Monday, May 30, 2005

Goodbye, Sugar

I am moving!

My brilliant husband worked all day yesterday to create me a new blog. So without further ado, welcome to The Reign of Ellen.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

One Year Ago

One year ago, I was a week pregnant, but didn't know it yet. I guess Anna was implanting herself in my uterus about now.

I was tending to my foster dog's new puppies, falling in love with them despite the fact that I was still slightly pissed that Sugar could get pregnant but not me (I definitely related to Charlotte in that episode of "Sex and The City.") I was also in the process of preparing myself for my laparoscopy, as well as finding out I had Barlow's Syndrome (mitral valve prolapse thingy) through chest X-rays, EKGs and echocardiograms. I find it slightly ironic that if the echocardiogram tech chick would have just moved the wand down about 12 inches south, we might have seen the slight dot in my uterus that was Anna.

A week later, I was puzzled why my period, though it felt impending, was not here. I always spot for about seven days before the full tidal wave hits, so I couldn't figure it out. And my boobs were still big and sore, which usually leaves about the same time the spotting starts. I went to go see the third Harry Potter movie, positive that my period would arrive by the end of the movie. When it hadn't, I decided to take a pregnancy test in the morning, even though we hadn't bothered to "try" that month. (No OPKs, temp-taking, Robutussin-drinking, Clomid-ingesting, green tea-guzzling, progesterone-shoving or pillow-propping.) I didn't bother telling Jason my testing intentions, because he had all but forbid pregnancy tests in our house several months earlier.

I got up in the morning and peed on the last of my Dollar Tree secret stash. And I saw two lines. I didn't even have to wait. It popped up right away. It was the first time I had ever seen such quick beautiful lines on a pee stick of mine. I bent over with my head between my knees and cried with shaking hands and thanked God.

(Of course, Doubting Thomas took over and I went to Walmart and bought pregnancy tests in every brand. I went home and peed on a batch on them. All positive. I finally threw them away after Anna was born. I guess she was the official proof that they really were positive.)

My life has changed so much in one year. I am so blessed to have been given such a good life. I have a rockin' husband, fabulous friends, beautiful home and a much longed-for daughter. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back. Sometimes Three.

We went through a stage there, around 2 1/2 months, where Anna was sleeping through the night. Well, from 10pm to 5am, which I consider sleeping through. But after I went back to work, we seem to have fallen off the wagon on our collective butts.

After I started back, she started waking up once during the night. This past week, she has started twice. One night, she even did a whopping three times. And it's not just fussing. She wants to eat and gets quite pissy if she doesn't get fed. Is this a growth spurt? Is it the change in routine? Am I coddling her at night? Do I just let her cry at 3am?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, it is amazing the effect that sleep deprivation has on me. First thing to go is always my sense of humor. My father-in-law has been here all week. I love him, but sometimes he drives me insane. In the past, I have always just taken his slight obsessiveness in stride and laughed it off. Last night, I realized that I wasn't laughing and I was entering Bitch Territory. I had worked all day, hadn't really slept in two weeks, and managed to go out to dinner with Jason, his dad and Anna. Eating out just isn't fun for me if I have Anna with me. There's no point in it. She hates sitting still, so I bounced her, fended off the fussing, wiped up a gallon of spit-up off the table, scarfed down my food in five minutes and left to go walk around the parking lot with her for twenty minutes, so everyone else in the restaurant could have a pleasant dining experience. And my FIL has the nerve to insinuate that I was being too "over-protective." Last night, I officially accepted the fact that dining out, with the child I was given, is just not an option until she is older.

Anyway, I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was sit down and watch the "Lost" finale. Somehow, I was guilted into trampsing around outside, taking pictures of Anna. I missed half my show (which I know is a silly thing to get worked up over) but it was the only thing I was looking forward to all day. Again, usually, this wouldn't bother me, but at the time, I wasn't smiling. I was a crank.

Physically, I feel like I felt when Anna was a month old. Sort of like a walking zombie. And not like the zombies from "28 Days Later," you know, the ones that run around really fast and hyperkinetic. We're talking "Shaun of the Dead" zombies. Grunting, moaning, limbs periodically falling off. Well, maybe not that last one. But I don't feel like my appendages are working correctly. I keep knocking things over and hitting my elbow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Well, I Did It

I quit my job this morning.

I've been losing sleep about this for several weeks now, so I decided it was time. My boss was extremely understanding about it-- his wife is a stay-at-home mother of four homeschooled kids. He said, "Hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do." It was a relief. I told him I was planning on the end of June being my departure, but he asked if I could hang in there until July 14th, so he could get my job posted and replace me (we are badly understaffed in our design department.) I was fine with that. He has been really good to me for five years, so I don't want to leave him high and dry.

I wasn't really worried about telling him. Actually I am petrified to tell my babysitter. She was so good to save Anna's spot for an entire year; I feel awful. But I am giving her ample warning, and I actually have a friend who wants to take Anna's spot. So she's not high and dry either.

I can't believe what a difficult decision this was to make. There are so many good points to stay working. I will miss my work friends greatly. There isn't the isolation that accompanies being a SAHM. My company, despite my frequent complaints, is an excellent company to work for. I have some time to myself during the day, and have lunch with adult conversations (well, "grown-up" conversations. Not "adult" as in Howard Stern.) I was fortunate to have found a good babysitter. But in the end, it comes down to wanting to be at home with my daughter. Everytime I weighed the benefits of working to staying at home with Anna, well, Anna won out hands down.

So here I go, the next big adventure.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"Pahss de Dutchie from de Left Hand Side..."

My father-in-law is here. Today he informed us that Anna has "Dutch ears." (I hope she also develops her grandma's Dutch cleanliness habit.) So my sister and I have decided to call her Dutchie.

Yesterday, the babysitter told me that she thought that ole' Dutchie was going to be "advanced." She has started trying to pull herself to a sitting position, and she gets mad if you don't stand her up on her legs to watch everyone. When I got home, I pulled down my "What to Expect in the First Year" book. I had no idea what babies are supposed to be doing at this age. I was surprised to learn that the child is doing late five month old stuff. She also turns and looks at people when they talk to her, and is using more complex vowel sounds (and I know that Jason and I are probably imagining it but it often sounds like she repeats what we say, like "Hi." Not that "Hi" is all that impressive. If she said, "Pass the butter," THAT would be impressive.) The fact that she started holding her head up fairly steady at three weeks should have clued me in. I have had my suspicions from the beginning that Anna's crabbiness is partly due to not having the physical ability to do what she wants.

I know that I should be dancing around, all "Look at me, my child is Mary Lou Retton" but inwardly it makes me groan. I don't know if I want a child that is pushing the envelope. The babysitter also said, "You'd better watch out for that one." Which I sort of knew already. Something tells me I have many hair-pulling years ahead of me.

Your Next American Idol

Thursday, May 19, 2005


I feel exhausted this week. It took a few weeks for the return-to-work-exhaustion to hit me, but boy, did it hit. Anna went for a few weeks of sleeping until 5am, but took a dip this week. She's been waking up to nurse around 3am every morning. We have tried to hold her off, but she will have none of it. Jason tried to get her back to sleep, but she kept trying to nurse on him. I imagine it's a growth spurt.

My exhaustion has come out in a humorless snit. I have had very little patience with Jason this week. It's amazing how fast sleep deprivation can suck out your sense of humor. He got a new macro lens for his spiffy new camera. He's been taking many many photos of bugs, maggots and dandelions. Usually, I would find this interesting. Or even if I didn't, I would have the energy to fake it. But last night, he wanted me to "ooo and ahh" over his latest photographs. I said, "Fascinating. I have to go make Anna's bottles and fold laundry now" and left. I think I hurt his feelings.

And I've never been a compliment whore, but this week, I've really been needing a little more encouragement. [Note: this is honestly not a whoring technique to get everyone to back-pat me in my comments section.] Jason started a new job this week, so he has been overwhelmed and preoccupied with that. But last night I felt like I needed a "You are a good mommy" rather than a "This kid stinks. When did you last give her a bath?"

Maybe I'll go take a nap at lunch.

Regarding Previous Post

I'm kinda liking "The Reign of Ellen."

Regarding a comment in the previous post...a guy on my high school yearbook staff once looked at me and said, "You have porn star lips." I decided to be flattered, rather than offended. I also did not ask him to elaborate.

By the way, do you know how to find out your porn star name? Add the name of your childhood pet and the street you grew up on.

Example: Mine is Betsy Lou Digby.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Time For A Change

(First of all, thank you for the sling/carrier suggestions. I will look into that Over the Shoulder Boulder (oops) Baby Holder. What an unfortunate name.)

I think that I need a new look to this blog. And perhaps a new name. I never really knew why I decided to name this thing "Sugar In The Raw" in the first place. To steal it from my sister and piss her off, I guess, because that was going to be her stripper name (if she ever decided to become a stripper.)

I will sic my husband onto the task of figuring out how to create a blog (more than just switching templates.)

I am also open to suggestions for a new name. I have never been a nicknamed person, so that's part of the problem. Just "Ellen" my whole life. Well, one friend in college called me Frank; another called me Mrs. Schmelle. My mother calls me Ellonio Balonio (no idea why.) My friend, Melissa, calls me LBoogie because we were watching a Fugee's video for "Killing Me Softly" and one of the lyrics goes, "LBoogie, take it to the bridge!" I said, "I want a nickname like that. If my nickname was LBoogie, then I'd be cool." So she started calling me that. But I'm still not cool.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sling/Carrier Advice

So, I've decided to purchase yet another carrier.

I bought a Baby Bjorn several years ago, at the beginning of our baby-making adventure, because my dear then-pregnant, OCD-tinged friend Shelley had researched carriers ad nausem and decided that Bjorns were the best. So trusting Shelley's obsessive-compulsive internet research, I bought one as well. It was fine when Anna was a month old or so. It didn't kill my back because she was so little, and she faced me and fell asleep. Well, now she doesn't want to face in, doesn't want to sleep and it hurts my back. Plus, that thing is a pain to get on and off.

I also have a New Native tube sling. A few weeks before Anna was born, I researched slings and decided to try one. I quickly decided a few must-haves and must-not-haves. First, no funky Guatemalan-type prints. (Nothing personal, but it's just not me. I am just not very granola. I dress very plainly actually. Solid colored T-shirts, jeans, khakis, brown shoes. I've tried to branch out but the clothes just sit in my closet. If I got a funky one, I wouldn't use it. One exception: I like satin-y, batick-y Asian fabric. I could do that.) Second, it's got to be very easy to use. No weird knots and wrapping me up like a burrito. That's why I picked the New Native. It is khaki (!) and a basic tube to slip the baby in. Perfect, right? Wrong. I gave birth to a very alert baby who likes to be sitting upright on my hip, not all snuggley in a bag.

So, back to the drawing board. I am eventually going to have to attempt shopping with the child. She HATES being in her infant seat; she has to be looking around in my arms to be content. I am thinking about The Hip Baby or The Mei Tai Baby. They say that the hip carriers are for six months and older, but she has good head control, and sits on my hip anyway.

Any advice is appreciated!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Rundown

Work: Going okay, I guess. I have no motivation. Hard to think about anything other than my baby. I need to get focused this next week in a bad way. On the up side, I got back product samples of the scrapbooking line that I was working on, right before I left on maternity leave (anyone remember me working fifteen hours of overtime weekly, thereby leading to high blood pressure and an induced baby? Anyone?) Anyway, the product turned out surprisingly good. I am so relieved. I really think that God just took on the project himself, because heck if I was in my right mind during that mess. I claim very little kudos for that success.

Daycare: Even if I end up quitting work a month from now, it would still have been worth it just to have had my babysitter get Anna on a schedule. She has finally been napping, and not only that, falling asleep by herself in the crib. She has been in such a better mood in the evenings. I think that sleeping has made a huge difference. It's still very difficult to leave her in the morning, and I count down the minutes until I get to go back and get her.

Weight: Again, I know I am risking a chorus of "If I only had that problem..." but I am still having trouble keeping my weight up. I weighed myself last week and was startled to see that I weigh 109 pounds. I've really lost way too much weight. I went out and bought myself a bunch of Ensure (they have a new "nursing mother's formula-- probably just the same formula, but with a picture of a baby on the can) and boy, is that stuff nasty. Yee-ucky.

"Lost": Seriously addicted to this television show. I only started watching it about three weeks ago, but man. Why didn't someone tell me that there was a cool, Hitchcocky, intelligent show out there? What is the monster? What do the numbers mean? What's on the other side of that hatch?!

Breastfeeding Brain: What has happened to my mind? I've always been a bit flakey, but lately, I am downright spacey. "Disconnected" my husband calls it. People can be talking to me and I can't seem to keep up with the conversation. I have been losing basic words in my vocabulary, like "shed" or "skylight" (me pointing at ceiling, "You know, the thing. The thing with the clear stuff on it. You can see through it. You can see those puffy white things up in the air.") I was complaining about this, and my friend said, "Oh, you have Breastfeeding Brain." I guess all the blood is going to my boobs instead of my brain.

Pumping: Another good thing that came of my two month's of pumping boot camp (besides helping out my friend's baby), is that I am a speedy little pumper. I can get in the bathroom, pump about 10 ounces and get out in fifteen minutes. But boy, am I getting sick of that trip to the bathroom all day long. Not that I've been able to click my brain into actually doing any work the rest of the time. At least I can become a wet nurse if all other career options fail.

Flat Head: The back of Anna's head is getting a bit flat. Of course, this freaked me out. I talked to my babysitter about it, and she said that before experts started recommending that babies sleep on their back (to help prevent SIDS), she never saw that. Now she sees it all the time. Jason went and got Anna a sleep positioner with memory foam, so hopefully that will help a little. A friend of mine had to put a helmet on her baby at night because his head was getting so flat. I hope it doesn't come to that-- probably not; it's not that bad, honestly. But I'd still rather have a flat-headed child than lay awake at night worrying about SIDS (not that I don't already do that, but at least I am doing everything on my part to prevent it.)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Baby Blue Eyes

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

God's Weird Ways

Time and time, I am amazed that God has a purpose for everything, no matter how odd it may seem at the time.

A breastfeeding friend of mine is having milk supply problems, possibly due to recently starting a new medication. She's been pumping her butt off to try and increase her milk, but only seems to be getting out around 15 ounces a day. Her daughter was getting exceedingly frustrated, and had begun not peeing and pooping enough. Basically, she needs more milk until she gets the problem figured out. Hmmmm...where could she get a buttload of breastmilk? Where where where? From Ellen's monster stash of frozen breastmilk, that's where! She and I are even taking the exact same anti-depressant, so that's not an issue. She came over and loaded up an Igloo full o' milk this afternoon.

I was beginning to look in my freezer, wondering why I was still keeping all 100 bags of breastmilk. I was starting to visualize all the tubs of ice creams that I could be stashing in it's place. But I guess God had a reason for me to go through my annoying two months of pumping, if only to provide milk to a hungry little four month-old for awhile. It's very cool when I see God's plans unfold, even in small ways.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Second Day Back

Yesterday went much better for Anna, not quite as well for me. The newness of being back had worn off a bit, and the trips to the bathroom to pump were getting a little old. Also, I sat at my desk looking at my new design assignments, not knowing where to begin. I am really not very confident as a graphic designer. I wasn't trained to be one; I am just a Fine Arts major that stumbled into it after graduating to the real world. I researched possible artwork, then ended up reading "Lost" (the show) synopses at my desk. Which made me feel guilty, as I was reminded that if I were home, I would have plenty to do. Which made me think about Anna and miss her and wonder if I could call the sitter again without seeming pathetic. Eating lunch with my superb friends was the highlight of my day.

Anna, on the hand, had a great day apparently. Her evening, after her first day, was great. She was in a nice mood and went to bed at her usual time despite her multiple naps. Her second day, she took three huge naps during the day. She was again in a great mood last night and went to bed as usual. Maybe the child has been sleep-deprived all this time. I guess I wasn't forcing the naps on her, so she just fought them and wound up cranky. And today, I left her in the nursery at the Mothering group I attended. I fully expected to see the nursery lady walk through the church doors hollering, "You there! Come get this kid!" It never happened, and much to my shock, she was sleeping in a crib when I went back to get her.

Maybe somehow, I was subconsciously preventing her from napping and she just needed to get away from me to get started on a schedule. Who knows.

Anna also "made" me a Mother's Day card at daycare. I was very impressed. The child has excellent art and handlettering skills, even at three months.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Methinks it does not bode well when a woman, specializing in infants, refers to your child as "very difficult." Sigh.

Yesterday did not go as well for Anna as it did for me. When I picked her up, she was asleep in a swing, as she had been for most of the day. That totally shocked me because I can barely get the child to take an hour nap during the day. The babysitter said that she got the feeling that Anna had taken to sleeping to block out everything else. Sort of a "shutdown" method of dealing with her environment. When she wasn't sleeping, she was howling. She got pissed off at the babysitter for trying to feed her, and kept swatting her away, even though she was obviously quite hungry. I sighed and explained it didn't surprise me. I remember the first week trying to breastfeed, her tiny hands swatting at me because she was so frustrated. I said, "She just came out this way."

The babysitter then, nicely (she is very nice, don't get me wrong; she obviously loves the babies), told me that we were going to have to be a team in breaking Anna of her need to be held constantly. Which I know but just breaks my heart. I'm not an Attachment Parent, so I don't think that her emotional development is hinging on her not being held 24/7. And I know that she needs more of a schedule, but as her mother, I ALSO know that she definitely has a higher "touch" need than most babies I've seen. Again, she's been this way since the day she popped out of the shoot.

I left feeling pretty depressed. No mother wants to show up at the babysitter's house and be told that she has an extremely difficult child. You want to show up and have the babysitter clutching your child, not wanting to let go, because she is such a perfect angel. On the way home, I called Jason and said, "This is all your fault! She got this temperament from YOU!" Jason likes things the way he likes them, and nobody had better stand in his way...which I have grown to love about him. Everywhere he has worked, he has quickly risen to be the leader, and very respected. You never have to worry that you aren't getting the truth from him-- you always know exactly what he is feeling. Take him or leave him, what you see is what you get. It can be disconcerting at first, but after awhile, it becomes refreshing. But as a child, he was apparently "difficult" also. There's hope for Anna, I know.

This morning, as I handed her over, she gave the babysitter a delightful smile. I hope it sticks for the rest of the day. But I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

First Day Back

Inspired by Tertia at "So Close" (whose first day back was Monday), I am going to give a play-by-play of my first day back:

4:30 am- Awakened by a hungry baby. Feed her in bed half-asleep. Husband is currently sleeping on couch until his allergy-related snoring ceases.

5:00 am- Go back to sleep.

6:00 am- Alarm goes off. Groan.

7:00 am- Wake Anna up to feed her before we leave. She is being delightful this morning. Phooey. It is easier to leave a cranky baby than a sweet one.

8:00 am- Drop off Anna at babysitter's house. Explain every tiny detail to babysitter. Realize that she knows more about infants than I do. Anna starts wailing. Babysitter reassures me that this will be more difficult for me than Anna. This, I know. I leave. Sigh. Poo.

8:20 am- Back at work. Co-workers have left two vases of flowers on my desk. Everyone pats my back and asks how I am doing in concerned manner. I am okay, but I miss my baby. It feels really strange to not be with her. Sort of like I am missing an appendage.

9:00 am- Boss arrives bearing birthday presents for me. Toys and "Mike and Ike" candy. The toys will join my Camilla the Chicken Muppet and Uma Thurman "Kill Bill" toys at the top of my computer. The candy I shall eat right now. I remember why I like working here.

10:00 am- Breasts are about to explode. Found a bathroon to pump. About three people wiggled the doorknob while I was in there. Go away. If my company is not going to provide a lactation room, then I am going to take as long as I need in here without feeling guilty. Two good things that have come out of my two months of pumping are a) I am speedy fast and b) I have an insane milk supply. I got 8 ounces out in 10 minutes. This will get old soon, though, I suspect.

11:00 am- Chatted with a friend who had her daughter a week after me. She had a horrible delivery experience. I say a thanks again to God for sparing me from that. God gave her a super easy breastfeeding experience, though. Guess God knows what people can and cannot handle.

11:15 am- Continue to avoid actual work. Talked to coworker friend on phone to make lunch plans. Poked at my new toys. Sniffed my new flowers. Avoid avoid avoid.

11:30 am- Called babysitter to check in. Anna is fine, but will not take a bottle. Ironic, no? Two months the child would not take my breast, now she refuses the bottle. The babysitter is going to call me this afternoon if it happens again.

12:00 pm- Went out to lunch with my friends. I feel a little lightheaded, for some reason. I've been feeling that way a lot lately. Sort of fuzzy and forgetful and fainty. I think it has to do with the breastfeeding and lack of sleep.

1:00 pm- Off to pump again. Yes, the newness of being back is wearing off fast.

3:00 pm- A party for me! I get a cake party to celebrate my belated birthday and coming back. It's really just an excuse for everyone to eat cake. I am again reminded of the "Seinfeld" episode where Elaine denounces the entire office for throwing cake parties for every stupid occasion. Our company is the same way. Birthday? Cake. Baby? Cake. New driver's license? Cake. Everyone gains about ten pounds in the first six months of working here. Today I am, unfortunately, criticized for losing too much weight. Bah. I think I might start drinking Ensure each morning.

4:00 pm- Antsy. I miss my baby and know that I'm not going to make it until five. 4:30, methinks.

...will update as the day progresses.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Reign Of Ellen

Jason just bought his last fun toy for quite awhile-- a new digital camera. A really nice one. He is giddy with excitement with it. If you didn't know, Jason is obsessed with gadgets, electronics and technology. He has this house wired with so many digital gizmos, I don't even know how to plug in the television by myself anymore. If he ever left, I would be like the guy in "2001:A Space Odyssey" with the house trying to kill me. Technology is fun for him, not so fun for our bank account.

But we had a major breakthrough in our marriage. Jason, who has been doing our finances most of our marriage, has finally admitted that he may be a little too impulsive with money to be the one running the show. So starting this week, Ellen is taking over. We both think that this move is for the best. When I didn't know what was going on, I stressed about it more.

So Ellen is inacting "2005:A Budget Odyssey." The camera was Jason's final hurrah before The Financial Reign Of Jason ends. I am a pretty meticulous person when it comes to stuff like this-- before we were married, I balanced my checkbook down to the cent monthly. I think that I am going to do pretty well at the budgeting.

I know that we should both probably have an equal hand with the finances, but in marriage, I honestly do not know if that is possible. Every couple I know has only one person cooking the books. Usually the man, it seems, but almost always the person who is the more practically-minded of the two. The dreamer generally has to have his/her purse strings tightened. I always assumed I was the dreamer of the two of us, but in actuality, that is Jason. I am the one saying, "I don't know about that, honey..."

If you are married, who does your finances?

My Highly Sensitive Child

Highly Sensitive

In case you are interested, my husband put new photos on our baby site.