Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Surprise Possessions

Did you know that babies don't know how to fart? 'Cause I sure didn't.

I was amazed that this perfect football of a person, with all of his bountiful baby brilliance, couldn't master passing gas. Between his terrifying screams of discomfort, I actively wondered if we'd begotten a defective babe. I would arrange him in yoga's happy baby pose and hope he benefited from its "wind relieving" properties.

Fortunately, in the grand tradition of his family, Era figured out farts. Just as I've slowly figured out some of the more abstruse aspects of parenthood.

hanging in the hall last weekend

In celebration of that and of Era's first year (he's 14 months old! Jeez!), I offer a few of the experiences I least expected when I was expecting.


I've written before about how breastfeeding was a huge focus, and I feel pretty fortunate that nursing was relatively stress-free for me. But even so, I vividly remember tying myself in tormented knots when I couldn't produce enough milk. I haunted the aisles of Whole Foods, searching for the lactation tea that would rescue me from decreased supply while my happily chubby cub was bewildered by my panicked behavior.

Looking back, I wish I could have convinced myself to chill.

Era didn't care where his next meal originated, he just wanted to enjoy time with his mom. There was no reason for my weeping as I packed the occasional formula bottle into his daycare bag and absolutely no call for added misery when mastitis decimated my supply.

At the time, it felt like a monumental failure. But the reality was that a little more formula supplementation would have saved me a heap of heartache, and that could only benefit my family.

learning to go with the flow


Babies actually rub their eyes when sleepy. I did not realize that that is a real thing and it's delightfully adorable every time Era does it.

ay, there's the rub


While I don't necessarily resonate with all of her experiences (and actually, actively dislike a few of her characterizations of mom life), one passage from Meaghan O'connell's book And Now We Have Everything hit me hard. She writes that she hadn't just created a life. "We created a death."

In early parenthood, I became obsessed with death.

And I realize how bizarre this sounds and now, it's hard to recall the all-encompassing pathos that adhered to every aspect of my life, but I do know that terror tinged everything I touched those first couple of months.

Yes, of course, I loved my son and wanted to protect him from all hurt. But this was an irrational, integral anxiety that drove me to distraction every time the sun touched his skin, a bottle was washed, or a plaything was purchased. I harped at my husband for everything from thermostat settings to stuffy nose remedies. I hated that we had knives in our kitchen. I resented the hot water tap.

Finally, after months of suffering from unwanted imaginations of every awful thing that could befall a baby, the mists of anxiety finally lifted. I knew that as a mother, I would love beyond all reason and worry more than ever before, but nothing prepared me for the hurricane of concern as hormones and sleep deprivation took the enormous adoration I felt for my son, and twisted it into enormous apprehension.

I wish I had known that this was as normal and impermanent as a spit-up stain.

happily adventuring sans mama drama


I was listening to an NPR story about the retirement of skier Lindsey Vonn as she explained that due to her career on the slopes her "body is broken beyond repair." While I never personally felt beyond repair, I did feel particularly broken immediately following Era's birth.

I might mention my physical ailments to colleagues or doctors, and was often rewarded with a patronizing smile and, "Ah, yes, but wasn't it worth it?"

No one is asking Lindsey Vonn if it was "worth it." Because, yes, OF COURSE it's worth it. She is the winningest female skier in history, and I created a human being from scratch. But it doesn't come without a price, and no amount of condescending reminders of my blessings negates the physical distress.

I believe my cheesy schmoopface says it all here.

I am luckier than many mamas, but no matter the birth, we all deserve to have the repercussions taken seriously. "But wasn't it worth it?" silences the conversation about postpartum recovery and plus, it's just rude. I can admit that childbirth is physically difficult without needing to be reminded about the cute baby I made.


I didn't know it at the time, but the best advice we received about parenthood is: the days are long but the years are short.

Those word were damn near meaningless to me mere months ago, but they became a buoy when the monotony of new motherhood seemed insurmountable.

I also often found myself reflecting on this passage my excellent friend Jen Short wrote on Facebook:
Looking back, I would give anything in the world to have one more bottle-fed day with my babe, one more diaper to change, one more load of tiny things to wash and pack. Eli is 11 now and I don’t even know when I stopped being able to pick him up. The last time I held him, I didn’t know it was to be the last time I’d hold him. I’m sure someday I’ll look back and lovingly wish for my 11-year old, filled with preteen angst and attitude, too.

Everything can pile up in your brain to make you feel adrift in this new parental identity. But these wise words returned me to the moment, reminding me to enjoy every single cuddle, even the ones at 4:30 a.m.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Peer Revue

My parents always called the first year of parenting "The Year of the Fog," and man, have I learned why.

But through the fog of infant firsts, the slog through sleepless nights, and the mist of missing family and friends, 2018 has been a hell of a year.

Era took his first steps and Quincy and I took a giant leap into home ownership. Era was promoted to solid food and I earned a promotion at work. Era began communicating and Quincy quit his commute and became a work-from-home dad.

Yes, things are a little foggy, but I'll have this mix, my 2018 in Revue, to help me remember the hard work and happiness that happened these past 12 months.

And track #1? That's Era's favorite song.

2018 in Revue

2018 in Revue
1. Dancing in the Moonlight – King Harvest
2. Jean Grae & Quelle Chris feat. Dane Orr – Gold Purple Orange
3. Fuzz – Raise
4. Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)
5. Clairo – B.O.M.D.
6. Amanaz – Khala My Friend
7. Erika Wennerstrom – Extraordinary Love (WCPO Lounge Act)
8. Benny Goodman & Peggy Lee – On the Sunny Side of the Street
9. Dolly Parton – I’m Gonna Sleep With One Eye Open
10. Dead Moon – It’s O.K.

Download the whole happenin' here.

Float the stream on my YouTube playlist.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Frump Up the Pump

I was reading Like a Mother, absorbed in scholarly pondering about the metamorphosis that motherhood imparts, and the author quoted a woman as saying that she just didn't feel like herself because she couldn't wear dresses while breastfeeding.


I completely agree that feeling like "myself" is a tall order these days, given physical changes, emotional eddys, and revolutionized roles. But I'm telling you now: there's no way on God's green Earth that I'm giving up dresses just because I'm giving out milk.

So I offer: What I Wear While Breastfeeding and/or Pumping

Button-Down Dresses

In the hazy days after Era arrived, I lived in loose button-down gowns. Even if I spent 90% of a given day unbuttoned and curled up with my newborn, the routine of getting dressed felt comforting and empowering.

Alfani from the clearance rack at Macy's

This was (is?) my favorite postpartum frock. It's roomy! It has pockets! It's easily laundered! To top it off, its style speaks to me in way that reminds me of life before I was concerned about cleaning someone else's body fluids from my togs.

Donning this dress five days into motherhood

Button-down dresses were the best, especially as I explored the world with my little on while on maternity leave. Need to feed the babe in a friend's office at an environmental education center? No problemo.

A seven-week-old, a snake, and a sweet little button-down dress... Hi Veronica and King Henry!

Wrap Dresses

I was excited to return to work but struggled to find attire that would be appropriate in a board meeting while not impeding my need to pump twice a day.

Just a little Venn diagram I concocted

Enter: the wrap dress

Flattering, sassy and with easy access to the ol' bosom, wrap dresses are a godsend for working mamas.

I got this number for a song at Loft

Plus, wearing a wrap dress is fabulous because it feels like stomping into the office in your jammies. I defy you to find something more comfortably functional for lactating professionals.

Another clearance Macy's find

Skirt Separates

Here's the deal. I love dresses because they're so easy. It's just one thing! Pull it on and go! But sometimes, between the spit up stains and the blow-out blots, there aren't any good options. That is when I search out some suitable separates.

Top from Anthropologie last fall, skirt from Whole Foods

Hah-hah! Don't tell me I can't wriggle into a turtleneck while breastfeeding! MAMA DOES WHAT SHE WANTS.

Era at seven months, a vintage skirt and a top that I've had for eons

So, there you have it. A pantless approach to lactation fashion.

With everything moms sacrifice in the process of become a parent, I simply won't surrender my sense of style - or sense of self.

It's a tough path to navigate, but I've got a pretty cute co-pilot by my side.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Labor Movement

I was getting ready for work this morning, the Monday after Mother's Day, donning the dress I'd dreamed about last night as I was drifting off, but not before feeding and changing the five-month-old lest said dress get soiled, still riding the high of thoughtful Mother's Day sentiments and sweet moments with my man and son.

So young. So wise.

My brain was flipping through the day's agenda, making sure the milk pumping gear was clean and handy, Era's blanket and sheet for daycare were laundered and ready, his pumped milk bottles were sterilized and stowed in their cooler, and my passably ingestible protein shake was packed in my purse.

While whizzing through the kitchen, I placed dishes in the dishwasher then snagged a jacket to hang up because I was going to the closet anyway, to choose the shoes I hoped would be most appropriate for the forecast.

Getting ready for the day

I stood by the door, poised to launch. And I felt, for the first time, a dread. I did not want to come home tonight.

I just didn't want to do this all over again. The millions of decisions, the tiny moving parts that interconnect to keep my family thriving, the crushing minutiae that I never seem to get caught up on.

Even after a weekend spent celebrating my efforts to care for kid and castle, I was drained and frayed and just exhausted.

At the end of a long day

So, like the rational individual I am, I did the only thing I could: had a complete meltdown on my husband, the one person who stands by me in these parenting trenches. It wasn't honorable, but it did feel somehow inevitable.

Quincy is a primo partner and nothing in the sobbing litany I espoused in our little threshold could communicate what was really crushing me: the psychic weight of maintaining everything.

At work, I manage projects with a team, and the work is divided. I am rewarded for my toil. My efforts are applauded and responsibilities awarded incrementally. Believe me when I say that I'm aware of how marvelous and rare that is. And looking at a day of professional challenges followed by a night of thankless exertion was damn near unbearable.

And now, here I sit: pumping milk in a dimly lit executive office, pouring out my heart while pouring out sustenance for my son. And I want to go home. I want to squeeze my boy and joke with my man and all those tiny tasks now seem more than worth the work.

Father-son convo

One giggle fit from my kid, and I float through an afternoon. One feisty moment with Quincy can kindle me all evening. Life is extremely hard right now, but it's definitely not devoid of joy. There are dozens of details that I know I will miss terribly. The bottomless adoration of a tiny human and the opportunity to grow deeper in love with my partner. These things are enough.

What can I do?

Apologize to Quincy. Come home. Wash the milk bottles, change the diapers, and nurse the baby in the dead of night.

Then, wake up and do it all again tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Feeling Frenzy

I don't see myself as sentimental and I take secret pride in being a discerning snob. Laurie, my ever-snarky sister, once dubbed me Frosty the Snow Bitch, and it was a title I took seriously. I had honed an Olympic eye-roll.

But man. Parenthood.

Me and my 16-week-old 

When wailing to Laurie about my fears for Era as he entered daycare, she charmingly reassured me, "Feelings suck. I'm sorry you have them now, Melty the SunnySoftie."

When my lovely baby pooped through all of his warm clothes at daycare, I made an extra stop at lunch to retrieve a pair of infant pants to protect him from the over-air-conditioned climate.

"I brought Era some pants," I sheepishly told the caretaker on duty. "I think he might be cold." But when I returned later that evening, Era was happily cooing at the daycare employee sans pants. I was inconsolable. I never before thought myself capable of rage-crying because my progeny endured an afternoon of frosty haunches. (He has since been relocated to a less frigid and indifferent daycare.)

Whatever stoic insouciance I once exhibited has been replaced with softhearted sap.

Mom. It's not really that big a deal.

And there's more. I impulsively squashed an ant on my desk last week (it's Florida; vermin are rife), then paused for a moment, overcome. "That ant was somebody's son," I sadly whispered to myself.

Then: "Holy crap. What is happening to me?"

Somebody's son

Mere months ago, I was a scoffing virtuoso. When at the pinnacle of pregnancy, elderly neighbors would enjoin me admire their grandkids and I would employ my famous eye-roll. Other people's babies. Bleh. At the time, my own kid was the only baby that had ever interested me. (Not that I don't think y'all's babies are cute. I do.)

That's all changed. At the aforementioned daycare, one of Era's compatriots was a scrawny six-month-old in foster care. As I fed Era at lunch, a caretaker would extoll this little lady's myriad issues. I would watch her explore piles of plastic animals and try to resist whisking her away with us. She was a baby in need and my cheesy heart just broke for her. It's hard to reconcile my sense of self as a lady who struggles with the urge to abduct a strange infant.

Schmoop x million

My emotional 180 was truly crystallized for me the other day as I texted Lisa, a dear friend with a beautiful babe a few weeks younger than Era.

"She's so great, though," Lisa said. "We don't deserve her."

Harper Bea, Lisa's baby
Lisa's little Harper Bea is Harper Bea-Utiful

I've heard this sentiment before. Prior to parenthood, I would read comments akin to that and employ epic eye-rolling. "You feel lucky to have a tiny human commandeer your life? Your baby should be grateful that you like her enough to cater to her every whim!"

But instead of rolling, my eyes got misty.

"I know," I wrote. "How did we get so damned lucky?"


Monday, January 15, 2018

The Breast of the Story

Greetings from seven weeks postpartum!

If you need me, I'll just be staring into these eyes all day long.

I am well. Era is doing well. He's a healthy human heifer and I love it. He's in the 98th percentile for weight, length, and head size, so, needless to say, this kid is not missing any meals.

And that's why I wanted to yap about breastfeeding. It's amazing! It's crazy! It's weird! And right now, it's my life.


I took an ABCs of Breastfeeding class before my boy was born. This is kinda what I expected:

Always Breastfeed copy
Put that coffee down. Coffee contains caffeine and may upset your baby's stomach.

I guess it's for the best that the sweet Canadian grandmother who lead our class didn't call us names à la Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, but she did lay some heavy truths on us. Your nipples will hurt. Kids sometimes can't figure out the whole latching deal. You will basically be an on-call buffet.

While the technical aspects of feeding a tiny human with your body were helpful, this class was invaluable to me primarily because it prepared me for the haze of days with a newborn. For the first time, the reality of waking every couple hours to feed a new person dawned on me. I was going to be exhausted. I was going to be counting poops. I was going to need help.

When I met Quincy for dinner after the class, I was brimming with new information and ready to have hard conversations over hard tacos about the size of a newborn's stomach, the intricacies of nipple care, and the power of a well-placed pillow.

Go and do likewise, gents.

I could - and did - research baby care all day long, but that class was what really got me ready for new motherhood.

And it takes brass balls.


Everything I read about breastfeeding chirped with an upbeat tone:
- If you do it right, breastfeeding will not hurt.
- It takes about 20 feedings for your nipples to toughen up.


Early morning feeding with my chubby, uncharacteristically grumpy boy

Era was a pro at latching and basically taught me everything I needed to know about keeping him in milk. However, even his expert abilities didn't mean pain-free chest time. It took a solid three weeks  of consistent milking sessions before I quit wincing at each feeding.

Now, I don't think twice about stuffing a nipple in his kisser, but it was a long slog of lanolin applications, shielding my sore tatas from the hot water in the shower, and exploring supportive undergarments.

"Seconds, please."

Hurty boobs are the worst, but I never considered other options because, let's face it: bottle feeding is way more work.


I recently polished off a two-pound tin of butter cookies. I regularly eat my entire burrito at Chipotle. I have a "usual" order at Dairy Queen.

I've always been a pretty good eater, but nothing in my life can compare to the famished feelings I have as a lactating lady. I mean, I've been hungry before. I've been so starved, I felt sick. But this is an active, loud hankering unlike anything I've ever experienced. If being peckish is a gurgle in the gut, this is a rapacious racket resonating throughout my entire being.

We're both always hungry.

They say that breastfeeding broads should ingest about 500 more calories than normal. I have no idea how many calories I'm cramming, but I do know that I want all of them to be ice cream. Or cookie dough. Or some combination of the two.

You don't get cheeks like these by missing meals.

I will divulge that I am just about back to my pre-pregnancy weight, so I have to assume that everything is going straight from that Lucky Charms box to Era's irrepressible cheeks. Thank goodness.


In the early days after Era arrived, I read an article in the Stranger about nursing, and was blown away by the preternatural powers of breastmilk. To help the little one begin to differentiate daytime from night, my body was slipping the appropriate hormones into my milk. The researcher quoted in the article noted that "day milk is going to have a completely different hormonal milieu than night milk."

Sleeping babe, sleepy mom

And thus, this musical parody was born.

Night Milk (to the tune of Bob Seger's Night Moves)

He's a little large
Puttting on a few pounds
Size three diapers fit best, we found
I'm a sleepy mommy with bags under eyes
Rolling out of bed to this little one's cries
So loud, these cries

In the dark house, where the cats run scared
In the comfort of my family's rocking chair
Working on the mysteries of what makes babies tick

Workin' on the night milk
Hoping that my hormones do the trick
Workin' on the night milk
In the dark nighttime
In the stinking darkest nighttime


I know that breastfeeding isn't for everyone. (Especially grown-ass adults. Get out of my Flickr feed, fetishists!)

Frankly, it's been a little rough being at the beck and call of a baby, but feeding my kid with my body is just the latest miracle in the long strange trip that is motherhood. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to have this connection with my kid, and keep trying to remain grateful. Even in the middle of the night.


Friday, January 5, 2018

In Full Revue

Happy 2018!


2017 was year, amirite? For me, it was a crazy ride of disappointment, career growth, a deeper relationship with my partner, a new babe, and ultimately, hope for what the future holds.

I'm not sure that is all reflected in this, the list of songs I fell in love with this year. But, it is a tiny time capsule that reflects much of where my mind lingered these last 12 months.

2017 in Revue

1. Astral Plane - Valerie June
2. Inigradan - Fatou Seidi Ghali, Alamnou Akrouni
3. Roly Poly - Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
4. Wearing Nothing - Dagny
5. Wait - The J. Geils Band
6. (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!) - Hotrats
7. Hitler Lives - Rosalie Allen
8. May I Have This Dance (Remix) - Francis and the Lights feat. Chance the Rapper
9. Only God Knows - Young Fathers feat. Leith Congregational Choir
10. Sin City - Donald E. Clare

Download the mix.

Listen to the mix on YouTube. - Though, this is missing the last track.

Or, if you're inclined to trade mixes, email me and I will mail you a CD with one of the handmade blocks pictured above.

I hope your 2018 is starting off hopefully.