I Try Out Period Tracking Apps So You Don’t Have To

My smartphone is finally fulfilling its destiny.

I enjoy not having to remember things. It frees up valuable brain real estate for things like daydreaming about abandoned amusement park vacations and learning javascript. My phone keeps track of phone numbers, birthdays, my next meeting, the day’s weather, and how many steps I’ve taken. So why shouldn’t it track my menstrual cycle, too?

I’ll tell you why not: most period tracking apps SUCK. I can only assume the the predominance of flowers and the color pink means that they are aimed at a target market that is not me, and not just because I’m in my forties. I’m a designer. I cannot use an app that looks like a unicorn threw up all over it.

Happily, in the time between getting pregnant, having a baby, and finally getting my period back after a year and a half (thank you, breastfeeding), the selection for period tracking apps has expanded to include things that don’t make me cringe. Some of them don’t use pink at all!

I chose four free period tracking apps to try out; two are ad-supported but offer paid versions that are presumably ad-free.

(I have Things to Say, so this is going to be a long one.)  Continue reading I Try Out Period Tracking Apps So You Don’t Have To

Parenting Fail: Weaning

When Ellison was 18 months old, we weaned. We did it cold turkey, and it worked beautifully. Sure, there were a couple of rough nights, but he got used it relatively quickly and painlessly and all was well.

weaning failSo when I started really feeling done* with the whole nursing thing with Rory, I figured it would work pretty much the same way.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Excuse me. Ha.

At 17 months old, Rory was not ready to wean. She was nutritionally ready – she ate a TON, and rarely wanted to nurse during the day – but emotionally she needs to nurse. I figured this out after three nights of basically zero sleep, in which she screamed uncontrollably and wouldn’t let anyone touch her, all because I calmly and firmly told her we weren’t nursing anymore.

She also began refusing to nap during the day, and developed separation anxiety like crazy. According to Dr. Sears, this is a textbook example of how not to wean.

I’ve backed off on weaning for now. I’m hoping that once we get her settled back into a routine and feeling secure we can try weaning again.

*I’m very much a fan of nursing, but I’m also a fan of my own sanity, and the two seem to be at odds with each other. Seriously, though, you want to breastfeed into toddlerhood? More power to you!

Muscle Amnesia

Oh the things you forget.

First up: babies? Messy. There’s cradle cap and baby acne and spit up and everything to do with diapers – not to mention whatever things exist in neck folds (seriously, don’t look in there). You think you remember diapers, at least, and how many of them can require changing in the space of, say, one hour. You are wrong.

Sleep dep: harsh. Again, you think you remember, and you think you can maybe do better this time. You are mistaken on both counts. (Fun fact: posting on Facebook about how tired you are at roughly three days post-partum does not elicit the expected sympathetic noises from other moms, but rather a stream of one-ups rendered even more bewildering by the fact that you are so tired you actually literally can’t see straight.)

It takes time for the belly to disappear. I mean, you knew this, but for some reason you also expect to fit into your pre-preg jeans at 2 weeks pp, which: no.

Nursing: hurts. You remember this. What you don’t remember is that, in the first few weeks, when the baby latches it feels EXACTLY like she is clamping down with a mouthful of needles.

The other thing you have forgotten, maybe: it’s totally worth it.


Exercise Doesn’t Really Help Depressed People

I told you. Didn’t I tell you?

Study participants, all of whom were diagnosed with depression, were split into two groups: one received “physical activity intervention” (which sounds like a scary new reality TV show) along with normal care for a year, while the other people weren’t forced to exert themselves. The people in the group that worked out for twelve months said the exercise didn’t alleviate their depression in the slightest.

via Exercise Doesn’t Really Help Depressed People.

2011: Let Me Sum Up

I just spent the last 36 hours straight in bed with a feverish kid. I woke up this morning and my back and shoulders hurt so badly I could barely move (when he’s sick, he wants to be held, so I’ve been in all sorts of weird configurations) but the kid was better, so yay! Except then, apropos of nothing, he threw up all over the living room.

This, I think, is a perfect encapsulation of 2011: the year of suck. Just when you think things are going to get better, you’re cleaning half-digested Cheerios off the carpet.

It wasn’t all bad. Our new book came out, and it rocks out loud. We moved to Sellwood, where we have friendly neighbors and a yard and a house that no one lives above. The kid started kindergarten (!!!), which is just crazy talk, because wasn’t he just a tiny little thing that I could fit under my chin? And we got a new cat, because cats are all good things, even when they pee on the rug, Maru.

So, yeah. Not all bad.

The rest of it was pretty roundly awful, to varying degrees, and who wants to hear about that? Instead I will just refer you to the encapsulated version, above.

I’m not doing any resolutions this year. Fuck resolutions. I’m just working on getting out of bed on a regular basis. Honestly, when you find yourself saying things like “No, I get dressed most days,” there might be some sort of issue there. And maybe not having to declare bankruptcy. That might be awesome, too. (Or maybe bankruptcy is awesome, and I’ll be all, you guys, why didn’t you tell me how great bankruptcy is? And you’ll be all, dude, you just screwed yourself out of all your credit cards, and then I will cry.)

Next year will have to be better, because honestly how could it not? That’s how optimism works, right?

Happy New Year, kids!

a world of ow

So I bet you will be SHOCKED to hear this, but health problems don’t just disappear if you ignore them! I KNOW, right? It’s been like a year since I had The Pain (you may remember The Pain as having been diagnosed as ovarian cysts, and then re-diagnosed as you’re really annoying and should just go on Prozac to be more malleable, and then re-diagnosed as an ulcer, and then un-diagnosed as an ulcer because my innards look great, isn’t that good news? And then I ran out of health insurance and also it didn’t hurt for a while so I decided it was fine). WELL, The Pain, it is back. With a vengeance. I thought I was dying yesterday, and that’s not hyperbole. I actually thought something important had ruptured internally and that I would die of it, which would have been a relief because OH MY GOD THE PAIN.

It only lasted about two hours. Only. Then The Pain turned into just regular old non-capitalized pain, which is where I am right now. Hurts to move, hurts to stand up, hurts to cough, but if I’m very still it’s kind of OK. I’d complain somewhat more vociferously about how my entire abdomen feels like someone beat it up, but since I’m not writhing on the bed in acute agony I figure I ought to be pretty grateful.

Pain is stupid. Why couldn’t I be one of those creepy people who you can poke with knives and they don’t even notice?

So, to recap: in the last month I’ve had a nasty cold, two migraines, a two-hour Pain extravaganza and also my left wrist hurts like whoa for no discernible reason other than HA HA your wrist hurts.

YOU WIN, November.

UPDATE: I went to the doctor, who sent me off to have a CAT scan. So, see, I’m not TOTALLY dropping the ball here.

UPDATE #2: The CAT scan said (CAT scans talk, you know) that I do NOT have appendicitis, and also that I DO have ovarian cysts, and also that the ovarian cysts did not cause The Pain, because of reasons. HOWEVER, new Kaiser Doc is an internist & will be doing ACTUAL TESTS to figure out what IS causing The Pain. So yay. Ish.

Perpetual Affective Disorder

I have reached the exciting point in my depression when I can’t even be bothered to pretend that I’m a functional adult. Show up at the bus stop to drop off my kid in my pajamas? Sure! Spend an entire month working not just from home but from bed? Why not! Seriously, if it’s been MORE THAN A YEAR and I’ve had maybe THREE GOOD DAYS I figure the likelihood of convincing the world at large that I’m fine is pretty slim.

If I were keeping a chart (which I am not, thank god) I’d probably notice that I have one or two relatively OK days and then a string of OMG WHY WHY WHY days, punctuated by the occasional panic attack or major fit of body dysmorphia (don’t ask). So it hasn’t been boring, at least.

I’m lucky. I have a job that is doable from a reclining position and which does not require me to change out of my pajamas or interact with anyone else on a regular basis. I have a family who does not expect much from me and so isn’t particularly disappointed when “not much” is all I can manage (actually, I think they’re relieved, because at least when I’m not doing much I’m not actively fucking things up NO WAIT THAT’S THE DEPRESSION TALKING, PROBABLY). I’m not into any of the more grievous versions of self-harm (booze, drugs, cutting, whatever) and really, if the worst thing I do is loathe myself all the time and eat too much sugar, it’s probably not that big of a deal, except for the part where I’m FUCKING MISERABLE but whatever, you win some, you lose some, am I right?

It would be LOVELY if I could take a pill or a handful of pills to turn me into a normal person, but the pills just make me worse in some (or lots of) new and exciting ways, AND ALSO don’t fix what was wrong in the first place. It would be even lovelier if I could afford therapy, but, well, there’s a reason for the panic attacks and that reason is entirely comprised of money and the fact that we don’t have any. So.

Hey, you are saying to yourself. This post is not particularly funny, or clever, or uplifting. To which I respond WELCOME TO THE INSIDE OF MY HEAD. But! Lest you think that I have abandoned all sense of personal responsibility, I will share with you now the varied and multi-hued coping strategies I manage to employ for much of my depressive experience:

1) Find something to obsess over. Currently, that something is The Vampire Diaries, and the point of The Vampire Diaries is Ian Somerhalder. Next up: watching all the other things I can find that he is in, except Lost, which I have seen (and don’t get me started on the ending you guys, for serious, or the lack of cohesion in the plot lines, or HEY WAIT A SECOND I THOUGHT I WASN’T GOING TO GET STARTED), or Tell Me You Love Me, which I did watch, actually, except it made me feel creepy because UNEXPECTED SOFTCORE PORN IS UNEXPECTED.*

2) Write. As I am doing NaNoWriMo again this year, I choose to look at it as a form of self-medication. Let’s just hope we don’t have a repeat of ’08 (or was it ’09?) in which I failed to finish my novel AND quit taking Prozac all at the same time and had a complete psychotic break.

3) Avoid talking to people. This one is easy. Except that sometimes I think it’s acceptable to do things like go out for a drink with a friend and decide that I’m going to SHARE, and then, you know, AWKWARD. My depression is AWKWARD. Also I’m not nearly as funny as I think I am, and when I drink, I think I am REALLY FUNNY.**

4) Bathe regularly. This one is a work in progress. (See above re: working in bed without changing into pajamas. What’s the point of bathing, really?). I do tend to feel better when I am not wallowing in my own filth, so there is that.

5) …I don’t have a number 5. Sorry.

*Not that I have a problem with porn, softcore or otherwise, but give a girl some warning, is all I’m saying. It reminded me of when I watched Sex, Lies and Videotape with my high-school boyfriend and his MOM one time, and every time there was a sex scene or someone talked about masturbation (which is THE WHOLE MOVIE) I was so exquisitely uncomfortable I was sure I would actually lose the ability to speak and possibly I would also die. Except when I watched Tell Me You Love Me I was alone, so AT LEAST THERE IS THAT.

**And LOUD. Oh my god, I can barely even THINK about how loudly I talk without breaking out in metaphorical hives. I mean, my social skills are few on a GOOD DAY but WHY? WHY DO I HAVE TO TALK SO LOUDLY WHEN I DRINK? …I’m doing it again, aren’t I?

cough cough hack

The Common ColdASK ME HOW LONG I HAVE BEEN SICK. Go ahead. Ask.


…And counting. (I know this because I was juuuust coming down with a funny little cough when I started Health Month on the 1st. Ha ha, I thought, how funny that I should have a cough that coincides with starting Health Month! It has only gone downhill from there.)

Despite the fact that I have allergies and asthma and migraines and ovarian cysts and – need I go on? I’m almost never sick with a cold or flu for very long. I know, it’s ridiculous, but there you go. My immune system is mighty, as long as it is not confronted with pollen or tree mold.

Ever since the kid started preschool I’ve been catching more colds/flus/whatever – because, let’s face it, small children are disease factories – but I still usually only sit around feeling miserable and snuffly for a couple of days before I’m up and about again.


This time, I’ve been so tired I can barely get out of bed, coughing so much my ribs hurt, and having to suck on my inhaler two or three times a day just so I can breathe. This time, my lungs make noises typically reserved for malfunctioning engines. This time, every time I start to think I’m getting better has ushered in YET ANOTHER round of the sort of coughing that has strangers asking me (from a safe distance) if I’m going to be all right. So this has been…interesting, if by interesting you mean purgatorial and annoying and vaguely infuriating.

I am getting better, of course – the rocky Kathleen Turner voice has been replaced by my normal valley-girl chirp, and the cold air from the snowpocalypse-that-wasn’t didn’t make me feel like I was trying to breathe underwater. SO. YAY.

But I will still be VERY glad when I can make it through a whole day without needing a nap.


Even though you can't see it, that finger? HURTS.
I am not flipping anyone off in this picture, but you can still see my poor wilting middle finger.

So I messed up my finger a couple of weeks ago. The left index one. I guess I cracked it sideways while I was lifting something? Sounds like a thing I would do, and in fact was a thing I did. Also: ow.

My point being, it still hurts, internet. Still. And I can’t crack it without blinding pain, which is just ridiculous, seeing as I am addicted to knuckle-cracking. Also, did I mention it HURTS? It hurts when I type. It hurts when I hold hands with my kid. It hurts when I point. IT HURTS WHEN I FLIP PEOPLE OFF. (Also, my middle finger – which isn’t even the one I hurt – doesn’t stand straight anymore. It sort of…wilts.)

Is this what getting old is like? BECAUSE I DO NOT LIKE IT AT ALL.

so. and stuff.

Yeah, so that whole ‘ulcer’ thing? Not so much. Gastro Doc and his Snaking Cameras of Doom went in and found…nothing. A perfect set of innards, with nary a blemish. A week later the blood work came back with the all-clear as well.

So, um…good?

I mean, good, obviously, but you know what would be better? If I didn’t still hurt so goddamn much. Seriously, figure out a) why I’m in so much pain every couple of weeks and b) how to make that not happen anymore, and I will be in a really fucking good mood. I promise.

(Actually I’m in a pretty good mood currently…but still.)