Archive for July, 2008
In Sippy Cups, I wrote a chapter about Love At First Sight. In it, I describe my relationship with Elby as a baby. I didn’t bond with her right away and I felt so many crazy mixed emotions including guilt that I didn’t feel the way I was “supposed” to-the way I’d read and heard that it should be between mother and baby. Recently, I adapted that chapter for a play called Motherhood Unplugged and after the reading I was asked to elaborate on when I actually did fall in love with Elby. Since that conversation I’ve been thinking about this bonding thing a lot.
In the book I say that “by six months I was her bitch” but that’s not exactly true. I look back and I see that everything I was feeling was filtered through a cloud of anxiety. I hovered over her, feared whether or not I was doing everything right, perfectly, cried over breastfeeding issues, and general felt bad. Anxiety is an underrated deterrent when it comes to bonding, falling in love, relaxing or even having rational thoughts. Anxiety makes you feel that what’s going on in the moment will always be going on hour after hour, day after day, month after month – which I know now is not true. But anxiety doesn’t allow much truth to pass through.
So, with Elby being my first baby, and having nothing to go on, at six months, I think I believed I was as bonded as I was going to be. I distinctly remember Elby as a tiny baby, before 6th months sleeping on my husband’s chest looking so content – like a photograph that I should have been in but wasn’t. Somehow I was detached – too busy worrying about what I should be feeling – to busy going through all the day to day feeding, bathing, holding, rocking etc. because I knew that’s what I needed to do to care for her. And I wanted to care for her as best as I possibly could! I wanted to do everything perfectly. So perfectly that I couldn’t relax. I always suspected that I was missing out on a lot.
Vicki Iovine had a line in “Surviving the First Year of Motherhood” where she described her friend not wanting to leave the house because she was too enthralled watching her beautiful daughter’s eyelashes grow. I wanted to feel that! Why didn’t I feel that? What was wrong with me? I wondered.
When Elby was fourteen months she fell ill and had to be rushed to the ER with severe dehydration. I was awash in fear. My husband was out of town and luckily for me, my brother and sister-in-law were there for me through every minute of it. The ER visit became a night in the PICU which became two days in the hospital. Elby was fine but I ended up finally realizing through the anxiety that wouldn’t go away that I had a problem. I finally realized that I’d been feeling nonstop low level anxiety since she was born and it took her getting sick for it to reach a point that I had to get help. I went on Zoloft.
It’s almost embarrassing to tell you this because I’m worried you will think that I didn’t love my daughter before this -and I did – in a petrified, overly responsible, primal mama bear way I, loved my daughter. But I didn’t enjoy having a child. I can see that now. When the medicine kicked in the waves of bliss finally hit me. The falling madly in love, want to “eat her face”, constantly smother her with kisses, hang on her every attempt at words, marvel in everything she does, thinks, feels…that happened. And it never went away.
Now, I have these twin girls – and no amount of Zoloft can take away the magnitude of anxiety that caring for three children (two, all of a sudden, at once and one who has a chronic problem) brings with it.
Saturday I had a fairly mellow day with my family and it gave me a glimmer, a peek, at how it can be, how it will be, when the anxiety finally wanes. I know I will eventually feel madly in love with these two just as much as with Elby. Right now, the responsibility is unrelenting and I’m just being honest. I wish I was one of the mothers I read about that feels content to just sit and stare at her offspring blessing every moment on the planet with them. Me, I worry and stab my thumb nail into the soft skin of the inside of my other thumb until it bleeds. Nervous habit.
I wish more people talked about this stuff.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on July 28, 2008 6:05 pm
I’m tired of doctors. I’m tired of specialists. I’m tired of therapists. But most of all, I’m just tired. I’ve never had a child who is “at risk for special needs” before, so I guess I just don’t know what to expect from day to day which is especially frustrating for a control freak like me. I want a solution and I want it now and I don’t want all the fuzziness and contradictory opinions and wait and fucking see…I just want Sadie to gain weight and then to hopefully start catching up developmentally. And I want it yesterday.
Last week a developmental therapist came over for the first of what will be weekly visits with Sadie. She’d heard Sadie’s medical history but we still caught her up on the latest anyway since Sadie was copping some zz’s at the time. Once we brought her out the therapist exclaimed “Aww, mercy…how cute. She looks little but healthy! You know what you need to do? Feed her whipped cream.”
“Really? Whipped cream? You mean whipping cream?”
“No. Kool-Whip! Reddy-Whip! It’s great. It’ll get some fat on those bones.”
I ran this helpful hint by the nutritionist who is a twice monthly visitor to our home and she said, “Excuse me?” in the same tone of voice I would say “Is she on crack?” Then she said, “Please, please don’t give her that. There is no nutritional value in Kool-Whip but there are plenty of additives and chemicals.”
What we are supposed to be doing is feeding her avacado, sweet potato, bananas and other higher calorie baby foods including those little Gerber turkey and gravy, chicken noodle and veal jars. What we are, apparently, not supposed to be doing is giving her all of those food in one day. Which seemed like a good idea to me at the time. Hey, if a little’s good then a lot is better, right?
I guess not to a ten pound baby, it’s not. She was on a food and formula strike for days after my little run of trying to feed her way too much. She’s got a little delicate system and I stuffed her like a Thanksgiving turkey. I suck. So, now we’re back to basics: oatmeal, fruit, a little avacado and more oatmeal.
I need to learn patience.
I’m soooo bad at being patient. I want to be proactive. I want to Google the shit out of what’s wrong with her and find someone else to tell me how to fix it. But, I can’t. Not for now. Sadie makes my heart hurt when I look at her sometimes. Mattie is practically running marathons and Sadie watches, takes it all in, and waves her little arms and legs around a bit.
But her smile. It kills me. And if we have to see a thousand doctors, I’m ready to do it. And I’ll go easy on the Reddy-Whip. But I may have to do a few whippets while I’m at it.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on July 25, 2008 10:28 pm
Hi, my name is Stepheeny from Baby on Bored. I couldn’t be here today because I’ve been asked to guest post for one of the Super Friends, Black Hockey Jesus of The Wind In Your Vagina. Black Hockey Jesus is a fairly new blogger yet he seems to have more readers than some of us who’ve been blogging for years. This is because BHJ is very very talented AND because BHJ attended one of my seminars on how to achieve blog fame and fortune. He asked me to share some of my tricks of the trade so that his vast readership could also find blog riches. He’s generous like that. So check me out over there.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on July 23, 2008 2:47 pm
I guess it’s time to talk about the lost weekend that was BlogHer. Many people have already posted about it and I would feel remiss if I didn’t write a little bit about my experience. Let’s start with the most cliche thing: there was some good, some bad and a lot of in between. I definitely think I’d built it up to be more bonding and summer campy than it turned out to be for me.
I got to the hotel, checked in and headed to my room. On the elevator, I stepped into a gaggle of women, one of whom had the badge “Sweetney.” Hey, Sweetney! I’d heard of that blog! It was to be my first chance to make a friend, introduce myself to the world of bloggers-in-person. So I said, “Hey, Sweetney, I know your blog! I’m Stefanie from Baby On Bored.” Sweetney looked at me as if I smelled like a garlic clove and didn’t know it. She sort of nodded, then went back to her friends. Then before I got off the elevator, she let me know that I had a black smudge on my face. It was quite the “I rushed the sorority and didn’t get in” moment. So, I guess I started on a bad note. On the other hand, this whole exchange was surely mostly in my mind. Sweetney probably wouldn’t even remember meeting me. And to be fair, I’m sure that a few people probably introduced themselves to me and got a similar response if I was in a conversation or hung-over or picking lint on my jeans…
On Friday night (the night I got in) I hung out with Heather and we went to the grand ballroom where we listened to bloggers read posts that were chosen by someone who put the evening together for no real rhyme or reason that I could fathom. But…some of them were amazing. Stand outs included Y from Joy Unexpected who read about hating her body but not wanting her daughter to feel the same way – of course, it left me in a puddle of tears. She’s an amazing writer and she looked radiant and beautiful and so small standing on that big stage, speaking in her vulnerable voice. I wanted to hug her and thank her immediately. I also cried with a mom who read about trying to kill herself when she was 7 months pregnant, and then I laughed my ass off hearing the Bloggess (in a blond wig) say the word cunt a half dozen times.
After the reading we went to a few parties where I drank many lemon drop martinis. At one point, Heather introduced me to a woman she said was her friend that read earlier that night. Assuming it was the Bloggess, sans wig, I told her she was “HILARIOUS!!!” And that’s when I noticed a look of alarm on Heather’s face. “What?” I asked her. “Stef, that’s my friend who talked about trying to kill herself!” she stage whispered over the techno. SHIT. “I’m so so sorry” I told her friend. I thought you were the Bloggess with no wig, we were really far back, I didn’t know, I am humiliated, I’m just so so sorry, you were not funny at all, no no, not at all, I mean, I cried, honestly, no laughing here, crying, only crying!”
Saturday morning I woke up with a hang over, but much much worse than that, I had a migraine. Not just any migraine but a monster rip your brain out of your head – can’t function, think, eat, talk, see migraine. I get one of these about once a year or less – sometimes brought on by drinking copious amounts of wine but more often due to hormones, cheese, wind etc. so I hadn’t thought ahead to bring my medication with me. Big mistake. By 7:30 I was crying and trying to figure out how I would even dial the phone to find someone to help me. I called my husband at home in LA because that would be helpful, right? But he was feeding a baby or crying or cursing me for leaving or something because he didn’t answer. Then I called the hotel operator and asked for the nearest pharmacy (thinking I’d call in a script from my pharmacy for Imitrex) but it didn’t open until 9. I knew I wouldn’t live that long. And if you’ve ever had a migraine like this, you know what I’m talking about. An hour and half seemed like a lifetime. Five minutes seemed like an eternity. So I went downstairs and asked the concierge to hail me a cab to the ER. Yeah, good times. And, I had to ask the cabbie to pull over so I could puke next to a trash bin in an alley. Stay classy, Stef.
The ER was fun. All alone with puke on my sweater being asked by a nurse if I was homeless, had HIV, was a victim of domestic violence, wore a lot of pink and was one side of my body weak?
Then I was medicated with compazine, fluids, magnesium and NO MORPHINE because the dr. had read some dumb ass study that migraine pain can be fixed with magnesium. So, it did fix it but it took about an hour, which is like five days in migraine years.
Back at the hotel, I went and signed books at noon and met some of my favorite readers and blog writers. Too many to mention but hi to all of you who were nice enough to introduce yourselves to my post migraine self. If I seemed less than the friendliest, that is why.
Saturday night I went out briefly but my heart wasn’t really in it. I wanted to go home and see my family at that point. I was overstimulated, overestrogenated (new word – look it up, bitches) and tiiiiired. I did have some really great conversations with a few bloggers who I hadn’t known before but, like I said, not summercamp. But seriously, I’m 42, I’ve had my share of camp and I really didn’t need to sit around a campfire and listen to Dooce strum out an Indigo Girls song on her twelve string guitar while all the campers hovered around her with their cider and candles hanging on her every lilty little girl voiced lyric.
I’m so glad to be home.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on July 22, 2008 5:59 pm
When I was young(er) and single, before I met my husband, I couldn’t maintain interest in a new guy for longer than it took Jell-O to set. I’d go on a few dates, think I was falling for the guy only to disregard him for a superficial reason. Of course at the time, these reasons didn’t seem superficial and actually, looking back, I can kind of see that I was probably right. Here is a definitely incomplete list of those reasons:
1. Too passionate about bowling.
2. Once wore those crazy multi-colored MC Hammer pants.
3. Called me a “special lady.”
4. Was a member of a “smoked fish of the month club.”
5. Drank gin
6. Three words: puka shell necklace
7. Collected weird knick knacks that took up every available surface in his apartment.
8. Swished wine around in his glass before sipping it.
9. Drank canned soda through a straw.
10. Wore chapstick.
12. Owned every Tom Cruise movie.
13. Loved the Starship song, “We Built This City.”
14. Used a “buy one entree get the second half off” coupon at a restaurant he took me to.
15. Favorite phrase? YUMMY!
17. Actually told me that the Holocaust happened but was probably very exaggerated.
18. Referred to himself as “gifted.”
19. Slept on a yoga mat on his floor because it was “better for his back.”
20. Didn’t care for Woody Allen.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on July 16, 2008 9:21 pm