Goodbye, Breastfeeding Mafia

With Bitmap in daycare and me working out of the house, we’ve hit a new problem: breastmilk. I have a fantastic pump, and a comfortable place to do so at work, but it’s hard to keep up. If I don’t pump every hour it’s pretty much impossible to get enough for an entire day’s feedings, and that’s just not going to happen. Because at some point I have to actually work at work. So I wake up in the middle of the night to pump (in addition to waking up in the middle of the night to feed her). As such, I’ve become a little nutso about pumped milk. And it’s not good to be literally crying over spilled milk.

I feel like a bit of a failure because I could conceivably pump more, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to strategize my evenings around pumping. I’m sick of having to skip wine at dinner because we didn’t have any expressed milk handy to bring with us.

So we’re introducing formula. With a heavy heart I mixed up a bottle of half formula half breastmilk and gave it to Bitmap. She was a little confused at first, but gobbled it up nonetheless. And I started to wonder why I’d freaked out about this so much. It does, however, smell absolutely awful.

We’re not giving up breastfeeding entirely, but with her nursing less and me only pumping a few times a day I expect my supply will eventually taper off. And that’s ok. I do plan to continue using expressed milk to make her purees, since formula isn’t supposed to be frozen. I’m trying not to beat myself up about it, but I’ll admit it’s hard. My husband, on the other hand is thrilled. “Finally,” he declared, “I can feed her just as well as you can!”

I think we’re gonna make it after all.



Bitmap started daycare today! I’ll be working outside the home three days a week (in addition to my freelancing from home) so we had a bit of a scramble to find somewhere she could go. Most of the daycare centers in our area had a waiting list of at least 4 months! We got very lucky though, Olde City Day School opened up a new center near us, and since they just opened there wasn’t a huge wait.

Bitmap was a little apprehensive at first…

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I was more than a little flustered myself. Getting us both out the door at a reasonable hour in the morning was a new experience, and I managed to forget about half the things she needed. Thankfully they do a “transition” week where she’s just there for a few hours a day, so she won’t need most of the stuff I forgot until tomorrow. I’m sure the daycare staff are much too nice to gossip about what an airhead I was this morning.

The director of the daycare center helped her feel at home.
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Within a few minutes she was having a blast in an exersaucer.

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Then we moved over to the play mats.

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She was so excited by all the new toys she immediately forgot I existed. I said goodbye and gave her a kiss on the head, but she even didn’t look up. I could hear her shrieking in happiness as I left the center. I also caught a glimpse of her attempting to pull herself up to standing… using another baby for support. Yikes. Hopefully daycare will help her learn that other babies are not furniture. Aside from a few meet ups in our neighborhood, this is her first real interaction with other babies.

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It’s bittersweet, for sure, and I miss her already (it’s been an hour). But she was having so much fun when I left I was able to shake off some of the mommy guilt. Hopefully she continues to like it as much as she did this morning!


Fuck you, mommy guilt

The internet is both wonderful and terrible all at once.

Thanks to the internet, I was able to learn about many birthing options I wouldn’t have otherwise. As a result, I had a really positive experience even in the face of some [comparatively minor but still serious] complications.

Thanks to the internet, I found a high chair that meets all of our needs without having to trek to a Big Box Store of Baby Crap.

Thanks to the internet, I don’t have to completely spaz out about the fact that I have lost the  doctor’s dosing instructions for baby tylenol (the packaging simply instructs me, unhelpfully, to consult a doctor).

And thanks to the internet, I have an incredible case of mommy guilt that is driving my whole family insane.

Let me tell you about all the horrible things I did this week. You may want to have a phone handy to call Child Protective Services.

– I fed Bitmap some jarred, conventional baby food. In fact, one of the foods I fed her had an additive (ascorbic acid).
– Later, when making up some sweet potatoes for her, I nuked them in the microwave instead of baking them.
– Speaking of food, at 6 months old Bitmap has been eating purees for over a month now.
– We let her watch TV with us. Also, we own TVs.
– We let her hang out in her bouncer saucer thing, because she loves the hell out of it.
– She sleeps in her own room, by herself. Sometimes when she cries we wait to see if she’ll settle herself first. Because we’re fucking exhausted.
– One night I forgot to turn the baby monitor back on after her 3am feeding, so I’m not sure how long she was crying before I finally woke up for her 5am feeding.
– Due to a miscommunication between my mom and myself, she was sent to bed without a bottle last night. She woke up at 3am ravenous. So basically it was exactly like every other night.

Obviously, these are not things that I objectively think are wrong. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling incredibly guilty about them. We stocked up on jarred baby food today, because it doesn’t go bad any time soon and it’s convenient to have around. And the whole time I felt awful, like every jar I put in the cart was some admission of defeat that I was not going to make the puree from scratch. And every puree I feed her, home made or not, is an attempt to shirk my responsibilities as Bitmap’s own personal dairy cow.

I worry about a long list of stupid things, all of which are clear indicators of my failure as a parent. It’s exhausting and I’m tired of it. And I’m tired of everyone who condemns people who make different parenting choices than they did, or acts like whatever granola hippie shit they’re into makes them magically a better parent and a wonderful person. But mostly I’m tired of the guilt that comes from somewhere entirely internal. I’m sick of feeling like I’m fucking it up every. single. day.

So fuck you, parenting guilt.


Pumpkin Patchin’

We visited two pumpkin patches this year, one up by our house and another down near where my parents live. I’m excited by the prospect of having trick-or-treaters this year, if the hurricane doesn’t wash them all away.

Pumpkin Patch

At both pumpkin patches, we let her play with a tiny pumpkin

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Here she is with my mom, eating it.

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Getting her to smile at the camera is a challenge. Mostly she just chewed her lip.

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We’re not doing much for Halloween this year, too busy with other things, but I do love a good pumpkin. The small family farm near my parents’ house has been there for 37 years! It’s especially impressive given how land values in the area have shot up in the few decades. It’s sort of an odd little place, selling plants, pumpkins, Christmas trees, and a rather large collection of cement statues.

What are you doing for Halloween this year?


Sleep Update

We started sleep training with Bitmap last week, and I’ve been posting mini-updates to Facebook. Here’s the full run down.

We did both naps and overnight all at the same time, thinking it would be less confusing for her.  The first day went pretty well; I checked her at 1, 3, and 5 minute intervals. There were mild complaints when I put her down for naps and bed, and the first few times she woke up she settled down pretty quickly thereafter. The third time she cried for maybe a total of 15 minutes, which is actually pretty normal even if we do pick her up.

The second day / night was a lot more challenging. Every nap and bedtime was met with fighting, even if she was very tired. She woke up 3 times and took about 20 minutes total get back down each time. After the second day I was feeling pretty doubtful that things would work.

On the third night we got rid of her pacifier, cold turkey. The theory was that if she fell asleep with it in, it would be confusing and upsetting to not have it there when she woke up. Also at this point we were willing to try anything. We were both shredded from weeks of not sleeping more than a few hours at a time. If night three went like night two, I was ready to beg RD’s parents to take her overnight so we could recover and figure out something else to try.

She stirred a bunch in the earlier parts of the night, but never really got up to crying, and then we all slept from ~2am to 6am. Victory! I tried hard to have realistic expectations of infant sleep; The goal wasn’t to get her to sleep through the night, just enough to regain our higher brain function. You know you’re sleep deprived when a 4 hour stretch of sleep is restorative.

That was Friday night and since then she’s been sleeping 8+ hours each night. It’s pretty great. She’s also getting better about napping in her crib; most of the time she falls asleep as soon as I set her down.

And so our baby has been Ferberized.  If Bitmap hadn’t already given up night nursing on her own I wouldn’t have even remotely considered it. Or if it sounded like she was crying herself to sleep (which she would previously do –  in our arms – on a regular basis). Would I recommend it to everyone? Absolutely not. But it’s working for us so far, and I think we’re all happier as a result.



This post is about infant sleep, and sleep training, which is a particularly touchy subject. I welcome any stories about what worked for you and your family, but any comments asserting that any method is the “one true way” or damning others for the choices they made will be summarily deleted.

Bitmap has crossed the 4 month mark, and is now officially no longer a newborn. And for a while there, her sleep was getting progressively better and better. 4 hour stretches, 5 hour stretches, and then we experienced the magesty of 8 hour stretches of uninterrupted baby sleep! It was incredible!

And then it all stopped. We were back to 5 hours, then 4, then 3…

Nothing changed as far as I can tell, but for the past few weeks Bitmap has been waking up every two hours. And it’s killing me. I’ve gone from coffee-fueled-but-functional to an angry zombie, biting off the head of anyone foolish enough to talk to me (i.e. RevolvingDork). And suddenly I’ve gone from “cry it out is cruel, Dr Ferber is a jerk who hates babies” to “I am a jerk to who hates babies, this has got to change.” And so I got a copy of Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.

I did not come to this conclusion easily. First, we set up a veritable paradise of sleep. Perfect temperature, nice and dark, comfy clothes, white noise machine, etc. Seriously I get sleepy just walking into that room. We tried more food at the bedtime feeding, less food, swaddling, no swaddling, pacifier, no pacifier, loud music, soft music… if it was listed on the internet as a baby sleep aid, we tried it.

The second important thing is that Bitmap has shown us she’s developmentally ready to sleep through the night. Although she wakes up and cries, she’s no longer nursing at night and her diaper is often dry. In fact, half the time she doesn’t even need to be picked up; popping the pacifier back in her mouth is enough to get her to go back to sleep. She also has shown the ability to self-settle on the odd occasion I can’t respond to her right away.  And most importantly, she’s slept 8 hours straight on multiple occasions.

The third thing is the fact that our sleep situation wasn’t working for us. Some people can handle getting up in the night, some people co-sleep and that works great for them. In fact, RD co-sleeps beautifully with Bitmap, but I can’t sleep with a baby in the bed. I’m not just tired, I’m bordering non-functional. As in, due to my zombie-like state, I put liquid hand soap on my toothbrush. Let’s not enumerate the number of stupid things I’ve snapped at RD for this week.

So tonight we begin Ferberizing. I do think it’s important that anyone considering doing so actually read the book, because it has a number of differences from the nickel tour I’ve read on the internet. This is about coming up with something that works for our baby. Not all babies, not most babies, our baby.

I have little tolerance for crying so we’re starting with 1, 3, and 5 minute intervals. At bedtime we bathe her, swaddle her, feed her, give her a pacifier, and read her a story. Then it’s into bed she goes, protesting or not. Naptime is similar, except instead of bathing and feeding I rock her while singing a song. At the end of the song, bed.

When I put her down for her nap this morning, she was not pleased. But I also knew she was very tired. After a minute of whining I went back in, replaced her pacifier, and sang her a song. She was still cranky when I left. Not really crying, just sort of complaining. About a minute later she was quiet, and shortly after that I snuck in to check on her. Sound asleep.

The pacifier is an issue, because if she wakes up and it’s fallen out she gets upset. But we have to cut down on her daytime pacifier use before working on that. And she’s getting too big for swaddling, so we’ll need to phase that out too. Maybe after tonight I’ll decided this is horrible and I don’t want to do it any more, but we’re trying it out. If it doesn’t work, we’ll do something else- just like everything else in parenting.



Day Trip to NYC

RD had to go to work in the city and now that the school year started we no longer have his aunt coming by in the afternoons. So I decided to go up to NYC with him and wander around the city with Bitmap. Seemed like a nice alternative to sitting around the house / walking the canal path for the 8000th time.

Oh sure, now you want to sleep in.

Our day started bright and early at 6:30am. Of course the one time we had to get up early, Bitmap finally decided to sleep past 6. Babies, amiright?

The building in the middle of the skyline is the in-progress World Trade Center

With all three of us going up driving is the cheapest option. We drove to Jersey City (our old neighborhood), parked the car, and took the PATH train to midtown. I stopped by RD’s office to show off the baby, and all productivity ground to a halt from 10 to 10:30, at which point I made a beeline for the nearest Starbucks. And before you get all judgmental about going to a Starbucks in a city with real coffee shops, I used to work in midtown and all the coffee there is terrible. Plus Starbucks has bathrooms.

From there we walked to Washington Square Park, which is a little over two miles. I was carrying Bitmap in the Ergo on my front and a backpack full of laptop and diapers on my back, so I was ready to sit down by the time we got there. The Ergo is a lifesaver though, I can’t imagine trying to navigate NYC with a bulky stroller. While we were there, Bitmap brandished her butt to the world for a park bench diaper change.

In all of the photos I took, either Bitmap or Skiff are blurry (but never both)

We visited my friend Skiff at QLabs. They have a nice office, with a pool table, rock wall, and some giant beanbag chairs with an extremely unfortunate name. Skiff fawned over Bitmap and recounted the following conversation:

Raphael: You know there’s a tech bubble right now, right?
Skiff: Well, yeah but it’s different this time, it’s not like the ’90s bubble.
Raphael: Does your office have a pool table in it?
Skiff: Damn.

From there we headed to Brooklyn to visit friends, and I went through Fulton Mall where I used to spend a fair amount of time thanks to working at Etsy and hacking at NYC Resistor. Both of those have since moved out of the Fulton Mall area, and it was a little weird to be back in the  neighborhood.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the people on the train who are most likely to offer you a seat are those who might need it themselves. On the PATH home, a man on crutches saw me standing with the baby and offered me a seat. I declined, Bitmap demands that I stand and bounce her, and then I noticed that the man was missing a leg. Similar things happened when I was pregnant: it’s never the able-bodied guy in a business suit who offers a pregnant lady a seat, it’s the 80something woman who remembers what it was like to stand all day on swollen feet.

After taking care of some things at the condo it was 10:45 when we got home. All three of us were beat (though Bitmap still found the energy to wake up at 3am…). But it was a successful trip and a nice change of pace.


Instagram That Sh*t

Bitmap and I regularly go on walks in our neighborhood, as it’s pretty much the only way I can get her to be quiet (read: sleep) long enough to make a phone call. Today I noticed some graffiti along the path…


I don’t use instagram much, partially because I’m kind of a camera snob aficionado, but how could I say no? And then I decided to take some over-processed snapshots of a few other things along our walk.

These were posted all along the path. I’m not positive, but I don’t think these were actually posted in 2009. I think they went up a couple months ago.

Festive berries! Anyone know what kind they are?

This bridge is currently unused, but there are plans to turn it into a park similar to NYC’s High Line.

This road is directly under the regional rail. It’s handy to walk under when it’s raining, but parking on it is a guarantee that your car will be covered in pigeon poop.

Today’s walk was short, maybe half a mile. On a fussy day we might walk 3 miles just so I can get some peace and quiet. Bitmap almost always passes out when I put her in her carrier. By the time she’s walking I’ll have back muscles like superman.



Our little grumblebot (her nickname this week) is on the brink of mobility!

I really expected her to start crying when she first fell forward, but she didn’t and so as a true documentarian I did not interfere, though the hand that wasn’t holding the camera was ready to grab her in case she launched herself off the couch (which she did at the end)