Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My Breasts

Yesterday, I was killing some time at Borders while Dobbs was putting new tires on my Passat, and I decided - on a whim - to order an iced gingerbread latte. For me! No worries about caffeine intake and how it might effect Ellie's bedtime. Later, I had a diet soda - with caffeine! Just for fun! Just because I could! It was wonderful!

OK, here's how it went down.

Wednesday morning, Paul decided to let me sleep in. This was wonderfully thoughtful, because I hate mornings on principle and had been up very late the night before preparing for the holiday weekend travel and festivities. But it wasn't so cool, because I had to shower and be at work on time for a meeting. There was no time to nurse Ellie. No biggie, there's still nap- and bedtime, right?

While I was packing on Wednesday afternoon, Paul put Ellie down for her nap. No stress, we usually don't nurse at naptime anyway and I was in a hurry to get out the door. When we arrived at my parents' house on Wednesday night, Paul insisted on putting Ellie down to bed himself while I was unpacking and greeting. "Hey!" I nagged. "Are you trying to tell me that it's time I weaned Ellie? It's been over 24 hours now since I've nursed her."

The idea didn't sound as awful to me as I thought it would. I've been resenting the nursing for a while, but when she's shown decreased interest in the past, I've freaked out and not wanted to stop.

In the morning, she didn't ask to nurse and I went back to sleep. We kept up that pattern all weekend, and she didn't ask me to nurse once. I thought that things might change when we arrived back home on Sunday evening.

Paul read Ellie her bedtime story, as usual, then started trying to rock her down to sleep. I came in with a cup of water, at which point normally she would start chanting, "Mama! Mama! Mama" and reaching for me with some urgency.

Not that time. Now it's been nearly a week, and I'm thinking: never again.

And I'm not sad, much to my surprise. I intend to nurse again someday. I was feeling tied down by and resentful of the nursing, after 25 months. I can't explain that logically; it's not like twice a day was a really big time sink. It's an emotional response that has developed in the last couple of months.

In the last several days, I have felt like being touched again (Paul really likes this part). I feel like I have more to give Ellie: more patience, more touches, more snuggles.

I was once afraid that I would feel like we'd lost a connection, that special mother-child thing, once we stopped the one thing that only the two of us could do together. That has not been the case at all.

I loved nursing Ellie. I'm looking forward to nursing another baby (or 2! or 3!) someday. But I'm glad to be through for now. Who knows. Maybe I'll go wild and take an antihistamine - without guilt - next time I'm around a friend's cat! Many things are possible.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Drive

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend at my parents' house. Both of my sisters were there, with their dogs and significant others. I got to see my youngest sister choose her wedding dress, which is stunning. One fall wedding, one winter wedding, and one summer wedding. That's the three of us, in a nutshell.

The drive up last Wednesday went very well. Anticipating the holiday weekend traffic, we took the "longer" route, cutting across southern Illinois on I 70 then heading north up eastern Illinois on I 57. Despite all experience and conventional wisdom to the contrary, the trip took under 6 hours, with one brief stop for Subway.

"Ellie, do you need to go potty? We're going to stop for a potty break and to eat sandwiches."

As we pulled off the interstate, "No! No no no no no!"

And after about 5 minutes in Subway, before any of us had finished our sandwiches, "All done!" When we didn't get the hint fast enough, she screamed until we hustled out to the car and got back on the road. Ah, 2. I love it.

On the way home on Sunday afternoon, we decided to brave the Chicago holiday weekend traffic and skirt past it on I 80, cutting diagonally across Illinois on I 55. In theory, this is the "short" route and should take about 5 hours, plus stops.

First there was construction traffic. Hours of it. But the electronic signs kept promising a swift end to the problems, so we kept plugging along. It grew dusky and colder. It was windy and the sky started spitting at us. I was seeing yellow and considering one of the construction workers' Johnny-on-the-Spots. Ellie was chanting, "Potty! potty! potty!" from the backseat. We only made it to Tinley Park before our first stop, surely a new record.

Eventually we left the congestion of 80 for the relatively rural wilderness of 55. Wait, no. More traffic. Eventually, we discovered a demolished double tractor-trailer off the road on our side, causing some incredible gawker traffic congestion.

Things improved for a while. All of a sudden - BAM! Bumpety bumpety bumpety bump.

The car - which I'd just had fully serviced two days before the trip - was now on the shoulder with a blown front right tire. Normal wear and tear. That the mechanic didn't feel was important enough to share with me. So Paul was out in the deafening wind changing a tire on the side of the interstate while I tried to load everything (and I do mean *everything* - we do not travel lightly) back into the trunk on top of my "worn" tire. I'd like to take this opportunity to send a big Thanksgiving THANK YOU to the state trooper who sat behind us with his lights on, deflecting traffic, and to all the drivers who didn't hit us.

20 minutes later, Ellie and I needed another potty stop.

Then Paul was falling asleep and we pulled over for - guess what? - a potty stop and driver change.

Then it started pouring so hard that I couldn't see the lines on the road.

Nearly 8 hours after leaving my parents' house, we arrived safely home. The weekend was great. And surely our next trip, in December with the added interest of snow and ice, will provide us with at least equal entertainment.

P.S. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was awesome. Absolutely incredible. I love the Quidditch World Cup, the arrival of the two visiting delegations to Hogwarts, and, as always, Rupert Grint stealing every scene in which he appeared.

P.P.S. Done. We're done. At 25 months, Ellie's weaned! I'm not as ambivalent as I thought I'd be. Neither is she. In more than 5 days, she hasn't asked me to nurse once. She mentioned it to my mom once, but I think that she just wanted to see me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful, safe, and warm (in all the important ways) Thanksgiving this year!

Monday, November 21, 2005

My New Friend

Ellie has made me a new friend. I have met other moms I like through play groups and Gymboree, it's true. But this is the first time that Ellie has formed an attachment to another little girl, starting a chain of events that leads to me getting to know the girl's mother and liking her very much. Ellie changes and enriches my life in so many ways just by being. The newer ways in which she influences me, by taking actions all on her own, take my breath away. Thank you, Ellie.

On an unrelated note, Ellie really loves chapstick. She purses up her lips for it, which is adorable, then kisses me on my cheeks with her sticky, chapsticky lips. That part is a little gross, but it's a major triumph because we're moving away from full-on use of the tongue in kissing, which is nice. Fortunately, she only tongue kisses Paul and me. When others ask for a kiss, they get a precious blown kiss from an appropriate distance. Paul and I have been wondering when Ellie would learn to kiss without licking our cheeks. It looks like pursing her lips for my beloved chapstick has done the trick.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Efficacy of Torture

On television, especially on CIA shows like 24 and Alias, torture is a very effective way of getting timely information from detainees.

Those tortured have rarely been convicted of anything, but they're almost always bad guys. And they always give it up in the end.

Have you ever noticed, however, that torture never works on the good guys?

It seems to me that to believe in the efficacy of torture as a reliable and effective interrogation method, in the face of evidence to the contrary, is to have a childlike belief that those on our side are always much stronger of character and will than our enemies.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Two, Two, and More Two

Physically, Ellie's two. She's wearing mostly 24-month clothes, she's learning to walk, she's getting better at feeding herself with a spoon, and she's interested in learning to use an open cup.

Behaviorally, Ellie is very two. In addition to the straight-up cute stuff, like the tickling games and brief phone conversations:

Hi, Ellie!

Hi! Hi! Hi, Mama!

Did you have a good day at school today?

Blah Blah Blah BLAH BLAH blah-blah.
Mulk! Mulk!
(slams phone down.)


There are also the not-so-nice but still adorable and developmentally appropriate milestones. Like the way Ellie loves to say, "No no no" and "Uh oh!" as she drops or throws everything onto the floor.

Chronologically, Ellie is two. 25 months old already! She had a Dora the Explorer-themed party with guests: two little girls from her school (both with Down syndrome) and her 10-month old buddy (formerly known as the cutest little plague carrier in the world.) Ellie loves Backpack, so that's what I did for her cake. I went, perhaps, a bit overboard. She cried when we cut backpack, and would not eat any. The toddler-friendly pinata (no hitting) was also a bit scary when Dora's bottom opened and the prizes started falling on her head. Otherwise, the party was a success.

But that's just the fluff.

Mentally, Ellie might just be two as well. Granted, Ellie's pediatrician only sees her irregularly and mostly hears her success stories. And at Ellie's lengthy and wonderful two-year-old check-up, Ellie presented her doctor with a picture of herself, "Muh!" she indicated with a hand to her chest, as she passed the picture to Dr. Jan and mugged adorably. That's a pretty cool cognitive leap, to realize that the cute baby in the picture is, in fact, herself. Dr. Jan said that although she's so young and these things are impossible measure, etc., etc., of course Ellie has above average intelligence for someone with Down syndrome. And, in fact, she probably has above average intelligence, period.


Now, Dr. Jan is an optimistic sort, so I'm very pleased but am not counting Ellie's chickens before she can. But I did mention the doctor's assessment to Ellie's developmental therapist today. This woman is the local gymnastics coach for Special Olympics, has a Masters in Special Education, works with children ages 0-3, and is trained as a school diagnostician (testing and evaluation). She's been working with Ellie for well over a year, and she said:

"Don't lower your expectations."

I won't, Ellie, I won't. But I also won't push you so hard that you're miserable. I want you to accomplish all that you can, and I am thrilled beyond measure that you might have the opportunity to go away to college someday, but I will try to let you choose your own path.

Happy (belated) second birthday, sweetheart.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I'm feeling a little ugly.

I have a friend and co-worker I'm jealous of. I never used to be. And I still like her just as much as always. But, but.

Recently she was promoted. We were at the same level, promoted in lock-step twice. Now, although we still have the same jobs, she's technically a significant level higher than I. It's a promotion I almost surely would have gotten too if I'd stayed at work full time rather than taking a year off then coming back only part time.

I understand the way I feel. I don't regret that I chose to stay home with Ellie, and that I have chosen to make my former career secondary to my new career for now.

But that doesn't mean that I don't miss the way things used to be, too. I miss being responsible for bringing in millions of dollars of revenue for the company. I miss traveling all over the country making presentations to introduce our textbooks to educators and decision-makers. I miss the pace, I miss the excitement.

I still love the work and am very grateful for this perfect job arrangement I've got. But I'm also still jealous.

Monday, November 14, 2005

No, Not Yet. Soon.

Setting the scene:
Ellie took her first independent steps in August, when she was 22 months old. 2-1/2 months later, at 25 months old, she can walk from Paul to me, or walk from one play area at school to the next. Her range is about 10 feet. Because of her slightly low muscle tone, she can't progress quite as quickly as most kids from those first steps to running all over the house. I estimate that she's at least a couple of months away from being a truly independent walker.

Dear parents of typically developing children,

You ask me if Ellie is walking yet, and I respond that she is still learning. Then you tell me, "Be careful what you wish for," or "Count your blessings!"

Stop it.

You complain that it's so hard, chasing after an active, curious toddler all day. I'm sure it is. But really, you should be counting your blessings too. Every day, I am grateful for mine. Regularly, I comment that if I had to have a child with a disability, we've really hit the jackpot with this one, in so many many ways.

But. Imagine having to carry your 2-year-old every time you leave the house. Imagine every trip to the park, carrying your heavy child from the car to the playground, then from one piece of equipment to another.

It's hard to control an energetic toddler in the store, I know. Why don't you just strap him into a shopping cart or stroller? Oh, he wants to get down and explore so he screams when he's strapped down?

My child feels the same way and responds the same way. But if I take her out of the stroller, she doesn't just run around and get underfoot. She sits down, right on the wet, filthy floor. So it's screaming in the stroller or struggling in my arms, everywhere we go, all the time.

It's not always much fun to go out, as you can imagine. She can't stand next to me while I open the car door, pay the cashier, or fish something out of my purse. She's in my arms or on the floor, because she can climb out of that stroller in no time flat.

Please feel free to tell me the things you find wonderful about my child. Please feel free to tell me how beautiful, how clever, how sweet, how wonderful you find her. But please think before you talk. And please don't act like I somehow have it easier than you do, just because my child is doing some things more slowly.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sarahlynn needs . . .

On a friend's blog I found this exercise: Do a google search for "[Your first name] needs", and discover what the Internets think you really need.

That sounded interesting.

I only had one hit. It was a comment on my husband's blog from an opinionated friend of ours, suggesting, "Maybe Sarahlynn needs to Get involved in the rocking Ellie back to Sleep."

As if I'm not . . .

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

How to Stop Rape

As the weather here has plummeted from the 80s to the 40s, so too is this blog taking a sharp veer today.

This is an awesome post addressed to men about rape. Read it, really. It's got really good advice for all men, not just men who rape. Because, as we all should know by now, there's nothing that a woman can do to prevent herself from being raped. Nothing. Men have to stop rape, period.

Another must-read is this charmingly helpful post on How to Prevent Rape, aimed at the correct target audience.

On a lighter note, Ellie, Paul, and I are all feeling much better today. And, as far as I know, none of us was raped today. All good. I did burn my thumb pretty badly with spaghetti sauce, but no day is perfect.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I'd like to start by pointing out that I live in the Midwest, Heartland of America, etc. It's November. And it was over 80 degrees outside today. I had the air conditioning on. In November! It's unnatural. Moving on to other comments about unholiness:

On the way to church on Sunday, Paul noted that Ellie was wearing a red jumper, which looked atrocious next to his orange shirt. I pointed out that my hot pink pin stripes weren't improving the picture. I think we look much better when we match:
The shirts say, Mummy, Deady, and Little Ghoul.

That's about all I remember before Ellie and I were laid up by a nasty GI bug, thanks to the cutest little plague carrier in the world. The two of us are starting to feel much better, though Paul is starting to complain of the ick. Jessica, I hope that you and yours are well. (They were here the night we were visited by the cutest little plague carrier in the world.)

Other than pregnancy-related illness, which is not to be discounted, I can't remember the last time I had a flu bug. This is my third this year, and last time was only a month ago! Whine! Still, I am perfectly *thrilled* by how well Ellie seems to be bouncing back. She's doing much better than I am. Perhaps it has something to do with the entire liter of Pedialyte she drank yesterday while I dehydrated myself to decrease the frequency of, well, I'll just stop right there.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

An Odd Sort of Loneliness

Without ever thinking about it, I always felt like being partnered meant always having someone to do things with. I don't mean date nights and parties, I mean the smaller, less planned things. Seeing a beacon in the night sky and following it. Hanging out for hours at a bookstore. Getting restless late at night and going for a long walk or drive and ending up having small adventures and private memories.

It's different with a child. When Ellie was very small, we could plop her in the sling for a walk, in the car seat for a drive, and postpone Borders for a few years. But now there are set mealtimes and bedtimes. After 7:00 one of us has to be at home. You can't hire a sitter on the off chance that you'll suddenly have the urge to go out exploring. You can't both sit up all night long eating pizza and playing video games; at least one must be ready to get up at 6:00 the next morning.

Perhaps this is what people mean when they talk about relationships changing after you have children. It used to be a partnership. Then it was a partnership with a goal, the care and comfort of an exciting new creature. And now it's a family. All of us have our own wants, needs, and preferences.

I wouldn't give up what we have for the world, but in choosing this path I incurred some losses too. And they're not all as trivial as they might sound.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Tickle Me, Ellie!

Clearly, we're long overdue for some adorable Ellie pictures and anecdotes, so here she is, circa one week ago. I am very tired, so this will have to suffice.

Ellie has learned tickling, and delights in tickling her father (under the arms and on the belly) and her mother (soles of the feet and inner thighs) at every occasion. She thinks it is riotously funny to earn a reaction from us. She has mastered an incredible sly and coy yet sweet look that warns us when an attempt to make us laugh is imminent. It's priceless.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Women's Space - a Rant

What I want to talk about is more subtle than the existence of physical women-only spaces like New Lady Fitness. But we can talk about that too, if you'd like.

What I'd like to talk about right now is frustratingly difficult to explain. I've noticed that if women address other women, or do things that help other women specifically, some men cry foul. They want to always be included, explicitly as well as implicitly.

Sometimes a politically correct push for inclusiveness has humorous effect, as with Parenting Magazine. The inclusive title is belied by its subtitle (What really matters to moms) and advertising ("Parenting, with a guaranteed circulation of 2,150,000 and a readership of nearly 11 million, is the nation’s leading magazine for moms."). In the end, it looks like the magazine is suggesting that "parenting" is equivalent to "mothering". "Fathering" certainly implies something else. And that really should be offensive to men.

More often, a PC push for inclusiveness is frustrating and serves mainly to silence women and distance us from one another.

If a mom writes an essay about mothers, there will always be men complaining that fathers are not specifically addressed in the piece. It's of no import that the author has not done anything to discourage a father from publishing his own work.

Rather than setting out to help create collaborative pieces, or to imitate the success of a mothers publication for fathers, too many men find it easy to attack women for not including them in the first place.

I don't understand why these men feel that it's women's job to make them feel comfortable and welcome everywhere at all times. I guess that second X chromosome makes us perpetual hostesses, offering special attention.

Because we can't ever say, "Hey, sister mamas, I wanna talk to you." We have to say, "Hey, other parents, let's chat." Always.

But what about the Promise Keepers? The Fathers' Rights movement?

Well, maybe those are wrong too.

But it's so much easier to attack the ladies.

It's all about the Power, people. And I tell you, it's not mothers who have all the power in this world. Not even most of it. Seriously, do we need to look at the poverty rates of mothers versus, oh, any other demographic?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


To My Friend who (I think) Drinks Too Much,

I get it now, I think. You know it's not good for you. You know it's bad for your physical and mental health. You know that in some ways it isolates you. But things are tough. It feels good. And sometimes you feel like you deserve a little treat. And then sometimes you just want a little treat. And then, maybe, it's not so much a treat as just something that feels good that you like to do. And, really, why not do something that feels good?

This just came to me out of the blue the other day. I think I understand. Because I Eat.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Laura helpfully pointed out that she was visitor number 20,001. So I looked up who came over right before Laura, and . . .

It was an anonymous visitor doing a Spanish-language Google image search for pimp my ride Chevy S10.

So . . . congratulations, Laura! You're the default winner! Stay tuned.