Reasons You Would Have Found Me Crying Lately

1. I’m watching the Beyonce documentary.

2. It’s 3:30 in the morning and I’m on my third shirt because I’ll never not be covered in someone else’s body fluids ever again.

3. Decaf is bullshit.

4. It’s pretty outside and I am inside.

5. There’s this documentary about happiness but at one point there’s a segment on suicide in Japan and there’s a clip of all these Japanese mothers singing a song about their sons being gone and IT IS THE SADDEST THING IN THE WORLD.

5a. Technically, there are two things I can name that are sadder.

5i. When that dolphin in Japan fell out of his tank, all the other dolphins were worriedly swimming close to the tank, concerned about their friend. (“Phil! Phil, are you okay? YOU GUYS, HE SAID ‘NEH-EH!’ HELP HIM!”)

5ii. When the elderly Japanese people hold Paro and get comfort I absolutely lose it because the only thing coming to visit these old people is a robot.

5b. I get pretty emotional about Japan.

6. I’m out of conditioner.

7. My gestational diabetes test came back with high glucose and now I have to go back to take the three hour test, but it’s pretty likely I have diabetes now and these are the kind of things they don’t warn you about having a baby. I mean, it’s not like they show Steel Magnolias in health class.

8. I’ve been trying to get past the same page on this script I’m writing for FIVE DAYS. It’s not because I have writer’s block. It’s because I only have these two hands and twenty-four hours each day and this is no longer enough.

9. While I was putting the baby to sleep my mom cleaned up after the bath and then had dinner ready for me when I zombie-walked into the living room.

10. It’s pretty outside and I am outside.

11. I miss Cal and I think I see him but it is not him, it is my breastmilk pump backpack in the corner.

12. It’s loud.

13. It’s quiet.

14. I’m happy.

15. I realized I haven’t showered in two days and maybe I haven’t brushed my teeth… this week? Does gum count?

You know how some parents get all pissed off when you compare having a pet to their having a child? I have to say, for a child this young, for me it is a lot like having a pet. But it’s like that time when your pet is really sick and you’re waiting on tests to find out what’s wrong so you stay up all night doing anything you think your pet would need or love, including making an apartment for him out of pillows and toys and taking a day or two or more off work and not going out with your friends because you are needed to care for something that cannot say what’s wrong and you feel like you’ll never be enough.

I currently have tendonitis in both thumbs caused by picking up my newborn. Did you know there’s a wrong way to hold your newborn? Did you know it’s the way they teach you to hold your newborn because it’s kind of the only way to hold your newborn while breastfeeding, but it’ll destroy your thumbs and make you unable to sign your name with a pen? It’s called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Well, if I got this condition from being an athlete or a musician or a cannery worker, they’d call it De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. But because I got this from lifting a kid, it’s called “Mommy thumb.”

“Mommy thumb.” It fills me with rage.

It should be called, “Holy fuck it hurts to have hands.” I didn’t cry during labor or delivery, I didn’t weep over a broken tailbone, but I broke down after needing to use two hands to put my car’s gear shift into park. This shit is the worst. The way to fix it? Stop picking up your newborn and stop swiping your smartphone. If I stop picking up the baby, the baby will scream and cry. And if I don’t have Twitter and Facebook during 3am feeds, so will I.

Perhaps it’s time for a semi-tragic biopic in honor of the ladies who get these pregnancy/delivery injuries and afflictions.

Two Broke Thumbs and a Table of Spunk: The Pamela Ribon Story.

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  1. marla

    Ah, Pamie. I am so sorry. That sucks.

  2. marla

    It gets better!

  3. Tim Pratt

    It does get easier; or, at least, the difficulties change, so at least there’s variety. I have a five-year-old now and I *almost never* have to deal with his poop anymore! So in that respect it’s different from having cats, because I will never not be dealing with the poop of my cats for as long as they live.

  4. CE Murphy

    Oh god. As a random stranger but relatively new mother, I so deeply sympathetic. I didn’t get the thumb thing, but I got it in my wrist and had to wear a brace for weeks.

    Also, I so understand the random crying thing. OMG. So sympathetic.

  5. Elizabeth

    Those are all very good reasons to cry, but 7 is the worst. I really hope you don’t have diabetes.

    11. After my 22-year old cockatiel died, it took about a year before I didn’t hear a noise that I thought was him chirping. And I would have dreams where he was still alive and it was so sad to have to wake up.

  6. Jess

    “Two Broke Thumbs and a Table of Spunk: The Pamela Ribon Story.”

    I will give all the money I have to that kickstarter campaign.

    Wishing you pain free thumbs and a baby that sleeps through the night soon.

  7. Tashi

    It really does get better.

    Two years ago it was reading your tweets that made me laugh during 3 am feedings, thank you.

    Two years from now you will read this again and be surprised at how different things are and while there are different challenges it won’t be these and you will have had more sleep.

    It sucks now. It will get better.

  8. Carrie Ann

    “If you have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, it will probably hurt every time you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist.” So, it sounds like you just have to stop using your hands! No big, just switch to your other pair!

    I had my daughter 2 months before you had Qwerty, so this all rings really true for me, although I would also add every time a FB friend who’s recently had a baby posts a photo in which it’s clear they’ve lost all their baby weight and I get down on myself because mine appears to be going nowhere. Oh also because my skin is the worst it’s ever been and I can’t take the one thing that fixes it. Oh and I have a pile of thank-yous to write but only one hand to write and hold the card at the same time. Oh and my 4-month-old still doesn’t sleep through the night, or nap well, and I’m convinced it’s my fault because Babywise tells me so.

    On the other hand, the baby smiles all the time now and giggles sometimes too, which is more awesome than I expected.

    1. Alyssa

      My advice for new mothers is never to listen to people who tell you what your kid should be doing. Even me. ;) My nearly three-year-old never slept through the night. Ever. I get excited these days if he sleeps 6 hours in a row. He’s never slept as much as any source says he should, gave up his second nap by age one and never napped more than 90 mins at a time. I remember wen 90 min naps felt like a miracle. And when he went on a nursing strike that “should last 3-5 days, no more than a week” that went on for over a month? Or how breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt if you’re doing it right? (They fail to mention that some women just have sensitive nipples even if you’re positioning correctly.) Yeah, those websites made me crazy. None of it is your fault. Kids are just different. Coz along comes my now 5-month-old daughter who worries me when she wakes up more than once a night because she’s slept through since she was born. Who takes 2-3 hour naps 3 times a day. Goodness knows I’m not doing anything different. Some kids are just easier than others.

      And oh god, the tendonitis. I got that too with my first. It was awful. And I went through so many shirts because the milk would never stop. The one thing I never minded that everyone else seemed to mind was the poop. My kid still isn’t toilet trained and I’m not hurrying him along because it seems so much easier to deal with diapers than dealing with Mr Stubborn who never wants to use the potty and lies to me about how he’s totally not poopy even though I can smell him from across the room.

  9. Kristina

    I cannot believe I hadn’t read the surprise sperm massage story until now. I was doing some Claire Danes Ugly Crying™ trying not to laugh out loud since I’m at work and I should be working. And then I sent that story to everyone I know. Being able to turn something that horrifying into the funniest thing I’ve read on the internet in maybe forever (that’s saying a lot! I’m on here every day!) is a gift and I thank you for sharing it with us.

    But I couldn’t even finish the dolphin video. First comment was all, clearly that dolphin is suicidal. Which just makes it all sadder.

  10. Sharon

    Random lurker here. I also got the thumb thing when I had my daughter last year. I had to wear two braces, one on each hand, that immobilized my thumbs. I couldn’t use my thumbs for two months. Do you know how hard it is to NOT HAVE THUMBS?

    (It’s really hard.)

    1. Pamie

      I did the braces for three weeks. Trying to nurse a newborn in the middle of the night with basically sticks for arms is pretty damn pointless. I am impressed with you.

      1. Sharon

        Eh, I took them off all the time. Mostly to feed or pick up the baby. Basically the things that cause it. Soooooo…

        Although it was a great way to get people to do things for me. “Can you please make me some tea? I DON’T HAVE THUMBS.”

  11. Courtney Cantrell

    You are describing my life RIGHT NOW. Thank you. : )

  12. Courtney Cantrell

    P.S. Postpartum I decided that women need to grow a third arm during pregnancy. I’m sure we have that genetic code somewhere. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to trigger it (and turn off the morning sickness gene at the same time).

    That third arm, by the way, would wither and drop off the day the youngest child graduates from high school.

    1. Pamie

      I also felt like if the extra pounds we carry around during breastfeeding all went into one place (like the “bump” we get for the baby), then we could dress and accessorize that. You know, give the fat a cutesy name like, “Baby Stuffing.” (Ex: “I love your stuffing pouch!” “Thanks! I got it on Etsy. It was originally a hat!”)

      Then people would look at you and KNOW you just had a baby and it would eliminate all kinds of awkward moments for both the new mom and everyone else around her.

  13. Jessi

    11. – I totally feel you on this.
    Ten years ago, I adopted a cat from a local rescue group. As it turned out, I only had Charlie for few months before he passed away—soon after I got him, he developed FIP. I was heartbroken, even after such a short time.
    Charlie liked to sleep on my bed with me. Every night (usually just after I’d gone to sleep) he would jump onto my bed and walk around awhile before he’d settle in for the night. For a long time after he died, I swear I could still feel him on my bed at night. I’d be just about to fall asleep and I’d feel him jump onto the bed and start walking around. So I’d roll over and reach out to pet him and… nothing.

    Sending good thoughts your way.

    PS – I totally agree with 3. also. Decaf IS bullshit.

    1. Pamie

      Now I’m crying about THIS! Poor you and poor Charlie.

      1. Jessi

        I’m sorry! I didn’t want to make you cry even more.

        You always miss him. But the missing gets easier. If that makes any sense.

        Luckily I have a wonderful guy and a dog to share my bed with now. :)

  14. Maria

    Mmm… Will it make you feel better if I ask you to imagine having twins AND all the afflictions you describe, plus having been nauseated evry moment of my pregnancy? 9 wks on bed rest in the hospital until the twins were born.., only allowed to go pee and back to bed to soak in my overflowing, sloshing gastric juices?

    Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. You NEED cortisone shots forthose thumbs. I am sorry to say my De Quervains hasn’t totally gone away, and my guys will be 6 next month. But it definitely got better. Not gone, but much. Better.

    You need to sleep withthose horrid splints, which sucks but they dohelp. If you can get ultrasound treatment and other physical therapy that also helps. Stretches for the wrist, then ice. Then sleep withthe splints on. Cortisone shots.

    Keep breathing. It will get better…

  15. J.C.

    Hang in there, Darlin’!!!! We readers/fans CANNOT wait for the ” Why Pamie is Weird with bonus QWERTY” novel by Pamela Ribbon!!! xoxo

  16. Lizzie

    Why is so much sadness from Japan?

    I had no idea about the thumb thing. That sucks.

    #9 is very sweet.

    I will watch your semi-tragic biopic whenever it’s on Lifetime.

  17. Maria

    All I mean is, when I was feeling sorry for myself because of how hard it was to have twins, I would meet someone with triplets, and that kind of put it all in perspective… Not to say having one at a time is easy, but think that it could certainly be worse!

  18. Sarah

    I had the thumb thing too, with Baby No. 1. My friends all made fun of me because of my robot arms. With Baby No. 2, it was my knee that went spazzy, and during the time I needed the relief borne by running the very most, I couldn’t. Time and physical therapy helped all of these things. Hang in there. I love my children dearly, but I’m so so glad they’re not newborns anymore. NEVER AGAIN.

  19. Emily

    I did know that there was a wrong way to hold your newborn, because I got calcific tendonitis in the back of NY hand. Specifically, I got it in one hand because I held her imperceptibly differently on one side than the other. I, also, cried trying to open doors, having not cried during either labor or delivery.

  20. Emily

    *my hand, not NY hand.

  21. Celeste


  22. Jen

    Hugs to you. Being a new mom is hard. Really, insanely hard. I was in tears a lot too. The good news? I’m now an “old mom” to a 15 month old, it gets a lot better- you figure out a schedule that works for the both of you and you get some of your life back. It gets better. I promise. There will still be tough days, but there will also be great ones where you laugh and you smile and you stupdily think “I should make babies all the time b/c mine is amazing.” (They lull you into a false sense of security.)

    Hang in there momma- you’re doing great.

  23. Alexandra

    Just wrote a post about my first year of motherhood that received over 2,000 page views.

    Speaks of the universal that being submerged in motherhood is, doesn’t it?

    It gets different, and you adapt. But easier? You just learn how to do the job.

    Love to you.

  24. Cloud

    I’m not even a lurker- I followed a link Scalzi tweeted earlier, and am now back much later to comment, because you have perfectly captured the emotional weirdness of the early days of motherhood and I wish I could give you a hug. I remember going to my 6 week post-partum checkup after my first child was born and asking my doctor when my emotions would go back to normal. He gave me a bit of a look and told me the truth: never, really, but they’d get less weird. At that point, I was watching HGTV while nursing because that was the extent of plot line that I could follow, and also because it rarely made me cry (notice I didn’t say never).

    Now my kids are 3 and 5, and I haven’t watched HGTV (let alone cried over it) in years. So there is progress. But I do listen to a Yo Gabba Gabba CD in the car- it is either that or my 3 y.o.’s rendition of “I Will Scream (Until Your Ears Bleed)” so maybe not as much progress as I like to think.

    Anyway, hang in there. Nursing gets easier, too, when the baby starts to figure things out and helps. In the meantime, do you have a good nursing pillow? Like a honeysuckle or My Breast Friend (I know! But look past the name)- something really solid that you can use to support the baby so you don’t have to. That helped me a ton. It also helped when I finally figured out I could use my yoga blocks as a step stool (because I was too cheap/lazy to buy a nursing step stool).

  25. Grrarghing

    I have nothing to add, no helpful comments. I’m human childless (but pet mom to two dogs a kitty). I lost my first cat Scully, two years ago, and like Cal, was glad I was able to ease her pain. I’ll never forget her last moments, and how proud I was to help her to wherever the other side is.

    I’ve followed you since Prodigy was a thing, and my mum was a member of Archapilgo. I’ve read all your posts, all your books, and thank you or continuing to share bits and pieces of your life. It helps. It helps put things in perspective, and helps offer my singleton self see a fututre.

    Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou. Thanks for your mother, thanks for your boy loves, thanks for Gilmore girl commentary, and for introducing me to Miz Anna Beth. Thanks for being pamie.

  26. Penny

    (1) Decaf IS bullshit. I drink caffeine in the mornings now (you can time it so it doesn’t hit your bloodstream right when you’ll feed him/her) but I do enjoy decaf later in the day when I would otherwise have my 3rd or 4th cup of caf, which I now have gotten used to denying myself.

    (2) Absolutely feel you on the gross shirts. But I have to say, hats off to you on changing your shirt. I had my “OMG I really am a mom now” moment when I caught myself thinking that it’s fine that I’m covered in breastmilk because it dries mainly clear and smelless so my shirt counts as being clean. Also when the baby peed in our bed and I put the fan on it to dry it and then we slept on the sheets a few more days before changing the sheets. Because it’s just baby pee, which is basically water.

    (3) The list of things on tv that made me cry is heavy on Pampers commercials and such. Much heavier than I am comfortable with but what can you do?

    Our little monkey is 10 months old now and after about 3 months it got steadily better. Always a challenge, sure, but no longer feels like it’s literally too overwhelming to pull off. (No longer catch myself thinking that I truly truly cannot do this). Now it’s just a constant challenge I’m used to. So yay!

  27. Penny

    Holy effball, Paro is cutely creepy. That IS sad.

  28. shannon

    I second the cortisone shots for the thumbs. That totally remedied my “mommy thumb” 2+ years ago. That brace was maybe the stupidest thing anyone suggested to me as a new mother.

  29. Alexandra

    Geez, Pam. I’m really sorry you’re going through all this rough stuff. I hope the sadness is just hormones and not PPD.

    BTW, do not read “Down Came the Rain” by Brooke Shields.

  30. ememby

    Well, now I feel like an a-hole because while I am sorry you are going through this (truly, because it sucks), your post also had me laughing because it reminded me so much of my experience with babies and motherhood. Being on the other side of it, I can now laugh, despite all the previous crying, so there is that to look forward to. Soon you will get a large chunk of sleep and the world will start looking up, in the meantime… stop watching or reading anything about Japan.


    I think all this wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t stuck in Decaf Land.

    Hang in there, lady. You got this!

  32. Ruthie

    So many things that no one tells us about pregnancy! I also was surprised by tendonitis or carpal tunnel or whatever– didn’t happen with my first, but I could barely hold a spoon after my second was born. For me, it didn’t get better until I finished nursing. That’s probably partly because I held the baby differently (and my husband could do some of the bottle feeding), and partly because those tendon-loosening hormones that the body makes during pregnancy finally went back to normal.

    Our wee little man is now 8 months old. I am still sometimes covered with bodily functions. Ask me why my sweater smelled like poo last night! Actually, don’t… it’s not pretty. But I no longer feel on the edge of tears every minute, he sleeps at least 6 hours at a time without help, and he gets cuter and more fun every day. So I echo what the other parents have already said: hang in there, it gets better quickly!

  33. Laura

    I’m a long time reader, but I think this is the first time I’ve actually commented.

    I second the person who suggested getting the My Brest Friend pillow. It is in fact one of the dumbest names of a product, even by baby product standards, but nursing became so much easier for me at that point. I found the Boppy to be awkward and regular pillows not firm enough for support.

    I have an 8 month old and this is exactly how I felt. I feel like myself 7 months ago wrote this.

  34. Paul Tabachneck

    Is Mommy Thumb anything like Nintendo Thumb? Like, it will heal once you’re not holding the baby the same way so much?

    1. Paul Tabachneck

      And if not, have you tried tongs?

      1. pamie

        Tongs like, what you use for cooking? Or is that some kind of gamer thumbware?

        Yes, I’m pretty sure Mommy Thumb and Nintendo Thumb come from the same kind of strain.

        1. Paul Tabachneck

          The cookware (although I’m curious as to what in-game function a tongs controller would serve). I was doing a bit.

  35. meadowgirl

    i gave myself Mommy’s thumb helping my sister take care of her youngest. yep. i was like, OH MY GOD WHY THE FUCK DO MY THUMBS FEEL LIKE HOT POKERS.

    like, what. the. HELL.

    i blame oldness. i didn’t have this shit in my 20s when my niece was born.

    sorry. i would hold Qwerty all day.