The Loud Noise Anxiety Makes Inside My Head

A dear friend asked me, recently, if I think that I am a good listener. The answer is that I have great listening skills, but that I can’t use them, sometimes, because the noise inside my head is too loud to make listening possible. At the time she posed the question, I was being a terrible listener. I had just come from the BlogHer 2014 conference, which was literally quite loud, with a few thousand people in attendance, and there was so much noise in my head about the expense of the hotel, the food, about everything I had seen and heard, about the people who had been there, and the people who had missed it. I was exhausted. But I wonder–would I be able to put aside exhaustion and listen, if the anxiety didn’t turn up the volume so darn loud?

It sounds like an airport in my head. I realized this while watching my son point at every plane with toddler glee and yell "Pay!" (No, the realization did no take away from my joy at watching his new love for airplanes.)

It sounds like an airport in my head. I realized this while watching my son point at every plane with toddler glee and yell “Pay!” (No, the realization did no take away from my joy at watching his new love for airplanes.)

[BlogHer recap post and other thoughts coming soon. I can’t even listen to myself after yesterday’s solo flight home with all that adorable, well-behaved, snuggly, but eventually also heavy, toddler on my lap.]

Anxious Introvert Travels with Toddler

Tomorrow, we leave for New York and my inlaws’ home, and on Tuesday, we head to California. First up will be time with a friend from childhood, and then, the BlogHer ’14 conference.

I’m spending today doing laundry. I’ll be spending tomorrow evening practicing installing the convertible carseat with a seat belt (my friend’s car was made before LATCH). I could do it in no time flat with the infant seat, but they grow up so fast…


  • Will I have space and time to be alone? Related: will the toddler adjust to life without Daddy (just for a week!) enough to play by himself? Or will he get super clingy?
  • Will I be able to eat while traveling? Do they sell things in airports that contain no dairy, gluten, sugar or soy? Can I carry enough food in with me to feed us both?
  • How do I get all the stuff from the airport to the curb? A carry on, a toddler’s bag o’ stuff, a checked bag, a carseat…
  • Should I bring the stroller?
  • Does wearing socks actually keep my feet any cleaner after I take my shoes off and go through security? My shoes don’t really look great with socks…
  • Will the child be able to handle riding in the Onya carrier, now that he can walk? Is it wrong to be grateful that he’s clingy around strangers and thus reassure myself that he won’t go running off while we go through security?
  • Who will set next to us on the plane? I trapped us in the window seat to deter any “let me walk through the aisle” spontaneous toddlerness. But that means two people between us and the aisle… at least he’s still in diapers?

That’s not even all of it. Oh, please wish us luck!

We did it 14 month ago. We can do it again this week!

We did it 14 month ago. We can do it again this week!

Joovy HiLo: A Spontaneous Review

This is the highchair we won at an event. How much fun is this color?

This is the highchair we won at an event. How much fun is this color?

I’m reviewing the Joovy HiLo highchair, a raffle prize Walt and I won at an event in Brooklyn this spring, because the Joovy reps I talked to were so nice, and it really is a fantastic high chair.

Things I love about this chair:

  • Easy in and out.
  • Easy cleanup.
  • Easily removed tray top.
  • Two heights!
  • Super safe and stable.

Things I don’t love about this chair:

  • The harness; even if it was set up properly, it was still hard to figure out which was was the right way to get the buckles snapped. Redoing the harness after flipping it over took several intelligent adults and a lot of trial and error. Big learning curve.
  • The price point. At $399, I’m just not sure I can recommend buying this one at full price. Stokke makes two high chairs that change seat heights and cost less, and they can both have a slimmer profile without accessories (optional). Which brings me to…
  • It takes up a lot of space. I’m used to the Stokke Tripp Trapp, a gift from my baby shower, and its near invisibility in our dining room. This seems very bulky to me. It doesn’t weigh much, and you can move it with neat little wheels on the back legs. I’ve never had a big dining space, though, so I want lower-profile chair.

We’ve kept this chair at Gram’s house, because it came fully assembled. It fit nicely in her CRV, but definitely wasn’t going to make it to Connecticut in the Corolla we were driving, then. We’ve used it outside and inside, and I loved that at the lower height, it fit at the picnic table on the back patio!

How cute is my kid? Also: see the transparent tray-on-tray?

How cute is my kid? Also: see the transparent tray-on-tray?

There’s a lightweight, but sturdy tray, which is transparent, and it snaps onto the bigger white tray. It rinses right off and it’s dishwasher safe. It has a spot for a cup, and you can snap it off with one hand, while leaving the white tray in place for safety or play.

Joovy markets this as a chair that switches from infant to toddler, so I’m guessing that it’s not meant to be switched around as often as I flipped it. But I was hoping that I could tell you that its advantage over the Tripp Trapp was that you could switch the height easily. Nope. Not easy. Easier than getting out an allen wrench, but that harness…

If it gets twisted, when you flip the chair, it won’t buckle properly. I have the same problem with my (inexpensive) umbrella stroller, but it will still clip, even if there’s a twist in the strap. Not so with the HiLo.

After you flip the chair, you have to figure out which straps to clip to the d-rings in the seat. If they’re upside-down, they won’t fit into the front part of the harness. Even if you do get those to fit together, if the bottom straps are twisted, it won’t clip together with center buckle. It’s a three-point harness, with straps over the arms and around the waist, which is great. Once you get it to work.

Really easy to switch!

Really easy to switch!

The hole in the middle allows you to flip the harness with the chair, so there aren't two. That's nice! But see those little black d-rings on either side of the harness? Figuring out what to clip to those, and which was the right direction for them to be clipped... it's definitely not easy.

The hole in the middle allows you to flip the harness with the chair, so there aren’t two. That’s nice! But see those little black d-rings on either side of the harness? Figuring out what to clip to those, and which was the right direction for them to be clipped… it’s definitely not easy.

Overall, I do love this high chair. I thought that I would sell it, because I had won this expensive baby gear, and I could make a profit. It’s been months, and I still can’t bring myself to do it! It is just so darn cute! The tray snaps on and off by some heavy-duty snaps on the back of the chair. Eventually, I can just so easily see my son in two years, sitting in this bright, sweetly designed furniture as a chair, no harness, no tray, coloring at the dining table. A chair of his own!

If money is no object, and you want something with design that’s a little brighter and bolder than the Swedish design at Stokke, or the space-age design at Boon (competitors), this really is a great choice.

*I received no compensation for this review. The raffle in which I won this highchair was completely random.

Study Finds SSRI Use in Pregnancy Safer Than Believed

I cannot tell you how excited I am to share this news. Of course, it hasn’t spread like wildfire among media outlets, because it isn’t scary. But I’ll put aside my cynical hat for the moment to celebrate that the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Health has reported finding SSRI use in pregnancy safer that previously believed. The findings of previous studies were inconsistent, with some reporting a link between SSRI use in the first trimester and an “increased risk of cardiac malformations,” while others found no such link. This particular study is a big deal for a few reasons. First, the MGH Center for Women’s Health set out to resolve problems with previous studies, in order to make their findings more conclusive. Second, it has a world-renowned reputation for doing high-quality research.

While I suspect that doctors will continue to issue vague warnings about Zoloft and heart problems, their better-educated peers can reassure women who depend on this type of antidepressant that they are not, in fact, putting their developing babies at a greater risk. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are the most commonly prescribed anti-depressant, and I get email almost every week from women who read this blog, and my story, and feel wracked with guilt for taking their medications during pregnancy. I so appreciate any good, solid, scientific information I can pass on to them to relieve any one of the many fears they tell me about.

There’s something important to note, here: the study finds that taking SSRIs in your first trimester is not likely to *increase* your baby’s chance of developing a heart defect. This language is used carefully because, as I write to every woman who tells me about her medication guilt, EVERY fetus is at risk for developing all kinds of defects. I still remember my shock, when I learned that taking my meds during pregnancy would simply increase risks that already existed. If there was “something wrong,” no one would be able to say with certainty that my medication had caused it, or whether it would have happened anyway. Babies are born with “cardiac malfunctions” to women who take SSRIs and to women who don’t; they just happen to occur at about the same rate, in both groups.

“There is no such thing as a risk-free pregnancy,” I learned while doing research before my pregnancy. Thank goodness that this common class of medication doesn’t seem linked to any additional risks to worry about!

Estranged, by Jessica Berger Gross: A Review

My own estrangement from my father is about a year old, and Estranged came into my life right in the middle of it. Just over six months ago, I read the brand new “Kindle Single,” the day it came out. I couldn’t stop reading, once I started. In a way, I had to do it all at once – click the link on Facebook, buy the book, download the book, read the book. I told myself, don’t think too much. Get through the pain. Learn what you can.

The strength of Estranged is that it doesn’t “think” too much; the simplicity of author Jessica Berger Gross‘s storytelling lets me project my own experience right on to her insights. “When the estrangement began, I thought of it as a break. … the days stacked up and I came to collect and register each no-parent day like someone in recovery would record a day of sobriety. The plain truth was, the longer I went without seeing my parents, the better my life became.” Tears come to my eyes every time I read that passage. It’s just how I feel, for all the time and details that separate my life from the author’s experience.

Estrangement from a parent brings up so many questions that hover and cloud the intuition that demands distance. What about love? Don’t I love my father? Don’t I value family? Was it wise to reject a parent so soon after becoming a parent, myself?

Estranged asks the same questions, but Berger Gross doesn’t have answers, any more than I do. There’s a great deal of emotional release in finding that someone with so much more time and distance can answer only the simpler questions: when? How? Why? Why continue the silence? What about your own child? When it becomes clear that a parent can threaten the safety of even an adult child. By simply walking away. Because a parent’s, or parents’, behavior is unsafe, and becomes it remains unsafe. To protect my self and my child from that behavior. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, other threats… it doesn’t matter. Those other, bigger questions simply don’t matter to a child whose safety is threatened, even if she is an adult.

If you have never felt threatened by your own parents, it can be nearly impossible to relate to the paradox faced by adult children, estranged from ours. The primal need to be “close” to a parent pulls against the drive for safety, the “fight or flight” instinct that rises in every human, when we feel threatened. Berger Gross writes, “Now I am something like proud of my choice. … I know artists, writers, lawyers — people with advanced degrees and money in the bank who tremble at the thought of some 70- or 80-something man or woman in Ohio or Boca or Baltimore.”

I was in the process of joining Berger Gross, when I read Estranged; the trembling I felt was beginning to recede. At some point, I simply felt certain that I would not feel safe with my father in my life, and that following the pull toward my father would inevitably lead to that adrenaline rush to fight, or fly.

Berger Gross finishes her book with this thought on her parents: “They did love me, I know. Maybe they still do.” I understand that; my father did love me and maybe still does. The proverbial cord that ties us to our parents can’t be cut, in my opinion. But it can be left alone, so that what’s on the other side can’t tug at me, anymore. It takes a great deal of strength to leave a relationship with a lifetime of history, literally. I’m proud of that strength, and happy to enjoy the deep sense of safety that has settled into my life.

A Kindle Single, soon to appear in print.

A Kindle Single, soon to appear in print.

*This post contains an affiliate link, so if you purchase this book after following this link, I will receive a small payment for sending you to Amazon. I did not receive even a free copy of this book in exchange for this review, which was inspired only by my gratitude for and appreciation of it.