Friday, September 28, 2012


I saw this on Pinterest today and it made me laugh. Only later did I really think about it. What does my interpretation of the sarcasm demonstrated here say about me? I thought it was a reference to the fact that when you're a stay-at-home-mom every day is like a weekend, because you don't have to be at work. Only upon further reflection did I realize this insinuate quite the opposite - that when you're a parent (a mother, really), weekends no longer matter because it's a 24/7 J-O-B. Just goes to show that: 1) I look forward to weekends because even if my baby doesn't allow me to sleep in past 7 a.m., I don't have to change out of my pj's if I don't wanna; and 2), I have yet to think of mothering as a "job," the same way being a wife is not a "job," and being a friend, daughter, sister, etc is not a "job."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Didn't Realize

I didn't know people actually:

Still smoked cigarettes. Especially those born after 1980.

Voted Republican. Hey, I'm from Portland, went to a liberal arts college, and lived in ski towns. I though conservatives were just a creation of SNL skit-writers.

Wore high heels to work.

Still got their belly buttons pierced. I thought that was circa 1990s a la Britney and Xtina.

Put Obama stickers on their Prius. Isn't that kind of redundant?

Drive drunk. People over 20 should know better.

6 Month Review

It goes without saying - I can't believe my baby girl is already 6 months old! Seriously.

Our smiley Little Bear.

She blows bubbles, makes raspberries, and fake coughs.
She smiles big, at her parents and strangers alike.
She likes being social, watching people's faces, and getting attention. At the grocery store she'll even make noises to get the cashier to look at her and smile.
She coos when she smiles.
She (inconsistently) giggles when her neck is tickles, when we pretend to eat her hands, or when her daddy says silly baby talk.
She grabs her feet and fidgets while nursing.
She has eaten yams, avocado, banana, and brown rice.
She farts when she wakes up, and while she nurses.
She cries if you take her toy, and is easily calmed when you return it.
She's got Michelin Man thighs. Or as Alex likes describe it, like an accordion that is ready for some serious limb growth spurts.
She cannot (does not) sleep through the night, or even "through the night."
She will roll from her tummy to her back - right away or after she throws a baby tantrum.
She doesn't roll from back to front, nor has she even tried.
She sits up on her own easily, reaches for toys in front of her, and likes to be included in all adult social interactions.
She is starting to favor her mama, at least in the evenings, and reaches for me. But she seems the most happy when she's hanging out with both her parents, making googley-eyes at each other.
She looks more and more like Alex - especially the round, rosy, apple cheeks. She still has very fair, fin hair, but it's starting to get a bit longer. Her eyes are still blue as the sky. Her eyelashes are blonde, and long. Her left eye is slightly smaller than her right. She still has bags under her eyes, and people always say, "Oh she's so tired."
She's wearing 6-month clothes, but with cloth diapers and all, she will likely upgrade to 9-months is just a couple weeks.

Her poop is gross. Really gross. It smells like real poop, and is well-formed enough that we have to dump it in the toilet.
She likes to be tossed in the air.
She likes both dogs, and reaches to pet them.
She loves to look at the trees, and to go for walks. She usually doesn't mind the car.
She still loves music - she most loves when we sing to her (Baby Beluga, Let It Be, You Are My Sunshine, She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain, Who's the Queen of the Jungle, Bean-O, etc), but also loves when Alex  serenades her with the guitar (Soulshine, Let It Be, Hotel Yorba, I've Just Seen a Face, Home, John Prine songs, Blackbird).
I call her Bean, and Alex calls her LIttle Bear. We introduce her as Francie.
Really, she's just turning in to a real little person.

Stuff we use regularly:
The boppy, if she's sitting on the ground unsupervised it works great to support her in case of a fall.
A high chair that attaches to the table. Doesn't get any cuter than dangling baby legs.
Toys toys toys - G-Money (aka the giraffe Sofie), rattle thingies, chew beads, cloth napkins, my water bottle, etc.
The "day bed"." We spend a lot of our time together lounging in the guest room
The Beco carrier - she loves nothing more than facing out and going for a walk or running errands where people pay attention to her
The stroller, if she needs help falling asleep.
The grandparents - what would we do without them?!?

At this weeks well-child check-up, Francie clocked in at:
15 lbs, 11 ounces, 25-50th %ile
26.25 inches long, 50-75th %ile
16.25 inch head circumference, 10th %ile

In a typical day, I wake her in the morning to eat before I have to get ready for work. She usually wakes up a happy girl, smiling, and content to eat her feet while lying in the bed as I get ready. Her Grammy comes to hang out with her from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or later, depending on Alex and my work schedule. She typically eats 2-3 4-oz. bottles of pumped breastmilk, and eats about 2 tbsps of some solid, likely banana, avocado, or yam. She likes to catnap, so will sleep during the day anywhere from multiple 20 minute naps, or one solid 2 hour nap in the p.m. She naps better with Grammy or Rachel than she does with me. She nurses on and off in the evenings, usually about 3 times. She shows signs she's tired about 7 p.m., will sometimes doze on our evening dog walk. She then wakes back up, hangs out with us, and I nurse her to sleep sometime between 9 and 10 p.m. Depending on the night, she wakes 2-3 times to eat, and is usually squawking in her crib, half-asleep, so ends up sleeping cuddled up next to me in our bed. Some nights she stays in our bed all night, nursing as she pleases, us both asleep through it all. So it's kind of like: wake, eat, play with feet, vocalize, sleep, eat, go for a walk, eat, cat-nap, play, eat, sleep, eat, sleep, repeat.

And seriously, 6 months really IS my favorite!

Looking at her self in the mirror - a favorite past-time.

Gangsta lean. Snoop-o-loop, you better watch out.


Bundled up for an autumn walk.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

26 Weeks

26 weeks. That's half of one year. Or 182 days. Or 262,080 kisses, one for every second.

And this is what tummy-time still looks like.

Apparently PBR is in her future?? Alex ...

My favorites.

Family Race for the Cure - it was crowded and poorly organized, but we did it for you, Mom!

I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Things I Find Myself Saying (Singing, Even)

"Hakuna matatata."

"You're okay."

"Don't drop her."

"Kick kick kick."

"I love you soooo much. You don't even know. You probably never will."

"I hear you."

"Don't lick me. Lick the baby."

"No, she's actually not sleepy. That's just her face."

"Beano, me say Beano."

"Is she still breathing?"

"Let's go see what's in your pants."

"Bring your green hat."

"Good burps."

"Good farts."

"Should I give you the good boob or the bad boob?"

"This age is my favorite."

"Do you want to come in mama's kangaroo pouch?"

Friday, September 7, 2012

It Gets Better

Okay, okay. It does get better.

Everyone says that, and it really truly does. But not nearly as quickly as one would like. I'd say it's taken me - knock on wood - a solid 8 weeks to feel comfortable juggling mamahood with fulltime work. And it's not as though I have it all figured out. But I at least feel like my old self again.

Sometimes I love my job - the patients, my colleagues, filling my brain full to the brim during my fellowship - other times not so much. Some days I feel like exercising (like, once a month??), but usually don't. I wake up very tired after not fewer than 4 snooze buttons, but in a good mood and with just a normal amount of protest about getting out of bed so early. I do long for the days of lazing around in bed until noon with my little Bean. But like I said, those are days of old. She doesn't want to laze around in bed nursing and sleeping the day away anymore. So even if I wasn't working, I'd still be getting up by 7 a.m. every morning to that squinty-eyed toothless grin. I feel more in a groove with the people at work, too. I feel like they now respect me as a clinician, and like I'm learning to hold my ground much better. I know my house is messy, but find myself enjoying my weekend free time rather than cleaning up dog hair. In general, I'm feeling less defined by "I just had a baby and that's all I can think about and why doesn't anyone else seem to understand," and more like, "Hi my name's Jo, I'm a speech pathology fellow at the VA, and I have a really great husband and perfectly chubby baby at home waiting for me to play. Oh yeah, and I have a short little dog who pees on the carpet."

The major stressors in my life - which are really more minor than major these days - continue to be time, fatigue, and pumping.

As for time, it's the same old story for all of us, there's never enough of it. The irony of growing up (and getting older), is that time goes by with increasing rapidity, and life becomes more full with responsibility, all the while interests and hobbies and social circles expand. How on earth are we supposed to fit it all in?!? And whatever happened to that 9-year-old who thought her 10th birthday was just eons away?!? Now I feel like 40 is closer than I'd like. I can generally deal with the stress of time flying and just enjoying the fast ride, but on occasion I've been known to throw a tantrum or two about not having enough time to do all the things I want to do (crafts, organizing, talking to friends) after doing all the things I have to do (working, laundry, grocery shopping, chores).

As for fatigue, I've always categorized myself as a lazy, low-energy kind of gal. I've never had excess fuel I just have to burn off at the gym. I don't wake up in the morning raring to get things done. I wasn't that high school kid who simultaneously played two sports, a musical instrument, was in the school play AND held a part-time babysitting job. I don't wake up early to exercise, clean the house, wash the diapers, walk the dog and make breakfast for Alex before he gets up. And I can hardly survive with less than 7 hours sleep. The difference between now and two months ago isn't necessarily that I'm sleeping more or less, but it's that I'm not motivated by the same level of stress and anxiety that I was when I first went back to work. I therefore have less nervous energy to propel me around to do things like make lists of things to do. I'm tired after work and am perfectly content to curl up with my family on our "day bed" to cuddle and make faces at each other. So maybe it's not the fatigue I continue to battle, but my own expectations of the energy I should have and all the things I should be able to do. Aah, there are those "shoulds" again.

And as for pumping, it's just the worst. It's not as big of a deal as it once was - trying to navigate scheduling a pump break meanwhile seeing all my patients and appeasing my supervisors - but I still hate interrupting my day, whether at work or at home, to strap on a shitty bandeau bra with cones attached to a stupid "ra-er-ra-er-ra-er-ra-er" machine. I mostly hate that it's not instant gratification like nursing is, and that if I don't get 10 oz in 10 minutes I feel like an epic booby failure. I have, however, come to accept my fate and am trying to build a loving relationship with the device that helps me feed the Bean. She's got rolls in all the right places and cheeks that look as though she's smuggling cotton, so Medela must be doing something right.

All in all, yeah, it has definitely gotten better. Plus I have an end in sight - November 16th, to be exact. I'm about halfway through my post-maternity leave stint at the VA. It's time, now, to start thinking about applying for jobs, and how I will execute the balance of personal life and professional life that I've been working toward. So to my friend's whose future selves might be in the same boat, I can say "it gets better" from experience. And I have this blog post to document that I felt that way - even for a day.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Child Care

What better way to melt my heart than a photo of my two favorite babies - kissing! Thank you, Auntie Rachel, for babysitting and loving on my baby girl. And for sending me adorable photos to make work tolerable. This pic is one for the wall/fridge.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It Gets Better?

Just when I started a post of a similar title, sans question mark, my mood this evening takes a downturn and I'm throwing myself a pity party. Does it EVER let up? Or is the rest of my life a very finely orchestrated balancing act? Cirque du Soleil I am not.

I'm mostly just stressing out about my milk supply. Yeah, yeah, stress can deplete milk supply. I know this, but it's a vicious cycle. Last week I decided I needed to start bringing my pump home from work on a nightly basis and introduce a third daily pumping session in order to maintain my supply and slowly build up an emergency freezer stash. Ugh, there's nothing like spending no less than 1.5 hours per day attached to a noisy device that suctions milk aggressively from your nipples. At least these days it's not also milking tears. Today I got only 13 oz total - barely enough to cover tomorrow's work day. But it's the irony that kills me most - when I'm home in the evenings I spend time away from my baby so that I can produce food in order to be away from the baby. Riiiiiiiight ....

Oh yeah, and Gizzy is marking the house again. She peed on two separate rugs no fewer than two times in the last 48 hours. Thanks, EB Farnum.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Eating, Take Two

Clearly she favors the yams ... I wonder if this is her first sugar high?!?

Good Dog

Bad Romney.

Alex helped his Uncle Ron organize an event a couple weekends ago. It was Francine's first political march, rally, sit-in, what have you. Even though it was more of a large organized dog walk with friends, the Bean proudly wore her anti-Romney onesie. Because seriously, do you want a president that thinks it's okay for a dog to ride on the roof of a car - for several HOURS?!?

Here's a summary of the Good Dog Bad Romney campaign and a few photos from the Portland event:

"A Dog’s Tale
When his children were young, Mitt Romney took a 12-hour road trip with the family dog, Seamus, in a crate tied to the roof of his car. Even after Seamus was stressed to the point of severe sickness, Romney’s only response was to hose him off and throw him back on the roof for another six hours.

The Problem
This incident shows that Romney lacks empathy and compassion—a key character flaw for any presidential candidate, regardless of party affiliation. A man like this is not worthy to lead our country.

We Are Not Alone
The Washington Post has reported that the Romney dog story has taken on a life of its own and won’t go away. According to Public Policy Polling, 68 percent of the electorate think it’s inhumane to put your dog in a kennel on the roof of your car. When told about Seamus, an amazing 17 percent of voters who support Romney say this incident makes them less likely to vote for him.

The Solution
It’s time to mobilize! We are pet lovers, animal advocates, breeders and sports enthusiasts. We number in the millions, and we are disgusted and offended by Romney’s callousness. We need to get this story out to Democrats, Independents and the 17 percent of Romney Republicans whose votes are up for grabs."


24 weeks and she happily sits, with the occasional stumble. She's definitely not ready to sit up unassisted on hard wood or tile floors, or on elevated surfaces. But she sits for several minutes at a time, cooing and laughing, and tapping her fingers together like a little female Mr. Burns.

She also loves herself some naked time. What's more adorable than a neked baby?

Alex is better about reading to her than I am. Apparently I'm the musician of the house because I spend half my time with her singing her songs.

She got to meet her new friend, Peter Temes Clifton, who is 4 weeks old and lives with his parent sin Eugene. The second of five WR babies!

She also got to spend some time with her other friend, Logan. She wants to touch him, and probably Helen Keller his face, if he'll let her.

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