Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I'm Free!

They opted to terminate the relationship. I am so happy. So relieved.

There will be professional ramifications to be sure, but I'm not thinking about those today. Right now, I just want to enjoy the moment.


No word yet from the publisher. I guess it is taking her a while to formulate a response. The anticipation is not fun, but it isn't horrible either. I have plenty to do.

I feel recovered enough from the pneumonia to try and give this house a decent cleaning. Also, our dryer broke so I need to decide whether to repair it or replace it. If I replace it, I will upgrade both the 25 year old washer and seven year old dryer to high efficiency units. Repairing would absolutely be less expensive, but this is the fourth repair for the dryer. At this point, I feel like I might be throwing good money after bad. For a relatively young appliance it has been terrible. Then again, repairing it is more environmentally friendly so I don't know what I'll do. I also need to file our taxes. I did these before getting sick, but I want to review before filing. We are getting a nice refund this year (thanks to M) so I shouldn't sit on it much longer.

I also want to do something productive on the professional front so I am going to start planning my fall courses. Oddly enough, I'm looking forward to this. I will be teaching one entirely new prep, a research course, and two old staples. I've never put my courses together this far in advance (sometimes I will even wait until the week before the semester if it is a course I've taught a million times), and I am looking forward to having the time to work new readings and assignments into my existing preps and having time to thoughtfully plan the research course. Coming off sabbatical with stronger courses will be fabulous.

Thanks for the nice feedback on my decision to confront the text issue. I don't feel brave at all, but I do feel like a weight has been lifted.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I Sent the Letter

My hands are shaking and I'm feeling sick (well, more sick), but it is done. All morning I worried over this, but then I realized that as with most things, anticipation is usually the worst part. So I hit send.

I gave her three alternatives: find a coauthor to take over, cut our losses, or continue, but expect this drag on forever and ever. I tried to make the third option look horrible.

How long before she calls and demands a pound of flesh?

Friday, March 23, 2007


Have you ever had the impulse to run away from those things about your life that you find distasteful? In high school I would sometimes get in my car and drive the 45 minutes through the swamp that separated my smallish hometown from the city. I always turned around, but just knowing I could leave helped.

I have occasionally followed the impulse to get away. I moved from my parents' home the morning after I graduated from high school. It was a good decision. I made a painful break with my first dissertation advisor when he became too close and personal. Another right decision.

More often than not, though, I have not followed the impulse to leave. When I was unhappy after my first semester in college, I went back. When the dissertation was miserable, I kept at it. When I was most unhappy with my marriage, I stayed. These were the correct decisions.

Now I am experiencing that urge to bolt again. This time, it is the text that has me down.

I've had some time this week to contemplate the text, my excruciatingly slow progress on it, and my mental health. And I want out. This isn't worth my sanity. Only my children are worth my sanity, and they are already chipping away at it. I don't need an evil publisher to help them.

The whole project is troubled. First, the timelines were never realistic. There is subtle, but real pressure for me to plagiarize in order to speed things up. I won't do it. Second, the publisher won't allow me to communicate with my editor unless she is copied on every message or conferenced in on phone calls. This is bad on so many levels I don't know where to start. Third, the publisher is unpleasant (my former coauthor calls her “psychotic”) and is extremely aggressive. Utterances like, "We own you" don't help.

I read my contract this week. Yes, I signed it two years ago, but I only read it today. Brilliant, I know. The thing is riddled with the word "exploit" which makes me uneasy. Is this regular legalese or was it a warning that this would be a hellish endeavor? If I understand my contract, then the only penalty for withdrawing is that they can take my work. I can live with this. I faxed the contract to my brother, the hot shot attorney. After he tells me how stupid I was to sign it without running it by him first, he'll interpret it for me.

I've already written a letter to the publisher. In it, I explain that it isn’t feasible to have this complete this summer because I know she wants it to be well-researched and original. In it, I say that I’m increasingly anxious about the project and don’t wish to continue in this manner. I give her three scenarios. In the first, they identify a new coauthor. In the second, we reevaluate deadlines and come up with something a year out so that the content can be strong and original. In the third, we cut our losses and part ways.

I don’t know if I’ll send the letter. My former coauthor (who left the project with a letter to her that ended with a “You aren’t the kind of person I can work with”) said that I should expect her to react with fury and to expect a storm. Am I up for that?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Seven months today

I'm too sick and too tired for a long post, but today is M's seven month birthday so I want to take a moment.

I like this age. She will still fall asleep in my arms and will allow me to cuddle up as much as I like. I'm drinking it all in because I know it won't last. Soon her smooth baby skin will be roughened up from crawling and she will be too busy exploring to cuddle for long.

She has her first tooth, she is able to move around by scooting on her tummy in a bit of an army crawl, she rocks on her knees and goes backwards, she shrieks in delight when I enter a room, she shrieks in displeasure when I exit the room, she is finally sleeping through the night, she loves her big sister, she loves the dogs, and she doesn't mind the car (too much).

We were three and now we are four. I can't imagine it any other way.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lesson Learned

I've had a cough for a few weeks. Between trying to write, taking care of two little girls, and sleep training (which went beautifully, by the way), I pretty much ignored the cough even when it got worse. I even looked up bronchitis on-line and read that most cases resolve on their own without antibiotics, and that prescribing antibiotics just contributes to the evolution of monster germs. This added to my resolve to wait it out.

Sometime over the weekend, I started feeling exhausted--not sleep deprivation exhausted, but an aching muscle and joint exhausted that I only experience when I am truly ill. Today, I finally gave in and called for a doctor's visit. One chest X-ray later and we had a diagnosis: pneumonia.

Lesson learned. Next time, I'll head to the doctor sooner and do my part to speed the evolution of superbugs.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sleep Training

I am a zombie mom. Seven months* without a full night's sleep will do that. The results aren't pretty.

I'm forgetful. Did I feed the dogs? Did I give the baby her medicine? Did I make the mortgage payment?

I'm emotional. You left the toilet seat up again? Bastard!

I'm unfocused. Have I really been sitting at the computer for three hours and I only have four paragraphs to show for it?

Something has got to give.

Today, I took M to the doctor to confirm the second round of antibiotics cleared the dreadful ear infection. Her ears looked good, and the doctor gave me permission and encouragement to commence with sleep training while we have a window in which she is free of colds and ear infections.

So baby boot camp has begun, and I'm the reluctant drill sergeant.

My poor baby girl has been crying on and off for an hour. It is 1 a.m. and I am trying not to cave in to her pathetic squawking. I have no philosophical objection to sleep training: I do not believe I am scarring her emotionally nor do I believe she is in terrible distress.

I'm doing this because she needs to learn to self soothe. Because the booby bar closes at 8 from here on out. Because I believe a rested family is a happy family.

Still, it is hard. Has it really been an hour?

********Going to check on her now********

Crap. Now she is more upset. And she just woke her sister.

This is going to be a looooong night.

*Longer, if we count bathroom calls during the third trimester.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A thump on the head

I barely breastfed our first daughter, E. My milk came in late, I had to supplement, supply never caught up with demand, and eventually she refused the breast. I pumped until she was six months old, but it was a relief to stop.

Fast forward to baby M. We had a rough start, but we managed and are going strong at 6.5 months. I'm taking it month by month, but I'm hoping to make it to about a year.

My father-in-law is interested in the breastfeeding. Too interested, if you ask me. I think it goes back to 2.5 years ago when I was nursing M under the cover of a blanket, and he walked over and ripped the blanket off of me before I realized what he was doing. Since M's birth, he asks frequent questions about breastfeeding and makes comments that sometimes make me uncomfortable. It is hard to put my finger on what makes me uncomfortable, but it does.

Last week while they were visiting, I mentioned that M is in the throes of teething and that I expect teeth to break through anytime now. He said, "So you'll stop breastfeeding." I said, "No, I hope to keep going."

So he reached over to where I was playing with M on the floor, and he thumped my head. Hard.
"That's how the Lakota teach their babies not to bite," he told me.

So what about that made me uncomfortable? Maybe it was his assumption that teeth=weaning. Maybe it was his thinking about my breast comfort. Or maybe it was getting thumped hard on the head.

Friday, March 09, 2007

So that is the problem

M has never been a great sleeper, but with a double ear infection that did not respond to first-line antibiotics, M's sleep habits have regressed to that of her five to six week self. I won't try sleep training again until I know that she is not in discomfort. At the same time, E is waking at least once a night for various reasons. One night she wet the bed. Then there was a nightmare. Last night she was lonely and wanted to sleep with us.*

Last night I made a note of each time I woke to attend to one or both of the children. My longest stretch of sleep was just over 90 minutes. That isn't good is it?

I'm pathetically tired. So tired that I stare at the computer screen and my thoughts flit by too rapidly for me to get them down. So tired that I walk into a room with a sense of purpose, but cannot remember what that purpose may be. So tired that I put hair gel on my toothbrush this morning.

I've made little headway on the text in the past two weeks. This makes me feel stupid. Lazy. Slow. And irritable.

So today when a friend send me this Reuter's article, I felt a wee bit better realizing that I really am slower and dumber than I used to be back when I had normal sleep habits.

Child's sleep disorder affects parents too
By Amy Norton

When children have sleep problems, their parents -- especially mothers -- often have sleep-deprived nights too, research shows.

In a study of families with children seen at a sleep clinic, researchers found that when children had multiple sleep problems, their parents were more likely to have daytime drowsiness.

Mothers were generally more affected than fathers, possibly because they were the ones who typically responded to their children's problems in the middle of the night, the researchers speculate.

"A child's sleep problem affects the whole family," said lead study author Dr. Julie Boergers, of Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island.

This is important, she told Reuters Health, because research shows that sleep disruptions and daytime sleepiness have negative effects on people's mood, behavior and health. For parents, sleep deprivation may cause them to have less patience with their child or spouse, and be less productive at work and at home, Boergers explained.

The study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, is based on 107 families of children ages 2 to 12 who were evaluated at a sleep disorders clinic. The children's sleep problems ranged from the breathing disorder sleep apnea to night terrors and sleepwalking to behavioral issues like refusing to go to bed.

When parents were surveyed about their own sleep habits and daytime alertness, it turned out that those whose children had more than one sleep problem tended to suffer more daytime sleepiness than other parents.

This was particularly true of mothers, even though they reported sleeping roughly the same number of hours that fathers did.

It's possible that mothers did have more sleep interruptions than fathers, even though they logged roughly the same number of hours in bed, according to Boergers and her colleagues. While fathers in general may be taking on more child-rearing responsibilities, they note, moms are probably still the ones who more often get out of bed to check on their child.

According to Boergers, some signs of a childhood sleep disorder include excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty falling asleep, frequent nighttime waking or snoring."It's also important to recognize that some children who demonstrate daytime behavior problems or mood disturbances may suffer from an underlying sleep disorder," she said.

Parents who suspect their child may have a sleep disorder "shouldn't hesitate" to seek help for it, Boergers said, as there are effective behavioral therapies and medications available.

SOURCE: Journal of Family Psychology, March 2007.

*I normally discourage this, but I am so very tired that I relented.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

High School Reunion

My 20 year high school reunion is coming up this year. I am somewhat ambivalent about attending. I never even considered going to my 10 year reunion, probably because I could still remember why I hated most of those people. But now, I am oddly tempted to attend. Why? I think I'm just feeling curious about how my classmates have turned out. Is Trevor really obese now? Is Christie still an alcoholic? Were these people as horrible as I remember?

The event isn't until October, so I have time. I know this: If I do decide to go, I must look better than I look right now. Sure it is vain, but I don't want to be the one who is really showing her age.

I also must lose this weight by then. Why, why is it so stubborn? Why, why am I always so hungry? I honestly think breastfeeding is the culprit. Not only is it not sparing poor M from a series of ear infections and colds, but it is making me fat.

Also, I'll have to grow my hair a bit. I cut it off a few months ago and I'm wearing a short crop. On one hand, it is easy. On the other hand, it only looks good for a week after a cut and then it looks dreadful. I think my stylist isn't good with short hair, but I hate to leave her because we are from the same hometown and because she is very pregnant and freaking about money. Maybe I'll leave her while she is on maternity leave. That would be very awful wouldn't it? Anyway, I am thinking that if I start growing it now, maybe I can get it to a just below the earlobe bob by October.

My face needs some TLC, too. I'm not normally one for cosmetic treatments, but I think I would consider teeth whitening and some restylane.

Clearly, I am seriously considering attending. Have you ever attended a reunion? Was it fun or just sad?