw her or spent time with her or did anything she needed me to do as her mom.  I started feeling like my mom was stepping into that role instead of me, and that hurt.  A lot.  I tried to make the most of my time, but it wasn't a lot of time and I had other responsibilities too.  I had dinner to cook, and dishes to wash, and dogs to walk, and a house to tidy and it wasn't always enough time was never enough time.  Never.

A friend was talking about how she just doesn't get enough time with her daughter and she really needs to capitalize on the time she has.  Then she told me she's working a total of 20 hours a week.  So.....that's at least 20 hours more than I get with my kid.  Forgive me for not sympathizing too much with your struggle.

Another is a teacher whose work day ends at 4:00 every day, and who gets summers off entirely to spend with her daughter.  So, again, not really relating to your situation.

The bottom line is, it's difficult for someone who gets 5 hours total with their child during the week to hear anyone who gets the luxury of significantly more time complain about their lack of time with their kid, or to be able to be sympathetic and act like I relate.  Because I don't relate.  I think those people are terribly lucky.  I envy them.  They don't know how good they have it.

The small bright spot is that with my husband's "career change", I'm no longer tethered to his work schedule so I'm able to come into the office earlier and leave a bit earlier during the day.  Now instead of leaving at 5:00, picking him up, getting stuck in traffic and not getting to my daughter until 6:00, I get to leave at 4:30 and go straight home.  Most days I'm home by 5:00, and he picks my daughter up after work because he gets out earlier, so by 5:00 we are home as a family most nights.  That gives me 2 and a half hours with her.  Sure, I still have to fit dishes and dinner into that time frame, but it gives me a little more flexibility and I get to see and spend time with her a little more each day.  I'd love for it to be more time, and I definitely wish it had been this way earlier on so that I didn't miss so much of her tiny baby months, but I'll take what I can get.

But people who get significantly more time with their kids probably shouldn't commiserate with me over how crappy it is.  You don't really get it.  And you're probably going to piss me off.

Friday, October 2, 2015


One of the things that sucks about becoming a parent for the first time is trying not to let your brain go to bad places when patterns start to emerge.  When you spend less time with friends you start to think "Is that because they don't want to be around me because of the kid?" and even if that has nothing to do with the situation, it's hard not to go there immediately.  Or, when people start to drop out of contact you wonder if you're now the obnoxious mom and no one wants to spend time with you.

In the past 9 months, a lot of things have happened.  My daughter is awesome, and she's doing all sorts of awesome things.  I love spending time with her, and I love watching her do new things, but I feel like it's all come at the price of other pieces of my life.  I feel like everyone around me has become distant.  Some of that leads to this weird need for some sort of connection that I talked about before, but it just goes deeper than that.  I have a friend who I used to talk to pretty regularly and see at least once a month.  Now she's busy all the time and I don't talk to her much at all.  It shifted pretty sharply after I went back to work.  Like, my daughter was a hot commodity for a quick minute and then everyone got bored with her and perhaps tired of me and ended up breaking away.  Now, if I try to get people together, most suddenly can't come, or if they can they stay for like an hour and then disappear.  It sucks.  I noticed it first at my birthday where half of my guests left before 8:00 p.m., if they showed up at all.  Contrast that with my husband's pre-baby birthday where everyone left at 2:00 a.m. and had a great time.  No one had to leave early for my birthday.  The kid was handled, everything was fine, but everyone was just.....gone.  Even one of my good friends, who I happen to work with, barely talks to me anymore.  He went through some stuff with his ex girlfriend a while back and I felt bad for him as he agonized over things and I wanted to be the person who would listen when he needed it.  But then, when that sort of ended, he drifted away as well.  I feel like I am at a point where I serve a purpose for people and once it's over, I'm not needed, or worse, not wanted.

I don't really talk to anyone anymore.  That's not an exaggeration.  Like....anyone.  Every time I try, I feel like I'm some sort of nuisance to whoever I'm talking to and they are just trying to get rid of me.  Conversations are brief if I have them, and it's really depressing.  Some of that is my choice, since there are a few people I'm keeping at arms length right now due to bad history, but for the most part it's just everyone else being wholly unavailable.  And, to be honest, it makes me really sad.  Like, I'm half crying as I sit here and type this.  I keep feeling like I'm there when people need me, but right now I've got some shit going on and no one is around.  At least no one I'd like to have around.  Though, I guess it wouldn't matter since I'm terrified to talk to anyone about anything at this point anyway, for fear of pushing them further away.

My husband took a temp job that has him completely unavailable all the time.  I haven't really talked to or had any help from him since he started it, and my weekends are spent alone.  It's like he was my last scrap of a connection, and even that was tremulous since he was always on edge due to his job and most of the time I was afraid to talk to him because he hated everything, but as long as it was just something generic like a tv show or the kid, we could at least chat.  Now that's gone too.  Now, it's just nothing.  A vast expanse of nothing and I'm lonely.  I'm lonely and I'm sad.  I find myself desperately trying to connect with co-workers who don't really have any interest in being bothered at work, and then the feeling of being a nuisance deepens.  So now, I'm just here.  Drifting around, wondering what I did wrong, and whether my worst fears of losing all sense of self and connection after becoming a parent are suddenly happening.

I'm basically torn completely down, and I wish someone wanted to help me collect the pieces and build them back up.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Craving Connection

It's been a while.  Mostly because my free blogging time has been not-so-free lately, and also because I've been in this space of having too much to say and not enough energy to get it all out.  Even now, sitting here attempting to write this, I find myself exhausted at the idea of having to organize my thoughts into something coherant.

There's been a lot going on in my life.  Aside from the normal trials of child development moving forward at a lighting pace, the rest of my personal life seems to be in constant turmoil.  I don't have a family that one might consider easy.  At best, one could call them challenging.  Lately, challenging has morphed into daunting and there's really no end in sight.  I guess it would matter less if I stopped feeling like it was my responsibility to try to hold the pieces together sometimes, but I can't seem to turn that switch off in myself.  Outside of that, my immediate family life has been in some turmoil that has me a bit off balance.  Truthfully, there's been turmoil for the past four years, but things kind of came to a head lately and while pieces of the issues seem resolved, there are other pieces that are just out there stinking up the place like dead fish.

All of this has left me feeling......alone.  When I think about it, I've felt really alone for years now.  I've craved connection with people for a really long time, and it seems that every time I think I find it, it falls apart.  I had a friend I was close with for a long time, and then things fell apart when it sort of became clear that she didn't understand my life at all no matter how much explaining I tried to do, and that the impression was that the turmoil I experience was somehow something I fed off of.  Something I wanted for attention.  That is, quite frankly, not the case at all.  So that fell apart.  I put my energy into a new friendship with someone I thought I could confide in, only to be told that I "needed more therapy than I could afford" and again criticized for having the audacity to actually share my life with someone.  Felt close to another friend only to find that there was some betrayal of confidence going on that I didn't appreciate, and I pulled back from that.  With life circumstances keeping my husband at arms length from me at all times, and no other real friend connection that I feel like I can trust, I just feel.....alone.  And it's hard.

The truth is that I find myself wishing I could call up my mom and cry for an hour and pour all of my feelings out so they stopped being so heavy to carry around, and that she'd tell me it'll be ok and that she loves me, and try to offer some encouragement.  But that's not the mom I got.  That's not the life I lead.  I don't have anyone in my world to offer that level of unconditional love, and it's hard.  It's hard to accept, and it makes me rage at the universe when I'm struggling like I have been and there is no one who will look at my rusty edges and say "Hey, I've got some oil for those...." instead of  "Stay away from me, that's sharp and I'll get tetinus".  The truth is, it hurts more than anyone can know.

I keep reading blogs from other people, and a lot of them I find ridiculous and self important, but I keep seeing these themes of lasting and genuine friendship.  I keep seeing these women who love each other's children and hug each other when bad things happen, and who give advice when troubled times hit, and for the first time in my life I find myself craving that.  Weirdly, I want a mom friend.  Not like, a mommy friend, because I'd have to choke her in a matter of minutes, but a mom who is like me.  A mom who is realistic and who will just say "Yeah, that shit sucks, huh?  Sometimes kids are assholes" or who won't think I'm a terrible person when I say that I'd kill for a weekend to myself.  Sure, I left my daughter with family while we went on vacation, but "vacation" in my world still means getting up at 6:00 a.m. and cramming so many activities in that you aren't sure when there will be time to eat.  It meant traveling with other people.  It meant work.  What I want is a weekend that is totally open to just do whatever I want.  To sleep in until the shocking hour of 9:00 a.m and then wake up and do whatever I want to do without having to take anyone else's opinions or needs into consideration.  I just want two days to be leisurely.

But, more than that, I want someone to connect with who makes it safe and ok to say those things.  I want the safety of pouring myself into someone else without fear of consequence, or having to worry that I'm somehow bogging them down with my life and my presence is a burden.  I want to stop feeling so utterly alone in this space I occupy.  I feel like I've become a vessel for everyone to pour their bad energy into and I've been carrying it around for so long, and it's becoming heavy.  It's like Frodo carrying that stupid fucking ring into Mordor.  I'm dragging it along, trying to save everyone around me, all the while feeling like it's a weight no one can truly carry alone.  I need a Samwise Gamgee.

I need someone who isn't afraid to see all of me.  Sometimes I'm so tired of hiding.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Functional Exhaustion

Everyone tells you that you'll be exhausted when you have a newborn.  They talk about interrupted sleep and nights of no sleep at all, and you sort of get to mentally prepare yourself for that.  It was pretty hard for me because my daughter would wake up to eat every two hours, which meant two hours after she started her bottle, not two hours from when she finished it.  She often would take 45 minutes to an hour to finish a bottle, which meant that by the time I was laying her down again I'd be lucky to have 30 minutes of sleep before she'd be awake for another bottle.  It got to the point where I'd hear her cry and have actual literal panic attacks.  The first few weeks were pretty rough there.  We fell into a bit of a rhythm after that, but she didn't make the first two weeks very easy.

The thing is, after you get out of that newborn stage, everyone seems to think that the exhaustion ends.  You get to sleep at night, so you are all good again.  I think that might be the case if I was a stay at home mom who just had to worry about keeping home life together, but since I'm a working mom, it seems like the exhaustion just keeps on going.  Sure, my sleep isn't (usually) interrupted, but I work a demanding job that exhausts me mentally and sometimes emotionally during the day, and then I go home and I just keep rolling through the list of work that I have to do to keep life running.

On any given day my life looks like this:
6:15 - wake up and get dressed for work
6:30 - get baby medicated, packed up and ready to go to grandma's
6:40 - Drive to grandma's and drop off baby
7:05 - Arrive back home.  Walk dogs.  Make husband's lunch.  Fill my water bottle.
7:25 - Leave house
7:50 - Drop husband off at work
8:00 - Arrive at work and put out fires all day long for clients.
4:30 - Leave work (notice there is no lunch break between 8:00 and 4:30)
4:45 - Pick husband up from work
5:00 - Drive to pick up baby
5:40 - Arrive to pick up baby
6:00 - Arrive at home, unpack baby, medicate her.
6:05 - Do dishes, which typically includes unloading the dishwasher that was run the night before, washing any hand wash dishes that didn't get done after dinner, dishes people used during the day and didn't wash or unload the dishwasher to be able to re-load their dishes in, and washing bottles so that I can feed the baby.
6:20 - Feed baby
6:35 - Put baby in jumper and start dinner
7:05 - Finish dinner, serve to family
7:25 - Begin cleaning up after dinner.  Load dishwasher, wash dishes, wipe down counters.
7:45 - Entertain baby, who is now fussy due to being tired and near bed time.
8:00 - Start bath for baby (this is only on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the week)
8:30 - Final bottle of the night (typically fed to baby by my husband, but I usually make it and get her prepped for it).  While bottle is being given, I often check laundry to make sure we don't need to do a load of baby clothes, refill diaper bag with supplies, check clothing in bag to make sure it's weather appropriate, get everything prepped for next day.
8:45 - Baby goes to bed.  Sometimes this is just putting her in and closing the door, sometimes it's a bit more complicated because she rolls over and cries about being rolled over so you have to go roll her back.
9:00 - Baby is typically completely asleep.  I can shower.
9:30 - Sit down for some down time to watch tv for a bit.

So, basically, at no point from 6:15 a.m. until 9:30 do I have ANY down time.  It's like running a marathon all day long, every single day.  And this isn't even to imply that my husband does nothing.  He helps out.  He feeds her the bedtime bottle.  He entertains her while I cook if she's unhappy in her jumper.  He walks the dogs after work and before bed.  But, this is still my day all day every day.  Most days, I just wish for more help, because by the time my daughter goes to sleep I realize I've spent a total of maybe 15 minutes with her since I got home from work.  There isn't time for reading stories or playing with her.  And, this is just my day to day which leaves out SO MANY things around the house that still need to be done.  We have 4 pets.  Those pets shed like crazy.  On an ideal level, we need to vacuum daily.  On a realistic level, it happens maybe once a week when I get so disgusted by having the baby covered in dog fur whenever she touches something that I can't handle it anymore and vacuum everything.  Dusting happens on weekends, typically if we're having people over and I'm embarrassed for them to see the dust layers in the house.  My husband does laundry on Sundays, aside from any baby laundry I may wash during the week.  My bathroom is a nightmare.  I've needed to reorganize my pantry for over a month now because everything is a giant mess.  My husband has kept up with yard work, but has had no help with some of the stuff we've wanted to get done because I'm busy trying to keep things running on the inside of the house.  Our basement needs mopped daily due to a sick cat, but that doesn't get done.  And when we get to weekends, I'm just tired.  Like, deep down into my bones tired.  I avoid being home on weekends, because being home makes me feel like I should be working on projects and more cleaning, but after a week of all of that, I just don't want to spend my weekend that way.  I feel like I spend a week working non-stop and then I get to spend a weekend doing more of the same and it's just really exhausting.  I also hate working on cleaning and organizing if it's just me doing it.  I feel like the job is too big to do alone most of the time so I'm discouraged before I even start.  It's so much more motivating to have someone to help, because it makes it feel like you could realistically make some progress.

There's also this piece of me that has a hard time because I feel like all of the things I do throughout the week are to take care of the people around me.  I keep the kitchen clean because everyone needs clean surfaces to eat off of or to prepare food on. I cook dinner to take care of my family.  I feed the baby to take care of my family.  I do dishes so I can cook dinner again later to care for my family.  I spend each day taking care of everyone around me and sometimes I wish I had that same sense of being taken care of.  Sometimes I wish that I didn't have to worry about just not doing something one day because someone would see it didn't get done and step in to do it.  When my husband was working late one night on a project for one of his classes, I knew he wasn't going to get to finish the laundry he started.  I finished all of it, folded it, ironed his work clothes and did everything short of putting everything away because it was late and the baby was sleeping and I didn't want to wake her up since she was still in our room.  No one asked me to do that.  But I saw that he wasn't going to be able to, so I took care of it.  I didn't ask for any special praise or credit or anything.  I just did it to help him, so he'd know he was taken care of when he couldn't get to things himself.  Quite often, I don't feel like people notice when I'm struggling and no matter how many times I say "I'm tired", it doesn't seem to sink in that it would be nice to have some help.  When people step in and help out here and there, like loading the dishwasher of all of the cooking prep dishes while I plate up food, I ALWAYS thank them.  I always go out of my way to let them know it's appreciated.  But it doesn't happen very often.  I've even outright asked for help.  We've asked my older daughter multiple times to handle dishes because she needs to contribute to the household more, and that works for a week or so, and then she just stops doing it.  I come home to her dishes all over the counter, or in the sink, and I clean up after her because clearly asking for help isn't actually a lasting and effective thing.  Saying it's her responsibility doesn't change the situation, and I can't just leave things until she notices and has to do them because I have to have those items to be able to cook and provide for my family.  I can't just leave them filthy because then I can't feed people.

So, that leaves me here where I am.  Functionally exhausted.  I can still get through my day, and everyone still gets taken care of, but I feel like I get worn a little thinner all the time.  I feel like I get closer to breaking.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Monster Kisses

Sometimes I'm surprised by how much my daughter notices, particularly when I think about how she's only 6 months old.  She knows favorite songs and gets more excited when we sing some than others.  She likes specific toys.  She recognizes people when she sees them.  The other day I went to pick her up after work and my husband wasn't with me like he usually is, and she spent a good amount of time looking behind me and all around the room and it took a minute before I realized she was looking for him.

But the cutest thing happened the other night when I was reading to her.  Required back story here is that we've been reading to her since she was probably a week or two old.  It seemed to calm her down, and she seemed to like looking at the pictures.  We've gone through a good deal of her book collection over the past few months.  I'm a book person myself, and I like book quotes.  When we were reading Where the Wild Things Are, I did all of the things the Wild Things said in a monster voice.  Then, at bath time I got in the habit of using the monster voice while I was drying her off.  She has a variety of bath towels and they all have hoods that look like animal heads, so as I dried her hair and the animal head looked like it was eating her face, I'd say "Oh, please don't go, I'll eat you up I love you so!" in monster voice and then I'd cover her face with kisses.  Over time she started to think it was really funny and she'd get a huge smile any time I started the line.  It just started becoming part of our bath time routine and sometimes if she was in a mood during the day I'd say the line and she'd start smiling.

The other night I was reading the book to her for the first time in several months and I got to the part where Max is leaving the island and I said "Oh, please don't go, we'll eat you up we love you so" in the monster voice and she smiled and looked back at me, but as I turned the page she started to lean in toward my face with her mouth open like she was trying to kiss me.  I thought I was imagining it so I did the line again and she did the same thing.  Then I handed her off to my husband and he tried and she tried to do the same thing to her.  He laughed and said "Well, don't kisses come after that line?  You forgot her kisses!"  It was, undoubtedly, the most adorable thing she has done to date.  I can't even handle it.  I just love her.  I love that she knows monster voice comes with kisses, and I love that she's trying to kiss people now.  I love that she's paying attention to notice all of these things and she's learning patterns and routines.  She's such a smart cookie.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Milestone Path

It's been a while, and there are so many topics I want to write about.  Everything from the politics of parenting, to observations of other people and their children, to emotional terrorism, and a variety of other things.  Look for those in future, I suppose.  Today, though, today I want to write about milestones.

From the moment you get pregnant, your life seems to be measured in milestones.  Checking off that first trimester and emerging from all of the issues that come with it (if you had any) and breathing a little easier as you get out of the danger zone.  First ultrasound, first announcement to friends and family, that long awaited gender reveal, life being ticked off week by week until you hit that calendar date you circled in red as the light at the end of the tunnel that you'd be done.  Then the milestones shift.  They stop being your milestones that you track and start becoming someone else's.  They are the milestones your baby hits, and you watch closely to make sure the list is getting ticked off.  Can he/she do this or do that at the appropriate age?  Are they ahead of the curve on some things?  Are they behind the curve somewhere else?  Should you start to worry about this or about that?  You make a list of things to ask about at the next pediatrician's appointment.  You check off the list to reassure yourself that yes, everything is fine.

Right now I'm standing on the precipice of a different milestone.  As of next Friday, my daughter will be 6 months old.  Half a year.  It doesn't seem like it's been that long.  I don't mean that in a weepy sentimental "she's growing up too fast" sort of way.  I mean it in an actual timeline way.  It doesn't feel like 6 months has passed.  She's gone from tiny snuggling newborn to wiggly infant with personality and preferences, and it's been kind of awesome.  It has also made me think about some things.  A year ago, we were just telling our family and friends about her impending arrival.  A year ago, I was growing and incubating a human.  I have a hard time really thinking back on that because it honestly feels like it that all happened to someone else.  Again, I don't mean that in the context most people do when they make that statement.  I don't mean that she's changed me so much that last year I was a different person than I am now.  I'm still me.  I just feel like all of that happened to someone else.  Even while I was pregnant, I felt like it was all happening to someone else.  I never connected with being pregnant.  I never felt this deep connection with the baby.  I never made statements like "I'm already just so in love" because the truth is, I wasn't.  I feel like that whole portion of my life was an out of body experience where my brain and the rest of me weren't really connected.  I didn't marvel at her movements.  I don't miss them now that they're gone.  Pregnancy was something that happened to me, not something I participated in.

That said, parenthood has been a total opposite.  Parenting is something I participate in.  It is something that feels real.  I'm in it.  I'm there.  I don't miss her kicking me as a fetus but I do miss her smile when I haven't seen her for a while.  Now she isn't an abstract.  Now she is a person, and that feels so much more important.  I didn't do amazing and important work by growing and birthing her.  I could have done that in a coma.  I'm doing something important now when I'm taking care of her and keeping her safe and loved.  It's probably not the most important thing I'll ever do, but it is important and I'm usually pretty good at it.  Six months has taught me to love her, to appreciate her, to understand her.  Six months has taught me how to be a mom.  Six months has helped me learn how to be me while still helping her learn to be her.  Six months went by fast.  The next six will go by fast as well.  But that's ok.  I'm always ready for the next milestone.  I don't mourn what I loss as she gets older, I celebrate what she's gaining, and so far she's turning out to be pretty cool.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A bit of truth

If I'm being honest, I love my daughter.  I love her probably more than I let on to others.  I love her gummy smile and the fact that most of her face is dominated by these huge beautiful eyes that spend all of their time taking in everything around her.  I love that she's a little pig who loves nothing so much as she loves eating.  I love that she's developing preferences.  I love that she's loves her jump jump, and that she likes going on walks.  I love that she keeps learning new things, and that watching her learn about life is not at all sad for me.  It's exciting.  I love that she's smart and curious, that she is beautiful and funny, and the sound of her laugh is one of the best sounds in the world.

And, if I'm being honest with myself, I think she loves me too.  Sometimes she leans toward me when someone else is holding her.  Sometimes I come over to where she can see me and she smiles.  Sometimes I sing to her after bath time and she grins and kicks her feet because she's so happy.  But my favorite, my absolute favorite thing, is that lately she just seems to want to stare at me.  There are often times when I'm feeding her and she stares up at me and just grins, like she's so happy to see me.  Yesterday, I was feeding her and she kept reaching up gently and running her hand along the bottom of my hair, eyes smiling as she touched it, then she'd pull her hand back and do it again and sigh, and I melted.  Sometimes I think that she might love me just about as much as I love her.

And I'm ok with that.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Inside my head

It's funny sometimes how things will hit you out of the blue.  Weird things that you don't think about until something strange triggers your trip down the rabbit hole of your own thoughts and then things crash on you like a ton of bricks.  The other night I found myself crying in the shower.  It was weird, and I hadn't been having a particularly rough day or week, but I was standing there thinking about struggles and regrets and I just sort of fell apart.

The truth is, my daughter's birth still haunts me.  The reasons for that shift.  Sometimes the sheer stress and trauma of it comes back to me suddenly and almost knocks the wind out of me when I think about it.  Sometimes, it's something else.  Lately, I've seen posts on Facebook or Twitter from other people who have had children and there are hashtags that read things like #likeaboss or #likeapro about how easy and amazing it was to have their kid.  Then the photos follow.  Photos of smiling moms, looking fabulous, holding their babies like they've just won the lottery.  It all seems so....right.  I guess it seems like it's supposed to be, and sometimes that stings.  When I tell people about my daughter being born, I make jokes.  I laugh things off as being casual.  I make comments like "Yeah, they decided to cut her out so she wasn't dead, which seemed like a pretty good idea" and then I laugh a little and people all think I've handled it so well.  But when I'm alone, when it's dark and quiet and all I have are the thoughts inside my head, I'm filled with regrets.  On so many levels, I wish I had been the mom with the smiling photo, looking really happy, showing off a baby for the camera.  I wish that my first moments with my daughter had also been her first moments.  I wish I hadn't been strapped to a table, unable to really see her or hold her or touch her.  I wish I hadn't had to wait almost an hour before I could really get a look at her face.  I had wanted to memorize every tiny piece of that face when I saw it, and there was a moment in the middle of the night when the nurse took her away to the nursery where I panicked that I might not realize it if they brought back the wrong baby because so much of my day had been a blur and I hadn't really had the energy to stare lovingly into that face and memorize those tiny features.  I didn't feel like I had done anything #likeaboss.  I felt mostly like I had failed.

I had such a hard time after the c-section.  I was functioning on 30+ hours of labor, and over 46 hours that I spent awake, more or less.  I was able to sort of nap here and there for 20 or 30 minutes at a time, but it was never peaceful or even that restful.  I had a blood pressure cuff that inflated every few minutes, I had monitors strapped to me, I had machines beeping, I had nurses coming in and checking on me.  I had people in the goddamn room talking and being a nuisance.  I was, in short, a wreck.  Then they did a c-section and I lost a crap ton of blood.  By the time I got to hold my daughter, I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open and coherently answering the nurse's questions.  I remember holding her, but I can't remember those first moments of seeing her face.  I can't remember how I felt about seeing her.  I remember being a little afraid that I would drop her because I felt so out of it, but I don't remember HER.  I regret that.  I regret that I couldn't be fully present to welcome my daughter into the world.  When someone came to visit and wanted to take her, I handed her over immediately because I just couldn't do it.  I couldn't look after her and care for her.  I didn't feel like I could do anything.

There are no pictures of me holding my daughter and smiling like a happy mom.  The first words my mother said to me when she saw me after the surgery was "Wow, you look like shit".  After that I wasn't really up for being in photos.  I didn't want to be seen at all, honestly.  Then I couldn't stay awake.  All day, I couldn't stay awake.  My husband sat and snuggled her for hours, cuddling her and soaking up all of that new baby-ness she was giving us, and all the while I sat there struggling to keep my eyes open.  I felt guilty.  I felt like I should be fighting to hold her and snuggle her, but I was having a hard enough time managing myself.  I constantly worry that people who came to visit in those first few hours or few days thought that I just didn't care about her.  I worry that all of those people who said "You wouldn't make a very good mom" walked into that room and thought "See, I was right" because I couldn't bring myself to want to hold her all the time like my husband did.  I contrast that with my sister-in-law, who seemed to never put her son down after he was born and she had gone through a c-section as well, and I think "What was wrong with me?".  It's hard.  I feel like I missed out on so much, and I know I'll never get those first moments back.  I have all of the moments after, but those are gone forever and when I think about it, sometimes it makes me cry.  It makes me feel like an inadequate mom.  It makes me feel like somehow she'll know that those first few days, I was selfish and needed to take care of me and that I couldn't be in love with her the way other moms are.  It makes me afraid that what I lost in those early moments of her life will be the foundation of our relationship from here forward.  She will keep me at arms length because in those early hours, I kept her at arms length.  I worry that we didn't connect like we were supposed to, and that no matter what I do, I can never repair that.

Sometimes that all hits me out of left field, and I sob in the shower.

Sometimes I hate other women who get to do things #likeaboss.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thoughts on Mother's Day

Mother's Day was this past Sunday.  Mother's Day is bittersweet for me for a number of reasons.  Firstly, because I've always had a pretty rocky relationship with my own mom.  It used to weigh on me a lot.  I used to feel like there was something wrong with me that my mother couldn't love me in the way I needed her to love me.  She was always trying to change me, to push me to be more like my sisters, to make me someone she could understand and relate to better.  I used to feel like that was my fault.  Time has made me realize that it's just our dynamic and I waste a lot of energy mourning what I don't have, or trying to make myself someone that she can accept.  I've just tried to make peace with things as they are.  I still have a hard time with Mother's Day though, because I feel like no matter what I might say or do, it won't be "enough" in her eyes and I'll continue to be a failure.

Secondly, I have problems with Mother's Day because everyone keeps telling me "Happy first Mother's Day".  Except that this isn't the first.  I've been taking care of our foster daughter for several years now.  I've been the most constant and stable mother figure in her life for a while, and yet I have never gotten credit for the work I've done there.  Not from my family or friends, or from her.  I know that shouldn't bother me, but sometimes it does.  I've spent a lot of time, energy, and money investing in her well being and guiding her into a life that is better than the one she came from, but no one seems to think that's being a mom.  And I'm always at arms length with her, since her mother is still in the picture and she doesn't want to have to betray her mom by treating me like I'm also a mother figure, so it's uncomfortable.  She's sent my husband "Happy father's day!" messages for years, but I always fall short.  I'm a bit of an afterthought.  She'll realize she praised him and then come back and say "Oh yeah, sorry I forgot about you on Mother's Day".  It stings.  I won't pretend it doesn't.  It stings even more because it mirrors my own relationship with my mother, where I keep her at arms length.  It opens up a lot of fears about my relationship with my infant daughter, and how afraid I am that she's also going to keep me at arm's length and we will just continue this cycle.

I constantly worry about whether I'm enough for my daughter.  Whether I'm a good mom.  Whether I'll continue to be a good mom as she grows and changes, and as my role changes with her.  I love her.  I do.  I sometimes look at her and feel like she's the only thing I've gotten right so far in my life, that she is beautiful and perfect and that I haven't managed to screw her up yet.  I constantly worry that I'm going to screw her up.  I worry about whether I hold her enough, or play with her enough, or pay enough attention to her because I sometimes just have other things I need to do.  Sometimes I don't want to hold her.  Sometimes I want to just sit and watch tv while she plays on the floor.  I feel guilty for that.  I feel guilty for a lot of things.  I worry that every decision I make is terrible, and that she's just going to end up hating me.  I fear that I won't love her in the right ways.  I fear that I'll repeat some of my own mother's mistakes.  I fear that no amount of love can keep this stupid cycle from repeating itself.  I am not sure there's a time when I'm not worrying about something.  I want to be good at this.  I just know myself.  I screw up everything I touch.  I destroy all of my relationships.  I am "too high maintenance" or have "too much drama" in my life.  I start to feel, over time, that I'm just not worthy of a normal, healthy, loving relationship with others because I'm fatally flawed.  My husband is still around, but I always worry it's not going to last.  I have, throughout the course of my life, lost pretty much everyone I ever let myself be close to.  I am afraid to lose my daughter too.

So for now, I'll celebrate Mother's Day.  I'll look forward to those little kid years of paper flowers and cards made with finger paint.  I will love her, and I will love those Mother's Days, because I'm afraid a day will come when those things will disappear and I'll just get a quick text message she sends out of obligation.  I'm afraid for that day.

Friday, May 8, 2015

On pregnancy and the aftermath

I stumbled across a blog today that someone wrote about women being pregnant and how they felt about their body both during and after pregnancy, and as I read it I just kept thinking "Well, fuck those guys".  Here's the thing, they all had some big long commentary about being in awe of how their body could create life and how amazing that was.  The blogger interviewed a bunch of women and posted photos of their "belly shots" while they were pregnant and had this long write up about how looking at each of those women only showed how beautiful and amazing they were.

Horse shit.

Ok, maybe that's a bit harsh, but let's be honest here, it's not like that for everyone.  Maybe I'm a superficial bitch, but I didn't go through any of that crap.  If we're going to start at the beginning, I had a TON of fear about having kids (please see early blog posts of me freaking out) and if I'm going to be totally honest with you, a lot of that stemmed from not wanting to get fat and gross looking.  If I was going to list my big pre-pregnancy fears, the order would look something like this:

  1. Totally fucking up someone else's life that I'm responsible for shaping.
  2. Gaining a ton of weight, having my body distorted and gross looking, and then not being able to lose the weight again after having the baby like 90% of my friends.
  3. Having to tell my boss and co-workers I was pregnant.

There were more reasons, but those were in the top 3, and if I'm going to be honest, 1 and 2 were running neck and neck most of the time.  When that test came back positive, I remember looking at my husband and sobbing "I'm going to get fat and look gross and I'll just stay that way forever!"  Some people might chalk that up to hormones, but the reality is, I honestly was super fucking stressed out by that.  The second I started to get any sort of baby belly, I spent 90% of my time trying to hide and disguise it.  I often cried while showering because I hated the way I looked, and I knew it was only going to get worse.  If people drew attention to my mid-section I found myself wanting to punch them in the face.  I had no humor about it.  I didn't want to talk about it.  I wasn't in awe, I was annoyed.  I didn't feel like "Oh my god, I'm growing a human and that's soooo beautiful".  I just wanted to not deal with it.  I kept viewing it as an adverse side effect to a medical condition, and I wanted it to go away.  The day I realized that none of my regular shirts were going to fit over my stupid distorted baby belly anymore, I dropped my husband off at work and sobbed like a toddler as I drove myself to the office.  No reassurance that the belly was "all baby" made me feel better.  All I saw in the mirror was something I hated.  I felt horribly unattractive.  I didn't feel like this amazing all powerful woman, I felt like a lump of crap.  I got no sympathy from other women, who would just say "Oh, I was bigger than you are!" or my husband, who told me that I was being ridiculous and that the way I felt was insulting to him because he actually struggled with his weight and it was an insult to someone who struggles to see yourself as fat when it's a baby.  That one stung.  I wanted support.  I got flamed with anger.  People didn't understand that the way I saw myself wasn't the way they saw me, and that it was a lot of change for me to go through in a short time and it was hard to deal with.  Couple that with my mother repeatedly calling me "Fat ass" or telling people how fat I was, and I basically would have been fine staying in my house and never leaving again until I actually gave birth.  There are no adorable belly photos of me.  There are no touching pictures of me holding my belly and romanticizing this process.  There were photos taken at my baby shower, but it was begrudgingly and I never intend to let anyone else look at them.  People kept telling me "You should take a few pictures, you'll want to remember this later when she's all grown up".  Except that I don't.  I don't want to remember it.  I don't like it.  I look at myself in those photos and see someone who looks fat and awful and I literally have only kept them for her sake so I can some day say "Look, you were in mommy's tummy" if she asks.  Otherwise, I'd get rid of them all together.  I love my daughter.  I didn't love looking at myself while carrying her.

Now we're 4 months postpartum and all of the women in this blog I read were like "Well, I'd like to lose the last of those pregnancy pounds but I just care about my baby right now, so it doesn't matter".

Horse shit.

People can say that, but I don't believe it.  Women are so hard on themselves that I can't believe no one actually cares.  I'm not going to lie.  I care.  My belly button is misshapen.  I have stretch marks across my abdomen.  I have a c-section scar.  My abs are basically shot, and I still have pudge there.  My boobs didn't go back to their original size, much to my disappointment.  Plus, you get the fun hormone related aftermath like losing your hair, getting tons of acne, horrible night sweats that leave you literally soaking wet.  Nothing makes you feel like you're bringing sexy back quite like your hormones betraying you all over again.  I still look in the mirror and see something I don't like.  I find myself Googling "Lose baby belly" on occasion just to be depressed by all of the testimonials on how difficult it is after a c-section because your ab muscles are wrecked.  I read about how the hair loss can go on for a year.  The acne may actually not go away for a long time because your entire hormone balance my have changed.  Basically, I dislike my post-baby body less than I disliked my pregnant body, but not by much.  I still feel like I'm a patchwork of scars and disfigurements.  I fit back into my original jeans, and I actually weigh about 4 lbs less than I did before I got pregnant, but you'd never know that to look at me.  I still don't feel like I look normal.  I don't feel good about what I see.  I'm not about to put on a dress and attempt to look cute. I'm still in that mode I was at this time last year where I'm doing everything I can to disguise and mask my body.

Do I have some control over this postpartum body image?  Yeah, I do.  I could get up every day and do a million crunches and run on the treadmill for 20 minutes (have I ever mentioned how much I loathe running?) and try to fix the flabby belly thing, but the truth is that I come home every night to immediately start dinner, eat dinner, do dishes, get my daughter fed and taken care of, and the first time I get to actually sit down for a moment is often at 8:00 and I just can't force the energy to go work out.  I'm tired.  Some days I'm so tired I feel it in my bones.  It's not one of those "I don't have time" excuses.  It's just that at the end of the day, I don't have any desire left to take care of me after I take care of work and everyone else in my life.  And, working out sucks, so it's not like I'm feeling overly motivated to do something that really sucks.

And the thing is, even if I lost the belly flab, I'd still have the scar, the stretch marks, the unattractive boobs, the acne, the thinning hair, and the night sweats, so does it really make any difference if just one of those things gets removed from the equation?  I'm not sure.

But, the bottom line is, not all women feel amazeballs about being pregnant and want all of those memories, and I hate that a bunch of stupid blogs seem to focus only on those women.  It makes other women feel kind of shitty.

I don't regret not having pregnancy photos of myself.  I do sort of regret not having many photos of me and my daughter together right after she was born.  I told my husband I didn't want a ton of photos of me looking wrecked after having a baby, so there aren't many photos of me and her.  I took a bunch of my husband with her, but I do regret that I don't have many photos of us together where I'm actually looking at the camera and attempting to look happy.  Anything I have was something my husband took on the sly.  I feel like some day she's going to ask why there are no pictures of me smiling and showing her off to the camera, and she might think I wasn't happy to have her, and that makes me sad.  I wish I'd been less concerned about what I looked like in photos with her.  I can't get those first couple of days back.  But, I don't regret for a second that there are very few pictures of me with a huge baby belly.  Not at all.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sometimes I struggle

I've been having a rough few weeks on an internal emotional turmoil level.  There are a lot of contributing factors, but for some reason today I just find myself trying not to cry while sitting here at work.  I thought maybe if I wrote some things out, it might help.  Hard to say.

1.  I get the cranky pants
I keep struggling with this whole working and parenting thing.  I know 100% that I'm better off working than being a stay at home parent.  I'd go insane having to be cooped up in the house all the time.  When I was on leave, I'd find reasons to leave the house because it was making me crazy.  Even if it was just going to Tim Horton's for hot chocolate, I needed to be outside of my house doing something.  On the other hand, I really hate that someone else gets all of her good moments.  I get all of these glowing stories from my mother about how she's been amazing all day long, and that she smiles and laughs all the time, but then I get her home and she is a ball of cranky for me and I don't get any of that happy girl that I keep hearing about.  It makes me really sad.  I hate that someone else is getting all of her good times and I just get what's left over.

2.  I can't fix anything
There's been a lot of unhappiness around my house lately.  The baby is going through some sort of sleep regression or something where she just won't sleep, and she's cranky and cries all the time.  I can't fix it.  I can't seem to help her sleep.  I can't seem to prevent the hysterical crying that happens as she looks desperately at me for me to fix it, with big fat tears rolling down her cheeks.  But I can't fix it.  I don't know how.  I'm trying everything I can, and nothing seems to be working.  That seems to be the story of my life lately.  I can't fix it.  I can never fix anything.  I can't help anyone who needs help, and I feel terrible not being able to.  My husband is going through his own rough patch and no matter how much I want to be able to help, there's nothing I can do.  I feel useless in my own life.  I try to be supportive in the small ways that I can, but I don't think that really matters.  I spend so much time anticipating what might stress him out, or make him upset, or bother him, because I know he already has enough stress in his life, and I work non stop to try to circumvent those things.  Being late for work is stressful, so I make sure I get up and give myself enough time to take care of getting our daughter to daycare, make his lunch, take care of our dogs, and do a quick sweep of the house to gather anything he might not have remembered to pack in his work bag (I'm usually the reason his phone charger makes it into his bag) so that there are fewer things to stress about.  He has had school work, so I make sure to take responsibility for our daughter and not ask for help on nights when he has to work on projects.  I take care of meals and dishes so he doesn't have to worry about ever having to cook.  I run to the store if we run out of something, I try to keep the house as clean as I possibly can while also having our daughter to look after.  He had to work late on a project one night and I took care of the laundry (usually his chore) for him so that he didn't have to worry about not having something to wear the next day or having to come home from class and still deal with that.  I try to anticipate everything, to the point where if something goes wrong that I didn't see coming, I feel like it's somehow my fault that I didn't get ahead of it and it has now become a stressful thing for him.  I'm not even sure he is aware of or notices the stuff that I make sure I look after so he doesn't have to think about it and have one more annoyance in his life.  I have no power to help his situation, but I forever try to make his life a little easier because it's the only way I know to be supportive at this point, I just don't know if it matters.  In the end, it doesn't seem to mean anything.  And that makes me feel like a failure too.

3.  I miss things
I kept swearing that having a kid wasn't going to change how I handled my life, and for the most part, it hasn't.  But there are some things that I've struggled with.  My husband has had classes 2 nights a week and on Saturday mornings since February.  I like that he's going to class, because I like that he's learning new things, but it also sort of hinders some things.  His Saturday class lasted until 2:00 p.m. this semester.  By the time he got home, Saturday was nearly over.  The baby would be napping, so by the time she got up around 3:00 or 4:00, the day was pretty much done.  That means I have been doing a lot of sitting around the house on weekends, which I absolutely hate.  I like to go out and do stuff.  I hate being stuck at home, but I've spent a lot of time stuck at home.  Then Sunday would be our usual chore day where it would be laundry and grocery shopping and housework, so Sunday got swallowed up too.  Aside from one trip to the zoo last weekend, I haven't really done much on weekends in quite some time.  My friends all seem to have lives that are going on without me, and I'm starting to get desperate for socialization.  Yesterday my mother-in-law said something about how we should come over and I had a moment of "Ok!" that popped into my head because I just needed to talk to other people, and then I was like "What are you thinking?!  That won't be an enjoyable time!".  But you get the point.  It doesn't help that my husband has been in classes and is in need of a break from a lot of stuff, and I've been stuck at home so now that he's free I'm like "LET'S DO STUFF!"  It also doesn't help that I have a baby in sleep regression who is a monster and can't be taken anywhere.  We were invited to a birthday gathering for a friend on Friday, and I stupidly thought taking the baby would be no big deal because she's usually pretty decent in social settings, but she was over tired and crabby and we ended up leaving at 9:30 from a party we didn't even get to until after 7:30.  But I don't want to get a sitter for stuff like that because I don't get a ton of time with her so I want to be with her, but I'd also like to have some sort of social contact.  I don't really get that at work since I live in my cubicle and don't really talk to anyone unless I have to.

4.  I feel guilty
My mother sends me text messages during the day about my daughter.  That's usually nice, but lately when she's been a total butt for everyone, it's a lot of talk about wanting to hang her from a ceiling fan and I feel guilty.  I feel terrible that my kid is being a nightmare and someone else has to deal with her.  I feel bad that she can't just be a regular happy baby.  I feel guilty that I'm asking someone to look after my monster child because I'm somewhere else.  I feel guilty that I'm sort of glad to be somewhere else when I hear about her screaming non-stop, because I don't want to hear her scream either.  But at the same time, I want to rush home and go get her and try to comfort her so someone else isn't trying to deal with it.

I don't know if that's everything, but it's all I have the patience to write out right now.  Maybe it'll be easier with it living here instead of all in my head.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Oy with the acid reflux!

This past week in adventures in parenting, my daughter started freaking out when we'd feed her.  She'd get through about 2 ounces of her bottle and then totally melt down.  She wouldn't take more formula, and she'd just squirm and cry.  On top of that, she started spitting up more than usual.  She almost never spit up before, but now she was doing it during pretty much every bottle, and it would smell acidic like it was actual vomit instead of baby spit up.  I'm not big on worrying, because kids go through phases where they do weird shit, but uncharacteristic behavior makes me pause and go "Well....maybe I should call about that?"  So, I called on Monday after she was just refusing to eat much and it was effecting her sleeping patterns and her mood over all.  We went in on Tuesday morning and found out our sweet 3 month old is basically a 54 year old man with acid reflux.  Her tiny baby esophagus isn't doing its job to keep acid down where it belongs, so it's starting to creep up when she eats and her stomach gets full, and it's burning, so the idea of eating more is just too much for her to handle.  That leads to the crying, because it hurts, and her pushing her bottle away because she doesn't want it because she's associating it with hurting.

We were given a prescription for baby zantac to control the acid, and told that if she didn't improve in three days, to give them a call back and they'd adjust the dosage.  We gave her the first dose when I got home from work that afternoon and that night she took a full bottle for the first time in a week, all without fussing or crying.  Yesterday there continued to be improvement.  She wasn't perfect, but she was doing much better than she had been.  Today, my mom sent me photos of a happy smiling baby who hasn't cried or screamed once all day, even when she started to get tired.

Now I feel like we need to give her a new name.  Something that sounds like an old retired Jewish man.  Maybe we should call her Saul.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Then again, maybe not

This weekend we decided to venture out on our first mall trip.  My husband needed new work shoes, and I just needed to get out of the house.  We hadn't taken my daughter out to the mall yet.  She had gone to the grocery store a number of times, but those are quick 20 minute trips.  Nothing that was going to require some time investment.  So, on Saturday after my husband got out of class and she had been fed, we went to the mall.

I dressed her in an outfit some friends had purchased for us.  A onesie that looks like the body of Kermit the Frog with a hat that looks like the top of Kermit's head, paired with a pair of baby blue jeans and her awesome infant shoes that have Animal on them.  The clothing wasn't gender specific, and she's a baby so it's not like she has obviously boy or girl features at the moment, so she looked rather androgynous.  We decided we were going to take her stroller with us to push her around.  It's blue, because I like blue.  My husband looked at her and said "People are going to think she's a boy" and then we both laughed.  So, I decided to add a mustache pacifier to her ensemble just to top things off.

We still got stopped by a million people at the mall to tell us how adorable she was.  I mean, they kept saying "He is so precious" but the pronoun doesn't matter.  We literally had people stand in front of us to stop us from walking down the hall so they could look at her, and they kept remarking on how cute she was, how funny her pacifier was, how sweet she looked.  And all of this while thinking she was 100% boy.  So maybe it's not just that little girls do something to people.  Maybe it's just that my little girl does something to people.  Though, the Kermit hat probably helped.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Little girls do something to people

I'm not sure what it is about little girls, but they seem to do something to people.  I've been contrasting the reaction to my daughter against the way people talk about and react to my nephew, and it's a striking contrast.  People dote on my daughter.  They coo over her, they delight in being rewarded with smiles from her.  They nuzzle her and hold her, and marvel at how adorable she is.  I'm not saying this to reflect any sort of conceit, or to imply that my daughter is any better than any other kid out there, but it's something I've noticed.  People seem to adore her.

My nephew, on the other hand, seems to get less cooing.  Less adoration.  I'm not sure why.  He's cute enough, but people just don't seem to have the same habit of melting over him the way they do with my daughter.  I can only conclude that this is because my daughter is a girl, and there is just something about little girls.  They seem to enchant people.  They invite this sense of awe and love that I don't often see people showering over little boys.

It makes me wonder if I'd have been as enchanted if my daughter had been a boy instead.  It makes me wonder if my husband would have fallen so instantly in love with her if she had been a boy.  It just seems as if little girls snatch up your heart and run away with it the second you lay eyes on them. I've never had a little boy, and I'm sure you love them as much as any of your children, but I wonder if it's a different kind of love.  I just think it's an interesting contrast.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Adventures of a Part Time Single Mom

My husband takes class two nights a week and on Saturday mornings, which leaves me solo on baby duty a few days a week.  It also means that I'm responsible for making sure dinner gets made for the family while also juggling an often cranky infant.  Then on nights when he doesn't have class, he often has homework, which puts me on infant duty again.  Then he's been going running with a friend one night a week for an hour, which leaves me alone with the baby to make dinner while he's running and then showering afterward.  The thing is, I want him to do all of these things.  I want him to go to class, and I want him to go running, and I understand that class means homework.  I understood the night that he wanted to go work on some projects with a friend after his family had been here all night, leaving me to clean up from the gathering and take care of the baby being put back to bed.  I wanted him to be able to go.  He's been excited to get the ball rolling on his project, and I'm excited to see him looking forward to something.  That said, I'm starting to wear a little thin.

Everything would be fine if she was always an easy baby, but she has a short shelf life for being awake, and she hates to nap, which leads to being pretty cranky in the evening.  It makes it hard to organize making dinner, cleaning up the house, walking the dogs, and making sure she's taken care of.  She needs a bottle at the same time I need to be prepping dinner.  If she doesn't nap, I'm juggling her needs with cooking.  It's not easy.  Lately, she's been getting bored with activities after a bit, so she gets cranky faster and it's frustrating to try to balance it all.  I've been dealing with things all right so far, but now I'm just starting to get tired.  It's easy to get frustrated.  It's easy to get tired.  I am trying to do everything for everyone who needs things from me, but it's not always a simple balancing act.  The other night my husband asked me to add a side dish to dinner and I said yes, because I didn't want to deny him something that he wanted, but at the same time, it wasn't part of my plan and it threw everything off.  It wasn't part of how I'd organized my evening, and I was left with last minute prep while my daughter was screaming her head off.  By the time he got home, I was irritated and annoyed because my plan, which should have worked just fine, was thrown off and now I was listening to a screaming baby when I should have had the time to look after her.

It just leaves me feeling like I keep taking care of everyone, letting them do the things they need to do and making sure they have the things they need, but I'm tired and I wish someone was taking care of me a little.  Most nights I walk in the door after work, start dinner, I'm the last to sit at the table to eat, everyone gets up and goes to do whatever they want and I go straight to doing dishes.  The first time I sit down for to relax is often near 8:00, but it's not really relaxing because I also have baby duty.  I'm not complaining about looking after her.  I love her, I like spending time with her.  I just sometimes wish every night wasn't like that.

Tonight I nearly had a meltdown because I was tired, I'd had a long day, I came home and started to cook while my husband went downstairs to work on some video uploads he wanted to do.  That left me with the baby while trying to cook.  When she started to melt down, he came upstairs and took over, but I felt like he was in the middle of something and I didn't have a right to ask him to come help because if he wanted to be nearby to help with her, he'd have stayed where I didn't have to shout for him to help.  Then, I made dinner and had to immediately get up and feed the baby while my foster daughter just laid on the couch complaining about how tired she was, and my husband went to work cleaning his video camera.  They had cleared their plates from dinner, but I hadn't had time to because the baby as crying for her bottle.  I got up from feeding her, went to put her down for a nap and after she finally was quiet in her bed, I went back downstairs to find that while they had cleared out their own plates, mine just got left on the table for me to take care of in addition to having to wash all of the dishes from cooking dinner.  I wanted to smash the plate.  I wanted to shout "I take care of you guys every day, you couldn't have just cleared my damn plate?!"  I wanted to walk out of the house for the rest of the evening and let everyone else deal with the fussy baby and the dishes, and making sure the diaper bag is packed for the next day, and just spend an evening doing something else somewhere else.  Not running away, necessarily, but taking a little break.  I just wanted to get angry.  Instead, I took a long shower and tried to let it all go.

I think I'm just tired.  I'll be happy when the semester ends.

Friday, April 3, 2015

In which I am, again, not typical

My daughter is three months old today, which feels like some sort of milestone but not really a milestone at all.  She's doing great, and she seems ahead of the curve on some things.  She can sit up in a Bumbo chair already, though you have to prop her up with blankets in the chair because she's still got a skinny little butt and the seat is a bit big for her.  She has a jumper toy at my parents house that she seems to enjoy bouncing in.  She is getting chatty and coos a lot.  She recognizes people, from what we can tell, and she reaches for and grabs at toys all the time.  She really enjoys shaking the crap out of the toys on her play mat.  She's no longer a lump of snuggly newborn.  She's becoming a person, and it's pretty great.

As part of these milestones there's a reality we have to face.  She's growing up.  It's happening fast, but it's supposed to happen.  This week I officially packed away her newborn clothes.  Some things were just outright ridiculously small, and some things were just on that edge of being ok and being too small for her.  Pants are the big problem there, since she's got really long legs, so pants are too short, and anything with feet in it was small enough that she couldn't straighten her legs anymore.  So, I made the decision to box up all of her old newborn clothes and send them off to my sister, who is having a little girl in June, and break out my box of 0-3 month and 3 month clothes.  It seemed right.  Most kids don't stay in newborn clothes until they're nearly three months old.  Most kids don't stay in newborn clothes more than a couple of weeks.  My nephew is nearly a month old and already working his way into 0-3 month clothes.  It was time.  I didn't think much of it as I was boxing everything up.  We kept a few sentimental outfits, the preemie sleeper we had from when she was born because her newborn clothes didn't fit yet, the outfit she came home from the hospital in, the first sleeper we ever bought her, and the outfit our foster daughter bought her.  Four outfits still seems like a lot to keep, but some day we may be sad if we didn't have them, so I'll put them into storage somewhere and look back on them and remember a time when she was tiny and sweet.  It'll be nice when she's a teenager and I will want to kill her.

The thing is, I did this all in an evening while my husband was at school, and I didn't think much of it.  I put the old things in a box, I hung up the new things and my night went on just fine.  Then someone said something about how I handled it so much better than she did when it was her daughter, because she cried a lot as she put away all of her daughter's newborn items.  She said she was so sad and couldn't help but cry over it.  When she said that, I remember my sisters crying over their kids outgrowing newborn items, and I suddenly started to feel like there was something wrong with me.  Should I have cried?  Should I have been emotional over putting away her first three months and moving on to the next three?  What's wrong with me that I don't seem to think much of putting her newborn stage to rest?  I started getting upset over the fact that I didn't get upset.  I actually cried this morning because I felt like there was something wrong with me.  Like, I didn't love her enough as a newborn, so that's why this wasn't sad for me.  Or maybe it was because it took me so long to actually connect with her and feel like "Yes, I can be your mom, and I can be good at it".  That falling in love slowly thing really is how it happened with me.  I loved her, I wanted her to be cared for and safe, but I wasn't totally crazy about her at first.  I wanted to be, but I wasn't.  I kept waiting for that sudden rush of awe and love that other women talk about feeling as soon as their kid is born and it never came.  I wanted it.  I really did.  But the fact is, my experience was what it was, and I can't change it.  That said, I will probably always wonder if it somehow speaks of me as a mother and if it means that I will never be as good as other people because I didn't have those moments.  And now I wonder if I'm not as good as other people because I didn't cry when she outgrew her damn clothes.

Maybe it is some sort of indication that I didn't love her enough at the beginning or something.  I don't know.  I like to think it's just as symptom of the sort of person I am.  I don't see any point in mourning what I've lost as she's outgrown her newborn stage and letting that subtract from my enjoyment of who she is growing into.  Her newborn stage was nice, but I like this one a little better.  She's interactive.  She enjoys things.  She smiles.  She is developing preferences and becoming a tiny person, and I like that.  I'm a practical person.  I know that she has to grow up.  That's basically her only job right now.  If I'm always bracing for impact every time she outgrows a diaper or clothing size, I'm never going to be able to be present in what she's doing right now.  They're just clothes.  I want to celebrate her milestones, not dread them.  I know she'll only be my little baby for a short time, but I'm going to be her mom forever, so I don't really feel like I'm losing anything as she gets older.

Maybe that makes me weird.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Play Time

The past couple of weeks have led to my daughter discovering her hands.  I thinks he's always known she had them, but now she's realized she can DO THINGS with them.  Now she's obsessed with touching and grabbing at stuff.  She has a play mat that she lays under and reaches up to grab the rings that hang down from it and shake them to death.  If she shakes hard enough, one of the toys that hangs from the mat plays music and she spends a lot of time trying to work out what exactly she does to make the music happen.  She's starting to hit the one that plays music more often now, though, so I think she's working it out.  She loves it.  She lays under the toys and babbles at them like she's having a conversation with some of her best friends.

She's also discovered she can grab the ring on her pacifier and pop it out of her mouth.  Furthermore, she can sort of throw it at you if she wants.  This has come in handy for her when she wants to fight falling asleep, since the evil pacifier makes her sleepy.  She will also put her fingers up by her mouth so she can work them under the edge of the pacifier and flick them forward to push it out of her mouth.  My mother is unimpressed with this new found talent of hers, since she uses it to fight naps and scream bloody murder.  She doesn't seem to mind the fact that other people don't appreciate her new fascination.  She has also figured out she can hold the pacifier by the ring, and she's made a couple of attempts at trying to put it back into her mouth, but she's not very coordinated yet so she basically just ends up smacking herself in the face with it.  Stupid baby.

She seems to have preferences now as to what she does with her free time.  Gone are the days of laying around on her lounge pillow hanging out all day.  She has shit to do.  She has rings to shake, and pacifiers to throw, and baby push ups to do.  It's kind of nice to see her interacting with other things and taking interest in what's around her.

I do, however, wish she'd take less interest in the television.  We never put her in front of it, but if it's on while she's in the room, she'll work to try to see it.  We had to move her play mat because she could turn to the side and see the tv and then she'd just lay there mesmerized by it and pay no attention to her toys.  We don't want her watching a lot of tv just yet, so it's been challenging to keep her from staring over at it whenever she can angle herself to get a view.  To combat this, we've started reading books to her to keep her attention.  By we, I mean my husband, because he does all of the best voices.  Stories are an interactive experience when my husband reads them.  He does different voices for different characters.  He makes the story literally interactive, so if there's a poem about the wind, he reads it and blows on her face and hair so she gets to feel the wind while he's reading about it.  I will never be up to his level on stories and reading, but that's ok.  It's awesome to watch him read to her, and to watch her stare up at the book like she's totally paying attention to everything he's saying.  I'm sure at this point she has no idea what he's saying to her but she likes being talked to, and she likes the color in the illustrations, so she pays attention as much as a three month old can.  I like to watch him with her, and I like to watch her smile up at him like he's the coolest person ever.  She's totally a daddy's girl already.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Alert the media

Ok, not actually.  No one in the media cares about any of this.  I'm trying to be clever.  My husband and I were having a conversation over the weekend about our daughter and how alert she usually is.  I mean, yes, there are times when she stares over our shoulders and we have zero idea what it is that has her attention, but most of the time if she's awake, she's clearly paying attention to everything that's going on around her.  She turns to look for familiar voices when she hears them in the room, she has in-depth babble conversations with the toys that hang from her play mat, if the tv is on she will work to be able to see it because the colors catch her attention, when we hold her or play with her she is often watching very closely and reacting to what's going on.  I have tons of photos of her where she's looking right at us, and we can tell she recognizes the case on my phone when I hold it up to take photos of her.  When she's being carried around she prefers to face out where she can see people instead of inward where she misses out on things.  She has little patience for sitting and snuggling when she's awake because there's too much looking around to be done.

The thing is, I'm not sure how typical this is for a baby her age.  Every baby is different, but I've heard people say that she's weirdly alert for a 2 month old.  My husband and I started looking at other babies who have been born recently as a comparison.  We don't have a lot of contact with other kids near her age, but we have photos from Facebook of some babies who were born within a few months of her and none of them seem to be quite as alert or inquisitive looking in their photos.  We even started thinking about some babies who are just a bit older than her and she seems kind of on par with some of them, but since their older I don't know if she's advanced or they're delayed or just average.  I have no idea.  But, it's kind of nice to have her already so inquisitive and curious looking even though she's still tiny, because it gives me hope that she'll continue to be like this well into adolescence.  I want her to be curious and observant.  I want her to pay attention to things around her and learn from them.  I'm glad this is already a bit of who she is.  I hope it carries into adolescence.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I don't get it

I don't get it when people say that you can't do anything when you have a baby.  I don't get it when people talk about how your house will be a disaster and you will be enjoying many nights of having cereal for dinner because there's no way you could cook with an infant around, or when people say you can't go anywhere with an infant, or that you won't be able to shower or do your makeup or socialize with friends anymore.  I don't get it because for me, that really just hasn't been the case.

There were a couple of weeks at the beginning when we were still trying to get our feet back under us where dinner meant ordering take-out or popping something a friend had given us into the oven.  I was recovering from the c-section, we were both tired and trying to figure out how the new routine of our lives was going to look, and those couple of weeks meant life wasn't going entirely as usual.  During that time I feel like only cooking and sleeping suffered.  We still managed to keep the house tidy, including vacuuming every few days.  We kept the dishes washed, we kept up with laundry.  We still had people over to visit.  Life found a new normal, and when my husband went back to work, things were falling into a better routine already.  Then he went back to taking classes, and I was left totally alone all day and all evening to take care of her, the house, and make sure dinner was on the table when my husband got home from class so he could work on homework.  There was not one night where I was unable to take care of everything.

Beyond that, from the time we brought her home, there wasn't a single time where either my husband or I were unable to shower when we wanted to.  I attended a baby shower on a Saturday morning when my husband was in class, and I was able to get myself dressed, do my makeup, dress my daughter, and make it to the shower on time.  If we've wanted to go out for dinner on any given night, we have been able to.  We just take her along, and since she's prone to falling asleep in the car, we end up with her sleeping straight through dinner for us.

So I guess I don't get it when people say that your life will be a disaster and you can't possibly do the things you want to do when you have a baby.  Our lives have been going just fine.  We go through things the way we always have, but this time there's just someone else to bring along.  She is content to go along for the ride and I'm fine with taking her out with us whenever we go places.  She has to learn that sometimes we have to go out and do things, and the more we do that with her, the more she'll start to understand how she should behave in those situations.  I am not a fan of leaving kids behind for everything.  She goes to the grocery store, and on any errands I may need to run, and to the vet's office when we had to take the dog in.  She goes where I go, and that's just how it is.  I don't know why other people can't make that work.