Helmet Head

Have you seen kids with their very own crash helmets?

The infant helmet, also known as my rabbit hole of doom. I’ve been clawing myself out of this black hole of mommy blogs, message boards, and voices chattering on every tiny aspect of this topic. I’ve seen big red no-smoking sign images with the helmets in the middle of them, reading “STOP this Pandemic!” I’ve read stories about how helmets have changed the lives of little ones and their parents for all the better. Pictures of flowery, glittery, super hero-y helmets painted and customized crowned on smiling babies. I’m convinced I’ve read everything the internet has to offer, on pros and cons and general mommy-war-wisdom.

I’m still not convinced either way.

Our pediatrician took a long, hard look at our daughters head at her two month appointment, and told us to start re-positioning her, lest we end up needing one of those “$4000 helmets.” We, being data driven, type A, slightly compulsive people, started peppering him with questions about re-positioning. Is it better to keep weight off of her head completely? Or should we try to put pressure on the spot that isn’t flat? What happens with her crib? Can we put a small towel underneath the sheet to try and keep her from sleeping on the wrong side?

He looked at us, probably thinking something along the lines of “crazy first time parents” and took a deep breath. “You know, I don’t really know the answer to all of the specifics. Why don’t you call the specialists and I’m sure they can give you a ton of tips.”

And that, my friends, was when the chaos started.

We called, and it’s true that they gave us tons of tips. They also offered to have us bring her in, that they’d scan her for free and then we can at least have one set of data to see what we are working with. Again, being data lovers, we happily agreed.

“This child needs a helmet. You can wait and come back here in a month and I’ll still be saying the same thing. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe she’ll surprise me, but I’m really never wrong. And don’t start yourselves with the guilt story, it’s her neck – see the tilt?” She spat this at us without taking a breath. “If you don’t do this, she will have vision problems, jaw problems, hearing problems. See how her ears are misaligned? She will never be able to wear a bicycle helmet or have normal glasses.” This last part as she stared at me directly in the face, my pink and black plastic rims staring back at her in disbelief.

Tears welled in my eyes and I sat there in shock, feeling bullied and scared. My husband took over and I composed myself to quickly talk to her about some stretches that we could do to help the torticollis (her neck muscles on one side were tight, which in the end, was the cause of all of this drama), and practically ran out of there, being promised an email containing the full file of all of the scan results and measurements.

As soon as we got back to the car, I burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably. I spit venomous words about how they were money hungry pirates and why on earth are the “specialists” also the ones who stand to make money off of the sales of their product.

Over the next few weeks I let things sink in a little more. We told ourselves we would go back and get a new scan in a month, and if there wasn’t enough improvement for us to see that she was on the right track, we would talk.

We went back, got a second scan. It did show improvement, but not very much. She was still categorized as “severe.” Meanwhile, I had been killing myself trying to keep her looking one way but not the other, celebrating victory when she layed down to sleep on her “tight” side, something we had to work for weeks upon weeks for her to be able to do. We talked to her other pediatrician about it, who said that yes, she could absolutely see the flat spot and the misshapen head, but that she was not concerned in the least. That she’d grow out of it by the time she was two, and that she’s never heard of that company NOT recommending a helmet.

So, that brings me to my internet data rabbit hole. Amongst all of the mommy chatter I did find some legit studies, both for (1, 2) and against (1, 2) these helmets.

My totally unscientific conclusion, taking into consideration all of the studies, all of the personal stories, all of the advice from our pediatrician and the specialists is that it will indeed, correct on it’s own. However, it could take years. The helmets seem to speed up the process, and what you get in 4-16 weeks with the helmet is what you would see in 2-5 years via nature.

Great right? We also decided that because of/in spite of this, we are getting the helmet.

I have a tendency to be compulsive, and I suffer from generalized anxiety. This has become my newest compulsion, and it’s just not healthy. Aside from that, unless we have a time machine (Doctor, I’m looking at you) we have no way of knowing if she will be one of the (very few) kids on the outliers of the studies who never does correct on her own. I don’t want to spend the next 2 years staring at her head and feeling guilty that I didn’t do everything I could for her when I had the chance. If it was my head, I could give a crap. But this is for her, and this is about setting aside biases to do what’s right for her. In the end, there’s no downside to the helmets aside from a sweaty, stinky headed baby. Are we happy about it? No. Do we feel like we are doing the right thing? Yes.

It's hard to photograph.

It’s hard to photograph.

I hope that in the future more research is done on this subject. It is far too easy to prey on a parent’s anxiety, and I fear that we are just another number on a sales form. Luckily insurance will pay for most of it, and as we are finding out, time passes so very quickly with a little one. It will be over in the blink of an eye, and all of us happier for it.

Finding Happiness

Today, one day before you are officially 5 months old, your great grandmother died. This makes me sad for a number of reasons, though maybe not the ones you think.

Grandma C was a very strong, independent woman. For years and years, she’d travel the world. It was never a surprise to hear “Oh, your grandmother is on safari in Africa.” or “Oh, she’s complaining about the shots she has to get for her journey to India.” She was a code breaker during the war, in the underground tunnels of London. I can only imagine her young and full of fire, shouting out commands to anyone unlucky enough to be around to hear.

Every summer I would see her, at a very special place called Twain Harte Lake. One day, I will take you there and show you the bench that is dedicated to your great grandfather. Someone I never knew, but always heard was a most incredible man. Here’s the thing. He was the key to Grandma C’s happiness. And from what I understand, when he died, a part of her did too.

She battled depression her whole life, and never did anything about it. No doctors, no drugs, no hope. Oh baby girl, there is mental illness in your family. So very much of it. And it scares me. Because I never, ever want you to have to deal with these things, and I know you probably will.

I have fleeting memories of seeing my grandmother happy. Swimming across the lake or watching me dance at my wedding. But many times, I remember her to be a very sad, very angry woman. She’d call me rude and tell me I was the worst child in the world. She’d ignore me completely. And the unforgivable – she’d make my mom cry.

I am sad she is gone – yes – nothing will change the fact that she was my grandmother. But I am also relieved that her suffering – physical, and mental – is over. I hope that Grandma C has finally found her happiness. That maybe the next life will be more fulfilling to her than this one was.


A happy day.

A New Path

I would be nowhere without Google Calendar. I use it to make tasks, set deadlines, organize life. I share one calendar with my husband, and we sometimes communicate solely through event updates. If one of us doesn’t come home, or leaves unexpectedly, the answer is in the calendar.

The calendar emails me reminders to do things. Buy birthday presents for nieces and nephews, make sure to do laundry for that upcoming camping trip. There’s a section for chores. One for bills. One for craft projects and blog ideas. One for work related items.

That last one? That one made me cringe today. It showed up in my email, an innocent chirpy notification pinging away on my phone. “Heather – Return to Work” with a light blue highlight.

Those little words have been bouncing around in my head all morning. For nearly five years, I have been pulling rabbits out of hats for my job. Doing the impossible, making things happen. My boss once joked that I would have nothing to do all day without Google, and to be honest, he was right. My job was to make curator’s dreams come true. To bring life to dusty old artwork, to create interaction with things that haven’t been touched by a real, un-gloved finger in hundreds of years. Most of the time this involved me saying something along the lines of “Yes, I can do that” and then going back to my desk, taking a deep breath, getting on Google, and figuring out how to make good on my promises.

In a way, this was really shitty. I didn’t have a team, I didn’t have a senior person who could show me the ropes. I had me, my proactive nature, and lots and lots of online tutorials that were mostly dubious at best. But it didn’t matter. Great things were expected of me, and I delivered. Now, if a “real” engineer were to look at my work I’m sure they wouldn’t say I made great things. But considering I would start out with nothing and end up with something – that was a great thing. It was enough. It was, in my slightly masochistic head, wonderful to consistently be expected do accomplish something that I had NO IDEA how to do.

So today, when the calendar notification popped up saying I should be back at work, it hurt. Because I’m not at work. Nor will I be – at least for that job. Because here’s the other thing about that job. It was a complete, 100% dead end. Project based activities might have furthered my skill set, but there was no future there for me. Not on a personal level, either, it was just the culture. Our HR director once said to a room full of employees that if we wanted to further our careers, maybe we should look outside the organization. I’ve never really felt the phrase “you could cut the tension with a knife” until that meeting. The atmosphere was so very cold, the employees so very hurt and angry.

I was raised by a hippie feminist who fought hard so I could live the life that I choose. I am a feminist myself. So when I had to make the decision about returning to work after Paige was born, I thought about the fact that the feminist thing to do would be to not put your career on hold for kids. Except where I was working – I was putting my career on hold indefinitely. (And isn’t the REAL feminist thing just the ability to have that choice in the first place? This is thought for another day.)

Hello and Goodbye.

Hello and Goodbye.

I am slowly looking for jobs. I have applied to one or two places that I would just die to work for – their philosophies, their goals, their very existence makes me happy – and also I am hanging out with my daughter, watching her explore the world. I am writing (much more than you see on the blog) and I am trying to take my time to find something that makes my heart sing.

And while day to day with Paige is so different, so exhausting, so overwhelming, it’s also quite a lot like what I loved so much about my job – consistently doing something that let’s be honest –  I have no idea how to do.

For my Husband.

It would be easy for me to tell you I love you. To say how much I care. But the truth is I could get lost among the mountaintops for endless seasons, trying to find the right words to describe what I feel.

I’ve been lost in my own head for hours, searching. Sometimes that’s the problem with words. Nothing that ends up on paper feels quite right. It’s not enough. It doesn’t dance and move, it doesn’t leap off the page and sit in your chest, the heavy feeling of love, and lust, and the knowledge of being just one half of two souls combined. You are my world, my color and light.

Today is the 5 year anniversary of our wedding day. Our sopping wet, freezing cold, dirty, muddy, white lace wedding day. I feel like we spent the first four years in utter bliss, adventuring around and hanging off ropes without a care in the world. Love will do that, you know. It will make you jump, hearts full of faith that there will be a soft landing on the other side.

So we jumped. I got pregnant and things were odd for a while. My body was no longer mine and I didn’t like the way that felt. But we found ways to smile and laugh and love. You always knew how to make me happy. We both grew to love the little kicks, the big hiccups, the ever stronger salsa dancing in my swelling belly.

When she was born I was suddenly thrown into a spin cycle on high. An unbalanced load, bouncing around and smashing into walls. I spiraled, the bottom fell out. You didn’t know how to make me happy. Neither did I. But I will always remember one thing. You never stopped being there for me.

Thank you. For being you, for being by me and for being my rock. When we got engaged I leaned on you to slide down a canyon wall. When we had our daughter I leaned on you to help save me from sliding any farther. And the knowledge that you were there – will always be there – is a true anchor in my life. You are my love, you are my passion. You are the greatest teammate anyone could ever ask for, and I feel eternally lucky that you chose me. For better or worse, we pledged to celebrate life on that rainy day 5 years ago.

We’ve had so very much of the better.

Celebrate life, forevermore.

Celebrate life, forevermore.

Thinking Things.

They say to write what you know. But what happens when you feel like you know nothing? I had a baby. She is made of moonshadows and stardust, and these things are completely unknown to me.

I’m sitting in a filthy living room, covered in cat hair and baby toys. I’m pretty sure if you shined a black light on any random part of the couch, you’d find milk. Digested, partially, not at all – milk everywhere. And on the middle of the floor in front of me, splayed on her belly like a starfish, lies my daughter. Sleeping happily on her tummy, which makes me a terrible mom, yes I know. Every once in a while she picks her head up, sighs and squeaks, and then faceplants back down on the floor. I count to five, and if she hasn’t moved her head to one side or the other, I go try and coax her to get some breathing room. Sometimes I’ll even pull the cat hair out of her mouth.

I wonder these days about work (should I go back) and passions (should I try to do them more) and her father (how much I love him so). I sometimes wonder about her (was this a mistake) and her future (she is so amazing).

She’s 11 weeks old. We count in weeks, us new parents. Don’t judge. 11 weeks and everything I’ve ever known about life and what I want, like, have, know, about anything, has disappeared. She is a tiny overlord, and I am a chicken with its head cut off, trying desperately to make the crying stop. (Everyone has tears always.) Slowly though, I’m learning. She is teaching me.

She recently learned to clasp her hands together. She wrings them in front of her chest like a little old lady nervous about the oncoming rain. Developmentally this is apparently a huge step. Visually, it’s cute as hell. I am more proud of this small thing than I was the day I graduated college. I never wanted to be a mom.

And there’s the bell, there’s the thing. I am not mother material. But I’ve been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls (judge all you want) and the main character (the mother) said something that has been rattling around in my brain for days. Weeks. She said “I’m great at doing the things I need to do. I’m terrible at doing things I want to do.” And this is me. This is me in every single way. At work I cannot even begin to describe my job, because I get everything I need to get done, done. Whether it’s my job or not. And that, my friends, makes me the multi-hat-wearer of the universe, the renaissance woman of the workplace, and prettymuch un-employable for most companies. Who wants to see a resume with 20 different technical skills on it and no real job title? Luckily my current employer uses my rainbow flowerpot of skills, and knows how much I kick ass. (Own it.)

But what about what I WANT to do? I’m talking about writing. I suck at this. I suck at getting pen to paper or key to finger and actually sitting down and doing it. Because I want it so badly that I am afraid to fail. So do I go back to my job with the TERRIBLE commute but that actually is fun some days? Or do I rock the mother thing for a while and try my hand at another version of life? One that involves writing and spending time at the park and watching my daughter wring her hands and smack her lips, tut-tutting the wild winds.

Whatever I decide, will I do it, and do it well? I’d like to think so. Because people, I get shit done. And sometimes I might even write about it.


For 2012 I opened this blog by admitting I was watching a marathon of Doctor Who. This year it’s Gilmore Girls. Which is quite fitting, given the way life has changed.

2014. The year of (life) change.

In January we looked up the anniversary gift for 4 years and realized it was “appliances.” Knowing that he’d sleep on the couch for a week if he brought me home a toaster, (though I do have a strange affinity for the latest and greatest in vacuum cleaners) Neil brought up the idea of being a bit flexible on the gifts this year.

So, we bought a hot tub. That counts as an appliance, right?

Hot Tub and wine. An incredible combination, one of the first and last times.

Hot Tub and wine. An incredible combination, one of the first and last times. It’s entirely possible I’m just barely pregnant in this photo and don’t even know it.

Most of February stayed quiet. After a miscarriage in December, we were on a break from ‘trying,’ but apparently fate had other plans. The morning of February 27, our 4 year anniversary, I found out I was pregnant. I had been slightly suspicious, (suddenly crossfit was HARD…more than normal…) but it still came as a bit of an exciting shock.

March and April were spent in a haze of sleepy nausea. I had the good fortune to never actually get sick, but the bad fortune of feeling horribly sick 24 hours a day, with no relief. I remember laying on the floor in a ball, praying I could puke and feel better just for 10 minutes. The grass is always greener, right? Also, Neil did lots of canyons, hikes, bike rides, and other fun things that I did my best to ignore. Pregnancy was a big transition for me in the “outdoor adventures” part of my life.

Fighting the sick and getting some fresh air. I'm about 10 weeks here. It was rough.

Fighting the sick and getting some fresh air. I’m about 10 weeks here. I’m smiling, but it was rough.

(Side note – April 1 is a FANTASTIC day to tell your sister you are pregnant. Her response – “yeah, you and everyone else on Facebook.” It took 20 minutes and a party call to my mom to convince her I was telling the truth. By far the best/funniest April Fools day I’ve had in a LONG time.)

Towards the end of April, we found out the gender (girl!) and I managed to eat a waffle.

I actually took a picture of my waffle, I was so excited about being happy to eat a piece food.  Fruit turned into a HUGE craving that lasted through the whole pregnancy.

I actually took a picture of my waffle, I was so excited about being happy to eat a piece food. Fruit turned into a HUGE craving that lasted through the whole pregnancy.

In May, over Memorial Day weekend, we went to the cabin for some quiet time. And she KICKED. Neil happened to have his hand on my belly, and we both felt it. I looked at him and slightly panicked, said “Holy crap, that wasn’t gas.” His response? “If that was gas I’d be taking you to the hospital!”

Lounging at the cabin. Those are Neil's pajama pants because the ones I brought with me weren't ever going to fit.

Lounging at the cabin. Those are Neil’s pajama pants because the ones I brought with me weren’t ever going to fit.

This is about the time I started cutting weight drastically at crossfit, but I am happy to say that I continued working out until September. I am currently planning my return date.

Strong mama, strong baby.

Strong mama, strong baby.

I can’t remember what I did in June, which is more or less a theme to life these days. Neil went on more canyons and bike rides and again, all that fun stuff. We had the anatomy scan, which showed that she was (still) a girl, and growing perfectly.

This is apparently my June of 2014. Flowers and a potato chip chocolate bar from Neil. =)

This is apparently my June of 2014. Flowers and a potato chip chocolate bar from Neil. =)

Just kidding! The end of June I bought a car. My mini went maxi! I forgot. See? It's a sickness.

Just kidding! The end of June I bought a car. My mini went maxi! I forgot. See? It’s a sickness.

By July I was well into the sweet spot of the second trimester and hadn’t yet gotten big enough to feel awful, so we actually got out a few times. On the fourth we went to a friend’s BBQ party. On the fifth we went to Medieval Times for a friend’s birthday (our knight won!) and I only had to get up to pee twice, which I was extremely proud of. The next weekend we went camping to break in our new family tent. It was great until the air mattress sprung a leak (no fat jokes about the pregnant girl, please) and we came home a day early. Still, a good experience overall.

Rockin' the 6 month belly.

Rockin’ the 6 month belly.

The rest of the month wrapped up with another party for a friend’s 30th, and a trip to see Once at the Pantages, which was great.

As always, August was a bit of a crazy blur. A baby shower for my brother and his wife, a glucose test or two (yep, I failed the first one), my 30th birthday, Neil’s birthday, AND our baby shower. I’m exhausted just remembering it. (Oh, and we had fake grass installed in the backyard. Grown-up stuff is boring/exciting.)

The worst drink in the world and my last lift of 2014.

The worst drink in the world and my last lift of 2014.

Neil put together an incredible surprise for my 30th. These incredible people showed up in big bear to hike the PCT with my nearly 7 month pregnant butt. I will never forget this day.

Neil put together an incredible surprise for my 30th. These incredible people showed up in big bear to hike the PCT with my nearly 7 month pregnant butt. I will never forget this day.

Our baby shower, thrown by my sister and a wonderful, bright afternoon.

Our baby shower, thrown by my sister and a wonderful, bright afternoon.

In September the only thing that really matters is that my niece was born. She is perfect.

And October? Too many words.

Last day of work!

Last day of work!

One last visit to the cabin at 36 weeks.

One last visit to the cabin at 36 weeks.

And then, of course, the main event.

And then, of course, the main event.

November and December came and went in a flash. I could tell you about Thanksgiving and Christmas and how exciting it was to see the little cousins together, but I honestly cannot remember much. It’s been a crazy blur, full of tears and laughs and chaos in every form. But it’s been a wonderful year.

Thanksgiving 2014.

Thanksgiving 2014.

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays, and to all a good night.

On Friday, You Were 8 Weeks Old.

These last weeks have been quite the journey. And finally in the last few days, I’ve found myself whispering soft things in your ear, telling you how much I love you and cherish you. Finally I feel like we are connecting, like I have gotten my shattered brain back together enough to realize the amazing little gem that you are.

Because it’s true – you shattered me, little girl. I fell apart that day you were born, and it’s taken me weeks and weeks, but I think we got all the pieces back together. I cried and and cried, and you cried and cried. Dad even cried too, but only because he couldn’t bear to see us crying. I don’t know what happened to me, those first weeks. It’s fuzzy, it was survival and I was losing. I’m not good with change, and worse with hormones. You were so brand new, so life altering in every way. I spoke of regret and wished I could put you back inside. I wanted to run away. I was haunted by terrible visions that would flash before my eyes, disappearing as fast as they’d come alive. I was not okay. Not in any way.

One day you’ll probably throw this back in my face and tell me how much you hate me and that I never loved you. (I was a teenager, once. I know.) But right now you are nothing but squishy and chirpy, and all I can do is hold you close and tell you that I am so very glad you are here. That I love you so much it makes my heart hurt, and that I’d do anything just to see you smile. Thank you, little girl. Thank you for shattering my world. Because it took some time for me to realize, but it is so much better with you in it.