Thursday, January 31, 2013


I've always put a lot of pressure on myself, so I knew that I'd have to try to be extra gentle with myself when I became a mother. Scratch that. When I got pregnant. Wait, no. From the moment I began to think seriously about trying to conceive. I've had incredibly unrealistic expectations of myself all along. I'd like to be able to go easy on myself, but right now that ability comes and goes. 

Instead, I've basically restricted my life down to only things that make healthy and emotionally stable babies, and it's been that way for the two years (trying to conceive, pregnancy, and mothering). I cut out all caffeine, alcohol, and anything and everything I could ingest with any known risk of harm to fetuses/nursing babes starting months before I even began trying to conceive. The last time I was drunk was on my honeymoon. I exercised (but not too strenuously) religiously to get my body ready for pregnancy. While pregnant, I took organic prenatal vitamins, omegas, calcium, superfood supplements, and probiotics. I ate all organic foods, and an excess of produce. I got plenty of sleep and rested my body. I held my breath when walking past smokers, vehicles emitting smelly fumes, people painting their houses or using permanent markers. I played relaxation music constantly (to calm myself and the baby). I could go on. The point is, I was am nuts. Crazy. When it comes to the level of perfection I believe I should be able to provide for my child, it just never feels like it's enough….like, I am enough.

Now that my child is on the outside of my body, it's only gotten worse...with the exception of the early months, which were honestly much easier for me than my current life. Up until about six months, when Emerson became mobile and independent, I felt more at ease in the world than I think I ever have. I was doing my thing, mothering and nurturing, and it didn't feel as difficult to provide my child with everything she needed because I was it. My arms always kept her safe and soothed, my breast milk provided all the healthy nutrition she needed, she took so many naps throughout the day that it was easy to fill her awake hours with plenty of enrichment and interaction. That was the honeymoon. 

Now it's a full-time job trying to keep my child from injuring herself. My arms are a place she returns to periodically while spending her time exploring/getting excited about/getting pissed off by/destroying/building a life. Emerson also now requires food, of the outside-of-my-body variety. Trying to piece together her weekly meal plan is an insane word problem, the likes of which I haven't seen since studying for and taking the LSATs. I panic as I try to balance the foods that constipate her with the foods that make her poop, foods that provide enough iron for her growing body, foods that provide enough vitamin C to help her absorb said iron, foods with protein….all while working with the small set of foods she can actually eat at this point in her life. Then there's the fact that Emerson is now awake. Like, all day. And after I prepare meals, clean up meals, give baths, dress, change (repeat, repeat, repeat), do the laundry, clean up spills and messes, soothe a child who has bonked her head/fallen down/gotten stuck somewhere she can't get out of (repeat, repeat, repeat), there are only so many hours minutes left to enrich her. 

Meanwhile, I feel perpetually assaulted by countless INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT/CRITICAL/READ THIS OR YOUR CHILD MIGHT DIE/HAVE A LOW IQ/SUFFER FROM MALNUTRITION/BECOME A DELINQUENT AND NEVER HOLD A JOB, etc etc. All in caps. Underlined. Italicized. Starred. Circled. Every day, I personally seek information on any number of child-rearing issues, and also happen upon a dozen other unsolicited ones (thank you, Facebook/email subscriptions/blogs). I read, I sometimes take careful notes, I try to commit it all to memory and put it into effect. But, I am overwhelmed. I am panicked. I feel like less of a mother for not being able to stay on top of it all. So, I try to relax and not think about any of it, but then I end up feeling neglectful. Because how can I not care about my child's life/brain/health/future?! Have you read about the toxic levels of arsenic in rice and rice products?! Did you see that study Harvard did that links fluoride to brain damage, significantly lower IQs, suppressed immune systems, cancer…..?! Have you heard about the incredibly hazardous effects of the vinyl used to make kid's backpacks and lunch boxes that only needs to be near them for minutes in order to leach into their bodies?!


But, then. Then there are the moments when another mama comes to me and I see a bit of myself in her, and I can talk to that part of my heart/mind/psyche that needs to hear me say, "you are wonderful just the way you are. Please go easy on yourself." And I feel better, proud even, of my efforts. As my husband used to say when I'd worry aloud to him that I wasn't doing a good enough job at being pregnant, "that baby has the Ritz Carleton of wombs, relax." And realistically, she probably has the Ritz Carleton of childhoods. I might not be able to see it, but it's there. I'm there, and she's there. And I love her so much that I drive myself crazy researching every facet of life I can think of and striving for some ideal that isn't anywhere near possible to achieve. 

In the end, all I can do is my very best, and that is the one thing I can always say I do. That is the one thing we all do, every day, parent or not—our best. If we could do better in any given moment, we would. So, just for today, I'll let that be enough.

This totally plays in my head all the time...

Monday, January 28, 2013


I wish my daughter loved them a little less. Don't get me wrong, I totally enjoy our nursing bond and will continue to nurse her for as long as she likes. I don't really mind waking up in the middle of the night to feed her, even after eight months of doing so. I think it's sweet that she likes to caress or hold onto the opposite breast as she nurses. I'm mostly amused by her drive-by sucking—grabbing my shirt open and taking a few sips in the middle of playing, then continuing on her way. I can handle the fact that she has transformed my boobs from an erogenous zone to a 24-hour diner (although, my husband feels slightly different about this one).

But, for the love of all things motherly, WHY must she use her new-found ability to grab things pincer-style to twist my nipples back and forth like she's trying to find the right radio station?! And, WHEN will she stop biting me?! Sometimes, she even flicks my nipple back and forth between her fingers like she's trying to get a handle on a fire hose that's out of control. And she aims it up at my face and sprays me in the eye. While I'm trying to sleep. Seriously, I cannot find a way to stop girlfriend from manhandling me all. night. long. The minute it's dark in the room, the pinching fingers come out. And the minute the lights are on, she bites me and then laughs. Laughs in my face.

When will nursing return to being sweet instead of semi-tortuous? Right now, I tense up with anxiety as I bring her to my breast, not knowing what she's going to inflict upon me. I am flashing back to those first few weeks when my nipples were cracked and bleeding and I was miserable (when it came to breastfeeding). I got through that, and I will get through this, but fuck.

That is all.

Friday, January 25, 2013

change has arrived

So, as you've probably noticed, my blog has a new name! I wanted it to better reflect my journey, and my writing, as both have evolved over the past year. As simple as the title is, it took a long time for me to decide on—many months, brainstorming lists, opinion poll taking. I'm happy with it now! It makes sense to me.

I've also been updating my pages, including my "about" page. And the pictures throughout the site. It just feels good to have everything rearranged and set up. It's like I've carefully packed my bags, and dressed for the occasion and now I can head on my way. I am more certain than ever that my journey is under way, and my blog is my vehicle.

Anyway, here's the updated info...

About Lola's Child

Hi there! I’m Alexa, but most people know me as Lola! I’m a 32-year old writer, photographer, and mama-to-be new mama, living in the Northern Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.

On the most basic level, this blog is about truth. I want to put an honest voice out there to give others something to relate to, or at the very least, something that inspires them to be confident in their own truth. I give you the real, inside scoop poop on life as a mama. Just like life, sometimes my confessions will send you into a laughing fit, and sometimes you may just nod in tears. Either way, you can expect a whole lot of TMI. 

The name Lola’s Child is meant to have double meaning (though that’s probably not very obvious) given my life is about two things right now: my actual child, sweet baby girl Emerson, and my brainchild (my writing and photography career).

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you stay and read a while! Feel free to comment or shoot me an email! You can subscribe by email (on the left-hand side of the blog) to receive alerts to new posts. 

xo Lola


If you dig back into my archives, you will find that this blog used to be quite different. Though my blog has most definitely grown into something entirely new, I decided to leave all those years of writing intact here, because it is where I began.

A few links:

This is our life (ongoing series about the moments that seem to be the very definition of parenthood)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

a blemished life

What I Love Most Print

My life used to be immaculate. All of my belongings were intact, pristine, dust-free, tidy. Everything appeared as if it were new even after years of use. I lived in a sea of white—white couches, white carpets, white throw pillows and blankets, white sheets...white, white, white. And none of it was stained. I invested in nice furniture, and polished the unscratched surfaces weekly. My floors reflected the scenery above them like clean, shiny lakes and there was nary a cobweb in my life. There were no junk drawers or secret messy closets. Everything was organized, labeled, color-coded.

I used to be immaculate. My finger nails were always trimmed and my cuticles pushed back. My hair was washed with unnecessarily expensive shampoo that I purchased at the salon I would frequent regularly for cuts, colors, and deep-conditioning treatments. My face was cared for by a facialist, and slathered with only top-shelf products. I put time and thought into picking out outfits. I always knew what was in fashion. I worked out at the gym religiously, walked to yoga class before the sun came up, meditated daily. I got a solid 9-10 hours of sleep every night, uninterrupted.

Now, my life is blemished. There are rips in the bookjackets of all my favorite books, tiny claw marks across my once-prized leather ottoman, butternut squash puree stains on my white clothes, a crimson childbirth stain on my bed, scratches on anything made of wood that lives within the walls of my home. There are enormous divots etched into the floors of my living room from the time I attempted to move a piece of furniture, but couldn't, because I was 6-months pregnant. I live in loungewear and slippers. My legs haven't seen the sharp side of a razor since summertime. I use rubber bands instead of hair shampoo. I only manage to tend to my nails when I accidentally scratch the baby. My house is my gym, and wearing my baby in a sling for five hours a day is my exercise machine. My meditation involves rhythmically patting my child's back with my eyes closed as I repeat my mantra—shhhhhh, shhhhhh, shhhhhh—until she finally falls asleep.

But, there are shared snuggles on that stained white sofa, evidence of infant-sized milestones on the carpet with the pulled apart wool on its edges, nourishment in the pile of paperwork that has been sitting on my kitchen counter since I gave birth, purpose in the duct tape covered holes in my floor. There are moments of triumph in my slightly widened hips, laughter in my overstretched belly button, inspiration in the split ends I've neglected, devotion in the seemingly permanent dark circles underneath my eyes. There are minutes and hours and days of my sweet angel's life that I could not reclaim had I remained immaculate.

There is a life here where there used to be none.

Monday, January 21, 2013

this is our life: on marriage

Me: Baby, can you bag up all the recycling and take it out to the garage?

Alex: Sure, if you do what you hate to do the most and make some decisions! Starting with…what do you want for lunch today?! I've asked you about four times and all you keep saying is that you feel 'uninspired by your options.'

Me: Ugh. Okay. Let me think...

Alex: Does it seem like we just keep exchanging torturous tasks today?

Me: Yes, I think that's what they call marriage.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

marriage and baby: not for the weak, part I

This post will be the first of a mini-series so stay tuned…


Hi, I'm Alexa and I'm a recovering addict. My drug of choice was...relationships, and I was addicted to them and rarely without one for most of my 20's. A few times I was even offered something more potent than a relationship—a marriage proposal. But that was always the point when I'd cut off emotionally and walk away. So when Alex, my now-husband, proposed, I had no idea what I was about to go through in actually accepting and wanting to get married. And what happened was that I lost my shit.


Our relationship was fast-moving and fiercely passionate from the start. There was very little inhibition or caution. Both of us had some pretty sizable wounds from past relationships, but we were two similar souls, with flames burning so brightly that it was impossible to see the darkness that did indeed lurk in our depths. Nothing was going to stop us from having the kind of love we had held out for as lifelong romantics and dreamers. 

We were consumed by and with one another. We never tired of each other's presence, spending nearly all of our free time together. We were lovers, buddies, road trip warriors, music makers and enthusiasts, adventurers, talk-until-the-sun-comes-up-a-la-sal-and-dean-from-on-the-road kind of crazy 20-somethings. We loved intensely, and we fought intensely….our suppressed pasts spilling out into the open as we navigated the many phases of our relationship—acquaintances, dating, love, long-distance relationship, cohabitation. We had never felt so vulnerable and exposed, and we were terrified. But, we kept going.

I had survived past relationships with hefty doses of suppression, denial, and dishonesty. Sure, there were the occasional blow-ups that mostly looked like me trying (and failing) to explain the pain I was feeling so intensely, sobbing uncontrollably, and then the inevitable stand-off that would last anywhere from a few hours to a few days….to a few weeks in the later part of my dating history. In comparison to the version of myself that I would uncover once I started dating Alex, the old me was quite adept at swallowing her emotions and making sure no one, not even herself, was privy to their whereabouts.

I had never experienced something as wild, tumultuous or expressive as I experienced with Alex. The first few months were your standard bliss-fest and arguments seemed so impossible to imagine ever happening (remember those conversations you had when you first started dating someone like, "I can't imagine ever fighting with you. I mean what in the world would we have to fight about?!….um, EVERYTHING). The bliss quickly melted into a real relationship, but our spark was unendingly ablaze. Reality was no match for our crazy kind of love. And so, that December, on our one-year anniversary, Alex asked me to marry him. It was the single-most perfect moment of my life.

With the exception of a ring on my finger and conversations about wedding plans, everything felt the same...until it didn't.

I had been so restrained, so closed-up and controlled before Alex. Occasionally, I would fall to pieces while alone, but mostly I spent my time keeping it together so the world outside would not see the mess that I felt inside. Alex changed that. My well-honed relationship tactics and coping mechanisms were totally obvious and unusable on him. He asked what I was thinking and feeling, and would not let up until a real answer erupted from somewhere deep within me. We had met our alter egos. We were the same, but in opposite gender bodies (or so we used to say). We could not hide from one another at all. And so, the truth finally came flying out of all the suppressed corners of our beings. And my emotions became completely out of control. I was explosive and unpredictable.

I suddenly found myself with an enormous past that demanded to be addressed and healed on or before my wedding day. For starters, my parents divorced when I was in first grade. Their relationship was incredibly turbulent and left me with memories that still wake me up panicked and afraid in the middle of the night. But then, there was also the string of subsequent marriages/long-term relationships/engagements that they dragged me through. Relationships have been forming and dissolving around me all my life. How could someone like me make a relationship, let alone a marriage, work? How could I be happy without ever being shown a roadmap? I hadn't been taught to communicate, to cooperate, to love unconditionally, to be loyal or committed.

But, I had one thing that I had been clinging to since I was a kindergartener. While most kids were busy playing, I was busy thinking. And one of the earliest memories I have of actually sitting alone, pondering life in my bedroom, was a promise that I made to myself. I was sad and scared, and I didn't like what was going on between my parents downstairs. So I decided in that moment, with afternoon sunlight streaming across my blue and white flowered Laura Ashley wall paper, that I would never have their life. Of course, all of this was on a rudimentary level, but I have a very distinct memory of when this thought began and the many times I repeated it to myself until I was an adult. I still repeat this to myself.

Along with the wounds of divorce, my childhood also left me incredibly codependent thanks to generations upon generations of alcoholics and codependents occupying my life. This issue alone had left me feeling completely incapable of maneuvering even the most basic parts of daily life. I had known nothing but a diseased, unhealthy, warped, addictive way of living from the time I was born. When I left my home, just a month after I turned eighteen, I was not only faced with the task of adjusting to the independence of college, but also began to learn all the lessons—how to behave, and be, and interact with others—that I should have learned as a child. I made many, many….many mistakes along the way. My mistakes and codependence, of course, were most notable in the romance department—Alex was no exception. But, I was so aware of myself with Alex that I began really dealing with these issues. I had been a recovering codependent for ten years prior to our relationship, but I was now on some crazy, fast track to health, which was incredibly relieving and empowering, but incredibly messy.

An epic story all its own, my surfacing issues also had a ripple effect throughout my life leaving me temporarily estranged from my family, adding to the pain of already being motherless.

So, here I was, engaged and planning a wedding by myself with an overwhelming number of ghosts lurking in the shadows of my insides. Ironically, the fact that all of this began to make itself known to me was a positive. It was a positive, because I was really, truly healing at last. And it was a positive, because I was with Alex. I had never felt safe, loved unconditionally, or totally supported before so I relied on so many coping mechanisms that allowed me to look like I had my shit together. I didn't need to cope with Alex. I was finally able to let go.

Regardless of the positives, though, my mini enormous breakdown was hard to bear—for me, and for Alex. I had to fall apart to somehow become whole, it felt like the only way. And fall apart I did.

I had been going to upwards of five support groups a week since just after Alex proposed in December. I was totally dedicated to my recovery and my efforts felt like enough until summer came around. The closer we got to the wedding, which was planned for October, the more anxious I became. I begged Alex to elope numerous times. While Alex clung to the idea of all our friends and family gathering to celebrate, I was sure that was exactly what would push me over the edge to a place I feared with my entire being. I began to have panic attacks, often daily.There were days I couldn't get out of bed. I started to feel unstable in a way that frightened Alex to such a degree that one hot day in July, he suggested we call off our wedding and reschedule it for a date yet to be determined. I felt like I had failed in that moment, like I was so broken that it was just too much to ask anyone to love me. But, Alex did. Although I spent the rest of that day sobbing, and thrashing underneath the covers of my bed in complete disbelief, it was a turning point. Alex and I started couple's therapy the following week, and I started on a cocktail of medication.

We spent almost three months in therapy. After our first appointment things felt bleak and we weren't sure how we were going to get through such a challenging time. It felt like we had invited a third party in to add to the already long list of issues we knew we had, and though she never said it, we feared she didn't believe we should get married. But, at some point in the midst of hours upon days upon weeks of talking, we saw the light. We suddenly worked through what had felt impossible so quickly, because we were ready and because we worked hard. Where we could have folded, we found strength. And it became abundantly clear to all three of us in that tiny corner office with the uncomfortable, musty old couch, that we were ready to get married.

The night before our wedding I had three different pills lined up on my nightstand, I had lost a noticeable amount of hair and weight, and my eyes were dark and tired. I was far from looking my best. But, the next day was the most effortless and joyful day of my life. As much as I had hoped to look my most beautiful on my wedding day, there was beauty in my resilience, and the resilience of my relationship with Alex. I hadn't experienced my engagement the way I had once envisioned, but it had a purpose. Where we once carried glossy daydreams, we found real life. It ultimately created a relationship that was steady, healthy, and that could stand up to the challenges we would face in the coming years.

Up next: trying to conceive...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

change is around the bend

I own this thanks to my thoughtful gal pal, Natalie!

I've been contemplating this blog for many months now. I went through a phase where I thought I might just shut it down. I've considered starting a whole new blog with a whole new URL. I've been staring at the wall trying to come up with a new name to better reflect the change in content. I've been wondering how or if I could transition away from the "Lola Rain" brand that I've created. So, here's what I got: I will be staying on the Lola Rain train, but this blog will have a new name shortly. I wanted to mention this change a bit before it happens so people aren't confused. At the same time, I'll be giving my blog a once over and changing some of the layout and graphics. Things will look different, but it will be the same blog you are used to (if you've been reading it the past year or so). I'll explain more as these changes start to happen. I'm excited, though, because I feel like streamlining everything will push me further in the direction my writing (and life/career) is already headed. 

Thank you for all the kind feedback and encouragement I've received this past year! I take it all as a sign that I am on the right path. Your words have inspired me to dig a little deeper and share even more.

"I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because we are the same that far down." 
~Jack Kerouac

Monday, January 14, 2013

eight months of emerson

Emerson turned 8-months-old on Saturday. Her advancing age never ceases to take me by surprise, nor do her emerging skills cease to amaze me. Typical first-time mama, right? I'm really loving the stage we're in right now, notwithstanding the terrible teething woes and complete lack of sleep on account of said woes. Alex and I have been saying a lot lately, "we really lucked out with this baby!" That statement is not at all meant to imply that we've had an easy time, or that she doesn't challenge us in numerous ways…..or that I never find myself wanting to scream. But, she is a good baby. Overly picky and demanding, at times? Yes. Stubborn as they come? Sure. A long list of emotional needs? Mmm hmm. (Wait, this is starting to sound an awful lot like me….). But, she is a good baby. She goes with the flow, adapting to being isolated indoors in the middle of nowhere with only her mama for days (or weeks) on end to suddenly finding her house filled with nine loud, intense family members to having no fear when she meets a dog for the first time (oh, how she loves her auntie's doggy!) to cuddling up to my family with full trust because she somehow senses that they are important to me. 

I feel so proud of the person Emerson is becoming—the person she is, and has been. She's been tracking about two to three months ahead of the curve in reaching all of her milestones since birth, and I've never found myself shocked by it or felt like it's an overly big deal (other than feeling unprepared for each new stage). It just seems to make sense, like of course Emerson would do something like that. She is my little old soul. She doesn't have time to be a baby, she's got plans. And I can't wait to see what those plans are.

So, the big news last month was that Emerson started to crawl and stand up at 6-months-old. She has now begun her decent into the world of walking—again, not at all surprised, but must you really begin to walk at 8-months-old, Emerson?! She has made several attempts to stand without holding onto anything and adorably surfs our furniture (walking from one end to the other while holding on). I am trying, in earnest, to enjoy these last days before she begins to walk, because I know it will be slightly totally painful for me when it finally happens. I've had a hard enough time dealing with Emerson's crawling and ability to leave a room without me (not that we allow her to ramble around the house on her own, but she certainly tries to). 

The incredible thing about moving into yet another new phase with Emerson, is to watch her become confidently independent yet able to express her love for me more intensely. So, while it's sometimes sad to see her not need me for long stretches of  time, she makes up for it in the maturity of her love (enormous kisses, long cuddles, lying on top of my body as she nurses). I think we both need these "check-ins" with each other in order to allow our relationship and dependence/independence to evolve. 

One other thing that is quickly changing is Emerson's awareness. I started making a list of my personal faults that I'd love to take to a therapist and say, "here, please help me get rid of these before I permanently scar my child!" From the small to the large, I am constantly noticing my behavior now….mostly, because Emerson is noticing. She is my audience when I am having a bad day, lose my temper, accidentally (or sometimes intentionally) swear, go to the bathroom, blow my nose, interact with my husband, on and on and on. And she wants to learn. But, what do I want to teach her? Certainly not everything I'm doing! We all want better for our children, and though I know Emerson already has it a heck of a lot better than I did, I want better than the better she's already receiving from me. Some of this speaks to the abyss that is my personal background and my fear of recreating any of it at all, and some of it is the mere fact that I cannot stop swearing altogether nor can I stop losing my cool when Emerson digs her hands into a pile of poop. 

Happy 8-months, baby girl! 

Belated Christmas photos:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

this is our life: on privacy

Wow, so I don't post for a couple of weeks and now that I'm getting back into the swing of life post-holidays, Emerson has had me up like alllll night the past week on account of her two front teeth coming in. And, let me to you, when mama is pushed past her normal state of exhaustion into the realm of delerium….well….it's tough to formulate thoughts and write. In the meantime, a quick installment of "This is our Life:"

My dream mornings consist of being able to shower, towel off, lotion up and get dressed all without the baby in the room/in my arms/pulling on my leg/somehow attached to my boob while doing all of the above. Those mornings are a rarity, though, and this is not one of them. This is my standard morning, so I am starting out my bathroom routine with Emerson in her bouncy seat next to me. About ten minutes later, Alex comes and takes her to play downstairs just as I step into the shower. This is also not one of the mornings on which I have the luxury of washing my hair (those are also a rarity) so I shove my hair back into the large, purple shower cap that my daughter is all too familiar with and I fear will always associate me with. I soap up, wash my face, and then spend twenty seconds just standing in the warm water before I remind myself that I can't stand there all day. 

As soon as Alex hears the loud, metal-on-metal sound of the shower curtain being opened, he is already halfway up the stairs. On this occasion, I decide to close the door before he has a chance to come in. But, my personal space barely exists anymore. Alex simply opens the door without knocking and proceeds to drop Em in her bouncy seat so he can get in the shower himself. Slightly annoyed, but also resigned to my existence, I blurt out, "a closed door means I'm doing something private!"

Alex looks at Emerson and says, "what do you think she was doing in here, Em?" Emerson looks perplexed. "Probably something with her vagina," he whispers.

Alex and I go back and forth about my top secret private acts for a minute until Alex says, "you'd think that there wouldn't be anything private between you and the man that literally pulled a baby out of your vagina."

I had nothing to say to that.

This is our life.

Monday, January 7, 2013

emerson the winter baby

It's been a crazy past two weeks with the holidays, traveling six hours to Maine with a baby, hosting a Christmas weekend for nine people at our house (yikes!), having Alex home from work….hence the complete absence of blog posts. It's been chaotic as heck yet so lovely. But, on this particular Monday I'm really looking forward to getting back into the groove of a more orderly life. I am so craving routine right now. 

To tide you over until I get back to writing….Emerson in the adorable jacket my father brought back from Paris….