Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A time to wean, a time to cry

When I spoke with friends, family and random people (mostly women) I met ten minutes before in the playground about weaning, every person said that I would feel depressed during the process. Nope, not me, I thought. I figured the joy of having my body back would more than make up for the fact that I no longer knew what to do with it. As with most things when it comes to being a mama, it's harder emotionally and easier physically than I expected.

Before I left for our quick trip 5,500 miles away, I pumped like mad to have enough milk for Mr. Monk's five days without the boob. Turns out, there was nearly the exact amount needed and he downed the bottles like there was a prize at the end. Clearly they were a good replacement for the real thing because for the past few days he has been refusing the milk machines. I'm not necessarily opposed to this because I wanted to wean him around a year, but I thought he'd at least put up a fight. Frankly, I think I'm a little hurt that he's turning up his nose at me. Literally, giving me the chin, like how dare I consider him a baby who would want to suckle with his mama. Even though I know this is the easiest way to transition to this next stage, I still feel like crying all the time. I assumed I would have to close up shop to great protest and now I can't even get my best customer to drop by for a visit. My little baby is all growns up. Color me ambivalent about this whole toddler deal.

In part, I think the rejection is due to his separation from me for a few days and his realization that the world doesn't revolve around my boobs. Maybe he's paying me back for leaving in some strange way? Oh please do not let my son be passive aggressive. I also may have lost a bit of the old supply when I accidentally electrocuted my chest in London and destroyed my power cord. Word to the wise--when calling a hotel front desk, telling them that you blew a fuse while pumping may not be the best choice of words. Perhaps batteries just don't work as well because I am only able to pump out a fraction of my normal output. At this point, me and my best friend, pumpette, might need to part ways. We've had a good run but lately I just feel bad about myself when I'm with her. And, I'm pretty sure she scared the old man sitting next to me on my plane ride back from England.

While I was happy to do it and grateful that I could, I was never that nursing loving mama. Although it was the most natural thing possible, it always seemed surprising and a little science fiction-y that I could nourish my baby with my booby. I found my groove with it after the first couple of weeks, but I definitely started the final countdown a few months ago. I am excited to get my breasts back to their previous uses (if only I could remember what those were). Yet, here are all these emotions that I told myself I wouldn't feel.

Breastfeeding (and hanging with pumpette) has taken up a good 30% portion of my job description. How am I going to fill that time now? At least I knew I could manage to pull down my shirt every so often. The teaching and raising a decent person part? That seems infinitely harder. It's just dawning on me that perhaps, in addition to the health benefits, some mamas continue nursing their young until they can ask for it because they want to still be necessary. Not coincidentally, I seem to be seeing a rather high number of pregnant women with babies around the 1 year mark. Right now it feels like my son definitely knows he doesn't need me for his sole source of nourishment. While that is wonderful, it's also painful. The letting go begins.

So, what now?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Full service buffet

Mr. Monk's rigorous afternoon of swinging and sand boxing was capped off with the following dinner meal:

Puffs, spinach

Yogurt, peach
Egg, scrambled
Cheese, string
Peas, mashed

Pasta, meat sauce

We're thinking tape worm.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Biker babe

Biking around London might very well have been my favorite two hours of the whole trip. Last summer, London implemented a bike rental program (cycle hire in British) throughout the city so that you can pick up a bike in one location, ride it around to your heart’s content, and then drop it off at the next nearest location. We're big into the bikes and have done this before in other cities, including Paris, DC. Supposedly, they’ve been working on bringing a similar dealio to the city by the bay.

Realizing that we were incapable of crossing the street without invariably looking the wrong way first and narrowly missing the oncoming cars, we stuck to the vast park greens. And, look what we just happened upon. It’s a lovely home, eh?

Both the Mr. and I loved London, despite our continuous state of discombobulation, from the 8 hour time change, the driving on the other side of the street sitch and the fact that every other street has the same first name but a slightly different last name—Gloucester Road, Gloucester Way, Gloucester Mews, Gloucester Street and on and on. The architecture, the charming neighborhoods, and the ACCENTS were all spectacular. I love the accent so much that I mimic it without realizing. V. embarrassing. Apparently, I cannot pull off "bullocks."

The trip ended, as they often do, sitting next to the most beautiful models we had ever seen. It is Fashion Week in London and judging by the bits of convo I overheard, both the dashing man and his impossibly beautiful girlfriend were in several shows. I pretty much stared at them as they ate (dinner and dessert!) so impressed by the beauty that I decided to order what they had, Shephard’s Pie. Best. Decision. Ever. Even if they did share theirs and I devoured mine plate and all.

Lo, we are almost home. Flying somewhere above Colorado right now. Back to our little, the blondie bear. I can’t wait to scoop him up and kiss his monkey face. At least the grandmas are still here for one more day to deal with diaper duty.

Look kids, Big Ben!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sliding doors

I am leading a double life. These past few days in London I have been mostly on my own as my husband attends a business conference. Wandering around neighborhoods, popping into shops, ordering meals for one and generally doing whatever I want, whenever I want has been marvelous (or marvy as they'd say here). I feel strangely like myself again. My old self. The pre moving to San Francisco, pre marriage, pre baby, pre me now self. And, I like it.

Without your baby around, you don't always have to talk about your baby. While the hub and I have the "I wonder what Mr Monk is doing right now" conversations about 30 times per day, no one else here cares. Which is just fine by me. As much as I enjoy being the source of nourishment, entertainment and overall contentment for my wee one, I am appreciating the reminder that I have other interests. Such interests mostly involve shopping and gawking at the pretty, pricey pieces. But, I did manage to check out the Tate Modern today. London is undergoing a face lift in preparation for its coming out party at the Summer 2012 Olympics. It seems the entire city is under constant construction and improvement. A little nip here, a little tuck there. The Tate, already a glorious museum, is in the midst of a major transformation and even has its own cool cranes.

These few days are a lovely little respite from mommyworld. I'm sure come Saturday I'll be pushing people out of my way to jump off the plane and grab my bebe, but until then I'm going to enjoy being just me. The me who has to force herself not to buy her son the most adorably British outfits because no.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Last night as we were flying 33,000 feet above land, I kept picturing my little baby’s face. His blond swirling hairs, his pretty red mouth and his itty bitty nose appeared under my eyelids as if to tell me that he’s always with me no matter how far I go. I left him once before for a night but I was only a car drive away. A ten hour flight is a whole nother deal. He and his sweet toes are on another continent! Though I know everything will be fine, it’s still scary to imagine being so far away if anything should happen. But, it won’t. I know, I know!

He was crying when I left, though I think that had a little more to do with him dropping his bottle than his fear of missing me. I’m fairly certain that he’ll be so spoiled by his two grandmas that he will hardly notice I’m gone. As long as the milk lady left her milk, he’s chillin'. And leave it I did, down the plane’s drain. That was rough. Bye bye 10 ounces. I’ll be throwing out a lot more this week. What a waste. I may try to see if I can donate it here since I can’t freeze it and bring it home. Somehow, I have a feeling that there is a good deal of bureaucracy involved in that. Though, maybe I should just sell it and pay for the trip (!).

I’m so excited to sleep tonight (first time I’ve stayed up 36 hours straight in YEARS) and wake up to London tomorrow. We spent much of today walking around and getting lost, which is my favorite traveling pastime. I’m quite good at it.

Also, on the plane yesterday I discovered a new obsession--FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS! Holy moly, that is an engaging show. The Mr. had to shove me to realize that it was our turn to disembark the plane. I kind of wanted to ask him to wait for me till the end of the episode. I know I’m super tardy to the party but I need to Netflix that series asap.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Best with fava beans and a nice Chianti

For a few weeks just before I was due with Mr. Monk, my husband and I attended a childbirth class at a local pregnancy/childbirth/parenting center. We decided to go to the crunchy, granola place considering our general desire to have a natural childbirth and, more importantly, it was only a five minute drive from our house. Over the years we've learned that long car rides when you're running perpetually late are not very good for our marriage or our sanity. So, the uber hippie place it was!

From the second we started our first class, I could hear the Sesame Street song "One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others" playing in my head. I was the only one wearing makeup. The only one giving birth at the posh hospital ("baby factory") across the city (maybe not the best planning considering our aforementioned driving issues). The only one who didn't consider the possibility of a c section to be a fate worse than death. The only one wearing deodorant. Just kidding, but I probably was the only one wearing perfume.

Over the course of the class, it was enlightening hearing the women talk about their home birth plans, tubs and all. I tried to keep an open mind as others shared their desire to breastfeed for 2 to 3 years. (!) Although I thought many of the other women were maybe just a little kooky and I'm pretty sure they were judging me and my purses, it was a serene environment in which to learn about the roller coaster we were about to experience. That is, of course, until they told us to eat our placenta.

For the uninitiated, eating one's placenta, placentophagia if you will, is supposed to help regulate your hormones and prevent postpartum depression. Look, it's trendy! One of the women in our class planned to mix her frozen placenta into a smoothie. The instructor also blended hers upon the birth of her daughter. While I was feeling mildly nauseous at the thought, my husband was listening with rapt attention. He became convinced that "we" needed to do this to help bring our baby into a happy home. "We? What we?" I wondered as he started finding out rates for the encapsulation of my placenta into pills that I would have to take.

After being a week overdue, I went to see an acupuncturist friend to kick start the labor process. While I was fairly certain the acupuncture wasn't doing what the pitocin later would, I chatted with my friend about the meal o' placenta. She was so emphatic about the benefits and her amazing experience, calling it the best high ever. I began to think that maybe I could take the pills after all. I was so used to downing all those prenatals, what not add another handful of horse capsules?

So, we decided to just have the pills made in case I wanted to take them. My OB hardly batted an eye when I told her my revised birth plan to harvest and take home my placenta in a tupperware. This is San Francisco after all. The "placenta doula" picked up the organ and turned it into pills less than 12 hours later. It was the most efficient transaction ever. I was half delirious having just delivered Mr. Monk into the world, but I remember her being sweet, braided and very soothing. She even brought me a print of my placenta (think fingerprint, only bigger and more bloody) that I specifically requested her NOT to bring. She suggested I may want to hang it in the nursery. It's rolled up in back of the nursery closet. Does that count?

I didn't follow her directions to take 6 pills a day for the first week postpartum. I couldn't even bring myself to open the jar for the first four days. Curiosity got the best of me on the fifth day and I tried two of the pills. Nothing happened. Taking that as a good sign, I took three more pills that night. I wish I could say that nothing happened.

I woke up in the morning with a bright red, itchy rash ALL OVER MY ENTIRE BODY! I was suddenly radioactive. The rash was so dramatic and so angry that I could feel the rejection searing through me. I knew instinctively that it was from the bad idea jeans (genes) pills. I reached out to my OB and the placenta doula, neither of whom had ever heard of such a reaction. In my leper-like state I went to see a dermatologist in case I needed a steroid to calm the welts. The stately old dermatologist immediately asked me if I ate anything out of the ordinary recently. "No, not that I can think of." "Oh, well, actually, um..."

The Dr. looked at me like I told him I ate my baby, which I guess I sort of did. Thankfully, I didn't need a steroid prescription and the rash went away by itself a few days later. I kind of wish I took a picture of my bumpy body for posterity. Now all I have is this awesome story. Oh, and the baby.

I like the color, but I'm not so sure about the size, mom...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Dude Abides

The other night I watched "127 Hours." I'd like to think that if faced with imminent death I would drink my own pee and cut off my own arm. Let's not test that.

Mr. Monk's latest trick is giving. He likes to hand off anything that he has to me or the dog. After he licks it, naturally.

You know you want it...

I'm not sure which is scarier--finding the baby fondling a rusty old pair of pliers or my husband asking why that's a bad thing.

Starting to get really nervous for our trip to London sans baby.

Starting to get really excited for our trip to London sans baby.

I just typed up a three page list of "notes" for our mothers to use when watching Mr. Monk for a whopping five days. Apparently, I am a micromanager after all.

Yes, both of our mothers are coming to watch the baby while we're away. Together. Sounds like a sitcom plot, doesn't it?

People keep asking if our moms get along well. My response: they do as of now. We'll check back in a week or two.

In the last few weeks, FIVE of our friends have had babies. December was a wild month!

If you are invited to a kids party and the invitation reads "no gifts," are you really not supposed to bring a gift? I have issues following directions. For my son's (ridiculously soon, eek!) birthday, I want to write "gifts only if you can't bear the thought of showing up empty-handed, please."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Little lion man

We had a death in the Schneed household today. Our dear friend, lion shirt, had to be put down. It fought valiantly but was no match for the power of the blueberry kefir. The kefir was a leopard, stealthy, quick and ravaging. The lion shirt stood no chance.

Farewell, lion shirt, you will be missed.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Same is not an evil word

I wish I loved anything as much as my husband loves football. Or Howard Stern, or gardening, or pretzels. While I may not approve of all his hobbies (such as the requisite trip to Vegas this weekend for his fantasy football draft. yeah, that's happening), I'm at least impressed by his commitment to them. He makes time for the things that mean something to him. There is something very earnest about the consistency of his habits. He knows what he likes and what he doesn't. As for me, well, I change my mind about who I want to be when I grow up every other day.

Routines and I have never agreed. When I worked at a law firm in NY, I had an officemate for a year who was just about the nicest guy (at a big law firm, this was like rooming with a unicorn). He adored the Mets, Jon Stewart and ate the exact same lunch at his desk EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I never, ever saw him eat anything but a turkey sandwich on toasted white bread, with mustard and mayo and a side of chips. This drove me bananas. How could he not want some variety? And how could he stand the smell of mayo?? Once a week I would to try to entice him to eat something different, to no avail. Meanwhile, I could never decide what I wanted and would spend a good twenty minutes of my lunch hour walking up and down the streets willing a new takeout place to come into existence.

Lately, I feel like my mind bores just as easily as my palate. I talk a big game about wanting to write, or volunteer, or make all my own baby food, or leave my house before noon. But, I'm not so good at the follow through. Just as I get a rhythm going, I find something new that attracts me and I fall in like with the next project. Part of this might be explained by the lack of structure in my life since I left my full-time job and began caring for a child who changes personalities on a minute-to-minute basis.

Given my own Sybil-like tendencies, how I ever expect my baby to be the same from day to day? Surely just because he wolfed down a particular food yesterday doesn't mean anything about whether he'll even deign to let it touch his tongue today. And, don't even get me started on the toys. Sometimes he plays for hours with the same toy and sometimes he tears through forty of them in a matter of minutes. His acting talents are on full display these days as he goes from crying to laughing in the same breath. It's beginning to dawn on me how much this fickle boy takes after his mama. Maybe we both need to start some daily to do lists.

Finish projects
Keep Mr. Monk alive and kicking


Thursday, September 8, 2011

On my mind

Calling a little boy a girl not once but three times within the span of one music class is rather embarrassing. But, he was really pretty!

It only takes an otolaryngologist about ten seconds to remove a piece of ear wax that was sitting on my eardrum and drove me crazy for hours. When I turned to check it out, the doctor said that she "thinks it just fell on the floor." Hah! Related: an ENT is also called an otolaryngologist.

What does it mean for our future that Mr. Monk only says "muh-muh-muhmuh" in a sad, pleading voice and only says "dada dada" in a singsong, hap hap happy voice? I'm sensing a "Mean Mommy" label coming.

Farro, where have you been all my life? Loving the chewy texture in my salads. I'm big on the surprise change in texture--anyone for a boba drink?

My hair is revolting (both for me and against me). It's almost time to stage an intervention.

Being a juicehead is:
a) invigorating
b) expensive
c) labor intensive
d) all of the above

Two indecisive people involved in a redecorating project is an utterly absurd prospect. Maybe we should just have Mr. Monk point to what he likes.

If I miss my baby while he's sleeping overnight, how am I going to go on a foreign vacay (albeit a short one) without him?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Do something

This afternoon I did a little furniture browsing in downtown San Francisco (pinterest only goes so far, people). While walking through the Union Square area I passed no less than three homeless/panhandling people per block. One such individual was particularly affecting. He was older, likely in his 60's and in a wheelchair, shaking from Parkinsons and breathing with the aid of an oxygen tube and tank. For a few seconds, I couldn't stop staring and started welling up thinking about how this situation came to be for him. I told myself that I would go back and give him some money when I felt more composed, but I got caught up in my silly exploits and forgot.

I need to remember to stop forgetting about others. I've always fantasized about going up to someone asking for change and handing over $100 (or $20 or even $10). One day. But, that's still just one person, one time. The best thing I have to give is my time, especially since that's pretty valuable these days. Volunteering has always been a priority for me since I donned my first candy striper uniform at age 12. I worked in the geriatric ward of the hospital and learned to call my grandmother as often as I could. For the past few years, I have been volunteering as an escort for Planned Parenthood, though I stopped late in my pregnancy as the protesters outside were particularly ugly to me then. Once Mr. Monk arrived, I began to think of my rearing a kind and good man as all the community service I could handle.

Recently, I signed up to start volunteering again, this time with group of children living in a homeless shelter. I worked at this shelter a couple of years ago, organizing play/educational events for the children. As difficult as their situations may be, a kid is a kid. They all just want to make you smile, laugh and buy them candy. I imagine this will be an even more powerful experience now that I am a mother.

Time to spread the happy. And some misguided toy purchases.

Call your grandma.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Learning the hard way

So, today was not the best day. Nope, not a happy one for Mr. Monk and therefore not a happy one for me. It started out all well and good, with lots of oatmeal eating, dog tail pulling and furniture cruising. But, as soon as we got to our friends' BBQ, it was all downhill. The hub and I took turns watching the little sleep in the car as we have previously learned our lesson about waking that sleeping babe. He woke up about an hour after we got there and we thought he would be cherry chipper after such an awesome nap. Yet, no.

He started whining the minute he woke up and wouldn't stop. I tried everything I could to calm him, but he was pretty much inconsolable. I played it off, all mellow mama-like, "He's fine. Just a little fussy. He's usually such a happy baby. Dude, how hot is Eric on True Blood?" I wanted him to be fine so I could enjoy myself. After an hour of non-stop whining, I started to think maybe he wasn't so fine. I suddenly noticed that his cheeks were super flushed and his head felt HOT to the touch. And, then I realized that my poor baby had been trying to tell me that he was actually sick for the past hour and I was too busy socializing to notice. Bad mama.

Turns out he did have a fever, but it went down to almost normal a few hours later. Man, teeth are evil. He's sleeping now and hopefully dreaming about penguins, igloos and other cool things.

When I was putting him to sleep, he kept looking up to check and see if I was still there. It hit me as I stared into his squinty eyes that I'm really his mother. I'm the one who is supposed to make everything alright. The one who puts down the glass of wine and leaves the party when her kid is sick. The one who does everything in her power to protect him from harm. The one who sings "The Wheels on the Bus" for the whole hour ride home just to put a smile on his face. It was as though someone turned on the light in that dark room and showed me that my relationship with this boy is just getting started.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Real World

When two people go from living across the country and seeing each other once every few weeks to living in a house together, they stop being polite and start getting real.

I moved to SF almost four years ago and have spent most of that time trying to convince my husband to move back to the East Coast. When I moved, we had been dating long-distance between NY and SF for over a year and one of us had to give. It made sense for me to go because I was the more portable party (didn't own my home; didn't have an established business) and, amazingly, my job agreed to let me work remotely. As hard as it was for me to leave NYC and my family/friends, I was excited for the new adventure. Mainly, I was excited because I thought of it as a short-term thing. I figured we would be here together for 2-3 years, then I would get pregnant and we'd head back to be closer to our families since neither of us have any out here. Never mind the fact that we weren't even engaged when I moved.

Fast forward past the puppy (Tony), the engagement (Big Sur), the wedding (New Orleans), the honeymoon (Paris-Kenya-Zanzibar), the baby (cute) and we're here. With no real plans to leave. We are so fortunate to have a great community of friends that almost makes up for the fact that we have no family here. Almost. If we weren't so close with our families I think the distance would be less of an issue. But, I hate to think of only seeing my baby nephew every couple of months and the same for Mr. Monk with the rest of our relatives. Yes, I realize that traveling across the country every couple of months is going to be untenable soon and basically already is. Given that we're spending a fortune on airfare, (hello $500 roundtrip flights. I hate you) I am not sure how long we can keep this up.

Our main issue, aside from the general loveliness of our life here and the whole not wanting to leave it, is that we don't know where to go. We can't seem to think of a city that is similar to San Francisco in terms of access to great food/culture/music/farmer's markets/progressive and mostly not aggressive mindset. While we don't yet feel ready for the 'burbs, we have also come to accept that my husband just can't deal with life in the NYC. After about four days, he starts getting twitchy, agitated and yell-y. Even in Brooklyn! For a man who is so laid back he makes Jack Johnson look uptight, this is not a good look. So, where does that leave us? With the suburbs and NY out, we can't seem to swallow moving to DC, Philly or any of the other smaller cities on the EC right now.

All of this to say, we're here. And this is where we will be. For now. I know that we will in all likelihood make our way back to the Atlantic at some point. I can't admit to myself what I sometimes think, which is maybe we should stay. In the meantime, I am going to retire my "why I want to move" speech and enjoy the scenery. I've spent far too much time obsessing over what's next and what will be that I'm not paying attention to what is. It's a pretty good life, when you're willing to live it.

So, I'm a Californian?