But WHAT Is Her Blog About? Pick A Nipple!

Pick A Nipple

The story goes like this…and no it’s not X-rated, more exaspe-rated. Our newborn son (who survived all this and is now a healthy, happy adult) was miserable. He screamed constantly, fussed over the formula, seemed to reject the bottle after only a few tugs. Don’t even get me started on the nursing experience. Suffice it to say I will never be material for La Leche groups. Anyway, I was a new mom, terrified that something was wrong with my baby, and clueless about how to just “go with it.” Add to this our pediatrician who made things worse by telling me I was just a “nervous mom,” and the final ingredient, my gut, which was telling me that something WAS wrong no matter what anybody else said. And to any new mom out there – you know your baby best. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise.

Anyway, in a desperate attempt to figure out what was wrong, I took the scientific approach. I’d worked in a hospital lab for almost 15 years. When under siege, you run to what you know best. I figured that the eating problem was either external – ie something about how I was feeding him – or internal – something about him. I decided it was external and set out to find the exact right “tools” to solve this. I tried different bottles but concluded that the actual container was probably a non-issue. What seemed to be the problem was my son spitting out the nipple shortly after I gave him a bottle. So…it must be the nipple.

I proceeded to try different nipples. I tried the plain brown latex ones with one hole. I tried them with the two holes, the three holes, the cross-cuts. I tried them with different sized holes. I tried silicone nipples, again, with one hole, two holes, three holes, cross-cuts, and different sizes. If there was a nipple on the market, I bought it and tried it. I kept a log of each and how he reacted to it. In short, he spit them all out. Finally one morning I came to the end of my rope. My son was screaming and hungry. I was stress-out, sleep-deprived, confused, and out of new nipples to try. I stood like a deer in the headlights, staring at the counter with all the various nipples arrayed before me. My son screamed louder. I panicked more. Any hope of my brain deciding what to use next to feed him was gone.

Finally, my husband came up behind me. He put his hands on my shoulders and said “Dear. Our son is screaming and has to eat. You have $40 worth of nipples on the counter. Pick one, and use it.” Never have more magical words ever been spoken. I collected my fried wits, picked a nipple, and fed my son.

In any event, the above is symbolic of the problem in my life. Where others see one or two things, I see 100. My brain can perceive endless possibilities, come up with too many ideas, too many interests, and too many directions. It has become the family joke, but also the family mantra. When too many options present themselves in any given situation, we chant: “Pick a nipple.”

This blog had the same problem. What do I focus on? My husband kept saying, “just blog.” I kept saying “Which blog do I write?” I felt like I needed about 20 blogs – one for each of the myriad of interests, creations, and activities I would want to write about. Looking around, I noticed other people blogged about what they loved – tennis, tropical fish, politics, or art – operative word in that sentence being “OR”. Their blogs had an easily identifiable focus – they picked a nipple. I figured anybody who visited my blog would walk away scratching their head and asking “But WHAT is her blog about?”

Finally in exasperation, I got a 2 x 3 foot sheet of paper and did a psychotic almost illegible mind map, covered with idea bubbles for all my interests. I showed it to my husband and said, “This is why I wasn’t sure where to start.” He looked at it, nodded, and said “I see your problem.” But my husband also has an amazing brain for stripping away all the surface glitz and trappings that distract and obscure the real structure. Sitting there at the Starbucks table he scanned the paper and within minutes nodded and said “This is one blog.”

I blinked. “How?”

“Because all of that is simply your raw material.” He had distilled the two full sides of scrawled notes on that large mind map paper into a simple 3-armed skeleton connecting them all:

1) What I have – raw materials

2) What I build – all my creations

3) Why I do these things – the soul driving it all

Well, you could say I was now down to 3 nipples, a vast improvement, except I suddenly realized it was just one nipple. Just like in Catholic school, where we were taught that the Blessed Trinity was three parts of the same God, these three things were part of the same whole.

For some reason over the past few years I kept finding myself drawn to the words “mosaic” and “broken bits.” I’d write them down on index cards, torn ends of envelopes and napkins, and hang them up everywhere. I knew they meant something, but what? I found myself fascinated with broken things. My neighbor went to the beach and brought back seashells that had holes, cracks, missing sections. She apologized that they weren’t pristine. I told her bring me more broken ones. I loved their brokenness. I loved that they were things the world passed over. I sensed there was a message, some innate beauty to those beaten, weathered shells that everybody else was missing. I felt a calling to show the world the beauty of the broken and overlooked in life.

I was also drawn to the fact that the small discarded things that seemed to have no value, could be assembled into a beautiful whole. It struck me how in life, we often disregard the singular, tiny events as coincidence or meaningless. We write them off as having no value in our life. Then, years later, we look back over our lives only to realize all those seemingly unconnected things added up to a whole picture. There was a meaning to them, and to our lives, we just hadn’t stepped back far enough to see the big picture.

I suddenly realized that my blog’s nipple was mosaics. Not the Roman kind, but the soul kind. Each of us is made of many undervalued, overlooked, sometimes even hated broken bits of life. We hide them, try to throw them away, run from them. But if we stop and actually move those bits around, set them in the mortar of our emotions, loves, soul beliefs, then step back, what we have is the beautiful unique mosaic that is our soul.

So now I understood my blog has 3 main categories, the ones Ed noted, only this time expressed in “mosaic” terminology:

1) Broken Bits: all the raw material I have, those hundreds of wildly different interests, hobbies, loves, hates, personality quirks.

2) Mosaics Created: out of those interests, I build many creations – smaller mosaics – in the form of articles, books, oil paintings, pastels, photographs.

3) Mortar: the connecting cement in all of this is the “why” I do it, the spirituality and soul driving my choice of interests and what I create with them.

The simple question now is how to structure my approach to the entries. This is defined in the page: “Blog Structure – Purpose, Materials and Methods.”

By the way…the end of the baby story – I was right and wrong. No it wasn’t the bottle, the nipples, or the mom using them. It was internal. He was allergic to the formula that the pediatrician insisted wasn’t a problem. I found this out with my other “baby lab log” – what went in and what came out of my son and what did it look like. I didn’t spend years doing stool analyses in the lab for nothing. From this, it was obvious his insides weren’t happy. We changed the formula and he improved. Needless to say, we also changed the pediatrician. šŸ™‚

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2 Responses to “But WHAT Is Her Blog About? Pick A Nipple!”

  1. Mary B. Says:

    RE: your mosiac theme: Here are two novels I think you will like: Sea Glass by Anita Shreve and Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos.

    (I grew up in Burlington, CT, not too far from Farmington. My husband is from Harwinton, not too far from Torrington.)

  2. debrabailey Says:

    Thank you for the book recommendations! Appreciate that very much. I am familiar with Burlington and Harwinton…know them both very well! Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting!! Deb

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