Saturday, September 30, 2006

Follow the boucing ball...

How did I finally come to accept that I have a fabulous case of post partum depression?

Could it have been the fact that I am still wearing clothes two sizes bigger than I should be and have no motivation in my gut to lose the gut? No.

Could it be the fact that I have all but forgotten how to put make up on? No.

Could it have been going out to dinner with two of my pregnant friends recently and realizing as I sat across from them that I was struggling to say something positive about being a mother that day? No.

Could it have been the fact that poor Husband has become a master of walking on eggshells in my presence, never knowing what combination of words is the one that will set me off on a "you don't think I'm a good mother" tirade. No.

Want to know what made me realize and finally accept that I needed to address this new gloom residing in me?

I wasn't blogging and I wasn't reading other peoples' blogs.

Strange that realizing I had essentially stopped blogging would be my *lightbulb* moment, but it was. Blogging is something I started doing for myself when I was first on bedrest--it saved my sanity from the clutches of boredom, and while I am no Shakespeare, it was fun to tap into my creative energy and occassionally, my sense of humor (let's face it, every English teacher is a frustrated novelist). It became a part of my identity and my sense of self; it was a record of my life.

But I stopped. I haven't been too busy. No, I still have a baby sleeping on one of my arms most afternoons for at least an hour (yeah, the independent napping thing pooped the bed as soon as Ethan got his first cold--then it was right back on Mommy). I have plenty of time to blog. I just don't. I sit and watch TV. Ugh.

And I stopped reading other peoples' blogs, with a few exceptions. Amy, Becki and KMW still got my daily attention, because we all went through similar pregnancies and because Becki and KMW just had their little miracles (congrats, girls!). But the blogs I usually read simply for a laugh--"eh, why bother??" is how I've been feeling. Seriously. Why bother clicking on that link and running my eyes over the words on the page that pops up? Why bother laughing? Sigh....

So I dragged my sorry butt to the doctors, said, "PPD" and walked out with Zoloft. Husband & I used to laugh at the gloomy little bouncing ball in the commercial, bouncing his way over to the other, happier balls. Now I am that mopey little bouncing ball. Depression isn't new to me, so I think deep down I've known it's been gnawing it's way back into my life for the past few months. But how do you admit, when you are supposed to be at your very happiest, that there is a part of you that feels so utterly alone and lost?

Yes, poor me. It's all so melodramatic. I just wanted to explain where I've been and why I've been neglecting the blog. Hopefully now I will be able to kick my butt in gear and write more regularly. I have no intention of turning this into my PPD blog; that sadness is something that feels totally separate from my relationship with Ethan (ironic, isn't it?) and this blog is about him and how wonderful watching him grow has been and continues to be. And to prove it, check this one out...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

One Year Ago Today...*

We made this:

I think it was a pretty good year...

*thanks to Amy S for the idea

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Years ago, after a devestating breakup, I dragged my weepy ass to a therapist and began the uphill climb out of a mind-numbing depression. Among other things the therapist did to help me untangle the mess that had become my life, she gave me the assignment of joining a yoga class. I was so utterly disconnected from myself and wrapped in a blanket of self-loathing (if he didn't love me, how could I possibly be of any worth??), she thought enrolling in yoga would, at the very least, force me to concentrate for one hour on something other than the emptiness that consumed me the other 23 hours of the day.

I half-heartedly attended a class at my gym. I spent much of the class just hoping I could get into the postures and not fart while I was in them. I definitely rolled my eyes at a lot of the soothing "oommms" and whatnot during the class. I was distracted by the sound of the racquet ball cout adjacent to our "studio". I certainly didn't focus on my breathing.

Until the end. The last pose, Savasana, the "corpse pose", isn't really a pose at all; it is "simply" lying still on your mat and allowing all your stress to drain away through your breathing. The instructor takes you on a tour of your body, from toes to head, telling you to release the stress from each part of your being. Something inside me broke open in those few minutes of listening to myself breathe. I found myself sobbing as silently as possible as, for the first time in months, maybe even years, I felt, for a moment, a fleeting sense of ME, of who I was. The instructor read a short piece at the front of the room about self-acceptance and I felt the cool tears slide down the sides of my face and into my ears.

I went to yoga two times a week for the next four years. I broke free of the depression, eventually I started to feel whole again and got on with my life.

Today I took my son to a Mommy & Me yoga class for the first time. I had signed up for the instructor's prenatal yoga class and irony of all ironies, was put on bedrest the very day I was to attend the first class. So much for that. But I always dreamed of being the cool, hip, yoga mat-toting mother who zens-out with her peaceful, placid infant.
Of course, some of you may know that my son is anything but peaceful and placid. I may have mentioned here in one of any numer of posts and some of you have witnessed the famous melt-downs in person. Others still don't believe in the demon-child that resides in my son and comes out when he's not being held to his satisfaction or when he is otherwise miffed at the unfairness of the life of a baby ( I mean, all that breast-feeding and napping--what a raw deal). Anyway, suffice it to say that I spent much of the day leading up to the class in fear that my child would be the only child screaming and wailing in a mad attempt to ruin everyone's zen-buzz.
But something amazing happened. My drop-of-a-hat freaker-outter turned into uber-mellow buddha baby. The class was hardly yoga as those unfettered by little humans know it. There was crying, baby farts and stopping mid-sun salutation to drop onto the floor, whip out the boob and nurse. But Ethan was all smiles, all curiosity and all "whatcha doing?" as I stretched and breathed my way to some vague sense of peacefulness. He was mesmerized by the other babies, and the yoga instructor's voice, always soothing and sing-songy at times, captured his attention to the point that he forgot that I wasn't holding him every. single. second.
At the end, in Savasana, I laid next to Ethan on the mat, closed my eyes and tried to relax. He spent most of the deep relaxation time playing with my face. I took a moment to drink in the feeling of his little breath on my face and his curious fingers getting to know mommy's features. I thought for a moment about my body's recent struggles and "incompetence". I thought about how I have beaten myself up for months that I couldn't have a normal pregnancy like normal women and how I will never carry another baby. I haven't talked a lot about it, but it's been on my mind.
I realized--I have let myself get caught up in so much negativity in my own sense of my body and self--not nearly as badly as I have in the past, but enough for the lightbulb to go off. Enough for me to realize that I have to let those sad feelings go and appreciate what my body did accomplish and how amazing it is to have that accomplishment lying next to me, breathing with me and zen'ing out. I can't wait 'til next Wednesday...
And so here he is, showing that he can do yoga in his crib, even without a class--in a perfect "child's pose"....Zen Master E

"Mommy, look! Ommmmmmmm....."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Choosing My Battles...

And by that, I mean, coming to the realization that I am indeed, Ethan's bitch.

It just so turns out that unless you want to deal with a red-faced, silently screaming infant, you pretty much have to let them sleep when they want to and where they are comfortable. Huh, go figure. You would have thought that considering babies are so tiny and all that, they'd be pretty easy to convince, "Hey, it's nap time. Close those eyes and take a little nappy-poo in the crib that Daddy and I spent a crapload of money on. Enjoy those cushy bumpers and crib sheet that cost Mommy a freaking arm and leg."

But no. Babies have an idea of where they want to sleep and I'll give you one's on their mom. Not next to their mom or near their mom. Nope. ON their mom. And I'm the Mom. That means I am the crib. ku-ku-ka-choo...

Since day 1 (really, since day 7 when he was evicted from his tanning bed in the NICU), Ethan has preferred to nap in the crook of my right arm. Swaddled, unswaddled, naked, or onesied-up, this child insists that a good nap can only be had during the day if he can be sure his mother is completely incapable of doing anything but typing one-handed and watching TV. This is stay-at-home-momness at it very finest.

I haven't really minded it. It means I get a front-row seat for one of my very favorite things in life--my baby's yawn. I cannot describe how adorable it is to see a baby open that little tiny mouth, throw his head back and then exhale the yawn out in a little puff of baby-breath air. The best is when he grumbles after it, like a crotchety old man. It's the freakin' BEST.

the fabulous baby yawn...

However, now he's four months old and I am starting to realize that if I don't make some changes, and soon, I am going to be lugging around twenty pounds worth of clingy baby before I can say, "My right arm has been asleep for a year...."

So for the past few days, I have been attempting a "transition" with Ethan. It's called the "I'll make you think I'm letting you nap on me and then....switcheroo, sucker!!" Fans of "Friends" will realize it is something akin to the move Chandler tries to teach Ross so that Ross can lead Rachel to believe they are cuddling at night when really, they're not. On the show, it is the "hug for her, roll for you" technique and consists of hugging the girl realllllly tightly once she's asleep and then, rolling her over to her side of the bed and slowly slipping your arm away.

Yes, there is a mother/baby version of this and it consists of rocking, cuddling and the like until little E is drowsy to the point of no return. This is a good point to put the plan in action. It involves moving to a big blanket in the middle of the room and lying down together, still all cuddly. Once we've been lying down for a few minutes, I have, four times now, been able to, slide my way sloooooooowly away from the little man and give my arm a much needed opportunity to, well, move.

I feel almost guilty that I have deceived him into thinking he will be spending the duration of his nap all snug in mommy's arm, but then I dare to imagine the freedom of two entirely free arms for an hour, or...or two!! Ah, to dream the impossible dream.

Sadly, my arms have only remained free for about twenty minutes at a stretch because the little man is on to me. He will lie there, as peaceful as can be and oh-so-cute and then, just as I am letting my guard down, maybe daring to pick up a book, as if by baby radar he senses that I am not, in fact, holding him. Then there is some crying and a bit of Mommy running to the rescue, to start the whole process again at the next nap. Dammmmmmmmmmmn. I am his bitch.

So, I will leave you with a couple images of my commander in chief.

shhhhhhh, don't wake the baby, or my right arm...

Ethan's first solo nap...

Monday, September 04, 2006

September 5th--Four Months...

Dear Baby Boy,

Has it really been four months already? I cannot believe how the days blur together and have brought us here to this point. At this moment you are downstairs cuddling with Daddy. You’ve had a very sleepy day because you are smack dab in the middle of some kind of superhuman growth spurt. We took you to the National Zoo today and you slept through the entire thing. Grampy Schuster says when you wake up tomorrow you’ll be walking and doing your own laundry. And while Mommy would love the extra help with the housework, I can’t help but be happy that tomorrow you will still be my little baby boy, because I am starting to realize just how fast the time is flying.

Man, are you two shopping again? I'm just going to kick back and snooze.

This month it is all about the mouth. Yours, that is. It’s been busy, that’s for sure. It has been making a lot more noise and has been mighty curious about everything around it. You are showing all the classic signs of the first stages of teething—drool that will not quit (if baby drool was of value in any way, we would be rich, I tell you, rich!!), an intense, almost desperate need to suck and “chew” on your fingers, or mine if they are available, and an ability to be soothed at times only by something coooooold on your gums. It blows me away that at some point, a little white tooth is going to pop out of those perfectly pink little gums of yours!

Daddy, you're funny...looking!

You have also been experimenting with sounds this month—you’re making a lot of them. Coo’ing sounds, a-coo’ing sounds (apparently that “a” sound at the beginning is very important, so thank goodness you’re making it!) and chuckling throaty giggles compete for “airtime” and you’ve developed one particular cry that Daddy and I can’t help but smile at. When you are not really hurting or in need of anything, but are Mr. McGrumpstein, for no apparent reason, you pout your lip and literally say “wah” at us in the snootiest little tone. Just once. As if to say, “Really, people. I’m pissed. You’d better fix it. Now.” All that accomplished with just one, “Wah” and a pouty bottom lip. I could eat you up.

How you doin'?

Your hands are another area of great development this month. You’ve decided that when they aren’t in your mouth, or gripping my hands to shove them in your mouth, they should be exploring the world around them. This has led you to finally grasping at objects—particularly rings on your play mat. I loved the look of “what the hell did I just do??!!” the first time you actually got your fingers closed around the ring. After mastering the ring-grab, you decided to move on to your crinkly fabric books. You can’t get enough of those and apparently they taste pretty good, too.

Hello, you delectable, crinkly book. I will look at your shiny parts; then I will eat.

Aside from Mommy and Daddy, the one true love of your life right now is the lamb-y mobile above your crib. I know, without fail, I can put you in your crib for 5-10 minutes, crank that sucker up and you will watch the fluffy little guys dance round and round and play their tinkling little song and you will babble away happily until they stop spinning. There really isn’t anything else you own that makes you as happy as that mobile at this point. I love to watch your smile when it comes into view—it’s like you’re recognizing friends.

Penny is starting to realize that you're not going away. She's not too thrilled.

You’ve been around a lot more people this month, too! Mommy and Daddy went out to celebrate their first anniversary at a real restaurant, wearing real clothes and ordering real wine! This means you got to hang out for the evening with your first babysitters, our friends Chrisanne and Jason. Fortunately for them you were feeling mellow and sleepy that evening and didn’t give them a hard time at all. We also spent time with our friends Jamie and Veronica and their little girl, Chloe—you two have shared Chloe’s pack and play, and this month you shared play mats as well, with great success. Mommy and Daddy have taken you out to dinner with them several times now and each time you give us a little bit of time to relax and eat before you NEEEEEEED to be held.

Ethan and Chloe digging the play mat scene...

Last week I went to a mother’s group at the hospital where you were born. You were the oldest baby there and you were such a champ! It was the first time you were around so many people and you were just fascinated to look at all the other faces and listen to all the other sounds in the room. Seeing the other moms with their teeny tiny newborns made me realize just how far we’ve come.

Daddy went away on his first business trip this month, so you and I got to spend some serious quality time together. We generally spend our days together, but when 6pm rolls around and Daddy comes down the stairs from his office, it’s “Daddy time!!” from then until bed. But for 48 hours this month, it was all Mommy, all the time. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about doing the whole parenting thing all on my own for 2 days straight, but you picked those 2 days to be the best little boy in the world and we got through it without any stress at all. Thanks for looking out for your mom. I owe you one.

Hey, who's that handsome guy in the mirror?!

You did, however, give me quite a bit of grief just this past weekend when you decided for 24 hours that the boob just wasn’t your thang. Yes, my dear boy, you pulled a good old-fashioned nursing strike and threw your mother into a tizzy the likes of which few have ever seen. From 5am Saturday until 5am Sunday, almost exactly 24 hours, you acted like my boobs were kryptonite to your Superbaby super powers. There was screaming. There was twisting and arching. There were all KINDS of protestations at the mere indication that a boob might be within nursing range. Fortunately this inexplicable phenomenon only lasted 24 hours and by 5am Sunday morning, you were once again a milkshake lovin’ fool. Thank god. Don’t do that again. Mommy doesn’t need more grey hair. When you’re older she’s going to want people to believe that she had you at a very young age, and all that grey ain’t going to help…

You still look so much like Daddy, but some people are finally starting to say they see me in there somewhere as well. We were shopping for clothes the other day and a woman stopped us just to tell us how beautiful you are. We know. J Your eye lashes are still a mile long and your eyes have parked at this beautiful grey color. Your smile is to die for; even when you are sucking on your pacifier, your smile is so clear through your eyes. It’s just too much! We’re still waiting for your hair to fill in beyond the patches that you were born with. Of course, those patches continue to grow, so you have some serious bangs going right now, but not a lot on the sides. I wonder if the cute, too-young-to-practice-medicine doctor will spike your hair back up again at your appointment next week. .

Just try to resist me. You can't.

Today we got you a new play mat, complete with brighter colors and more hanging, squeaking things. You managed to be fascinated for an entire 30 minutes while we ate dinner with Grammy and Grampy Schuster. This was after the deep naps you take with your growth spurts and I couldn’t wait to see what you would be trying to do once you woke up. Sure enough, aside from more pronounced giggles and grabbing at objects, you have decided to start trying to roll again. There have been no rolls since the first one mentioned last month, but this evening you rolled from belly to back without even really trying and then you set to work at trying to roll from back to belly. So far you are only getting up on your side, but I can’t wait until tomorrow to see what kind of progress you make. I love watching the concentration on your face as you try to figure out which arm moves with which leg to make things work.

Mr. Tummy Time--he drools, he rolls, he looks too cute to be real!

Little man, you are the love of my life. Sometimes just looking at you takes my breath away completely and I cannot remember a world in which you didn’t exist. Each day brings some new experience or discovery. The month ahead of us holds all kinds of adventures—your 4 month check up, our Mommy and Me yoga class, more outdoor time as the weather starts to cool down enough to be outside without melting into little puddles of ick. I can’t wait to see what I have to say about September when our next monthly check in comes along. I love you to itty bitty pieces, my prince.

Love, Mommy