Sunday, August 30, 2009

GiST: Wedding Edition

In the last week alone, my sister Sonja moved into her new house, threw a dinner party for 20+ people, and got married (with all of the associated formal social functions). I am in awe. She handled everything so elegantly. Meanwhile, Trev and I were a mess. Total stress cases. The worst moment was when we, the MC's of the event, were running so horribly late and managed to go to the wrong hotel. Yes, I went to the wrong hotel for my own sister's wedding.

But never mind all that, it all worked out splendidly in the end, so let's talk Grace in Small Things:
1. Mac was a star. He saved any fussiness for home, or at least the drive home.
2. Sonja's beautiful dress and beautiful hair. So pretty.
3. My sister Mari's Toast to the Bride speech.
4. My dad's Welcome to the Family speech.
5. Sitting with fellow parents Chris and Brenda, Tim and Krista.
6. MC'ing with my husband, and the slide show he did so well.
7. Coming home with my little family, exhausted but happy.
8. Throwing a little Sunday breakfast for my relatives from Winnipeg.
9. Getting to spend lots of time with said relatives at the gift opening, and making plans for New Years.
10. Sitting in bed now, knowing that summer is coming to an end and tomorrow I start my newest adventure (Degree in Registered Nursing). It feels like autumn, which is my favorite time of year, and here I am going back to school. Never thought I'd do it again. I'm totally nervous.

Now, a little shout out to my beloved feline, Kiwi. My boy came home with a fairly significant laceration on his flank. He's currently stuck in basement in the dog crate with a cone on his head. He's miserable, and tomorrow we'll take him to the vet which will make him even more miserable, but hopefully also make him feel better in the long run.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Marital Conversations

After the 4AM wake up, Mac is finally back to sleep. Trev crawls back to bed and Working curls her feet around his calves (which are sizable and warm).
WORKING: Mmmmm.
TREV: What are you doing?
WORKING: I'm giving you a leg hug.
TREV: Oh.
WORKING: What?
TREV: I was hoping for a toe job.

* * *

WORKING: I have to run to Shopper's.
TREV: It's way too late for condoms.
WORKING: ...
TREV: Sorry. What do you really need?
WORKING: Makeup.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's Over

Our Doulas, Sonya and Erin, came by tonight for our final debrief. Sonya tried to have this meeting a few weeks ago, but I was so raw, tired and defeated, so on the edge, I couldn't even talk. Trevor had to fill in the silences.

But tonight was a different night. It was happy, peaceful and conversational. I think I will always remember my labour and delivery with pangs of regret, but I never, ever regretted the team I chose. They were amazing, right down to Dr. GP and of course Dr. OB., my last minute surgeon.

As for the rest of it, I finally feel like I can let it all go. It should live only in anecdotes. It will no longer reduce me to silence or worse, inconsolable tears.

Meanwhile, there's this little boy who has no idea how he got here, but he definitely knows he's here, and that's all that matters. Right now he's upstairs sleeping peacefully in his cradle. I'll crawl into bed beside him, gaze a little at his sleeping face, which is just about the most adorable thing ever, and then hopefully we'll snore in unison well into the night.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Looking Up, Way Up

I think I'm almost ready to move on from this too often repeated topic. But just a brief update: The 90 Minute Baby Sleep Program seems to be the program for Mac and he's working it hard. There have been one or two rough days here and there, but for the most part he's pretty consistent. He averages five to six hour stretches of sleep at night, one to three hour naps during the day. And now that I am starting to understand his schedule and cues a little better, I've had a few opportunities to grab some sleep. I'm starting to know just by looking at him if he's going down for a long one.

I still don't get more than five hours at most, but any lack is usually my own fault. I have a hard time falling asleep, it seems. I just lay there and think, mind turning and churning. But I'm learning how to soothe myself, much like he is, and so it's coming along.

In other news, Dr. OB cleared me for a return to Crossfit! I can't tell you how this just improves things so much psychologically. I feel like today is a new day. My body craves exercise, the Crossfit vibe, and somehow I think things are just going to keep getting better.

**Knocking on wood, of course**

p.s. posting this directly after the last post makes me look positively manic (is that even the right word? I'm not sure it is). I swear these are just snapshots of what is really more of a gradual and sensible ebb and flow.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

PPD?

Lest you think I've got it all figured out, last night was horrible. Course, it wasn't him, really. I lost my nipple shield in the dark, popped him on the unprotected boob and suffered horrible vasospasms for the rest of the night. And he didn't go past sleeping two hours at a shot from the time I went to bed to, well, now - almost supper time the next day.

Some people have suggested I MIGHT have a dash of postpartum depression. Oh hell, it's possible. But I want to know how you tell the difference between full-blown PPD and just plain sleep deprivation? I think if anyone got 4-plus hours of straight sleep just three separate times over the span of a month and a half, wouldn't they could go a bit squirrely?

Yes, I'm moody. Yes, I experience highs and lows. No, I don't feel very well most of the time. Funny enough, each mood swing seems to correspond with times that I've had (minimal at best) sleep vs. not had much sleep at all. So yeah, I could pack Mac up and drag us down to a PPD support group (which I've heard is very good and valuable and helpful), or I could do my best just to get some more damn shut eye. Then see if I still suffer from depression.

I'm just saying.

Of course, I have been hiding in the bathtub for the last half hour. Maybe it's time to go rescue Trevor who is trying to juggle a fussy baby, dishes and making lunch.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Marital Conversations

Stupid conversations you'd never thought you'd have as a couple:

TREV: (to Mac who is laying on the change table) Oh, you're laying on wet cloths. I'll change those.
WORKING: Why are you changing them?
TREV: ... Cuz they're wet...
WORKING: Course they are. He peed on them.
TREV: I know. That's why I'm changing them.
WORKING: But why are you changing them when he's still having naked time?
TREV: Are you serious? Because THEY'RE WET.
WORKING: But he's still having naked time.
TREV: ...
WORKING: So he could still pee some more.
TREV: ...
WORKING: So you might as well leave those cloths so he can pee onto them instead of dirtying all new cloths.
TREV: But... they're peed on and he's laying on them. That's gross.
WORKING: What's the difference? He'd just be laying in a wet diaper anyway.
TREV: (under breath) You're going to be laying in a wet diaper.
WORKING: What?
TREV: Nothing.

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GiST

1. Seven. Hours. In. A. Row. I surely do *heart* my baby today.
2. Friday!
3. Sun!
4. Coffee!
5. Morning after I've actually slept!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sorry, More About Poop

Don't bother reading if you have any aversion to discussion of baby poop in detail. I mean it; this post is the shits. Har har.

So Mac (a.k.a. Big Mac, Mac Attack, Macaroni)'s poops were green, runny, frothy, and stinky for weeks. Very un-baby like. I asked my doctor, my lactation consultant and various lactating friends. From the experts I basically got shrugs and the response that with breastfed babies, it's variety in, variety out. But Mac seemed kind of cranky and he wasn't sleeping that well and the poops were really gross, so it seemed to me there was more to it.

My friends, meanwhile, had all read about foremilk / hindmilk and suggested this might be the problem. The idea is that if you have too much letdown, your baby fills up on 'foremilk', which is kind of like skim milk. Great for hydration, but baby misses the thick, fatty whole milk at the end of the feed. So I tried feeding on one boob per feeding so that he would empty it. No luck, still green. I tried block feeding (feeding on one boob exclusively for multiple feedings). Still green.

So I started pumping. I don't bottle feed exclusively; I alternate between the two. But he's been getting three full bottles a day. One in the morning, one around lunch, one at night with breastfeeding sessions in between. And yeah, expressing is time consuming but frankly so is breastfeeding. He spends upwards of 40 minutes on the boob. What time I blow hooked up to the Medela, I get back with the bottle when he sucks it down in under ten minutes. And not only are his poops back to a nice, yellow, non-smelly baby normal, he's happier, calmer and I swear his naps are steadily increasing in length. Plus, it's giving my boobs a break and I've noticed a reduction in vasospasms. That in and of itself is worth it.

Of course, the sleep thing also correlates with our attempts to follow the 90-Minute Baby Sleep Program. Wait, wait, don't roll your eyes, hear me out. I AM NOT SLEEP TRAINING. Some friends had good luck with it, so I decided to give it a go. The premise is that babies are on a 90-minute BRAC cycle. So you start the clock as soon as they wake up and 90 minutes later, they should be ready for their next nap and you need to start the process of putting them down.

Normally I'm also skeptical of this stuff, but I'd already noticed Mac had a cycle. He slept better if he had a good play following a feed and now that I've started watching it, it's pretty damn close to a 90 minute cycle. If we can get him down around that mark, he goes to sleep with very little fight. His naps will vary - shorter in the daytime - but he's up to three hour chunks at night, which is a vast improvement. And he goes back to sleep a lot sooner. Plus, he's waking up happier. And did I mention his poops?

I dunno. Maybe this all sounds obsessive and you experienced parents are still rolling your eyes. But having a plan gives me the illusion of control. Research gives me comfort. Like I told my Reflexologist yesterday, maybe this is all just a placebo and Mac would be going in this direction anyway. But said placebo gives me confidence, makes me feel happier and relaxed. These positive effects must translate to my relationship with Mac. And that's an improvement.

***
WORKING: Now that he's staring at the TV, do you feel a responsibility to show him quality programming?
TREV: Yeah. Put on The Daily Show.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

GiST

Mac didn't sleep much last night. Of course I'm wondering what part of the equation I got wrong this time, but I'm going to try not to obsess. Thinking about shyte begets more shyte, and I'm sick of being in the shyte.

So in non-sleep related news, here is today's Grace in Small Things:

1. Trev has a gig for September / October! And it's interesting! Yay universe!
2. The dog is healing up nicely.
3. Kiwi likes to hang out beside me in the mornings when I'm feeding Mac.
4. I'm digging the first few pages of Anatomy / Physiology.
5. It's sunny today.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dear Mac: One Month Old

Last night you slept for six hours straight. In another first (and possibly last), you also attended a stagette, Auntie Sonja's all-girls (except for you) 'hen party'. I'm sure you'll be disappointed to know you slept through every feminine shriek, and there were a lot of them, thanks to some risque (though beautiful) lingerie, dildos, lubes, not to mention the spectacularly realistic penis cake your mom made with Auntie Mari and Auntie Bronwyn. Let me just tell you that fondant is amazingly versatile.

When I got you home, fed, and changed, I tried to give you play time but you screamed bloody murder. In moderate frustration, I plunked you down in your cradle wide awake and... you fell asleep in less than 10 seconds. You must have been completely exhausted. You slept for six hours, woke up at 4 AM, fed, played with us for an hour, then went back to sleep and as of 9AM, you're still out. Your dad was heard to say, "did we break him?"

In other news:

- You continue your love affair with Lamp. Your grandpa speculates that you might become a retro lighting enthusiast working for the local lighting supply store. Your dad would prefer you aspired to being at least an on-set gaffer if that's the way it's going to go.

- You've started smiling. Big, open-mouthed, wobbly, crooked, gummy grins. I haven't captured it on the camera yet because it's sporadic and unpredictable, but it's sure nice to get something back.

- You play more. You lay on your mat and stare at the dangling toys. You roll to the side and stare at the stuffed PEI puppy Grandma and Grandpa Aikman bought you. Then you coo in the direction of the dog. Or the wall. Meanwhile, your hands wave around and your little legs kick up a storm and you usually get hiccups. Then you puke, take a loud, reverberating dump, and start to fuss, signaling you're ready for your next nap.

- You follow us with your eyes. Especially me. I wonder if you're imprinting me on your psyche. In which case, I wish I'd had my hair done sooner.

You're awake now, so I'm going to go get you. You can watch Goodfellas with Grandpa and Daddy. Thank you for all the sleep lately, son.

Love,
Mummy

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Marital Conversations

WORKING: He's so much more lovable when I've had some sleep.
TREV: So are you.

* * *

MAC: (stirring from sleep)
TREV: He looks like he doesn't like where he is. Like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now. "Saigon. I'm still in fucking Saigon."

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GiST

Today's Grace in Small Things:

1. Sleep
2. Sleep
3. Sleep
4. Sleep
5. Sleep

I woke up completely astonished to see 2:55 AM on the clock. Mac slept from 10 PM to 3 AM last night, giving me five hours of uninterrupted sleep for the first time since before I went into labour over a month ago.

I would love to say it's something we did but I'm smarter than that. It's the luck of the draw. There is no guarantee that tonight will go the same way. We have had some success in getting him to go back to sleep in the cradle. He fights it like mad, but he fought going to sleep in our arms, too. Seriously, he punches and kicks and screams and pinches and rips. It's always the same battle, we've just moved it to the crib. And he still falls asleep eventually.

I may not get another night like last night again, so I'm very grateful. It was a much appreciated treat and it does wonders for my state of mind.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

How To Sleep?

I know this is now yet another mommy blog, and it's not even unique. But this space was always meant to serve as a record of my life, the only journal I keep, so I have to write honestly. And right now it's all about that 10 lb, fighting, sucking, feeding, farting poop machine currently trying to put himself to sleep upstairs.

Last night was torturous. He would fall asleep, sure, but he wouldn't stay asleep for longer than 20 minutes at a time. Of course, it was his first time spending the whole night in the cradle as opposed to sleeping with me. I also forgot to swaddle him properly and then I think I over swaddled him. I almost cooked him! And once I even turned on the light to feed him. New mom mistakes.

The worst stretch is 3AM to 7Am. I call it The Dark Hour(s). I get so tired and discouraged and borderline suicidal (not really, don't call the authorities. I'm just saying). I'm not a crier. I barely cry when people I love have died, and yet from 3-7 AM, I bawl. And last night when he started fussing and fighting sleep again, I actually yelled at him, told him exactly where he could go. Unfortunately my rage and subsequent guilt didn't help him sleep any longer, anyway.

So I'm witnessing another of my parenting ideals bite the dust (along with an all-natural labour and unassisted breastfeeding). I actually always thought I would co-sleep. It just hasn't been working. Co-sleeping simply meant he woke up just as much and I spent the night too scared to move a muscle. Irrational - he was in no danger - but who can be rational in their sleep? Not moving was killing my neck and back and I definitely wasn't getting quality rest even when he did sleep. Then he'd have a five hour nap all alone in the cradle, proving that he doesn't give a crap either way.

So it's the cradle for him. He's a newborn, so we'll still respond by picking him up whenever he cries, of course. But what we're not going to do is rock him to a dead sleep in our arms anymore or stick him on the boob to graze until he falls asleep. It's been killing us. Instead, we're going to try to get him all fed, calm and sleepy, then put him in the cradle and using just touch and a pacifier, sooth him all the way to sleep with just the rocking. If he cries, pick him up again and get him back to calm and sleepy, then back into the cradle where hopefully he puts himself to sleep with just our touch and a 'sucky'.

And, knock on wood, I think he's just kept himself asleep up there? In a couple hours, we might wake him up gently, give him a feed, some play time and go for a walk for some fresh air. Tonight around my bedtime, I'll feed him to within an inch of his life again, make him comfortable and cozy, pray to the saints and cross my fingers. Could we please, please get four hours in a row?

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Recovery

(large, wet farting sound)
TREV: Oh. Excuse me.
WORKING: Ha! I thought it was the baby!
TREV: Cool. I'm just going to blame it on him from now on.
WORKING: That's good. Because I never believed it was the dog before.

* * *

So my Reflexologist has a way of tuning me into a better reality. My mood has been steadily improving since seeing him weekly. The hormones seem to be stabilizing, and while I'm tired, I'm definitely coping better.

I had a weird night of burning, overful breasts and a puking, shitting dog. But the baby actually slept quite well. So this morning I woke up with Reflexologist's advice in my head; maybe it's time to enjoy this experience with little Mac before I miss it. Trevor and I are aware this could be our only child, so we better slow down and smell the roses. Or baby poop, as the case may be. And he's a cute little kid, changing every day.

We also cut a deal to help us cope better: Trevor gets a good night's sleep in the guest room while I take the entire shift with the baby (and apparently, the dog). Then, refreshed and rested, he takes over in the morning and I catch a few hours of blissful sleep alone, bed to myself, snoring to the hum of the air conditioner, before the next feeding. And I get another nap opportunity later in the day.

It works because 1. there's no need for both of us to be up at the same time at night, and I'm still breastfeeding exclusively and 2. while I can nap at the drop of a hat, and it's always a solid, restorative nap, Trev can't. He can only sleep at night. There's just no point to us both being exhausted during the day.

Besides, those couple of hours alone are more precious than gold to me right now, and the baby seems happier. Probably because I'm happier. This will only last until Trev goes back to work, but it will buy us some recuperation in the meantime. Dare I say that I'm almost... happy... right now?

(knock on wood)

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Overheard: Daddy Talk

WORKING: (reading) Don't make a move, at least when you're around your baby, without talking about it. Narrate the dressing process.*
TREVOR: Okay. Mac, I am now going to clean poop off of your ball sack.
WORKING: Blow-by-blow descriptions help get you talking and baby listening - thereby starting him or her on the path to understanding.
TREVOR: Mac, I've been on the path to understanding for 35 years, and I still don't know shit.

* What To Expect: The First Year By Heidi Murkoff et al. Pg. 220.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

GiST: Sister's Wedding Shower

1. Nancy's backyard. It's beautiful, resplendent with flowers and little fountains.
2. Serving teas for the shower. It was a good day when I got to shop at Cuppa T. I chose a Russian Caravan Black, a Tropical Fruit Rooibos, and a Strawberry Kiwi fruit tea.
3. It didn't rain.
4. Sonja seemed so happy with her gifts. Favorite one: Auntie Marilynne gave her an onion and a knife. She said during her years as a SAHM, she'd sometimes get so immersed in a book and suddenly realize it was 4PM and everyone was on their way home and she had nothing to show for the day. So she'd throw a chopped onion on the stove in some butter so at least it smelled like supper was being made, even if the final result had nothing to do with onions or butter.
5. Dozens of women passing around my son for the whole afternoon so I could keep the tea stocked.
6. Delicious curried chicken and two kinds of homemade pie for supper.
7. Trevor getting up with Mac this morning so I could catch an extra hour and a half of sleep.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

One-handed Facebook Status Update

Working: "yes, son, you are having a bath. That's what happens when you crap up your own back and pee on your own face for the third time today. So if you stop screaming, please, we can both accept what's become of our lives and move on. Here, have a boob."

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

GiST

Holy cow, you people have been though some serious parental trauma (see comments). I guess I knew parenthood would be tough. You always hear it's tough. I was ready for tough. But I didn't know it could be worse than tough, that it could be traumatic. That it can do psychological and physical damage.

I grew up in a large family, the oldest of five kids. I remember my parents being tired and fed up, but I have a whole new respect for what they must have gone through. Mom used to take off for walks that'd last hours and hours and now I think I know why. As a person with a history of depression, I probably should have been more aware, more prepared. But it was so easy to be focused on the labour. I really didn't want to think about this part.

That said, I still have so much to be grateful for:
1. The way Mac looks at me after a feeding, like he's thinking really hard. Bright blue eyes wide open and focused, slightly confused, but intrigued all the same, maybe?
2. The way he loves Lamp. Lamp is his best friend. Lamp is actually just a standing lamp beside the change table, but I get to pee because of Lamp, so I also love Lamp.
3. His soft, milky breath on my face when he's sleeping beside me.
4. Nipple shields. I don't care about the controversy; my kid is still breastfeeding when I was getting so close to quitting the whole thing.
5. Despite my dips into depression and major anxiety, I've also had moments of calm this week, possibly thanks to a return to Reflexology treatments and walks out in the fresh air.
6. The Baby Mac Weight Loss Program. No substitute for Crossfit, but not bad in the interim.
7. The thought that I'm actually going to return to Crossfit one day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future. Working out is primarily how I've managed my depression drug-free. I'd love to keep it that way.
8. I've also returned to baths the way they're meant to be - hot. Can't cook the baby anymore! And it makes my boobies feel so much better. TMI? Tough.
9. Going to spend time with the family tonight for Dad's birthday, and introducing Mac to Great Grandma Evelyn for the first time.
10. Trevor.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tell Me a Story

You know what would make me feel better? Hearing your stories about those first few weeks of parenthood. Don't bother to sugar coat it; horror stories will help me feel like I'm not alone (though, maybe include a word or two about when things started to get better).

Use the comments - I always read them - and feel free to remain anonymous if you want. And many thanks.

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Marital Conversations

WORKING: Is he three weeks old tonight?
TREV: He is. (to Mac) You are. Tonight you will be three weeks old. Three weeks old! Half way to your... six weeks... license.

* * *

WORKING: Does Laura Ling ever look like her sister.
TREV: Uh... maybe because they're twins?
WORKING: Oh.
TREV: (laughing) You have to blog that.
WORKING: I refuse to blog anything that makes me look stupid.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Boob Update

After consulting the top two experts in the field, at least of those I can access, these are things I've heard in the last 24 hours:

- I have thrush.
- I don't have thrush.
- I should hold the baby's head and bring it onto the breast.
- I should never hold the baby's head and bring it onto the breast.
- I should use lanolin.
- I shouldn't use lanolin.
- I should try the football hold.
- The football hold doesn't work.
- I should let my nipples air dry.
- I shouldn't let my nipples air dry.
- Nipple shields are damaging and useless.
- Nipple shields could solve all my problems.

And so on.

Here's what I'm thinking: after almost three weeks of breastfeeding hell, a full course of every thrush treatment known to humankind, some pretty hefty research and many, many consulatations, here's the most likely diagnosis:

I no longer have thrush. Rather, I now suffer from latch-related vasospasm. The lactation consultant (yeah, Tyler, it's that Linda) who was over again last night finally took a long look in Mac's mouth and noticed a very high palate and a shorter tongue. Come to think of it, I've never seen my little guy stick his tongue beyond his gums. Accordingly, we are trying to retrain his latch using a nipple shield, and I'm also going to have him checked for tongue-tie.

I am simply running out of any other explanations, and so is everyone else.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Dear Doula

Thanks for the links again. I have sent off an email to Dr. Newman.

I feel bad about our meeting. I couldn't even talk for fear of losing it. I guess this is me in mourning. I am really sad. Quite defeated, actually. I've been waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel to get brighter, and it just seems to stay the same distance away. It's like that movie Groundhog Day; I fight so hard to create a different outcome and I just keep getting the same result, day in and day out. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong, but it's gotta be me.

I haven't had time to mourn, haven't had time to rest and heal. And meanwhile, there's this new little person who needs so much right now, all of the time. I'm absolutely terrified.

Well, thanks for coming by. I wish I could have been more positive. I had such a great attitude about pregnancy. But I'm sure that side of me will come back, given time.

--Working

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Overheard: Daddy Talk

Trying to put Mac to sleep (and Mac fights it like crazy):

"I know this fight. And I will win. I may not win every fight, but even I can win a fight with a baby."

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Overheard: Daddy Talk

Trev to Mac, "That's Denzel Washington. He was going to be the next Sidney Poitier. You know Sidney Poitier? They call me MISTER Tibbs! Now go to sleep. Shhhhhhhhh."

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