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I can’t believe I have a ten-month-old. Two digits. I was looking at Pinterest the other day and saw all of these adorable ideas of things to do with your baby, and realized that my baby is too old for them. Too. Old. Wait, what? I have to remind myself every day that he is still a baby, still so little, even though he seems so big and is looking more and more like a toddler every time I turn around.

My son’s first priority in life seems to be exploration and movement. This month that has meant that he has perfected his crawling skills and is now a little speed demon. He also has started climbing on things, and while he hasn’t quite figured out how to get up onto our coffee table and cabinets at school yet, he’s trying very hard. He has, however, figured out how to climb up stairs. I find this slightly terrifying. He’s good at it, too — a few days ago he went up the entire staircase (with his dad spotting him closely, of course). I walked out of his bedroom to see him sitting on the next-to-top step, grinning at me. Busy, busy baby. In the last week he has also developed the ability to stand unassisted, and when he’s done standing he lowers himself to the ground instead of toppling over. It is amazing to watch the process as he figures out his body and how it moves.

Of course, with all of this movement comes a lot of bonks. He bonks his head when he miscalculated and topples into things, he bonks when the dog knocks him over, he bonks when he leans on the toy basket and it flips over unexpectedly. The saddest of all bonks are the ones where he runs into a table or windowsill because he is now taller than he was a few weeks ago and no longer has clearance on said piece of furniture. When that happens, he gets this betrayed look on his face as if someone has gone around shortening everything while he was sleeping just to mess with him.

Thanks to a bout of pinkeye (and an ear infection discovered at the same time), we were back at the doctor’s office just before he turned ten months. His weight is hanging out just below the 50th percentile at this point, but his height was back up again closer to the 70th. He grows in one direction at a time, and this month it has been up. I expect we’ll do out for a while soon. Looking back over the year, I suspect we’re going to end up with an average-sized kid, despite a few months of being OMG SO BIG. Given that both BWB and I are small, I didn’t expect a giant child, and I am very happy to have him be stone cold average. The “nine month” sized clothes are the first set which he hasn’t outgrown like mad before he even hit that age, so I think his growth is starting to slow down (as it is supposed to). At the moment, nine-month onesies still fit fine, but we’ve had to move up a size for pants, unless I feel like putting him in capris. Strange. It seems that clothing sizes for little babies are just as confusing as clothing sizes for women, varying by manufacturer and reflecting someone’s random idea of “normal” which may or may not resemble reality.

I could (and should), as always, write an entirely separate post on feeding this little guy. I took an online quiz a few months ago about “What Type Of Mom Are You?” and it told me I am a “whatever works!” mom. Nowhere is that more evident than in my son’s diet. He gets some combination of breastmilk, purees, and table food, and he still eats like a little vacuum cleaner. I am counting down the days until I don’t have to pump anymore, and have started cutting back my pumping at work already, but neither of us is ready to give up nursing anytime soon. It’s so confusing, though; I don’t expect that he will turn one and magically stop eating any purees or bottles and eat only table food with cow milk in a cup, but how does that transition work? I get anxious at the thought of him not having bottles at day care anymore not because he needs the bottles but because it will mean he doesn’t get cuddled on during his snack times. Will he miss the cuddling? How do I know he’s ready to give that up? I know I have two months before any of this has to be acted on, but it is already causing me headaches.

My little explorer finds more and more of his world every day, and I love watching him. He is developing a temper when things don’t go his way, and looks to see if I have noticed he toppled over before deciding he should fuss about it. He gets impatient if we don’t feed him fast enough, or try to feed him more than he’s interested in. My easy bedtime boy has started to stubbornly refuse to go to sleep, in case he misses the party. Mostly, though, he is a cheerful and easy-going baby who entertains himself happily and laughs easily. I love him more than anything, in case you hadn’t noticed. He’s pretty awesome.

In the past when I’ve been a bit late with one of these updates, I’ve tried to back-date the information. My brain is fried this month, though, and trying to restrict myself is delaying the post even longer, so we’re just going to call it six and a half months and roll with it.

Everything is totally different and completely the same. The same, because once again he is getting bigger than I am even remotely ready for, making developmental leaps that make me proud and sad all at once, and changing every single day. Different, because he is getting bigger, making developmental leaps, and changing every day. I know at some point the growth and development curve levels out a little bit and I won’t feel quite so much like I’m sprinting to keep up with him, but right now I’m breathless from the intensity of our pace.

My son doesn’t sit unsupported for extended periods of time, but I’m not entirely convinced this isn’t because he can’t do it. Every time I sit him up, he sees a toy just out of reach and lunges for it. (I’m using the phrase “toy” very loosely, meaning more “object that he is interested in obtaining and exploring/chewing on” and including power cables, dog bones, and dishware.) This same drive to obtain out-of-reach objects has resulted in a very mobile baby, and his crawling skills get better day by day. He started off by shoving his face and head forward on the floor, which made me worry about rug burn on his little cheeks, then grabbed rug and pulled himself forward like a sideways rope climb. Now he has an Army-style movement going, belly on the ground while he propels himself along with both arms and legs. He’s not very fast yet, but getting more adept at it at an alarming pace. We’ve already had one incident where he unearthed a plastic bag full of tiny nails (from putting together Ikea furniture) from somewhere under the wardrobe (I think, still not sure where it came from exactly) and scared me to death as he waved it at me excitedly. We need to add baby-proofing to our to-do list stat, I’m afraid.

I am not sure how I have a six-and-a-half-month-old baby, or where this huge baby came from, or what he has done with my tiny little newborn. My son shot up to the 80th percentile for length and stayed around the 70th percentile for weight. The pediatrician and I were both a little dubious of the numbers because my little wiggle worm was making it difficult to get a consistent result on the scale and height-measuring gadget, but nevertheless the fact remains that I have a big baby. My sitter resorted to out-and-out scolding this month to get me to go buy bigger clothes for him, fussing at me for letting his little ankles and calves freeze to death in his increasingly too-short pants. I had been meaning to get him some, but every time I started to buy the nine month size clothes, I would get weepy. They look so big! My baby is not that big. Several people have recommended skipping ahead to 12-month sizes and just rolling up cuffs to save money, but I can’t bring myself to purchase such huge outfits. This is ridiculous, the rational part of my brain says, but it is what it is.

Of course, nourishing all of that growth is getting to be a challenge. I’m doing my best to stick to recommendations stating that, as far as solid foods go, “under one is just for fun”, and keeping his diet primarily breast milk, but it’s getting difficult to keep up with him. Yesterday I pumped 18 ounces in two sessions while I was at work, and the baby ate 20 ounces over the course of his day. The sitter told me he probably would have eaten more, except she gave him some banana and that helped. He used to eat 12-16 ounces in a day, but now he’s downing 20-24 easily, especially since he has mostly dropped his night feeds. I’m glad I have a freezer stash which allows me to make up a few extra ounces on days when he outpaces me, but it won’t last forever and right now I’m not able to replace what I use very often. I know that everything will be fine if we have to supplement with formula. Most of the mothers I know have used some amount of formula, and I have absolutely no problem with formula. I think my anxiety about supplementing isn’t really about the formula, it’s more that I know that if I didn’t have to work, we wouldn’t have an issue. It’s my biggest mommy-guilt moment, to know that my having to work could change something so fundamental as what he eats. Again, this is not the most rational thing in the world, but my anxiety doesn’t have to be rational, thanks very much.

We started solid foods this month, first with sweet potato, then pumpkin, banana, apple, and most recently yogurt. He hasn’t been very enthusiastic about the whole thing, although he seems to really be digging the yogurt. I think he likes it because it’s cold and tart, but of course I have no way of knowing. Pumpkin and banana are okay too, sweet potato is a little ‘eh’. Right after we tried the apple, he began to have ridiculous amounts of poo, seemed to be having tummy upset, and stopped sleeping through the night for two nights running. He was also going through a teething spell at the time, so the culprit is a little cloudy, but we put apple on the back burner for right now anyway. Last night was the first night that he seemed to get really into the whole eating thing, so maybe we’ll see some increased interest in the near future.

I am an incredibly lucky mother with a very easy baby. Three days after he hit the six month mark, my baby started sleeping through the night. Spontaneously. Without any prompting. I’m not sure how or why it happened, but it did, and I am ridiculously grateful. I overheard my priest and her wife talking at church a few weeks ago and the conversation amounted to one of them asking if I knew that with such an easy baby for the first one I’m doomed to have a terror for the second. (The other replied she didn’t know, but don’t tell me or they’ll never get another baby to play with!) I’m sure that he will go back to waking and change his sleep patterns with teething and other changes between now and forever, but in the meantime I am a very happy mama.

Which brings us to teething. Yeah. So, back in September when we first spotted some white tooth-looking lines on his gums, BWB’s mother told me that he had teethed for months. Pshaw, I thought, nobody teeths for months. Ha, ha. Joke’s on me. My son goes through spells every few weeks where he is cranky, drooly, chews on everything, holds on to his mouth, and has low-grade fevers and mild diarrhea. Then it clears up, I can feel a slightly bigger bulge where his teeth will one day be, and we go on with our lives for a few more weeks. I am not amused, and neither is my son. Dear teeth, if you would please just make an appearance, everyone would be incredibly grateful. Love, us.

As for me, I am doing pretty darn well. I’m exhausted and still adjusting to this crazy schedule. I suspect we’re going to have to change something (probably our child care arrangements) in order for this to be at all sustainable, but in the meantime I feel like I spend the week in an all-out sprint. The baby is also pretty worn out, which is probably why he started sleeping through the night. My work situation is stressful, but not bad. All of that aside, motherhood is the best thing that ever happened to me. I told a friend recently that I felt more comfortable in my skin than I have ever before, and that is the absolute truth. While there are many other things I enjoy and am good at, I was made to be a mom, and I love it. Exhausted and stressed, yes, but also incredibly happy.

Whenever I’m paralyzed about making a big decision, I ask myself, “What is the story I want to tell with my life?” Makes it easier.

from Felicia Day, on Twitter

Friday I walked into the meat section in Krogers and felt like someone had punched me in the gut.

There, taped up on one of the signs used to advertise daily specials and post flyers, were large full-color photographs of the towers burning. Various angles were represented, and a shot of the Pentagon tossed in for good measure. This was next to the case of frozen meat products with a banner over it proclaiming that the store was thanking the local firehouses, which I think somehow related to a sale on beef. I’m not entirely certain of the connection, because (since I felt punched in the gut) I quickly moved on.

On September 11, I was a volunteer emergency medical technician based in a rescue station just outside DC. I was recalled to station for September 11th and 12th, and I spent those two days watching what happens when everyone wants to help and absolutely nothing can be done anymore. I have a vivid memory of the television lounge crammed with firefighters and EMS personnel, all staring at the burning wreckage. I remember someone asking why more trucks (fire and ambulance) weren’t going to the Pentagon, since our station was sending our resources there as well, and the very blunt answer, “Because there’s nobody to save.”

I remember what the absence of airplanes sounds like, sitting under the Dulles flight path.

I remember that someone in Northern Virginia, separate from the Pentagon, had a heart attack that morning and died, despite the efforts of the rescue squad that showed up to help him.

I remember that a little girl who lived across the street from our station made brownies to bring to us, because she was overwhelmed with the need to do something. I remember also that we had to throw them away because of policies about station security in a time of high alert.

I remember these things often. 9/11 was a catalyst for change in my life; it is what prompted me to seriously consider medicine, and affected my decision to enter the Air Force. I don’t know if I would be an MD or a Captain right now if I had not been in that station on the eleventh and twelfth. It is not just a day in my life, it is something that changed the entire course, a turning point, a fork in the road.

For the last few weeks, I have been avoiding as much of the coverage of the anniversary as possible. It isn’t that I don’t want to remember, or that I don’t think it is worthy of commemoration. My issue is rather that I don’t think 9/11 images belong next to a case of frozen meat, even if you put star-spangled bunting all over it. I don’t want a day of Republicans pointing fingers at weak, liberal Democrats who want to let the terrorists win, or of Democrats pointing fingers at fear-mongering, right-wing Republicans who want to let the terrorists win. I don’t want sales at department stores, and I don’t want morose, melodramatic clothes-rending while we all debate who lost more, who hurts more, who has more “right” to be upset on this day.

This day is sacred to everyone. This day changed the world, not just the US. This day was a turning point in many lives, not just mine. It is right to be solemn today, and it is also right to realize that in the last 10 years, we have moved forward even if we have not entirely moved on. My hope is that somewhere in the media circus of this anniversary, each of us is able to find peace with where we have been and where we are going. I think for most people I know, 9/11 crystalized what is truly important in our lives — I wish that today we could reclaim that focus, re-prioritize back to where we were that morning. Hug your loved ones, forgive the petty squabbles, make the big decisions in your life with commitment and faith. Let this be the legacy of that horrific day, and let us all move on together.

This afternoon, my phone rang.

“Hello?”
“Yes, is this White Horse Girl?”
“…yes?”
“And did you go to New Orleans University?”
“……yes?”
“And are you in New City right now?”
“…who is this?”
“Oh, this is Angel from the Hospital Public Safety. We found your keys.”
“I’m sorry, what?”

At this point, I scrambled through my purse to establish that, in fact, my keys were missing. We were in BWB’s car, and had long since left the hospital lot, so I had no idea they weren’t still safely tucked in. I still have no idea how they fell out, but lo and behold, they had.

“Yes, well, it was quite difficult to find you. See, I saw your name on your keyring there, and I looked but I just couldn’t find you in our system. So then I saw the New Orleans University gym tag, and I called them. And they wouldn’t tell me anything, and I said, oh but I have her keys! See I have her name and her ID number — I bet she’s even a doctor now, isn’t that right? Or a nurse or something? And they said yes… and they finally gave me your phone number. I had to convince them, though, they didn’t want to give it to me.”

Yes, that’s right. This amazing, sweet woman who works in public safety at the hospital administration building not only found my keys, but when she couldn’t find me in her system, made a long distance phone call to coax my phone number out of my former university, based on the keyring favor I had made for my wedding party and the tag to the university gym.

I am flabbergasted, to say the least. Amazed that she cared so much and was willing to go to such lengths for someone she’d never even met. It’s touching, and it makes me feel good to know that people like her still exist in this world.

How’s that for a warm fuzzy?

Last year, I ran the Mardi Gras Half Marathon, my second half-marathon. A few weeks later, BWB and I were visiting his mother and discussing this event. I had been trying to convince him to come run with me, and his mother got involved. The short version of this story is that BWB agreed — nay, promised — to run the Mardi Gras Half Marathon 2011 alongside me. In front of his mother. Oh yes, he was definitely doomed at that point.

Fast forward to last December. We had been gradually increasing our running, but the time had come to commit to the marathon training program. To say BWB was uncertain would be putting it mildly. In retrospect, he says that his “I could do it if I want, I just don’t know if I want to” attitude was probably a cover for something more along the lines of, “I don’t think I can do this.” Early on, we had a couple of training runs which ended, quite frankly, in tears and yelling. After the second or third of these calamitous endings, we sat down and talked. Well, mostly, I talked. I told him that I didn’t want him to do anything I wanted to do, or to feel forced into something, but that the idea of crossing the finish line together was incredible to me. Nobody I love runs, so nobody understands exactly why I do these things. I wanted to share that feeling of accomplishment and joy with him. For his part, he told me he was scared that he wouldn’t be fast enough, that he’d slow me down, that he would disappoint me in some way. I said that wasn’t possible, and I promised to be patient.

A few days later, I registered both of us, and it was a done deal.

Training began in earnest, and except for a few missed runs while we were in very cold places, we stuck to the schedule. In evaluating our pace, we figured out that we were probably going to shoot for a 15 minute mile, with our goal to finish at around 3:15:00. BWB asked me what time I finished at the last time I ran it, and I mumbled something faster than that. He looked crestfallen, “I’m slowing you down.” No, no, honey, it’s not about that. This is exactly what I want to be doing.

Race Day. Out the door by 6am, parking at the finish line, and a shuttle to the start line. It was cold, but we had planned for this, and the next thing I knew we were standing with our start wave, bouncing up and down to keep warm (and from the excitement), then crossing the start line, then running down Tchoupitoulas. Together, every step of the way.

In the middle of the race, we were doing really well, sticking with the plan and pounding through. At some point about mile 8, I realized that if we managed to maintain that pace, we would finish at under three hours. I started to push us towards that goal, run a little harder, move a little faster. BWB figured this out in the middle of a scheduled walk break and gave me a hurt look, “Why are you pushing so hard? I thought this was about finishing with me.”

I paused. The drive to finish faster was mine, not his. When I had been pushing him, I thought it was because he would be even more proud of himself if we managed to finish so much faster than expected. I thought he would be delighted by that finish time, that the race would be even better for him. All of that was me, though — I was pushing my feelings, my goals, my interpretation of success and achievement, projecting them onto my husband. His goal was to finish, to finish around 3:15:00, and to finish together. Those were the goals I shared at the start of the race, and it wasn’t fair to decide on his behalf that he would be happier if I changed them for him mid-stream.

So I said, “You’re right, honey, I’m sorry.”

He looked at me suspiciously and asked me what the catch was.

I explained, apologized again, he forgave me, and we went on to finish the race.

Together.

Crossing the finish line with him was even more amazing than I expected it to be. If I hadn’t been slightly dehydrated at that point, I think I would have cried. We finished in 3:03:00, twelve minutes faster than expected may I point out. It was amazing and wonderful and beyond worth all of the effort and struggle.

BWB says he wants to do another half, and then start looking at a full marathon. I’ve never done a full, although I’ve wanted to. It seems big and scary and long, and I’m a little intimidated by the distance. That’s not going to stop us, though. We’re going to do our first marathon, and cross the finish line holding hands.

Together.

I often have dreams in which I get up, get dressed, and go through most of my morning. It is always somewhat disheartening when I finally wake up only to find that I have to start this routine all over again. Nobody likes the part of the morning where you have to leave your nice cozy bed and get moving, and on those mornings I have to do it twice!

This morning, I had what started as one of those dreams. I woke up, got out of bed, and paused a moment to admire the beautiful park outside our bedroom window. When I turned back to the room, however, I found myself facing a large tiger. I wasn’t sure what his intentions were, and from the contemplative look in his eyes and the way he was sniffing me, he wasn’t either. This was unnerving.

Then it occurred to me that our bedroom window does not look our over a park. Aha! I must be dreaming, I thought, and promptly woke up.

It was only later, after a cup of coffee, that I stopped to consider the fact that it was the inappropriate scenery, not the enormous striped carnivore, that clued me in to the non-reality of the situation.

My subconscious is a little weird.

As I mentioned on Twitter, the other night I had a strange dream in which I was having quadruplets.

(No, I am not pregnant.)

In the dream, my biggest (actually, my only) concern was that I did not think I could fit four babies into a single sling/wrap/other baby-wearing apparatus. The dream consisted of my search for the perfect solution for transporting four tiny babies. Everyone had an opinion and was trying to be very helpful. One person suggested I try a sling which looked a little like a bandolier, but with babies instead of bullets. Someone else assured me that four would easily fit in an extra large sling, I would just have to make sure they didn’t smother each other. Yet another informed me I simply needed to accept that I would have to haul all four of them in individual carriers. I asked this person how I was supposed to carry four carriers with two hands and was impatiently informed that was really my problem and why was I being so difficult?

I was thinking that maybe there was a deeper meaning to all of this. Maybe my subconscious was processing this feeling I have that there is a way to do everything I want and need to do in a way that I feel comfortable, and while the myriad of options presented by well-intentioned advisers are all both very plausible and quite possible, none of them are fitting quite right. Maybe I am overwhelmed with juggling so many balls. Maybe the uncertainty of the next 10 months is playing out in my dreams.

Or maybe I have just been reading on multiple gestations and doing ultrasounds on twins and triplets all month.

Could go either way. Crazy dream, in any case.

Oh, and as a side note? Four babies, two hands — really now, how do they do it?

I’m always curious what people have on the playlists they run or workout to.  I find it really interesting to see what music strikes other people as inspiring or driving.  Sometimes it’s clear that people have selected songs based on the rhythym, cadence, or beat, where other times it seems like the choice was made more for the content of the lyrics.  I have a little bit of both on mine, and I thought I would share my current playlist on the premise that I might not be the only musical voyeur out there.  The only songs I took off of this list are a bunch from Study With Substance P.  Substance P is a guy who has set some important medical facts to music in an attempt to make the brute force memorization require a little less brute force.  I highly recommend these tracks to other health profession students, but they’re not really relevant for anyone else.  Unless you’re weirdly interested in random medical knowledge, in which case more power to you.

The only other note I have is that I am also subscribed to the podcast from This American Life, and when I have longer runs I often opt to listen to that instead, or some combination of the podcast and the music.  I’ve been thinking about delving into the realm of audiobooks, but haven’t done so as of yet.

And now, without further ado, White Horse Girl’s running playlist:

All Nite (Don’t Stop) Janet Jackson
Alles Neu Peter Fox
As Cool as I am Dar Williams
Beep The Pussycat Dolls
Bitch Meredith Brooks
Black & Gold (Who Dat!!) K. Gates
Boom Boom Pow Black Eyed Peas
Breakaway Kelly Clarkson
Breaking the Habit Linkin Park
Bring Me to Life Evanescence
Buddy Holly Weezer
Burning Love Elvis Presley
Catch My Disease Ben Lee
Cobrastyle Teddybears featuring Mad Cobra
Crayola Doesn’t Make a Color for Your Eyes Kristin Andreassen
Defying Gravity (Dance Mix) Idina Menzel
(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar The Guild
Dragostea Din Tei O-Zone
Flood Jars of Clay
Get the Party Started P!nk
Girlfriend Avril Lavigne
Give It to Me Timbaland featuring Justin Timberlake & Nelly Furtado
Gold Digger (Featuring Jamie Foxx) Kanye West
Gone Daddy Gone Gnarls Barkley
Great DJ The Ting Tings
Halftime (Stand Up and Get Crunk!) Ying Yang Twins & Homebwoi
Haste To The Wedding Corrs
I Write Sins Not Tragedies Panic! At The Disco
If Janet Jackson
In the Belly of the Whale Newsboys
Jenny Says Cowboy Mouth
King Without a Crown Matisyahu
Let It Rock Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
Livin’ on a Prayer Bon Jovi
Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard Me First And The Gimme Gimmes
Mercy Duffy
Piece of Me Britney Spears
Poker Face Lady GaGa
Pump It Black Eyed Peas
Quick Eddie From Ohio
Right Round Flo Rida
The Saints Are Coming (Live from New Orleans) Green Day & U2
Shine Newsboys
Smooth Criminal Alien Ant Farm
Some Days You Gotta Dance Dixie Chicks
Stand Rascal Flatts
Stick to the Status Quo High School Musical (Soundtrack)
Stronger Kanye West
Switch Will Smith
The Tale of Mr. Morton Skee-Lo  (School House Rock! Rocks)
Telephone Lady GaGa & Beyonce
Tubthumping Chumbawamba
Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss Bloodhound Gang
Under Pressure David Bowie & Queen
Uptown Girl Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
Walk Away Kelly Clarkson
Wannabe Spice Girls
What Do You Hear In These Sounds Dar Williams
What Do You Love More Than Love Dar Williams
What I’ve Done Linkin Park
What You Waiting For? Gwen Stefani
You Give Love a Bad Name Bon Jovi

Okay, now it’s your turn!  What music is on your exercise playlist?

Yesterday I tweeted that I wanted to make a post, but couldn’t come up with a topic.  That’s not quite true.  I have topics, oh brother do I have topics.  Unfortunately, I can’t write about any of them.  Next year, I will probably post a summary of the experience I am going through right now, but for the moment it will have to stay with my inside voice.

That leaves me staring at a blank page, and anything else I sit to write feels awkward.  I feel like I am being dishonest in not displaying my innermost feelings, or even outermost feelings, but I’m not in a place where I can put those emotions on display just yet.  It feels disingenuous to post about the part where I fell off my bike this morning, alas, when I could be making deeply emotional outpourings.

Or perhaps, I could get over myself and just write about the things I can write about, and trust that the other parts will come in time.  I think I am experiencing growing pains which stem from moving from a tightly-locked, private blogging arena into a public, more anonymous stage.  There is a balance to be struck here, and I appreciate the handful of you who seem to be hanging in with me while I get my bearings.

With that said, we now return to regular programming, already in progress.  Hooray, progress.

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