The dark side of the moon

I had the “dark-and-twistys” this week. The term is pulled from old-school Grey’s Anatomy episodes, before Meredith Grey became bright-and-shiny Meredith around season six. Before season six and her post-it marriage to McDreamy, Meredith and Christina would often visit the Dark Place for a few days, and they always understood exactly what that meant.

Meredith: “Are you in the Dark Place?”
Christina: “Yeah.”
Meredith: “OK.” (exhibits understanding face and walks away….)

There is a special wing of the Dark Place specially reserved for new mothers. For mothers who have children that cry, who can’t be soothed, who don’t have the answers, who have husbands away on business, and who want to throw in the towel and download adoption papers.

That was me this week while Per was gone for two days. Two days – that’s all it took for me to descend from relative normality to the dark-and-twistys. For whatever reason, Per Christian decided to take this opportunity to cry, scream and refuse all previously-standard forms of comfort. He screamed for his pacifier and then spit it out, he hated his walks in the stroller but wasn’t happy inside, he was hot, he was cold, he wanted to be held but wanted to be put down, he was overtired but wouldn’t sleep…

After 24 hours of this, the kid nearly got left in the park with a “Will Work for Food” sign on his stroller.

These are the days when I miss my former life. I know mothers are supposed to be all exuberant over their adorable miracles in a sleep-deprived-martyrish kind of way, but honestly I really do miss my old self.

There – I said it. I may be the only one to voice it out loud, but I bet you’re all nodding your heads and thinking, “yep, me too….”

I see Per leaving for work every day and wish it were me. I hear parties on the street at 3am and wish I were there. I see fabulous clothes in the stores and get frustrated that nothing fits my new body. This little “miracle” has taken everything away – my body, my work, my sanity, my life. And yes, sometimes from the depths of the Dark Place I wish I could take it all back, rewind the tape and not be a Mother anymore.

Everyone tells you that it will pass, but that’s equally frustrating to hear. It somehow invalidates what I’m feeling at that moment. Like the feelings don’t matter because they won’t stick around anyway. I know people are trying to be helpful, but really a knowing nod and understanding face would suit me much better.

Other people offer to help. That also doesn’t work because it just makes me more frustrated that this formerly strong, confident, self-assured version of myself can’t hack it. And I’m reminded that this little six kilo meatloaf has managed to shred every bit of self-confidence I spent 35 years building.


I won’t subscribe to the cliché and say that it’s all worth it when he smiles, because that’s not always the case. You can keep your smile, thank you very much. I’d rather have a martini. But the truth is, the dark-and-twistys really do pass. You have good days and bad days. That’s the theme of this entire blog – some days are shitty diaper days, other days are bubbly champagne days.

Today was a great day, maybe one of the best on record. It’s as if Per Christian knew that he nearly got sold to the traveling circus and was trying to convince me not to go through with the paperwork. It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect and I don’t still miss my former life. But it does mean that I can wake up, take a deep breath and try again.

I promise we’ll return to our regular programming on the next post with more mouth-watering baby photos that will make your uterus scream. (sorry gents….)

A week of firsts

I did something today for the first time…. I took a shower while Per Christian napped. To those non-baby-fearing people in the audience, this probably sounds like a no-brainer. Child sleeps = mommy showers. Duh.

But to those of us who know first-hand about life with a two-month-old, you’ll understand why I consider it to be an accomplishment. It means that Per Christian has enough of a routine established that I can assume he’ll sleep long enough to for me to bathe in peace. (Notice use of the word “routine” rather than “schedule” – saying the latter in Norway is like swearing in Babyland’s sacred church…)

Per Christian is a cat-napper, sleeping in short 30-40 minute intervals throughout the day. I’ve heard that some babies sleep for hours at a time – whoever has a child like that, I hate you. Until now, I haven’t been able to really predict whether his nap would be a real immersion or just a dip in the slumber pool. So in order to still maintain a socially acceptable level of hygiene, I’ve always brought him into the bathroom with me in his little activity chair. Between the peaceful sounds of running water and the hair dryer, this was usually the result:

But today he went down for his morning nap and I took a chance by bringing the baby monitor into the bathroom and holding my breath. The running commentary in my head went something like this….

“OK, he’s still asleep, I can use conditioner… he’s still asleep, I can use soap rather than just rinsing…. he’s still asleep, I can use this exfoliation bar thing-y I have here…. holy moley, he’s still asleep! I’m going to actually shave my legs gosh darn it!”

So yes, the morning went well.

Also in the Week-of-Firsts is Per Christian’s first time rolling over! (I understand this event is probably more interesting to you readers than my showering routine, but I’m the author and I’m in charge and slightly selfish so I led with myself this time…) We’d been enjoying a spot of tummy time in the middle of the kitchen on Gran’s quilt, when all of a sudden he just pushed off his hands and flipped over! The poor chap didn’t really know what happened, and the shocked look on his face upon finding himself head’s up made me think of the “Dead Ants” game we used to play on my high school track team.

I did actually catch his flip on video, but I don’t have the functionality to post it here. Sorry about that, but here are some other good catches from the week to enjoy instead.

Deep discussions with Pappa in the AM:

How did my little boy get so big already?!?!

My friend Goril says that Per Christian looks “very healthy,” which based upon this photo means he looks like a miniature Winston Churchill:

A spot of red hair, perhaps?

Chillin’ yet again with Auntie Larissa and Nina-to-be:

Wishing you all a great week ahead!

Status achieved

Apparently, the Norwegian government now recognizes Per Christian Svendsen as a Norwegian citizen fit for travel to foreign destinations. His mother and father, on the other hand, are wondering — “Who IS this person in the passport photo?!?!” Neither one of us recognize this little man as the small organism we brought home from the hospital ten weeks ago. How did time pass so quickly?

Taking Per Christian’s passport photo was an interesting experience – going down to the photo store on one of our daily jaunts, laying him out on the white mattress with the photographer standing above him, battling against every shred of sanity to actually wake him long enough to face the camera and get the shot taken. When they then developed and handed me the photo, I could hardly believe that this is how the world will see my son. He’s a good-looking chap, don’t get me wrong, but I hardly even recognized him!

Here are a few more photos from recent sunny days in Oslo. I hope you are all having a great summer and that we’ll get to see you at some point!

The two Christian’s in our Oslo family:








The lovely Larissa and Nina-to-be (Per Christian is first in line for boyfriend status):

Hmmm… He’ll have to get better at hiding his thoughts around the boobies….

Tummy-time is always rich with photo opportunities:

Per Christian bringing ganster-style to Oslo:








Another sunny day and bottle of champagne in Oslo:








Another sunny day and glass of white wine in Oslo:








Per Christian and Pappa:

Per Christian & Momma: