Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Owed Treats: Vaccines & More

We wish we could give the bambino treats after he bravely faces something difficult, like yesterday's two month vaccines.

Of course, there really aren't any treats for infants. He can't spend extra time playing soccer, call his best friend to meet up, or have ice cream. My husband said with a smile that we should keep a list of all the treats we owe him. Then, later, we can say, "this ice cream cone is for that first time your blood was drawn." With all the crying and noisy, uncomfortable sleep, it feels like we owe him an entire gelateria.

For now, he gets all the attention he wants and deserves. Like always. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Trickster Baby: Infant Sleep

Our bambino happily sleeping in nonna's arms

Before I read about infant sleep noises, I thought our baby was a trickster baby. He'd fall asleep, I'd lie down on the bed in his room, and then he'd let out a cry. I'd get out of bed to check on him and his eyes would be closed as if he never made a peep.

Huh. That's confusing. And not restful for his parents.

It turns out infants make all kinds of noise in their sleep. If they quickly quiet down after a short outburst and their eyes stay closed (or close again quickly), then they don't need to be picked up. (I'm sure that all babies are a little different and each parent has to get used to her child's signals.)

Since the infant's belly is very small and he digests his food quickly, he can't wait too long between feedings. Infants are supposed to sleep 16- 18 hours a day; if they feed every 2 - 4 hours, that doesn't leave a lot of time for infant or parent sleeping (or anything else.)

I found it very difficult to sleep while I was pregnant. I also found it super annoying to be told that I should "sleep now before the baby comes." I am now so exhausted that there are no problems falling asleep when given the chance. And, of course, it is easier to sleep without a gigantic belly.

My husband and I take turns being "on duty" throughout the night so each of us gets at least six hours of continuous sleep a night. One of us sleeps in the guest bed in the baby's room and the other sleeps in our bed. Our son prefers to sleep when someone holds him, but slowly we've been able to help him become more accustomed to the crib.

Here are some really good tips from Parents magazine about putting - and keeping - your baby to sleep.  We've had luck following Dr. Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block suggestions with white noise and a tight swaddle around the bambino before we put him in the crib.

Of course, don't forget to put your baby Back to Sleep

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

High Tech Poop: Baby Connect App

Here's something I didn't imagine when I was daydreaming about being a mother - the pediatrician asks us how many diapers the baby has had and we can answer definitively because we've been using the Baby Connect app. We track his diaper changes, feedings, naps and medicine on the app and have set up our babysitters to do the same. 

While it sounds like something only obsessive new parents would do (ok, maybe), it has been really helpful. We take shifts at night and wake up able to check the app to catch up on the baby's feedings and more. I can keep track of how long I've been breastfeeding, which isn't easy when he naps in the middle, and which breast the bambino last fed from. Since breastfeeding has been difficult for us, it has been encouraging to see how different days compare, not to mention how we are improving. 

My husband may be a statistician, and I may be the furthest thing from one, but both of us find the app really helpful and easy to use. 

What baby-related-apps have you found useful? 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Weekly Poetry Deadlines

There are lots of reasons not to write, especially with a baby. Projectile poop, which turns out to be a real thing, distracts from the beauty of language and the romance of writing. Since I spent almost the entire pregnancy exhausted and poem-less, I really wanted to break the dry spell and find reasons to write again.

A poet-friend challenged me to exchange new poems with her weekly. This looming deadline has helped to motivate me to read poetry, think about new lines and finally write and share the end product with her. After all, who wants to admit defeat to a friend? And who wants to stop writing once and for all?

Writing isn’t only the quiet time I spend in front of the computer screen. It is also the time I spend thinking about lines, images and ideas as I finish the baby’s daily laundry, clean his bottles, and finish other chores. (No, I’m not only writing about baby-safe laundry detergent.) Getting into the habit, or rather getting back into the habit, of mentally existing in search of a poem makes it possible to write again.

One draft of a new poem a week isn’t a lot, especially since there aren’t always salvageable lines or ideas in the drafts. But it is important to write and keep my mind in that world, even now. Or perhaps especially now.

When I’m with my baby, my attention is on him. And sometimes that attention includes talking to him about poetry. I read him my drafts, lines that persist in my head and published poems from his growing library. The rhythm and rhyme in many of his books has made me think differently about language and voice. Without the deadline, I might not have remembered to look for poetry daily.

Thank you to my friend for the encouragement and the excitement of reading her new weekly poem.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Unrest @ Poets House Showcase in New York City

The Poets House hosts an annual Showcase featuring all of the poetry books and poetry-related texts published in the last year. I was very happy to have Unrest included in this year's Showcase, which opened on Thursday, June 27, 2013, and will be on view through Saturday, August 3. Click through to browse the catalogue and read a recent New York Times review of the show. 

Thanks to my mom, Melabee M. Miller, for kindly stopping by and taking some phone-photos of the room and my book. I'm sorry to miss the Showcase this year, but we're staying close to home in D.C. with the bambino for a few months. 

Order your own, signed copy of Unrest here

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Poetry Reading this Sunday: Joaquin Miller Poetry Series

I'm looking forward to reading this Sunday with Terri Merz at the Joaquin Miller Poetry Series at the Rock Creek Nature Center in Washington, D.C., this Sunday afternoon. I hope to see you there! Click through for directions.

I'll be reading poems from my chapbook Unrest and some newer poems. I might even read some about pregnancy and my son. These are, of course, newer poems, but I think a few might be ready for an audience. I don't think that my writing style has changed, although the subject has deepened. And I'm more exhausted, so I'm writing in shorter (and fewer) spurts at this point. 

Unrest was published this winter. To learn more or to order your signed copy, click here

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Not Looking to Buy

Nope. I'm not in the market for planes, trains or automobiles. Or boats, motorcycles, scooters or any other type of motor vehicle. Someone with my name and a similar email address seems to be regularly responding to related ads and then accidentally or purposely using my email address. I receive one to five emails a day about these potential purchases.

Or scams. It isn't clear if the potential buyer is sincere or a scammer. I've written to the address ( and never received a response. (See this page about the address and related scams. There's also the email address to be concerned about.)

There are also two phone numbers apparently connected to the email address (one in New York and one in New Jersey. Sigh. Why does my home state always seem to be implicated in these things?)

If you are searching the email address above - or mine - and you are looking to sell something, please know that it wasn't me.

For safe online shopping tips, read this AARP article