Friday, November 26, 2010

This story would make Freud happy.


One of the remarkable things about watching a baby develop is seeing their preferences take shape. I think we adults take it for granted that we know what we like. Take myself. I like coffee, Harry Potter, and snowstorms. Where do these preferences come from? Deep down, it's probably some complicated, baggage-ridden story of who I am. I could spend years in psychotherapy learning why I turtlenecks bug the hell out of me. But I don't think about it. I just take my preference as they are. Jack, on the other hand, is new, and fresh, and it is really fun to think about why he might like what he likes.

Of course some baby preferences are universal, since they serve a biological purpose (it's not surprising that all babies love nursing), but others take a more individual flair. One of Jack's strongest preferences is to be up as high as possible on our shoulders. If one of us is holding Jack and he started fussing, Greg or I will say "not sitting high enough...". Sure enough, a little boost up higher, and Jack will instantly stop crying. Another one of Jack's preferences is to be as physically free as possible. He's a sweet baby in his own way, but he's never been huge on cuddling. He likes seeing our faces and to be interacting with toys on the mat more than being held tightly.

Where do these early preferences come from? I can't help but wonder how many of Jack's preferences will be molded by how I take care of him in these early days. For example, we've been singing to him quite a bit, lately, and our go-to song is Baby Beluga, by Rafi. I'm sure you've heard it: "Baby beluga in the deep blue sea, you swim so wild and you swim so free..." Well, Jack's heard it, too. A lot. The other day, when Jack was upset because of his high fever, I started singing "Baby Beluga" to him. He calmed down. After 5 repetitions, I switched songs, to "Robin in the Rain" -- and Jack immediately started crying. I switched back, and he calmed down again. So, at 4 months and 1 week old, Jack has a distinct musical preference. He prefers Baby Beluga over Robin in the Rain*. Cute, no?


Jack has toy preferences, too. Some of them are typical of babies his age: he likes colors, and contrast, and faces. I love putting him in his high chair and watching him pick out different toys from in front of him. I keep hoping he might like some simple food items, like an apple or an avocado, yet when given the choice between kitchen fruit and Jacque, the brightly colored peacock always wins.


Then something happened. A few days ago, I put a butternut squash on the tray. Jack loved it, really, really loved it. That kid just could not stop reaching for the squash. Huzzah, I cheered! We finally got him interested in the mundane! Jack actually preferred the details of a natural piece of food to gawdy colors and crinkly fabric!

Then I picked up the squash and looked at the squash from HIS perspective:



I suppose I should be flattered!

*Jack has good taste. Beluga is clearly the superior tune.

Serious Matters

Two hands are TWICE the fun


We have also discovered our feet and they are FABULOUS

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gearhead

Breaking news: I put Jack down in his crib last night, sleepy but awake, and he fell asleep, all by himself

It must have been the motorsports from earlier in the day that tired him out:

video

(Actually, little Jack is sick again, for the fourth time in five weeks... poor guy! That's probably why he was so sleepy)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sittin' Pretty

We got Jack a high chair. I don't intend to introduce solids to his diet for another two months (when he will be six months old), but it's nice to have a place where he can sit and be up at counter height. I spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen, and before the high chair, we would put him in a bouncy chair or a bumbo on the floor. Putting him on the floor doesn't work very well, because he's under foot and very near the dogs (which is a bad idea when there's food involved). Sometimes I put him in the carrier, but now that he's grabbing for stuff, that's no good.

So thisgt high chair is perfect. It wheels all around. He can sit up in it. The harness is secure enough that I can turn my back and trust that he's OK. Plus, it has a big tray that pulls right within his grasping distance. I've been putting lots of toys on the tray, and he has lots of fun grabbing all the different toys. I think Jack likes his new chair.

Here, Jack is in the chair. There is much growling, two hiccups, and one "googoo" involved:

video

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The darkest hour

This morning was pretty rough. Well, last night was pretty rough. Actually, it was yesterday... yes, yesterday was rough.

It all started during a group meeting, when I sat down next to a male colleague. We are both at the exact same stage in our careers, and we are both contemplating the next step. And as I sat next to him, listened to his contributions in the meeting, turning over the conversation about parenthood that we had recently had... I became overwhelmingly jealous and angry. This anger has carried through to today.

See, this male colleague has a brand new baby boy at home -- just three months younger than Jack. This male colleague represents something: he has a wife, who is currently at home, taking care of their little boy. This male colleague is the perfect example of why men with children get tenure earlier and earn more than men without children, and why the reverse is true of women. This male colleague is capable of compartmentalizing his life, because when he is at work, he works, and when he is at home, he is at home. He doesn't drag around a breastpump. He probably doesn't spend hours reading parenting literature, he doesn't deal with thrush, and I'll wager that he spends far less time daydreaming about what his son looks like while nursing than I do. This male colleague has a mental and physical freedom that I will never possess. And so I feel anger boil up inside me.

I am angry because of the lie that is perpetuated on women: the lie that we can do it all, at 100%, that we can become efficient maternal working machines who sacrifice themselves for the only pure ambitions: reproduction and contribution to the bottom $. I am angry to be told, again and again, that I can be the one to do it, to forge a new path of productivity that will illuminate the ways for others. I am angry that I am at a fundamental, logistical disadvantage (breastfeeding through the night, putting him to sleep, pumping 2+ hours a day). I am angry that I am at an intellectual disadvantage (hello, hormones). I am angry that I know these differences will last years, and that these years are as ill-timed with my academic career path as they could possibly be. I am angry that there is nothing I can do to even the playing field. I am angry to have lost control.

I have the most supportive husband you could imagine -- a husband who does more than half the domestic work -- and here, you will hear me saying this: it's still not fair, and no amount of laundry and dishwashing by my partner can make up for the gender difference that was sitting next to me during the meeting yesterday. I am absorbed by Jack, 24 hours a day. My body and my mind have not been my own for more than a year... much longer, if you count infertility. This is how biology intended it to be.

I am angry because I understand, now, why all of my male advisers have instilled in me the confidence that career + baby can be done. I am angry because I understand, now, why no female colleague has uttered the same words. I know, now, why women are hardest on their own gender.

I am angry that I am helpless. I am angry that what I want is at odds with what I can have.

I'm just angry.

So this morning was difficult. And here, instead of working, I've taken another 20 minutes for myself, to write about something that is deeply troubling me but that is also completely out of my ability to fix. I am a broken record, skipping back and forth in my mind over the same, gnawing idea: I'm a woman, and it's different, I'm a woman, and it's different, I am a woman... and it's different. I've had conversation after conversation about this topic, and each one brings me to same dead-end: we were prepared to tackle the tallest mountain, but we were not prepared to hit the glass ceiling. My, how these thoughts consume me.

Isn't the definition of insanity doing something over and over again, and expecting a different result? If so, I may be walking the precipice of psychosis as I mull these same, depressing conclusions over and over in my mind. I know I need to learn a new skill. I need to learn how to let go.

This challenging morning, I put Jack in the car and drove him to daycare. I set up his cloth diapers and his glass bottles. I had a chat with the head teacher about his napping patterns. I kissed him on the head and said goodbye.

And then I realized how tremendously thankful I am for so much in my life. And the realization of gratitude for my life quelled my anger more quickly than any assurance about my maternal or working merits ever could. Really, it's not about changing what I think about myself. I can't fix that -- I'm going to feel deficient, like a half of a person, for a long time. It's about changing what I expect from the world. Realizing how much it has given me. Realizing that I am thankful for it all. Let me list a few things.

I am thankful:

- For the most lovely, easy baby I could imagine
- For a husband who supports everything I hope to do in my life (whether it is feasible or not), who brings such laughter, happiness, and playfulness to my days
- For a few certainties: family, friends, health, and love
- For the necessities, and the non-necessities, too: a house, transportation, and an occupation
- For a career and family worth worrying about
- For the freedom to worry

In the spirit of letting go that which is toxic, let me rephrase the gender inequality that is so perturbing me right now. The problem is not that women have fewer choices than men. The problem is actually that we have more choices. The merit of each possibility was never clear to me until I was actually faced with its potential loss. Picking the path that is right for each of us women -- the one that will bring calamity to a rising storm of internal conflict -- is something we can only do during the darkest hour.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The. Best. Toy. EVER.



Seriously, I'm trying to think of how to recreate the right stiffness and elasticity in a sturdier material than cardboard and plastic. Jack was fussing the other night and I handed him this kleenex box. He has been endlessly fascinated with it since.


See, the problem with the typical "toys" available for four month olds is that even though a four month old can grab and hold onto things, they don't understand that letting them go makes the toy go away. Once they let go, the toy is forgotten. Jack has long attention span to watch things dangling above him, though he's not coordinated enough to hold onto a loose object for a sustained period of time.


But this box? Once he works his hand into it, this box can't get away from him. He can gnaw on it. He can swing it around. He can feel its edges and get his other hand into it. He can stare at the bright, contrasty pattern. He can move it up and down and feel his fist rattle inside: cool cardboard and soft tissue. It holds his interest for a really long time.


Best toy ever.

We picked our strategy and we're sticking to it


Sleep is an interesting subject 'round these parts. Jack resides in a bedside co-sleeper -- a three-sided crib that's open to my edge of the bed. He goes to sleep in the co-sleeper, but at some point (usually around 3 or 4am), I bring him into bed. Occasionally he gets upset and I bring him in for the whole night.

I'm OK with getting up at night and I am OK with having my sleep disturbed by his presence in bed. I am exceptionally grumpy in the moment (poor Greg), but, come morning, I do all right. As long as I get 2-3 hours between nursing calls, I can function. Jack is so close to me -- whether he is in the co-sleeper, or whether he is in bed -- that I couldn't even tell you how frequently we get up together.

I love sleeping alongside Jack. This is something I never anticipated enjoying so much.

Why do I enjoy it? My goodness, anybody who has ever slept next to a baby needs no answer to this question. It is about the sweetest, most special time you can imagine. Jack and I curl up together. I feel him breath. I look down at his lovely face. He wakes up and smiles at me during the middle of the night, and I hold him securely, feeling how safe he is within my arms. He has his times -- spent kicking and punching me through the night -- but when he sleeps well, I sleep well, we sleep well, and it's wonderful. Greg and I don't send our dogs into their own rooms to sleep at night. Why would we send our baby away?

I started typing out a whole post about co-sleeping (it's a controversial subject), but that will have to wait for another day. Let me just make the point that Greg and I love having Jack close to us at night.

Our nighttime routine goes something like this: bath or shower with mom or dad starts at 6:30. PJs and a fresh diaper. A song, a soft chat, or some cuddle time with "Sleepy Puppy" (a musical stuffed animal). Plenty of nursing and gentle rocking, humming and singing. Once he starts to drift off, we put him down. It takes anywhere from 20-60 minutes.

This method has been more or less successful. We try to help him fall asleep on his own, and he will, eventually, but it can be tiresome. Sometimes, like the past week, it just doesn't work. I'll cut a long story short and say that things got very difficult for a few days. On Monday night there was much screaming and much comforting and much more screaming. It was very stressful for all of us.

Greg and I were at our whits end. We feel a lot of pressure to get him to sleep the "right" way, the Western way. "Never put him down asleep. He needs to be sleepy when he goes in his crib". "Don't let him nurse to sleep -- it'll be a crutch". "If he starts sleeping in your room he'll never leave". "If you answer every cry, he won't learn how to self soothe" (What the hell is self soothing, anyway?). "Lack of sleep causes ADHD". Blahblahblah. I say respond jokingly, as if I couldn't be disturbed by common wisdom -- but in actuality, there is quite a bit of guilt involved. Every parent is faced with this same decision: when do you stop answering your baby's cry?

Greg wanted to try to let him cry himself to sleep, to see if he could self-soothe.

Never again.

It was awful. We literally made it five minutes into his crying before picking him and hugging him tightly, promising that we'd never, ever let him get so upset again. He could nurse. He could come in bed. We would bounce him and cradle him and make sure that he never felt alone.

I never imagined I'd be one of these parents. I thought I'd be "tough". I thought I'd train my kid to sleep well and to sleep alone.

Well how wrong was I.

Because here's the thing. Jack is so very, very new to this world. A baby does not need to be independent: he needs comfort and love. It's not about spoiling or setting up bad habits or caving in. It's about helping him feel secure. And right now, this tiny, newly-social creature, needs to be around other people when he sleeps. He's four months old and doesn't have enough of a memory to even known that we will come back. He just wants to be near us. Fine by me.

So we made a decision. We will do whatever it takes to help Jack sleep, for however long we have to it. It's that simple.

We believe that it benefits his mental health, until he is of an age where he can understand that we have not abandoned him. We believe that it benefits his physical health, due to the decreased SIDS risk that comes with co-sleeping. We believe that it fits into his evolutionary design: babies were meant to sleep with their moms, and it is only in the Western world that cultural pressure causes people to put their babies to sleep alone. In other cultures, forcing a baby to sleep alone would be seen as cruel, at best.

And on top of all of this? Greg and I don't want to lose him. We only get to see our little baby for an hour or two every evening. Soothing Jack to sleep at night, and cuddling with him in the early hours of the morning -- this is the only time we get together as a family. Neither Greg or I will let it go. So when I think of it that way (that the time I spend rocking and nursing him to dreamland is my only time left to be his mother), I decide that I will rock him to sleep until he's 18 if I have to*.

Many people will tell me that I spoiling him, that I am making him dependent, that I am setting up poor sleep habits for his future life. I disagree. I am making sleep a happy, comforting time for Jack. I will continue to do so until it no longer makes sense -- maybe he gets to be too old, maybe we sacrifice sleep quality -- whatever it is, we will know that the situation no longer makes sense once it no longer makes sense. I will not go against every maternal instinct inside me in anticipation of some problem that may or may not present itself in the future. We will take each day as it comes.

And today? Jack slept for two full hours, in his crib, at daycare. Unreal. He's never done that before, even as a little baby -- flat surfaces would afford us an hour at best, and no more than 20 minutes most of the time. So Jack is making progress and we are proud of him. Tonight? It took less than 10 minutes of soothing before I placed him in his co-sleeper. I don't expect every night will be so calm, but I look forward to the ones that will.

*Not really, but it sounds good for effect, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

At least one of us is happy

I'm holding Jack in my arms, drinking in his peachy skin: his sandy blond hair, his tiny hand clutching my thumb with determined strength as he nurses, his miniature heart right above mine, beating away with a rhythm all its own. He looks up. "Hooway, grgle, arrrrgh ooooah", he says with a sleepy smile. "I love you too, Jack", says I.

I'm so scared for him: his gargantuan spirit contained within such a fragile shell. I have strep throat -- at least, I hope it's strep throat, because Dr. Google tells me that, unlike the flu, Jack can't catch strep. I've been sick since Monday, with a sore throat that prevents me from swallowing and a fever that spiked to 104 a few hours ago. I can't remember the last time I felt so ill. I've been completely incapacitated, rescued this evening by a massive dose of antibiotics and tylenol (which one did the trick, I'm not sure). Thank goodness for my amazing husband, who has been taking such good care of me. Poor Greg. His throat started closing up tonight. Looks like he's going to be sick, too. I've been sleeping through the last two days in 30 minute intervals, intervals that are punctuated by the sharp crack of my throat... the painful reminder that I better force more tea with honey. Greg is in for a tough weekend.

So far, Jack seems OK. Maybe a little quieter than usual, but as happy as ever, and no fever.

But I'm terrified. I've been so sick that I can hardly nurse him. It was only good timing that Greg caught this three days after I did... if we had both been at the peak of sickness at the same time, I have no idea how we could have taken care of our baby. And it's only the knowledge that I need to nurse my baby that has me (painfully) chugging ever ounce of fluid that I can handle. My milk supply has dropped by at least half (plus we only have several ounces in the freezer). What if he were to get sick? What would we do? If Jack's fever spiked to 104 and he couldn't swallow, either... well, I don't like thinking about it. Everything about this situation scares me.

I know there are worse things. Some babies are in the hospital. Some parents are dealing with much more difficult thoughts than I am now. I just know that I'm worried for my baby.

Still, he's cooing and gurgling and smiling from ear to ear; I swear, he must be the happiest, chattiest baby that ever existed. When I was pregnant with him, we got through regular flu, swine flu, and three colds, and he kicked his way through every bout of my own illness. Even if my immune system sucks, he seems to be one strong little man. I hope the antibodies in my breastmilk are immunizing him for the future. I hope I can protect him.

Stay well, Jack.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Torture

I sent Greg an email this morning, to inform him that I was having trouble working. With Jack's adorable face staring at me from the wall of my windowless, basement-level cubicle, distracted is an understatement.

He replied by emailing me the following video with the misleading title of "maybe this will help". Turn up your sound for full effect:

video

I'm dying, absolutely dying.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I kind of can't handle inequity, no matter how trivial the issue might seem.

Jack's diaper rash returned on Tuesday. We decided to put him back in disposables for the week, so that we could use some diaper creme on him. (You can use diaper creme with cloth diapers, but only if you line them with something that gets washed separately or eventually tossed, and that was too complicated for us to ask our daycare to do.) Cloth diapers themselves don't add too much to our day (just some laundry), but they do complicate our drop offs and pick ups. The complication became all the more apparent this week, when we were using disposables. Let me explain...

Our daycare was totally on board with our wish to do cloth diapers and glass bottles.We supplied our daycare with a diaper pail. We also bought a wet bag to go in the pail (the wet bag is totally waterproof). On a personal level, they've been great about the cloth diapers, however, on the first day we left Jack at the JCC, they informed us that there were some tricky CT State Regulations we needed to comply with:

"(9) Disposable diapers shall be discarded in a covered receptacle immediately after

diapering.


(10) When cloth diapers or training pants are used, a plan for their use and care shall be submitted to and approved by the department prior to implementation of the plan. This plan shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, these procedures: placing soiled clothing and diapers in a sealed air tight container, removing soiled clothing and diapers from the child day care center or group day care home daily, and cleaning and sanitizing the container daily"


This means that the disposable diaper container is left in place every day, and the liner is removed and thrown away, yet the cloth diaper container must be cleaned and sanitized every day. The daycare center isn't about to do this for us, and thus the only solution was for us to take responsibility for it.

Ie, not only do we take the bag of diapers with us every day... we have to take the damn pail, too. (Which we obviously don't clean and sanitize every day, because, come on people, the diapers are in a waterproof bag.)

I just fail to see why a disposable diaper pail needs no sanitation while a cloth diaper pail needs sanitation. I mean, the disposable diapers are dirty, too!

It's a huge pain. Dealing with the plastic diaper pail creates an entire extra round trip to the car for every drop off and pick up. That's like +3 minutes, twice per day, about 250 days a year... 25 hours of our lives. A day. An entire day, wasted, taking the diaper pail out of the car and putting it back into the car (because if you think that pail ever goes anywhere except the back of our Jetta wagon, think again). Using disposables this past week really made clear how much time we've been wasting with the stupid diaper pail, and, as you know, I don't like wasting time.

Now, the whole part about submitting a written plan for how they will put on and take off the cloth diapers? That's just funny. Before there were "cloth diapers", there were simply "diapers". Diapers were all cloth. This does not need to be so complicated. They're cloth. They get poopy. You put them in the bin and the parents take the bin home. Repeat.

I can just see the protest sign now: "Equal bins for equal poo!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Left and Right

On Tuesday, Jack wore a hat that I knitted for him, and he voted for the first time. I told him all about the left and the right sides of the political equation. The experience was so exhausting that he fell asleep:


Last night, we went for a long walk, picked up some carryout, and our discussion turned from the left and right sides of America to the left and right sides of Jack's milk supply. As you already know, this is his favorite topic, and it was just distracting enough for me to eat dinner. Once he realized what had happened, Jack was surprised to find out that I ate the whole Greek Salad myself:


I explained that he will be eating greek salad himself in a few months, and, in the meantime, he could have as much milk as he wants, whenever he wants. This made him feel somewhat better:


Then I told him about cookies:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Silly doesn't even begin to describe it


A followup to the facebook photos...


We really had way too much fun at Halloween.


Jack was a Lion. I made his costume while I was still on maternity leave. I used pipe cleaners for the base of the mane. I wove in silk flowers and lots of tassley yarn to make it all stick out. He had little anklets and wristlets of tassley yarn, a tail with a pompom of yarn, and little "paws" made from scrap leather and black felt. It was a blast.


I hardly got any photos of our Halloween Potluck Party on Saturday, mostly because I was too busy having fun and laughing with the other parents over our silly, adorable babies. Everyone went all out.

There was a bumblebee...


And a lobster...


Two of Jack's friends from daycare were there. This is Jessie, who was a fearsome dinosaur:


And Ellis, who was an excellent dragon:


Ironically, the snowman was the warmest of us all:


However, the winner of the evening was clear, and it was the chicken:


Now imagine what this scene looks like when the five month old girl starts flapping her feet around.

I think I'm still laughing.

My Little Lion.



Wow, out of the frying pan and into the fire. Major deadline on Friday. Now I have another one on Tuesday. This is not the easy transition back to work that I hoped to have...

So, I am totally lacking photographs of Jack's halloween costume. They're there. On my camera. At home. And I'm at work.

But someone posted these photos to facebook and I just have to share. Here is Jack's Lion Outfit!


Let's zoom in on this absurdity:


Such a photograph is a dangerous image to show a working mother... I might just die from the cuteness...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jack.

I know the calendar tells us that Jack is 3 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days old. But the truth is, we've been in love with our baby for exactly 1 year, today. Here is Jack, pictured on November 2nd, 2009:


Isn't he beautiful? This is not some random photograph of a 5 day old human blastocyst. No, this is actually our son, conceived of our genes and fertilized in a petri dish. Minutes after this photograph was taken, Jack took the journey of his life and traveled through a catheter into my uterus. 28hours later, I felt a twinge and knew the embryo has implanted. 3 days after implantation, the pregnancy test was positive. 5 days after Jack was returned to my body, we confirmed it: I was pregnant, at last, pregnant due to the tremendous technological innovation that is in vitro fertilization.

I have PCOS. It is a metabolic disorder that results in my ovaries producing dozens of follicles and never ovulating any of them. Because I don't ovulate - ever - I cannot become pregnant naturally. My infertility was not something that time would cure. For every day that I remained off of the birth control pill, my hormones got even more out of wack.

I am not secretive about the fact that Jack was conceived by IVF. I am proud of Jack, and I am proud of how much we went through to have him. I'm happy to let people know that this perfect, happy little being was created in a petri dish. It is incredibly important to speak about infertility in public, to demystify something that is startling common. To show how infertility can be so wholly out of a person's control -- even when you do everything right, things don't happen the way you expect them to.

Yet when I search for the words to really write about the experience, the page remains blank. My mind is scanning the myriad of topics, but all I can find are tears that threaten to reach my eyes. Attempting to write this post has made me realize how raw my wounds still are. I'm not ready to talk to the open audience of the unknown people who read this blog. Yet.

In the meantime... I am ready to talk about Jack, on this anniversary of his conception.

Jack, I love you. I've loved since the day we chose you out of our embryo lineup, based on some obscure growth information and an identifier (#14). The embryologist took this picture of you, all of your perfect cells dividing and becoming the beautiful little person you are today.

I began watching you 1 year ago, today, when I taped the phorograph of your growing cells to my nightstand and stared at you until I fell asleep. Soon it was an ultrasound image, and then it became my belly, where I felt you moving, preparing for the world. Now, I watch your sweet face, and I feel your soft breath next to mine. I can smell your soft hair and I can reach out to touch you. You were an idea in my head for so long, and now I can hold you.

I feel so unbelievably lucky.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The hyenas would have gotten us


Chocolate with peanut butter, and TLC's Say Yes To The Dress.

In that order, please.

We all have our vices, and those are mine. Chocolate with peanut butter because it is the most spectacular flavor EVER. And Say Yes To The Dress because all FIVE seasons are Watch It Now on Netflix, and 20 minutes of mind numbing reality TV is exactly the length of my attention span for anything that doesn't involve a giggling 3-month old.

Of course, those weren't always my vices. There were many other things that I used to enjoy: non-perfunctory-cooking, photography, reading books, reading blogs, shopping at places other than Babys R Us and Target, knitting, yoga, wearing sweaters without spitup on them, time with friends, and exercise. I figure one day these things will happen again. For the moment, with my return to work and the humongous time suck of daycare drop offs and pick ups, my priorities have been rearranged: during the week, I find myself with time for exactly 1 Watch It Now on Netflix, a quick look at babysteals.com, 25% of a post on Jack Attack, and nothing else.

The loss of exercise feels particularly poignant to me. One of my favorite parts of maternity leave was how damn strong I got. Jack and I walked everywhere, all day, every day. We had Itsy Bitsy yoga on Mondays. Mom and Baby Fitness on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A Mommy Bootcamp here or there. Walks through New Haven, down to the Farmer's Market, around the park, out to get a cup of coffee. It was awesome. And I held him -- all the time. My biceps and I were very well acquainted. Now, at best, I walk to and from work. And at worst, I drive Jack to the JCC, plop myself in a couch with my laptop for 8 hours, and get up only to (A) nurse, and (B) purchase mayonaisey egg salad from the cafe.

This Sunday morning, an opportunity presented itself. I took Jack into the nursery early so that Greg could sleep a little bit (Greg, AKA, The Awesomest Husband Ever, second only to the Awesomest Baby Ever, did the same favor for me on Saturday). I snagged my laptop, popped on a Say Yes To The Dress, and got 10 minutes into it before Jack decided that stationary activities were no longer acceptable. I was bored, and really, the only thing to do was pace back and forth between the kitchen, alternating baby bouncing with handfuls of Reeses Pieces M&Ms. For like 40 minutes. I nearly emptied our Halloween stash.

Once the growing dread of massive peanut butter consumption set in, and the boredom of a Sunday morning with Baby Needs a Nap (nevermind Momma) fully consumed me... I decided that the time had come for Jack and I to go jogging with the stroller. I cautiously sneaked into the bedroom and snatched whatever I could get my hands on quickly. Here's what I found: hiking boots, heavy jeans, a nursing top that was NOT designed for high impact sports, and my ski jacket.

Nice.

No worries. Because what might have been described by a polite observer as "Interval Training" was in actuality me attempting to jog, then slowly down for a walk, then Jack getting fussy, and me speeding up to keep him happy, times 5, for 1.5 miles, all the while choking to catch my breath. My inability to jog for more than a few blocks was pretty depressing.

At least I can say I tried. In all fairness, I realized that it's been over a year since I last went for a run. My ovaries, which had been battered and bruised from months of ongoing fertility treatment, were in no mood to be jostled in the early days of pregnancy. Once I got big with Jack, forget about it. And all of my postpartum activities focused on strength training, no cardiac involved. To say that I feel sluggish is an understatement. To make matters worse, I just had my cholesterol checked, and it's risen from 270 to 310.

After Sunday morning's failed jog, I have visions of my poor heart struggling to pump blood through cholesterol-clogged arteries with Reese's Pieces M&Ms dotting my sugar- and fat-laden pancreas. If Jack and I ever needed to run from a pack of raging hyenas, we'd be in trouble. And that's not cool... I've got to protect this kid!

More to the point of my rambling story, I should just own up to the fact that it's been MY choice to let exercise fall to the backburner. If I have 20 minutes for Netflix or to write a silly story about how sedentary I am, that's 20 minutes that could be used to keep healthy.

So, readers of this blog, you need to hold me accountable. I'm going to take Jack's daily advice and Get On Moving. Our weekends are a glorious island of relatively free time. I have a simple goal to start: one run with Jack, every weekend, no matter what. I am stating it here. I will turn off TLC, I will say no to the Reese's Pieces, and I will do something good for myself and my body.

(And if I can do that, maybe I'll reward myself with one of these)