Not a Stay-at-Home Mom

It was decided long before Gypsy was born that I wouldn't be taking a long maternity leave, (unaffordable, not super-feasible with my gig and didn't really seem like something I'd want to do anyway). And so, I took three weeks off following Gypsy's birth. Not surprisingly, they FLEW by. Once they were over, I was actually feeling fairly ready to dive back into work life - but was thrilled to be permitted to work from home for a bit because C-sections are a bitch to recover from - and I wasn't really mentally ready to let Gypsy out of my sight. She still didn't even seem real.

I was very happy to be doing something other than sitting in my apartment on the couch watching television and it helps that I really like my job. Also... newborns sleep a lot - and while I love staring at Gypsy sleeping, there's only so much of this you can do in a day. Oh - and there's the fact that my apartment has become a claustrophobic clusterfuck of baby things. Anyway - work helped me get back into a groove - a routine, a semi-semblance of normalcy. It was good all-around... until it wasn't.

After about a month or so of spending my days on the couch with a laptop a puppy and a baby, I realized I was starting to go a bit stir-crazy in my pad and that I had more than taken advantage of my bosses' accommodations with respect to working from home for a bit. I also noticed that I couldn't stand the lack of social engagement on a day-to-day basis. It was abundantly clear to me at that point:

I am not a stay-at-home mom.

And so, I made a plan to get back into the office and I put it in writing. I didn't really articulate this as intelligently as I should've to my bosses in hindsight - but now I know why:

I was totally scared of going back to the office and leaving Gypsy behind. The thought of being away from her on a regular basis terrified me, despite knowing she'd be in phenomenal hands - her daddy's.

It wasn't a lack of trust - in fact it had nothing to do with John. I've already seen that he's my equal when it comes to parenting. It was straight-up separation anxiety. I had grown so used to being with Gypsy almost 24/7 that a change was really fucking scary, especially because I am so ridiculously in love with her that I can hardly handle it.

But I did it. I went back to the office - and you know what? It felt really, really good. I even loved my commute again! Being on the subway,  (and not driving) listening to music and people watching is kind-of awesome. So is setting foot into Manhattan - the busiest, loudest most interesting city in New York. It just felt right. Don't get me wrong - I missed Gypsy like crazy and obsessively texted, emailed and called my husband to make sure she was okay for the first few days, but I was able to enjoy being back in my office.

Apparently, I just had to get my feet wet with the whole 'leaving baby behind thing.'

What I realize now is that I am not and will never be a good stay-at-home mom. There are those that are built for it - but I'm just not. I need work. I need to leave the house. I need social interaction with other adults and I need a change of scenery. I am restless, I am curious and I am driven - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

In fact, I think I might be setting a good example for my daughter, even though she's not aware of it yet.

Plus... it helps to have a husband who LOVES the idea of being a stay-at-home dad.


Sleep Training is a GODSEND

As anyone reading this blog regularly knows, our little Gypsy hasn't been a great sleeper and has basically insisted on sleeping on us the vast majority of the time. We have accommodated her and I even trained myself to sleep on my back on the COUCH in order to do so - but I know this is NOT smart for a multitude of reasons. Namely:

  1. Anything can happen when you're sleeping and I can't be entirely sure she's protected. She could shift her position and wind up smothering herself. We all know this would be very, very bad. I don't need to go into great detail.
  2. I don't sleep well this way. In fact, I'm not entirely convinced I do any real sleeping at all this way. No sleep = crankypants.
  3. It isn't good for her. I mean come on - she's got to learn to sleep like a normal person at some point. At first we resorted to a swing - a lovely rock n' play that everyone raves about. It worked - kind-of... in that she'd sleep in it for short stints, (maybe an hour - two if we were really lucky), then wake up and demand the chest again. Again, not good for her and not that great for us either.
  4. My husband and I hadn't slept in the same bed for three months. THREE MONTHS. We slept in shifts. One of us was always on the couch with her and the other in bed. After a while, I realized it was easier for me to just stay on the couch most of the night. My left shoulder started hurting... a lot. It sucked. Again, no bueno. 
After three months of this nonsense, we realized something had to give.

At her two-month well visit, our pediatrician told us to begin sleep training. We looked at her like she had just asked us to sacrifice our baby to the devil. No way! Too young. I asked my Facebook friends what to do and got a mixed bag of responses. Many condoned sleep training. Others didn't. It was totally helpful and totally not because at the end of the day - I realized we had to do what was right for us and our daughter - because when you're a parent - you have to turn off the noise of everyone else's opinions and make your own.

That isn't to say the info I received wasn't helpful. It TOTALLY was. In fact, I did a ton of reading based on those recommendations and everyone else's experiences and ultimately, it helped me come to a conclusion with my husband one full month later:

It was time to sleep train this little girl.

And so we started. In fact, I believe we've now been on this quest for 9 days. Today will be day 10.

Good thing too, because we started about a few days shy of her three-month "birthday" and had just received an email from our pediatrician warning us about the failure to sleep train by three months. It was incredibly, incredibly ominous. Honestly, it sent a shiver down my spine.

Ultimately, we went with some type of sleep training that isn't quite as harsh, (I guess), which was more or less the Ferberization method.

Don't get me wrong - this method is still no picnic. You put your baby in the crib after a bedtime routine - and walk away - letting him/her cry it out for small increments at first - and gradually increasing over the next handful of days. You can go in and comfort your little one during those 5, 10, 15 min. increments but cannot take them out of the crib. As any mother will tell you - this goes against every cell of your being. Your instincts and hormones are BEGGING you to free your child from the confines of its baby jail. BEGGING. It is torture.

Anyway, I quickly realized that the so-called 'comforting' your baby didn't do much in the way of comforting - at least not with ours. Sometimes, it would make her cry louder and really dish out some of those desperate cries - the ones that brought me to tears. After about 3 or 4 days - we decided to truly let her just... cry it out.

And it worked! Each day, the crying lessened in both intensity and duration to the point where she would barely cry on-and-off for a little while each night. Then she regressed and had a really bad night of almost non-stop crying for two hours. I texted a smart girlfriend about it. She offered sage advice and told me to stick with it. I did - and cried with my daughter - but in the next room where she couldn't see or hear me. After a week + of this, I wasn't giving up. Last night was a huge improvement again. Not only is she not crying that much - but she's now regularly napping in her crib too - without much of a fuss. In fact, there was only a brief 10 minute crying fuss fest last night when we put her to bed - and then she slept pretty consistently until 3:00 a.m. - when she woke up for a feeding. Then she went right back to sleep - in her crib - without any fussing whatsoever. And then she did that again at 6:00 - slept pretty soundly until around 10 a.m.


So, I guess this opens me up to all kinds of criticism for being a heartless parent - for ignoring the needs of my child and putting my own needs first. Well, trust me when I tell you naysayers - Gypsy is sleeping better, is noticeably even happier, much more active and playful and we are MUCH better parents, because we are SLEEPING. Sleep is precious. I have never been a fan of it, until it was pretty much taken away from me for nearly three months. Now I have a brand new appreciation for it entirely.


Definitely Gonna Have to Move


I knew a move would ultimately be inevitable, but we may actually break our lease early in an effort to pre-empt Gypsy's crawling and walking firsts, because our current apartment just isn't conducive to either.

Our current apartment, (which we've now been in for 3 1/2 years), has treated us well. It has a yard. A YARD! That is almost unheard of in New York City. In fact, that's predominantly why we took this apartment pretty much sight-unseen save for a few pics when we moved cross country from California. It also has a sizable kitchen for a New York apartment - and is located in Park Slope, one of the nicest neighborhoods in Brooklyn - rife with more puppies and babies than anyone really knows what to do with.

We have adored living here, but the cons are starting to outweigh the pros.

  1. No room for Gypsy to walk or crawl.
  2. The only "room" available for Gypsy is a basement level space with no windows. (It's currently used to house tons of her things, including her Pack n' Play), but she rarely spends any time down there at all.
  3. Her crib is in our living room. (Adjacent to our bedroom which is separated by a couple of French doors that I'll be blacking out the windows of today as we progress with Night 2 of sleep training). Please reserve commentary naysayers. Thanks.
  4. Our living room is more or less, Gypsy's room. (See pics).
  5. Our living room isn't exactly baby safe. (See pics).
  6. We just purchased a new TV and ordered another cable box for our bedroom because we need the living room to serve as her bedroom for naps and of course, bedtime.
  7. We have shitty new upstairs neighbors. Pretty sure they're in their 20s and single. Might be trust funders because they don't seem to work... like ever. I'll let you do the math there.
  8. Our rent is obscene. OBSCENE. That is all you need to know.
  9. We're not a big fan of the uber-judge-y Park Slope parenting crowd. I was at a nearby bar recently and a woman overheard me discussing vaccines with another patron, (who happened to be wearing her baby) and offered unsolicited advice on the toxins in those vaccines and how to eliminate them homeopathically. (Don't get me wrong - it was well-intentioned and clearly she was trying to help), but the intense opinions and the my-way-is-best attitude here is enough to make any newbie mother feel like an inadequate disaster). I get the impression that a neighborhood we're currently eyeing wouldn't produce as many of these encounters.
  10. The neighborhood we're currently eyeing is cheaper - a LOT cheaper and apartments are more spacious - MUCH more spacious. Saving money and not feeling claustrophobic in our living room seem like very good things.
So that's where I'm at. Looks like we'll be moving sooner rather than later. Just need to get through my first trip away from my adorable little girl in March/April and then we get serious.

Hey - but look at Gypsy sleeping in her crib!!!



New Year, New Star Wars, New Baby.

(Wrote this about a week ago - so dates won't make sense).

Over the past month or so, I've asked my husband exactly two questions about his take on this whole resurrected Star Wars craze. (You've heard of it, right)?

1. Does it bother you that every-other-commercial features Star Wars and that you can't throw a stick without it hitting something Star Wars-related?

2. Did you hear what Lucas had to say about the new movie? And if so, I want your pre- and post-viewing opinion.

This line of questioning reminded me of why I fell for John Brian Fountain in the first place.

(This is a demented love letter, so be warned).

Let's start with John's answers: 

1. No.

Why I love this: John is, without question, a die-hard Star Wars fan. He loves every single movie. He doesn't bitch about any aspect of a single one of the first six made... EVER. He loves them all. He hasn't yet seen the seventh, but he will be (finally) tomorrow and I am very excited for him. I also think it's a phenomenal way to start the first day of 2016. I wish I could go with him but I can't and in a way, I almost think it's better. It's just him and the movie. That's it. No distractions.

2. Yes.

For those of you that didn't hear, apparently Lucas is a bit disappointed that the story isn't as relationship-focused as his vision for the franchise was always supposed to be -akin to a family soap opera.

Back to John's answer. (Bear in mind that I am paraphrasing and probably not doing his explanation/opinion justice).

John: Yeah, he sounds a little bitter, but I don't blame him.

Me: But he CHOSE to sell the franchise - after he probably made a fortune just from licensing to Disney for their theme parks and what not - not to mention countless other profitable licenses.

John: Yes, but he probably sold it somewhat reluctantly. For the past 10 years, he's had to put up with incessant slamming and vitriol coming from the same people who worshipped the first trilogy.

Me: Yes, but he chose to try to be successful in Hollywood and SUCCEEDED and anyone who goes down that path has to know that they're going to have to deal with a combo platter of love and hate. It goes with the territory.

John: But he couldn't have predicted that this world he'd create would have such a monumental impact... globally - and that decades later upon the advent of the Internet, he'd be subjected to an endless onslaught of hatred - in the form of outright insults to accusations that he has ruined people's lives to wildly offensive parodies. And not just online - in person too. That has to get to him. For there to be this hateful backlash to the world that HE created, to have to live with never being able to live up to every single fan's expectations... it can't be easy.

Me: Jesus. You're totally right. I guess I don't blame him for being a bit bitter either. So do you think you're going to like the new movie?

John: Yes.

And I hope to God he does. And I hope I do too, because my husband is totally 100% correct. George Lucas CREATED this whole entire world that everyone is gaga for... until they stamp their feet and decide that they could've written the latest screenplay better. In the meantime, when you stop to consider the millions his creation has had a monumental impact on, let alone the artists, filmmakers, etc. whose imaginations were ignited by Star Wars, it's pretty preposterous that he even has to deal with some of those same people raking him over the coals for expanding that universe in a manner they deem inappropriate.

So here's the thing. My husband's take on Star Wars is the same take he has on everything he truly loves: He loves hard and deep and forever. That's not to say he wouldn't admit it if he really hated any of the movies. He totally would... But he really loves them - all of them...

... and it makes me love him more.

And he's Gypsy's dad. :)

Side note: People hated the ending to Lost, including me. I find it all the more interesting that JJ Abrams directed the latest installment of Star Wars.
Another side note: Since writing this, John did in fact see the movie on New Year's day and gave it a B+. I have no idea when I'll get around to seeing it. Probably not until it's on On Demand or something.