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A Winter Without the Blues

February 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Beating the winter blues—a topic I’ve seen around a lot lately. And: disturbing fact. Women are 4x as likely to get Seasonal Affective Disorder than men are. Good news for us, though! Because my solution is a female-oriented one, which involves… 

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…Having a baby! Preferably towards the start of the season (say, December 2) so that the babe is just big enough to go out after the holidays, but small enough that you are still mostly house-bound through the dreariest months. Not because it’s the most special, magical, exciting experience of your life—obviously, creating a life is all of those things—but because you’ll laugh at people who complain about the weather. Winter weather, you realize, is the least of your problems.

Whenever I have a chance to walk outside—whether it’s in a winter wonderland or the sleety city—I’m thrilled to do it, especially when I have help. Hail balls the size of grapefruits? No problem! I’ll just jog faster. See you in an hour, Max!

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Here’s my guilty maternal admission for the day (more on Vodka & citrus drinks later): sometimes I’ve just got to get away. Even the sound of a siren on the avenue can be a relief from the Little Yeller who, on any given day, seems intent on giving me tinnitus. Sometimes Max cries so loudly while I’m holding him that I literally feel my eardrums quake. On those days, I unabashedly pass him off to the sitter with a great big smile.

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And on the days when she doesn’t come, I take Max out for hours—hail balls permitting. On Tuesday, we trekked through Central Park from our apartment on 95th street to the boat pond at 72nd. We did it first in the morning, just after the sun came up, and again in the evening as it set. It makes me feel so alive to be out in the cold, and Lupe, of course, is living the doggie dream. Most importantly, a stroller walk keeps Max entertained for as long as he feels like looking at the snowy treetops, but eventually it lulls him to sleep. He reacts to his stroller in the same way that I react to riding on Metro North train: I watch the landscape for a while until, despite my best efforts to stay awake, my mouth opens, drool pools, and sleep sets in, heavy and luxurious. In short, all three of us are at our very best during a crisp winter walk. And I got bonus points for exercise, since maneuvering the stroller in the snow was a serious arm and thigh workout.

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The above are photos from Tuesday’s jaunt. As beautiful as those walks were, I relished every icy puddle and mucky snow bank I braved on Wednesday when freezing rain took over and ruined the landscape. I went away from my boy for a workout, lunch and a cup of coffee, and felt just about as thrilled as I would have a year ago on a trip to Paris. You’ll see, if you have a baby in the winter, that the small things can do wonders for your sense of contentment. And when you see those little eyes and those little lips looking for you when you come home, again, well… that’s the greatest feeling of all.    

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For Emily: Notes From the Trenches

December 21, 2013 § 2 Comments

Em&I

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Emily, is pregnant right now. She and I have shared many milestones, and it was magical to be pregnant at the same time. Emily is due next week. Due next week! Here is a picture of us at my baby shower in October… back when we were not so tired of being pregnant. Back when we could lift ourselves out of bed without propping up on elbows, back when we could tie our shoes, back when we still felt sort of compact and cute. In the last three weeks of my pregnancy I prayed every night that labor would come. I really did: those last few weeks are hard. Emily, I feel you right now.

But! There are some things about being pregnant that are really nice. I should rephrase: there are some things that happen to you when you are not pregnant anymore that you don’t expect, and that make carrying your little one around intact an enviable state of being.

MFMxmas

So Emily: As you know, I love my Max, more than words. But here are a few things I’ve discovered that are different now. Other than the wounds from giving birth, the effluent spit up, the sleeplessness and the wailing–which sounds like the scariest alarm you’ve ever heard and sends a shot of cortisol straight through your mothering spine every time it starts up. You may find that when your darling girl is born:

1) You use every limb. For example, you’ll pump milk with one hand, feed yourself as quickly as possible with the other, rock your baby’s bassinet with one foot and stand on your free leg. This arrangement works in many iterations, so find out which leg you balance on best now and practice.

2) Everything gets done in 1/2s, 1/3rds or 1/4s. For example, you’ll finally get the baby down after a fussy morning of eating and rush quickly to make your bed. You’ll pull up the flat sheet, and hear her making peeps in the bassinet or crib. You’ll go back–maybe she’ll be silent, but you’ll check to be sure she’s breathing. This will remind you that the humidifiers are low after the evening. So you’ll refill the one in the nursery. Then you’ll realize, while your hands are wet, that there are so many dishes and that you’ve got to do them because dirty dishes are depressing. You’ll fill a big bowl with soapy water and get started, only to hear a tiny wail. (Remember, you can’t ignore this terrifying alarm.) She might be still, in which case, you’ll check her breathing again. Then you remember that she’ll need a bib on all day because of the effluent spit up. Which reminds you that you have just washed them all and that they’re in a load of laundry sitting in the drier. (Yesterday’s work, 1/3 done.) You’ll fill the laundry basket, and take it to your bedroom to fold, only to realize that the bed isn’t made. So you’ll pull up the comforter, fluff one of your pillows, and wonder, “Did I just hear her make a sound?” You’ll go back to the bassinet again to check her breathing and see the undone dishes. This will bother you because dirty dishes are depressing, so you’ll debate: which is more important while she’s sleeping… laundry, bed or dishes? Or perhaps you should water the Christmas tree so that it doesn’t become a deadly fire hazard. Or maybe you should call someone to see if they’ll take the poor dog for a walk. What you prioritize may vary from day-to-day, but be okay with the fact that whichever one you opt to tackle may not get done in its entirety until 5pm. When the babe is awake, add diaper changes, feedings and burping to this mix.

3) At some point or another, you’ll do all of the above naked, or semi-naked, because putting on clothes also falls into the 1/2 done or 1/3 done or 1/4 done category. Close your blinds, especially in the morning and after 4pm. Remember: when it’s dark, you can’t see out, but they can see in.

4) Your baby will, even when she is sleeping, demand your full attention. This isn’t always the case, but it tends to be true when you’ve just managed to calm her down from a fussy period. You’ll have diligently swaddled her, shooshed her and rocked her to sleep, and you might think to yourself: “I know that if I put her in the bassinet or crib, she’ll wake up and wail, but maybe I could just read this newspaper or book while I hold her…” And the second you sit on the couch and open your periodical of choice, she’ll open one eye, give you a dirty look and wail again. She sees you when you’re sleeping. She knows when you’re awake. She knows when you’ve been 100% attentive or not, so be 100% attentive for goodness sake.

5) You will start bragging about the night you slept for 4 hours straight. Ahh, I remember being pregnant: I could sleep for 9 hours then go down for a 3 hour nap. And still, somehow, I felt tired. Now, I’m thrilled by the zing I have if I can go down from 12-4am. (PS: it’s only happened once.)

Next I write a list on all the things I’m thrilled to be able to do again now that I’m no longer pregnant, because, of course, there are so many. But for now, relish!

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