Thursday, March 27, 2008

When will we see the light?

Did you catch this? A 160-square-mile chunk of ice broke off Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica and now glacial ice is just floating around in the ocean. Scientists believe global warming is the likely cause and are worried that the ice shelf is in danger of breaking apart even more. Stuff like this has always bothered me but it bothers me even more now that I have a kid. I mean, what is the world going to be like when Jonah is my age? It's scary and I feel guilty that we as a society are not doing more to fight global warming. I feel bad that I'm not doing more personally. I recycle and all that, but I know I am sometimes wasteful because it's easy to be and harder to conserve. It's nothing at all really, but I did make a small effort today to save energy. I was nursing Jonah in bed and hoping that he would fall asleep so we could take a nap together. But, as I lay there I remembered that I had left three lights on and the radio in the living room, as well as a radio in the bathroom. (Now more than ever, I gotta get my NPR fix in the morning or I'd feel totally out of it.) It would have been so easy to just drift off to sleep rather than get out of the warm, cozy bed, and I almost did. But, I couldn't get the thought or the photos of that ice shelf out of my head. I know one could argue that my electricity usage has no direct link to the ice shelf melting and breaking apart, but doesn't it at some level? I mean when do we wake up and start holding ourselves accountable for the state of the earth we live on? As Jonah drifted to sleep, I slipped out of the bed and went around the house turning off everything and then joined my tiny boy for a nap.

I read Mothering magazine and I also get weekly emails from them. This week, the email had information on something called Earth Hour 2008. To be part of Earth Hour, you commit to turning off your lights for one hour starting at 8 p.m. on on March 29, 2008. You can even register your intention to do so online. It's a small thing, really, to turn the lights off for an hour on a Saturday night. It seems merely symbolic, really. Except it does have a major impact. The first Earth Hour was held in Sydney, Australia last year and 2.2 million people and 2,100 Sydney businesses participated. According to Earth Hour's website, if the greenhouse reduction achieved during that one hour in Sydney was sustained for a year, it would be equivalent to taking 48,616 cars off the road for a year. And, we all know that cars are a major polluter and source of greenhouse gases, which scientists believe are contributing to global warming. And, that's why we have polar bears swimming for their lives these days and giant masses of thick glacial ice falling to pieces. This year, Earth Hour is world wide. It may be a symbolic thing to turn of your lights, but it's worth thinking about. And, maybe, just maybe, we can help save some of this world for our babies. ~ Nicole

Monday, March 24, 2008

An Errand

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only mom who doesn't have her shit together.

It still feels like a huge production for me to do the simplest things. Like run out to the grocery store for a few items (because our cupboards are nearly bare). It sounds easy, right? But, with a 3-month-old baby, it can be a major challenge just getting out of the house. (It's difficult staying in the house, too!)

Today, Jonah and I got up a little before 8. I'm sure this sounds like a luxuriously late hour to lots of other new parents. We are lucky that most of the time Jonah sleeps "late" -- as in he doesn't wake up at 5 a.m. every day -- but I know that it's partly because he's still small enough to need a lot of sleep and because he and I wake up often throughout the night to nurse. I know this won't last forever.

When Jonah is well-rested I like to take advantage of his quiet alertness as a good time for him to learn things, so I talk to him, show him what's outside the windows in our bedroom and in the nursery, and have him look at me and himself in the mirror. He smiles at his reflection and at mine. He seems riveted by the pigeons on the sidewalk.

Soon, it's diaper time. I tend to linger with this task, too, because it's one of Jonah's favorite activities. He's super smiley and happy when he's on the changing table and loves looking at his elephant toy hanging above him, which giggles when you pull it. I talk to him a lot during changing time and he seems to love it and babbles back at me. After this, it's anyone's guess whether Jonah will be content when I put him on the floor under his Gymini or in his bouncy seat. He really loves the Gymini but sometimes cries a little at first when I put him down. He isn't crazy about the bouncy seat, but will sometimes tolerate it long enough for me to get myself ready for the day and make myself some breakfast.

Getting myself ready is often done in small spurts. Put Jonah down. Run to bathroom. Brush teeth. Start to wash face. Jonah cries from the living room. I finish my face quickly and jump out of my pajamas, finding pieces of clothing to throw on that look halfway decent and aren't covered in spitup. Jonah is now yelling. Brushing the hair will have to wait. I go to Jonah and talk to him and he's instantly happy and smiling again. I step into the kitchen while I keep talking to him and make some tea and a bowl of cereal, feeling guilty that I should make something more nutritious for myself like oatmeal or scrambled eggs, but who has the time? I plop down on the living room floor with my breakfast and eat while I talk to Jonah and attempt check my email quickly and glance through the newspaper.

Jonah seems content so I slip away to finish getting ready. I run a brush through my hair and take a real look in the mirror. I don't look terrible today, so that's good. An improvement. I could use a little more sleep. I notice that my jeans aren't really fitting any better. My rapid post-pregnancy weight loss seems to have leveled off. Ugh. I trot back to the living room to spend some more time with Jonah and shield my eyes from the piles of laundry and dishes I encounter along the way. "Housework can wait." That's what everyone tells you when you have a baby, but at what point does the dirty house become a health hazard? I'll worry about that later, because now Jonah is screaming. I pick him up, and he is all red-faced and intense. I pat his back a little and lets out a tiny burb, then spits up all over my clean shirt. He is smiling again. He seems happy but starts rubbing his eyes and sucking on his hands. I glance at the clock. Where in the hell did 2 hours go?

Jonah is hungry and tired. Time to nurse. And, then, time for Jonah's morning nap. I relax into the nursing and decide a nap is a good idea for me, too. "Sleep when the baby sleeps." Another thing you hear. Good advice, as long as I can find my bed under the laundry and burp cloths. I take Jonah to bed with me and he nurses and we both doze. I push out thoughts of all the other things I could be doing while Jonah sleeps. The housework, the bills, my "to do" list of random tasks that have been hanging over my head for weeks, like call cell phone company to find out about getting a cheaper plan and other money-saving tasks. I hope for a nice long, two-hour nap. The kind that all the books say babies are supposed to take. The kind that all those "sleep-trained" babies supposedly take. (I'm skeptical.) Not quite an hour later, Jonah stirs. No, I think, I'm not ready to wake up. I was just getting some good sleep. I pat him on the back, hoping he'll drift off again. Nope. I offer him my breast, hoping that if I top him off a little, he'll go back to sleep. Nope. He needs to burp. Which means I need to sit up. I lift him, all 15 pounds of him, and he lets out a nice burp. I catch his reflection in the mirror and see that he is wide awake and bright-eyed. I, meanwhile, look sleepy and disheveled. My stomach growls. It's going to be lunchtime soon and I've got to go to the store. I decide to take a stroller (the Snap 'N Go!) so I can carry the groceries in the stroller's basket. Normally, I put Jonah in a carrier or sling when we go out because it's easier to get around and he likes to be close to me, hear my voice, see the world. Despite the benefits of being able to carry more cargo, it's harder to get out the door with a stroller. But, after three trips up and down the front steps -- stroller base, then baby in the car seat -- we are off!

I whizzed through the aisles to make this errand as short as possible in case Jonah decided he was over it. (Last time, he began to yell just as I was checking out. Fun! The other customers really seemed to love that.) Today, Jonah seemed enchanted by the grocery store, taking in all the sights and sounds. I managed to shove most of the groceries into stroller by the time the cashier handed me my receipt. (Usually, I'm the one holding up the line as I struggle to load all of the groceries without squishing the bread.) Outside, we get about a half block away from the store when Jonah's eyes start to droop. This is nice, except, he'll be just falling asleep by the time we get home. The trip up in the stairs and into the house will no doubt wake him. I decide to take the long way home. I walk around the block a few times before heading home. I'm feeling pretty good about my day so far, despite the fact that I'm wearing a crazy outfit (a dress over jeans, which is so not me, and dirty jeans at that) and my hair is still slightly disheveled because I think I forgot to fix it after our nap.

As I ponder my fashion choices, I see two strollers coming my way on the sidewalk. From a distance, all I can see is that one stroller is bright orange and the other is bright blue. As we get closer, I notice that each stroller has a color-coordinated baby inside. As in, each baby is wrapped in a snuggly thing the same exact color as the stroller. I glance up at the women pushing the strollers. One woman is blond and pushes the blond-haired baby in the blue ensemble. Her hair is pulled back into a nice pony tail. She is smiling, looks well-rested and may even be wearing makeup. The other woman has brown hair cut into a smart bob and pushes the orange stroller. I notice that she is even wearing an orange coat. They both smile at me and part a bit to make room for me on the sidewalk. They say "hi" as I pass and I greet them in return. I was hoping that they were nannies because how else could they look so good? But, the resemblence between the women and their babies left no doubt that they were mothers. Moms, like me, out with their babies for a walk. Only, they looked much more put together while I suddenly felt like I might resemble a homeless person. And, at that moment, I just felt, well, inferior. And, I wondered, how do they do it? I imagined them talking about me after I passed and saying something like, "Aw, that poor dear. She must be a single mother. Did you see the baby? He was wearing socks on his hands instead of real mittens? So sad." Or something like that. I know it's crazy but that one encounter nearly erased my entire sense of accomplishment for what I had managed to do by myself today. Those must be their second babies, I murmur to myself. Or third.

I turned the corner to my street and noticed our car parked out front. Is Matthew home already? I thought, excited about being able to have lunch together today. He opened the door and I handed him the car seat containing his sleeping son. "Where'd you go?" he asked as he kissed me and then gazed down sweetly as his baby boy. "Oh, just to the store," I said, like it was nothing at all. "I missed you so much this morning," he whispered to Jonah. "My baby boy." As I fixed us sandwiches while Matthew played with Jonah -- all three of us in smiles -- thoughts of those weirdly, perfectly color-coordinated supermoms faded away, for now. ~ Nicole

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Well, we didn't make it to baby and me yoga today despite my best intentions. Jonah had other plans for us today. Namely, more naps. None of us slept well last night. Jonah was tired today, and so was I. In the wee hours of the night, after nursing, Jonah tossed and turned. I tried my best to sleep anyway and hoped he would eventually get bored and fall asleep, but he just kept wiggling and wiggling around. After a while, I couldn't take it anymore, so I took him out of bed and swaddled him and put him in the co-sleeper, hoping that being swaddled would settle him down. Nope. He just kicked and kicked and wriggled about so much that he shook our bed! Eventually, I drifted off, but it only felt like a moment passed when Matthew started snoring. I shook his shoulder and he rolled over. I dozed. But then, just as I was falling asleep, something woke me up again. It was a cat. A big cat. A big orange cat named Pete, jumping on my head. I couldn't believe it! I scolded Pete and unfortunately woke up Matthew who was a bit startled by my mood, oblivious to the fact that I hadn't slept for more than a few minutes in about three hours. I can't remember right now exactly what eventually settled Jonah down. Maybe I held him. Maybe Matthew did. Maybe I nursed him some more. I do know that Matthew was kind enough to take Jonah into the living room later in the morning when he woke up for the day to let me sleep a little longer. I woke up a little later to nurse Jonah again and decided that it was time for a nap, for Jonah and for me! After nursing, Jonah slept on my chest -- this is one of my favorite things, feeling his warmth and heft on my body, his breath on my neck, his soft hair a little sweaty when he sleeps -- and I finally pulled myself out of bed about an hour later. I decided to get ready for yoga so that when it was time to leave the house everything would be ready to go. Just getting Jonah ready for the day took a lot longer than I expected. He had a poop extravaganza. Just moments after removing his full diaper, cleaning him up and putting on a new one, he pooped again before I even got him off the changing table. I took that diaper off him and cleaned him and he pooped again on the changing table before I could even get another diaper on him! Then, it took a while to find clothes for him. He's outgrowing everything so fast. I decided it was better for him to wear stuff that's a little too big. I'm pretty sure everything he wore today was made for 6-month-olds, if not older. I had to roll his sleeves a bit and cuff his pants, but he looked perfectly adorable. Once Jonah was set, I had to get myself ready, have something to eat and pack the diaper bag. By the time I did all of this, Jonah was grumpy. I figured he was just hungry, so I nursed him a little, but it was clear that he was more than hungry. He was tired and cranky and desperately in need of another nap. I put him down but knew that this would leave no time to get ourselves down to the yoga class. I was bummed but knew it was the best thing for Jonah. He had a nice nap and woke up about 15 minutes after the class would have started, but he awoke a much more cheerful baby. He actually seemed content to lie in his co-sleeper while I rubbed his back and talked to him and tidied up the bedroom (something I rarely get to do since Jonah is always sleeping there). I was sad to miss yoga, for me because I crave exercise right now but have no time to do it, but also for Jonah because he likes the class a lot and loves looking at all the other babies. But, I know I made the right call because Jonah was a happy little boy today. And, after my nice long naps today, I was happy, too. ~ Nicole

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Latest stats on Jonah

Jonah likes:
Lying under his gymini, kicking his legs and flapping his arms while squeeking and squawking
Looking at his crinkly book (a gift from Jen B.)
Looking at himself in the mirror
Talking to his giggling elephant
Feeling things with his hands
Baby and me yoga class
Taking a bath in the sink
Morning naps

Jonah dislikes:
When Pete sits on his head
Clothes that are too small because he's growing so fast
Nursing in loud places
Not yet being able to roll over, despite repeated attempts
That Sammy is still skeptical of him
Afternoon naps

Age: 12 weeks last Thursday
Weight: We aren't 100% sure because we don't have a scale that measures ounces, but we estimate he's weighing in at around 15 pounds now.
Height: Again, we can't be sure, but he's definitely longer as many of his clothes are becoming too short!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I've had writers' block. Bloggers' block. I've been struggling with what to write about because it might bore our dear, faithful readers. I could tell you about the minutae of my day. How I obsess about sleep. My own and Jonah's. And, Matthew's, especially when he's had too little. Or, when I've had too little, which is pretty much every day. How I struggle to organize Jonah's day to include two good naps (never happens) and some time outdoors for fresh air and stimulation, along with regular interactions with others while also trying to keep up with the laundry so those poop stains don't set in and so I have a least one outfit that fits (not many do yet) and is free of spit up stains. Meanwhile, I can't forget to eat -- I get so hungry sometimes since I'm nursing -- and now that I'm a "housewife" I feel pressure to do more cooking and baking. (I know this is kind of stupid since Matthew couldn't care less who cooks dinner most nights, but I would like to become more proficient at the "domestic arts.") I could go on and on. I love my new job. Love it. But, I wonder how much of this stuff is even remotely interesting to anyone, especially anyone who doesn't have kids. Thankfully, I've gotten to know a few moms, including very new, first-time moms, like me, with whom I can freely discuss topics like poop and naps without feeling small-minded. Before I had Jonah, I would have glazed over during conversations about swaddling techniques and the large variation in the number of poops babies have (for the record, it is normal for it to vary from one per week to eight per day!). I probably would have thought, "Geez, she needs to get out more!" So, these things are going through my head every time I sit down to write about my life as Jonah's mom. But, what I know is true and just haven't yet figured out how to convey is how much bigger my world is with Jonah in it and how mind-expanding it is to watch him grow. ~ Nicole

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Having a baby makes me feel like writing poetry. If I were a poet, I'd wish to write a poem like this. ~ Nicole


These are the delights of being aligned with God.
In your newborn's slow. helpless dance,
you see what you sensed all those months:
the reality of pregnancy's metaphor:
darkness tumbles into fact.

The child's small parts are delectable.
In only one other interaction
Does the mouth supercede the fingers so,
and the nose ferrets out the richest gulleys:
the crook of the neck, around the ears,
the emanation of a pure new body
("baby's breath" flowers are the symbol of a scent, synesthesia spangled in a small white galaxy).

Your eyes undulate, a new umbilical cord:
to observe is to embrace, to enumerate is to exult,
to gaze is to be astounded into your proper place:
through you but not of you has this being bloomed,
you have no thought more elegant
than the fine bright point of his eye.
You are humbled, ripped, transfigured; pleased to be water,
succor for this tree.

Maria Berardi