Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dirty Laundry

What other sensible non-sexy costume would a mom wear?  I could have been a sexy kitten or sexy witch or sexy pirate or sexy fill-in-the-blank, but I wasn't feeling it.  I have to say, the dirty laundry costume is one of my favorites so far.

We were all set and psyched to go "party" with our friends after going to Eau Gallie Baptist's Fall Fest/Trunk or Treat. Ayla had fun, her costume was lauded greatly, and she was excited to see the scary costumes, but somehow terribly afraid of the Santa costume she encountered.  I passed out on our new couch while (exhuasted) Brandon finished his robot costume.  We headed out at midnight, and we managed to make it until 2:30.  It was really wonderful to see our friends who we love dearly.  Things are different now, though.  I had this conversation with a father friend of mine-about how being a parent changes a familiar scene.  For many of us, there is no simple transition between "parent" and the other part of us that often goes unnoticed.  Even another childless friend of mine and I had a discussion of how adulthood has changed for us over the last 2-3 years.  The thing that makes me the saddest is that I love my friends, and I want to have the time to connect with them and nurture those relationships, but time is not an excess for me. 

I feel like I'm limbo, stuck between the person I used to be and the person I am becoming.  I've always been very introspective.  As a child, I would spend hours looking in the mirror and trying to fully comprehend that I was a person, my very own self.  To this day, if I think about it, I have that same 5-year-old feeling of awe and amazement.  I've gone from one extreme to another: from focused on myself to totally focused on the best part of me, my daughter.  How cliche' is that?  Cliches exist because so often they are the essential truth.

I wonder about other parents and adults out there, those of us over the hill of 25 and approaching 30.  I wonder about the thoughts and experiences and inner growing and struggle that goes on.  Moms and Dads and people become islands in some ways, keeping to themselves about all that "personal" business and sticking to socially acceptable norms, such as the routine conversations in our lives.  I want more than that; I want to connect to people on that level because realizing that you're not alone, but rather in great company (often the same company you've kept) is so liberating.  The reason I got help for my post-partum issues was not because of my loved ones urging me.  Crazily enough, it was because I saw an episode of Oprah called "The Secret Lives of Moms."  Mothers confessed their dirty little secrets of motherly imperfection, such as fashioning a lunch out of the snacks in their car or the infrequency of scrub-a-dub baths their little ones get.  Finally, Heather Armstrong of came on and shared her story of wicked post-partum depression and everything she went through before she got help.  Finally, I had permission to get help, to be imperfect, to admit that I couldn't do it alone.  And trust me, I tried to do it alone, and with the help of those closest to me (in particular, my mom, my sister, my best friend Ette, and Brandon) for 6 months.  Thanks to the wonderful love, support, and encouragement of the people in my life, along with a little friend I like to call Mr. Zoloft, I am much better.  It doesn't mean that there are no struggles.  It just means I give myself permission to just be.

This post was about dirty laundry, after all.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Garage Sales/Girl vs. Gut

I took a day off work to prepare for our garage sale tomorrow.  Actually, both of us did!  We've been meaning to have one, but it seems like we never get around to getting it done.  I am amazed at how many precious baby clothes I am going to sell, but I have saved my very favorites, certain ones I'll probably never part with.  The bad thing about keeping clothes, is you put them safely in a nice bin, and when you take them out-BAM!  There are stains on the clothes that never existed when they were being worn.  

Let me get off track here for a second.  I am the queen of laundry, second only to my mother.  Do I get it all done and keep my laundry room empty?  No.  I'm the queen because I can get almost any stain out of almost any item of clothing.  Years of being my mom's understudy has prepared me for any clothing catastrophe to come my way.

Back to the point, the clothes get stained magically.  I feel like it is better to let the clothes go to a new home, where a precious little baby girl will get to make her mama and papa smile in her cute new little outfits.  Our new little family was so blessed by our families and friends when we celebrated Ayla Marley's upcoming arrival at our baby bbq, so I feel it best to pay it forward the best I can.  Hopefully in the process, we will score a little green so we can start saving for the wedding we want to have next fall.  Nothing extraordinary, just a fun celebration with the many wonderful people in our lives.  A chance to have a day about us, which is a rarity when you have offspring.   Garage sale preparations have left me feeling both accomplished and a little nostalgic.  It is sad to see so many of Ayla's things go because she isn't that little baby anymore.  She's a little girl, a toddler exploring the world and testing (did I mention testing?) her boundaries.

As I sit here typing, I see my reflection in the rather large and evil mirror to my left.  All I see is gut.  Belly.  That spare tire around my middle and the gargantuan breasts sitting atop it.  It is depressing.  People often give me dieting advice, such as to stop drinking soda and eating mayo on everything.  Which is helpful, except I don't do those things.  Throughout my life, I've been a disordered eater.   I eat too much or not enough.  My life is at one end of the spectrum or the other in that capacity.  Being newly engaged, I should be excited and starry-eyed about dress shopping.  I'm not.  It is the one thing that makes me want to go to the courthouse and do our wedding there.  Dress shopping-it is a time that should be happy and joyful and exciting.  But all I know is that it will be dreadful unless something changes.  The Gut.  The 3-digit number on the scale that is on the wrong side of 150.  I left the hospital at 150, and let me tell you, it has gone up...not down.  

I've worked hard.  I trained so hard with my friend Tanna, who is an awesome trainer.  I've tried this, that, and the other.  To no avail.  When I work hard and don't see results, I'm eating the brownie.  Screw it, right?

My health is so important, and after 14 years of a chronic pain disease (RSD), I am grateful for the relatively good health I enjoy.  There are battles I face-excruciating pain most don't face at age 26.  Throughout my illness, my weight has waxed and waned.   I've been 150 lbs.  I've been 95 lbs.  There have been times I have been desperately hungry from the medication and steroids in my system.  Other times, I've been desperate to feel hungry...when everything imaginable has been unappetizing.  

I wish I could wake up in the body I used to dread seeing in the mirror.  I'd appreciate it like I never did before.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not SuperMom!

Earlier today, I was wondering how do all the SuperMoms do it?  What I mean is, how do all these moms that I know manage to do all that they do.  I know moms who can keep an active social life, a house clean, and an ideal body weight.  All at once!  How is this possible?  And what on earth are they drinking or eating that I'm not?  Most days, I am glad to make it to the moment my head hits the pillow.  After all, I spend my day tending to the needs of my 17 "kids" at work.  Then, I pick up my child, who insists on another round of "Boom Boom Pow" on the mind-numbing drive home.  Mind you, I don't care that the drive is mind-numbing, it is better than the alternative (mind blowing?)...Between Brandon and I, we manage to feed everyone (the dogs, the cat, the wee one) and ourselves, and sometimes the creatures in our house bathe.

That brings me to another point.  How do all the SuperMoms stay so well groomed?  I think that I had the same pedicure on my toes from 9 months pregnant until the polish chipped, disintegrated, or otherwise disappeared.  If I manage to put makeup on, my day is a success.  If I manage to wear an entirely clean outfit, my day is a success.  Watch out folks, because if I make it out of the house in a clean outfit with makeup on and my hair did (that's right, I said "hair did") then I've made it-I've become a SuperMom!  Forget a pedicure, I'd like to shower on a regular basis!

SuperMoms never lose their car keys or their wallets.  They definitely do not lose both of these items in the same 60-day span.  Do SuperMoms ever feel like they're losing their minds?  Doubtful.

I may not be SuperMom, but I am SuperPissed.  About 2 weeks ago, some punk ass teenager from our neighborhood broke into our house.  To make a long story short, he lured the dog to the baby's room with turkey, then he sat on the couch, chillaxing and watching XXX films from the pay-per-view.  Well, now Brandon comes in to tell me that someone potentially peed on our front walkway and broke our Halloween sign.  Really?  Brilliant!  I wish these renters would just move away.  But who knows who would move in next?  We've already had the dog breeders with the crackhead son, now the unemployed mom and her delinquent children.  Could our next neighbor be elderly and deaf?  I'm just saying that because old people are cute sometimes; they're easy to ignore if they're grouchy.  Deaf because we are those neighbors, the ones with the barking dogs.  Plus, Ayla and I speak a little sign language, so we could keep it simple.   Our conversation would go like this:
Me: "Hello, how are you?"
Neighbor: "Good, thank you."
Me: (smiles awkwardly)
Ayla: "Milk.  More.  Eat.  Please."
Neighbor: (signs something I obviously do not understand)
Ayla: (hits her diaper and starts verbally saying "Pee pee, ca-ca."
Me: (waves goodbye awkwardly) maybe it wouldn't go so well. 

SuperMoms out there, I salute you.  The next time you see me, I might just be wearing makeup AND clean clothes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mama's favorite myths debunked

1. If your baby isn't sleeping through the night (STTN) by 6 weeks, its a good time to start sleep training.  Becky Bailey has a lot to say on this topic.  While I agree that sleep training is a personal choice, its not for me.  I don't think that my 6-week old daughter was manipulating me when she cried in the night.  I think that if she was dry and her tummy was full, then the need I was fulfilling was a baby's (and any human's) need for physical touch and affection.  I may have spent the first year of Ayla's life exhausted, but I know that I was meeting her needs in a way that felt right to me.  Mother's instinct, right?

2. Rice cereal will help your baby STTN.  Research proves that this is a myth or, at best, an old wives' tale.  To sum it up, when babies are being offered rice cereal, it is often around that age that some babies (not mine!) start sleeping through the night naturally anyway.  Not to mention that rice cereal can be aspirated when inhaled through a bottle.  But I digress...  Again, not judging, but rather venting my frustrations.  I've had so many "been there done that" mothers tell me how to parent, and I'm just saying I do things the way I do because a) it feels right and b) research, though fallible, backs me up.

3. Formula feeding is evil!  Okay, this really isn't a myth, and I know and believe that breast is best and all that good stuff.  BUT I have to put this out there for all the formula feeding mamas I know are out there.   Instead of gloating about your awesomeness and motherly perfection of breastfeeding (this excludes my awesome and supportive breastfeeding mamas) when you see us formula moms, take a minute to think.  Maybe the mother you are criticizing has suffered from post-partum depression.  Maybe she failed to realize that the 103 degree fever is mastitis because, unlike all the books she read, it is not painful for her.  Lucky?  I think not.  Maybe that mother would've gotten on antibiotics and saved her milk supply.  Maybe if that mother had not been allergic to peanuts, she could've taken fenugreek to boost her supply.  Instead, that mother pumped day in and day out to produce nothing but 1/10th an ounce per pumping...or even less. Visited lactation support almost 45 minutes away for nothing but one precious successful nursing session on one side.  Maybe that formula feeding mom tried every tried and true piece of breastfeeding wisdom from beer drinking to oatmeal to hours of skin-on-skin with baby.  She leaked colostrum from 6 months pregnant, only to dry up not even weeks after having her precious baby.  Anyway, the point is that I was that mom.  I did my best, and after that, I did the next best thing.  

Most people will agree that despite the 10-1/2 months of formula feeding, my daughter is beautiful.  Ayla is smart.  She can say "pee pee" and "poo poo" in the context of the potty, she can do all kinds of signs from "milk" to "more" to "please" and beyond.  She smiles and laughs, she dances with a beat like her mother has never had, and she sleeps through the night.  Building with legos, she creates Taj Mahals.

My brillant, non-sleep-trained, formula-fed 17-month old.

Monday, October 25, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things

Recently, I was asked to help create a list of "must haves" for a rather young mama-to-be.  If only all the baby books, blogs, and unsolicited advisers had given me this list.  Of course, every mom is different, but these are perfect gifts for any mama, in my book.
1. Target brand breastfed baby wipes-they contain lanolin, which helps the often sore bums of newborns (breastfed babies poo more, and even if your baby isn't breastfed, they do wonders for the bum).  The trick is looking for these in the breastfeeding aisle.  You won't find the wipes with regular baby wipes.  These suckers run about $2.44 (which is so awesome compared to the brand name ones at $4-5) but are worth every cent. 
2.  Playtex VentAire bottles-my very favorites.   Move aside Dr. Brown, I loved these bottles for their ease of use and effective air bubble-less-ness.  Plus, Playtex has super awesome customer service, and I love them for that alone.
3.  Boppy.  What new mom (and dad...and puppy) doesn't love the boppy?  It is comfy for nursing, napping, snuggling the newbie.  Okay, so maybe some moms out there recommended this one, but it still makes the list.
4. Hyland's teething tablets.   Teething bites!  It is one of the worst parts of motherhood and babyhood, right up there with the endless weeks of sleeplessness, which can also happen to be caused by said teething.  These little suckers dissolve instantly, and your little one will conk out from the relief!  There's even a disclaimer on the bottle saying that if they fall asleep not to worry-that they're just finally feeling better.
5. Graco My Ride 65.   I own this baby in Flair and Spiral.  It rear faces to 40 lbs, which is amazing since rear-facing is so much safer (but I'll save that for another blog).  It is comfy, fits wonderfully in both my big mama car and Nana's tiny Toyota.  Well worth every penny, but even better if you score it on sale at Toys R Us with a 20% coupons and it happens to be the last one, so they discount it even further.  Yeah...

Those are five of my favorites, but trust me, I have plenty more of where that came from!