Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Actual news, baby-wise

The boy sleeps through the night. All the way through the night. 7 pm to 7 am. If that's not news, nothing is.

Stewart asked if I was feeling "caught up" on sleep, and I told him to ask me in two weeks. Maybe I'll even start going to bed before midnight, and really rack up a few continuous hours. I've been mostly using it as a chance to get out of the house at 7 with Deborah or other friends, which is fun but not particularly restful. This week, for example, I'm going out tonight, Thursday, and Saturday. It's like I have a life!

In other baby news: send the universe a big "welcome" to Anya Rose Teller-Elsberg, aka: "Squirmy." She's here, and beautiful, and her parents are thrilled. As am I.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


The biggest miracle of my life is the new shape of my heart. I just saw a cartoon baby hug the snout of a cartoon mammoth and literally felt an ache in my chest.

I'm an embarassment.

Monday, March 20, 2006


As expected, I'm thinking about death a lot these days. I already checked Nate every hour or two when he was sleeping, and I now have to keep myself from going in even more frequently.

I get twinges in my calves, especially after a good walk, and I start waiting for the clot to hit my lungs or heart. I think about what would happen if I died, Nate stuck in his crib screaming and nobody coming for him.

I don't think I'm going to die, and I surely hope that Nate won't. But just in case, I want to post a few things for record-keeping purposes. I recommend that you all do the same - out of kindness for the family you'll leave behind if the worst should happen.

I want to be creamted, and my ashes buried in the ground somewhere nice. I want a casual service with people laughing and telling stories. I want Stewart to quit his job and stay home with our kids as long as possible. I want him to re-marry someone who will be nice to my kids.

I don't want to be kept on a ventilator if there's no chance of me becoming me again. I want to donate any usable organs.

Stewart will know where to find all of my important computer documents. All of our important papers are in the safe or in the files under my desk, and all of our important "contacts" are in my Outlook. I pay the bills on-line once a week. Don't forget about the ING accounts. Stewart should know all of my passwords. Mom has a copy of our will.

I intend to keep this site a secret from Nate until he's an adult (otherwise I can't write about his antics with a clear conscience). But if something happens to me, print out the monthly newsletters for him. Tell him that everything I did was for him.

Now, off to LIVE this life of mine. The laundry needs folding and the food needs cooking, and I'm so glad to get to do it.

Friday, March 17, 2006


It has been very hard to think about writing a new post, one that would move the post about my mother-in-law further down the page. "Oh sure, she died, but Nate made a squealing noise that was really cute!"

But I know, really know, that Fredi would want me to talk about Nate. When she called for updates, she used to ask for "verbs" about what he was up to.

In honor of Fredi...

* Nate is sitting for minutes at a time. Today he sat on the floor with his toys while I typed on the computer. Every time I looked around the corner of my screen and caught his eye, he grinned one of the grins that makes his cheeks bulge out.

* The boy is still teething and chewing on anything, and anyone, that he can get his fingers on. His first upper tooth finally cleared his gums, which brings his teeth total to three. A prodigy.

* He is whining on a fairly regular basis. I finally understand the phrase "sets my teeth on edge." But since he's absolutely gorgeous when he's upset, I can't be too mad at him.

He is sleeping decently. Tonight is night 3 of the big Cry-It-Out-A-Thon, and it's going well. Night one - 4 incidents of screaming (10 minutes each) before getting himself back to sleep. Night two - 3 incidents of screaming (2 minutes each) before getting himself back to sleep. Tonight is night three, and I haven't heard a peep in 4 1/2 hours. I'm still feeding him once around 5 a.m., but since he goes to bed at 7 and then sleeps again until 7 or 8, I can live with it for a little longer.

And I must join him in sleep. Dear Husband is visiting his father this weekend, so I head to a lonely bed. I'd rather he be there than here, but it's strange to sleep without him.

And on a very personal note, I know I haven't responded to e-mails or phone calls. By the time the boy is asleep, and I get caught up on taxes, bills, etc., I'm ready for bed. And People magazine. Plus, you guys know how I get when I'm sad. I promise to get in touch soon. Promise.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Most grievous loss

My mother-in-law Fredi Davis died unexpectedly of a pulmonary embollism on Tuesday, just hours before she was heading to DC to see us. She had said that Nate was changing too quickly, and she couldn't go any longer without a visit.

Fredi was my friend. A true trusted companion. She was gentle, supportive, steady, compassionate, loving, kind, and true. She had high standards for herself and the people around her. She saw everyone as they were, warts and all, yet somehow she only focused on the good parts. She never, ever had a bad word to say about anyone, but she was nobody's fool. She was as honest a Christian as I've ever heard of; every Passover I received a card from her. I celebrated Chanukah at her house this past year. Whenever I was at her home for dinner, she made sure to say a blessing from the Old Testament instead of the New. She was thrilled to be getting a Jewish grandson.

Fredi and her husband John at our wedding:


Our wedding was happening on her farm, so when I was planning it she went with me and my Mom to every appointment in Charlottesville. She clearly had opinions that differed from mine, but she always supported what I wanted to do. She always found ways to make her opinion known, though. She was never one to meekly go along. Some people found her bossy, but she and I were always straight with each other, and I don't think either of us ever resented the other.

She was planning to come up and help out after Nate was born. But after my Mom had been there for two weeks, I was really ready to have my home back and try it by myself. When Nate was about a week old, they came up to see him. I told her, as nicely as I could, that I'd really rather she didn't plan on coming up and helping. She said that was just fine with her.

About a month later, she came up to see us for the day, but didn't want to stay overnight. I was worried that I'd offended her by asking her not to come, so I decided to just ask her if I had. She smiled and said "Actually, I was quite relieved!" Fredi had such an active retired life, with so many hobbies, that she didn't want to skip a whole week.

Here's Fredi and John with their children and grandchildren the day of our wedding:


Fredi rode horses, participated in a book club, volunteered all around town, and was an incredibly active Grandmother. She had five children and 13 grandchildren, and was constantly visiting them around the country, helping out when someone was sick, sending birthday and Valentine's day cards, and hosting family get-togethers. She was the glue that kept our family together, in every sense of the word. She pushed, cajoled, and helpfully "suggested" ways for everyone to be together. She was my organizational hero.

I am so sad that my husband has lost his Mom. She was the love of his life. I am so sad to have lost a source of love and support for myself and for my son. I am so sad for all of us.

I'm not sad for Fredi. She died so content, so secure and happy. She never put life off. She lived it fully, completely, contently, and thoroughly. If you asked me to name one person I'd ever known who, if they died suddenly would have no regrets, it would be Fredi. And I really feel she knew how well loved she was by her husband, her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins...and by me. We'd all taken time, over the years, to write her letters that expressed our feelings. I know this because I found all of them when I was going through her boxes yesterday. She kept them, and that means she knew, and keeps me from having regrets.

I love her. I will honor her, and miss her, every single day of my life.


Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Monthly Newsletter, Month Six

Dear Nate,

You are halfway through your first year. I can't believe it's only been 6 months! It seems like you've been with us forever.

You had a lot of family time this month. We spent a week in Aruba with your Grandma Jill, and Grandpa, and Aunt D. It was wonderful for all of us. You grin every time you see your Grandpa, and you are so comfortable and happy with Grandma Jill and Aunt D. They all love you so much!

Aruba was a lot of "firsts" for you - you swam in a kiddie pool and a big pool. Funny enough, you hated the kiddie pool but loved the big pool. When we tried to put you in the kiddie pool you cried, and cried. We even tried putting your bathtub in the pool first, and then putting you in the tub so it would feel familiar, but that just pissed you off. Aunt D figured out that you liked being held in the big pool, and we had a lot of fun after that.

You also got to dig your toes in the sand and feel the sand. You seemed to really like it!

Your Daddy laughed at me for covering you up so much, but the thought of an already sleepless baby getting a sunburn made me cringe. I love you so much Nate, but you're a lot of work already! I didn't need you to get sick, too.

You are so inquisitive and curious. You want to grab everything in sight and in reach. In Aruba, Daddy was trying to take a nice photo of us, but you were busy grabbing for the rocks I was leaning against!

Your hair is filling in a tiny bit, but mostly you still have that one tuft on the top of your head. Your Daddy said that you look like a radish. We love our little radish!

You're sitting up now, and it makes it so much easier for you to get your hands on your toys. You're not stable enough to leave alone yet, but you can really balance now - even when you reach for a toy and pull it to your mouth. This gives Mama the option of putting you on the bed with some toys while she gets dressed using both of her hands! This makes your Mama happy.

You have perfected what we call your "teradactyl scream." When you're happy, you open your mouth wide and make this squealy noise at the ceiling. It's such a horrible sound, but I love it. I love that you're happy, and calling it out for everyone to hear.

In the last few weeks, you have come to clearly prefer your Mama, and I can't deny that it makes me feel good. You have also finally started to cuddle with everyone, just a bit. When I hold you and walk with you, you no longer keep your arms stretched out to the side like you're balancing (I must admit that it offended me a bit when you did that, like you didn't trust me!). You casually rest a hand on my arm, and when you're tired you even lay your head down on my shoulder.

You are an expert teether. No fussing, no waking, no nothing - just two little teeth popping through.

A long time ago, Mama had a boss who loved children. He finally had a son, and dreamed of taking his son to the beach for the first time. When his son was a year old, they finally took a trip to the beach. They walked to the sand, spread out their blanket, and put the boy down. The son walked off the edge of the blanket onto the sand, stopped, picked up his foot, brushed the sand off, and refused to leave the blanket for the rest of the vacation. Mama thought of that story when you delightfully squished your hands and feet into the wet sand. I am so glad that you're a boy who is going to grab at life, and squish your hands through it. I'll do anything I can to help.


Saturday, March 4, 2006


It's a little disconcerting how much I've changed. Things that used to bother me don't seem to anymore, and things that never did, well...

I'm catching up on what Tivo stored for me while we were in Aruba. I'm watching last week's Lost, and there's a sick baby stranded on an island with his Mom. Obviously no access to antibiotics, doctors, hospitals. My chest is so tight right now; it's all I can do not to turn off the show.

How I'm different than before he was born:

* I'm patient beyond my wildest expectations. The miracle hasn't extended to traffic situations, but with him for sure.

* I can turn off the TV mid-show if he needs me, or I need to get something done before he wakes up.

* I'm getting by well and happily on an absurdly small amount of sleep.

* I'm motivated as heck, in my personal life and my professional life.

* I'm happy.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Photos from the outpost

Nate at the pool with his Grandma

Toes in the sand for the first time!

Swimming with Mama

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Dispatches from the outpost

Life is tough on a desert island. The heat, the sun, the wind. I don't know how we're standing it.

Aruba is certainly hot, and extremely sunny. The wind blows constantly, on and off the beach. It all works together to create a really pleasant vacation spot - the wind is so soothing and keeps it from feeling as hot as it is.

Nate is not doing so hot, but that's to be expected. The flights here were not so easy or smooth, and his sleep/nap schedule is gone to hell (I generally think it's extremely tacky to curse in public, or in a blog, so I refrain, but "hell" is the only place that adequately describes our circumstances.) I woke Stewart up at 6 a.m. crying that I wanted to go home. Crying while holding our EXTREMELY AWAKE and happy son. At 6 a.m. Blech. Stewart saved the day by ushering me back into bed and disappearing with the happy child for quite some time. Our early-morning excursion is now an early afternoon one, but boy did I need the sleep.

We're in a hotel, so I can't let the kid cry for even a minute (I refuse to be one of those people whose baby affects the sleep of innocent bystanders). At home, if he woke an hour after I put him down, I'd let him cry for a few minutes and he'd put himself back to sleep. Now I have to nurse him back to sleep every time he wakes, which is every 2 hours now. And I'm so tired that I fall asleep nursing him in bed, so he's basically co-sleeping. And I hate it, hate it, hate it.

If any of you are co-sleepers, please let me know how you do it. Comments are open. I think Nate is eating so much more frequently since he's sleeping cuddled up with my exposed boob. Who wouldn't eat? Put me in bed with a quarter pounder with cheese, and that burger isn't going to last 3 minutes. No matter what time of night it is. No matter when I last ate. I also fall asleep in these terribly contorted positions, with one arm behind and above me, and my neck cricked at a funny angle, and then 90 minutes later I wake, in pain, to something sucking on me. It's horrible.

How do you do it?