the delicate art of balancing motherhood and life

A Quiet Infertility May 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — chezmonchichi @ 10:03 PM

Several weeks ago, I was at the playground chatting with one of the moms. We were trying to remember the first time we met.  We recalled it was at a mutual friend’s BBQ and I pointed out that she had just found out she was pregnant with Max (her second child).  The conversation meandered somehow as we were watching our girls squeal and run around and she said, “so, you just have Monchichi?”  I said, “yes, just Monchichi” and she followed up, “so, you guys are done?”

It was a matter-of-fact question with no judgment or harsh tone behind it.  In fact, it’s a natural conclusion and since I’ve gotten the question before, I wasn’t caught off guard.

I responded, “well, I don’t know.  We had a couple miscarriages last year, so we’ll have to see what happens this year.”

A look of oh god (the kind of oh god, like when my husband asked someone when her baby’s due and she told him she’s not pregnant) crossed her face and as she grappled with some words, I quickly reassured her that I’m fine.

After a year of ups and downs, I really am fine.  Had I been blogging last year, I might have chronicled the saga of my miscarriages that ultimately led to my surprising decision to try a single round of IVF last December (which did not work).  However, all of that seems so long ago and I’m in a different place today.

Given my friend’s expression on her face, I realized that it’s easy to conclude that I might be uncomfortable or sensitive about other’s pregnancies.  To the contrary, I continue to revel in my friends’ pregnancies.  I love hearing the details of how the pregnancies are going, if it’s different from their last one, what they’re craving, names they’re thinking of, touching the bellies, and holding their babies.  Because I still feel connected to that process, I love talking with and sharing in my friends’ joys of motherhood.

I feel compelled to say unequivocally, that in our journey for another child, there has not been a single moment where we have not felt grateful, happy and blessed for Monchichi.  We actually say to one another, “we are so blessed.”  While it sounds so saccharin and “Little House on the Prairie-ish,” telling each other that we feel fortunate, I know that it reminds us not to take Monchichi for granted and to feel content with what life has given us.  I know that couples are struggling to even have one child.  Monchichi’s sweet, lively spirit that makes our heart smile every day is why last year’s challenges did not get anywhere near crippling or heartbreaking.  Disappointing, yes.  A few tears, yes. Frustrating, yes.

Frustrating, because with Monchichi, I got pregnant on the first try, had an easy pregnancy and was blessed with a healthy, beautiful baby girl.  Not surprisingly, we were lulled into a false sense of ‘geez, that was easy’ and decided to wait a year before trying again.  That’s where being a 40+ mom tripped me up. As I’ve learned, you can’t get around the age of your eggs.  No matter how youthful moms appear to be today, a woman’s eggs look and act their age.  Sorry ladies, no botox for your eggs.

Because it was so easy and wonderful with Monchichi, I was stymied that this was becoming insurmountable.  For a type-A person like me, the idea that I couldn’t make it happen, no matter what I did, added to the frustration even though I knew intellectually, having a baby is one of life’s many things you cannot control.  We even took the unimaginable step of undergoing one round of IVF, which seemed so drastic, invasive and expensive.  But with IVF, I knew that I could look back and tell myself that we did everything possible and would never wonder, what-if.

At the end of last December, when we received confirmation that the IVF procedure was unsuccessful, the process of closure began inching forward. However, I am finding that my definition of closure is a little murky.

For the most part, closure equals acceptance.  I accept that my vision and idea of what our family would be like has changed.  I had envisioned that the kids might argue whether Santa was real, whisper silly things under a blanket tent, play together and yes, argue like crazy which I believe, teaches one so much.  I accept that I will have to find ways to ensure that Monchichi doesn’t expect to be the center of the world even though she has our undivided attention and love.  I accept that time is whizzing by and each of Monchichi’s milestones I witness, will, in all likelihood, be the last and only time I’ll experience such milestones.  But I happily accept that with Monchichi as my only child, I will not be buying that minivan and can get a car that doesn’t scream “I’m one step away from wearing mom jeans!”

I find however, that closure does not necessarily mean I have to extinguish hope.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t still have a smidgen of hope especially since I know technically, there is still a possibility (albeit a remote one) that I could get pregnant again.  The difference now — as opposed to last year — is that it’s a realistic hope, closely managed so that it still falls within the confines of closure.  Like a fluttering “maybe?” that floats by for a few seconds, but dissipates quickly so that it doesn’t have a chance to become a disappointment.  A hope where I continue to be proactive in making certain lifestyle changes to boost the healthy quality of my eggs; but if nothing comes of it, the efforts will just make me healthier.

Since we’re in an ambiguous place where Monchichi is at an age that people wonder if we’re having another child and yet, at the same time, assume we’re done, the closure process involves being open about where we are. Last year, because the emotional roller coaster was pretty raw, it didn’t feel possible to expose each and every step with everyone.  Being able to talk about it now, in the past tense feels natural, comfortable and brings clarity to my journey towards closure.

On the heels of Mother’s Day, my heart could not feel fuller and my family feels complete.


The Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift May 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — chezmonchichi @ 7:19 PM

Monchichi delivered my Mother’s Day gift to me 4 days early.  Such an overachiever, that one.

Yesterday, I got the call from preschool that Monchichi had a fever and wasn’t feeling well.  I knew immediately that her runny nose turned into an ear infection, again.  It’s a rough ride with her ear infections.  She runs a high fever with aching, pus-filled (the doctors tell me that part) ears, that hurt even when she drinks water.  Then we snuggle for the next couple days while her hot little head rests on my chest and I count the hours till I can give her the next Motrin dose to bring her fever down.

When I picked Monchichi up from school, all she wanted was to go home and wear her ballet clothes.  I replied that she could put the ballet clothes on, but we had to go to the doctor first.  She protested, whined, and cried saying she didn’t want to see the doctor, and insisted on going home.  I started to explain why we needed to go to the doctor.

“Honey, did you know that a doctor’s job is to take care of sick people and make them healthy?  And you’re not feeling good so the doctor will look at you and help you feel much better.  We all want you to feel better and get healthy because it’s no fun being sick, is it?”

Out of nowhere, Monchichi said, “you’re a good mommy to me.”

Happily surprised by this somewhat non-sequitur statement, my ego said, ‘why yes, yes I am.’  I reveled for a second in that wonderful praise. Mostly my heart melted, because that was the first time Monchichi has said that and when you’re a 2.5 year old, it is truly a pure, straight from the heart proclamation.  I found it even more touching, because it did not follow a special treat or toy, as some of her hugs and ‘I love you,” do.  It seemed to stem from a real understanding that despite the discomfort of going to the doctor, I wanted to take care of her and she appreciated me.

This is my ultimate Mother’s Day gift.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll enjoy listening to Daniel and Monchichi in the kitchen, making breakfast, having a good laugh while I attempt to eat it in bed with Monchichi jumping around.  But as a mother, who strives to be a good one, Monchichi’s spontaneous affirmation has filled my heart gas tank to full.

I haven’t been good at keeping up with the baby journal, but I am going to write this one down – complete with the date and time so I don’t forget this sweet memory.  Plus, I can lob it back at her when she’s a 13 year old, yelling at me because I won’t let her go to some party, “You are so mean! I hate you!”  I’ll have in my arsenal, “Well, on May 5, 2011 at 11:27 a.m. you told me that I’m a good mommy.  So there! You don’t hate me.”

A Mother’s Day gift that will endure throughout the years.


Sleeping With The Celebrity April 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — chezmonchichi @ 6:28 PM

In the middle of the night, Monchichi wailed for me.  I buckled, which is no surprise because I’m being lazy on this issue, and let her in our bed.

When she settled in, there was a rustling sound next to her and some deep breathing.  She sat up and asked, “who’s there mommy?  Who’s there?” I laughed and didn’t immediately respond because a number of thoughts raced through my head.  Because I paused, Monchichi asked again urgently, ”Who’s there, mommy?” I would too if someone couldn’t immediately tell me who that big, snoring lump in the bed was, except I would be much more frantic, as in “WHO’S IN THIS BED??” followed by “I KNOW KARATE!”

In the split second before I responded, I thought:

  1. Boy, my husband travels an awful lot if Monchichi doesn’t know who’s in the bed with me.
  2. Uh, I hope he didn’t hear her, because I don’t need him asking the ridiculous questions, “what does she mean who’s there?  Who does she think is there?  Do we need to talk to the milkman?”
  3. I wanted to say “Colin Firth” or “Alex O’Loughlin” (ladies, if you don’t know, he’s the newer, hotter Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O and you must check him out.) because I thought it would be funny. Although my husband would say it’s not that I wanted to be funny but that my inner school-girl crush was wishing it.  Ok, so what if that’s a little true?  But then Monchichi would ask “who’s Colin Firth” And then I’d have to say “an actor” which would only prompt her to launch into a bunch of “why” questions and I thought, it’s the middle of the damn night, the set of questions would only keep me awake longer and she wouldn’t get the joke anyway.

So, I told her the truth.  “It’s just daddy….who looks a lot like Anderson Cooper.”


Paci-holics Anonymous April 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — chezmonchichi @ 9:47 PM

Hello, my name is Monichichi and I am a paci-holic.

For well over a year, I’ve mulled over how we are going to break Monchichi from her pacifier.  Around her 8 month wellness appointment, the doctor told me that was the time to stop using it.  Eeeks.  If the doctor only knew that two years later, Monchichi is still using it and there are no signs of letting go.

Let me start off by saying that the paci has been a life saver.  Monchichi took to it immediately. It single handedly added on a few hours of sleep every night because Monchichi would fall back asleep the minute she had it safely tucked in her mouth.  Dozing off for another hour or two… priceless.  We ended up putting 4 or 5 pacis in the crib because if she lost one in the middle of the night, all she had to do was reach for another.  Voila, asleep!



The paci did more than just put her to sleep.  If she was unhappy on an airplane, it kept her quiet, much to our relief and the happiness of passengers.  It kept her occupied in the car on long drives, which were numerous as we visited friends and in-laws down in Los Angeles.  Bottom line, it soothed her.

Monchichi loved the Paci.  We loved the Paci. Yes, capital “P,” Paci.

The Paci love got extreme.  It wasn’t enough for Monchichi to simply have a Paci in her mouth, she had to hold one or two of them in her hands as well.  She’d cradle them in her fingers while she slept.  Geez, Monchichi.  Love that Paci, or what?

At the 18 month mark, I knew we had to get this under control, but I wasn’t ready to go cold turkey.  We started slow and relegated the Paci use for just the crib and car.  Monchichi accepted the new rules surprisingly well.  But she also figured a way to get around the rules.   You see, we didn’t restrict when she could use the Paci, only where she could use it.

So, any time Monchichi wanted a Paci fix, she’d point to the crib and said she wanted to go in there.  We’d plop her in, she’d grab a Paci, put it in her mouth and hold another one in her hand.  She’d stay in there for about 5 minutes, quietly sucking away, sometimes sitting up, sometimes lying down. As soon as she was done, she’d say “ok Mommy,” and reach for me to take her out to continue playing.  I felt like I was watching a smoker go to her designated smoking area, take a hit, and then go about her business.  Two words: Baby. Crack.

At the 2 year mark, we took away the Paci in the car.  Now it was only for crib use, hopefully for sleeping purposes only, although we knew full well that she still took Paci breaks.  Again, Monchichi reacted well to removing the Paci from the car.  Things were looking good.

So, I jumped the gun and decided to test out the waters and took away the Paci for nap time. As soon as I did it, there was a flicker of confusion on Monchichi’s face and upon realization, a look of et tu, Brutus?  This was immediately followed by complete and total meltdown of astronomical proportions.  Seriously, I have never seen Monchichi so angry.  Her little face contorted into a red, angry ball, she balled her fists tightly and screamed at me “I want my Pacis!!” over and over at the top of her lungs.  I was pretty freaked out to tell you the truth.  Wow, I thought. I can’t wait to see what happens when she’s 13.  Because that’s going to be fun.

I ended up giving her Pacis back.  This was too much for her and not the way I wanted it to go down.  But now what to do?



There are a few suggestions out there besides cold turkey which include (1) cutting the nipple of the Paci down so it’s not satisfying to them so they voluntarily relinquish the paci; (2) wrapping them in a box and “donating” them to a baby;  and (3) have Monchichi give them to a Paci-fairy who will take pacis to all the babies in the world who need them and replace the pacis with a gift (a la Tooth Fairy) for Monchichi.

Is there a paci-patch she can put on her arm that would send whatever juice she gets from the Paci?  Or how about seeing a hypnotist who could hypnotize her so she no longer craved the Paci?  Do they make non-choking paci-gum? A swank Malibu paci-rehab?  Is this how Lindsay Lohan got started?

I don’t have the answer right now, nor am I going to venture into those waters for the next couple months; because first, I have to do potty training.  Yeah, that other fun milestone.


COO-That’s Chief Operating Officer; Not Coo, Like Coochie Coo March 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — chezmonchichi @ 7:50 PM

Last week, while we were driving, Monchichi wanted to play with her friend Anna* and her mommy, Kay*.  I said, “No, we can’t see them today, Kay is working.”  Pause.  She said “No, Kay’s not working.  Daddies work.”

For a brief moment, I didn’t know what to say.  I was caught off-guard.  Did my 2.5 year old just say that?  Well, in my head it was more like, “Oh no, you did not just say that!”  Monchichi replying in my head: “That’s right, mommy! I said it!”

All I could really say was, “No, Kay is working honey.”  Lame.

What I really wanted to do was to launch into a diatribe, that while daddies — such as your daddy — works, mommies work too.  I’d start with all the various jobs I did before I was a mommy, pumping up all the cool, exciting parts of those jobs. I’d wrap it up with all the work we moms do on a daily basis, even though we don’t get paid.  The more I thought about it, my brain twisted up into a tizzy, with my att-i-tude going, finger wagging, and then the argument in my head devolved to an immature, mental outburst “I work too!  Just because I don’t drive into an “office” or get “paid,” this is hard work!”  However, Monchichi is only 2.5 yrs old, so I was left with my lame response and would have to table my diatribe.

Of course this got me thinking.  Clearly, I go to work everyday, putting in a good 14 hours from start to finish. I just happen to commute down a set of stairs and start the morning in my pajamas.  Instead of counseling clients, I talk and play with a 2.5 year old which can be very tiring since the conversations are repetitive, topics are limited, and outbursts are frequent.  Rather than read multiple contracts or legal texts, I read Fancy Nancy, Angelina Ballerina, Dr. Seuss, etc. over and over and over.  Instead of arguing with opposing counsel about inappropriate tactics and baseless arguments, I negotiate, correct or administer discipline in some fashion about every 20 minutes (please take turns with the toy; you have to wear school clothes, not ballet clothes; say ‘thank you’ and ‘please;’ if you do that one more time, you’re getting a time-out; don’t pull on Finlay’s (our dog) tail; please stop whining; no, you can’t have ice cream for breakfast.). I don’t go to client dinners anymore; instead I prepare toddler-friendly meals, sometimes resorting to sneaking in nutritious ingredients.  Cleaning up after a toddler is a lot like cleaning up a client’s mess — poop, and all.

For you corporate types who remain skeptical that being a mother simply isn’t a real job, and is just feminist mumbo jumbo, let me break it down for you in terms you can understand.  Chief Operating Officer (COO).  That’s what I am.  As you can see from the following duties of a COO, it’s what I do:

  • Marshals limited resources to the most productive uses with the aim of creating maximum value for the company (family).
  • Responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company (family).
  • Develops and cascades the company’s (family) mission to the staff (child) and implements appropriate rewards/recognition and coaching/corrective practices to align the staff (child) with the company (family) goals.
  • Monitor staff (child) and drive performance measures for the operation of the company (family), including efficiency versus effectiveness.

There you have it.  Mom = COO.

Now, you might naturally wonder if I’m the COO, is my husband the CEO?  Hell no.  While he’s certainly the CFO, we both agree that we are co-CEOs.  That’s not to say we don’t have our moments of pulling rank.  But what is most salient here, is what qualifies as a successful relationship between a COO and CEO is just as applicable between parents when running a household.

  • The Co-CEO** has to be comfortable sharing information with the COO and regularly communicating the strategy and any changes to it. Similarly, the COO has to be comfortable regularly providing status updates to the CEO. When communication breaks down, mistrust and/or misunderstanding is likely to crop up.
  • The COO role appears to work the best when the roles and responsibilities of the COO have been clearly delineated ahead of time and the COO is allowed to make the final decision within pre-agreed upon scope. (I would change this to say both the COO and CEO roles are well-defined.)
  • The Co-CEO must not undermine the COO’s credibility by continually reversing decisions. When employees (children) learn that they can get a different answer by going directly to the Co-CEO as opposed to the COO, the COO role quickly becomes impotent. (Zing!)
  • In effective CEO-COO relationships, both parties are comfortable with how much “credit” they receive for their work internally, externally.
  • The two individuals must respect each other and effectively partner together. This is not a partnership that can be forced.

Brilliant, eh?  Both sets of bullet points prove that a family is much like a company.  In order for a family to function happily and successfully (in whatever way you define it), each of us must perform our responsibilities every day, to the best of our ability.  Parents must communicate and work with one another to ensure a harmonious and happy family.  Therefore, if the family is the company, I am the COO of this household.

This morning, Monchichi ran over, pointed at me and said, “you’re Superhero Mommy.”  The last time I checked, that trumps COO and CEO.  I’ll gladly take the promotion.

*Names have been changed.

**Changed it to ‘co-CEO’ to align it with my situation


Zzzzzzz’s March 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — chezmonchichi @ 9:51 PM

I love sleep.  Love, love, love sleep.  Sleep is a religion.  I pray for its beneficence each day.  I honor everything it is and what it gives to us.  I was religious about sleep before Monchichi and am now one of its most ardent followers.

Religion or not, I don’t know of a topic that generates more passionate opinions among parents than getting your baby/child to sleep, which is ultimately, all about your sleep.  So many opinions, that there are hundreds of books on this topic alone.  Books, which you know I’ve read in vain.

I fully expected the first 12 months of sleep to be rough.  Everyone regales you with stories of sleeplessness nights, you see the battle wounds of dark circles under their eyes and when your baby arrives, you brace yourself for battle.  At that moment, the sleep debate begins among your friends.

There are so many choices.  Co-sleep, bassinet, crib?  When do you move the baby to a crib?  How do you get the baby to sleep through the night – the Ferber method of crying it out or slowly weaning them off soothing?  What time do you put your baby to bed?  How many hours does he sleep?  How long are his naps? Do you ever wake her from her nap so you can get her on track for night sleep?

The questions were endless and when Monchichi hit 4 months, I searched the internet and voraciously read as many books as possible because I was frantic to find a solution. If sleep is my religion, then its deprivation would be my ultimate form of torture (whining is a close second).  That fog of exhaustion that sat in my brain started to become a tight, uncomfortable pressure.  I got cranky beyond belief, to the point where I didn’t even want to hang out with myself. Forget about thinking.  I congratulated myself each day just performing the most basic daily functions, but I wanted more than to just time-punch a clock as a mother and wife. Must. Get. Sleep.  Must get Monchichi to sleep.

I cobbled a solution of sorts but only after embattled weeks of Monchichi crying it out while I looked at a clock, watching each heartwrenching minute tick by, telling myself to hold out 5 more minutes.  But then the heavens parted, and restful nights was my reward.  I was feeling back to my old self again.

After the 12 month mark, the conversation among friends and family seemed to die down.  Babies were sleeping. Everyone seemed to have figured out a sleep solution that worked for them.

Now, I see the sleep issue creeping back and there’s very little chatter going on.  I think it’s because the expectation is that (1) it’s supposed to be figured out by now, and (2) I suspect kids are just sleeping with the parents after all is said and done, just to get through the night.

What prompted the resurrection of this topic is that I find myself on the fence of what to with Monchichi right now.  This indecision is further clouded by a conversation I had with some friends a number of months ago, who casually mentioned that their kids sleep with them.  The friends added that it was only on the nights their husbands traveled.  My husband, like theirs, also travels a lot.  One woman had a rotation arranged with the three kids as to whose night was their night with her.  Her children ranged from 10 – 4 years old.  The other woman had a 6 and 4 year old and they just climbed in the bed on the nights their dad was out of town.

It was not a good a-ha moment for me.  This sleep thing ain’t going away.  We’re in this for another 8 years, for sure.

Here is my current crossroad.  We’ve had a horrible winter of illness in this family.  Whenever Monchichi is sick, she gets to sleep with us.   Once she’s better, we retrain her to sleep through the night in her own bed.  Those are painfully long nights.  Because of this run of colds and flus, she has slept with us for a month straight.  My husband and I have had our own share of being sick so no one has been sleeping well, especially on the nights when either she or one of us coughed all night long.

Now, we’ve been healthy for a good two weeks and sleeping well. But…… we’ve still brought her to the bed when she wakes in the middle of the night.  (oh, you knew I was going there.)  I blame it entirely on my laziness and reluctance to struggle through some rough nights of sleep because you’ll recall that I view sleep deprivation as ultimate torture.  And truth be told, Monchichi is such a snuggler; I love the feel of her small arms around my neck and her soft breathing.  My husband has also been traveling a lot, and I don’t mind having her with me on those nights.

My book-reading brain tells me to bite the bullet and start retraining so she doesn’t rely on sleeping with us every night. I rationalize and tell myself, well, she does start out the night falling asleep on her own, in her bed.  That’s good enough, right??  The emotional side says that the time with our little ones go by so fast and some day she’ll have no interest in sleeping with me, so I should cherish the memories now and throw caution to the wind.  Also, after hearing from friends with older kids that it is likely that she’ll still crawl into our bed no matter what, for the next few years, I wonder what’s the point of struggling with this beast.

I’d love to hear about your sleep journeys and where you are with it today.


Pink Swan March 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — chezmonchichi @ 3:46 PM

It is Day 34 of Monchichi wearing ballet outfits. Days 1-3 were off the charts cute.  Day 16 was mildly cute but the novelty was gone.  Day 29 was tiresome but I still flashed obligatory smiles to people in the grocery store who stopped us and oohed and aahed, exclaiming how cute she looked.  Day 34: eh.

It started a little over a month ago when Monchichi napped through a ballet performance in town and I didn’t have the heart to wake her up for it.  Even though she had never seen a ballet performance, she was so disappointed upon waking that I suggested we could go to a ballet class the next day.  Monchichi was satisfied and excited.  Pleased with myself for coming up with a brilliant solution to ease my daughter’s disappointment, I was unaware of the Pandora’s box I just opened.

During the class, I was so proud that she concentrated and followed the ballet instructor closely, intent on pointing her toes, or reaching up high.  She had a smile the entire time, with pure delight on her face as she tippy-toed and leapt around the room.  I was in a perpetual state of “aaawwww” watching her and the other little tutus.  As soon as the class ended, she burst out of the room, with sticker in hand, squealing “mommy, mommy!!  I did it!”  and ran right into my open arms for a big hug.  That is how we got here. Day 34.

I know many kids go through obsessions and as far as obsessions go, this one is manageable. Mondays are blissful because she has ballet class that day.  The day starts and ends with a tutu and there’s no struggle. If it’s a school day, we have the same discussion every morning, that the activities in school require that she wear school clothes. I then pull out the ultimate zinger: there’s a huge risk that her ballet clothes will get dirty at school, which means I have to wash them, and then she’ll be without a ballet outfit until they’re dry. That always makes her pause, and she readily puts on her school clothes. (This is where heavy-handed lawyer negotiation skills come in handy.)  But the minute I pick her up from school, she says she can’t wait to put on her ballet clothes when she gets home.  And she does. She even wears a leotard under her pajamas some nights to bed.

No matter if she wears “other” clothes to the playground, parties, or other activities, there has not been a single day in the past 34 days, when a ballet outfit was not worn for a portion of, or most of the day.  34 straight days.

I know this will peter out, but when??  I can’t imagine doing this for 3 more months, much less 6 months to a year.  When do we hit the point when this becomes abnormal?  I’m still dumbfounded at how this happened – one ballet class and now here we are.  Is this how the Black Swan got started?  Better yet, do I need to watch the Black Swan?

On the one hand, it’s cute, harmless and allows her to have control over something in her life.  It shows that she knows what she likes and takes comfort in being a creature of habit.  But on the other hand, I’d like to see her in other outfits for more than 2 hours a day.  Plus the constant washing of her ballet clothes is a pain.  I just hope this intensely focused interest doesn’t get too crazy.  If we hit Day 90, you’ll be hearing about it, if not sooner.