Day 95

The nursing strike continues…it seems the pumping and bottle-feeding will be our new MO. Everyone says “that’s fine,” but what they mean is “that’s second-best,” so it’s hard not to feel like a failure, and it’s hard not to take Jonathan’s rejection personally. My latest lactation consultant, I’ve now seen three, says that the strike is either preferential or emotional. Preferential refusal stems from the fact that a bottle is just easier for babies – they don’t have to work as hard and the milk comes right away – and emotional refusal is the result of some kind of “trauma,” like a loud noise during feeding or pain/discomfort just afterwards. Obviously I don’t know which avenue Jonathan took on his strike, but in either case, I know I’ve compounded the problem by solely bottle-feeding for a solid week.

We were Tucson for Thanksgiving, but more so, we were there to spread my mom’s ashes over her parents’ plots at Binghamton Cemetery. Naturally, my emotions swung between the utter joy of seeing my family meet and swoon over Jonathan and my consuming sadness and stale anger over losing my mother. I was not fit to battle at the breast, too, so I gave myself the week to just give into Jonathan’s new proclivity. Meanwhile, he was also going through a growth spurt, thus ravenous, so when I wasn’t leaking through my shirt while trying to catch up with cousins who had not seen me since I was prepubescent, I was hunched, pumping over the toilet in my uncle’s house/the rental car/the air bnb/the airport terminal. That last one was particularly joyous as I had to do it at one of those charging stations – I think it was a first for many of us at the airport that day.

Of course, on top of everything, we got sick. First Ben, then me, and baby made three. We are all still coughing snot buckets, but while in Tucson, I attributed Jonathan’s fussiness to everything else – change in routine, gas, silent reflux, early teething – not only did I become even more of a nocturnal hyper-googler, but I was around several moms who’d seen it all and had their own theories. In the end, it’s possible it was a combination of many things, as it so often is, or possibly a dark horse symptom of which we’ll never know, but in any case we are now home and he is getting back to his merry old self…just with a snot surplus.

And that’s the holidays with a kid I guess. Travel is harder, health more precarious, family even more involved. For the most part the latter has been lovely. I genuinely appreciate the input as I am new at this and there is just a lot I don’t know. Of course, especially this time of year, the swarm of mothers around me forces me to confront my feelings about the one that is missing from the lot. I’m generally not an uber-emotional person (publicly at least – I’ve done a fair amount of crying in my car). But my own maternal hormones are churning and I guess I wasn’t (am still not) prepared to navigate this chapter without my mom. I desperately want to call her with questions and updates or to compare notes: was I this smiley? did William and Travis have this much ear wax? did you also forgo showering? And because I can’t do these things, I’ve been crying at the drop of a hat (or ornament).

While trimming the Christmas tree, I endured blow after blow of memories manifested. It was tradition that she gave everyone an annual ornament and each one adorned her handwriting – those festive dots at every corner of our initials. I, of course, will continue this tradition, down to the dots, with Ben and Jonathan, and that very notion made me weep and choke on my fifth candy cane. And Christmas was practically mom’s Super Bowl. She was an interior designer with an undeniable eye and so decking the halls was second nature. Aside from a tree heavy with ornaments, every window had a candle and a hanging star. Every surface had one if not three nativity scenes. Poinsettias flanked the fireplace and her piece de resistance was a wooden tree on the mantel, made by my grandfather, which mom decorated with the tiniest of Christmas trinkets known to man.

I had dad send me the mantel tree this year. It’s taken me three-days-worth of naps to unwrap, consult the reference photo, and place countless bottle brush trees, clay Peruvian nativity scenes, German candle carousels, wooden Santas, vintage toy trains, and, naturally, tiny pigs and apples – and I’m still not done. I’ll have to post a photo upon completion because this thing is no joke. Mom was, if anything, a world-class collector and curator, and I can’t think of a better way to honor her. Of course, there is a very real possibility that my cat will jump up and destroy the whole display, but in that case, I trust that my mom will wield her ghostly wrath and haunt Lu ’til the end of her Christmas-ruining days.

So that’s where I stand. Jonathan is waking up from his nap now so I have to wrap this thing up without any kind of bow or ba-dum-bum (pa rum pum pum pum?) Christmas puns FTW.


Day 70

Remember how I said that I’d never before thought about, talked about, or touched my boobs as much as I had in Jonathan’s first month? Well, there is another contender for my obsessive attention these days, and that, my friends, is poop. Boobs and poops. Poops and boobs. Early motherhood is a glamorous thing.

In Jonathan’s first weeks, he pooped every time he ate. Which made perfect sense. He’d start to eat, pause to clear some space, and then continue with his meal. At about a month and a half, this evolved into just two major poops a day. He’d pee up a storm, don’t get me wrong. In fact, all day, every day. But two poops a day was generally all he needed to continue down the harrowing path of a voracious appetite coupled with a rookie digestive system. However, around 8 weeks, and again, now (today – thus the impetus for this post) at 10 weeks, he has bouts of constipation which only ever last 2 days max, but during which cause him (and me) major distress. He grunts, arches his back, and flails his little bootied legs, day and night, but the VERY WORST part of all of this is: he quits eating.

Naturally, when he first did this, I took to Bing to find some answers. Just kidding, I googled it. No one uses Bing. Anyway, I found several accounts of other moms experiencing the same thing and the most popular theory is that a) the baby associates the discomfort of gas/constipation with breastfeeding and thus doesn’t want to eat, but also b) he or she is at max capacity and doesn’t have room for it. Cool cool cool cool. So, breastfeeding is a physical and emotional challenge in its own right, but now I have a baby who is actively refusing to do it. Let me paint the picture…

Jonathan and I don’t sleep because he is grunting and writhing in his bassinet all night, desperately trying to poop. The sun rises (as it does) and he is particularly fussy because he is now not only constipated, but exhausted. Amidst his exhaustion, his mouth starts to go all goldfish, as it does when he is hungry, so I grab the boppy pillow, get set up on the sofa, flanked by burp cloths and a sleeping cat, and as I start to tilt him into position, he loses his mind. I mean, red in the face, full-blown tears, echo-chamber wailing. LOSES. HIS. MIND. My reaction starts with shushing and rocking, then I try to squish my boob into a bite-size, irresistible sandwich, then I start cussing into the air, then I throw whatever is nearby (usually a burp cloth or a cat) at Ben out of frustration, and finally I cry.

Today this sequence happened in the backseat of my car on the way home from a show. Ben was on stage, I was locked out of the car and pacing the parking lot with my vibrating baby. When it was finally time to head home, I attempted to feed him in the backseat. The scene devolved (more so) very quickly. I put Jonathan in his carseat to cry around the perimeter of his pacifier, and I just clamped my hands on my eyes, feeling beyond frustrated, like a complete failure and on the brink of prayer.  Before starting up the car, Ben turned around in his seat and asked, “Are you OK? What do you need?” I selfishly responded, “To run away.”

It was not one of my proudest moments. Not only could I not fulfill my maternal duty and feed my child, but I was so overcome by that helplessness, that I wanted to abandon ship. Obviously I didn’t run away. Really, I couldn’t, but my fight or flight reflex was triggered and I had lost the fight.

And unlike the tidy flow of cinema, and very much like the clunkiness of real life, Jonathan fell asleep on the car ride home, so we decided to pop into Nordstrom Rack while he was sleeping. Well, he woke up and the whole scene happened again. We are idiots.

Of course when we got home, Jonathan popped on the boob like the whole episode(s) never happened, and that was what my pediatrician said would happen when I’d called him at 8 weeks. It’s also what my sister-in-law said would happen. It’s also what my husband said would happen. Eventually, poop or no poop, he would be hungry enough to eat. And in my pre-mom brain, I would have been on Team Logic and Reason, too, but having the responsibility of nourishing your child is an unfathomable weight until you feel it. And the frustration of not being able to do so is unavoidable, even if it has happened before and even if you know it will happen again. There is a lesson in here a la I’ll want to run again, but choosing to stay means I’m more equipped to fight…blah blah. That’s all well and good and saccharine as hell, but it’s true that I’m learning and really, the nuts and bolts of it add up to more wins than losses. My husband asked the right questions. I got some cute shoes at Nordstrom Rack. I fed my kid.

Day 45

I started writing this post in my head at 3:30 this morning, while hunched over in the pitch dark, boob out, and gushing into (what I hope was) Jonathan’s mouth. Meanwhile, Ben was up watching drum videos on Instagram and I was simultaneously plotting his murder.

Jonathan’s triumphs this week:

  1. Rolling over
  2. Taking a bottle
  3. Shooting poop all the way up to the back of his neck.

My triumphs this week:

  1. Pumping more than 5 ounces in one sitting
  2. Finding a viable nanny share
  3. Getting Jonathan to nap under a bar while Ben and I had a beer and a hot dog

Our shared obstacles this week included, but were not limited to:

Gas and constipation for him

Mastitis for me


Now let’s break this down a bit. When Jonathan rolled over, Ben and I were elated. It was Jon Boy’s very first trick and it was clear that he was pretty pumped about it too, since he basically would not stay on his tummy for more than six seconds after that. In fact, he rolled over so much in the following days that I worried maybe he had an inner ear condition, rather than having accomplished a developmental milestone. Of course, after extensive googling, it seems this was all normal and good. (Side note: “normal and good” varies a ton in the pregnancy and baby-having world, so much of early parenthood is teetering on that age-old question: do I need to chill or do I need to call my sister-in-law at 4 o’clock in the morning? Usually the answer is: I need to fucking chill.)

As for mastering the bottle, this qualifies as a triumph to some and as evidence of an ignorant or lazy mom to others. When out and about, many moms will question what’s in the bottle.  Is that formula or expressed breastmilk? It seems there is only one acceptable answer and, though in my case it is breastmilk, I feel so awful for those moms who’ve struggled with breastfeeding and thus opted for formula. Yes, breastmilk is magical, nourishing stuff, but breastfeeding is not for the faint of heart. Really, breastfeeding has got to be one of the toughest aspects of being a new mom. Upon having a baby, we are ostensibly transformed into feeding machines, but there can be kinks in the mechanisms and it’s not like babies are born fully understanding how to run the factory. There is a learning curve on both ends and the hurdles can be frustrating as hell and sometimes insurmountable. The baby could be a bad sucker, the mom could have flat nipples, or both! The baby could fall asleep every time he goes to eat, the mom could have a low milk supply, or both! The baby could have a mouth infection, the mom could have a breast infection, or both! In my single month as a mom, I have dealt with all of the above, often falling in the both category, and I know I’m not alone. So, yes, we have breastmilk in our bottles and they’ve made for easier outings, but I can’t say I am stoked about inviting such scrutiny from my fellow stroller-pushers.

And as for his third triumph, poop to the neck…yeah. Though impressive, they can’t all warrant a high-five.

My own triumphs this week require a bit less unpacking, so here’s the shorthand:

More milk > less milk > too much milk

Nanny share > day care with a hand foot and mouth disease epidemic

Beer and hot dog > no beer, no hot dog

And finally, our obstacles. For the past three nights, Jonathan has been particularly cranky because of gas and constipation. I can’t blame him. Those things have the same effect on me, but I am much more articulate than he is…right? But really, I can tell you exactly what hurts, and where, and how much, and what flavor ice cream I need to remedy it. This poor guy’s only option is to cry with his whole self and our only option is to burp him from every angle and squeeze him like a tube of toothpaste without bruising any necessary organs. He’s inarticulate, we are essentially inept, and no one is getting the choppy six hours of sleep to which we’ve all grown accustomed. On top of dealing with his digestive woes, I have mastitis (for the laymen: an infection caused by a plugged milk duct). It’s super fun and my boob looks super attractive with hot, red, painful stripes radiating from my giant mom nipple (you’re welcome, dudes). And of course I got the infection in my better, milkier boob, so when Jonathan eats, I am wincing and then trying not to wince so he doesn’t think I’m wincing at him and thus triggering some kind of anti-maternal complex or inner ear condition.

And that’s where we are. Lot’s of peaks and valleys, but mostly peaks. Who knows what next week or month or even tomorrow will bring, but I expect it will be surprising, infuriating, puzzling, and powerful. Cheers to that.









So I’m resurrecting/reinventing this blog. What was once essentially a website mottled with agoraphobic observations, doodles, and sandwich appreciation, will now be a place wherein I examine my fears and advertise my successes as a new mom…as well as some doodles, and probably continued sandwich appreciation.


My path to becoming a mom was fairly typical. My husband, Ben, and I had the if not now, then when? conversation, saved zero dollars, and started trying. We tracked my ovulation to the hour, using old wives’ witchery and an app on my phone. We humped diligently and with purpose. We conceived, I told my whole family, and then we lost the baby at 6 weeks. That same day I threw a baby shower for a close friend and only had to excuse myself once to cry in the bathroom. After a few days (daze, really) on the couch, Ben and I got back to work.

After another 3 months of trying,  I was knocked up again, but much quieter about it this time. I didn’t tell any family members, ordered fake drinks at the bar with friends, and my eating habits stayed about the same (regarding chewing as more of a guideline than a rule), so nothing was revealed on that front either. This time, the kid stuck.

We didn’t do a cake reveal, rather posted a sonogram to Instagram like the Millenials we apparently are (I had to google it, like such a fucking Millenial). My tagline had something to do with my bump not being pizza this time and I think it really reassured the Insta-community how prepared I was for adult- and motherhood. Ben’s tagline read, “Maggie and I are having a boy in early September!”…ever the succinct pragmatic.

Aside from some rib discomfort and bouts of sciatica, my pregnancy was relatively easy. My labor, on the other hand, was brutal. I started having contractions on a Wednesday and the kid didn’t make his debut until Saturday night. 31 hours of active labor in total and then due to his large head and my dainty pelvis, it all ended (started?) in a C-section. I was so exhausted by the time the surgery rolled around, I literally fell asleep as they were cutting me open. (Props to my anesthesiologist, Manny.)

Now, Jonathan Thomas Lauffer (no, his name is not an homage to JTT…fucking Millenials) is just over 3 weeks old and going through an equally brutal growth spurt, which means he eats all day, all night, and gripes about my lagging boobs every moment in between. It also means I am up all day and all night, griping about my boobs too. In fact, in all my life, I have never thought about, celebrated, stressed over, touched, looked at, or leaked from my boobs as much as I have in the past month. That said, Ben is pretty stoked about them these days.

And here is where I state the obvious – Jonathan is by far the best thing we ever did. I know it’s cliche to say he’s miraculous, but it’s just true. I grew his giant body in mine for 9 months, and now he’s here – all human and in the world. And though he caused and causes us a lot of pain and distress, he’s our very favorite.  I love how his eyes roll back in his head when he flutters in and out of sleep, how sweaty his head gets when he nurses, and it is wholly illogical how much I miss him when he’s literally asleep on my lap. I have to remind myself of these things when he is inconsolable at 4 o’clock in the morning, batting at my nipple shield (nipple shields deserve their very own post) and kicking me in the tenderest part of my battle scar, but I think walking that line of exhausted and exhaustive love is a rite of passage for all new moms. I’m excited and terrified to do it, and I plan to report back how it goes. Wish me luck.