Friday, August 31, 2012

Rest in peace, grandpa.

My grandpa passed on Monday morning and was laid to rest today (Friday). We just got home tonight, after getting to my hometown Wednesday afternoon and spending Wednesday and Thursday night in a hotel.

It was an exhausting, confusing, taxing, depressing, stressful, exhausting exhausting exhausting weekend. But also a tiny bit fun because I got to see so many family members. I got drunk, didn't sleep nearly enough, and pumped in both a closet at the funeral home and a men's restroom at the parish hall.

Traveling with a 15 week old is no joke - especially a 15 week old who has his first cold. Poor baby. He's had diarrhea and sounds like a little piglet when he tries to breathe. He also has a pathetic little cough. It breaks my heart.

He did not sleep well at all while we were gone, but did take some good naps because we packed up his swing, which was a pain in the ass but totally worth it. We co-slept in the hotel bed because I couldn't bear to listen to him snorting over in the crib.

I spent the better part of 6-7 hours preparing for this trip (packing, laundry, cleaning the house for our house sitter, etc), but luckily I think unpacking will go more smoothly.

Alex was my grandpa's first (and only) great-grandchild. There was a large flower arrangement on the casket: yellow roses, mums, and carnations, with white daisies. There were ribbons that said "dad", "husband", "grandfather", etc. And tucked in the corner of the casket, one tiny yellow rose with a "great-grandfather" ribbon. It went into the grave with him. He didn't get to know Alex very long, but he sure was special to him for three short months.

I look forward to the day I can take big boy Alex to grandpa's grave and tell him that there's a tiny rose from him resting with his great-grandpa.

I'm sad.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saying goodbye to my grandpa

Today I went to say goodbye to my grandpa.

It's all going much faster than anyone anticipated. He went home last week for hospice care, and I've talked to my mom every day since then. At first it was "He looks good, he's sitting up in bed eating egg salad." Then, early this week, she said "Dad had a rough night because he saw frustration in grandpa's eyes." A few days ago, it was "He's starting to sound a little confused." Sometime in the past 48 hours everyone came to understand that we were coming to say goodbye, not to visit.

He was nowhere near sitting up in bed eating egg salad. He has no mobility other than some jerky arm movements and a little bit of neck control. He speaks clearly, but so softly that it's very difficult to make out what he says. Last night, he had to repeat himself three times, until he finally said "Do I have a speech impediment?" Haha. Oh, grandpa.

He has started getting much less coherent. He would kind of fall asleep and then wake up. I'd smile at him and he'd say "Did you bring the baby?" even though he'd already seen the baby. Each time I said "Yes, we did!" and brought Alex in. He liked to touch Alex's soft skin and smile at him. Once he said "It was a long time coming", which I think was a reference to our infertility. These were good, clear moments.

At other moments he'd just look at my dad and say "Is the door locked?" "Yes, dad, the door's locked, don't worry about it." Or, he'd look around the room and say "We all have a lot of work to do." He kept acting like he was taking pills, even though the need for pills passed long ago. He'd look in his blankets for pills he thought he had dropped.

I liked to just sit there and hold his hand. Once, he woke up and looked at me, and I said "Is it okay if I hold your hand?" And he squeezed my hand in his. That meant a lot to me because he has so little strength.

When it was time for us to leave, I went in to say one final goodbye. I said "grandpa, I just wanted to say goodbye." I stroked his face and his arm. He said goodbye to me and kind of started mumbling. I said "You know that I love you, right?" and he looked at me with vacant eyes and asked "Who are you?"

My heart stopped. I said "I'm Lulu. I'm your granddaughter." The focus came back in his eyes and he said something about being embarrassed. I said don't worry grandpa, don't be embarrassed, just rest. He mumbled a little bit more. I told him again that I loved him and asked if I could give him a hug. He brought his arms around me which, again, I knew took a lot of strength.

I think I jogged his memory because when my husband took Alex in to say goodbye, he called my husband by name and told him to take care of both of us.

The last time I had seen my grandpa was on the fourth of July. He wasn't feeling well, but was happy. He held Alex and fed him a bottle. In just a few weeks he's now bedridden, practically immobile, breathing with a lot of effort -- dying. On the fourth of July he was okay. Now, he's dying.

Last October, just 10 short months ago, we went to tell him and my grandma that we were pregnant. My grandpa got tears in his eyes and told me how happy he was. He wrote an advice card for me for my baby shower in March. Now, he wouldn't even be able to hold a pen.

I think some of my family members think I misunderstood, that he wasn't bad enough to forget who I was. But I heard him clearly, and saw the way he felt foolish afterwards. But I also felt his arms around me when I left and in that moment, I knew he knew who I was.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Just logging in to say that I love being a mom. Yes, I’m exhausted all the time, and it’s difficult to pump at work (verging on impossible, some days), and there are a lot more chores and a hell of a lot more laundry, and a lot less sleep, and some strain on the marriage, and my schedule is not my own, and I feel rushed a lot of the time. All of that is very, very true. And I do still cry from time to time, thinking "I’m doing it wrong", "I’m bad at this", and recently "I think he loves the babysitter more than he loves me."

But I’m also much happier than I remember being before. I wasn’t this happy when I was pregnant, and I certainly wasn’t this happy with I was struggling to get pregnant. I feel like myself. A new, mom version of myself, but it’s working for me, overall.

Here’s what my days look like.

6am – wake up.
6-6:45 – my husband gets Alex ready for daycare and entertains him. I get ready for work (breaking records every day in the arenas of fast showering, makeup applying and breakfast eating), and manage to squeeze in some snuggles and smiles with the baby.
6:45 – nurse
7 –
leave the house with baby in car seat, diaper bag, pump, lunch box, and purse. It takes two trips to get everything to the car!
7:30 –
drop Alex off at the sitter. Lots of kisses.
7:45 –
get to work
8 –
work day starts
9:30, 12:30, 3:30 –
pump, as long as meetings don’t interfere (adjust as needed)
3:30 –
my husband gets home and tidies up the house a bit, because he’s amazing.
4:15 –
off work
4:30 –
pick up Alex
5 –
get home. Immediately throw diapers in the wash (every other day).
5-6:30 –
the three of us play, prepare and eat dinner (my husband does most of the cooking in our house), and catch up on each other’s days. Alex usually nurses somewhere in there, depending on when he had his last bottle. If I’m washing diapers, I make a few trips downstairs to switch the washer settings and move from washer to dryer.
6:30 –
bedtime routine begins with a bath, followed by jammies, reflux medicine, nursing, swaddling, a story, a snuggle. This is my favorite thirty minutes of the day.
7 –
down in the bassinet
7-8 –
I tidy up the house, unpack the diaper bag, pack it for the next day, unpack and wash my pump parts, wash bottles, make bottles for the next day, pack my pump back up, pack my lunch, bring dry diapers upstairs for husband to stuff.
8 –
ahhhhh, I have a glass of wine and two Milano cookies. I relax for a while, sometimes read, sometimes watch TV, sometimes play on facebook and twitter. This is my second favorite part of the day.
9 –
start winding down for the night – let the dogs out one last time, lock up, finish up any laundry
9:30* –
in bed!
*please don’t read this to mean I’m getting 8.5 hours of sleep every night. Hardly. I’m still up about 4 times with the baby every night. Things are slowly improving, though, cross your fingers that things continue to get better.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Word vomit

Some random things that I just want to write down so I remember them, whether or not they pertain to this blog.

#1.  My grandpa is dying. He has been ill since Alex was born, and has been in and out of hospitals. Finally he was diagnosed with brain cancer and made a halfhearted attempt at radiation before choosing hospice. Yesterday he came home to a hospital bed where his old recliner was. The doctors say it could be another 3 months, 6 months, or a year, but gradually he will begin sleeping more and his heart rate will slow and the end will come, hopefully peacefully and with as much dignity as possible.

It’s all pretty sad for me, not because my grandpa is dying per se, but because I don’t love hearing or seeing my father cry, or thinking about my grandma being alone for the rest of her life. That said, there’s something beautiful about the two of them during this time of reflection, loving each other as much as ever.

I looked at my husband last night and realized that I would be honored to give him sponge baths and change his bedpan for him up until the very end. That’s love, the kind of love I knew nothing about when we met during college.

#2.  I’m vaguely annoyed by the unbaby plug-in for facebook. Even when I was a bitter infertile, I never begrudged moms posting photos of their kids. I really don’t think it’s all that annoying. It’s certainly not more annoying or redundant than my 28 year old friends posting 150 photos of ONE single night out at a bar. I promise I’m more tired of seeing you in your skanky clothes drinking glow-in-the-dark booze out of mason jars than you are of seeing my baby.

I mean isn’t that what facebook is for? Recycling the same old statuses about the weather and work and whatever you’re doing with your time? Babies are pretty much the least annoying part of facebook. (Pregnancy announcements are perhaps a different story)

#3.  My first week back at work, pumping was a disaster. Now I have settled into a rhythm. I need 10.5 ounces every day to make three 3.5 ounce bottles for Alex the next day. I average about 9.5 ounces a day, but I’ve learned that if I pump after feedings on the weekend, I can start the week ahead and it’s much less stressful. I bought a kindle fire and have been reading a book in the mother’s room. I only read while I pump, and it’s a good book, so it helps me to actually look forward to pumping. The kindle is great for hands-free reading!

#4.  This article from Jezebel made me really sad. Sad that she had such a bad experience, sad that her LC was rough, and sad that she went into breastfeeding expecting a negative experience and then got it. Isn't that how life works out? And now she wrote this piece, which will perpetuate the negative cycle.

It's not that I think breastfeeding is the best thing in the world, and I understand it doesn't work for everyone, and I support a woman's right to every regard. But this post is so dismissive of breastfeeding. And that makes me sad because it's been a very positive experience for me, overall. Plus, the writer just turns me off with her bitchy digs on her LC's hair, makeup, jewelry, perfume, I mean seriously. That's just petty. End of rant.

#5.  I remember other things that used to make me feel like a badass. In college I was a badass because I got awesome grades and still partied and had a boyfriend and had tons of friends, all while looking super hot. (Seriously, I was hot. Sigh.)

TODAY I was a badass because my husband left at 5am and I got myself and the baby up and ready, and dropped him off at daycare for the first time ever, and made it to work on time with my hair and makeup looking decent. And no tears! I was so proud of myself!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Three months

Dear Alexander-

Well, unlike your one month and two month letters, which I wrote in the recliner while you were sleeping on my chest, I am writing this one at work. That’s probably our biggest change this month. I went back to work and you stayed home with dad for a week. Your dad made me so proud, taking care of you all day! We are so lucky to have him.
The best thing that has happened in the past month is that you started talking up a storm! You say all sorts of baby nonsense words. Your dad talks back to you in English (“Oh really? What happened next? No way!”), but I talk back to you in Baby (“ahhhhk? gaaaah? gluuuuuuuw!”). It’s the best part of my day when you start in on one of your stories.

Your favorite part of every day is bedtime. You may be cranky one evening, but once we get you in that bathtub you’re all smiles. You love your bedtime routine, right down to getting dried off in your shark towel, getting dressed in your pajamas, and reading your book. We’ve been reading Roald Dahl’s The BFG for several weeks (we only read about three pages at a time). You love to stare at the book and smile at it, talking back to me while I’m reading.

It’s been fun watching your personality emerge. Now you get real tears in your eyes when you cry, and as a tragic preamble, you’ve started sticking out your bottom lip. You love sucking on your little fists, but you get frustrated because you’re still not quite coordinated enough to get particular fingers in your mouth. You get mad at me when I use the blue bulb to suck out your boogers, but smile as soon as it’s over. You’re annoyed when I swaddle you, but if I don’t, you look like you’re trying to conduct an orchestra with your chubby baby hands. As soon as I unswaddle you, you stick both arms straight up over your head, like a superbaby flying through the air.
You still aren’t sleeping much at night, and at about 3:30 am you get a serious case of the wiggles and try to start a dance party in bed. Silly boy. We have kind of given up on teaching you to sleep for the time being. You’ll probably figure it out one of these days, and your dad and I will sleep when we’re dead. Or retired.

from his three month photo session
This time last year I wasn’t even pregnant with you yet. Now you’re three months old, and I can’t wait to see what the next month brings!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sleep update

Well, sleep training is officially off for a while. Remember how, at eight weeks, I started trying to get Alex back to sleep without feeding him? It worked great for a while. I could shhh him back to sleep with his pacifier, or pick him up and snuggle him back to sleep. The thought was that if I stopped feeding him every time, he’d learn to sleep through those wakeups.


Four weeks of that and things just got worse. He started waking up more often. He would stay awake for an hour at a time, at which point it actually was time for him to eat again so I would feed him. Guess what? I’m back at work now and we can’t be having battles of will from 3-4 in the morning every night. Baby wins.

We have slid back into our old habits. Instead of trying to soothe him when he wakes, I just nurse him. It works like a charm and when I put him back in his bassinet with a full belly, he doesn’t protest a bit and he doesn’t even need a pacifier.

We are back to co-sleeping from about 3am on, whereas he used to be in his bassinet all night.

Whatevs. I don’t care at this point. Would I like to follow all the sleeping rules? Don’t nurse to sleep, don’t co-sleep? Um, don’t give up on something that you’ve started because it makes you an inconsistent terrible parent? Yes, it would be great to follow those rules but I’m not perfect.

And truth be told, I love nursing my little man in the middle of the night. I don’t get to do much nursing anymore (but I do get to do a lot of PUMPING, which is a post in and of itself). Sometimes I nurse just because, hell, I miss him and I want to.

Nursing at night might not be good for his sleep habits, but we can fix those later, right? In the meantime, it helps me feel closer to him, helps my supply, and helps me feel like I actually get to do some parenting even though I’m at work all day. And I get way more sleep myself this way.

It’s becoming clear that this kid will have to be Ferberized. I’m thinking at 5-6 months. So I’m going to enjoy the snuggly co-sleeping mornings while I can. He’s only little once.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back to work.

Well, I did it. I woke up this morning and left my baby at home with his daddy and I came to work. And I didn’t die. And I think I can do it again tomorrow.

I spent some time last weekend reflecting over why I was dreading the return to work so much. It occurred to me that I was experiencing grief – deep grief – over my maternity leave ending, my baby growing up, and time passing more quickly than I wanted it to. The level of heartache I felt was akin to Alex actually being taken away from me. That’s what it felt like: that today, someone was going to come to my house and take him away and I’d never see him again.

So I told myself how ridiculous that was. And I made myself get over it as much as possible, and it kind of worked. I miss him and I’m sure there will be very difficult days, but I can do this.

…I can do it, but damn am I going to be TIRED.

We have shifted bedtime to 7pm. We do bath at 6:30, then jammies, a nursing session, a story, and bed (bassinet). He’s such a gem at bedtime – I put him down awake (sometimes with the pacifier, sometimes not), and he puts himself to sleep. Sometimes I have to give him his pacifier one time. Then he sleeps for about four hours (until 11pm).

And then all hell breaks loose. Last night he was up at 11, 1:30, from 3-4 crying with a tummyache, and 5:30. I got up at 6:30. I’m not sure why he can put himself to sleep at 7pm but seems inconsolable when he wakes up at night. Also not sure why he can sleep four hours at a time early on and then only short increments.

It makes for a very sleepy mommy. But I can do this. He will, eventually, sleep at night. I’m learning that it will not be on my schedule, or when all the books say he is capable of doing it, or when all of my friends claim their babies slept. I just need to be patient and wait it out, and be very tired in the meantime. But I’m totally willing to do it because, you know, he’s so flippin cute.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


We usually go to a local nature preserve to celebrate our anniversary. Our dogs love to run around there and it's fun to walk as a family. It's beautiful, lots of prairie grass and flowers. Last year we didn't go because I was too depressed, but this year we resumed our tradition.

When we first got there, Alex needed to eat. I sat down in a shaded area to nurse before we got going. My husband looked at me and laughed. "Oh, just breastfeeding in a nature preserve. When did we become hippies?" he asked me. "One day we just woke up and we were crunchy."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What a difference a year makes.

All summer I have been thoughtfully reflecting on the events of last summer.

On July 7, I turned 26. It was a long day with a fussy baby, but it beat the pants off of my 25th birthday, when I cried all the way home from the RE's office.

July 21 was one year from my first retrieval. July 24, one year from my first transfer. In the middle there was one of the hardest days of my life: our fertilization report. I can physically remember the pain I felt when I heard that all but one my eggs failed to fertilize normally. It cut right through me.

Tomorrow is our 4th anniversary. On our 3rd anniversary, I found out that our first IVF didn't work. I aptly described that day on this blog as full of "soul-crushing disappointment". A year later, I don't think that's at all dramatic. I remember walking around in a fog of horrible sadness that day, feeling like the past three years had been utterly fruitless.

I'd like to travel back in time and put my arms around that girl's shoulders on her 3rd anniversary. The pain of those difficult days is like a scar on my heart, just like the reminders of long ago burns and cuts on my skin.

A year later, and I have the sweetest baby anyone could ask for.

We have many more one year marks to reflect on, coming up. The anniversary of our retrieval and transfer that led to Alex. The day I first took a pregnancy test, the day we first saw Alex's heartbeat on the ultrasound screen, the day we found out we were having a boy.

I worked so hard to get here. But what did I do to deserve this new, beautiful life?