Stages of Sleep Deprivation

Stage one: denial

“This is fine. It’s late, I’m tired, but I can do this. No big deal. I was a night owl in college. I can handle it.”

Stage two: uncertainty

“I’m really, really, tired. I can push through! When was the last time I slept all night? I think I can! This will pass! I hope…”

Stage three: autopilot

*baby cries*

*swings feet out of bed*

*stumbles into doorframe. weaves across the hall.*

*picks baby up. carries baby to rocking chair and starts to feed. jerks head awake*

*baby cries*

*swings feet out of own bed again a few hours later. Doesn’t remember how she got there*

Stage four: imaginary management

“I think I’m getting used to this. Three hours at a time is great! I’ve adjusted. I am Superwoman!” *falls asleep at work*

Stage five: illusions of grandeur

“I got seven hours of sleep last night! I feel wonderful! I can’t believe this is what sleep feels like!” *has horrible migraine headache because body isn’t used to so much sleep*

Stage six: crazy dreams

Night one: running into ex-boyfriend’s new wife and helping deliver their baby

Night two: husband accused of murder, cannot find enough evidence to prove his innocence

Night three: life as a character on the show ‘Frazier’

Night four: dreamed I was lying awake staring at the baby all night. Might actually have been lying awake staring at the baby all night



Ghost Music

I can hear it in my head. Constantly. Looping over and over and over like a bad record. I don’t know if it comes from the musical teddy bear or the plastic aquarium that plays lullabies or the singing cow… but it haunts me.

This tune, this plinking melody that plays when my child hits the buttons on one of her musical toys… it’s everywhere.

I can sit in a quiet room, and I still hear it. I know nothing is turned on and the baby is asleep and there is no music playing… but I still hear it. The notes float in the empty air and swirl around my head until I’m singing the whole thing line by line, even though I have no idea what it is.

It’s the same with the screaming. Any time the Mister takes over baby-duty and lets me go take a nap, I can still hear the screaming. Even when there is no screaming and there hasn’t been any screaming that day and the baby is actually asleep on his chest… I’ll be lying in our room with the door closed, and I can hear her screaming.

It’s all a bit frightening, really. Like a soundtrack I can’t turn off.

It gets especially good when she manages to turn on more than one singing toy at a time and two or three melodies are mixing together all at once in their strangely high-pitched baby-toy voices… that’s a really good way for a person to lose their mind.

Color matters

It’s probably not politically correct to say so, but there are times when the color of a thing really makes a big difference. There are just some prejudices I am not willing to give up, and this is one of them.

Take jellybeans, for instance.

Black jellybeans are better than white jellybeans. That’s just a simple fact of life. (And those of you who think otherwise just have a warped sense of reality, I’m sorry.)

In fact, almost any color jellybean is better than a white jellybean. White jellybeans are almost always coconut, and if they aren’t coconut then they are something equally revolting, like buttered popcorn.

Once, when I was 13, a friend brought me a massive five-pound bag of jellybeans for my birthday, and my best friend and I spent a large chunk of our sleepover sorting them: colored beans back in the bag, white beans (and suspicious, possibly white beans) in the trash. Just to be safe.

The only exceptions to this rule are the larger, pure-sugar jellybeans that are usually an off-brand. They only come in five or six flavors, and the white ones are pineapple, so those are acceptable. But small, normal bean-shaped jellybeans? Coconut. Unacceptable.

And actually, I try really hard to avoid coconut in all forms. Jellybeans, cakes, cookies, soaps, lotions, perfumes…. it lurks everywhere. I’ve even gone so far as to tell people I am allergic to coconut just so they will be sure not to include it in anything. (It wouldn’t kill me… but I would probably wish that it had.)

Besides, have you ever noticed how a coconut cake always looks like it’s covered in fingernail clippings?

(See, I ruined it for you, too, didn’t I? You’ll never be able to un-see that. You’re welcome.)


We’re gonna miss this

Roo is three and a half months old now, and I am amazed every day by how fast the time has already flown. She’s halfway to trying pureed foods, one fourth of the way to her first birthday, and I’ve already started to picture the day I take her to her kindergarten classroom.

We’ve had some really bad nights of zero sleep and lots of tears shed by everyone, but even in those moments, when I’m trying to doze off in the rocking chair because she refuses to be put in her own bed, I hear that song “You’re gonna miss this” playing in my head.

It goes like this:

She was staring out the window of that SUV
Complaining, saying “I can’t wait to turn eighteen”
She said “I’ll make my own money, and I’ll make my own rules”
Momma put the car in park out there in front of the school
She kissed her head and said “I was just like you”
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
Before she knows it she’s a brand new bride
In her one-bedroom apartment, and her daddy stops by
He tells her “It’s a nice place”
She says “It’ll do for now”
Starts talking about babies and buying a house
Daddy shakes his head and says “Baby, just slow down”
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
Five years later there’s a plumber workin’ on the water heater
Dog’s barkin’, phone’s ringin’
One kid’s cryin’, one kid’s screamin’
She keeps apologizin’
He says “They don’t bother me
I’ve got two babies of my own
One’s thirty six, one’s twenty three
Huh, it’s hard to believe, but
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
(Song by Trace Adkins)
I’ll be sitting there, in that rocking chair I originally, foolishly thought we wouldn’t need, approaching three hours of rocking a baby who refuses to sleep, and I tell myself how much I’m going to miss that warm weight on my shoulder as she snuggles in and clutches my shirt, my hair, my glasses and anything else she can reach. I may be exhausted, but she won’t always be this small.
When I start to think she’s too heavy and my back hurts so badly, I try to tell myself that someday too soon she’ll walk on her own and learn that big girls don’t get carried around by their mommies. I may be in pain, but she won’t always fit in my arms.
This week we got some major snow (for the south, anyway), and my office was closed for four unexpected days while the roads were cleared. I got five days (including the Martin Luther King holiday) with my baby girl that she would have otherwise spent in childcare, and I loved every minute of it. Even those minutes when I was too tired to walk in a straight line, and there were some of those too.
There were things I needed to do that I should have done and things that I wanted to do that I could have done, but I didn’t. Because that warm weight was asleep in my arms, clutching my shirt, and how do you put that down?
Even now, she’s too big to lay comfortably across my lap like she did as a newborn and her head doesn’t fit below my chin the way it used to. I don’t notice the day-to-day growth, but it dawns on me in leaps and bounds sometimes.
I decided the laundry will always need washing and the house will always be dirty, but she won’t always want to sleep on my chest, so we did that instead.
When we first came home from the hospital, I burst into tears because I didn’t feel that instant, overwhelming, all-consuming love at first sight that everyone tells you you should have when your baby is born. I thought that meant I might never love her properly. But you know what? That passes. And boy, does it pass.
(I promise all my posts from now on won’t be this sappy, and this is actually not the original path I intended to take, but it sort of had a mind of its own.)

The Mommy Chronicles

So my last post was on September 18, and I was tired of being pregnant but was trying to accept whatever timetable the baby might have and let her come in her own time.

Well, it turns out that time was only 11 days after that post, which also explains my absence over the last month.

We’re parents!! Somehow, just like that. And let me tell you, it did not happen in any way described in any article about what labor will be like. If you are reading this as an expectant mother let me tell you, if you start having rhythmic nerve pain in your lower back that comes and goes like a contraction but may or may not be accompanied by abdominal contractions, that’s called back labor and it’s a real thing. Go get checked out. I was in intense pain for two days and even went to the hospital Thursday night, where they told me I wasn’t truly in labor, but I was. And Roo arrived Friday evening after a night of sleeping in the bathtub and a frantic morning trip to my doctor, who sent me back to the hospital to be admitted immediately. 

Roo (who does have a real name, but I’m not going to publish it here for her own privacy), arrived at 5:37 p.m., September 29, at 6 lbs 14 oz and 20.5 inches long. There have been so many things to tell since she made her grand debut, and I regret that I don’t have the time or the energy to write about them all, but anyone who has ever had children will understand the struggle, I’m sure. 

There was the moment when the nurse handed me Roo’s hospital discharge papers and the signature line said “parent signature” and it took me several moments to realize that meant ME! 

There was the invention of the phrase “fart bullet” the first time she shot baby poop across the room (unfortunately I do have to specify the “first time” because it has happened more than once). 

There was introducing her to the puppies, who have taken very different opinions of her, and not the ones we expected. Lucy, who we thought would love her instantly, isn’t really interested and doesn’t pay her much attention. Meera, who we worried about, is totally in love with her and wants to be right next to her at all times. On the rare occasions the dogs sleep inside (they are outdoor dogs now) Meera will come get me every time Roo makes any noise… which is well-intentioned but also very annoying, since Roo is a very noisey baby and it usually means nothing. She will definitely be the guard dog who makes sure nobody ever messes with her baby girl. 

I am forever grateful to the village of people who have helped us in these first weeks, whether by staying with us, bringing food, watching Roo so I can leave the house or just by talking me through the hard days and reassuring me that I am not a failure of a mother because I haven’t accomplished all the things the online articles say you should do with your infant each day.  

Post-partum struggles are real. Lean on your village. I’ll be back when I can. 

Words from a wise man

So, ever since we saw those two pink lines back in February, I have made it a point NOT to focus on counting down to my due date. First of all, the due date is only a suggestion and this baby will ignore any countdown I have. (She is her father’s daughter, after all.)

And secondly, as excited as we are to become a family of three, I am still a bit sad when I think about how this first phase of our marriage – the part where it’s just us and our quiet house – is coming to an end. I don’t know exactly what the next phase will hold, but I know life will never be the same, and I don’t really want to wish that away so fast.

But now… now we are in the final month… and I am definitely counting down. I am tired of being pregnant. I’m over it. I am ready to be a normal size again and not be wondering if every ache and pain is a contraction or just a little elbow pushing directly on a vital nerve of some type.

A year ago last week, the world lost one of the finest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I had the privilege (and also somewhat strange experience) of attending what was, essentially, his funeral before he died. We knew his body was failing, and we knew the treatments had ended, so his family hosted a party last Labor Day weekend where everyone who wanted to could come and say their goodbyes.

People came from everywhere! The crowd was incredible! I hope that someday I have touched that many lives deeply enough for that many people to come and bid me farewell before I leave this world.

When I got a chance to talk to him, it was mentioned in his presence that I needed to go ahead and start having babies. He smiled and turned to me and said, “You’ll know when it’s time, baby. Don’t let anybody talk you into it before you’re ready. You’ll know.”

And he was right. We did know, somehow, when it was time. I wish my daughter could know him and sit on his lap and be “his girl” like I was. All too often we expect people to be around forever and don’t understand the roles they’ve played in our lives until they are gone, and I miss him dearly.

I don’t wish him back, though. I can’t. We always talked about him “holding court” – surrounded by others of all ages who came to hear his views on some such thing. He was a wealth of knowledge on so many subjects, and it was rightfully said that a library died with him. I believe we will know and recognize other souls in Heaven, and I’m certain he is sitting around discussing deep questions with Abraham and Moses. (He probably fits right in. He did always have that biblical patriarch sort of look about him.)

I wasn’t able to say all the things I wanted to say to him before I left that last time. I was crying too hard to really get anything out. But one of the last things I told him was that I expected him to be waiting for the rest of us when we got to Heaven. He said he would be on the lookout.

So for now, I’m going to try and be patient for these last five weeks, because Baby Girl will know when it’s time. I won’t try to talk her into it before she’s ready. Life on the outside is a big responsibility, and somehow she’ll know when she’s ready to give it a try.

And we will be on the lookout, ready to greet her when she gets here.



Stop chewing on your sister!

…is something I hope to not have to say to my new daughter.

Her four-legged sisters, on the other hand, hear this at least once a day. I’m constantly amazed by how many times those words come out of my mouth, especially considering that Meera makes her displeasure fully known and Lucy continues to chew on whatever body part she can reach at the time. Some dogs just never learn, I guess.

Meera has actually, physically sat on Lucy in an effort to make her leave her alone… and sometimes that doesn’t even work!

Little sisters. Ya gotta love ’em.

(Little brothers can be a pain-in-the-backside too – I have one of those – but I digress.)

We’re trying to get the girls used to spending longer amounts of time outside now that there are only two months until Baby Roo’s estimated arrival (two months??! only TWO MONTHS!!??), but it’s not working out exactly as planned.

After we finally got our fence put up a few weeks ago, we started letting them out to potty and then leaving them out for extended periods of time. They didn’t like that. In fact, they stopped asking to go outside at all, started having accidents in the house and, when forced outside, refused to leave the porch and would instead cry and whine and throw themselves at the back door for hours. (And yes, they do have dog houses and water and all the necessities out there for their use.)

So we changed tactics a bit. Now, we’re letting them out when they want to go out and back in when they want to come in in an effort to recreate trust in the yard and boost confidence that it is a good place to be.

It’s working… but only half way. Lucy seems to want to be outside. She sits at the back door and watches out the window. She wanders from the door to you and back again. She goes to the door when you stand up. But when you let her out… she comes right back in. She won’t stay outside by herself, even when that is obviously where she wants to be.

Meera, on the other hand, wants no part of the outside world and is perfectly happy pretending the yard does not exist. When I can get her to go out with Lucy, she sits on the porch sadly while Lucy plays by herself in the yard. (You see, Lucy doesn’t need Meera to go down and play with her. She just wants her to be outside at the same time.)

If I let Meera in, Lucy comes in too. Even when Lucy was obviously enjoying herself.

I don’t understand. Meera’s never been as much of a fan of the yard as Lucy, so that makes sense, but she’s never hated it quite as much as she does now. It’s the same yard, with the same space and same toys and same activities, watching the same neighbors go by, as before. It just has a fence around it now.

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. I really need them both to have those voice collars like Doug in the Pixar movie “Up!” so I can ask questions and they can answer me in human language and tell me what in the world is going on in their heads.

Maybe when Roo gets here and is keeping them awake with her screaming they’ll want to be outside. I don’t know. But they are going to have to start adjusting one way or the other, because the time is fast approaching when outside will be a normal thing – at least during the day.