The hardest part

Of all the things that have been difficult about having a baby — the sleep deprivation, the crying, the frustration of not knowing what to do — nothing has been harder than having a baby who doesn’t nap. It probably sounds like a random thing to complain about, selfish even. But any parent of a non-napping baby understands. It is just brutal to take care of a baby full-time without breaks. And it’s even worse when you can tell your babe is tired but either can’t or won’t fall asleep. 

Most days Harper sleeps 25-30 minutes in the late morning and another 25-30 minutes in the afternoon. In 14 months her routine has been all over the place. But rarely has she ever slept longer than that. And usually if she has it’s because she was sleeping on me. Don’t get me wrong, those cuddles are so precious to me. But the cumulative effect of virtually non-stop parenting and breaks that are over almost as soon as they start is big. After a while you feel like you have given more of yourself than is even possible. And it’s just plain hard.

My workload really let up in the last month and I finally had some time for reflection. The other day as I was bringing Harper home from the nanny, where she had once again taken a 2-hour nap, I just felt like I’d been socked in the stomach. I feel like I’ve tried everything, EVERYTHING, to get this girl to nap during the day and had almost no success. I try not to spend much time in a place of self pity or to focus on things I can’t change. But I felt such longing for the kind of day where we could play for a while, then I could get some work done while she napped for a couple of hours. Maybe I could even read a book, or do nothing! 

When I was planning to stay home with Harper and work on my business part-time, I imagined it as an ideal scenario. But I never imagined that she just wouldn’t nap. And that all my work would have to be done after she went to sleep. That scenario just frankly doesn’t work. Getting the nanny was a godsend. Having my mom here, well, that will just be amazing!

My moms email group has been a huge source of support since Harper was born. But if I have to hear one more person complaining that their child is down to just one 2-3-hour nap a day, I might explode. Do you know what I would give for just one day like that? The idea that some people have 4+ hours of nap time a day is something I can’t even fathom. 

So maybe this Mother’s Day I don’t want breakfast in bed or sweet-smelling lotion or anything like that. I just want my baby to produce one glorious 2-hour nap. We all want things we can’t have. But what do you say, baby — just this once?

House hunting

As I said the other day, our time at our little house is up. Our landlord’s kids are off to college, so they’ve decided to move out of their big house and into this smaller one. We knew it was coming, but it’s still kind of a shock. Both the buying and rental markets have gotten so hot lately that we decided we better try to buy a house before we get priced out of the market completely. Renting costs just as much, so we might as well try to get more house for the money.

Our only knowledge base for home buying is the midwestern market, which is waaaay different than the one out here, so we’ve had a pretty big shock to the system. Shock #1 is that we pretty much can’t afford a house in our own neighborhood. When we first moved 3 1/2 years ago, our neighborhood seemed kind of transitional to me. Nothing special really. But it has really improved as people got pushed out of the city and then out of Oakland into more distant suburbs. Now there are lots of young families vying for the few houses coming up on the market.

So that brought us to shock #2 — the price is almost never the price. People intentionally price their houses low, get a bunch of offers (sometimes a dozen or more), and then end up getting 10-20 percent more than the list price. Example: One house we looked at was priced at $430,000 and ended up selling for $510,000. It’s crazy! I mean CRAY-ZEE. There aren’t enough letters to describe the crizaziness.

Then there are other houses that need so much work they will end up selling for less. So it’s hard to know what houses to even look at.

There’s also kind of a routine where people have an open house on a Sunday, then another the following Sunday, then have an offer date like the Tuesday after that. I had it in my mind that if we saw a house we wanted we would just make an offer. But it doesn’t really work like that.

So anyway, we have looked at tons and tons of houses all over the east bay. We have some possibilities, but you kind of always have to keep looking just in case something doesn’t work out. It’s such a roller coaster of emotions. First you love a house, then you’re not sure about it. Then you love another house. Then you love them both. Then you hate them both. Or more likely, you can’t afford either. I still believe we can get a house in our short timeframe. I just want it to be the right one.

Did I mention my mom will be moving in with us? We finally convinced her to relocate from Kansas. I am beyond excited about that!

Some thoughts on starting a family

I apologize in advance for this being a jumble of thoughts, but well, here goes:

You have no idea what a great relief it is to me to finally feel comfortable saying I am going to have a baby. (Or maybe you do.) The past few months have felt like years. If you decide, like we did, that you want to surprise your friends and family with this news, you have to deal with the consequences of being alone with that information. The loneliest time is definitely when you are trying and it’s not working. In the end, it only took us a few months to conceive. But during those months we didn’t have any idea if things were normal or if there was any reason it wasn’t working. I was really naive going into the process. I guess after so many years of trying as hard as I could not to get pregnant, I just assumed it would happen right away. Even though I had read plenty of articles saying it most likely wouldn’t, I still thought it would.

The days of waiting to take a test were excruciating. And I finally understood the pain of seeing just one blue line. Not knowing if I was just starting down a long infertility journey made me instantly sympathize with those who had. There is no pain quite like it. Reading Holly Finn’s The Baby Chase just broke my heart. I think those days of waiting seemed much longer because we have come to a real baby boom among our friends and family. At the same time as you are staring at that one blue line, it seems like yet another person is announcing their pregnancy or newborn on Facebook. How can you not want to be a part of all of that joy?

Our decision to have a baby now was a pretty easy one. Once we moved, we were totally overwhelmed with getting settled in California, so we didn’t even think about it then. It wasn’t until early this year when my business got to a place where I had wanted it to be for a long time that it really felt like the right time. Mike was 100% on board (and will make the most incredible father, by the way). But it was strange for me — once I got to the jumping off point I got a little tentative. I felt like if I had the option physically, I would rather wait longer, until I really felt like my business was successful and we were a little more stable. And then I was a little upset that I felt like I didn’t have a choice. If we wanted to have as good a chance as possible of having potentially more than one healthy baby, we needed to start sooner rather than later. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I went into it with a mix of feelings. But once we were trying, all I wanted was that second blue line. I really couldn’t believe it when I finally got it. It was so faint I thought it might be wrong. So I took another test. Still 2 blue lines.

Then came the next thing I was clueless about. I called the ob/gyn, expecting them to have me come in for a blood test or some kind of confirmation. But they said they don’t do that and to just make my first prenatal appointment. I would have to be at least 8 weeks for that. I was like what?! You expect me to wait 4 more weeks to make sure this is really real? And let me tell you, those were four more painfully long weeks. It was also just disappointing. You have so many questions in the beginning about what you’re supposed to do or not do, what’s safe to eat and drink, what to do if something goes wrong, etc. And the first trimester is really key for baby development, so you don’t want to screw up in those first weeks. But I guess you have to take to Google to get your questions answered.

Another beef, which I’m guessing a lot of people can relate to: Our insurance says that it covers all prenatal visits. But when we got to the first appointment, which seemed pretty darn prenatal to me, they told us that this was a confirmation visit and that we’d have to pay the copay. And the next visit we’d have to pay too. WTF? Still trying to resolve that one.

While this was going on I was seeing a lot of conversations online about how little maternity leave women are getting. And how even if they get leave time, a lot of them have to take a pay cut during that time. That just makes my blood boil. We pay so much lip service in this country to how family is the most important thing. But really when it comes down to it, we force people to make work a priority. I am lucky that I have the flexibility in my career to work or not work as many weeks as I need and can afford. But between not getting paid time off and devoting whole paychecks to daycare, I think young families have a lot of struggles they shouldn’t have to have.

I’m also envious of other countries where choosing a midwife or a home birth is completely culturally accepted and paid for, rather than a controversial hippie thing to do. Thankfully, that does seem to be changing, but it still seems like going off the obgyn/hospital birth path is something you have to really seek out, rather than just another normal option. We still haven’t decided what we’re going to do yet. But based on our experience so far, I think we will look for a midwife to deliver the baby, most likely in a hospital. But I’d love to hear about what other people did, and how they felt about it. I feel like running in the yoga/Nia circles I did for so long, I met a lot of women who said that they had a traditional hospital birth the first time and had a bad experience. But when they chose something more natural the second time, they were much happier. So I want to consider that. But I’ve heard plenty of people who were just as happy with an epidural or a C-section, so it’s hard to say what is better.

On a more positive note, I love that it’s possible now to see the baby on an ultrasound when it’s only 8 weeks. It really moves you to see that little gummi bear in there with the tiniest little heart beating. I could watch that all day long. The second ultrasound was even better because the baby finally looked more like a baby, and you could see its little arms and legs kicking.

Baby Corey, 12 weeks.

I always thought I would be happy if it took a while to start showing, but now I can’t wait to have more belly so I can really feel like there’s a baby in there. Even though I know it’s moving, I still can’t see or feel anything, so sometimes it’s hard for the experience to seem real. I’m sure I will take all that back once I am huge, but that’s how I feel right now. My belly is definitely bigger, but more in a plumpy sort of way than a pregnant way.

And as I said before, I was just not expecting the first trimester to be so intense. You really start feeling the changes in your body right away (or at least I did). The nausea/fatigue is like an overwhelming fog that saps your motivation to do anything. I don’t know how people do it with really demanding jobs or other little ones to raise. I think you must just power through it, distracted by everything else in your life. The last two months have been super slow, sales-wise, so that’s kind of made it easier to focus on how bad I feel rather than what I need to get done. Hopefully things will start picking up more come fall.

On the plus side I have been feeling so much better the last few days. I’m getting my energy back, and I feel motivated to get back into my old routines again. I can eat meals at normal times, and now I’m starting to feel extra hungry. I’ve really been craving fruit, especially melon the last few weeks. I think it’s because I haven’t been getting enough water, so I’m getting it through fruit. I cannot get enough melon!

Oh, and I have definitely been having weird pregnancy dreams, but they’re not what I thought they would be. Instead of being like nightmares, they’re more like these weird storylines that I may or may not be involved in. They play out very organized, like movies. It’s hard to explain, but it’s different than how I dreamed before.

Well, I think that’s everything that’s been swirling around my mind the past few months. It feels like we’re getting to the fun part of this, making lists of things we need and scanning baby boards on Pinterest. It’s overwhelming, but so exciting at the same time.

Trying to get back to normal

I’m sorry for the infrequent posts lately. It’s been a trying couple of weeks.

So you know how I was sick? Well that was awful enough. But as soon as I started to feel better, Mike got sick. As soon as he felt better, the dog got sick!

Poor girl. I figured she’d just get better like we did, but she got worse. At one point she was throwing up blood. So of course we took her to the vet, and found out that she had an infection and needed antibiotics.

We hadn’t slept well at all last week since we had to keep getting up to let her out. When she started feeling better she maintained her routine of waking up at 3 a.m. and refusing to go back to sleep. Ugh.

So yesterday I started feeling crappy again. It’s just so frustrating because I am actually really busy with work (something I’ve wanted to be for a long time!), and I have to put it aside to rest. I guess your body tells you what it wants no matter what you would rather be doing.

Thankfully there have been some bright spots. Mike had a graphics class in the city and he brought us back morning buns from Tartine.

You know you have a good husband when he brings you this.

I also found these pretty vintage knitting needles on etsy. I just couldn’t resist those colors!

I made them into my new centerpiece. They make me smile every time I walk by.

So, I am attempting to take it easy and get back to normal, but I’m struggling. I am so excited for the new things I am working on for my shop, and I just want to get them done. I don’t want to lose any momentum.

We are going to have some visitors soon, so I also need to get ready to play tourguide.

Maybe I need another morning bun.

It’s meeeeelllllllting

I was getting to the point where I never thought I would see my driveway, the street, or grass ever again. And then winter decided it was finally done torturing us.

The only problem is that now it’s supposed to start raining. Which means we get to go straight into flood season.

Okay winter, you’ve made your point

And it’s time to move on.

Just once I would like to take a trip without fear of dying by swerving semi truck.

Just once I would like to know that my dogs are still in the yard, not having used the snow as a step to hop over the fence.

I want mice to stop using my house as a warm retreat.

I want my windshield wipers to work.

I want to feel my toes again.

Is that too much to ask?

Our drive back from Wyoming (where we attended Julie’s awesome wedding reception, more on that soon) was another harrowing adventure on I-80. Though it was beautiful and sunny, we started with ice leftover from the previous day’s snow. Then about 4 or 5 blissful, uninterrupted hours before blowing snow in Nebraska scared the living crap out of us. Or me at least. Mike is from Wisconsin. ‘Nuff said.

This is what the median looked like much of the time. If you can’t tell, there is actually a car so badly smashed that someone has covered it with cardboard boxes so you can’t see it.

Then, after the blowing snow stopped, it started falling from the sky. Because you know what we needed more than anything was MORE SNOW.

I actually liked shoveling the driveway about the first 26 times I did it, because it’s a pretty awesome workout and it makes me feel like I am hardcore in some way. But now, there is literally nowhere to put the snow. All politeness about not putting snow in your neighbor’s yard is gone. If there is space, that’s where the snow is going.

I was trying to use my shovel to illustrate how high the snow layers (that haven’t melted) have become in the front yard. It’s well over the top of the base, maybe 2 feet total. Will I ever see my grass again?

The icicles on the front porch have become deadly. I hope I don’t get sued by the mailman, who has to walk underneath them daily.

I think I’ll move to Vancouver. I hear it’s much warmer and has way less snow there.

I’ve started calling this our year in Duluth. Minnesota seems like a piece of cake now.

On the plus side, the Olympics are on, and I am one of those people who needs to watch every event, even if I have no idea how it works. I love it all.

And aren’t these tiny snowflakes pretty?

On gratitude

Normally I am never home to absorb the wisdom of Oprah, but since I took a sick day I was couchbound working on a crochet project (details on that to come) when I flipped to the show today. I caught the last few minutes when Suze Orman was basically answering the questions – “What do I do about the fact that I’m super depressed about losing money when I did everything right?” and “When is this shit going to get better?”

Good questions, indeed.

She didn’t think we’d truly be back to economic bliss until 2015 (let’s hope that’s not true), but her other answer really struck me. She said that we all need to work on being happy with what we have instead of brooding over what we have lost. And I realized I had been spending a lot of energy focusing on not only the paychecks I lost, but what might have been. Bigger paychecks, extra freelance work, smaller debt, faster progression to many dreams, etc. That is so not helping at all.

When I really think about it, I have zillions of things to be thankful for. People and opportunities and my health and my crafts and on and on. At the end of the day all of that is still around and just thinking about that makes me a little verclempt.

The energy healer I went to once (it was for a story, OK?) told me that when you’re in a place of gratitude you can’t be fearful, and it’s really true. I am so afraid of so many things, and constantly being reminded that I should be scared, that I forget to be thankful sometimes. I also think that in my field the culture is to be cynical and questioning of everything, so much so that we don’t give ourselves permission to just be in the moment and be happy.

It’s very tough to get past that anger and resentment about the economy, especially when you don’t feel you had anything to do with it. But I think Suze’s right. It’s time to move on.

The other day I was interviewing a guy who got cancer when he was 20 years old, a junior in college. Five years later he is running his first triathlon, waiting the last few months before his first child is born. He’s scared every day of getting sick again, but he keeps on moving. I was pretty humbled after that.

So thanks to Joe, and to daytime TV, for reminding me just how good I have it.

Yes, I am still a blogger.

It’s true, I suck at blogging lately. With everything I put on my plate, something always gets pushed off. But I can’t seem to give up anything (what should I get rid of? My incomes? Going to the gym? Doing the laundry?) I find it’s really hard to get away, too, because I just think about everything I have to do when I get back. Sundays I spend the whole day thinking about going to work on Monday. I’m sure you know this feeling.

On behalf of pretty much everyone, I would just like to say, screw you economy. Screw you for making us feel like we don’t have choices anymore. Screw you for making us feel guilty if we do still have a job. I did not get an adjustable rate mortgage or have any part in the auto industry tanking. Why do I have to pay for it?

OK, mini rant complete.

But seriously, I feel like I am working my ass off to claw my way out of debt, just to have almost nothing left for myself at the end of the month. And now I have to take a week of unpaid vacation. Soon we will be building Hoovervilles in Rice Field.

I am trying to stay positive, but it is really tough some days. I try to think about fun things, like planning a wedding (woo hoo!) and Orla Kiely at Target. I try not to think about the $45 in parking tickets I just added to my tab.

This is gonna get better soon, right?

Why I will never be a seamstress

This is part of the Halloween costume I sewed, in which I made every possible mistake one could make whilst sewing. I know I need to do it more often to be better at it, but my impatience always seems to get the best of my perfectionism when I’m trying to sew and I end up very angry. Any other crafty ladies have this problem?

Deep breath, I’m gonna go there: body image

Sunday was nasty cold and windy (so typical of fall – it’s warm! it’s cold! it’s warm! it’s cold again!), so I decided to make the best of it and pop in my Nia DVD for some exercise.

I got about 35 minutes through it. I was dancing around, sweating pretty good, feeling good that I wasn’t sitting on my ass on the couch.

And then, the power went out.

No more DVD, no lights, no internet. Just me, standing in my living room, exasperated.

And that’s pretty much how exercise has gone for me. I do something for a while, until something happens to alter my routine, and then I’m back to my fat pants, feeling like crap. It’s a great source of instability, both mentally and physically.

And so, how I feel about how I look? Well, it’s not good. It never really has been good, except for a few years when I was in fantastic shape. I’m sure you know how that goes — you spend the rest of your time wondering why you can’t be like that again. It’s soooo pointless. But we all do it.

This whole thing with my back has really thrown me for a loop, too. Things I used to be sure about, I’m not sure about anymore. I don’t want to hurt myself more than I already have. Even though I had surgery, I never really changed the lifestyle (doing major desktime on the job, bad posture, not enough stretching) that got me the problem in the first place. So I have lingering pain. I’m already a pretty low-energy person. When my back aches, I just want to crawl under the covers.

But I’m getting seriously plumpy lately, so I’ve got to figure something out. I figure I probably weigh what a woman my height should weigh…if she were 9 months pregnant. It’s just not good.

In some ways I think my body image is okay in the sense that what bothers me is not so much the number on the scale, but just the visible body fat. I know it’s not healthy, and I don’t want to make myself sick.

As a lot of people who’ve struggled with their weight would probably tell you, I know more about what a person should do in terms of diet/exercise than just about anyone. That’s not the point. Your motivation not to rock the shelf butt in your pants? Not really the point either. I think, after all this time, and all my ups and downs in sizes, the point is simply whether you can find something you love to do. If I truly loved anything I’ve done before, I’d be doing it now. I wouldn’t be able to stop. That’s how I am! I will knit until my knuckles ache and I can hardly see through dried out contacts. But I’m sure as hell not getting up at 5 a.m. to lift weights. I just don’t care about the gym. It might as well be filing TPS reports for me. There’s no passion there.

So what I’m trying to do, is find the passion, so to speak. I truly believe that health is a cycle — start exercising, start craving healthy foods, start seeing results, keep going back for more exercise. How I eat is a whole other blog, but what I’m saying is that at least for me, without the exercise part, the rest falls apart.

I have high hopes for Nia. It’s sort of holistic dance and martial arts, a cardio version of yoga. It’s hippie dippy for sure, but I can’t pretend I don’t like that stuff. The bottom line is that it’s meant to be exercise that doesn’t injure. And when I do it, I want to do it more. Tonight, after work, I restarted that DVD where I left off and I finished it. I felt much better after that.