Thursday, September 21, 2006


Starting on Tuesday afternoon, Eleanor is refusing the breast at random. Tuesday she was fine in the morning and started refusing in the evening, even though she was starving. We had to give her a bottle of pumped milk before she went to bed. (She then slept through the night - 10 pm - 6 am - for the first time, but I don't think it was related.)

Yesterday she refused the breast first thing in the morning, but took it 4 times during the day; then in the late afternoon she started refusing again. She seems perfectly happy most of the time, but when she starts to act hungry and I offer her the breast, she screams at the mere sight of it. So again, she got a bottle of EBM before bed. This time, she slept much worse than usual. Who knows? When she woke up around midnight, she nursed. Then at 3:30, she refused and drank part of a bottle. At 7:15, she nursed. So we'll see. I am noticing that it's mostly the right side she's refusing - all but one of the times she's nursed in the last few days, it's been from the left side. I think I'm going to call the ped and ask about a possible earache on the right, although like I said, she seems perfectly happy as long as she's not looking at my right boob.

I have pumped more in the last few days than I have since her birth, and I'm already sick of it. Bleh.

We should have named her Norma Rae.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Step Away From The Parenting Manuals

When Andy and I were first dating, I was surfing the internet one day at work (some things never change...) and came across a site devoted to The Rules, that sick-making relationship book that advised women to pretend to be total bimbos in order to get married. I was bored, so I started poking around on the site and the forums, and then it was like a train wreck that I couldn't look away from.

According to The Rules, I learned, I was doing absolutely everything wrong in my new relationship. We were spending almost all our time together; we'd slept together within a few weeks of dating; he'd seen me without makeup. According to The Rules, Andy was due to drop me like a hot potato any old time now, since I'd "lost my mystery."

Now, obviously, I thought this was the biggest pile of bullshit I'd ever heard. And yet...for some reason I couldn't stop reading those forums. And for some reason, even though I really didn't believe in any of it, that little voice in my head started to say, "but what if you're wrong, and they're right? what if your certainty that this is BS is wrong?"

I clearly have anxiety issues and always have, and it was a tough situation to be in, -- pretty sure I knew what was right for me, and yet unable to silence that little 1% of doubt. It was hard for me, and it made the beginning of our relationship a lot less enjoyable than it should have been. Of course, we got married anyway, so obviously the Rules bimbos can suck it.

Do I sound like a head case yet? Just wait.

So here I am, embarking on the second biggest change in my life, after getting married - having a child. And even though I've always had definite ideas about what kind of parent I would/wanted to be, I fell prey to the same situation.

It started when I was looking up information on breastfeeding in those first days home from the hospital, when I wasn't sure if Eleanor's 5-minute feeds were normal. I started with "So That's What They're For!" which several people had recommended to me. It's supposed to be a lighthearted but informative book about breastfeeding. Personally, I found it neither. It was poorly organized and low on concrete information, and it made breastfeeding sound about as much fun as a prison sentence.

I moved on to my giant AAP "Caring for Your Baby and Young Child" tome, which gave advice that seemed much saner. I felt better. I should have stopped there. Did I? Of course not! I looked up information online. And discovered Attachment Parenting.

It was The Rules all over again. I knew right away that this was a philosophy that was not and never would be for me, but I couldn't stop reading. (And to get slightly off topic, here's something that really annoys me--why does so much breastfeeding information out there make it sound like you can't breastfeed without also co-sleeping, strapping the baby to your body 24/7, and refusing to take even a moment for yourself? Isn't it possible to feed the baby and not make an entire lifestyle out of it? It's enough to make me want to stop altogether - not that I will, but still.)

Anyway, postpartum hormones and new-mother anxiety combined with the stuff I was reading to make the last few weeks kind of hellish. I KNOW I love my baby more than life itself and that I want the best for her, and that I don't have to sleep with her or "wear" her all day to prove it. And yet...there's that little voice again. What if Dr. Sears is right and I'm wrong after all? What if my crib-sleeping, stroller-pushed, binky-sucking, bedtime-ritualed, occasional-bottle-of-expressed-milk-drinking little daughter ends up at the top of a clock tower, sighting down the barrel of a rifle, sobbing, "Mommy WENT BACK TO WORK! And she didn't let me sleep in her bed! AND SHE GAVE ME A BINKY!"

Edit: I should clarify here that I'm not equating something like The Rules for relationships with Attachment Parenting as a philosophy. I think The Rules are actively harmful to relationships, whereas AP is just a style that's different from mine. I don't think it screws up kids or's just that I take issue with it being presented as the ONLY way to raise well-adjusted kids.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Ugly

On a lighter note...

The other day I was out with the baby in the town center, running errands. I was walking down the street when I heard someone calling out, "Hey, lady? Hey!"

It finally registered that someone was trying to get my attention. My first thought was that I'd put the carseat on the stroller wrong without realizing it, or that someone was going to opine that the baby needed a hat.

When I turned around, it was a very elderly man with no teeth, sitting in the passenger side of a parked car at the curb. He leaned out the window and leered, "Hey, lady...going my way?"

Hey, I may have a seven-week-old baby, but I've still got it!

The Bad

OK, I finally have some time while Eleanor takes a nap.

I'm thrilled that she's here, but I am having a little trouble adjusting, I think. It's not the "baby blues" of the first two weeks, where I was sleep-deprived and crying and worried I'd made a big mistake. Whatever this is, it's manifesting itself in extreme self-doubt and anxiety. Which is not new for me, but motherhood gives it a whole new thing to attach to.

Basically I feel like I can't do anything right. How much should I be holding her? What kinds of things should I be doing with her when she's awake? Is it OK to put her in the swing for half an hour while I take a shower? Am I wrong to want her to sleep in her own bed, eventually even in her own room?

When she's awake, we sit in her room and play on her playmat. She'll lie on her back and look in the mirror, or at the dots and stripes on the arches. I'll flip her to her tummy and encourage her as she lifts her head and tries to roll over. I'll hold her upright, her favorite thing, and let her look into my eyes. I'll sing to her and make the "heh, heh, heh" noise to make her laugh. I'll read her a story, if she's willing to sit still long enough.

And once I've done all that, half an hour or so has gone by and she's still awake. And I have no idea what else to do. And, frankly, my arms are tired and I'm, well, a little bit bored.

We'll go to the mall in her stroller, and I'll look around at all the other moms with their strollers and wonder if they made up reasons to be there, like I did, just so I could get out of the house.

I'll go to lunch with two women I know from college who are home raising their kids, and then feel cold inside as they spend the whole time talking about how useless their husbands are (good men that I went to school with, men I've known as long as I've known them) and how their babysitters "preserve their sanity."

Other times, I'll go meet Andy for lunch at his office, and we'll sit outside on the MIT campus and eat lunch while the sun shines and a nice breeze blows and Eleanor coos at us, and I think I couldn't possibly be happier.

I'll nurse Eleanor in the recliner in her room, and she'll finish with a soft little sigh of satisfaction and fall asleep on my lap, and I think I could stay there forever.

I used to read five or six books a week. I haven't gotten through an entire one since Eleanor was born. I miss it.

I tried a politically correct baby sling and hated it. I returned it and bought a secondhand Bjorn.

I guess I just feel isolated. I don't know many other women at home, and the ones I do know, well, we don't have a lot in common. I try to get out as much as I can, but it's usually just Eleanor and me. I need to try harder to go to museums, and the zoo, and places like that instead of inventing errands to run.

And I feel so guilty that I feel this way. Aren't I supposed to be submerged in domestic bliss, or something? How can I love my baby and still feel this way? And then other times I get mad - why should I feel guilty? I'm still me. I should still have my own identity. Shouldn't I?

I'm trying to put Eleanor down for a nap whenever she seems really tired. Most of the time I guess right and she goes to sleep. Sometimes I guess wrong, and she's crying for me five minutes later, wide awake. And then I wonder, did I really think she was tired, or was I just hoping she was so I could check my e-mail?

I'm totally rambling. Is this making sense to anyone? Am I horrible?

I don't want to raise my daughter to feel this all-encompassing guilt.