Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This is a chunk of a large article I found here.

I'm posting it here for a number of reasons - in part, it's for my many friends who have recently become parents or who soon will. Food for thought, a defense against the "no one told me" shock. It's an interesting mental model of what happens in women's lives after children arrive, because it goes beyond just looking at individual issues as separate and unrelated. For anyone reading this blog and contemplating parenthood, read the whole article, not just the section I re-posted here. It's long but worthwhile.

But I'm also posting it as an answer. Family and friends have been asking when/if I will have another child, and usually say I don't know, but that's not quite true. I'm in the second third (see red text). I'll have another when and if my reserves of strength/health/sanity are rebuilt to the extent that I think I can handle another kid without being in the third third.


What's more, a new, small field of study is focusing on mothers on a day-to-day basis, particularly on the effect of mothering on a woman's general health and well-being. For the time being, these researchers are concerned not with major illnesses like cancer or postpartum depression, but with all the minor ailments that can add up to a life lived at a lower level of happiness and satisfaction than it could be.

They're concerned about mothers who can't or don't take good care of themselves, don't eat well, don't sleep enough, don't get out enough, who spiral down, sometimes slowly, sometimes alarmingly fast, into a state of low energy, depression, marital dissatisfaction, guilt and disappointment, unhappiness with themselves and with their lives. These factors all add up to a condition that the authors of a recent book have dubbed Maternal Depletion Syndrome (MDS), a serious bio-psycho-social condition that they say affects the well-being of many women who bear and/or raise children.

The book that outlines MDS, Mother Nurture: A Modern Mom's Guide to a Healthy Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships (Penguin, 2002), was written by psychologist Rick Hanson, nutritionist Jan Hanson, and OB/GYN Ricki Pollycove, the former chief of gynecology at California Pacific Medical Center. Together they're on a mission to bring MDS to greater public awareness.

In a Powerpoint presentation that Hanson and Pollycove often present to med school classes, they list "common presenting problems of women"--in other words, ailments that bring women in their childbearing and child-rearing years into their doctors' offices. These range from depression to low libido to auto-immune conditions, excess weight, fatigue, and gallbladder or kidney problems. The single common factor that increases the risk of each one of these conditions is motherhood, the authors point out.

The insidious thing about it, says Hanson, is that motherhood isn't usually considered a factor in any one of these conditions. Or if it is, it's written off as "just part of the job." Take fatigue, for instance, or stress. How many times have you heard people say that it's all part of having kids?

Maternal depletion is the number one unacknowledged health care problem in the U.S., Hanson says. We should take this condition seriously not only for the sake of the individual women themselves, but also for the impact on our country and the economy when so many women are "running on empty." Children are neglected, marriages get into trouble, jobs suffer--"all of which, one way or the other, costs our economy billions," Hanson says.

But research that correlates motherhood with particular health complaints is spotty. "There are virtually no longitudinal studies that match mothers with non-mothers over, say, a three to five year period to assess their risk for certain conditions," Hanson says. He and his co-authors spent months doing a thorough review of the medical literature, in the end compiling eighty pages of references. ("I'm the guy in your seventh grade class with three pages of footnotes on his book report," he says.) All of it adds up to a big gaping hole in our knowledge of how being a mother affects us on a day-to-day level.

The authors are both adamant and anti-alarmist. They don't want to sensationalize their findings, but they firmly believe it's both pervasive and invisible. It's been so easily ignored up to now, Pollycove says, partly because our culture doesn't like to hear mothers complain. And women who are ground down are less able to muster the energy to make a big issue of their health. Hanson also points to a psycho-social reason we've overlooked MDS to date: At some level, he believes, we're aware that our own mothers may not have always had an easy or wholly enjoyable time raising us. That makes us feel guilty, which makes us more inclined to stick our heads in the sand when faced with evidence that many women are suffering through their child-rearing lives today. "And you can't underestimate the economic motive either," he says. "We don't like to acknowledge that we are always exploiting the unpaid labor of mothers."

MDS happens, they say, when three common factors collide: the high physical and mental demands of bearing and raising children; the low resources many mothers have on hand when they have kids (ranging from poor-quality food to insufficient help from a partner); and "personal vulnerabilities," such as having children at an older age, a prior health problem, a temperament that's unsuited to the chaos of living with young children, or a bout of postpartum depression.

By their calculations, one-third of all mothers will sail through the birth and caregiving years relatively easily. They're likely to have the deck stacked in their favor: a loving, helpful partner, good overall health, youth, enough money, and "plain old good luck," Hanson says. One-third are likely to find it more challenging, suffering some depletion, fatigue, depression, or difficulty with their relationships--but they're able to rise out of it by the time their youngest child is in kindergarten.

The remaining one-third of mothers are at risk for significant depletion. "They have a really difficult time, especially in the early years, with more serious health problems and deeper depletion that has longer lasting consequences," Hanson says. "Their depletion may last into their children's teenage years, and then collide with the challenges of the transition to menopause."

Those mothers often suffer for years without pinpointing the problem. "It typically takes one to two years for a woman who has underlying risk factors to drain their deepest resources," Hanson says. "They'll have a lot of subclinical problems: they're run down, they're having weird periods, they've got no patience, they have insomnia, or a loss of libido. They see their doctor for the typical six-minute appointment, and they may get one of those thing looked at.

"But if one more stressor is added to her life--a spouse's job loss, a difficult child, even less sleep than normal--she starts circling the drain of depression and depletion."

Many women are able to begin building up their resources (sleep, time apart from their baby, healthier eating habits) at about the time their child starts coming out of the toddler years. But if she hasn't fully "restocked" before the next baby comes along, the cumulative stress could drain her more quickly and more deeply.

Some of the underlying issues of MDS can be easily addressed, they say. There are simple medical tests that can pinpoint a thyroid problem (which is often a culprit in fatigue), for instance, or a nutritional overhaul. There are relaxation techniques for dealing with day-to-day stress and communication strategies to help an MDS mother talk more effectively with a spouse or partner. But the first thing that has to happen, they say, is that the mother herself has to acknowledge that her health matters. "I've been trying for twenty-seven years to sell women on the idea of taking care of themselves," Pollycove says wryly. "It's a hard sell. Women will buy ten books on pregnancy and the newborn stage. But after that, it's like they drop off the planet."

"We're not knocking the wonderful parts of motherhood. We're just trying to point out that if we can gain some recognition for the idea of Maternal Depletion Syndrome, more research can be done," Hanson adds. "Maybe we could find a way to flag those women who are higher risk earlier in their child-rearing careers which would not only help them, but help the children under their care, and even the economy.

"Motherhood is not a clinical condition," he says. "On the other hand, it's a very serious undertaking that doesn't stop when mom and baby go home from the hospital."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


When we first saw our house, there were several major factors that made me want it - a large yard and a kitchen I didn't hate, for instance. I could very easily explain why I wanted those, although in retrospect my ideas about the benefits of a large yard might, just might, have been based on wildly optimistic assumptions.

There were some other things I liked, but couldn't easily explain. For example, the living room has 2 doorways, so that it's possible to walk from the living room to the kitchen to the dining room to the hallway and into the living room again, counterclockwise. I knew I liked this feature, but wasn't exactly sure what practical benefits it might offer.

Recently we've found one.

Annika learned about the game of "flying" - being held horizontally, arms outstretched Superman-style, with me running her around the house this way. It's especially fun to chase something, be it a cat or Daddy. Much better to run circles around downstairs than to be confined to one room at a time!

Now if only I was willing and able to "fwy" her as much as she wanted... alas, mama gets tired after a couple of rounds of this. Then there are many requests of "fwy? fwy? mama! fwy! mamamama!" and usually it all ends in tears. But only a little bit of tears, then she's distracted by something shiny.

That, I think, pretty much sums up the joy and pain of life with a toddler. Within the span of 15 minutes, you get a nice little tour of human emotion starting at baseline mood, onward to ecstatic giggling, to frustrated foot-stomping, to tears of bitter anguish, and back to baseline.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Annika now has about 50 words she can say. Here's a not-necessarily-comprehensive list, in approximate chronological order. Notice that "mommy" and "daddy" were not anywhere near the top of the list.

kitty (kih-yee)
boom boom - used for any loud noise
head (heh)
nose (no)
mouth (mouw)
beep beep - the noise the microwave makes
hot (hah)
down (dow)
bath (bah)
green (gree)
light (lie)
daddy (dah-ee)
hello? (he'o) to "answer" a cell phone
peas (pee)
moss (maw)
shirt (sher)
hat (haa)
acorn (ee-cor)
flower (fow)
meow (meeow)
hug (huh)
door (doh)
spoon (poon)
book (buh)
vroom vroom - to describe the sound of a car or motorcyle. she likes motorcycles, god help us.
crayon (cra'n)
teeth (tee)
corn (cor)
cup (cuh)
food (foo)
car (cah)
plane (pain)
foot (fuh)
hand (hah)
broccoli (bah-ee)
Barkley (baw-ee) the name of her toy puppy
ball (baw)
night-night (nie nie)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book quote

Favorite quote from a book I recently read:

"How do you measure love? Quantify it? It's not something you can put on a scale or pour into a beaker to examine its volume and viscosity."

- Sirantha Jax in "Wanderlust", a sci-fi/romance novel by Ann Aguirre

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Ethics of Modern Agriculture

I thought this paper was thought-provoking.

One sentence summary: compared to either pre-industrial agriculture or organic farming, modern agriculture is better for people, better for the environment, worse for farm animals.

Discuss (but only if you actually read the paper - it's only 5 pages long).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Moss snob

"The work of moss gardening has an elitist quality that I must admit I find appealing. Every John and Jane grows grass. Only Nature's chosen grow moss."

- George Schenk, author of "Moss Gardening: Including Lichens, Liverworts and Other Miniatures"

I'm infatuated with moss lately, and having stumbled across this quote at Each Little World blog, I am amused that this apparently makes me elitist. And among Nature's chosen!

I've started removing grass in some already mossy patches of our yard, mainly around trees where the roots make it difficult or impossible to mow. There's something very Zen about both the process and the result.

I've also collected some mosses to try to grow in a shallow dish indoors... sort of like a bonsai garden. Er, without any trees. Just the moss. Hard to tell if any of them are actually growing, though.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What you wish for

Since we moved back East, we have been complaining to each other that the summer storms here are weak and disappointing compared to those of Kansas. They're also less likely to remove our roof, but that's besides the point.

Yesterday as I was driving home... after a weekend of hard work on gardening projects (more details to follow when I can post photos), the wind kicked up, a torrential downpour became more of a horizontal-pour, the lightning stabbed down, and it HAILED. Pea-sized up to nickel-sized balls of ice. Now that's what I call a storm!

There's a price for such entertainment, though. My Cherokee Purple tomato plant fell over, and although the stem appears to be intact, I'm not yet certain whether it will survive. Same with the cute little Patio Tomato, a bushy thing designed to be grown in a container. The basil plants had some stems broken off, but nothing they can't grow back - and the "harvest" made a tasty addition to the stir fry we had for dinner. The new shrubs I planted had some of their leaves chewed up by the hail, but no major damage as far as I can tell. My poor hostas, though... the ones not protected by trees overhead really took a beating.

Annika thought the hailstones were interesting, but at this age she doesn't understand where they came from, or even that it's odd to have little balls of ice on the ground in June. What she really enjoyed was splashing in a puddle left on our driveway after the storm.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I ran across a piece in the NYTimes about iPhone applications that are geared towards kids of various ages, for purposes of education or entertainment. The first line line of the article posed the question "Say you were faced with a 3-year-old child on the verge of full meltdown — which iPhone apps would distract and delight him enough to avoid mayhem?"

Predictably, when I skimmed the comments to see what apps people had found besides the ones mentioned in the article, I found the following comment:

Pathetic. Parents are so helpless in how to handle their kids that they have to resort to this?
Somehow we’ve managed to raise kids for thousands of years without iPhone applications. Sometimes we’ve even done the strange thing called “interacting” with them.Oh, and occasionally saying “no” to tantrum throwing 3 year olds and leaving whatever place they’re throwing the tantrum in!— Library Lady

I wonder, has Library Lady ever been on a long plane flight with a toddler? This sounds to me like exactly the kind of comment made by people who don't have kids of their own, but are nonetheless experts on parenting. Or conversely, someone who raised their own kids long ago... long enough to forget their own troubles and shortcomings, and bemoan those of the newer generation of parents. Someone who, when faced with their own tantrum-throwing 3 year old all those years ago, would probably have killed for a device that could magically bring peace and quiet.

Personally, I plan to use my iPhone with Annika - to entertain, amuse, soothe, stimulate, teach, and whatever else I find it can do. I'm not the least bit worried that if I do so, I'll be depriving her of human interaction or somehow severing her from the "real world." The more puzzling question for me, is at what point it might be reasonable to get a kid their own iPhone. Not anytime soon, certainly. She'll have her own camera long before she has her own phone!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Botany help

I know I've seen this plant before, and I can't recall its name. Here's a link to some photos on Flickr that someone took of the same thing.

I saw it at a rest stop, tried to remember if it's native or not, decided that either way it's kind of interesting, and put the seedhead-puff in my purse.

Because doesn't everyone want something in their garden that looks like a giant dandelion?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Earlier this spring, I noticed some kind of alien (small, green, and of mysterious origin) putting up shoots in my rhododendron bed. I am not known for optimism, and my first assumption was that this was something invasive and nasty. I started pulling it out, and certainly it smelled nasty - imagine a combination of icky fish-smell, and harsh citrus cleaning solution. If you're trying to eat lunch while you read this, my apologies.

I didn't think I had seen the last of it. These shoots were scattered across an area about 3 feet in diameter, and if I made the assumption that it had come in - with one of the things I planted several weeks before that? With the mulch? Anyway, assuming it had arrived as a small piece of root/rhizome, it had already somehow spread underground before bothering to show itself.

At first I was afraid that it was the dreaded Japanese Knotweed - but then I saw something like it in UPenn's Kaskey Park, and plucked a piece to confirm, by the nose-wrinkling scent, that it was the same thing I had in my yard. The ones at Penn were bigger, and already blooming; the flowers were nothing like the photos I had seen of Japanese Knotweed. So I had ruled out one possibility, but wasn't much closer to finding out what it was. Knowing that it had white flowers and a weird smell was not a big help.

Finally I did a search for "groundcover shade" and, after reading through several articles, I stumbled across one that sung the praises of Chameleon Plant, and had a picture. This was the variegated cultivar, but I recognized the suspect immediately.

And I soon learned that I had jumped to exactly the right conclusion. Gardeners across the web have spoken thusly: "I made the biggest mistake of my gardening life when I introduced this into my garden"..."I will continue to dig and hold my nose (I think it smells horrindous) for maybe the rest of my life"..."This is the first plant that I have ever detested"..."I started trying to dig up all the roots three years ago, and it is STILL coming back! I even resorted to spraying it with brush killer which only succeeded in wilting it a bit before it came back more vigorously than ever. Trust me, this plant is TOUGH!"...."I finally gave in and bought Round-Up on the advice of our local nursery. I felt really bad, I never use stuff like this and I felt like such a plant murderer! Well, it's now fall and I have sprayed these plants many times over the season, and while the total number of plants has lessened, there's still more growing every time I look."

And my favorite comment of all: "good friends give you good plants; this is a plant to give to your enemies."

Here's a site with lots of photos. The one in my rhododendron bed has more ordinary-looking green leaves with a subtle red edging, but it's definitely the same species. Houttuynia cordata.

I expect to be fighting this one for a while. How annoying that something invasive and stinky either a) hitched a ride on one of the native plants I bought, or b) was hiding in the mulch that I put in that bed to prevent weeds from growing there!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crows and coffee

This morning as I got into my car to go to work, I saw a big crow zoom out of the silver maple and up over the roof of our house. I just barely caught a glimpse of something small and blue held in its beak - probably a robin's egg. I have a lot of respect for the intelligence and adaptability of crows, but I would like them better if they weren't egg-robbers and baby-bird-eaters.

I brought a plastic jar to work, put it near the sink, and posted a sign over it: "Be Green, Recycle Your Coffee Grounds Here". I'm delighted that the coffee-making folks of the lab are obliging me! The idea is to collect coffee grounds for the compost pile. Whyfore, other than to rescue them from the landfill? Having finished a graduate school degree wherein I learned a fair amount about ecological stoichiometry, I'm not sure if it's ironic or simply fitting that I now find myself thinking about carbon:nitrogen ratios when I think about composting. A compost pile made solely of materials with a high C:N ratio - think dry leaves and sawdust - will break down very slowly, and if it's used before it is well broken down, it will actually strip nitrogen from the soil to which it's added. A compost heap with a lot of high-nitrogen materials will heat up nicely, but will be stinky. Since our backyard provides abundant leaves every fall, we have a surplus of high-carbon stuff; coffee grounds have a C:N ratio of 20:1, which helps to balance out the dry leaves' ratio of 60:1. The 'ideal' compost heap has something like a 30:1 ratio. I'm nerdy enough to have looked this up, but not nerdy enough to try to calculate the exact ratios of my compost bins. I'm more of the "guesstimate, see how it works out" philosophy.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bloodroot and basil, and The Battle of the Back Fence

This year, I've already done much more gardening than last year. Not hard to beat "zero" though, really.

It started in mid-April when the weather suddenly warmed up. I visited one of the few local native plant nurseries, Redbud Native Plant Nursery. I bought some more shade-loving plants for the native plant patch near the shed:


wood aster, Jacob's ladder, phlox. I didn't get decent pictures of all of them, though.

And a few more for sunnier spots: a giant hyssop, golden star, spiderwort

bleeding heart

dutchman's breeches

Turk's cap lily.

So far: the bloodroot didn't bloom, but its leaves stayed green until just recently - it looks like it's starting to go into its summer dormancy. The Jacob's ladder seems to be growing quite well, and had lots of pretty light lavendar flowers. Some of them appear to have been pollinated - looks like I'll have some seeds to sow for next season. The bleeding heart is still blooming wonderfully, as is one of the golden star plants - the other seems unhappy, though I'm not sure why. The Turk's cap lily has grown from 3 inches tall to about 2 1/2 feet - hopefully it will bloom later this summer. The spiderwort started blooming last week - what a pretty purple! Since I planted it in my yard, I've noticed that along the train tracks I ride to work every day, there are thousands of spiderwort plants... too bad I didn't notice that last year, or I would have collected seeds.

Around the same time, on a trip to Lowe's to buy some gardening tools, I also bought two of these cuties - 'Starry Night' violas.
They've grown quite a bit since this photo taken shortly after they were planted; that was about 6 weeks ago, and they've now got about twice as many flowers as in this shot. They're much more vibrantly purple than the photo would suggest.

On Mother's Day my mom and I went to Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve. I restrained myself from buying anything at their plant sale, but on our way back we stopped at a nursery and I ended up buying two kinds of bee balm, Monarda fistulosa and Monarda didyma cultivars. I also bought an "obedient plant," Physostegia. Every time I think about its name, I wonder if I can train it to do dishes for me. My mom also brought me some plants from her garden: a cute native woodland wildflower called foamflower (Tiarellia), and some Jack-in-the-Pulpits and lily of the valley.

A week ago, my mom and I both took a day off and tackled a big project in the yard - I've dubbed it The Battle of the Back Fence. We have an old chain link fence separating our backyard from those of our rear neighbors. It does not, however, actually enclose anything, so the only purpose it serves, in my opinion, is to serve as a trellis for poison ivy and a hindrance to me reaching the poison ivy that grows behind it. We suited up in long sleeves, long pants, two layers of gloves, and we started cutting back brush (mostly Norway maple saplings and brambles) and pulling out poison ivy. We created quite a large brush pile, and filled several trash bags with poison ivy. Then, we started taking down the chain link fence - a task complicated by the fact that in places, tree saplings were growing through the chain link so that the fence wires had to be cut around them.
My plans for this area involve keeping it trimmed and poison ivy free for a year or so, and then planting some native shrubs and perennials where the fence used to be. Maybe a rain garden/mini-wetland in the back corner, where it gets very damp every spring.

I fiddled around with ideas for creating raised vegetable beds this year, but realized that I didn't have enough free time/energy/money for that. I'm hoping to get the beds built by fall, to use next spring. For this year, my edible gardening consists mostly of containers on the deck - basil, rosemary, sage, dill, cilantro, and two kinds of tomatoes. I also dug up some wild grape vines growing in several spots in the yard where they are most definitely not wanted (such as under the rhododendrons), and transplanted them next to the deck where, with any luck, they'll cover the deck, feed the birds, and give us a few wild grapes to eat, too.

And, for Jenny - a photo of the wild ginger where you can see a flower, to the left of most of the leaves.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Need to find a Gardeners Anonymous chapter.

Hi, my name is Irene and I'm a gardening addict.

* I spend money on gardening that I should use for other things.
* I often garden alone.
* I frequently overdo it and suffer the consequences the day after.
* When I'm at work, I think about plants, and if possible I do some gardening as soon as I get home.
* I'm often outside gardening first thing in the morning.

However, for the 12 step program to work, the first step is realizing that you have a problem... I figure that this particular addiction is better for me than, say, playing video games (although more expensive, at least initially!), and certainly yields more tangible benefits.

If you're one of the three people reading this blog, be prepared to hear a lot about plants. Whenever I actually get around to posting, that is.

I plan to start blogging about my gardening projects, in part for the sake of keeping track of what I did, what worked, what didn't, and so on.

We moved into our house 2 and a half years ago, in January 2007. Having bought the house without knowing anything about the yard except its size, its trees, and the deck in the back, the first year I was mostly interested in observing. What would come up where? How would the sunlight fall? What color would the azaleas bloom?

But of course I wasn't content to just observe. I also undertook two small projects, both of which turned out to be... educational.

First, I bought some native plants at the Bartram's Garden plant sale, and planted them in a shady spot in the back yard, near the shed, along with some hostas that had been growing by the mailbox, but were getting choked by grass. I'm not sure I remember all of what I planted, but I think the list looked something like... wild ginger, crested iris, Meehan's mint, shooting star, Goldie's fern, Jack-in-the-pulpit. I remember thinking that since these were native plants, they should be carefree and grow happily where I planted them - especially since I took care to amend the soil with some store-bought stuff. However... what I failed to understand is that the soil in my yard (especially in that spot) is heavy orange clay - nothing like the rich, humus-y mature deciduous forest soil that most of those species prefer. I also didn't water them much during the second half of the summer; I was in my first trimester of pregnancy by then, and feeling quite miserable enough without venturing out into the heat and humidity. Here's a photo of this area, taken a week ago.

The best success thus far has been the wild ginger. From a start of just one 2-leaved plant, it has started to spread, and it bloomed this year. The flowers are easy to miss; they're low to the ground, and purplish-brown.

The hostas aren't happy - I think it's actually too much shade even for them, and maybe not enough drainage, plus they're getting eaten by slugs. The Meehan's mint and shooting star have vanished without a trace, sadly. The little iris shoots are spreading, but I think they're not getting enough light to bloom. Although it's hard to make out in this photo, the Goldie's fern has survived and is sending up some new leaves, and a lonely, pathetic-looking Jack-in-the-pulpit is coming up.

The other project I started that first summer was a vegetable garden. I picked a (fairly) sunny spot, dug up the grass, worked some packaged garden soil into the clay, and planted some tomatoes, bell peppers, and strawberries. The tomatoes got nibbled by deer, the bell peppers produced a grand total of one pepper, and the strawberries were underwhelming both in quantity and quality. Here, too, I think that the clay soil was the main culprit - I didn't add nearly enough organic matter.

The year after that, I didn't do any gardening at all - newborn Annika was keeping me very busy. So this year, I have a year's worth of pent-up gardening energy. It's getting late tonight, but in my next post, I'll describe what I've done so far this year.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Make it rain

This is my kind of gangsta rap. Those of you who teach biology might want to bookmark this.

Also, on a very different (musical) note, just in case any of you that read this blog haven't yet heard Susan Boyle, you need to go listen to this right away.

Just be warned: have a box of tissues handy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Far, far away

I may not have the money or the time to physically travel to exotic places, but I recently discovered a blog from such a place, a heady mix of photographs and poetic writing, "the bemused tales of an American family's quest to build a guest house in Marrakesh."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Quote of the moment

"... it's not like it's my job to go around remembering things. Wait, maybe it IS my job! AUGH I DON'T REMEMBER!"

-from this webcomic that I stumbled across

I feel like this most of the time; it is in fact my job to remember things like what I did the day before, and where I put the thing that goes beep, and what I'm supposed to do next. Anyone who knows me well enough to read this blog knows that memory has never been my strongest point, but motherhood has caused me to sink to new lows. I keep wondering if, unbeknownst to me, some large portion of my brain has devoted itself to making my offspring grow properly through sheer force of will.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Major Scientific Breakthrough

Baby does not like medicine on a spoon. Baby does not like medicine in a dropper or syringe. Both result in a statistically significant amount of screaming - both signal and noise simultaneously. Either method leads to unacceptably large error margins, where error = medicine spat out or flung across room.

Baby DOES like yogurt, and will eat medicine when mixed with yogurt. Eureka!

This is what passes for brilliance around here, these days.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Battle of the Bed

Our first child is working hard to make certain that she will be our only child.

My husband was horrified when I said, about a month ago, that I was no longer on board with whole 2-kids idea. But last night may have changed that, however incrementally.

Ever since we made the trek to the West Coast for a week, Annika's sleep schedule has been unpredictable and incoherent. She went from waking once a night, about 2/3 of the time, and going back to sleep readily... to waking multiple times a night, every night, and going back to sleep only after being awake (and crying) for quite a while. There is a world of difference between the first state and the second.

The one is tolerable, almost pleasant. The other makes me a walking heap of disturbingly negative thoughts and barely-suppressed rage. I don't sleep well with a baby next to me, and I've had a baby next to me for significant parts of the night, the last few nights. Last night, my nurturing instincts finally short-circuited and I dumped the child in her crib, told my husband he could take over or leave the baby screaming as he chose, and put earplugs in my ears. Heroic husband spent nearly all night trying to get that creature to sleep: bottles, rocking, sleeping next to her on the spare mattress. She thanked him by kicking him in the nuts and pulling his hair.

I know that this is temporary, that it won't last forever. My rational mind knows that. My emotions haven't gotten the memo. Rational doesn't help. Even knowing that the phase she's going through is normal doesn't help.

But we have 2 nights of baby-free sleep ahead of us (thanks to my wonderful parents!), and that will most certainly help.