Favorite Christmas movies

It’s that time of year again! The time when lists of favorite Christmas movies start appearing in your newsfeed. It seems silly that if you like a movie, you only watch it once a year, but then again, it does seem strange to look out at a bright sunny June day and think “I could go for a little Miracle on 34th Street right now.” (That movie is not actually on my list, because it freaked me out a lot when I was little for some reason. Or maybe I was just upset that Santa never brought me my dream house for Christmas.)

So let me share what actually is on my list:

Elf – I feel like this is kind of the most perfect Christmas movie. It has everything. Elves, a scroogey character who has a change of heart, cute animated characters, Bob Newhart, New York City, Christmas music. Also, we’ve taken to calling bébé “buddy” and I can’t wait until he’s old enough to watch with us.

The Muppet Christmas Carol – Only version I’ve ever known, only version I ever want to know. I started reading the novella this year but without Gonzo narrating and RIzzo commenting the narration, it just isn’t as interesting. I used to watch this every Christmas eve, but in France that time is spent eating, so I watched it earlier this month.

Love Actually – A more “chick flick” choice that I intend to enjoy tonight while my husband it at a soccer match. While I’m sure he wouldn’t mind watching with me, if I’m alone, I can unselfconsciously sing along at the end. And dance with Hugh Grant.

Serendipity – Not a classic choice, but I seem to only watch it around this time of year. American + foreigner falling in love movies always get me. And despite my love for Love Actually, I’m pretty sure everyone can agree that New York > London at Christmastime.

Home Alone – As a kid, it would come on TV Thanksgiving night, to kick of Christmas TV season (maybe it still does).  Now I actually will watch it anytime during the year, whenever I’m missing life in the states. I’m not from Chicago at all, but the big American houses and the little town stores remind me of what life in the states “feels like” if that makes sense. Christmas and life in New York seem great, but my childhood memories are much closer to Kevin’s.


Feel free to share your favorite Christmas movies! Still a few days left to try and watch them all . . .

What no sleep for 5 months feels like

Ok, so the title is a little misleading. I have obviously gotten some sleep since bébé was born in July. But it’s definitely nowhere near enough, which is to be expected with a baby. However, this week, it seems like it’s finally caught up with me and there have been a few meltdowns, both at home and, embarrassingly, at work. While I could say it feels like I haven’t slept in five months, I don’t really have a long period of insomnia from before to compare it to.

My monthly letters to bébé are meant to be cheerful and focus on the positive, so while the 8 to 9 hours he usually sleeps really is a wonderful thing, I don’t go into how extremely hard the 3am feedings have been lately. Because sometimes it’s 2am, or 4am, and sometimes he goes right back to sleep, other times he’s awake for 2 hours . . . there is just no way to know. He goes to sleep between 6 and 7pm, usually around 6:30, so it’s not like we’re putting him to bed at random hours. Just to see what would happen (and to get my MIL to stop suggesting it), we tried putting him to bed an hour later for a week, and he woke up at 9pm and 11pm, in addition to the usual 3am (ish), so that is definitely not the solution.

Though I’m not even sure there is a “solution” since again, getting 9 hours out of a baby this age is pretty good. What I keep reading is that 6 hours is “sleeping through the night,” and that sleeping 12 hours isn’t always a realistic goal for a breastfed baby until he starts eating solids. Also, night feeds help keep my milk supply up, so I am very reluctant to let my husband give him a bottle at night. Plus, it would be physically uncomfortable so I’d wake up anyway. There have been two nights this month when he slept 11 hours for some reason (I log everything, and the two days were completely different, so no idea why he slept so long), and I woke up around 4am anyway out of habit and because of the pain. However, at this point, I am so tired I can’t even write my name correctly, so I will probably take him up on the offer this weekend.

This week has been the hardest, so I stopped pumping at 9pm so that I could start going to bed closer to 8:30. Before I was usually in bed by 9:30. Maybe I should have made this change earlier, but giving him as much breast milk as possible is important to me. But I am starting to realize that having a happy, well-rested momma might be pretty important to him, so I’m trying not to feel too guilty about this decision.

Though in reality, I’m much too tired to feel guilty about stuff anymore. Or happy, or sad, or anything else. This week at work, I could feel my brain forcing itself to pay attention. I have never felt anything like this. We all get distracted at work, but this is very different. It’s like, I have to push my brain into shape. It’s all mushy and flowing all over the place. My head feels both full and empty at the same time.

The first month back went really well, since I wasn’t nearly as tired, so I think everyone assumed I was 100% back. I even got a comment about how much more efficient I was. It’s really this past week or two that has suddenly gotten very difficult. I can feel myself making mistakes, then having to correct them quickly. My mushy brain can’t remember anything without writing it down, but I have to remember to actually write things down. My fingers can’t hit the right keys, so I have to retype things fifty times, and I keep calling the wrong people .  . . . I get very upset when others point out my mistakes, even under normal circumstances, so I have been rather short with people recently, and finally just exploding the other day when there was yet another comment on something I didn’t do correctly. I feel like because I did so well at first, they assume I’m worse now because I don’t care or don’t want to do well. (No one has actually said this, it’s just me being hard on myself.) Also, because the beginning went so well, I keep getting more and more things to do, plus people are starting to go on vacation for the holidays, so there’s even more to do in the same amount of limited time with the same mushy brain.

This sudden downturn is partly because of the failed later bedtime experiment, but also just the accumulation of such a random sleeping schedule. First, a few months months of 3 hours or less at a time. Which wasn’t that bad because all I did during the day was sit around. Now it’s sometimes 5 hours, sometimes 7, sometimes an extra hour before dawn, sometimes not, and I am asking my body and brain to do so much more than before. It really is the irregularity that’s hardest for me, not just physically, but psychologically. There’s nothing else I can do to change the situation. I’m going to bed earlier, feeding him as much as possible in the evenings, getting him to sleep on his own, not in our arms . . . It feels like I’m doing everything “right” but it doesn’t matter. There are things you just have to accept won’t get better for awhile.

But obviously in a work situation, they can’t be as forgiving. You’re hired as one person, you can’t suddenly change who you are without consequences, or tell them that “things will get better . . . one day”. (Again, no one has said this, just my crazy mushy brain freaking myself out.) My schedule is already adapted for pump breaks, and I legally can’t do overtime. But I come in early anyway to get as much done as I can, since I have the most energy in the morning. I feel like I can’t ask for any more concessions, because A) without a baby at home themselves, they literally cannot understand what I’m going through, and B) if their personal stuff doesn’t interfere with work, why should mine. I also feel like I don’t have the right to complain since I chose to go back to work full-time. I don’t feel like it was a bad choice though, since the more I see how amazing my husband is with our son, the more certain I am it was the right choice. However, part of the choice was knowing how much I like going to a job that I’m good at. So right now, I don’t like that I don’t feel like I’m good at it.

Anyway, that’s what no sleep for five months feels like. Like I’m not even close to the person I was, which I’m okay with at home, but I know work is a different story. Like my brain isn’t even there anymore. Like there is absolutely nothing else I can do but wait until it gets better, which is both very encouraging and insanely depressing at the same time.

I promise a return to cheerful posts soon, but all new moms are allowed a few rambling rants, right? If nothing else, I can look back on this in a few months and think “Phew, glad that’s over!”

Five months

My fifth monthly letter to my son.

Dear bébé,

It’s incredible to see how things can sometimes change almost overnight. Walking in to see you sleeping soundly on your tummy one night was a big shock! But now that you’ve gotten the hang of rolling from your back to your tummy, you find a comfortable position to sleep in on your own . . . usually! You haven’t quite figured out how to get back from your tummy to your back, so sometimes all your nighttime rolling around wakes you up! But you’re still sleeping 8-9 hour stretches. However, getting back to sleep after you eat is still a little hard. And naps during the day are still a little all over the place.

Even if sleep is still a work in progress, momma and daddy feel pretty lucky that you’ve been easy about a lot of other things. Just the fact you can go 9 hours straight is pretty good for this age. One magical, wonderful night you even did 11! You take a pacifier sometimes, but you don’t really need it to sleep. You took the bottle easily, and didn’t seem to have nipple confusion when switching between the bottle and breastfeeding. You only had to try two different bottles to find one you liked. You usually fall asleep with a rain noise, but you’re fine without it too. You can sleep just as well in your bed, or at the nanny’s, or at mamie’s (even if you don’t sleep very long!). No skin rashes, no reactions to different soaps or lotions or fabrics. You started getting a little bit of formula this month on the days when momma just can’t pump enough to keep up with your appetite, and you like both types you tried. Momma and daddy feel pretty lucky to have such a nice baby who’s happy to try new things and isn’t too difficult when routines change.

Another example of your easygoing attitude was momma’s race, when you slept away from home for two nights. You did great, and charmed the pants off everyone at the hotel. You behaved quite well at the winery too, where daddy bought some “inheritance” bottles (that he hid from momma so she doesn’t accidentally use them to make sauce).

From one day to the next, you just get better and better at grabbing, holding, and interacting with everything around you. Playtime is getting very fun for everyone. You particularly enjoy a few stuffed animals like daddy’s old teddy bear and a rabbit from mamie.  The art cards momma bought for you are easy to hold and must taste delicious, judging by how much you try to put them in your mouth. You explore everything with your mouth, but especially your hands. You like “eating” your hands, but don’t really suck your thumb.

Speaking of eating, you might start getting real food soon! You are just fascinated watching momma and daddy eat, and sometimes reach out to grab what they’re eating. You’ve more than doubled your birth weight, and while you still need help to sit up, you hold your head really well. Most importantly, the doctor said it’s okay to try. A high chair and spoons have been bought, so it’s only a matter of time!

You’ve grown another few centimeters, so you’ve starting wearing 6 month clothes. They’re a little big, but won’t be for long. Your eyes are still blue, and definitely a blue from daddy’s side of the family . . . Your hair is a medium brown, and has stopped falling out in places, so it’s very uneven. It’s like a reverse mullet: party in the front, business in the back!

This month has also had lots of laughter! Peek-a-boo is now a fun game for you, and you love all the silly sounds daddy makes for you. Your tummy and feet are a little ticklish (or maybe you just like the “tickle” noises). Your “singing” is starting to sound more like “talking,” especially when you seem to respond to when people speak to you. You also seem to recognize your name, which makes taking pictures a little easier.

And there will be tons of pictures this month! Your first holiday season (momma’s too American to call it just “Christmas” season . . .) will be filled with lots of visits and family time and photo opportunities. Momma has time off at the end of the month, so maybe another little trip somewhere might be possible. Whatever you do and wherever you go, you’re sure to smiling and laughing about it!

Bisous & kisses,

Your momma