Category “Life With a Newborn”

Crunch Time (Day #79)

It’s Day #79.  I have 21 days to go.

Three weeks.

My heart does a little flip-flop when I read those words.  And not in a good way.

I am behind.  So behind.

But hopeful.

I have six chapters to go.  Six chapters in three weeks.

It’s a lot.  And if I try to write a new blog post every day, it’ll most certainly be too much.  (Yes, if it weren’t for this blog, I probably (okay, definitely) would have finished the book already.  But if it weren’t for this blog, I wouldn’t be enjoying the book or my sweet baby as much as I am.)

So, starting today, my posts will read more like updates.  I’ll tell you where I am and how I’m doing.  I might vent about the writing process, or I might be too wrapped up in the writing process to vent about it.  I might do one daily update or several.  I dunno.  The point is to limit the time I spend blogging so I can maximize the time I spend booking and babying.  As for boy, he can wait.  (Just kidding.)  (Kind of.)

Six chapters.  Three weeks.

There’s my heart again.  Flipping and flopping all over the place.

Okay, so here we go.  It’s crunch time.

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(Please follow my progress on Twitter!  Click here or follow @followmydetour.  If you’re not on Twitter, you can still read my tweets on the sidebar of the ETD homepage (under “Latest Tweets”).  If you’re already following me, I’d love to hear from you!  It gets lonely over here.  Please say hi!)

Before I Knew It (Day #76)

I haven’t slept. In days.

I haven’t mentioned my sleep deprivation because I’ve been in full-blown denial about it. That is, until this morning, when I got out of bed and promptly burst into tears. Except they weren’t really tears because I was too tired to actually cry.

I haven’t wanted to acknowledge that I haven’t been sleeping because that would require acknowledging that Lil Mil hasn’t been sleeping. Which would make her not sleeping a thing. And I don’t want it to be a thing. Which is why I’ve been telling myself that it isn’t a thing, that two weeks of wildly erratic behavior does not a pattern make.

Yeah. Denial works. Until it doesn’t.

A word about the sleeping arrangements chez Miller: when we first brought Lil Mil home from the hospital, she slept in a co-sleeper in our bedroom while my parents slept in a queen-sized bed in the nursery. The bed was a remnant of the room’s guest room days. The plan was to leave it in there until my parents left, at which point we’d take the bed down and start putting Lil Mil to sleep in her own room.

My parents left on February 2nd. The co-sleeper stayed for a few more days, until I finally accepted that having a moaning, thrashing newborn less than a foot from my head was doing serious damage to my sanity.

So after writing this post on February 7th, I put the co-sleeper in the closet and moved Lil Mil into the nursery. And when she cried in the middle of the night, I picked her up, laid down on the bed we still hadn’t taken down, and fed her until we both fell back asleep.

I’ve been doing that every night ever since.

I knew it wasn’t ideal, but quite frankly, it was working. We’d put Lil Mil to bed (awake!) in her room at 6, she’d be asleep less than 10 minutes later, I’d go to bed in my room around 9, we’d both sleep until 1 or 2, then when she woke up, I’d go into her room, bring her into the queen-sized bed with me, and we’d spend the rest of the night snuggled up together, her little face pressed against my armpit.

I loved it. I loved the sleep I was getting, I loved the 2 a.m. snuggles, I loved stroking my daughters hair as I listened to her breathe. Husband kept telling me he was going to take the bed down, but every time he did, I’d explain to him that that bed was the only thing keeping me sane. Yes, it would be better for me to put Lil Mil back in her crib after her nighttime feeding, but every time I tried that, I’d spend the next hour and a half going to and from our bedroom while she voiced her protest without loud wails. Wasn’t it enough that she was going to bed unassisted? Did it really matter that I was letting her sleep with me for the last few hours of every night? (Don’t answer that.)

My very wise Husband knew better than to argue with a resolute mommy. So the bed remained.

Two months passed.

Then, two weeks ago, things changed. Lil Mil stopped going down at 6 without a fight. She started waking up 4 and 5 times a night. When I’d bring her to bed with me, she’d thrash around, kicking me in the stomach, working her way out of her tightly-wrapped swaddle until she had one or both arms free (I’m telling you, the girl puts Houdini to shame).

At first, I chalked it up to jet lag from our trip to Ohio. Then, I blamed the string of special occasions that pushed her bedtime back. When forced consistency didn’t fix the problem, I decided the culprit must be the undiagnosed digestive issue that resulted in several scary-looking diapers and an emergency visit to the pediatrician. Surely when we got that under control she’d resume being the happy lil sleeper she once was.

Or not.

Last night was the last straw. At 4 a.m. this morning, after crying dry tears for approximately 30 seconds, I finally accepted the reality: Lil Mil’s old pattern (6 to 6 with one feeding in between) had gone the way of the macarena. Adios, amigo. We would have to come up with a new pattern. A new routine. One that did not involve sleeping in 90 minute increments with bouts of scream crying in between.

Still in my PJs, I drug out all the books I bought two months ago, when I had my first streak of sleepless nights. A plan saved me then, and I fully expected a plan to save me now. It was just a matter of finding the right one.

In typical Lauren fashion, I started big and quickly lost steam. I read exactly one chapter of one book and then promptly decided I’d done enough research.

It was time for action.

What I needed to do was obvious. I needed to stop bringing Lil Mil to bed with me. Which meant the bed had to go.

So I took it down.

More and Less (Day #74)

I think more since becoming a mom.

Also less.

I spend more time in thought, for sure, and more time noticing things to think about. I don’t know if this is how I process motherhood or how I come up with blog topics, but either way, I feel like my days are more thought-filled than before.

But my thoughts? They’re less varied than they used to be. I spend less time thinking about great books and great art and great films. In fact, I’ve spend virtually no time thinking about these things since becoming a mom, probably because I haven’t read/seen/watched any. I’ve been too busy booking and blogging and babying. And thinking about booking and blogging and babying.

This bothers me. A lot.

And yet. Am I willing to devote less time to book or blog or baby so that I might have the time to read and see and watch?

No.

And so I sit here, fingers poised over my keyboard, not sure where this post goes from here. Because I have no solution. I want to be a person who cares enough about Great Things to make time for them, but the truth is, I’m not. I used to be. I used to be a person who believed that the living of life occurred in the reading and the seeing and the watching.

Somewhere between then and now, that person became someone who only has time for Small Things. And not all small things – just a few, specific ones:

My tiny daughter. My tall man. My family. My friends. My unfinished novel. My deeply satisfying blog.

My world has shrunk.

It has also expanded.

[Ten minutes pass]

A thought: maybe the living of life does occur in the reading and the seeing and the watching. But maybe it doesn’t matter so much what we’re reading and seeing and watching. Maybe blog posts and baby grins and episodes of LOST are just as good as Tolstoy and Manet and Hitchcock.

Yeah. Nice Try.

[Ten more minutes pass]

I give up.

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(How much time do you spend thinking about Great Things? What was the last Great Book you read? Has your present detour caused your world to shrink or expand? Do you spend more or less time thinking than you used to? Are you satisfied with the depth/frequency/variety of your thoughts? What do you do to cultivate deep thinking? Is deep thinking overrated? Am I overthinking deep thinking?)

And so

Even Worse Are The Ones You Can’t See (Day #73)

I’ve scarred my child.

(I think)

I keep telling myself it was bound to happen, even though I don’t really believe that.  You hear horror stories about moms who clip off the tips of their babies’ fingers while trying to cut their little tiny baby nails.

I am one of those moms.

Oddly, I wasn’t all that worried that I might become one of these moms.  I say “oddly” because I generally obsess about all manner of mothering possibilities.  Will I be a mom who raises a fearful child, or an impolite one?  Will my child be the one other parents whisper about, the one they won’t let their children play with?  Will I put too much pressure on my child?  Not enough?  Will I make her neurotic?  Will I give her an eating disorder?

Will I cut off the tip of my child’s finger? was never really a big concern, largely because I didn’t really believe it was a risk.  How would a baby’s fingertip get into the little space between the clippers in the first place?  Nail clippers are designed to hold the finger back.  You’d have to be real idiot not to notice that your child’s finger was in the chomp zone.

Hi.  I’m an idiot.

So here I am, telling myself it was inevitable, that it happens to the best of moms, that it’s no big deal.  But I’m lying to myself.  I could’ve waited until Lil Mil was sleeping or nursing to attempt a baby manicure.  I could’ve used those clippers with the little magnifying glass attached.  I could’ve done a lot of things, but instead, I whipped out my regular adult-sized nail clippers and went to work while Lil Mil was thrashing around on her changing table.  And on nail 10 of 10, I clipped off a chunk of her skin.

Just like that.

Okay, so in defense of my parenting, I did manage to cut 9 of her 10 nails without a hitch.  That should be worth something, right?

The woman who once believed that only idiots could botch a task as simple as nail clipping now wants props for only scarring one of her child’s appendages.

The good news is, it didn’t bleed much.  And it apparently didn’t hurt that much, because I didn’t even realize it had happened until an hour later (don’t worry, they’re still accepting nominations for Mommy of the Year).  But from the looks of it, I think she might end up with a scar.

This, her very first scar, probably won’t be her last (although I’m hoping it’s the only one she’ll get from her idiot mommy).  If she turns out to be as athletic as her daddy (or as clumsy as her idiot mommy), she’ll probably end up with all manner of scrapes and cuts, some of which will probably scar.  I hope she’ll wear these scars proudly.  The scars of a life well-lived.

These scars don’t scare me.

The ones I’m worried about are the ones I won’t be able to see.  The ones on the inside.  The scars on her psyche.

I’d like to believe that Lil Mil could reach adulthood unscathed.  I’d like to believe this, but I don’t know anyone who has.  I certainly didn’t.  Even though I had perfect parents (I did.  I really did.), I still ended up with hurts they couldn’t heal.  Hurts they didn’t even know I had.

As I sit here staring at the tip of Lil Mil’s tiny little ring finger, at that tiny little chunk of missing flesh, I am aware of how powerless I am to protect her.  Yes, this particular scar was avoidable.  But some won’t be.  Someone will hurt her feelings.  Someone will crush her dreams.  Someone will break her heart.

And I won’t be able to fix it.  I won’t be able to just dab some Neosporin on it and cover it with a bandaid.  In fact, I probably won’t even be the person she comes to.  Odds are, she’ll have wounds and scars I’ll never even know about.

This, I think, must be the hardest thing about motherhood.  To know that, with each day, life is only going to get harder for this precious little person you love so much and want so badly to protect.

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How do we protect our children from wounds inflicted by mean girls and even meaner boys?  Are some scars unavoidable?  Have you ever cut your child’s finger while clipping his/her nails?

Worth Staying Awake For (Day #61)

I wasn’t going to post today.

But then, as always, the guilt started creeping in.

I know I don’t HAVE to blog daily. I know you don’t expect me to. But for some reason, I expect me too.

Blog Guilt.

I suspect I’m not alone.

But Blog Guilt is not the subject matter of this particular post.

The subject matter of this particular post is the bulletin board I saw at Caribou Coffee this morning. The bulletin board filled with little blue post-it notes bearing the Caribou logo and a question: what do you stay awake for?

The answers ranged from the practical (“writing, reading, weaving”) to the philosophical (“to figure out how to make my future work”) to the honest (“time alone!”) to the heart-wrenching (“to pray for my dad’s cancer to go away”). Reading their handwritten answers, I felt like I knew them, these Caribou-caffeinated strangers. I felt like I understood them.

What we stay awake for says a lot about us.

And so I asked myself the question. What do I stay awake for?

The practical: to feed Lil Mil

The honest: to get some time alone

The philosophical: to pursue my dreams, sentence by sentence

The heart-wrenching: to pray for a dear friend

The brutally honest?

I don’t stay awake for much.

I am passionate. I am driven. I get things done. But I’ve always called it a day at the end of the day. I’ve never burned the midnight oil. I’ve never had to. The day has always been enough.

But what if the day isn’t enough?

What if success requires not only our days but our nights, too? What if the attainment of our wildest dreams demands a few (or many) sleepless nights?

I am 39 days away from Day #100. I’ve given this book 61 days.

I have not given it a single night.

Is that why I’m not as productive as I wanted to be? I’ve blamed this blog and my baby for my lack of progress, but maybe the real reason I’m so far behind is the fact that this novel — and my desire to finish it — doesn’t keep me up at night.

Yes, it motivates me to be productive in spare moments. It forces me sacrifice dinner dates with my DVR. But it doesn’t keep me up past bedtime.

Lil Mil does, sometimes. Her hunger. Her restlessness. Her I can’t get comfy! moans.

My dread that something bad is going to happen to her.

My anxiety about being a bad mom.

My fear that I’m going to disappoint her by not finishing this novel.

And there it is: She keeps me up at night. She’s what I stay awake for. She’s my answer.

I find this simultaneously comforting and discomforting. I like that she’s my answer, but I wish she wasn’t my only answer.

I want to be one of those creative people who can’t sleep until the thing they’re creating is done being created. My dad is like that. I’m guessing all the writers I envy are like that.

I’m not like that.

Do I have to be like that to get where I want to go?

I’m not sure. Let me sleep on that and get back to you.

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(Do you burn the midnight oil? Do you think creative success demands some oil burning? What do you stay awake for? What keeps you up at night? Are the two the same?)