Category Archives: Baby McK


I am a creature of habit.  I like to have structure to my days and order to my plans.  I realized today that my daughter is the same way.

She was out of her routine for three days in a row.  She stayed at my parents’ house on Friday into Saturday, so she was out of her routine.  Yesterday we celebrated Easter twice, almost 200 miles apart, so she was out of her routine.  Today she was home, and in her routine.  And she was a lunatic.

As I described to my mother, “It’s like she’s just been emitting a steady whine all day.”  She cried, which she never does, and all she wanted to do was snuggle.  I liked the snuggling part, not so much the crying.  My girl was clearly tired, and she’s teething, and she’s going through a Wonder Week and a growth spurt.  All of these conspired to make one cranky girl.

My husband, who is in serious contention for Father of the Year, bore the brunt of her crank today.  I got a pedicure and went shopping with some friends and he held down the fort.  Her mood improved as the day went on, and by bedtime she was our smiley girl again.  I know she might be a little off again tomorrow, but I also know that being home and staying in her routine will help her get back on her feet.  I knew I loved routines, I just didn’t realize I’d passed that love on to my girl!


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It is so easy to lose oneself in taking care of others.  It is not easy to take care of others.  It is not easy to lose oneself.  But it is easy to lose oneself in taking care of others.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, because I’m not.  I didn’t even particularly care for others all that much today–I attended a workshop for part of the day, then ran errands while my mother-in-law watched the baby.  My husband and I didn’t even have dinner together (he’s watching March Madness with friends, I’m eating Oreos on the couch).

But maybe it was the NOT caring for people today that made me realize how easy it is to get caught up in it.  I saw a picture on Instagram (of all places) about taking a Saturday morning yoga class and I thought, My God, how wonderful it would be to wake up on Saturday morning and take a yoga class.  But that’s just not how my life works right now.  My husband has baseball practice in the morning and is following that up with helping students at the library; the earliest I could get to yoga is 2:00 but we have a family birthday dinner tomorrow night that I still need to finish preparing for.  Yoga is not in my cards tomorrow. That doesn’t mean it’s never in my cards, but I can’t help but think about how . . . lost I can get when I spend my days taking care of others.  How I can get so caught up in caring for others that I don’t think about taking care of myself.

And it’s not like I’m being FORCED to care for others.  (Well, maybe my daughter is forcing me to take care of her as much as a 5 1/2 month old can force anything.)  I choose to do it.  Do I do it to avoid taking care of myself?  Maybe.  But reflecting on how out of reach that yoga class is made me think about self care.  I don’t think I do enough of it.  Writing is a form of self care, and I’ve made time for that this month.  So is reading.  So is running.  I have to remember as I race around taking care of others (make this dinner buy that present write those thank yous) that I’m a person who needs taking care of too.


Filed under Baby McK, Memoir, SOL16, Uncategorized


You don’t know how important sleep is until you’re not getting it.  I’m a new mother, and so when I tell most people I’ve been tired, really tired, bone-achingly tired lately, they assume it’s because the baby isn’t sleeping.  They give me tips, and tricks, and tried and true tactics to help her sleep through the night.  But here’s the thing: She sleeps like a rock, longer and longer every night.  Last night she went down at 7:00 and woke begrudgingly at 6:45. Baby McK isn’t the one who needs help sleeping through the night.  I am.

I have never had a problem sleeping.  I was the teenager who slept till noon, the college student who frequently napped throughout the day.  As an adult I would regularly get six to seven hours of quality sleep a night with some extra on the weekends.  I was a champion sleeper.  Truly Olympic medal worthy.

But something happened during my pregnancy.  Like many pregnant women I had bad heartburn.  Like many women I had pack pains.  Like many women I had morning sickness.  These things all conspired to wake me during the night.  Every night.  Multiple times.  So from roughly the third month of my pregnancy (last March or so) until the end I did not sleep well.

Then, of course, when the baby was born I had some sleeping issues.  She would wake up a few times a night and, because my husband was back at work, I was almost always the one up with her.  Suddenly, blissfully, she began sleeping through the night.  First five hour stretches, then six, and now almost twelve.  She clearly loves her sleep almost as much as her mother.

Still, though, I cannot sleep through the night.  I’m not waking up for any reason–my husband often wakes up in a panic in the middle of the night looking for the baby or thinking he can hear her crying.  I’m not having trouble going to sleep–my sister has always had a terrible time falling asleep, often lying awake for hours.  I just can’t seem to stay asleep.  I wake up two, three, four times a night.  I look at the time, I sigh, I fall back to sleep.  I’m not even up for very long, but I’m up long enough to interrupt my sleep cycles.  Long enough so that my sleep, no matter how long it is, isn’t restful.  It’s been about a year since I’ve slept through an entire night.  It’s exhausting.

I started taking melatonin last night. Several friends have suggested it helped improved the quality of their sleep.  Tonight I’m going to couple that with a cup of Sleepytime tea.  I’m drinking water, exercising, eating well, anything to help my body be in the best position to go to sleep and stay asleep. Here’s hoping something works, so I can get some much needed rest!



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Patch and Squeaky

I have had two toys since my childhood: Patch, a stuffed 101 Dalmatians doll I got on my seventh birthday, and Squeaky, a blanket I’ve had since birth.  The two relics of my childhood have accompanied me everywhere I’ve gone for as long as I can remember.  They came to college.  They came to my married life.  They once even travelled to Europe!  Now that I am a mother, the number one question my family has asked is “Will you give her Patch and Squeaky?”

I’m embarrassed to say that my immediate reaction is, almost always, no.  Let me rephrase.  Hell no.  Not a chance.  They are my Patch and Squeaky.  My special friends.  She’ll get her own.  My aunt even gave her her own mini-Patch doll, and a blanket that’s soft like my Squeaky once was.  She’ll be fine.  She doesn’t need m
y protectors; she’ll have her own.

But a week or so ago it started to happen.  It was early in the morning (somewhere in the five o’clock hour), and my defenses were low.  I had Squeaky on the bed and Baby McK was lounging next to us, happy to be surrounded by Mom and Dad.  Suddenly her little hand darted out, grabbed Squeaky and she immediately put her blanket-covered fist in her mouth. My husband looked at me.  Would I fly off the handle?  Would I yank it out of her hand?  Even I didn’t know.

But she smiled at me, her big, toothless, five month old smile, and I let her have it.  I let her hold my blanket.

IMG_1551This morning I pulled Patch from under my pillow and her eyes lit up in delight.  She reached her arms out and squealed, and just like that he was hers.  Once again, right in her mouth.  My husband watched, bemused, through heavy lids.  She had weakened my defenses, and now she has my heart and my prized possessions.



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Nice Days

Some days are just nice days.  Things mostly go right in the classroom, things mostly go right at home.  Things mostly go right in life.  Not great days; not call a friend and celebrate days.  Just nice days.

Today was a nice day.  I introduced two ambitious projects in class today (a multigenre writing about a dystopian novel and an essay based on this book about place) and the students responded with enthusiasm.  I reintroduced the writer’s notebook for the first time since returning from maternity leave and the students took to the idea of low stakes writing beautifully.  They had an essay due and almost every student completed in on time.  There was meatloaf in the cafeteria.

Then I left school and it was beautiful.  I walked to my car with no coat.  I got home early so I took advantage of my extra time by cleaning out my car and my trunk.  I came inside and my daughter was so excited to see me she couldn’t even eat (and believe me, she can always eat).  We snuggled and giggled, then she yawned and went peacefully down for a 12791070_10104737247015809_1648070591312937633_nnap.  I’m now typing this on our little deck, watching as she sleeps on the monitor.  I’ll use the rest of my stolen nap time to get lesson plans done and maybe even come up with an action plan for my long put off dissertation.  When my husband comes home from baseball practice, he’ll bring dinner and I’ll go to the gym.

Some days are just nice  Sometimes I need to remember that when the days are not so nice.


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It is a truth universally acknowledged that my daughter’s naps will last for exactly 30 minutes unless I have somewhere to go.  Then they will last an hour.  Or two.  Or even three.  But only if there’s been a timeline established for the day.  Otherwise, 30 minutes.  No more, no less.

As I type, my daughter has been sleeping for an hour.  This is her second nap of the day.  My husband and I are both sitting on the couch.  We are showered and dressed and hungry.  We’ve been up with her since 5:30.  Although we did doze in and out during her first hour of wakefulness, we’ve been dealing with our rolling, smiling, snacking girl all morning.  And now we are hungry.  We want to go to the diner (that grand New Jersey Sunday tradition), but for now we wait.  When we put her down for her nap we thought, let’s let her sleep for a little bit.  She’s clearly tired and that way she won’t be a cranky monster in the diner. She’ll only sleep half an hour, we thought.  We can wait half an hour for pancakes (sweet sweet pancakes).

That was an hour ago.  If she’s not up by 11:00 we will give up the ghost of the diner and make breakfast here.  We have bacon and eggs, but, of course, it’s not the same.  We’re trying to get out and do more with the baby now that she’s a little older, and we figured the diner was a low stakes family trip.  But now, as 11:00 draw nearer and nearer (and my daughter drifts deeper and deeper into sleep) it looks more and more likely that we’ll be eating at home for today.

We’ll just have to plan another trip somewhere else!


Filed under Baby McK, SOL16, Uncategorized