Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Last week I actually had some work to do and was surprised to find that it felt really good to be back at work. I think a lot of my job-loathing came from having so little to do for so long prior to my leave.

Once upon a time, I was very busy, so much so that I felt overwhelmed, but that sense of being overwhelmed was far preferable to the sense of being first indifferent and then somewhat hostile that came with being bored. It turned out that I preferred being productive and useful from 8:30am-10pm(/11/12/3/6am) over having a shorter day in which I felt useless. Well-paid, but useless. Or maybe I was just better able to avoid giving any serious thought to my feelings about my job and whether or not I liked it at all and just assumed I must like it if I did it so much -- the wonders of cognitive dissonance. Either way, I was much happier.

And here I am again. Last week, the days when I was busy, I had positive feelings about my job. I felt productive and useful. I enjoyed having deadlines and feeling a tad frenzied. I got a bit of a rush from it, in fact. But, unlike before, I felt like there was a serious tradeoff.

Every day, Harry grows up a little more, and I already feel like I'm missing so much of it. This time, I missed dinner-time solids but I made it home in time for bath and bedtime (and then worked from home until 11ish). But I know that I won't always be able to -- there will be times when I will get stuck at the office. And that push and pull between work and home is, well, hard to balance. I get a thrill from the adrenaline rush that comes from being busy, just like I always did, but it's tempered by the knowldge that any such thrill is fleeting and meaningless in comparison to the sense of calm and wholeness I get from spending time with my son, time that I am missing while I enjoy the thrill.

And I am aware of the irony of the fact that I get a thrill at work from being needed (and occasionally appreciated) in some way, while Harry, with whom I would really rather be, would probably not notice were I not to make it home for bedtime -- just as one lady is as good as another during the day, one parent is as good as another at night. Of course, one associate is generally as good as any other as well, which is, perhaps, the true irony.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

One Week Down...

Monday, I got home from work and thought "I survived going back to work!" and felt very self-satisfied. Then I remembered I would have to go back to work *every* day from now on. And that left me feeling very sad.

Harry seemed to enjoy daycare. He had no issues at drop off (and didn't seem any happier to see me at pickup than he did the other kids' mommies). For him, one lady taking care of him seems to be as good as the next. As for me, I cried a lot the first day, some the second day, a little the third day, and remained tear-free on the fourth. So, progress, I suppose.

I still have two main concerns.

One, I'm a little worried about his activities during the day. From looking over his log, I'm worried he spends most of the day in one of three places: the highchair (having his lunch and being kept safe while Miss M prepares lunch for the big kids), in the pack n play (for naps) and being held (while having a bottle or going to the park). I'm not sure he's getting much floor-play time, but I could be totally wrong (and very well may be, since he rolled back to front for the first time on Tuesday evening and has done it consistently and easily since). I'll speak to her about it Monday when we drop him off.

Two, I don't know how long I'll be able to keep up with him by pumping. He drinks 18 ounces of breastmilk in the 9 hours he's there (3 6-ounce bottles). That seems like a ton of milk to pump. I was able to pump close to that this week, but I don't know that that will last as my body adjusts to pumping rather than nursing that often. I have a decent freezer stash to supplement but I'll burn through it fast if my supply takes a nosedive. And whatever I pump at night before bed is what I use for his cereal meals the next day (and that's barely enough, now that he has 1/4 cup of cereal twice a day). That may be the first sacrifice -- I may switch that to water or formula and use that milk for bottles. On a related note, I'm surprised to find that I don't loathe pumping (not that I enjoy it, but...). That said, I really miss breastfeeding. I miss the closeness, the time that is just for me and Harry, gazing at my sweet boy and stroking his hair while I meet his most basic need. It's hard not to cry even just thinking about it now, even though he's only a foot away from me, playing in his exersaucer.

So, one week down. A lifetime to go.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dreary Monday

Sitting here in my office, walking the halls, staring at the monitor, it almost feels like I never left. Then I see the animal mom-baby pairs on the 2008 Wildlife Families calendar that is still on my wall and feel a tremendous ache in my heart.

If anyone has any good jokes or funny stories to keep me busy (since I have absolutely no work, which makes it that much harder to be here), please send them my way -- post here or send me an email at ourboxofrain at gmail.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Six Months

My baby boy,

Whereas last month was dominated by travel, this month was all about food. You tried solids (i.e. purees) for the first time on Valentine's Day, beginning with rice cereal. We started you with breakfast but you weren't really having it, which surprised me since your mommy is all about breakfast. So we switched you to lunch, and it turns out you really like food. (I'd say I wish we started you sooner, but the poops are rather gross and I'm glad we staved those off a bit by waiting until five months.)

As far as food goes, you seem to be an equal-opportunity kinda guy, gladly gobbling up anything we put before you. Anything except green beans. You do not like green beans. You don't like the smell. You don't like the taste. You don't like the aftertaste. You'll eat them if mixed with sweet potatoes, but only if there are more sweet potatoes than beans. If the ratio gets too close, yuck. Your dad and I hope your opinion of green beans changes, because we both really enjoy green beans.

As far as style goes, I wouldn't exactly call you a neat eater but you're a lot less messy than I feared you'd be. Your food tends to stay on your hands and face, and even tends to remain in the mouth region of your face. I haven't had to dig any food from your ears or wash it out of your hair yet (knock on wood), though I do generally have to wipe the folds of your neck as you seem fond of hiding some extra food there. That said, you have little say in when you get your next meal of solids, so I can't really blame you for trying to save a little for a snack.

As if in recognition of the fact that you might one day need them for this eating thing, you decided to grow some teeth this month. One Sunday morning, you had a tooth. And then that Thursday you had another. You have long been a big fan of mouthing everything, and your drooling had actually slowed down a bit, and your nighttime sleep didn't seem at all disrupted, so we really didn't see this tooth thing coming (although perhaps this was the cause of some of your napping difficulties). But there's no mistaking it -- you have two teeth, and they are very sharp. We used to let you gnaw on our fingers, but I think that era is over, as it now feels like a teeny tiny saw is attacking as you rub your teeth back and forth. You may know this already, as you spend a lot of time (playing, sleeping, even eating) with your index and middle fingers of your right hand upside down and shoved into your mouth. One day you're going to bite down too hard on your own hand and realize how much it hurts. Ouch!

As far as other firsts go, you went for your first walk in your big boy stroller, a hand-me-down from your friends J&J, whose mommy and daddy realized they didn't need six strollers for the two of them and graciously offered up their Zooper for you. You also wore your snowsuit for the first time, then promptly grew out of it, though not until after I took a few pictures and went out in the snow. You appear to have inherited your daddy's ridiculously long arms, so the fold-over mitten part doesn't exactly fit anymore. Thankfully, your friend N had an extra snowsuit in the next size up and her mommy is letting you wear it -- thanks C.

Although you still haven't rolled from your back to your front, you have been working hard on sitting up. You can do it for several minutes at a time now. You can right yourself when you start to lean to the side or to the back and have figured out how to reach for toys. You still lean too far forward and grunt, and you still fall over, and you still spit up often when sitting, but you definitely seem to enjoy the changed view and the increased independence sitting gives you for playtime. That said, it's still hard for you, so you tend to play on your back or your tummy a lot still.
I love that when I put you in your crib to go to sleep, you follow me with your eyes as I leave the room, smiling the whole way. The top of your head is to the door, so you watch me as I walk past your left arm, looking over your shoulder and craning your neck until I close the door and disappear out of sight. Sometimes, you use the slats of the crib for leverage or just roll onto your side for the best view. One day you'll realize you can roll from your back to your front to make this ritual easier, and then you'll be on your tummy and completely disinterested in sleep, and all bets will be off. But until then I love this little moment we share.

I find myself crying often these days, already feeling nostalgic for these days when it was you and me. I go back to work on Monday, and you will begin daycare, and the thought of it just breaks my heart. I know that Miss M will take great care of you and that you'll love getting to spend time with the other kids, watching them and learning from them. You'll enjoy play-doh time and dance time and playing with her dog in the park. But I also know that I'm going to miss you so much. I'm going to miss your no-longer-quite-so-gummy smile and your laugh, miss watching you play with your feet whether they be bare, stocking, or shoed, miss giving you lunch and having mouthfuls blown back at me when you decide to do raspberries mid-bite. I'm scared I'm going to miss your big moments -- your first time pushing up on hands and knees, your first words, your first steps. But most of all, I'll miss you. I'm not sure whether I'm more scared that you'll miss me terribly or that you won't miss me at all.

I love you so much my heart aches just thinking about it. Leaving you on Monday morning will be the hardest thing I can imagine doing, but there just isn't any other option for our family. These past six months with you have been so amazing and so perfect, even in the roughest and most difficult moments. I know you won't remember them, but I'll cherish them always. I promise you that I'll be thinking of you from the moment we drop you off until the moment I get home in the evening. And the morning and evening will be my favorite part of the day, the weekend my favorite part of the week, because they'll be the times I get to spend with you.

I love you with all my heart,


Thursday, March 12, 2009

No Fanfare

Harry got his first two teeth last week (Sunday and Thursday). I thought there would be more fanfare.

I also thought they'd be easier to photograph but they're not. This was the best I could do:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Requisite Solids Post

So, we started Harry on solids when he was 5 months old-ish. After a bit of trial and error, we discovered that he's more into lunch than breakfast. It turns out the with only 90-120 minutes between waking and a desperate need for a first nap (and a need to nurse upon waking for the day) it was tough to find a time late enough that he was hungry again but early enough that he wasn't too tired. So for a month now he's been having lunch.

The boy seems to like solids. I've read that most babies take 5-9 tries to decide whether they like a food or not, but Harry seems rather opinionated right off the bat.

Rice cereal? Good. Oatmeal? Also good. Butternut squash? Yummy. Sweet potatoes? Fantastic.
Green peas? Perfectly tasty. (He actually likes them far more than this photo indicates.) Carrots? Awesomest food ever. Green beans? Um, not so much. Apparently, the smell is gross:
And so is the taste:

And so is the aftertaste:
These were from an early try. By now, the mere smell of them approaching his face causes him to purse his lips and shake his head. If I mix them in a 1:2 ratio with sweet potatoes, he'll eat them. As the ratio approaches 1:1, the eating becomes more begrudging, turning to refusal. I'll keep offering them every now and again (if for no other reason than because watching his reaction is hysterical) but they may be a no-go.

(And, yes, we own more than one bib. But somehow almost all the firsts ended up being in the same one. Easy enough, since we can rinse and reuse it. Big fan of the bib.)

Now, questions, for anyone who has any info (we'll ask these questions of the pedi as well).
  • When should we start giving him a second meal? A third?
  • And how much should he be eating at each meal (and/or overall), as far as solids go? Right now, he gets 2 tablespoons of cereal (mixed with 5-6 tablespoons of breastmilk), followed by 4 tablespoons of vegetable (about 2 ounces). (He'll have his first fruit tomorrow -- I think I'll start with bananas.) I'm pretty sure he'd gladly eat more if offered more. With carrots, he tends to get more, since he bangs on the tray of his high chair when they run out. (I hope this isn't a sign that he prefers the jarred food -- carrots are the only veggie I bought rather than made, just because I couldn't find nitrate-free carrots at the grocery store.)
  • When can/should we introduce finger foods?
  • Should he be having water post-meal? We haven't given him any, since most of our friends didn't this early, but the Super Baby Foods book seems to think it's essential.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Self-Care and Other Fun Stuff

This post has been a long time coming. When P and I got engaged, I weighed ~60 pounds less than I do now. When we started trying to conceive, I was ~45 pounds less. When the first pregnancy ended, I was ~35 pounds less. When I got pregnant with Harry, I was ~25 pounds lighter. At my six week post-partum visit, I was 15 pounds lighter. Yeah, you read that right. I've regained 15 pounds. While breastfeeding.

I do not look good. I never had cellulite before, but I have it now. I don't fit into my clothes. I used to be fit and athletic, but now I am out of shape. I am not modeling a healthy way of living for my son. And it's part of a larger problem. I haven't plucked so much as a single eyebrow hair since Harry was born. In that time, I've put on makeup once, and it was last weekend. I've had two haircuts since July 2007.

P fairly recently installed iLife 09 on his computer and spent some time using the facial recognition feature. I watched as he went through hundreds of photos from our collection and from my father's, many of which were of me at various points throughout my life. And it was really hard. Because even the ones taken during periods in which I thought myself fat or unkempt or otherwise unappealing looked great compared with how I look now. And I'm honestly not sure what happened. I could come up with a thousand intellectual/emotional/physical explanations, but they'd just be conjecture. I really don't know.

What I do know is that I need to do something about this. About my body, my hair, my general level of self-care. So...
  • Last month, I started using our WiiFit to get some exercise. It's incredibly hard to find the time to get any exercise, and it's only going to get worse when I go back to work. That said, I need to do what I can to make the effort. Even just once a week is better than never.
  • Inspired by Manda, I joined Weight Watchers last week. Aside from an overindulgence in pizza when my brother was visiting last night (followed by a chaser of granola bar-type foods), it's been going okay. I picked up some fruit and veggies at the store today, which should make it easier, as I was trying to change my diet without altering the contents of the fridge. It's going to be hard to stick to a diet, since P will continue to buy and eat foods I just can't if I want to take this weight off (and I don't want him to feel like he has to make changes in his life, though I wish he'd stop asking me if I want -- or bought, when I go to the store -- foods that aren't good for me). The reality is that he and I have very different relationships with food, relationships that are embarrassingly in line with what is expected based on our biology. And I don't think he gets that it's not as simple as 'just don't eat so damn much.' Even though it is. It's just hard.
  • I am getting my hair cut and my brows waxed tomorrow. I'm part of a large mom group (500+ moms in the Boston area) that is run through meetup.com. One of the recurring events lately has been women taking turns hosting a stylist (also a member). Five-ish moms sign up, and everyone shares in watching the kids while each woman gets a haircut. The stylist also does waxing. You pay for whatever services you get. I'm going tomorrow.
Really, though? I need to change my attitude. Intellectually, I know this. But I'm still struggling. And it's a self-perpetuating problem as well. I don't feel great about myself, so I don't take good care of myself, so I feel worse, so I take worse care. And it's spilling over into my sense of self more generally. And P doesn't say much one way or the other. I get neither reassurance nor criticism from him when it comes to my appearance (or anything else, for that matter). I'd say our relalionship has changed a lot since Harry, and it has, but not on that subject -- he hasn't really ever provided much feedback on my appearance (or the contributions I make to the household, unless it's to criticize my many failings). But I suppose that ties into a variety of other things that are really another topic entirely. (Not that I'm bitter or anything :)

In short, I need to break the cycle. I'd like to feel healthy again. I'm never going to weigh what I did when we got engaged again, but I could and should get back to what I weighed two years ago. To that end, there's a ticker in the sidebar. I encourage all of you to keep on me about this.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


For some reason, I had a horrible feeling when I saw she had called, and it only got worse when I heard her message. Non-descript. Understated. Flat. Just not her. Not her at all.

One of my closest friends, a woman I love dearly and would do anything for, learned on Friday at her 18 week ultrasound that something had gone horribly wrong, that her baby's brain was too malformed to survive. She and her husband were going to wait to find out the sex, but they weren't going to have that moment in July to wait for. They chose to let her go, saying goodbye to their little girl.

My heart is broken in a thousand pieces for them. Please keep them in your prayers.