Monday, January 28, 2013

QOTD: People Pleasing

I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.

-Bill Cosby

Friday, January 25, 2013


We have been in the trenches. Of the dreaded flu virus. We all got shots or the spray. But here we are. Cloroxing, changing sheets, washing our hands while singing "Happy Birthday to You" and cloroxing again. While we have taken turns being sick since basically November, it appears that the flu vaccine has helped us not fall complete victim. We are sick, better 24 hours later (which is wonderful compared to some who are sick for 7-10 days.) But we cannot seem to completely shake the basic symptoms of the various viruses out there.  Alternatively, we are ridding ourselves of one virus in time to become infected with another.

We are healthy healthy people. We take vitamins. We eat well. We keep a (mostly) clean house. We exercise quite a bit which I believe there is evidence that our immune systems are bolstered by this. We get our seasonal shots and drink lots of water. Despite this we still fall victim to the communicable diseases floating around out there. All the more reason to stay home when we can during the season of fireplaces and cozy sweaters.

While at home Monday, I did some reading and research on this year's epic flu season. Experts are predicting up to 40,000 people will die this season from flu. FORTY. THOUSAND. I feel like it is everywhere. Every family I know has people getting sick, half of my office has missed work. I'm trying to keep a level head and not just freak out. I guess we can consider it a lesson in control. And reliquinshing it. I cannot control the flu or its impact on my family. I cannot control whether my preschooler will bring home something we cannot seem to shake. I can't control whether the 3 month old shares some drool with another baby and infects us all.

I control what I can. I keep pumping us full of healthy food and water. I keep trying to get us to bed at a reasonable hour. I keep exercising. I keep trying to remember my vitamins, though I seem to do a very mediocre job of that. And I wipe every surface in sight with some sort of disinfectant.

And we wait. We wait out the virus. And we hold our babies when they cry. And we clean up the messes that come with being sick. And we wait. It will be over in a few weeks. The virus will have moved on. How frightening is it to consider the fragility of life? And our precious routines? Everything can fall victim from something you can't see or smell or hear or feel.

It is completely miserable to watch your child be sick. They cling to you, hoping and finding some small comfort in being in your arms. Their eyes glass over and they do not want to play or even eat. I hate it. Scott and I have taken turns staying home with the various little ones when they are sick. And we have taken turns being sick ourselves. I try to take what I can from our together time though. Yesterday I held Eliot while he watched a couple of tv shows. I dozed off while he just languished being in my arms. I tried to cherish that feeling because that sort of phsycial connection seems more magnified and warm when sick. It is very rare that he sits still long enough for me to hold him, especially for 30 minutes.

When I think back in ten years on being a mama to two small little guys, I probably won't remember the sick days. But in their own weird way, sick days come with a wonderful role to play, the role of nurse and supreme comforter. You HAVE to stay home, you HAVE to cuddle, you HAVE to eat warm soup. And while it is awful to be sick, it is wonderful to have someone to share the inevitable  with.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Eliot Michael, a birth story

In honor of my first born's 4th birthday last week, I started to write his story about his birth. Here's what I remember, 4 years later:

I remember so much about my pregnancy with Eliot. I remember distinctly knowing I was pregnant before any test could tell me. After running the hilly Austin marathon in February, 2008, we signed up for a FLAT marathon in May, 2008--Lincoln, Nebraska.  I had noticed a very distinct difference in my body while running in the weeks leading up to Lincoln. I didn't feel bad or fat or bloated. I just felt...different. I knew I was pregnant. The night before the marathon, Scott and I ate pasta at a local restaurant and I declined to drink wine, something I normally loved the night before a big race. Scott said "why do you think you're pregnant?" I responded, "I don't know, I just know that I am." And so I skipped the wine. And 10 days later we confirmed what my heart already knew, a baby was on the way.

At my insistence, we did not find out if Eliot was a boy or girl. It killed Scott not to know. But I loved it.  As an adult I feel that good surprises are just too rare. How often are you truly shocked by something and it turns out it's a good thing? Typically grown up suprises are "surprise! You have cancer." or "Surprise! You are part of the reduction in force." And so...I cherish those moments where life hands me something unexpected and wonderful. And so no matter what we had, a boy or girl, it would be a wonderful surprise. And so I insisted. We were NOT finding out what we were having.

Around five months pregnant I had a dream. I was holding my beautiful baby and rocking it. In my dream the baby was probably 4 months old, laying in my arms and smiling at me. And it was a girl. There really was not much more to the dream but it was clear and distinct. It was a girl. And from that moment on, I was convinced. This baby was a girl. Scott dreamed too. He dreamt we picked our baby up at a big box store along with other expectant parents. And in his dream we were given a boy. And so he was convinced all along we were having a boy.

I gained 45 pounds. And while I certainly packed on the weight, the baby did not seem particularly large (my butt on the other hand...). Even my OB thought it would be a medium or average sized baby. And when she felt around and listened to the heartbeat and looked at how I carried the baby, she said "Yup, a small girl."

Scott and I picked the name Eliot years before we even tried for a baby. Regardless of the sex, the baby would be named Eliot. "Marie" for the girl's middle name. "Michael" for the boy's. We went shopping and purchased two beautiful, soft coming home outfits. One pink, one blue. We decorated the nursery in a deep gold and chocolate brown. We received lots of gender neutral gifts, green jammies and yellow afghans. And we decided on the spelling of Eliot for T.S. Eliot, one of my favorite poets.

Heading into the final weeks of pregnancy I was just insanely busy.  I desperately wanted to finish my appeal brief and I needed probably another 3-4 solid days of work on it. On Sunday, January 11, the Golden Globes were on. I watched the celebrities on the red carpet and I started to labor. I had contractions for hours. I kept looking to Scott. We double checked our bags were ready and we got excited. He got out the video camera to tape me having contractions (brat). And eventually they fizzled. Nothing. I was disappointed but grateful to have another day to work on my brief.

I don't remember much of the next day or night but nothing remarkable happened. My due date was Tuesday the 13th. We woke up Tuesday morning around 6 or 6:15. I got up to go to the bathroom first thing and it happened. My water broke. I couldn't believe it as I did not think it broke first very often (it doesn't). I had zero discomfort. Nothing even resembling a contraction.  And it wasn't the massive gushing you hear about, it was a slight trickle. Regardless, I looked at Scott and said "Well you had better go for your run, I think we are having a baby today!" And he did. He got up, took Pavlov for a run and came home ready to go to the hospital. I was not ready. I showered and straightened my new cut bob. I didn't wear any makeup to the hospital, but dangit, I was going to have perfect hair.

I sat on the couch for a couple of hours procratinating. I worked on the appeal brief! I ate bland food because I knew once I got to the hospital they were not going to let me eat and well, food is important.  I emailed with my paralegal and finally, begrudingly, I called my doctor's office. I said "I think my water broke. I have no contractions though. What should I do?" I was scolded a bit by the nurse who told me I had to go to the hospital immediately. Babies have to be born within 24 hours of the water breaking or risk serious infection. Well, that meant this baby had to be born by 6:00 a.m. on the 14th or I'd be getting a C-section. I desperately wanted to avoid a C-section. That was my number one goal. Other goals for labor and delivery--no pitocin, no intervention, no drugs if at all possible.

Around 8:30 a.m. we headed to the hospital. I told the nurses what had happened and they decided to test to make sure it really was ambiotic fluid (it was). They checked to see if I was dilated. I was a 2.  The same as I had been for the last month. My doctor stopped by and said "well it's time to get labor started. we need to get you going or I'm going to have to start pitocin."  She told me start walking and she would be back in a few hours to "strip my membranes." And so walk I did. I remember strapping on my running shoes and walking, jogging, stretching, jumping around, anything I could think of. The nurses laughed at me as I asked if there was a treadmill available. I remember hearing a woman screaming her head off in another hallway as she labored through natural childbirth. And I remember my confidence taking a huge hit. This was real and maybe I was not quite strong enough to do this?  But I shook it off and kept walking. And perhaps the faintest, lightest of contractions. Nothing of any consequence at all. I knew I had a long day ahead. But after a couple hours of walking, I was a 3. I was thrilled that I had made some solid progress.

My doctor came back and broke my water the rest of the way. And then, oh wow. They started. A very very long day of contractions. I tried many things to try to get comfortable. I got on all fours. I sat on an exercise ball. I stood. I laid on my side. Bottom line--I was miserable. And for hours, I struggled. For several hours, I was sick to my stomach. Every 5 minutes, overwhelming nausea hit me and I'd take off for the bathroom. Nothing could take my mind off of labor, not even movies or card games. The nurse offered me a lighter anethesia in my IV. I accepted. And I hated it. I would have preferred the pain many many times over to the woozy, fuzzy, nauseating feeling of those pain meds. I was exhausted.

After literally hours and hours and hours of laboring and at least 5 million contractions, the nurses checked. I was a 4. All of the blood, sweat and tears and I was nowhere near progressing. At 8:00 p.m. I broke.  I tearfully accepted that I was never going to have the baby and that I was going to end up with a C-section at 6:00 a.m. the next day. I thought "well I might as well have an epidural now and save myself the pain of the next ten hours." I asked for the epidural. Every thing I had ever read said that epidurals slow down labor, often stop the process in its tracks. So I felt pretty depressed at that point. Everything was moving so slow and here I was giving up, slowing it down even more.

But what choice did I have? I hated the less invasive drugs and I could not labor on for hours with no end in sight and no progress being made. My epidural CRNA was wonderful. She came in and comforted me. My nurse, Jennifer, was so supportive. And Scott was so grateful. He was exhausted from watching me in pain with nothing he could do to help. Around 9:00 p.m. I got my block.

The epidural worked and slowly I felt the contractions get less and less intense, until I felt nothing at all. I fell asleep. And I mean I crashed. Exhausted from an entire day of laboring with barely any progress, I just passed out. When I woke up about an hour later, the nurse had wondeful news. I was an 8. Unlike the vast majority of patients, my body had the opposite reaction to the epidural. It sped up the process! The contractions came faster and faster and lasted longer. After about another hour, I was a 10.

Funny things and tidbits I remember throughout the day. My resident doctor's name was Jennifer Hill  and she was also pregnant! My nurse's name was Jennifer.  My OB/GYN had just stepped off the plane from running the Walt Disney Marathon in Orlando the day before the baby came. She was exhausted that day and spent a good chunk of the evening sleeping on the couch in our delivery suite. Scott fetched her coffee and snacks to help her recover before she brought our baby into the world. Scott got to eat that day and I was begrudgingly okay with it until dinner. At dinner time, when they brought him chicken fingers that smelled like heaven, I made him go in the other room to eat. I was starving. STARVING. All I got was some chicken broth to sip on. I probably sent Scott for more chicken broth 10 times that day.  I hated, absolutely hated being stuck in the bed after I got my epidural. After spending the entire day walking and moving and adjusting myself to be comfortable, it was torture to be trapped in bed. But that was the price I paid for not feeling the last hours of all this stuff. 

Around 11:00 p.m., Jennifer (the nurse) coached me through pushing. She said I needed to work with the contractions to help get the baby on its way. I remember thinking "well after laboring for so long, this part will probably go very quickly!" I was so excited to meet my dainty little girl. And poor Scott. He had hoped to have more of a buffer between himself and, well, all the blood and gore. Turns out, there was no curtain blocking him from the reality of childbirth. To the contrary, he held my right leg while I pushed and was a part of the whole process.

And so I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. The hours started ticking by. Several times my doctor would look, try to adjust me or the baby but baby was just stuck. The baby moved its head in the birth canal from side to side. The resident said, the baby was trying to help. Nothing. Finally talk started about how to "speed things up". And this whole time, I'm looking at the clock, knowing it's only a matter of time before real intervention gets started and maybe even a c-section. I pushed with everything I had but I was so numb I could not tell if I was making any progress at all or even using the right muscles.

Almost three hours later, everything changed. Suddenly, there were six or seven nurses. The doctors put on surgical gowns. The lights went dim except for what appeared to be spotlights on my nether regions. Scott assured me we were really close. I pushed and out came the head. I remember my nurse saying "You've got this. Just one more big push Jennifer."  Suddenly, there he was. He looked huge in my doctor's hands. And, no question, it was a boy. I remember just feeling shock. A boy? A big huge boy? There must be some mistake.

No mistake about it. Around 2:00 a.m., I had my 8 1/2 pound boy. He was beautiful. He had a conehead and a fat pink belly. He barely cried.  After he was born, they cleaned him and wrapped him and started to hand him to Scott. He insisted that I hold him first. The doctors had quite a bit of work left on me. Scott went to the waiting room and told our parents it was a boy, named Eliot Michael and he was healthy and so was mom. My OB laughed about her guess that baby was a small girl.

And he lay in my arms, wide awake. He stared at Scott and I forever. Silent. Peaceful. Beautiful. Just stared at us. We took pictures. We stared back. And it was completely surreal. I remember thinking "I don't even know you! I thought you were going to be a little girl!" I remember feeling like I had a lot of catching up to do.

Eventually our parents came in. He stayed awake. He silently stared at them too. For a very long time. He just stared and let himself be passed around. He was just beautiful. Such perfect skin. Such round cheeks. I could not believe it. A BOY. Eventually, the parents went home and the night settled down. And he slept. I slept. Scott slept. The next day he was just perfect. No crying, just cuddling. He was big. He was incredibly strong. He shocked me by lifting his head off my chest to look me straight in the eye. We came home from the hospital and I remember touching the pink outfit as Scott left to go return it. I got misty--no dance recitals or baby doll slumber parties, no pink ruffly Easter dresses. That dream was over. But a new one had started. I had a strong beautiful baby boy who needed me and loved me with a bond I could not believe felt so strong. I had new dreams to create.

He was laid back and easy going early on. He slept through the night at 8 weeks. He ate with reckless abandon and gained weight very quickly. He played with us very soon after he was born and I swear he kissed me back when he was only a few days old.

And now, here we are, 4 years later. I have on my hands, the most eloquent, hilarious kid I have ever known. He is opinionated and bossy. He is demanding and giving. He is affectionate and a rough housing all boy Star Wars fan. He's an amazing big brother and an obstinant picky eater (until he actually tries stuff and then he is usually a huge fan). Currently our game is to express our love through random number assignments or distances. "Mommy I love you 47." "Yea well Eliot, I love you 236." "Whoa, that's a lot." "I love you to Jupiter and back." "I love you all the way to the sun." Something I never expected was to love every stage of baby and childhood just so much. He was the most beautiful docile newborn. He was an easy happy baby. A fun toddler. A hilarious little boy. And lately so creative and imaginative and inquisitive, it hurts sometimes my brain. Happy 4th birthday Eliot!  You were a lot of work to bring into this world but I would do it again a million times over.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

QOTD: Keeping Busy...

Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.

H. Jackson Browne, Jr.

Found it on facebook. Snagged it. Love it. Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if we were all so focused on expending positive energy that we were unable to create anything negative?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Blow. Out.

The following post is not for the faint of heart. Or for anyone eating lunch. Or soon to be moms and dads. In fact, this post is only for those of you with depraved senses of humor or experienced parents and child caretakers who are prepared to nod their head in agreement and frankly, just laugh at me.

The following is the WORLD'S MOST EPIC BLOWOUT STORY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Yes, the title is redundant. Because it is that epic.

There comes a time, in every breastfed babies' life, where they test the capacity of diaper technology. I emphasize breastfed baby because for many months after birth breastfed babies' poops are different. They are not solid. Google it, and you'll see what I mean as this blog is not intended to teach you about the different consisitencies of baby poo. I digress.

So, by testing the capacity and strength and endurance of today's diaper technology, babies have, what we mum's affectionately call blow outs. They crap clear through their diaper. They crap all over their outfit and they typically require immediate bathing. It isn't every time. But it often happens in spurts--they will have no blow outs for weeks and then suddenly 3 in a day. As a baby, Eliot had a handful of epic blowouts. [Perhaps my favorite memory being the time he poo'ed all over me, on a plane, during landing.  Nowhere to go, just sitting and feeling the warmth of my child's extrement spread all over my leg while cringing. I remember looking at my own choice of pants (tan linen) I knew terrible terrible things awaited me once I stood after landing.] In his desire to one-up his brother, however, Nicholas decided pooping on mommy while traveling and causing her to change her outfit was child's play. He could do much better.

And so it was one very cold and rainy day in early December, we found ourselves on the way home from our first family roadtrip. Many factors contributed to this story and so a little background.

Our family had gone to Dallas for a lovely weekend of friendship and running. Scott ran in the Dallas Whiterock half marathon (albeit with pneumonia because he is both a fool and a badass) and I baby wrangled and hung out with friends. We laid pretty low but I did take the boys out on the course to cheer on our friends running their first marathon. We even made inappropriate signs. It was a blast.

The one major hiccup in the trip was we promised Eliot lots of quality swimming time in the hotel pool. Only to find the that big beautiful fancy downtown Dallas Hyatt's pool? Under construction. Many big fat crocodile tears were spilt as a result of the pool's poorly timed construction and so we promised Eliot we'd make it up to him. How do you make up something so enormous and upsetting to a three year old? You take them to McDonalds, you let them play in the disease ridden playplace playground and you let them eat a happy meal. This is a huge treat for our kid and we were happy to oblige.

And so in Denton, Texas we stopped and ate lunch. After ordering our food, I recognized that I needed to change baby's diaper having been on the road for a bit. And so I set off to find a restroom. The primary restroom was closed for cleaning. So I proceeded to find the small "family" one-staller in the playplace area.

Nicholas had been experiencing a blow out here and there in the last week. In addition, in true little boy fashion, he had a couple of times let it fly when I took his diaper off and the cold air hit his boy parts. Therefore, I was cautious when changed him.

He was sleepy and waking up when I entered the restroom. And gassy. Kiddo passes gas like a trucker after an all you can eat chinese buffet. I mean GAS.EE. I shivered a bit as I pulled the Koala changing table down and saw at least 29 communicable diseases on the plastic petri dish. I carefully laid a receiving blanket on the nasty changing table and then laid my bundle of joy on the blanket. Step 1. Lay baby on changing table.

I carefully laid out my tools to accomplish a quick and mostly sterile diaper change. Two wet wipes. Check. New diaper. Check. Unfold new diaper to cover boy parts while changing so he doesn't urinate on me. Check. Step 2. Assembly of diaper changing tools complete.

I recognized he was gassy and that he probably would require a second diaper change after I fed him but he was soaked and needed changed now. I proceeded along to make him comfy while he ate and stretched out on our break. Step 3. Remove the soiled diaper and tossed in the trash.

I looked down and to my horror, with every little toot, baby was pooing, just a bit. Never having actually witnessed this before, I hesitated. I stuttered. A fatal, fatal mistake.  WHAT DO I DO???? Old diaper was thrown away. New diaper didn't need to get all poopy immediately. WHAT DO I DO???? Step 4. Place wet wipes between babies' cheeks to hopefully absorb all the current poo so he can still have clean pants.

And now, my years of being an aunt. My years of being a little girl who played with dolls and "changed baby's diaper".  My years of growing up in a house where my mother ran an in-home day care. My experience as a mother to a 3 year old. They all failed. It was all for naught. Years of child rearing. Useless.

In my hesitation and poor judgment, I reached down to the diaper bag to get additional wet wipes. I then planned to "take a peek" to make sure his business was complete. Ewww. Gross. Step 5. Removal of soiled wet wipes from the baby buns.

And then it happened. The blow out. But unlike a typical blow out, there was no shield. No diaper. No onesie. With one giant push, Nicholas sprayed the entire McDonald's bathroom with bright yellow poo. And it was everywhere. The floor, the sink, the mirror, the toilet, the walls, my hands, my pants, his blanket, his clothes, his socks. I mean everywhere. In one fateful second he shot the contents of his intestines up to three feet across the room.

I froze. How could I not? I had never seen anything so disgusting. So hilarious. And frankly, so impressive.  As I stood there, trying to imagine my next move, he added the icing to the cake and began to urinate, at least a foot in the air, on any remaining surface not already covered by his excrement. I grabbed the new diaper to try to shield him but it was too late, he had already done his damage.  I remained frozen. I mean, honestly, what do you do? Where do you start? And for god's sake, would any of us ever be clean again???

At that moment, Scott and Eliot knocked on the door. "Hey Jenn, Eliot needs to go potty." I snapped back to action. "Uh, just gimma a second." I turned to the sink and first things first. I washed my hands. For the first of four times. They were literally covered in crap. Then I grabbed several paper towels and wiped the top of the toilet off. I opened the door and Scott's eye's widened. "Oh my god, are you okay?" I squeaked out, "I have no idea. But I'm going to have to lift Eliot over to the toilet." And so Eliot came in and immediately said "mommy that is gross!!!" I lifted my big boy over the puddles of grossness and got him set up on the toilet.

And then I got to work. I used probably hundreds of paper towels. I wet them down and just started wiping. I wiped the sink and the changing table. I wiped the mirror and the walls. I wiped off my yoga pants. I have no idea how but it did not hit my shirt. Eliot wrinkled his nose and asked me questions I did not have the answer to "Mommy, why didn't Nicholas poop in his diaper? How did it get on the wall? Mommy, how are you going to clean all this?  This is yucky isn't it mommy? What happened to his socks?"  And then we ran out of bathroom paper towels. And I just started laughing. I could laugh or I could cry so I chose to laugh.

As I assessed the damage to Nicholas, I quickly surmised the onesie and pants were salvagable as he really hadn't been wearing them. The socks, however, were trash. The receiving blanket, trash. The "new" diaper, trash. Once the paper towels were gone I only had a few things left to use to clean. So I got another diaper for Nicholas, put him in it. Put a clean outfit on him. As Eliot wrapped up his business, I got baby cleaned up. I opened the door and handed Scott the baby and Eliot and said, "I'll be out in a minute."

And then I cleaned up what was left, mostly the floor. Somehow Nicholas had created 3 sizable puddles of excrement, on the floor. All I had was a receiving blanket. And so I cleaned everything I could find with the receiving blanket and promptly left it behind in Denton, Texas. Everything in that entire room needed hosed off with Clorox. I was helpless to clean anymore.

I came out and must have look battle weary. Scott asks timidly "What happened in there?" I responded "I'm not ready to talk about it. Let's eat lunch." But I just kept laughing. And shaking my head. And then I told the story to Scott. Who laughed. Who shook his head. And we just looked at little Nicholas. He nursed heartily. Happily played in his car seat. He clearly felt fabulous. I mean wouldn't you? The unspeakable horror of what my darling newborn had inflicted on that already gross bathroom just made me laugh. And cringe. Welcome to motherhood for the 8,935th time. Baptism by fire? No. Baptism by blow out.

My sweet babies about 6 hours prior to the "incident". Now, imagine the horror that could have occurred if it had happened on this fluffy white bed at the Downtown Dallas Hyatt.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Baby came and I took a break...from everything. Work, socializing, running, sleeping (not by my choice *looking disdainfully at little Nicholas who grins in return*), cooking, blogging, and eventually the last two months, I broke from Facebook, working remotely from home, house chores and doing everything except preparing for the holidays and being a mom.  Basically in the month of December, I bought and wrapped gifts, made cookies, nursed my baby, played Star Wars with my big boy and laid around in my pajamas.  New Years Eve was supposed to be spent with friends in lipstick and high heels. Instead due to an unfortunate shift in plans, I was doing yoga at 9pm in my bedroom and gazing with bewilderment at my sleeping kiddos.  And while I missed my friends, I loved having a quiet night at home.

It is rare, so very very rare, that I ever break from anything. That I ever say "no" to anything. As a person who thrives on a busy schedule and parties and friends and running and career, I don't know any other speed than full throttle. But somehow for a short period of time, I utterly and totally unplugged. And it was glorious.

While on maternity leave, I sensed something, a growing feeling inside me. Time is precious, the years fly by. Cherish the special uniqueness of being home. Rather than fight it and obsess about my to do's that were not getting done, I flowed. I cherished. I savored. I looked deep into both of my son's eyes every hour and said "I love you."

Ask any parent and they will tell you that the short time your children spend in your nest is fleeting and you blink and they are gone. My big brother had five kids within 7 years. And those kids are now almost through high school. Some have moved out and most have moved on. And while I know there were times my brother struggled with being a parent to five small kids, he has repeatedly said he honestly cannot believe how close he is to seeing them move out. He is wistful and sad and shocked by how fast it has gone and is going.

The first time around, with Eliot, I was obsessed with (1) getting him to sleep through the night; (2) keeping him and myself on a strict schedule; (3) returning to running; (4) maintaining contact with the office and clients and work; (5) acting as president of two legal organizations and maintaining my work in both of them. And it probably served me well to worry and obsess. I had a baby that slept through the night at 8 weeks. I maintained a clean home. I ran a half marathon when he was 3 months old. I had Eliot in January and became a partner in my firm that December.  Those sacrifices paid off and proved to me when I set my mind to something...I can do it. I can do anything.

This time I did not have anything to prove. Instead, I allowed myself complete leniency. I did not run until Nicholas was 10 weeks old (last Sunday). Like not a step. I have not pressured Nicholas to stretch his feeding schedule or let him cry it out. So while he's 10 weeks old, he sleeps for, at best, 4-5 hours at a time. I lost touch with clients and work a bit and will need to scramble to get it back in order. I let my house get pretty messy, on more than one occasion...much to my Type A husband's chagrin. And I lived in yoga pants. And yet, I find none of these decisions to be bad. I do not mind one little bit that I can't run 5 miles. I know I will again. And I know that if I wanted to, I could have made myself do it. While at times, I struggle with my sleep deprivation, I honestly don't really mind getting up at 2am and nuzzling with my little fuzzy headed angel. I know that work will always be there. And my house has cleaned up pretty well despite all my, uhm, "projects."

My friends, at least the ones that count, have hardly protested my absence. They tell me they miss me. They drop by for coffee. They host me at their house for fun and bonding time. But they are not insisting I socialize on their terms. They are thrilled to see me when I stick my head out of my cocoon but aren't pressuring me to change out of yoga pants and into skinny jeans.

I ceremoniously swore off facebook. In the wake of the horrific Sandy Hook shooting I was very disturbed and angered by multiple facebook posts turning the tragedy into a platform. I am glad I gave it up. Why on earth should I spend time cursing someone else's opinions when I had Christmas cookies to bake and kids to love? I honored the Sandy Hook victims by praying for them. Reading their stories from actual news sources. I read about the Adam Lanza, the killer, and prayed for his family too. I read and listened to oped's from intelligent commentators to help me decide what to think about mental health care and gun laws and the other issues. And, several times, I read the full list of the names of the victims to myself, out loud and cried a little. Like everyone else I asked "why" and questioned God for answers.

Then, yesterday, I returned to work. I was hit with a landslide of work "stuff." I have read lots of emails about friend stuff. I worked some on my running "to do" list of projects. I am blogging. I checked facebook. I went to yoga and tonight I'm going for a run. And so I'm back. I am being forced out of my cocoon. And it's so hard. So very very hard. When I look in my baby's chocolatey eyes and we flirt and coo at each other, that's all the matters in the world. But cooing doesn't pay the bills. And he won't be tiny forever. He needs social skills. I need grown up contact.

I wrapped myself fully, for weeks, in my nest. I insulated myself fully from everything out there. I was just truly present in my home and my kids got me, 100% of me, for weeks. I don't know that I will ever be able to do that again. If I think about that, I will undoubtedly suffer heartbreak. But I also know that I am not good as a stay at home mom. That the passion I have for homemaking and baby bonding would not be sustained. As the house continued and remained messy, it would cause stress for everyone.  I frankly just lack the skill set to be a successful homemaker. I did not accomplish much of anything other than being mom and if I actually "stayed home" I sadly doubt that would change.

So I instead concentrate on 5:00 p.m. And the magical hour of picking up my kids and finding out about their days. I am throwing myself head first into life again and it hurts. Unplugging is not ultimately sustainable for me and perhaps that is why it is so sweet. And so precious and so desireable. As I dip my toe into the blogging water, it turns out the temperature is just right. And it feels good. And as much as I miss my boys and long to see them and hold them, it feels good to write. And slowly the rest will start to feel good again as well.

Ultimately, as I reflect on it, what a wonderful time I had on maternity leave. I am so blessed that I was able to take 10 weeks to truly connect and bond with Nicholas. I am so thankful that in the 5 weeks Eliot spent at home with me, we deepened our love by playing hard and laughing and caring for our new baby together. I am so excited for 2013. I feel like a lot of momentum was building in 2012 for good things in my life. And I think that momentum will blossom this year. Here's to a new start and getting back to everything. In the meantime, I will blink away my tears and watch videos of my babies on my iphone at my desk. What a wonderful gift I gave myself by pulling the plug.