The Junk Drawer

Mi.Vida and I have been in couples counseling for two months now. I’m tired. Physically. Emotionally. We only go every other week but the effects of it are constant. While I truly believe we’re making progress, sometimes I just wonder if it will be enough.

You know what’s funny? I can’t remember why we even started counseling. Were we really that unrelentingly unhappy? Was their a specific catalyst or did we just hit a new low? Was it as simple as fighting more than we used to, and for longer? I can’t remember what caused us to finally step back and say, we need help, we can’t do this on our own.

On one level things seems better, good even. On the surface, the day to day, things are actually pretty great. We are kind to each other, considerate even. We share chores, offer to help each other out. When one of us wants to do something the other finds a way to make it work. When we both have plans we ask for outside help. We joke. We laugh. Things are not bad. Maybe that is why I can’t remember what got us here.

At a deeper level though, I’m not sure. When you dig past the day to day, when you get to the heart of the matter, it’s much more confusing. The reality is we’re still coming from very different places, we still want very different things. When it comes to the big ticket items everything requires a negotiation.

Negotiation is not my thing. It’s not that I don’t like conceding – I don’t mind giving something up to get something, not most of the time anyway – it’s more like I don’t like the effort it takes. I don’t care for the back and forth, the constant conversations, the talking it out, the trying a compromise on for size, seeing how it fits, determining whether I can live with it. Usually, instead of negotiating I just give in. I’d rather watch a movie I’m not interested in or eat at a restaurant I don’t enjoy all that much than try for a compromise. I also think it’s silly to have both people doing something they kind of want to do just to keep one person from doing something they don’t want to do. At least in the latter scenario the other person is going to have a good time.

But these are all small, inconsequential sacrifices. Which movie we watch or where we eat a meal are decisions that affect incredibly small amounts of time. In a few days the experience will all but be forgotten.

The bigger issues are of course, much harder. And it turns out all our big decisions require negotiation and compromise. From what I can see, for every single defining aspect of our life, either one of us will be significantly unhappy or both of us will be less than content. Is that really a way to coexist? Maybe it is and I didn’t realize. Maybe my expectations were too high.

It’s not that I think couples counseling caused this discord. It was there all along. It was there when we decided to start trying. I wanted to start much sooner than he did. Mi.Vida wanted to wait quite a bit longer. In the end we got a result neither of us was very happy with. For me the waiting created a negative, anxiety filled TTC and pregnancy experience, scarring something that had always been one of my life’s greatest dreams. For Mi.Vida starting a family earlier than he wanted made the transition to fatherhood longer, more drawn out and considerably more difficult. While the years before having Isa were incredibly challenging for me, the years after are just as challenging for Mi.Vida. I suppose at some point, down the road, we may look at it and decide those prices were worth what we got in return. Maybe later we will determine that, in retrospect, we wouldn’t change anything even if we could. (Of course Isa was worth everything we’ve endured, I’m talking more about the state of our relationship).

What I worry about is that the cycle will continue, over and over again, until we’re both so wiped out that neither of us has anything left to give. If we don’t easily agree on every aspect of our lives – how we make our money, how much money we make, where we live, the size of our family – how can we ever fashion a life we’re both happy with? Can that level of compromise, on so many issues of that magnitude, really result in lasting contentment?

Right now things feel messy. Counseling has caused us to unearth all manner of unhappiness and discontent. It was there before counseling, we just couldn’t see it. Like a closet that never get’s opened we kept many of our fears hidden, lest they spill out in an avalanche of reproach and regret.

You know how when you clean something out things get messier before they get better? Like when you dump the contents of a junk drawer on the floor so you’re forced to deal with the miscellany in its entirety? Once you’ve done that you can never go back. You’re left with innumerable little trinkets that have no home and yet you can’t bare to throw away and you must chose to either consider each one individually, sorting through them in a painstakingly careful way or throw them all away and risk losing something quite valuable. The one thing you cannot do is put it all back in the drawer because even if you do you’ll know it’s there. And it probably won’t fit right once you’ve upended everything inside.

Mi.Vida and I dumped our junk drawer on the ground and now we don’t know what to do with it. Slowly but surely we’re sorting through the debris but we’re getting tired, we’re losing steam. We only have so much time in each day to work at the mess and in the meantime it’s still their, strewn all around us. We’re forced to step over it each day, walk around the piles, be reminded constantly of its presence even when we don’t have the time or energy to deal with it.

That is where I am right now, in the frustrating lull of the junk draw clean out. I no longer feel the anticipation of possibly accomplishing this immense task, the giddy excitement of throwing caution to the wind and dumping that cursed junk drawer because I have faith I can deal with what I find. I’m way past the part where organizing its contents is a challenge I relish, armed with shiny new boxes and trays from the organize-it store.

I guess I’m at the part where I’ve put away the stuff I know what to do with and I’m left with all the rest of it, the stuff I didn’t even know was there but now I can’t get toss without risking tremendous guilt or possible regret. I guess now I’m at the part where I feel frustrated and hopeless, where I just want to give up and throw the rest of it in a box and stuff it way back into the depths of the drawer, where I won’t have to deal with it again for a long, long time.

Except I can’t. Because the things I don’t know what to do with are my hopes, my dreams, my determination, my goals. The stuff I’m not sure where to put is the life I always wanted. And I just can’t bear to let it go.

Useful Tuesday: Getting Away

This past weekend Mi.Vida and I went away for a weekend. As in we left our daughter in one place and went, without her, to another place. It was the first time I’d been away from my little girl for more than a few hours since she was born.

I have to admit, I hardly had time to be nervous about leaving Isa for 2.5 days; I was much more nervous that all our recent relationship issues would overshadow our experience, rendering the weekend a disaster. Instead of anticipating how I’d react to the separation from my baby I was hoping this weekend would rekindle things between me and Mi.Vida. And that was probably for the best because the day of our departure I was having a full on panic attack. Talk about separation anxiety.

We were very lucky to be leaving Isa in the most capable hands. She was staying at my parents’ house and my grandmother was in town to offer an extra set of eyes. This made leaving her much easier than it might have been. Of course we were still worried about her, not that she wouldn’t be well taken care of but that she’d miss us and be upset that we were gone. We were also worried we’d have no cell reception and be unreachable during an emergency.

Turned out we didn’t have much cell reception and most of the trip we were unreachable (on our cell phones but we’d given the numbers of where we were staying to my parents). The cell phone black out ended up helping us to be more present with each other and discouraged us from calling every five minutes to make sure everything was okay (it was okay, by the way).

Instead of checking in on Isa we checked in with each other, something we hadn’t done in a long, long time. Over delicious meals and breathtaking vistas we reconnected. We talked about ourselves and our lives and what we love. We laughed and joked and whispered under our breath. It was really and truly like old times.

Who wouldn’t feel better after sharing a meal here?

We only talked about Isa a little (and I abstained from watching movies of her on my iPhone until the end of the last day). Mostly we talked about silly things, we people watched and made comments, we marveled at the gorgeous surrounds and our good fortune. We spent hours deciding where we’d eat next. We had sex. We had sex again. We got drunk without having to worry about being responsible for someone when we got home. We warded off hangovers with preemptively purchased water and ibuprofen. We listened to good music and ordered drinks. We chatted with friends. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

I don’t have to tell you that Mi.Vida and I have been struggling lately. It’s been a long time since we’ve really been happy around each other. When, before the trip even started, we realized we’d recycled a birthday card (my birthday card) with $100 cash still tucked inside I was sure the weekend was ruined. But we forged ahead despite the disappointment and managed to have a fantastic time. I think we both realized that if we didn’t, things might get really, really bad.

Even if you’re not experiencing marital troubles, a weekend away can be strong and positive medicine. Escaping from the every day trials and tribulations to reconnect with each other can do wonders for a couple. No matter what is going on at home, getting away is a wonderful thing.

Now I know not everyone has family near by willing and able to watch their kids but there might be other ways to make a weekend away a reality. If family is far away maybe you could go to them and then leave your children in their care for 48 hours while you slip away to a neighboring area. Maybe your parents can come to you for a week and while they are there you can leave for a night or two. Maybe a friend could take your little one(s) for a weekend if you promise to do the same for them some day. It might take some imagination and planning but if it’s all possible, it’s worth attempting. A weekend away can be just what the doctor ordered.

Coming home on Sunday night I was so eager to see my daughter. I even hoped she’d get up in the night so I could be with her. When she roused me at 6am I was ecstatic to see her and she seemed pretty happy to see me too. I’m sure this week I will be hugging her a little tighter and lingering longer when I swoop in for a kiss.

And while I’m sure the carefree attitude that surrounded us on our weekend away will quickly dissipate, I have faith that the healing that took place will remain.

Mindful Mondays: The Heaven of the Moment

It’s no secret that Mi.Vida and I have been experiencing a rough time of it lately. The first year of parenthood is a difficult transition for many couples and we are not an exception. Yesterday my therapist and I put together an action plan to address some of the issues Mi.Vida and I have been struggling with. When I got home we implemented the plan with considerable success. (I hope to write more about this tomorrow). We still have a long way to go but I am confident that we will get there.

Recently I found a book that was given to us after our commitment ceremony. It’s called The Couple’s Tao Te Ching by William Martin. This morning I turned to this page and was stuck by how relevant it was to us.

The Heaven of the Moment

Always thinking of what you like / and what you don’t like / exhausts the energy that could be used / to fuel your passion.

Events of life are always changing. / Everything is made new in your life / between the time you read this line … / and this one. / Difficult times and joyous times / can follow each other as swiftly. / When good times arrive welcome them. / When they seem to pass, let them go. / When pain arrives do not despair. / It will pass as well. / You will sometimes feel strong and whole, / and sometimes weak and partial. / This is not a problem. / Do not let these things distract you.


It is important to remember that this difficult time will pass, as have passed the difficult (and joyous) times before it. Just as one should not get attached to the good times, we also must not become so entangled in the bad. Hopefully this simple reminder will help us navigate through this challenge and those that are sure to follow it.

Confessional Fridays: I don’t wanna (the completed version)

Turns out I posted some unfinished version of this many hours ago. I have no idea what version that was. OOPS! Anyway, in case you get my posts via reader, here it is again, in it’s completed form:

I wrote that title and then I navigated away from the page. I came back and re-read what I had written and I laughed. I could write on numerous topics for that title. Here are just some of the posts that could follow the title of “I don’t wanna…”

… clean my house.

…. go to work.

… eat my veggies (more on this soon).

… grade papers.

… do my taxes.

… ever swipe my VISA at Babies R Us again.

… be a responsible spender.

The list goes on and on. In fact, the topic of this post might seem a little strange, surprising even. Because what I don’t wanna do is, take birth control.

Queue the snorts, muffled laughter and/or down right hysterics. Take birth control? you might think. I’m my own, unintended birth control, I WISH I had to TAKE something to not get pregnant, but I can do that all by my lonesome.

I get it. I really do.

I guess now would be the appropriate time to offer some back story. In the interest of keeping this brief I will use bullet points.

– Amenorreha from 18-26. Take BCP every couple of years to jump start menstruation but it never sticks.

– Meet Mi.Vida and take BCP for 2.5 years while we’re together.

– Me: VERY eager to start a family with Mi.Vida when we realize we’re in it for the long haul. Mi.Vida: not so much; the opposite, in fact. It takes us a while to come to an understanding.

– I start acupuncture/TCM diet/Chinese herbs before we start in an attempt to keep menstruating once I’m off the pill.

– Queue TTC with BBT charting, OPK sticks and timed intercourse.

– In the space of about a year we have one ectopic pregnancy and then quickly become pregnant with our daughter.

So back to birth control. Basically, I hate taking the pill. Of course it’s annoying to have to take it every day at the same time of day. And every three months I have to remember to order it before I run out. I also don’t like putting synthetic hormones in my body, altering the way it works. But my biggest complaint with BCP is that it decimates my libido.

And that is the other confession for my post. Some (most?) of the time, “I don’t wanna” also applies to sex. But it’s not really that I don’t want to have sex, it more like I don’t really care if we do. I know that sounds horrible to say, but it’s the truth. Well, not the whole truth. I mean, I do want to have sex because I feel great after we do it and I KNOW it makes our relationship better, deeper, closer. And it’s not like I don’t like to have sex, because I do. And once I get into it, I’m into it and I enjoy it very much. But before I’m in the throes of it, almost always I could take it or leave it, in equal measure. I just don’t have that drive inside of me. And I think it’s because of the pill, because I felt this way long before having my daughter.

Lately I’ve been needling Mi.Vida about not wanting to take the pill but I’ve never asked us to really look into possible alternatives. Last night and this morning we got into a little tiff about it. Today I sent Mi.Vida the following in an email:

Recently, since I’ve been trying hard to make “our time” a more important and integral part of our relationship, I wonder again if the pill has something to do with my decreased libido… Sometimes, when I feel so much pressure to make sure our sex life is healthy and thriving I can’t help but feel resentful that I’m taking something that could potentially make it harder for me to do that.

So that is where I’m coming from. I feel really stuck in the middle. On the one hand I know it’s the optimal form of birth control for us, on the other hand I think it might be making it difficult for me to be an enthusiastic participant in our sex life, which is also really important to our relationship. The fact that this is something that physically alters the workings of my body doesn’t help much.

When I say optimal, what I mean is most effective with the least amount of hassle. My go-to family planning alternative is charting to avoid (or whatever it’s called in Taking Charge of Your Fertility). Mi.Vida’s is condoms. Neither of us feels very enthusiastically about each other’s alternative (and Mi.Vida doesn’t feel very enthusiastically about his own, quite frankly).

Mi.Vida is very adamant about family planning. He does NOT want us to have a child before we’re “ready”. I’m not so worried about it, I think it would be kind of fun to just get pregnant while we’re really not trying. A part of me even thinks it’s silly to worry about it when so many months of perfectly timed intercourse with semen-friendly Pre-Seed yielded nothing. Mi.Vida could not disagree more. I know his is the responsible way to approach things but it’s just not what I feel in my heart. My take is that we’re in the “family planning” part of our lives, for me an unplanned BFP would be the best kind of surprise. For Mi.Vida it would just be unplanned, and possibly burdensome.

So that is where we are right now. I’ve decided I’ll look more into tempting to avoid and present my case to him when I’m ready. In the meantime, I’m renewing my prescription today or tomorrow for another three months of the pill. I guess I’m fine with whatever we decide as long as we’ve explored all our options.

In the meantime, can anyone recommend some effective aphrodisiacs?

And for all of you who are here for ICLW – welcome (and sorry for the sex talk)!


Mountains and Valleys

Saturday morning I wrote the following post:

Mi.Vida and I are fighting. Or we just fought. I don’t know. I’m too tired to discern the difference.

Somehow I haven’t mentioned it much here but Isa’s sleeping has been really rough lately. Gone are the days of our amazing sleep trained baby. I don’t know what it is, but my baby girl is crying through long parts of the night. Never more than an hour at a time, but sometimes 40+ minutes, three times a night. It’s wearing on me. Making me sad, depressed even. It is sucking the joy out of my days, my last days with my daughter. It’s really, really hard.

The problem is I don’t know how to make it stop. Do I just start picking her up and comforting her, throwing away all the sleep training we did? Even if I did pick her up, would she stop crying? I don’t know what she wants, what she needs. Has she been thrown off by the time shift? Is she cold at night now that the temperature has dropped? Am I not producing enough milk? Is she napping too long? Not enough? Is she now used to sleeping next to me with her binki in the day and wants to do so during the night? Will simply rocking her be enough? There were so many nights when she screamed in my arms for hours on end and nothing I could do would help. Is this a similar situation? What is happening to my baby girl?

Mi.Vida and I are fighting because I feel like it’s my responsibility to solve this problem, or at least offer possible solutions and try them out. I spend so much of my day reading about sleep issues, trying to contact sleep consultants or enroll in sleep solution classes (which are all wait listed this month). I mull over possible problems and decide on how I might tackle them. I attempt different strategies and when they fail I return to the drawing board equipped with this new, and many times, unhelpful, information. Every once in a while I run my ideas past Mi.Vida and invariably receive an “okay” or “sounds good” or “that makes sense” in reply.

I didn’t get to finish that post but I was going to talk about how overwhelmed I feel and that I can’t handle being responsible for making all the important decisions about raising Isa. I know Mi.Vida has had much less experience with children and can’t spend as much time as I do researching these things but I need his help. I was going to talk about how resentful I was feeling. I was going to broach the subject of the rift I forming between us.

I was going to talk about how I was starting to worry that the stresses of parenthood might actually come between us, like really come between us, like cause irreparable damage. I was going to talk about how I worried that, eventually, I’d lose him to these challenges.

But then we had a really good day. Despite being exhausted and frustrated and unsure of how to proceed we picked ourselves up, dusted each other off and actually found it in ourselves to support one another. We made jokes about how the bottom felt like it was falling out. We scrambled to take the blame for both “covert and overt needling”. We laughed. We giggled. We doted over Isa and reflected on our incredible fortune. We assured each other that we’d make it through this.

And to my great relief, Mi.Vida showered me with affection and showed me that he had it in him to get through this, despite how hard it might be. By Saturday night I felt so much better.

Then Saturday night, despite a very difficult start to the evening, Isa allowed us 8 straight hours of sleep and we both woke up so well rested and refreshed. Literally the first thought through my head upon waking was, I don’t feel tired right now. It was regenerative.

Sunday was a busy day. Isa and I went to visit a family I used to babysit for while Ben headed to airport for a 24 hour business trip to Chicago. After visiting two girls who’s diaper I used to change but who are now almost in high school we rushed back to the city for a sleep solutions seminar. It was GREAT and I can’t wait to put all I learned into action. I promise I’ll tell you all the great stuff this Useful Tuesday.

To finish up the day, I dropped Isa off with my in-laws so I could turn in a paper that was due by 8pm.

Finally we headed home, I got Isa in bed (and asleep) by 7:30 and then I started the first of many loads of laundry.

All in all it was an eye-opening and ultimately endearing weekend.

What did you do this weekend? Anything fun?

BUENAS NOTICIAS – Mi.Vida took Friday off and we took Isa up to Sonoma for some wine tasting. Isa was a great sport and I got to wet my lips with many a wonderful vintage. I also took some great pictures of Isa, but you’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see them!

We did it

Well we did it. Today we finally did it. After much anxiety and fear about how it would feel, whether or not it would hurt, if it would be the same – we did it. We had sex. I was so nervous, so afraid it would be painful, would lack satisfaction. I was terrified it wouldn’t be what it used to be.

Obviously I have to tread carefully here. I have no desire to write about my sex life on my blog. But, I do feel like sex after pregnancy and vaginal birth is something that other women want to know about so I don’t want to omit it from my story. It’s an important part of new motherhood and I cannot pretend like it’s not a huge part of my life.

I can report that it didn’t hurt very much, hardly at all really. I did feel a little tender in some spots but that was very manageable. I had heard that dryness can be an issue while breastfeeding so we were proactive about that. As far as decreased sensation or things being “stretched” and therefor less stimulating, well that didn’t seem to be the case either. Basically it was just the way I remember it, and for that I’m so grateful.

I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’ve been so worried about this for so long, in the absence of that worry I feel free. I’m so relieved that this is not an issue. I’m so thrilled that things are back to normal.

I have to admit, it’s strange to be having sex just to have sex. It’s strange that it’s not timed, nor will it be, for the foreseeable future. It’s strange that there’s nothing I hope to gain from the encounter, nothing else I hope to accomplish. It’s strange for sex to feel consequence free.

The reality is, in the coming months I will be having sex for a reason. I will be having sex to nourish my relationship. I’ve read in multiple books that keeping up with your sex life is one of (possibly the most) important thing a couple can do after they have a baby. Having sex keeps you close, helps you each experience fulfillment, brings meaning to your relationship.

I’m sure there will be times when I don’t feel like having sex. Being the primary care giver to a helpless infant is not an aphrodisiac for anybody. But my relationship with Mi.Vida is very important to me and I intend to take care of it. If that means finding enthusiasm for sex when all I want is sleep, then enthusiasm I shall find.

I guess sex still does serve a purpose. Now it serves the purpose that probably got lost while were TTC. Now it’s meant to bring Mi.Vida and I closer together, keeping us happy, keeping us whole.

And now that I’ve done a test drive and I’m sure all my machinery is still running smoothly, I say – bring it on.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – We got the first two discs of Dexter Season 4 from Netflix and we’re already four episodes in. I LOVE THIS SHOW!!!


When I was about 20 weeks pregnant Mi.Vida and I met up with Mi.Vida’s friends,  a couple and their two year old son. I hadn’t really noticed it, but when we got home Mi.Vida mentioned that he thought they had been short with each other a few times during lunch. He wondered aloud if couples become that way when they have small children. I said I didn’t know.

Fast forward to last night. I had picked up Mi.Vida from a late night meeting and as he changed Isa’s diaper he asked me again if couples with young children are just short with each other. On the way home there had been a few moments of shortness – passive aggressive responses or lack-there-ofs – and he wanted to know if that was our new norm. He was very calm when he asked, almost resigned. I didn’t know quite how to respond. It really struck a cord with me.

We spoke about it that night – promising that we’d work very hard to consciously avoid the shortness that so easily creeps into daily conversations. I voiced my hope that things were more difficult right now than they would be later and that the intensity of the first few months might explain our easy frequent decent into passive aggressiveness.

What’s strange about the discussion we had last night was that neither one of us was upset, not in the least bit. We were, however, tired. Very, very tired. By the time Mi.Vida comes home at night we’re both so exhausted we can hardly interact with each other. And this is with a daughter who sleeps 3-5 hours at a time at night. I don’t know how people make it through when their newborns sleep less! The exhaustion is definitely starting to wear on us. You can see the effects it’s having on pretty much every aspect of our lives, but most obviously on our relationship. We’re both trying so hard to prop each other up but we barely have the energy to keep ourselves together, let alone support each other.

Last Friday Mi.Vida’s parents watched Isa while Mi.Vida and I went to dinner. After a wonderful sushi meal and one drink at a bar (I was a bad girl and enjoyed a Diet Coke) we couldn’t think of what else to do and went home. The reality is we were way too tired to stay out for longer than one and a half hours. Upon returning home we commenced our usual lounging around the apartment, half-heartedly trying to pick through the chaos that has overtaken the six rooms we call home. Mi.Vida fell asleep on the couch while I washed out cloth diapers in the toilet. By midnight we were in bed and we’d hardly communicated with each other at all.

In many ways Mi.Vida and I have it very easy. Isa is a “good” baby. She suffers from increased fussiness in the evenings and has a rough time falling asleep for the first sleep of the night, but that is about it. Both Mi.Vida and I have our families near by and all four grandparents are clamoring to hold and care for their grandchild, affording us lots of opportunities to run errands or even hang out together, as we did the other night. Still, we barely seem to be getting by sometimes. I know this would be difficult, but I guess “knowing” and “doing” are different things.

I’m not trying to complain. Isa makes me so happy and I love her dearly. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything in the world. I just hope that my relationship with Mi.Vida survives this sometimes difficult transition time into parenthood.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – Isa continues to gain weight at an amazing rate. At her one month check up she was 11 pounds and still in the 90th percentile. I’m so grateful that she’s doing so well.