Thursday, June 30, 2011

So I'm supposed to have sex now, eh?

I had my six week check up last week (at seven weeks), and was asked what method of birth control I plan on using. I think abstinence is going to work just fine for us. For a number of reasons. Unlike many new mothers, I'm not healing from any ravages of the birth canal, and yet when my OB checked my cervix, it felt a lot like making sweet love to a red hot poker covered with knives. And of course my lack of interest in the whole enterprise is quite profound. And then there are some logistical issues. So maybe some of you can report on your experiences and at least help with the latter?

For example, I've heard that my breasts might leak when I become sexually aroused. While I don't expect to ever become sexually aroused again in my life, I'm wondering precisely what we're talking about here. A little dripping? A geyser of milk? And how do you handle this, exactly? Do you have a frank discussion with your partner at some point prior to engaging? And how do partners tend to feel about the whole MILK thing? Does it gross them out? And then there's the fact that nipple simulation tends to be pretty integral to me having an orgasm, but my nipples are still quite tender, and I'm not sure I want them used for recreational purposes. So maybe I should just keep some clothes on, to avoid the whole issue? Perhaps a ratty old t-shirt, all covered with spit-up?

Then there's the question of where and when. We've always tended to have sex at night in our bed, but there's now another occupant. Do we stash her in her crib and try to ignore her? Isn't she guaranteed to wake up and start shrieking the moment we get started? And while I have lots of experience with joyless timed intercourse under pressure, I never got particularly good at it. And now, the whole idea of going from 0 to 60 in thirty seconds, knowing a baby might start fussing at any moment... How am I supposed to keep my head in the game?

And finally, will my sex drive (poor beaten-up old thing) revive before my husband loses patience? Does he even want to be getting laid right now? (I mean, obviously I should ask HIM, but I though perhaps some of you were pleasantly surprised to discover your partner wasn't even interested when you got around to broaching the subject.) And if your partner isn't interested, is it because you're a saggy old milkbag?

I will certainly talk about all of this with my husband, but if you have any thoughts, do share. And if you don't want to share with the whole internet, you can e-mail me at lampreychildATgmailDOTcom.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I thought Bun Bun's first smile would be like the sun appearing from behind a cloud--you know, with angels singing and so forth? But no. It turns out it's a lot like feeling her move for the first time. There's a certain amount of OH! WAS THAT IT?! IS SHE SMILING!?! Oooo! Oooo! And then I'd palpate her belly to see if she was instead straining to take a shit. Romantic, huh? But while not as black and white as I expected, it has certainly happened, and is certainly a magical thing.

So then I tried to capture it on film. After about 50 shots, this was a close as I could get.

Skeptical. Vaguely annoyed. Thinking, Mama is tiresome. Almost like happy, right?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Warning: Things are going well

This is a post about the fact that things are going well. So if things are not going well in your corner of the world, go have a drink. Or read this and smack me for my bragging. But I think people who do not yet have babies but who are likely to have babies (pregnant-after-IF women who are, say, 39 weeks pregnant, and of course FERTILE WHORES) might like to know that things CAN go well.

Summary Version: I live in the land of fairy tales, where unicorns eat roses out of my hand as I comb my golden locks with a golden comb and drink golden tequila.

More Detailed Version: For the first few weeks of Bun Bun's life, Mr. Bunny kept saying things like We have an easy baby! Or...She sleeps so well! Or She never cries! And I'd freak out because it was so obviously hubristic to say such things, and plus, you have no idea what kind of baby you have when she's only a few weeks old. But enough time has passed that it seems only fair to acknowledge Bun Bun is in fact an easy baby.

For me, the tipping point came a couple of weekends ago, when we cleaned the house. While we normally clean once a month, we haven't bothered since a week before Bun Bun was born. We stay on top of things, so it's not like there were stacks of dirty dishes crawling with cockroaches or anything, but the dust drifts and trails of breastmilk droplets had gotten pretty horrifying.  (To be honest, I'm extremely neat, so it was only my iron will that kept me from ripping my face off at the state of things.) The night before, I was convinced we could never pull it off. I mean, we have a brand new baby--how on earth were we going to clean an entire two-story house? I imagined Bun Bun abandoned in a pile of old newspapers, screaming her lungs out, while Mr. Bunny hit the nearest bar and I hid in a closet, clutching a duster and trembling. But no. It went off without a hitch. In fact, turns out it's a lot harder to clean when nine months pregnant than with a month-old baby. Because unlike a fetus, your partner can hold the baby some of the time. (Try that with a fetus and you'll NEVER get it back in your uterus.) And since Mr. Bunny's primary duty is vacuuming, he could do it with Bun Bun in a baby carrier. Aside from taking a break to feed her a couple times, it was much like a normal housecleaning day. Ergo, we have an easy baby.

So, what does it mean to have an easy baby? Well, it clearly doesn't mean that breastfeeding is fun and trouble-free. If you're reading this on two hours of sleep with mastitis just so you can have the pleasure of smacking me, do keep in mind the BLOODY NIPPLES of yore. But although nursing is still not perfect, it's all been made much more bearable because Bun Bun only eats every two hours during the day. And she eats very quickly. She sucks down the contents of a single breast in about five minutes and is satisfied. So this means a nursing session only takes about half an hour. Which means that I can get shit done in between. Like, I made these.

Lavender sachets for the Bun Bunnery. And now all her tiny clothes smell lovely.

And, Bun Bun sleeps at night and only requires one middle of the night feeding. Generally she eats at 9 PM, at 3:30 AM, and at 8. That's right. 8 AM. Which is morning by any definition. And because she only uses one side at a time I can pump the other side at 3:30 AM, thereby slowly building up a stash without any particular effort.

AND...she is easily soothed and does not cry unless greatly aggravated. She grunts and squeaks a lot, but all those baby soothing techniques we studied up on have been totally unnecessary. Which sort of makes it all the more alarming when she does cry, but she has never cried for more than about thirty seconds.

I understand that by putting all of this in writing, I am ensuring that it will end today. That from this day forth she will insist on being fed every thirty seconds and never sleep again and scream ceaselessly. But just as I wanted to record the details of how breastfeeding was not completely easy so that I could never pretend it was, I want to record the fact that pretty much everything else HAS been easy, so that I can never pretend it wasn't.

And yet, this will not prevent me from complaining about various things, as I am an ungrateful cow.

I'm ready for my smackings now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I hate you, In Laws

Dear Father in Law,
Thank you for inviting yourself and your high-maintenance wife to stay with us, and for deciding that it would be a great treat if you made us dinner. I am not entirely sure why you wanted to make avocado soup with avocados that you brought from Massachusetts, because are they IN SEASON there or something? Or is it because they TRAVEL WELL? And I am not sure why the resulting soup had a disgustingly suety flavor, but it was one of the most unpleasant things I've eaten in a long-ass time, and eating it without visibly gagging required me to pretend I was participating in some kind of horrible game show.

I digress. What I really wanted to say is this: your cooking a revolting meal for us falls short of being helpful when you destroy my kitchen in the process, creating a mess of epic proportions. And alas, your offer to clean up is worth very little, as 1) it comes only after I have completed most of the work and 2) I know you will wash things without soap or hot water because you are some kind of backwards hippie, and everything in the entire universe will be coated with a scum of avocado.
Yours in Suppressed Rage,

P.S. I hate you.

Actually, my in-laws are perfectly nice people. There's a mother in law, who is pushy and pisses me off, but is not actually a monster (unlike Jen's), a sister in law who is also pushy and always comes with a plan that does not necessarily match MY plan, and a dog that likes to nip at me any time I move, which I find a bit unacceptable but my sister in law apparently finds just dandy, and a father in law plus stepmother in law, who are new-agey and have a lot of health requirements, but are also kind, loving people. So it is a bit of a surprise to find myself HATING all of them. I'd have thought having some shared genetic material would bring us closer, but instead, I find myself bristling at the mere mention of their names. There's all this extra hostility, and I'm not sure where it comes from. Maybe it's the fact that I've seen a lot of them and not a lot of my family, and they've all oohed and aaahed over how much Bun Bun looks like her father and I feel left out. Or maybe it's some territorial thing where I want to exclude all outsiders that are not related to me by blood?

Anyway, I can always comfort myself with the fact that Bun Bun has MY last name and not Mr. Bunny's. SO THERE.

We took our baby OUT IN PUBLIC. Several times since I wrote that post about taking our baby out in public, in fact. Our local botanical garden has a cocktail hour on Wednesday evenings, and the promise of liquor amongst the topiaries was sufficient to lure us out of the house. With our baby. It was a good test case--alcohol* was present, but it was outdoors so we could always hide in a shrubbery if necessary. As it happens, it was not necessary--we drank our drinks and walked about like regular people. With a baby. I got two totally disfiguring mosquito bites on the FACE, and we went home.

Before leaving, we paused at the bench where I sat in August and wondered if we'd ever have a child. Little did I know, Bun Bun had already been created. Despite my total lack of faith in the possibility, her little cells were dividing away. It can happen, people. It really can.

But I didn't intend to get all nostalgic and shit, it just turned out to be a particularly poignant first recreational trip out.

So then, emboldened by our success, we went to BRUNCH, and then we went OUT TO DINNER. We sat outside and we went quite early, but still. Our favorite server came over and told us all about her trip to Europe, and I got drunk on a mojito.* It was pleasant.

*I missed a lot of opportunities to have a cocktail during all those might-be-but-of-course-was-not-pregnant-cycles...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Are YOU my mama? Number One: I'm afraid of the water.

As I figure out who the hell this MAMA person is, I've been rummaging through the old memories. I decided to share some of the contents, so I'm planning a series. It's never a good idea to announce a series when you might never get around to the second installment, but hey. Perhaps it will be an extremely short series.

So: I'm afraid of the water.

This is what it looks like when I go to the beach.

Not in an I'm actually phobic way, just in an I don't like swimming way. I trace my discomfort with water back to early childhood. When I was four, my parents divorced and after some shuffling, my mother moved us to a tiny town in northern New Mexico. We lived in a house with no electricity and no plumbing. Because she'd recently gotten divorced, because (I learned much later) she had recently had an abortion after getting knocked up by another man, because she was living in a house with no electricity or plumbing with two young children, in a town where we were the only white folks, thus she must have felt some social ostracism, because we were extremely poor, because of all these things, she became clinically depressed. I don't blame her. When I contemplate dealing with young children absent the ability to do a hundred loads of laundry an hour, well...  But in case it's not obvious, clinical depression is hard on young kids (as is divorce and social ostracism).

Being poor and rural, one of the things we did for fun was hang out by the river. My mother would set me and my brother free and lie on the bank. Probably trying not to drown herself, now that I think of it... It was very isolated, and very, very beautiful.

A wonderful playground for children, really. The kind of thing I want Bun Bun to experience. Minus the surrounding context of doom. Oh, and I think I'll probably TEACH HER TO SWIM first.*

But I began having a recurring nightmare. Now, some of you may be dubious, given the low capacity for consolidation and recall of episodic memory in young children, but I had this nightmare for years, and believe it started when I was maybe six years old. In the nightmare, I am playing in the river with my brother, and then the river carries me away. Far, far away. From my family, from everything familiar. And then I come to a waterfall, and as I'm about to go over, I wake up.

So what does this have to do with anything, you ask?

This part of my childhood contained some amazing things. Living as we did gave me a good understanding of just how little people need to get by, of what it might be like to live off the grid. And we had a lot of independence. Roaming the hills surrounding our town, and the river, gave us such an appreciation for the world. My brother and I have an impressive capacity for generating our own entertainment. And I also think having the experience of being the only family of your ethnicity in your little world is pretty useful for a white girl to have: not a lot of white people I know have been tormented and occasionally beaten up because of their race. So there was a lot about this part of my childhood that was valuable, if not always enjoyable.

But then I think of the nightmare, and the way it encapsulates all that was wrong about this part of my childhood. I mean, how much more clearly could my subconscious have said I DON'T FEEL SAFE?

And maybe I just don't like swimming. I don't like running, either, and it's not because I was traumatized, it's because...ewww, exercise. But it's also possible that water frightens me just a tad because I still don't feel safe. That it's a little quirk of my psyche, a little ghost from the past.

So what does this have to do with anything, you ask again?

Well, I wonder how to give a child the valuable parts of what I experienced, without the bad parts. It might seem obvious on the surface--give her some independence, but keep her safe. Expose her to new experiences, but don't go crazy with the novelty. But what about the value of adversity? It made me so strong, and is such an important part of me. How can I recreate that in a situation of relative privilege and security? How can I make sure Bun Bun is strong, independent, resourceful, and respectful...all without giving her nightmares?

*To be fair, it's a shallow river in most parts.

I've run out of ways to say

How much I hate this. Misfit Mrs. is very dear to me, and I am sick about this. If you can think of anything to say that might bring her the slightest bit of comfort, say it, 'cause I got nothing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Envying, bragging, guilt, and support

We have a book on the care and feeding of newborns*, and it says in a number of places If X is going really well, don't tell your friends with new babies, as they'll be envious. And it's so true. I've read a number of posts from other new mothers and felt envious. Sometimes of the most pathetic things. For instance, Trinity mentioned that her beets are flourishing, and I was like WAAAH! I haven't had time to thin my beets, plus they're doing that thing where they never turn into beeeeets! SOB! Which is, uh, ridiculous.

And in general, I've got no real cause for envy. I'd elaborate on the ways in which things are going well, but then you'd want to stab ME in the face. Because somehow it often sounds like bragging, even if it's just a statement of fact.

And then there's the fact that I have a baby and some of you don't, which makes me sad.

So I was thinking: Perhaps I need to broaden my horizons and start reading the weblogs of women who did not have trouble conceiving, but with whom I have other common ground. Perhaps get into conversations with people who have different experiences. So I found a weblog that looked interesting, and started reading through the archive to get to know the woman. And then I came upon the post wherein she announced her pregnancy. It took all the air out of my lungs in a way that was quite unexpected. I realized I'd actually never read such a thing before--a pregnancy announcement from someone who didn't realize how miraculous and tenuous that little life was. (Yeah, I'm not a big reader of weblogs in general--I just read yours.) I was astonished to find myself feeling all the despair and loneliness I used to feel every month, just as though nothing had changed. Weird, y'all. Apparently I'm highly conditioned. And then I didn't want to read any more.

So I don't know what to read (other than the things I'm already reading, of course).

And I don't know what to write.

I want to write about the way my husband's constant presence gets on my nerves, but I have a husband who works from home, which means I can shower every day. Would you like to read a post about how my husband's excessive helpfulness is annoying?

I want to write about the ways that our financial stability makes me anxious--how much growing up poor is part of my identity, how I worry that Bun Bun will lack creativity, resourcefulness, respect? Would you like to read a post about how I am TOO RICH?

I want to write about my fear that I can never go back to my job, how answering e-mails from my research assistants about the studies currently running in my lab makes me FUCKING DEPRESSED. Would you like to read a post about how I'm considering throwing away a tenured** position at a perfectly reasonable institution, something thousands of women struggle to achieve?

I want people to sympathize with my problems and offer support, though I'm not sure even I can sympathize with them. 

I should just get over myself, and stop obsessing over how others might react. Because I can't predict it, and anyway, it's not like these qualms kept me from calling everyone in Bionic's whole family a jackass.

I think this is all part of a larger realignment of identity that's going on right now, as I figure out who this Bunny-as-mother person is, as I contemplate the rest of my career, the rest of my marriage, the Rest of My Life.

*I really like it.

**Because I'll either be tenured soon after I return to work full time, or I won't, in which case I bet I'll be really sorry I ever thought I might not want this job.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Are all pediatricians jackasses?

We chose our pediatric practice because of their lactation support. That aspect has been great. (I don't know what I would have done without the wonderful Dr. Tits.) But the actual pediatricians have been appalling. We met with two while still in the hospital, and both were weirdly misogynistic and...yucky. First, there was the doctor who saw us the day after Bun Bun was born. She rubbed me the wrong way instantly by projecting some kind of weird body issues onto my tiny baby. I don't quite remember how it all worked (because I had a one-day-old and some pain meds), but it involved Bun Bun worrying that her ass was fat. I mean, woah. No way I want a woman like that around my child. She was also the doctor responsible for the supplemental nursing system, and in general, won my loathing by not answering any of my questions and by being dismissive.

Then there was the doctor who discharged us. Mr. Bunny and I both agree he's the biggest ASS we've met in a long time. Highlights:
  • Began by telling us that his father is the rabbi who performed an Important National Ceremony, and that there were over a thousand guests at his (the doctor's) wedding. Relevant HOW?
  • Continued by telling me that because I am a "professional woman", I will have certain attitudes and expectations about parenting that will prove problematic. He'd just met me and had no concept of who I was, perhaps because all he'd talked about was the importance of his father. Also, it was news to me that I am a PROSTITUTE. Also, what about the fact that Mr. Bunny is a professional man? What about his attitudes? Also, FUCK YOU. 
  • Moved on to saying I know you were worried about her weight, implying that the stupid SNS had been MY idea because I am a neurotic professional woman (it's all that sex for money that does it) who expects her baby to behave in a particular way, when in reality, I'd been perfectly content to let Bun Bun be Bun Bun.
By this point we were both writhing with suppressed fury, so when he said that having a baby was like having someone speaking Russian to you, I responded I speak Russian, and announced that he should wrap up as we had things to do.

So when we made the appointment for our one month checkup, we made it clear we didn't want to see either of those doctors ever again. Instead, we got an all new doctor, who was again super not interested in whether we had any questions or concerns. Plus I immediately wrote him off when he began a sentence with Studies Have Shown. How many sentences beginning that way have any value? Very few. And indeed, the rest of the sentence was something to the effect that babies who spend a certain number of hours doing non-nutritive sucking are less fussy than babies who don't. No shit. I presume that fussy is operationalized as making noise, so it would be equally fair to say that babies who are gagged for part of the day are less fussy. YOU DON'T FOOL ME.

There are five doctors in the practice, and we've blown through three. It's quite possible that the type of person this practice attracts is the type of person I am going to hate. But it's also possible that pediatrics attracts people I am going to hate. We meet number four in a couple of weeks, so I'll have an additional data point.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Public appearance

Yesterday Mr. Bunny and I were taking a walk around the neighborhood as we often do in the early evening, and he floated the idea of stopping by a local bar and having a drink. (Yes, I have the occasional drink despite being a nursing mother. If my pediatrician says it's okay, it's okay. Leave me alone.) I thought that sounded good, so we extended our normal route in that direction. But about a block away, I stopped. The idea of taking Bun Bun into an actual Place for Adults suddenly seemed crazy. For one thing, our water had been shut off due to a water main repair, so I'd sacrificed sleep to get up and shower before the shut off and was therefore cranky, while Mr. Bunny was grubby and disheveled...and therefore cranky. And I was wearing ratty flip flops and hadn't brushed my hair since that morning, and Bun Bun was in the Moby, and I knew as soon as I sat down she'd wake up and start fussing, and it was getting on towards time to feed her again... So we headed home.

I know that eventually we'll have to take her places (I mean, other than stopping by the falafel joint to pick up an order, or going to the grocery store, which is pretty much all we've done with her), because otherwise she'll grow up a bit defective. But for some reason, it's a big leap for me. I guess I'm afraid that she'll start shrieking and Child Protective Services will show up, and possibly also a S.W.A.T. team. Or maybe I'm afraid that someone will glare at me and shout GET THAT BABY OUT OF HERE, pointing to a sign on the wall that reads ABSOLUTELY NO BABIES ALLOWED. And then she'll make this face:

Even me? I'm a VERY GOOD baby.

And then we'll scurry home with her, and she'll make this face:

Home is the SHIT! Don't ever take me out again.

So I don't know. I guess eventually she'll be a teenager and won't want to go places with us anyway. Problem solved.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What the fuck, Universe?

Yesterday I took a tour of my weed-choked garden to discover that someone had eaten all the peas. One day they were innocently twining their way up the little trellises I so carefully placed for them, getting ready to flower, enjoying the sun and rain, and the next they are nothing but stumps. This sense of futility echos--in a way so trivial and minute that I hope it's not insulting--what I feel when I read Egghunt's news. Hope and potential and life...gone in the blink of an eye. I'm so sorry, my friend.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dispatches from the Breastern Front

I happened upon the following advice from a self-proclaimed breastfeeding expert: think of nursing as your special time with your baby. You know, because otherwise it can be tedious to spend so much of your life doing it? Well, nursing is certainly my special time with Bun Bun. My special painful, frustrating, awkward, I-dread-this-whole-experience time.

Okay, I'm exaggerating. Things have improved vastly since the BLOODY FISSURE days, and even at their worst, they were never as bad as many of you have had it. far. I'm making no assumptions that things won't take a turn for the horrible at any moment.

But they haven't improved a whole lot since my last dispatch. And what I'm finding difficult is this. I've reached a plateau and don't know how to get the rest of the way up the mountain. It makes me feel incompetent. Stupid. I mean what the FUCK! It's been almost five weeks of this, and as you can see from my chart, I've spent much of that five weeks practicing. Yet it still takes me several tries to get her on. It still hurts, though typically just on that initial latch. It's still incredibly awkward. In fact, I have sustained some wrist injuries because my tiny little arms are unable to support the weight of my big fat baby (during the period while I attempt to get her on, before I can stuff some pillows under her various parts, and yeah, I have a hand me down Boppy, which I find great for tipping her into me at a really weird angle, but useless for breastfeeding, and okay, she's probably only about nine pounds now, which makes me really impressed by those of you who have been wrangling giant babies from birth, although maybe giant babies make breastfeeding easier?). I've considered not feeding her ever again so that she won't get any heavier. Mr. Bunny says that's not a tenable plan. So now feeding involves ice packs and ace bandages.

And it's also incredibly MESSY! The moment I unleash a breast, milk goes shooting out everywhere, and at every failed latch, there's a geyser (often spurting into her eye, which I can't help but enjoy, in a So, you don't want to latch on? TAKE THAT! kind of way), plus a bunch dribbles down her I have to keep a towel on hand or end up sitting in a pool of milk. Of course, the towel turns out to be handy as once every few days she projectile vomits everything she's ever eaten since she was born all over me, which makes me cry.

So. When I imagine ever feeding her anywhere but in the comfort of my home, where I can assemble the wedge pillow for sitting up and the three or four other pillows for propping her up, and the towel, and the burp cloth for catching major spills, and the ice pack, and the ace bandage, and the nipple ointment, and the ItzBeen* and the notepad where I record feedings (screw iPhone apps! I'm old school!), and the water so I don't dehydrate instantly, and the handkerchief for when I weep...well, it seems unfathomable. Though it would be pretty funny if I opened up my diaper bag and pulled all that shit out...

But then I remember this. When I was in college, I got my first car--an ancient Volvo. I'd never driven stick before and had hardly driven at all, ever. I really couldn't drive for shit. My wonderfully patient boyfriend agreed to teach me, but I found it ridiculously hard. The coordination required was just too much for my tiny brain, plus the stress of not really knowing how to deal with other cars, plus the cantankerousness of an old vehicle... Many episodes ended in tears. I honestly wondered if I could do it.

One day we set out for a lesson, driving around my neighborhood, a semi-ghetto in Oakland, CA. The kind of neighborhood where everyone sits out on stoops drinking from bottles in brown paper bags, where the local crack-house is grudgingly tolerated, where I would constantly get mistaken for a prostitute when waiting for the bus. As I lurched around the block, stalling and grinding and stalling and squealing, I naturally attracted the interest of my stoop-sitting neighbors. A group of them put down their drinks and gathered round. They began shouting instructions, illustrating with their hands the movement of clutch and gas. Cheering me on. Their support totally chirked me up. I felt a wave of confidence. I can DO this! I thought. I can kick driving stick's ASS! And, I thought to myself, If I can do this, I can do ANYTHING.

I DID learn to drive stick. And that means I CAN learn to breastfeed. I just may need to take a quick trip to Oakland to get some encouragement.

*If you're having a baby, get one. You might not understand how it could possibly be useful, but I swear it is. Mr. Bunny thought it was totally stupid, then spent the first few weeks of Bun Bun's life apologizing to it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cake and data

Bun Bun is one month old today. It's a bit hard to wrap my head around. What have I been DOING for the past month?

In honor of this important occasion, we had cake. I also created a chart representing the intervals between Bun Bun's feedings for the past four weeks or so. Ever since the YOUR BABY IS WASTING AWAY TO NOTHING AND WILL SOON BE DEAD episode in the hospital, I've been writing down the times of her feedings. First it was to be able to provide information for the hospital nurses, the pediatrician, and the lactation consultants, but after a while, it was more about feeling like I'd accomplished something. Writing information down after every feeding makes me feel like my existence has some kind of form to it. And certainly, when I look at it, it's very clear what I've been doing for the past month.

How to read the chart: The x axis is days, and the y axis is a 24 hour period, with midnight at the bottom. Each colored block represents an interval from one feeding to the next. And on the right, you can get some information about scale.

Careful observers may note that:
A) There are usually only 8 feedings per day. I.e., my baby is not driving me insane by needing to eat every ten minutes. That may change at any moment, but while it lasts, I'm very grateful.

B) The first three bars (black-grey)--which represent the dreaded When We Would Like To Be Sleeping Times--are fairly large, typically in the three hour range. I hesitate to jinx myself, but...Bun Bun kind of sleeps at night. Which is merciful and amazing. Of course, we are not necessarily sleeping during those beautiful, long intervals. She grunts and squeaks (and now SHRIEKS) all through the night, all without waking up. Meaning she wakes us up for no reason. So at night our lives are about ignoring as much of this as possible until it seems clear she's actually hungry. (And trust me, I've tried feeding her any time she makes a peep, and it does not work out well for anyone.) I think this is a known downside of co-sleeping (we're doing the in-bed cosleeper): babies are fucking noisy. But for me, the fact that I don't have to go to another room to make sure she's still alive makes it all worthwhile. I should also point out that during some of those intervals, Mr. Bunny is watching international cricket matches with an awake Bun Bun while I sleep. Sux 2 B him. That said, in general I think we've gotten off quite easily for the past month, and I'm hopeful that month two will not bring about any radical changes. Unless they want to be in the direction of her sleeping even more--or even more quietly--at night--that would be okay.

C) There's probably something nonsensical about this chart, like what happens between days. Don't call me out on it, man. I'm not exactly at my intellectual best.

And of course, in spite of the FUCKING DEPRESSED (which I assure you is transient and not even all that frequent, and in fact hasn't reared its head in about a week, so who knows, maybe the moment I finally come up with a good name for it, it will vanish forever) I sure love my baby. I feel like this goes without saying, so there's no need to mention it. And it's also un-sayable, in the sense of not being easily put into words. But I mean, seriously, look at this tiny foot. How could I not be in love with a creature sporting such a tiny foot?

I totally am, heart and soul.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


My bother's wife is totally my role model for parenting. She seems to do a great job of maintaining some semblance of self while being primary caregiver, and has always been delightfully honest about the ups and downs of parenting. A few months ago, she dispensed the following words of wisdom: Baby Blues is a bunch of bullshit. You will be FUCKING DEPRESSED.

Now I see what she means. It totally chaps my hide that my options are either Baby Blues, which is deeply infantilizing and dismissive, or Postpartum Depression, which is Extreme and Serious. I mean, I can see why people would want to dismiss the hormonal storms--exacerbated by sleep deprivation--that sweep through the brains of new mothers. Even during the entire day I spent lying listlessly in bed, feeling emotionally disconnected from my child, hating my husband, and weeping, some part of me maintained perspective. I could tell that it was not as bad as it felt. So presumably the LOATHSOME terminology (oooo, she's got de widdle baby bwoosey woosies) is intended to minimize the seriousness of the experience and remind you that what you're going through is normal and transient. But I'm a grown fucking woman and do not experience the blues, so why the fuck would I experience the baby blues?

Similarly, PPD describes something clinical, and is clearly not applicable at the moment. Deo volente, it never will be.

There is clearly a need for some new terminology, terminology that acknowledges that the experience is SUPER UNPLEASANT and not at all cutesy. In me, it's manifested itself as periods, ranging from a few hours to whole days, of deep despair and intense irritation. Mainly the irritation has been directed at Mr. Bunny, but there have been a few times I've wanted to claw my face off while trying to feed Bun Bun, and once when she swiped my bleeding nipple with her talons, I had to set her down and take A Moment. (Please don't call Child Protective Services--I promise I'm not going to shake my baby.) So while I know it's circumstantial, just like all the depression I experienced while desperately trying to HAVE this baby was circumstantial, I insist on calling it something other than Baby Blues.

I'm going with FUCKING DEPRESSED. And I urge other new mothers to adopt this terminology. When your patronizing partner--the one who spends most of his or her time with a smiling, happy baby, and none of his or her time with bleeding nipples--suggests that your tempestuous weeping is the Baby Blues, retort: No, it isn't. I'm Fucking Depressed. Or when any one of the many women who has forgotten what it's like to go through this--your obnoxious mother-in-law, your whoreish fertile friend who had no problems breastfeeding and who had a drug-free four hour labor and didn't tear at all, asks if you have the Baby Blues, reply, No. I'm FUCKING DEPRESSED.

Let's leave the Baby Blues to chipper, frisky women who have never experienced a moment of real unhappiness, and therefore have no basis for comparison. We don't need the Baby Blues. We have FUCKING DEPRESSED.