Monday, July 28, 2014

blogher '14

BlogHer has come and gone and now 'tis time to reflect. Me and my compadre, Christina, noticed major differences between the conference we attended in 2011 and this conference. I'll address those in a minute.

This year's conference was a "selfiebration," so I obliged. Left to right: Nicole, Christina, me.

Overall, it was worth every penny for me to get out of the house, away from my adorable 8-month-old. I spent entire spans of time not thinking about or doing mommy things, and it felt really wonderful to just be an adult woman for a couple days. Although I still had to pump milk every few hours in the lactation lounge, which was in itself a bonding experience with the other pumping moms. My husband watched Graham for those couple days and did such an awesome job that now Graham truly prefers my husband when it comes to nap time. I'm so proud of both of them, although sort of hating life today because this nap issue is no joke.

Awesome things about the conference:


  • The expo hall. It's always fun to see what products the sponsors are trotting out and giving away as freebies. I'll probably spotlight a few on Instagram.
  • The Lactation Lounge, sponsored by Lansinoh. They provided a curtained-off area with a couch and a couple plush chairs, outlets, a fridge, and various breastfeeding/pumping-related supplies. It was a lifesaver. 
  • Breakfasts. I just love hot buffet breakfasts. 
  • Speakers from Twitter and eBay, plus Jenny Lawson (hilarious), comedian Tig Notaro (REALLY hilarious), Arianna Huffington, and Scandal's Kerry Washington!
  • There were some moments of inspiration in some of the sessions I attended. 
I didn't attend any of the parties, so I can't really speak about how those were, although Rev Run was at the party sponsored by McDonald's on Saturday night, which is pretty cool.

Things that were a little off:

  • None of the cool kids I met and saw at the 2011 conference were at this year's conference. 
  • This was the conference's 10th anniversary, and the organizers were pretty proud of it, so they'd planned for a bunch of speakers to discuss ... I'm not sure what. How awesome BlogHer is? There were simply too many speeches and they all went on for far longer than the 10 minutes they were each allotted. It began to feel like church camp -- it's fun until you have to go to church for the third time in one day.
  • The 2011 conference blew me away. Everything was on a grand scale and planned exceedingly well. Attendees actually attended the speeches and sessions, and the guest speakers and surprise stars were really impressive. The food was superb and abundant. The expo hall and giveaways were overwhelming in volume. This year was just a different story in every regard. 
  • Some of the sessions were a bit lacking in information, disappointingly. Many of the moderators and panelists just seemed really into talking about their own experiences rather than trying to help attendees. The best session I attended was really informative and was about optimizing social media. 
I don't write any of this to knock the conference or its organizers, because I can't even imagine the planning that must go into an event this enormous. I have a lot of respect for what they've done with this conference over the last decade.

But I wonder what's going on. Is it that blogging is dying out? Or has BlogHer become unhip? Maybe it was just an off year? Perhaps no one wanted to go to San Jose. It's understandable that it'd be easier to draw big names to San Diego in 2011, because it's close to Los Angeles. But really, what is happening? I'm curious to hear your theories. 



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Enjoy it now

What is there to do, really, other than just accept that every day I will hold my child for a few hours while he naps and I will get up around 5:30 a.m. every day? It won't last forever, and as I'm being commanded, I ought to ENJOY THIS NOW, because these moments are fleeting.

Which I get. I've understood it from the first second I saw my boy's little alien eyeballs blinking back at me. When he was just a newborn, my mom gave me a 6-month outfit for him to wear later, when he would fit into it, and I was almost angry when I saw it. THIS IS SOMETHING A BOY WEARS, NOT A BABY. He mustn't grow, mustn't, mustn't, and then he just kept doing it and now he's 7 months and wears 9 month outfits because he's pretty much going to be an enormous human being.

So yes, I'm enjoying this now, even though I average five hours of broken up sleep a night and I've seen way more sunrises than I'd like. People talk about how they never understood how they could love something as much as they love their children, and my theory is: When you look at your kid, it's like looking at the best, most deserving, untainted part of yourself. It's pure narcissism, is what it is. It's all the chances you ever wanted to truly wipe the slate clean and begin anew. Pure love and trust pours off babies' little bodies, and it's pretty impossible to respond with anything other than utter adoration.

And I do adore this kid, so much. Sometimes I feel a physical need to just crack open my chest and store him in there for a while so I can REALLY HOLD HIM, every part of him, compress his little body with my righteous new mom love. I would bite him, hard, if it didn't hurt him, because sometimes you just want to bite something you love, hard.

So it's funny how sometimes this feels like a merry-go-round that's spinning around at 90 miles an hour. Get up, feed, dress, play, clean, nap, feed, nap, feed, nap, feed. I wonder at myself, my Groundhog Day-edness, and whether it's wise to just continue neglecting housework, exercise, this blog, my other writing, the sorry-ass state of my saggy-ass mom jeans. I read somewhere the reason 1950s housewives could do it all -- have kids and keep a house and feed their families -- was they just put their kids in playpens all day and got shit done. Is that what I should be doing?

It's easy for me to get stuck in ruts because I am, at heart, a surly hermit. I'd normally accept any excuse to stay in my home, alone, all day. But, you may be surprised to discover, even surly hermits have their limits, and their tiny little pink hearts sometimes even crave adult human interaction. When the CHOICE to be a hermit becomes more of a necessity, this particular hermit becomes somewhat more surly than usual.

It's extraordinarily difficult for me to ask for help. I just never got any good at it. And I'm a fairly terrible friend, as I have an aversion to talking on the phone and I will rarely be the one to suggest a girl's night out or anything fun, truthfully. (See above re: surly hermit status) But, I've realized I need help. Ooh, it hurts my tiny heart to admit it, but I do. And I will need to ask for it, as people so rarely are gifted with extra sensory perception. I will need to call people on that dad-blasted phone of mine, and beg them to come hold my child so that I can clean the bathroom or write or go buy some clothing from this decade. Or I will beg them to sit with me and converse as normal adult humans sometimes do. Maybe we will even eat a meal of food. It's a little overwhelming to think about.

I don't want to do it. I really don't, a whole lot. A big part of me keeps saying I should be able to do this. I'm perhaps the forty bajillionth woman to have a child on this planet, so it's hardly anything special to raise a child. And I wanted this boy so badly, it makes me feel guilty to sense anything but gratitude when it comes to the situation I'm in.

But this temporary, "fleeting" time, while flashing by at 90 miles an hour, has been really difficult. Isolating, frustrating, monotonous, crazy-making. I hesitate to admit it, but I believe many mothers feel this way at times. I believe it is normal, and I believe that because our villages have dissipated, it's up to us to rebuild them around ourselves in our times of need. I've never called upon my village until now, and now, I am calling.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sleep Training: The Seventh Circle of Hell

Well. It's possible there couldn't be anything more dull to read about than how my kid sleeps (or doesn't), and yet this is my blog, and my kid's sleep consumes my Every Waking Hour, so that is all I am capable of writing about at the moment.

Where to begin ...

Possibly with the sleep books. I have read:


  • Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
  • Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems (Ferber)
  • Good Night, Sleep Tight
  • The No-Cry Sleep Solution
  • The New Contended Little Baby Book
  • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

I have tried the suggestions in each of these books, to varying degrees, and what I have found is that my child is one of those who will cry hysterically for hours, even if he can see me; even if I am holding him; even if I am patting him gently and murmuring consolingly; even if he is well-fed and has a clean diaper and is sitting prettily in the magic sleep window.

What I know:

- If I let my kid cry, he will eventually fall asleep after many hours. If I let him cry continually for days on end, I am somewhat certain he would eventually get the picture and learn to sleep on his own.
- I cannot let my kid cry for days on end.

Which puts me in a difficult position. And on the receiving end of quite a bit of advice. "He will have to cry." This has been said by my husband; by my pediatrician; by my mother; by many, many friends. Eventually, they say, he will have to cry. If not now, then later. The longer you wait, the harder it gets, etc, etc.

I'd come to accept this, and I chose a method that allowed him to cry but also allowed me to comfort him while he did so (The Good Night Sleep Tight method). This method works, although not as quickly as Ferber's method or the extinction method, which I was OK with because it's supposed to be gentler -- babies tend to not react so terribly when their loving parents are sitting at their crib side. I know many people who have successfully tried this method and none of their children reacted as mine did, which is to say he cried so hard for so long that he began choking and finally choked so badly that he stopped breathing and I nearly called 911. So here's how I now feel about any sort of hysterical crying during sleep training: Hell to the no.

The No Cry book is my last hope, and is, of course, the slowest and most difficult method. Which is fine, except for the fact that in the meantime I am the only person who can currently feed or put this kid to bed without him going totally bonkers. And the nap time and bedtime rituals are very elaborate and time consuming. For example, since the 4-month sleep regression (this is a real thing all parents should fear), I have had to hold Graham for the entire duration of his naps. *insert unamused emoji* For weeks, I tried to continue doing what I'd done previously -- nurse the kid to sleep, then put him in his crib for the remainder of his naps. He wasn't sleeping great, but he was sleeping. Now, whenever I put him down, he immediately wakes and cries.

This is not a child who falls asleep easily, or just anywhere. I see people posting photos of their kids asleep on the floor, in the bathtub, in the high chair, you name it, and I just laugh and laugh. If nothing else, I have learned that what moms all say is true: All kids are different. What works for one will not necessarily work for another. I'd amend that to say: What works for most kids probably doesn't work for mine. And that's OK. He comes from a long line of stubborn buttheads. Stubborn buttheads even marry into the family and produce even more stubborn buttheads. I am certainly a stubborn butthead, but apparently not enough of one to force my kid to cry until this problem is solved. Others in my family have solved this same problem with the cry-it-out method and describe hours of crying and vomiting. Stubborn buttheads for life, I tell you.

All that to say ... I just needed to write this because dealing with this on my own most days is a lot. It's grueling at times. I absolutely understand postpartum depression now. At times I feel very alone and desperate and hopeless. I cling to comments from friends who've been where I am and remind me this isn't forever and there are things that will work and to keep trying and when all else fails, there is wine.