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Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ Category

Mommy brain. It’s officially here.

In my house, on a daily basis, I ask the question: “Where is my phone?” To which my husband replies, “Have you seen my glasses?”

It’s a family joke. Lately, with moving across several states, setting up a house, getting ready for the holidays, traveling to Ohio, and generally settling in, apparently my brain has too many things to keep track of. Not to mention the usual day-to-day tasks like caring for a very active 16-month-old, working and trying to find time to write a new blog.

This forgetful mom though, has gone beyond constantly misplacing my cell phone. I’m forgetting orange juice at the grocery store, my new phone number, why I walked from the basement up to the master bedroom. The list goes on.

The cell phone, however, still is a problem. My mom and I were getting ready to drive to my sister’s house on New Year’s Day, and I had just finished a phone call with Ned, who was driving back to Virginia, and I promised to keep my often-wayward phone in my pocket, so I’d get his call when he arrived home that night.

After a few minutes at my sister’s, it began to snow. We take Max outside, who is just squealing and running in the snow, and I immediately get my purse so I can take a picture with my phone and send it to Ned. And … my phone is not in my purse. I put it there right after I hung up with my husband, and yet ….

So I use my mother’s phone to call said husband and leave him a message to call me on her phone; which results in a later comical call where I spend a few moment’s explaining to Ned that he is indeed speaking to his wife, not his mother-in-law.

It gets to be bedtime, so we pack up. I put my mom’s phone back into my purse, to find that my phone has wiggled its way between the lining and the side of the bag. AHA! I’m not forgetful after all! Apparently though, I’m losing my eyesight.

I climb into the passenger seat of the car and say, “Wait, the camera! My purse!” My brother in law, also named Max, is heading out the front door with said purse, which does not in fact, contain a camera.

It takes me a few minutes after Max is snuggled into bed when my brain clicks and I say, “It’s in the diaper bag!” Phew. Good day. Lost phone disaster inadvertently averted, and lost camera disaster inadvertently corrected.

And then I realize … I haven’t lost my forgetfulness after all.

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You knew this was coming. This topic applies to any mom, no matter how far into the fourth trimester you may be: Living with an 11-month-old baby or only three weeks into it, the no-sex is part of your life.

I scoff now, at those mythical stories we all heard, of the women who did the ultimate no-no, had sex prior to that six-week mark, not waiting until that follow up appointment when the doctor yells “All clear!” from behind the paper sheet. Those naughty girls ended up pregnant mere moments after giving birth.

Yeah, right. We all know after pushing out a baby, or having to go through surgery to welcome our child into the world, there is no way in h-e-double hockey sticks we’re messing around with anything down there. Not for six weeks. Or eight weeks. Or whatever timeline our bodies take to heal.

My own story surprised me. We waited until the lame six-week mark, plus time for birth control pills to kick in, plus more time for me to be ready. And I still wasn’t ready. In the first few months after giving birth, the idea of sex didn’t even pass through my mind. And rightfully so, anyone else would say, my hours were filled with being Mom, and not being awake. But I’d see a sex scene in a movie or on television and just be repulsed by it, as if my body had trained my mind to tell me: Girl, you do not have time for that. That is a frivolous use of our resources. We are not entertaining any ideas of doing that!

But as much as I wanted to blame the dry spell on Max, I couldn’t. Eventually, we got past that first three-month phase. Past the waking up several times a night. Past the falling asleep on the couch in the morning while the baby played in his awesome underwater Baby Einstein gym. And the routine was still … crickets.

It had nothing to do with Ned. Or me really, there was no not being attracted to my partner. Just a big span of nothingness. Desire gone *poof*.

So like most modern moms, I turned to the Internet. Which had a handful of articles about how to get yourself in the mood, how to schedule time with your partner, and how important, deeply, deeply important, it was to get yourself back on that sexy horse.

But in reality, I think, the response most of us may have is, “Yeah but, I still don’t wanna.” In reality, I think that we don’t talk about this, not to each other, to our partners, nothing. Sex is a thing we’ve just stopped caring about, because all of our caring has gone to another little human being. And we’re mostly okay with it. In the words of Rock (Jake Ryan’s chin-up buddy) in Sixteen Candles, “There’s nothin’ there man … It’s not ugly. It’s just … void.”

It’s just void.

The lesson of the no-sex talk is that the void doesn’t last forever, and like most things I’ve discovered in this post-birth world, it is futile to beat myself up over the changes. My marriage won’t fail if I don’t enlist the Top Five Tips for Scheduling Sex. I will keep getting up going about the day, even with 20 extra pounds, which eventually has become 15 pounds. My world will not fall apart if I don’t make it to yoga every day. And my family certainly will benefit most when I just cut myself some much needed slack.

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Normally this would be called: “The Stay-at-Home Mom versus the Working Mom.” We all know this one; it starts on the message boards during pregnancy. The women planning a life as a SAHM form a group on one side of the room, while the WMs roll their eyes at them from the other side.

I am a bizarre hybrid of the two: The Stay-at-Home-Working Mom. It isn’t that far of a jump really, I actually have gotten to know tons of moms like this. We long ago shod our high heels and casual work outfits for weekdays spent in our home offices, typing, taking conference calls, and checking email while juggling laundry and dusting the furniture.

And then we got pregnant.

This jump from being a self-employed, work-from-homer turned into a question of what I was to become once the baby got here, maybe not a SAHM at all, but something else entirely. I remember so many people would say things to me like, “It’s so nice that you work from home, how convenient.” Or, “That’s great that you’ll still be able to work after the baby comes.” And I looked at these people like they had six heads. Are you crazy?

And yet.

Back in January, I began to take on projects again. And although I’m technically working part-time, add part-time job (which does require brain power/functionality/decent sleep) with full-time job of Mom and I’m peering over to the other side of the room, a little envy for the WMs with their smartphones and their carpools and their ability to spend their work hours focusing on work, not jumping from diaper changes to taking a call to temper tantrums and trying to finish some billing to changing your shirt from spit up and then back to the keyboard.

I am thinking about this lately because it is bit of a conundrum. I believe that the overall consensus (or opinion of the world) on SAHMs is that they are lucky ducks. You are so blessed you don’t have to work. Getting to stay home and rock the baby, play with the baby, takes naps with the baby tsk! There should be no complaining!

Yet I watch friends on all sides, SAHMs, WMs, part-time WMs, and SAHMs with side-projects, all trying to figure how to balance life, and figure out what our value is now, post-baby. Some moms don’t feel recognized enough by their spouse or former coworkers or family members because they are not the hunters that go out and chase down the money. Some moms carry around a giant chunk of guilt during the day, wondering if it’s worth it to give away half their paycheck to a daycare.

It makes me think about our foremothers; the ones that fought to get out of their kitchens, forgo their aprons and transform our reality to that of “working families.” It makes me wonder about what my days would be like if I didn’t work at all. It makes me worry about how my workdays will change when it’s time for a second baby.

The truth is right now, I feel that extra satisfaction and pride even, that my son needs me and clients need me and my own writing career needs me enough to try and juggle it all. (It also totally could be just part of my Gemini personality.) But in the meantime I’m carrying around a new awareness about respecting all moms, and their family’s choices.

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Last Thursday marked my 35th birthday. (Happy Birthday to me.) I chose to start out my day testing out my look in a few bathing suits, for a pool party we were attending the next day. Yes, I’m an emotional cutter. Normal women wouldn’t dream of trying on a bathing suit on the day that celebrates when they first sported their birthday suit. I mean, really.

For some reason though, I managed this without ending my day in tears and ice cream. I think it was the pre-shower prep work. We all know this routine: While waiting for the water to get hot, you check out the frontal, then the side view. Then the frontal versus the side view … all while sucking that tummy in in in. Sometimes there is actually lifting and pressing in of the stomach, to get the full this is what I should look like look. Then you finish with letting it all out, so you can see the worst of the worst.

So by the time I got to the bathing suits, I was tempered, if you will. The suits themselves, however…

Let me preface by saying, both one-piece bathing suits were purchased sometime in the mid-90s. The first suit is a white/orange/blue/yellow/green/black calico-like number, with a halter top and shirred bust. The suit the Chiquita banana lady would wear to the beach. Now, the fact that I looked like a large body stuffed behind a flamenco-inspired print is bad enough. But the cups designed for a size C, in fact do not hold a breasts that are actually still overflowing at size E.

I moved on to the other suit, with a more subtle, forest-green diamond pattern, a standard tank with just a shelf bra. Although this eliminated any I’m-wearing-Mexican-wallpaper effect, and the smaller pattern helped shrink my butt, it also mashed down my chest so much that I became a rectangle of green.

There were my choices: Pretend I’m on the beach listening to “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” and risking a wardrobe malfunction, or look like a pudgy 13-year-old forest with no boobs.

So off to the Internet I went, to discover that my average number of suit options on any given website was five, and most of those were sold out. I will stop myself from venting about why the world is not made for tall people, since $100 plus shipping later, I have a nice little zebra number on its way, ready to cover my extra 18 ½ pounds and my getcha getcha yaya tatas. Good lord.

Yes, I said it; I’m back down to around the weight I was at when I started this blog, thanks to a few yoga sessions and a few family walks after dinner. Of course, Florida heat being the evil, twisted lady she is, the yoga may get kicked up a notch.

In the meantime I’m gonna practice sucking in that pooch—or maybe I’ll just find a cover up.

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I had one once, but I threw it up against the wall when I couldn’t figure out where the batteries went. I know now I was suffering from pre-menstrual syndrome. ~Truvy Jones, of “Steel Magnolias,” on getting a radio for her carport-enclosed beauty salon.

Normally every time I hear something blamed on PMS I want to cringe, but right now, it’s true. Case in point: I’ve been trying to work on this blog all week, and I’m just not feeling it. I think I’m too cranky. I mention this to Ned, who promptly suggests that I would be better suited to write this blog when I am not feeling quite so close to the topic.

Crap.

This means Ned is noting the insane hormonal behavior. This means he has not forgotten my irreverent meltdown over not having enough sour cream in the fridge this week to finish a recipe. Or my blatant irritation when putting away his Walkman earbuds yesterday, which have been sitting on the coffee table, sans Walkman, for three days. I can only imagine if he’s observed the tearing up at commercials for “Intervention” or me wiping my eyes after I tried, in vain, to fit into a pair of non-fat jeans this weekend.

There is plenty of talk about how pregnant women can have crazy hormones … the kind that make PMS look like a cake walk. I was not one of those pg women. No pickles and ice cream, no crying at random commercials for tissue. And I never developed “pregnancy brain,” where you run back into the house every morning at least three times because you forgot your keys, in which each return to the house resulted in you not remembering that you forgot your keys … and so on.

No, those symptoms my body has saved for now, nine months into motherhood. And they go beyond the convenient PMS excuse. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m second-guessing simple decisions such as: Should I have dressed the baby in a romper today, because we’re going out to dinner and we’ll have to hold him for awhile while we wait, and his shirt will get all bunched up? Or I’ll kick myself for not having gone to the post office before storytime because now it’s almost noon and Max is freaking out in the car seat, wanting to eat.

The truth is, I hate that complete non-control over my anger and frustration. But man, some days after cleaning the house, doing laundry, making a two-hour babyproofing trip to Babies R Us, coming home to a baby that won’t take a nap, even after trying for two hours; plus the pressure of work and when am I gonna clean out my office; it all slams up against: I need to start dinner, and the stupid missing tub of sour cream is just one more thing in a long list of things you just have run out of energy to deal with.

I know it’ll all be okay. In a day or two, I’ll wake up and feel better. But right now, I have to hunt down a spoon, and what’s left of my half-gallon Publix-brand Chocolate Cookie Quarry frozen yogurt. Mmm ….

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They are a wondrous and complicated thing, the mammary glands.

I recently told my husband that I want my boobs back. (I’m pretty sure he wants them back too.) I am blessed with the biology of one of my aunts, which puts me at about 38C/D … just enough to get some attention and to not be able to fit clothes off the rack. My pregnancy sent me up to the land of double Ds, and breastfeeding has shot me straight to an E.

Hubba hubba.

Really, maternity clothes made fitting the girls okay. It’s all proportional. And now that Max is eating real food three times a day, I’ve given up the horror of the pump, a.k.a., the mama milking machine. All in all, I should be grateful to the boobs; they’re balancing out my extra twenty pounds! Although, it would be nice to fit into some of my pre-pregnancy tops without looking like a porn star.

Nursing itself is something I’m still totally in love with … it contains a level of intimacy that is almost indescribable. For me, it has to do with sustenance. It’s a word in my overly-food-i-fied life that I treasure; I love to cook and I love creating nourishment and happiness for those at my table.

But nursing; nursing is sustenance in action. It’s in the complexity of noises Max makes, a cooing, contented, sighing thing. It’s the way he kicks his leg or waves his arms with satisfaction, or how he can still smile and stay latched on when I tickle him behind the knee. It’s stroking his little head as his eyelids slowly gain the weight of sleep. It is about being part of helping my son grow, still, now that he has left the safety of my body.

So in the end, I’m cool with the tatas. They’re for a good cause. Really, I should have said, “I want my bras back.” I’m so over wearing a bra 24 hours a day! I’m over constantly re-stuffing my breasts into the bra cups, because when I was five months pregnant I let the sales girl at Motherhood Maternity talk me into buying a size “up” from what I needed. I’m over lying on my side and everything just falling out. (If I could figure out a way to just stick the nursing pads to my skin, and chuck the bra, I would.) I’m over leaving my dresser drawer, dedicated to all things Victoria’s Secret, untouched. And I’m definitely over the same three choices: Beige. Black. White. Woohoo.

When our year of breastfeeding is over, I may ceremoniously torch my nursing bras, and make it a part of this journey through the fourth trimester. It will bring me one step closer to re-capturing the “me” I was before pregnancy. Hopefully that’s a me that back in a 38C.

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Hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids. I have hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids, hemorrhoids, hemorrhoids.

There is a theory that if you confront an uncomfortable situation, it becomes less scary. This is my theory in accepting the fact that I have been dealing with hemorrhoids, pretty much since the birth of my son.

See, and all of my readers thought I’d never shut up about being fat. J

I technically have only one hemorrhoid. My other issue is a tear, something a bit scarier than my fear of having hemorrhoids. If that doesn’t heal, it means the worst of the worst. The fear of the fear. I’m talking about the Ass Man. The proctologist, not Cosmo Kramer.

I won’t go into any further details (click here for that), but I share this information because it is an issue that I have let go on and on for almost eight months. I supposed it is easier to write about it now that I have finally seen my doctor and know how life will proceed.

Mostly, this has felt embarrassing, and slightly painful. There were few moments of panic. And certainly, a pretty constant feeling that seemed not normal, uncomfortable and completely unsexy. And really, with the exception of small story at the end of “Belly Laughs,” and a good friend of mine recommending I pick up some Colace before the baby was born, no one I know talks about this.

The worst thing about it really, is the not knowing, and then, not sharing. I cried when I told my mom, and she was the only person I told. Her reaction was, “You have to get that checked out.” I hid it from Ned … and didn’t tell him until after I went to the doctor. His reaction was, “Are you going to be okay?”

So had I addressed the issue earlier, I would have had all the support in the world that I needed. Who knew?

And now that I’m getting treatment, and adjusting my diet, it makes me wonder how long this will go on, and why it started to begin with; is it just a casualty of being a mom? Do our insides just get so mashed up and scooted around that they’ll never operate the same way again? And most importantly, do I have to drink 64 ounces of water a day from now until the end of time?

That reminds me … I need to pee.

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weight: 221 (v. bad), alcohol units: 10, dessert intake: 24 (on holiday), calories: 4,000

No, the nod to Bridget Jones is not from a recent voyage to the UK. I just returned from a trip with my son Max, to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

The joy of traveling alone with an infant is that people tend to be nicer; they hold open doors and hand you bags. The sky cab at Hopkins ran down two bays to help me with my suitcase.

The other joy of traveling is that people who haven’t seen me in many months say lovely things like, “You look great!” It is a fantastic confidence booster. It is less helpful in that although I may appear to look great, there are still 18 pounds to lose, and the constant ego-rubbing makes me do crazy things like eat potatoes, kielbasa and pierogi almost every day; not to mention the endless parade of cheesecake, coconut bars and god help me, chocolate Oreo balls. (I promise to post the recipe as soon as my Aunt sends it.)

I did manage a walk or two, and a few brief yoga sessions. None of this I believe was enough to counter balance the two large pre-Easter dinner celebrations and libations. A day after I returned to Florida, a doctor’s appointment showed the awful truth: I now am back to having 21 pounds to lose.

Here’s the problem: since I am crazy tall, if I gain weight, I have the ability to carry an extra 10 pounds or so without much fuss. This seems very forgiving… yet really, I have to work my ass off (literally) to keep myself in shape, but it seems, not many folks notice. So it leaves me wondering; should I even bother being stringent and precise with my calories and exercise? In the end, 200 pounds seems to be the visual equal of 218, um, 221 pounds.

Perhaps the lesson here is that I am the one that notices. I am the one who has to live with it. I am the one with a closet full of beautiful clothes that I can’t quite fit into. I’m the one with the desire to feel and look healthy.

So it’s back to yoga and walks with the stroller. No more potato binging. Or day dreaming of Oreo balls.

The pierogi, however, were totally worth it.

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In the past two weeks, specifically Sunday morning, the following Saturday evening and the following Sunday morning, I have spent about three hours trying to find an outfit to wear to church.

Correction; I have been trying to find an outfit that fits me, to wear to church.

As a family, we are church shopping. My son Max is now seven months old, and we’ve yet to baptize him. Not because we’re bad parents, but because we never joined a church when we moved to Florida. My husband, Ned, and I are both lapsed Lutherans. I started going toward a more spiritual and new-agey path; Ned went a more Sundays-are-for-football route.

So in search for a church that is open enough to suit our style, but still has enough formality so Max can be baptized in an actual church (not like, on a beach with a wand waved over his head), I have been hitting up the neighborhood church circuit.

This has been going on for awhile, long enough that when I started, I was simply able to don my nice, roomy corduroy pants, a sweater, and head off to hear the church bells. Now that we’ve gone from the Florida season of “Christmas” to “Almost Summer,” it’s necessary to pull out the more lightweight church wear.

I mean, gimme at least a nice dress pant, dear closet! Something that buttons without showing my cottage cheese ass. I know it’s far too early in my new weight loss regiment to hope to not look like a sausage stuffed in casing when trying on a dress, or a skirt and a top. I know … but I need something!

See, in everyday life, I can snake by with the few “fat clothes” that I have saved. It makes for more frequent washing to keep myself not naked every day, but I can swing it. Nicer clothes though, are all in my pre-baby sizes, and dammit, I refuse to start running around buying clothes that fit my body with 18 extra pounds on it.

I did find an outfit, and although I had to suck in my stomach most of the morning, I was holding Max, and he covers a lot. After the service we picked up sandwiches for lunch and happily sat down at our kitchen table, talking about our day. My husband smiled and said, “That was good. I got all church-i-fied.”

As he was clearing his place he added, “And, I fit into my pants.” My eyebrow shot up as he continued, “I was a little worried you know, about putting on the good pants, but hey, they fit.”

Humpf.

He went on to explain that he was worried about his pants because he gained a bunch of weight eating and being a sloth while I was busy growing a baby and getting ready to birth him so Ned’s weight was that of a sinner and mine was that of a pure, glowy motherly being.

Nice cover, honey.

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