Bringing Up Baby

Documenting the baby makin' experience. From Trying to Conceive, to Bringing Up Babies, I share all the laughs and all the horror.

I'm Jess, I'm 32 years old, I live in Minneapolis with The Husband, Jack (the girl dog with a boy name), and our little dudes, Cormac (Mac) and Fitzgerald (Fitz). They're awesome...in case you were wondering.

If you're interested, my primary blog is Scattered Jigsaw Thoughts.

Feel free to Ask Me Anything

Or you can just email me: sutherslat {at} gmail {dot} com




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I’m not someone who has a whole lot of pride. I’m not the type to pretend that my life is anything other than what it is. I tend to be straightforward and ask for help if and when I need it. But even I have hit a new low.

Yesterday I found out that a job I really wanted and thought I was a shoo-in for didn’t go to me after all. This job would have allowed me to stay at home with the boys as well as continue to nanny for friends of ours. It paid well, was right in my wheelhouse, and could be worked at odd hours. When I found out I didn’t get it, I was devastated. Everything I had planned for September forward went up in a puff of smoke. And I was ashamed to tell my husband I didn’t get the gig because just a week before I snapped at him for not believing in me because I was SURE I would get the job.

So I sat with the news by myself for a few hours. I scrambled. I spent 2 hours digging through job posting sites and applying for anything I seemed remotely qualified for (I’m pretty sure trained monkeys and I are applying for the same jobs). And then my husband came home and I confessed the bad news and he was wonderfully supportive and sympathetic, despite my irrational fear that he wouldn’t be. We strategized together to come up with different feasible scenarios, and among the employment options we settled on was contacting my former company to see if any positions were available.

If you’re new here and don’t know the back story, in 2009 (while pregnant with Mac) I was laid off from my position as marketing manager. I was offered a sales job instead, but the salary was so low and the commission so iffy, I feared it would be too easy to fire me and I wouldn’t make enough money through Unemployment to support our family. So I accepted the lay off and parted ways amicably with the company a month later (which, if you know me, you know is MIRACULOUS that I didn’t burn those bridges). I continued to do a little bit of freelance work for them and maintained good friendships with several employees, but it doesn’t change how I felt. I was angry. I was hurt. I felt betrayed. I spent a lot of time talking mad shit about the company.

One of our good friends ended up buying into the company and becoming part owner. Yesterday, my husband contacted him to see if any positions were available for me to at least partially telecommute (now that I’ve got other friends relying on me as a part-time nanny, telecommuting is particularly important). To say this was a pride swallowing experience is an absolute understatement. It’s like we had to swallow our pride, barf it up, stomp on it and grind it into the ground, and then swallow it again. To have to use a friend to see if there are any opportunities available at the company I was convinced had wronged me was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

I’m ashamed. I’m embarrassed. I’m overwhelmed. How have I gotten here? How has every turn I’ve taken been the wrong one from the get-go? Why did I continue with my major in English in college once getting a position as a high school teacher at my dad’s school was no longer an option? Why didn’t I work harder to pursue a viable career once I graduated? Why didn’t I use my connections to get another career after I was laid off? Why did I assume a job was all I could do?

I don’t know what to do, you guys. I feel like I’ve painted myself into a corner. My old company has a position available, but there are no telecommuting opportunities and it hardly pays enough to cover the cost of daycare which means our family income would take a huge hit and it already feels like we scraping by. The position is also a serious demotion from my former position within the company. But do I wave farewell to my pride and take it, for the sake of building some semblance of a career? Do I continue to hustle and figure out ways to make money from home? Do I cross my fingers and hope I find a viable work-at-home opportunity before the end of August? Do I continue to nanny and accept that I’m basically forever going to be a glorified babysitter?

I’m ready to hand over control of my life, because clearly I’m incapable of making good decisions for myself and I don’t know how many more hits my pride can take. How do I adult?

*ETA: I don’t really expect you guys to solve my problems. I just need to whine to the universe. Just so we’re clear.

I find that most people I know would say they don’t regret anything in their lives. That they might be sad about situations or decisions, but they don’t regret them because they grew from the experience.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I regret some stuff. Yes, plenty of my bad decisions were actually learning experiences and while I wish I could have learned those lessons differently, it’s still probably good that I went through it. But I have some serious regret over the way I’ve handled friendships in my life and every so often, I find myself mulling things over and wondering why I couldn’t just behave differently and how I can keep my kids from making the same mistakes I did.

I know now how important friends are. I know that friendships aren’t easy to find anymore and that having people around you who truly know you at your best and worst is invaluable. Someone who will simultaneously support you and call you on your bullshit is an absolute gem. My oldest friendship is my best friend from high school, so we’ve been together for I think 17 years at this point. That’s a really long time and I am so grateful for her friendship and for putting up with me for all these years (I have pulled so much shit on her, you guys. I’m the worst), but when I think about the friendships I’ve thrown away that pre-date her or that occurred simultaneously, I can’t help but feel regret and sadness.

I’m friends with my best friend from grade school on facebook. I’m friends with her brothers. They were practically my extended family. Growing up, if I wasn’t at my house or my grandparents’ house, I was probably at her house. I spent so much time over there just hanging out and being a general nuisance. But something happened after 6th grade. Maybe something happened IN 6th grade. I don’t really remember. But by the time we got to middle school, we just weren’t friends anymore. I don’t even remember if there was a catalyst for the friendship ending, but I know that grown up Jess wishes 12-year-old Jess fought for that friendship. It was a friendship worth fighting for.

And then there was high school. I’m ashamed at how many friendships I threw away as a teenager. I was so angry and thought the world was against me and I was against the world. I was depressed and felt misunderstood and at the smallest slight, I not only threw friendships away, I burned them to the ground. There are a few girls I keep up with on facebook and every day, as I read their updates, I regret being such a bitch and throwing away something so valuable.

I hope my boys are like my husband and know the value of friendship from the beginning. I hope these kids they’ve spent all this time growing up with are still their friends 20 years from now. I hope they allow each other to grow and change while still maintaining a place for each other in their lives. I hope they let small mistakes roll off their back instead of making them into a bigger deal than they are. I hope they fight for their friendships and put in the work to maintain them. I hope they’re better than me in so many ways.

  1. A few nights ago, Mac was burning off some energy before bed and pretending to be a T-Rex. He was walking around the house roaring and stomping and…ya know…being a dinosaur (that probably didn’t require explanation, huh?). After watching him for a minute or two, suddenly Fitz started scrambling out of my lap and began stomping around after Mac. He tried holding out his arms the same way Mac did and was roaring the way Mac was. It dawned on us that he was imitating Mac. And then, obviously, the 4 of us all made complete fools of ourselves and all pretended to be dinosaurs, because who can resist the cuteness of a little brother wanting to play just like his big brother?
  2. Two nights ago Fitz was being sort of high maintenance at bedtime. Normally, I put him to bed 10-15 minutes before Mac so that he can fall asleep in the crib before Mac gets in there. But on Tuesday, he got his leg stuck in between the crib bars and then was just generally a pill and so I couldn’t get him down before Mac. So we ended up putting Mac to bed and then putting Fitz down 5 minutes later after I nursed him one last time. He fell asleep within minutes. Last night, I did the usual routine of trying to put him down before Mac but it just wasn’t happening. So then the wheels started turning and I wondered if it was because he wanted Mac in there. You guys, it totally was. Once Mac was in bed, Fitz went down No. Problem.

For months I’ve been talking about how sweet these boys are together and how much Fitz adores his big brother. And now, there’s like real tangible proof that these brothers are bonded. Watching Fitz idolize his big brother and yearn for his big brother in such obvious ways gives me overwhelming heart explosions of love and pride. These boys of mine are so awesome.

This past weekend we were out at my parents’ house while The Husband went to a beer/rib festival. We ran around the yard and flew kites and picked berries and built a dinner around veggies picked from the garden and went for a boat ride and played in the swing and basically had a fantastic time.

I never saw myself as much of a country girl. I spent the first 5 years of my life in the city and was raised in a relatively urban suburb and currently live in the city again. 5 years ago I would’ve claimed I was a city girl through and through. But spending weekends out in the country and watching my kids run free and safe around my parents’ multi-acre property has changed my perspective. I don’t know that I’d call myself a “country girl” per se, but I am definitely drawn to the wide open spaces at this point in my life.

I love the convenience of the city — several parks within walking distance, restaurants galore at our fingertips, few things further than a bike ride away. But oh, the appeal of a front porch in the country at sunrise and a river to dip your toes in is hard to deny.

In the next year, it’s likely we’ll be making some moves in this family and it’s time for us to really decide what we want and where we want to live. With young kids who love to play in the wide open, it’s hard to see ourselves anywhere other than the country, though…

I had to call my grandma yesterday to get her potato salad recipe. My husband and brother and some friends are going to a beer and rib festival in Wisconsin and I’m a little unclear on how this festival works, but for some reason people provide sides to go with the ribs. Anyway, despite hating potato salad, I’ve offered to help the boys make it and evidently my grandma has the best recipe.

ANYWAY.

I called her up and we were chatting for a while and trading complaints (her hot water heater broke in the house they’re trying to sell, I spend all day with an 11-month old baby who makes my ears bleed with her constant tantrums. My grandma obviously won that round.) and I happened to mention to her that some sleepless nights have led me to senselessly worry about life’s minutiae. Since grandmas in general are pretty much the most awesome people and mine in particular is one of the world’s best, she calmly talked me off the edge without ever making me feel like I was acting ridiculous. The woman managed to keep 7 kids alive and thriving and while there may have been weekly trips to the E.R. and more trips than she’d like to admit to the local jail, each one of them managed to make it to adulthood and be contributing members of society. So basically, I think she knows what she’s doing.

There’s something about a woman who has seen it all telling you that you’re doing a great job and worry is normal and feeling overwhelmed is normal and overcoming these all-consuming worries is also normal that just resonates more than anything anyone esle can say. My grandma has such a skill for reassuring me that everything I’m feeling is totally normal and I’m not being ridiculous, but also reminding me that I’m basically being ridiculous and I’ll get over whatever it is I’m going through. She’s totally amazing.

She also told me I should probably drink more. See you guys? She’s awesome.

Every day I think about how lucky I’ve been to have such incredible grandparents. My other set of grandparents died when I was 16 but I still had a very close relationship with them (my grandma in particular) and I feel so grateful to have gotten to know my current set of grandparents as an adult. I hope that one day when my kids are in their 30s, they have grandparents they can call on for a gentle reality check. And a killer potato salad recipe.

PSA

I’ve talked about Fabletics before and how much I like their clothing. I imagine it’s good workout wear, but I really love it for socially acceptable comfort wear. Jeans are for suckers, y’all.

Anyway, I’ve been feeling only ok about my recent purchases. Like, there’ll be one item I love, but the others I’m mostly “meh” about and I’ve been making a lot of returns and exchanges lately. But this month was a Fabletics home-run.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of joining Fabletics, this is the month to do it. I just got the following items and I LOVE all of them:

High Intensity Print Moro Short

High Intensity Print Ayni Sports Bra

Mint Julep Camo Aventura Tank

I love love love every single item, but especially those High Intensity Print items. Seriously, it was really hard not to buy every item in such a fun print. Anyway, they have some other really cute options this month (I’m really interested in the Gaviota Capri) so if you’ve been thinking about testing out the Fabletics waters, I think this is the month to do it.

(If you decide to sign up, I’d appreciate it if you’d use my referral link. Please and thank you!)

How do you decide what to worry about? As a parent, the worries seem limitless. The other day, I stumbled upon a blog post about how sleepovers for kids should be banned because of the dangers posed to our kids via predatory older brothers or creepy dads or skeezy cousins. You guys — that didn’t even occur to me. HOW DID THAT NOT OCCUR TO ME? And no, I’m 99% sure I won’t be banning sleepovers, but still. Do I now worry about that? How much energy can I devote to worrying about that? I’ve taught Mac about his private parts and I never make either boy be affectionate if they don’t want to (hugs or kisses for grandma and grandpa, etc.) but should I be more actively worrying about what will happen to them at their first sleepover? How much time should I be devoting to wondering if every person I know is a secret skeeze?

And food. FOOD! As if I didn’t have enough food worries/guilt already (should I spring for organic? Is it more important to have a large serving of non-organic produce or a small serving of organic stuff? These beans may not be organic, but at least it’s a safer source of protein that non-organic chicken, right? And fuck milk, I can’t even get started with you and your hormones.), now I read a report saying kids who can recognize major food brands/companies are more likely to be obese. Sorry, y’all, but my kids definitely know what those golden arches mean (even if Mac thinks it’s called Old McDonald’s). So are they going to be obese and die young because they can readily identify an Oreo?

And then there’s education. And neighborhoods. And socialization. And good manners. And swimming skills. And language acquisition. And. And. And.

There’s so much to worry about, you guys. You can’t worry about it all, can you? How do you choose?

Asker mom-official Asks:
My son just turned 2 weeks old on Sunday. I've been breastfeeding since he came out but HOW DO YOU DO IT FOR SO LONG? I think it's wonderful that you're still going even though your son is 15 months old, but doesn't it hurt? He's comforted by feeding off the breast but it hurts so bad that I've mostly resorted to pumping unless I absolutely cant get him to sleep.
bringingupbaby bringingupbaby Said:

It really doesn’t hurt after those initial weeks. Your boobs just get used to it. There have been times Fitz has used me as a human pacifier and then it hurts (because his latch is lazy) but otherwise, it’s painless. If the pain persists for you, I would advise seeing a lactation consultant to correct his latch.

So, I’m still nursing Fitz. I nursed Mac until he was nearly 18 months and I’m still nursing Fitz at nearly 15 months with no end in sight. This isn’t, like, something I wear as a badge of pride. I don’t feel all hippie empowered mom about nursing for this long. Instead, I feel mostly embarrassed. I feel embarrassed when I have to dip out of a gathering in the afternoon because I nurse Fitz before his afternoon nap. I feel embarrassed when Fitz tries to pull down my top when he’s upset because he nurses for comfort. I feel embarrassed that he still wakes in the middle of the night every night and the only way to get him back to sleep without waking up the whole house is to nurse him. I feel embarrassed whenever people give me that look when they hear I’m still breastfeeding.

In a nutshell, I find extended breastfeeding pretty embarrassing.

And yet, I don’t feel compelled to stop. I like that I can still provide this nourishment for Fitz. I like that I’m still indispensable in this way. I like that even though he may have spent all day whining for animal crackers and cheese, I still feel like he’s getting good nutrition from my breastmilk — a nutritional band-aid, if you will. I like that time with him. I like that closeness. I like that calorie burn (those pounds of popcorn aren’t going to work themselves off).

So I’m embarrassed, but I’m also just as attached to breastfeeding as he is. In the most unexpected ways, it’s a tricky bitch, this parenting thing.

Took the boys to the doctor yesterday for their check-ups. Both kids are totally healthy, as I knew they would be. Mac is tall and skinny while Fitz is short and chunky. God forbid one of them just be average! Fitz’s head seems to be leveling out and it’s now in the 65th percentile instead of the 85th. It must be the lack of hair that keeps it looking so huge.

The doctor gave us tips for getting both boys to get to bed easier and stay in bed. We tried them last night and it was an abject failure. Mac didn’t fall asleep until almost 10 and Fitz kept waking up in his crib and wouldn’t actually go back to sleep until 12:30. Then Mac was up and in our room at 5:15 this morning. Worst. Night. Ever.

Watching the boys at the doctor yesterday was so special. Any exam the doctor wanted to perform on Fitz she performed on Mac first so that Fitz wouldn’t be scared. And it worked — anything Mac had done, Fitz also wanted done. Unfortunately, there was also a lot of empathetic (and actual) crying while each of them were getting shots. But regardless, it’s so much fun to see the way they interact and have bonded with each other.

The other day, Mac asked me why we decided to have Fitzy and I told him because Dad and I wanted him to have a best friend for life. Mac said that was a very good idea and he was so happy Fitz was in our family. My heart, you guys. Heart explosions emoji.