Monday, August 29, 2011

Cosleeping Calamity

Cosleeping is a hotly debated topic in the world of Mommies.  Well, I’ve never actually heard real world Mommies talking about it much.  So I guess it would be more accurate to say in the world of internet Mommies.  Funny how the internet can conjure up all sorts of otherwise ignored topics.  Anyway, cosleeping is defined by Wikipedia (the experts on everything, I know) as “a practice in which babies and young children sleep in close proximity to one or both parents, as opposed to a separate room.”  Bed-sharing is a subcategory of cosleeping that involves having the baby or child actually in the bed with the parent(s).  Those in favor of cosleeping cite the practices of other countries as their irrefutable evidence that cosleeping is the way to go.  Apparently, if people in India do it, so should we.  They also say that it promotes bonding, encourages breastfeeding, and ensures that your child will go to Harvard.  (Ok, maybe the jury is still out on that last one.)
Personally, I am not a cosleeper.  I can barely tolerate bedsharing with my husband.  When it is time to sleep I want no part of him touching any part of me.  Maybe that’s weird, but I am what I am.  When Emmalee was a newborn, I did have her sleep in a pack n play next to my bed.  Which was, in a word, awful.  Every time she moved even slightly, I woke up.  As soon as Emma slept a good nine hour stretch at about two months old, I kicked her right out and into her crib in her own room. 
This topic is on my mind because when I got home last night I discovered that my air conditioning wasn’t working.  My house was an unbearable 82 degrees.  There was no way that Emma and I, who are used to sleeping in temperatures at least ten degrees cooler, would be able to suffer the heat through the night.  So, we packed up our things and headed to Grammy’s house.  The downside to this arrangement was that we had to resort to cosleeping.  I wouldn’t even entertain the idea of bedsharing.  I didn’t think it would be safe, given the circumstances.  Emmalee could have fallen off the bed.  Or I would have woken up with stiff limbs because if she is sleeping next to me I can’t move at all for fear of waking her.  So she slept in a pack n play next to the bed, a la her newborn days, and it was just as awful.  Every single time Emma rustled the blankets I was wide awake.  Inevitably, upon waking I would feel either the urge to pee or simply uncomfortable in my current position.  But, terrified as I am of hearing Emma cry in the night thanks to all the sleeping battles we’ve had, I wasn’t able to move.  I had to lay awake, barely allowing myself to breath, until I was sure that Emma’s breathing had become steady and rhythmic again.  Then, millimeter by slow and silent millimeter, I would adjust so that I was once again comfortable.  And getting up to pee was completely out of the question.  That arrangement was better than if she had actually been in the bed with me, but not by much.
Needless to say, I did not get a good night’s sleep.  As I sat at work today, feeling quite zombie like, I began to wonder what this says about me.  I not only can’t stand to sleep in the same bed as my child, I can’t even stand to sleep in the same room as her.  Am I a terrible mother?  Was I born without the cosleeping gene?  Maybe I just don’t love my child enough.  Maybe I’m not a nurturer.  Is there something wrong with me?  Can I possibly be an awesome mom if this is truly how I feel?
I am happy to report that the air conditioner was fixed today and Emma is sound asleep in her crib, in her room, all the way on the other side of the house.  What can I say, I need my space.  At least I have a sound monitor on.  Maybe I’ll lose a few points on the awesome scale.  Maybe Emma won’t go to Harvard.  But I will be sleeping soundly tonight, and that has to count for something, right?  I am much more awesome when I’m well rested. 
                                    (She looks cozy, right?)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

All Lovely Things Will Have an Ending

I am quite thoroughly depressed on this last night of summer vacation.  I’ve been incredibly busy this summer, so in many ways this has felt like a very long couple of months.  But they have been long in an awesome, amazing, I-never-want-them-to-end kind of way.  I have loved my summer as a stay at home mom.  If I could swing it financially, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to choose staying home full time until Emma is in school.  Unfortunately, that is not in the cards, so I suppose there is no point in dwelling in what ifs. 
I very much enjoy my job, and I’d be lying if I said that the back to school excitement has completely escaped me.  There is something magical about the start of a new school year, something that I’ve always loved since I was in elementary school myself.  Once you get past the sadness of summer’s passing, you can’t help but get swept away in the anticipation of new school supplies, new clothes, new friends, and the chance at a fresh start.  My head has been buzzing for a couple of weeks now with grandiose plans and ideas for this year’s crop of students.  So, in a lot of ways, I am ready to go back to work.
What I am most saddened by is not necessarily the end of summer, but the end of my unlimited time with Emma.  I have so thoroughly enjoyed every moment that I’ve spent with her these past nine weeks.  It has been amazing to go and do and discover and explore all day with her.  I love being there to hear the new words she says or to watch her learn a new skill or come up with a new dance.  I love being there to share every smile, wipe away every tear and even to endure every temper tantrum.  When I’m at work I feel like I miss out on so much of her life, because my time with her is cut down to just a few hours a day during the week.  I am lucky because my parents watch Emma while I work, but I still can’t help constantly worrying about her and missing her.  What I am most worried about now is that she won’t understand why Mommy suddenly has to leave her every day.  It breaks my heart to think about her being at home wanting me and missing me when I can’t be there for her.  I just wish there was some way for her to know and understand that I don’t have a choice, and that I love her so, so painfully much.    
I know I should focus on the positive.  I am lucky to have had this time with her at all.  I also have a great schedule with breaks and days off, so I really do get to spend a pretty good amount of time with her compared to most people who work a full time job.  And I know that Emma will adjust.  When I’m capable of thinking reasonably, between bouts of tears and despair, I know that my going to work isn’t likely to scar her or create any lasting psychological damage.  All the parenting books assure me that it is really the quality of the time you spend together, not the quantity, that is important. 
But it’s still depressing.  Excuse me while I go drown my sorrows in a half gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Enough is Enough

Trying to get pregnant, in my experience, sucks.  There is little pleasure in fornication when in the back of your mind you keep wondering whether or not a life is being created at this very moment.  And then there is the waiting.  The constant checking of the calendar and counting of days, trying to decide how soon you can take a pregnancy test.  The reading and rereading of early pregnancy symptom lists.  The moments of, “Oh!  Was that an ache I just felt in my breast?  Does that mean I’m pregnant?”  Or, “I’m so tired.  Am I pregnant?  Maybe it’s just because I’ve been at a theme park three out of the past five days?”  It’s the not knowing that is so excruciating for me. 
I am truly ridiculous.  Though I try to play it cool and act nonchalant about it, conveying an attitude of “Ah, it will happen when it happens” to the outside world, on the inside I am a wreck.  Every month I check the due date calculator on Babycenter.com to see when my potential baby would be born.  And I plan the exact perfect day to schedule my c-section, thinking about how the timing is pretty great because… I can generally come up with several reasons.  I match the baby that might, maybe be forming inside of me’s astrological sign to my own and to Emma’s to get an idea of how compatible we will be.  And, even though I know that I shouldn’t, I get excited.
Anyone will tell you that you should not get anxious and over analytical when trying to conceive.  “Don’t think about it,” they will coach you.  But to that advice, I say this, “Don’t think about an elephant wearing a pink tutu.”  What is it that you are now thinking about?  That’s what I thought.  Not thinking about something that you are trying to not think about is much easier said than done. 
The chemical pregnancy I experienced two months ago has only amplified my anxieties.  I am as eager as I am terrified to feel a tingle in my breast or a twinge in my abdomen.  Now I am not only wondering whether or not I could be pregnant but also whether or not the pregnancy will stick.  It’s all too much.  This blog is to say, enough is enough.
I often wonder why I feel such a rush to get pregnant.  My original life plan was to wait until Emma is two to even start trying to conceive again.  I don’t know why this sudden rush of baby fever has hit so hard.  Honestly, I know part of my anxiety is hoping to time it out to coincide with the end of the school year.  The next two or three months are really prime baby making time for me.  But I can’t keep living in this tumultuous “I-must-get-pregnant-NOW!” bubble. 
I am implementing a self imposed Babycenter.com ban.  I will not visit the site once.  No more due date calculators.  No more baby horoscopes.  No more message boards with tons of fertile, pregnant women rubbing their success in my face.  No more.  I also refuse to buy any more pregnancy tests until I am actually late getting my period.  No more keeping them under the bathroom sink “just in case” where they can taunt me every time I reach for my makeup.  I am done.  I will force myself to live in the moment.  Maybe I’ll get pregnant.  Maybe I won’t.  But either way, I will be fine.  In the meantime I’ll keep reminding myself about how uncomfortable pregnancy is, and how painful c-section recovery is, and how helpless little newborn babies are, how they wake up every two to three hours all night long to feed, how they expel their body weight in excrement so that the tiny newborn diapers don’t stand a chance and poop ends up in crevices you didn’t realize human beings even had.  There is a lot of unpleasantness that goes along with getting pregnant.  Am I really, intentionally trying to go through all that again?
Yeah, I am.  Because there is a lot of pleasantness as well.  But I’m not thinking about that anymore.  Elephant in a pink tutu, elephant in a pink tutu…….