Category Archives: Reflection

A little more on sleep

Sometimes you come across sentiments so in line with your own heart, and so much more eloquently written, that you need to share them. As we continue to work out what sleep looks like for Del, and tangentially for me and Zach, I find this mother’s “sleep method” to be the ground on which I will sit. The entire post is worth reading, but here are some parts that particularly resonate for me.

“Sometimes we want comfort because something bothers us. Sometimes we’re rocked by the waves of life and battered by stresses. Sometimes we cling to those we love because we seek solace in comfort. Sometimes we cry because of pain or discomfort but find peace and calm in the arms of someone that we are close to. This applies to adults who have all the words in the world to communicate their needs and to understand them. To adults who have had years to fine-tune their ability to self comfort.

Since you have no words, I do not know the meaning behind your cries. And since you are an infant, I do not choose to attribute malice or aforethought to your cries that soothe as soon as I pick you up. I do not view you as a cunning little creature that wishes to interfere with my life by insisting on being near me.”

Think about the last time you wanted or needed the physical comfort of another person’s nearness. If snuggling, spooning, or otherwise linking your body to your spouse’s in your sleep is not something you desire, you might not understand – but you’re in a very small camp if  you don’t. There is no manipulation involved when I lay my head on my husband’s chest. Likewise, there is none involved when my child – who not too long ago lived nestled within my body – reaches for me.

“I cannot think of any reason why I should feel okay letting you lay there screaming. Yes, I need sleep. Of course I need sleep. And I snatch that sleep where I can. Yes, I like sleep. I love sleep. I’ve acquired that taste for lazy days of lounging around in bed. Lazy days that I can’t remember the last of. I have words to vocalize these needs of mine. I have people that I can speak with, and I can even make a stab at  saying it eloquently. “I need sleep.” Sometimes I’m so tired that I could cry with that need for sleep.

I am grown. I am strong. I understand the passage of time and that THIS will pass. You will sleep. Your infancy is the briefest part of the brief time that you are a child in need of my arms.”

There is really nothing I do that is so important I cannot either do it while a little bit tired, or pause it now to help my child and later again to take a nap myself. Were I a president, or a doctor, or a a genius with a gift the world needed it might be different. My talents and skills will still be there, and the pleasures and activities I enjoy will still be there … this few months to be tired is not too much for me.

“You learn that your bed is a safe place to be while awake. When you fuss or cry I pick you up and tell you “I know, you want to be held right now.” You learn that your bed is not a place where you are abandoned, but rather a place that you can happily be while awake.

I nurse you when you need to nurse, trusting you to know your needs and your hunger.

I smile at you and talk to you about how snuggly and warm your pajamas are. How sleepy and relaxed you look. I stroke your cheek and let you savor the sleepiness as you drift off feeling safe.”

I am not “ruining” or “spoiling” my child. I am teaching him how to sleep, how to trust that the world around him is safe while he sleeps, how to enjoy and appreciate sleep. Del’s crib is beside our bed now, and he is learning to wake, see us, and be comforted with a quick touch during the night. I know when he wakes from hunger because my breasts are full. He nurses and falls back to sleep as if he never woke, and I can move him back to his crib. And then I snuggle up to Zach, and our family sleeps.


Del at 6 months

This might be my favorite stage yet, in spite of the new set of challenges of changing sleep patterns and teething that strike about now. Del is getting so playful, opinionated and “interactive”. His interests and personality are beginning to emerge and every day reveals some new little thing he learns or discovers. Also, I did a set of 6 month photos that I am very proud of.

A few new facts about you, Del:

  • You’re sitting up! It’s just the most adorable thing ever, and happened almost overnight. After just a week or so of helping you balance, you had the whole thing down. The coolest part is watching you fold all the way to the floor, then lift yourself back up.
  • You weigh 17 lbs 8 oz. – staying right in that 50th percentile range.
  • You are getting too chubby for your Bumbo chair, but it’s still in use. I think we’re going to need a full on high chair soon though!
  • You are Mr. Social, always interested in people you meet, and you hate to go to sleep when people are over. You like to be in on the action.
  • You are still nursing – which I think puts us in the minority of moms and babies who nurse past 6 months. I love nursing and you’ve gotten very good and comfortable with it. It’s very easy and natural, and I look forward to several more months of this.
  • You’re eating solids now and you seem to love this new adventure. So far you’ve had sweet potatoes, bananas, avocado, pears and carrots. You loved everything but carrot – the carrots made you grimace and spit.
  • We have to much more deliberate with your sleeping these days to make sure you get enough sleep. You’re a light sleeper during the day – I blame the construction across the street, but it might just be your little Rabbit temperament. And we’re working on getting you to accept an earlier bedtime. It has not been easy.
  • You love swimming!  Thanks to Dad’s bathtime practices, you are so relaxed and happy in the water that you lay on your back and kick like mad. With Dad’s help, you are even  beginning to float on your own, to the amazement of your parents and the other parents at the pool.
  • You still love Somebunny for naps and bedtime. And now that you’re rolling around and sitting up, even more toys are fun to you. You especially like the mirror on your playmat, and a set of fabric blocks that Don & Linda brought to you.
  • You’re a little jabberer but no words yet. I am pretty sure you know some words though – when I say or sign milk, you nestle down to nurse. We are going to begin working on some more signs now.

My little Red Bean, here you are at 6 months:

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“meh” for Mother’s Day

Contributing writer Letty Tomlinson on ambivalence and a well-deserved nap.

from Hallmark with love

“Happy Mother’s Day,” a friend greeted me with at church on the 13th.  “Oh, right. Yeah. Thanks,” I replied. Then I added, “I almost forgot. … I have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day.” (Full disclosure:  I have mixed feelings about many holidays.) The day to honor mom this year has already passed, but it’s still May and as this is a mother-oriented blog, I assume it might still be on some readers’ minds.

Why the mixed feelings? Or, more aptly, wariness? I can’t help but view Mother’s Day through the lenses of personal experience: life as a child of a mother, my time trying to become a biological motherhood, and life as a mother.

As a little girl, Mother’s Day was pretty easy. I didn’t have to remember the date. Inevitably, in school we’d make some sort of craft involving flowers to take home to Mom. Dad would take us shopping for cards and on Sunday, Mom would get a corsage to wear. As I got older and the burden of Mother’s Day fell on my shoulders, it began to feel a little bit like Mommy-Valentine’s day. Continue reading

hiaku for a hobby

i knit for my child

because otherwise i would

have no excuses.

Four reasons I love breastfeeding

A week or so ago I sat in a bright classroom in downtown DC with about twenty other mothers, all of us with our babies on our laps, in slings, or on the floor in front of us. All of the babies were between 4 and 9 months old, and most were first babies, a few were second babies. It was a class at the Breastfeeding Center on breastfeeding your 4-12 month old. The moms in this class were mostly calm, mostly at ease with their chubby, curious babies, and mostly in love with breastfeeding. By way of contrast, just a month or so prior I had attended the weekly meeting of moms whose babies were 0-3 months old – sleepy-eyed, stoic, with delicate infants clinging to them. In that class, moms gather like soldiers on day-leave, drinking each others’ support like liquor to steel themselves for the return to the front. By the 4-12 month class, these moms are confident and composed, battle-tested officers at ease in their field. It’s a rite-of-passage, getting from earnest new mother to comfortable mama. It shows in the faces of those who’ve made it. It feels good to be here. Continue reading

Cross post from Amanda

Amanda has written for Woah Baby a few times, and remains my hero when it comes to writing a meaningful and engaging blog. She’s expecting her first baby ANY DAY NOW and just wrote this amazing post about her expectant state. With her permission I share it here, and I encourage you to follow her blog if you don’t already.

You know how pop culture tells you pregnancy is a 9-month-long affair?

Pop culture is full of shit.

Your due date is set for week 40 of your pregnancy. 40 weeks, divided by 4 weeks a month… that’s 10 months. Yep.

I’m currently in the middle of week 38. And at this point, pregnancy has turned into a waiting game. When will she make her appearance? Today? Tomorrow? In 4 weeks? (Docs usually wait til week 42 to induce labor, barring any complications.)

Here’s the thing: Patience has never been my strong suit.

But I gotta say, I think I’ve been pretty fucking heroic in terms of patience these past few weeks, amidst increasing physical discomfort. Really, at this point, pregnancy just starts to feel like one indignity after another. To wit: I’ve previously mentioned my middle-of-the-night crab-walks to the bathroom; well, they’re only getting worse. The pain is excruciating — truly, searing pain from the pressure on my bladder, to the point that I’m afraid I won’t be able to walk the five feet to the bathroom and will need Jordan to bring me a chamber pot or something. (Note: We do not own a chamber pot.)

Chamber pot: not on our registryAdd to that: feet and ankles that are fat and swollen (the only shoes that fit these days are flip flops); dull pain in my left hip and thigh that makes it impossible to lie on my left side (sciatica?); a belly so itchy you’d think it was covered in poison ivy; and, lately, recurring (mild) headaches. Walking around the block exhausts me, and I gave up on the subway a few weeks back because the stairs were just killing me — so now we’re slowly spending our life savings on cabs to and from Manhattan for our weekly doctor’s appointments. Oh, and I snore so loudly that Jordan needs to wear ear plugs in order to sleep.

Hooray! The miracle of life!

Now, I know I sound negative, but I’ve actually been pretty Zen about all this. I don’t constantly feel sorry for myself or complain. First, I’m grateful that she’s healthy, and I’m healthy — I’ll take discomfort over serious health issues any day. Second, my friend Katie advised me to think about this phase of pregnancy (and labor… and new-parenthood…) as a yoga practice, and that metaphor really works for me: These discomforts are like challenging yoga poses, and I need to breathe my way through them, rather than fight them, resent them, hate them. Kicking and screaming just exhausts you and makes you unhappy. Giving up — well, you can opt out of a difficult pose in yoga class, but there’s no opting out of the reality of my body these days. Acceptance, while difficult, is really the only path forward. That said, as with a difficult yoga pose — you can and should certainly make adjustments, and breathe, to find equanimity; suffering is not the goal. The goal is to be able to coexist peacefully with discomfort, and maybe to discover potential and abilities you didn’t know you had. And if I can do that now, my chances of doing it during labor, and as a new mom, are bound to increase.

Also, as much as I want the Hirschling to make her grand debut, so that (a) I can finally meet her! and hold her! and (b) I can end the discomfort of pregnancy, I also realize that as soon as she comes, I will miss this. There is a sweetness to these days, and sometimes it’s hard to see beneath all the discomfort, but — Jordan and I will never be on the verge of having our first baby, ever again. We are on the cusp of something huge, and when we look back, from the other side, it will be hard to remember what it felt like.

It feels like: Let’s go on a lot of dates, even though it means springing for a taxi or taking two buses to get to our destination, since I can’t take the subway. Let’s cook dinner and eat it with Cosmo lying on his spot on the carpet, waiting for permission to get up and sniff for any crumbs we might have dropped. Let’s watch multiple episodes of “Parks and Recreation” or “Bored to Death” or “Breaking Bad” and eat ice cream (well, Stonyfield organic frozen yogurt) on the couch. Let’s sit on the deck and listen to the rain on the roof. Let’s read in bed, with Cosmo at our feet, until we tell him it’s time for bed, at which point, he dutifully climbs down the pet stairs to his dog bed, below.

Let’s try to relax, as terrified as we are, as excited as we are, as expectant as we are.

“Expectant” is the right word; truly, it’s not just me that’s pregnant — our lives are pregnant. With anticipation. With wondering. We’re scared of the change ahead of us, no matter how many workshops we may teach on rolling with the punches. We know we’ll roll — it’s what we do, and we probably do it better than most…not that it’s a competition, but it’s a strength we have, as a couple.

But — what we’ve had for these almost-13 years of marriage, and these almost-18 years of being together, is so special, and we’re worried that she will jeopardize that. That having a child will jeopardize our freedom to pursue our creative interests, our passion for travel, our need for down time.

We embarked on this journey because — well, for a lot of reasons, that are hard to sum up in a sentence, or two, or three. And now, with my due date just over a week away… it’s like staring down a path that curves, and you can’t see around the bend, no matter how much you strain; and you can’t help straining to see, no matter how much you realize that straining is silly… that it’s just a matter of taking a step, and then another, and another.

Other travelers tell you what they’ve seen, but their words don’t conjure your own journey; you know you’ll see something different, through your own eyes. That the terrain will feel different, under your feet.

And you worry: what dangers might there be? Maybe you should have stayed home, should have avoided this journey altogether.

(That is a hard thing to write. It makes me feel like a bad person. But it’s the truth.)

And then — she kicks, and our faces light up, and metaphors melt away. Fear and doubt melt away. She isn’t an abstraction — she’s… her. And I am overcome with yearning — the yearning to HOLD her, after all this time. And a feeling of peace comes over me, the peace that comes from faith… my deep and abiding faith in anything that grows from our love.

And so… we wait.

[Chamber pot photo by Flickr user Walter Aue. All other photos are by Jordan or me.]

Amanda Hirsch uses social media and snappy writing to increase the visibility, reach and impact of Good Things, from indie media projects to cultural organizations and health/wellness start-ups.

In addition, she is the co-founder (with husband, Jordan) of THINK IMPROV, a company that grew out of their workshops at SXSW (audience favorite 2010). They help people apply the concepts of improv comedy to improve their lives and work.

Follow Amanda on Twitter @Amanda_Hirsch, and her blog at

Del at 4 months

My baby is changing so fast! I just managed to shoot his 4 month pictures and wow! (Ok, I also got a new lens for my camera today so am not only gushing over my baby but also over the lens.) But this is the mommy blog, not the photography blog, right? Here’s our little guy – look at the differences since last month!

A few new facts about you, Del:

  • You are STRONG! You like to stand on your chubby little legs with someone helping you balance.
  • You weigh 15 lbs 3 oz.
  • You really like your Bumbo chair, and sit in it on the kitchen counter while I clean or cook.
  • You’re interested in almost everything, and look intently at trees, television, pictures of yourself, and your mom and dad.
  • You are still nursing like a champion, and love to snuggle in bed to nurse and nap.
  • You’ve been much more restless at night lately, waking often to eat. But still just cat naps during the day most of the time. Which can make it hard to get housework or photowork done sometimes.
  • You hang out with dad when I go to photo shoots, and you kind of give him a hard time sometimes. But you take your bottle well, and you like when he takes you on walks.
  • You like lots of toys now! Your special ones are a soft white bunny from Auntie Kristi (named Somebunny), a cloth rattle with bright pictures on each end, and the playmat on loan from your friend Violet.
  • You’ve started making a whole new sound: screeching. You love to do it, it’s loud, and sometimes you scare yourself. Other times you make yourself laugh.
  • And you laugh A LOT! Things that make you laugh: if someone screeches back to you, being bounced on the bed, being bounced while you stand up with help, and sometimes just mom making silly words and faces to you.
  • You can hold and chew on your toes, and you love doing it. It’s so adorable.
  • You still don’t really care for long photo shoots.

So, Red Bean, you, at 4 months:

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