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Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy’

Did you know that new moms today can get a digital timer to remind them to feed the baby? Is it just me, or is this the most ridiculous item ever put in front of pregnant women? These poor women are distraught, tired and distracted by their own swollen feet, so they’re vulnerable to absurd and manipulative marketing. Your baby will die if you forget to feed it. Better put that timer on the registry!

In case you have the kind of baby who doesn't cry when hungry, or smell when poopy.

People! You do not need a timer to remind you to feed your baby. Your baby will remind you. Your baby is programmed to do just that. Basically, it is the only thing your baby can do for a long, long time.

Anyway, as I was smugly making fun of this timer, I suddenly remembered an episode from my own crazy first-time-mom past. I somehow blocked this out, preferring to remember a fictional history of myself as a non-panic-stricken individual who did not go over the top with her first baby. But I did. Boy, did I ever.

When I was pregnant with L, T and I wanted to take a baby first aid and CPR class. Not unreasonable, right? Well, we were both full-time students with no money or time to spare for such courses. No worries, because I found the perfect solution! A way we could become baby saving experts on our own time for even less money than a course! I found this:

Maybe the scariest thing I've ever received in a box in the mail.

That’s right. I got my very own plastic baby. (This was a few years ago and ours looked a lot less like a blow up doll and a lot more like a dead baby. A totally freaky thing to live with.) What a great thing to have! We could always freshen up our skills. Just pop in the DVD, inflate the baby and compress to our hearts’ content!

If you think this is where the crazy ends, wait, there’s more.

Then I had my precious baby. He actually did choke once and I had to quickly turn him upside down and pound on his back until he vomited his body weight on the rug. Thanks plastic baby for the practice! (You might have mentioned the vomit and suggested doing it over tile or hard wood.)

Fast forward about 8 months when I’m ready to leave baby L with a babysitter. A random girl (who I grew to love) who I found on a university job board. This made me nervous. These days I’ll leave my kids with anyone willing to take them, but this first time I was so anxious about it! Guess what I made her do?

Yup. I made her come about 1/2 an hour before I was scheduled to leave so she could watch the video and practice on the dummy baby. And she did it graciously, as if it was a perfectly normal and not at all neurotic request, and she didn’t tell me I was a crazy lunatic. God, I love that girl.

I completely forgot all of this, like I said, and was so embarrassed for myself when I remembered. So, if any of you were ever under the impression that I’m at all cool, I give you this story as incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. *Takes bow.*
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Recently I was asked in a comment about how I made the decision to have a second baby. This is a seriously good question, especially considering the trouble I had with L over the last year. The simple answer is that having only one child was never really a consideration for me. So it wasn’t a question of if but a question of when.

Luckily we decided to try for #2 before L was 2 years old. Had I still not been pregnant by the time L morphed from sweet but challenging toddler to complete evil monster villain (somewhere around 2.5), I don’t know if I would have gone through with #2. The year from almost 3 to almost 4 was so so so hard. L was not easy to be around, to put it mildly, (way mildly – he was extremely, impossibly, unfathomably unpleasant,) but thankfully S was already here by then.

So now I have my sweet but challenging 4-year-old and my sweet 1.5-year-old and I’m done. Right? Totally. I’m completely 100% mostly almost sure of it. What more could I want? I had 2 healthy pregnancies, have two healthy kids, have one of each sex – why push my luck? Also, I can sort of see the end of the tunnel. Baby days are close(ish) to behind me. Soon I’ll have a family that can go places and do things and not be encumbered by naps, diapers, and other babyish stuff.

But babies are just so cute. Can’t argue with that logic.

Unlike normal people, I liked being pregnant and I liked the newborn phase. I love that warm little floppy helpless bundle, even if it means colic, no sleep, sore nipples and diaper blow-outs. I recognize that this feeling I have is not remotely coming from my rational brain. It’s coming from some evolutionary, biological, clock-ticking, animal place and I should know better. And I do. Mostly. Luckily, T totally knows better and has not even the slightest inclination towards having another baby.

So, back to the question of how one arrives at the decision to have or not to have another child? I don’t really have an answer for that. For having a second, we didn’t really ever consider the alternative so there was no decision process beyond timing. As far as having any more, I feel like the partner who is done has veto power over the partner who may want one more. So we’re done. Well, at least we’re shelving the topic. For now. No, really, we’re done. Almost certainly absolutely probably so.

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I decided not to buy a sex book for L after all. I realized that it would certainly become his favorite book and I’d be stuck reading about testicles and vaginas more often than I’d care to. So I took him to the library instead. I asked the children’s librarian for a book about sex appropriate for a 3-year-old. I’m going to go ahead and believe that her assumption that I was pregnant was more related to my question than my appearance.

She found a few books for me, full of diagrams, drawings and photos of things that I really didn’t want to talk about. I decided to work my way backwards through one of the books. Starting with the baby, photos of the baby in utero, etc, hoping L would be bored before we got to the actual seed planting bit at the beginning.

Turns out, boredom never happened. BUT he was entirely mesmerized, amazed, aghast and distracted by umbilical cords. We looked at all the books and he only wanted to see the pictures with umbilical cords. I can talk umbilical cords all day, no problem! Does the baby get ice cream through the umbilical cord? Does the baby get carrots through the umbilical cord? Much better than does daddy use a knife to put the seed in your belly?

With L’s curiosity sufficiently satisfied, we left all the books at the library and I have heard not a peep about any of it since. So, if your kids start asking and you’re not up for the conversation, stick with umbilical cords.*

*I do not condone keeping kids in the dark about sex forever. Just for now.
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L caught me off guard this morning in the car.

“Mommy, you had two babies in your belly, right?”

“Yes, but not at the same time.”

“Right, but how did they get there?”

Oh boy. This was bound to happen sooner or later, but at 3-years-old on a morning when I had fewer than 3 hours sleep the night before and I’m still on the way to Dunkin’ Donuts for my coffee, meaning I haven’t had any yet, I just needed to get the F out of my house before even brewing a pot?

“Mommies and Daddies make babies together.” Lame.

“But how?”

“Well, daddies plant a sort of seed in mommies, and it grows into a baby.”

“You’re kidding me right?”

“No, that’s really how it works.”

“A seed in your belly?”

“Yeah.” Phew, he’s quiet now. Turn up the music. He’s satisfied with my answer. Turn into Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru.

“But how does the seed get there?” After some thought.

“You know what? Let’s get a book about it and we can read it together and it will explain everything. A book meant just for 3-year-olds about babies.” Take the hint, kid. Conversation over for now, but more to come later, promise.

“With a knife?”

“What!?”

“Does the daddy need a knife to cut into the belly? He needs to get inside to put the seed there. Does he use a knife to cut to get to the inside?” Asked with disturbing knife and cutting actions.

“No. Er, want a munchkin?”

I’m off to Barnes and Noble at some point today to pick up a book about sex for my 3-year-old. In the meantime, once again, junk food saves the day.

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(Today is day 3 of the Back to Blogging challenge at SITS (sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances) and the assignment is to share a post with a title we particularly like. So I’m reposting this one from way back when (April 7, 2010 – OK I know it’s not really way back). I don’t know why I like the title so much. I guess I just think it’s funny to replace the word “car” with “baby” in this common phrase. And, it’s really something I was excited about, and I called it “new baby smell” back then, when I was excited and still didn’t know the real truth…)

New Baby Smell was something I had heard about – one of those unbearably pleasurable things that I hadn’t yet experienced, like new car smell (since I always had used cars). But this time I was going to get the real deal. My baby would be new!

Before my son was born, swept up in the romance of the about-to-be, I would sometimes bury my nose in his tiny new clothes and blankets, which of course had been pre-washed in the special, super gentle, baby detergent. I inhaled the aromas of all the  baby oils, lotions and soaps, all organic naturally. I imagined New Baby Smell to be a wonderful fusion of these soft sweet things combined with some special fragrance that my baby would emit from his pores and his sweet baby breath. I was in for a surprise.

My baby smelled like vomit and rotten milk. All the time. This was his signature scent. Certainly there were times when his smell would change. Like immediately after a bath. If I was quick, I could smell him and get a noseful of water and baby oil before he vomited again, but I was rarely quick enough and often got a hairful, or even once an earful, of vomit while trying this risky maneuver. The only thing that really covered the vomit and rotten milk smell was his gas.

My baby did not know how to shit, you see. He’d push and clench at the same time leading to no movement but much frustration, crying, and I imagine abdominal pain. Apparently this is normal. But no one tells you that you are born not knowing how to shit. What he did know, was how to fart. The boy could clear a room. I’d be trapped, nursing him, and suddenly be enveloped in a thick death cloud of smell that I swear lingered in my hair and on my clothes. (Oh, I forgot to mention that my signature scent during the early months was also rotten milk and vomit, and sometimes, baby fart.)

Ah, yes. Nursing. This is the time I imagined I’d breathe in New Baby Smell. I thought I’d stroke the soft downy hair of my tiny baby, nuzzle my nose into his warm, soft cheek, relish in these quiet moments. Maybe I’m ungainly, or maybe it’s because L was born over 10 lbs, but I never got coordinated enough to nurse, stroke and nuzzle at the same time. Not that I’d want to. That soft downy hair I imagined was actually falling out in clumps. And the scalp underneath was covered in the thick yellow scabs of cradle cap, which is also totally normal and common but you never hear about. And of course, the warm, soft cheek was deeply fragranced with vomit and rotten milk. Oh, and the quiet moments. Yeah right! L thrashed about wildly while I tried to hold onto his massive head in one hand and steer my equally massive breast into his mouth with the other (it is easier to move your breasts than the baby’s head, by the way).

For us, nursing was not a simple thing I could quietly do while sitting around with others having polite conversation. First of all, the others usually had left the room anyway because of the aforementioned gas problem. But more importantly, to me, was that I had to be completely naked from the waist up. It was enough work for me to steer the giant head and giant breast without also having to discreetly move aside layers of clothes designed to be easy to discreetly move aside.

So, I spent the first several months of motherhood mostly alone, mostly naked, mostly in a noxious cloud of stink. New Baby Smell my ass.

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I saw a friend of mine yesterday with her brand new, less than a week old baby, her third. I asked her how she was and she said, “fragile.” I can’t think of a more perfect description of myself immediately after having each of my babies. I felt like a broken live-wire, with my emotional nerve endings frayed, buzzing and sparking in their new exposed state. The slightest touch or breeze and they’d shock and jolt me. When kindly people came by to drop off a meal, meet the baby, see how I was, I lied and said “great!” when asked.

Here I am, self-proclaimed teller of motherly truths and I perpetuated a very damaging lie to brand new moms. I was not great, not fine. I was a mess and felt like I should not be trusted with this brand new baby. By the time S came around, I knew the baby would be fine, but I was again shocked, raw and frayed. In a moment, I could go from rapturous wonder at my new perfect baby, to despondently crying. My moods shifted on the slightest notions. I was fragile.

I had been told I’d be hormonal. And the few people who saw my emotional flare-ups reminded me that I was hormonal. But this was more, different. I had been hormonal before. Afterall, I just finished pregnancy. But pregnancy is different. It feels transient and thus less real. This felt permanent. I felt crazy. And I hid it.

Of course it was not permanent, and I was hormonal. Slowly my self emerged again, well, maybe a more tired shadow of my self. The fragility gave way to a new brand of strength. An ability to hold it all together, to move forward, to lead myself and my kids through each day no matter what presents itself: days of no sleep, weeks of colic, illness. This is the stuff that makes a mom a mom. It’s not something I could have predicted or had heard about. And even though I experienced it with L, I doubted it when S came along. But it did come back, reinforced and stronger.

I’m certainly not saying that my life is without challenges and I’m without days when I feel harried, emotional, and like I can’t possibly take another minute. But it passes and I do take another minute. And another after that. I don’t really know what the purpose of this post is. It kept me up until 1:30 AM writing itself in my head. Maybe I just need to publicly acknowledge that I lied to everyone when I first had my babies.

I have a few friends who are expecting their first baby and I hope they read this. It’s just my own experience, but in case you’re feeling fragile in the days and weeks immediately postpartum, know that you’re not alone, you’re not a bad mother, you’re not crazy, and that you will come out on the other end as a bona-fide mom. If you need help, ask for it. And if any twit tells you anything stupid like “it only gets harder from here,” or dismisses your overwrought anxiety, you can punch them in the face and blame your hormones.

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I don’t tend to be overly emotive. I am not a Hallmark type. However, when pregnant, I am for all intents and purposes, completely insane. I even annoy myself with my sentimentality.  I was recently pregnant for the second time and in addition to the usual discomforts, I was also highly hormonally disadvantaged, and it was August, so I was hot. All of this resulted in me being cranky or crying most of the time, and my son using the word “fuck” a whole lot more than a 2-year-old should.

Here is one conversation that stands out. This happened on a particularly hot August day while I was about 8.5 months pregnant.

L: “Mommy, is it fucking hot out now?”

Me (surprised, but trying to not react): “Yes, it is hot.”

L: “But is it fucking hot too?”

Me (sighing in resignation): “Yeah, L, it really is.”

L: “Me thought so. Fucking hot.”

I’m still waiting for my mother of the year award. Must be lost in the mail.

Back to sentimentality… if you’re pregnant, just forgive yourself now for being cloyingly sentimental and partially-to-mostly crazy. I cried because my son was going to have a sibling to be life-long friends with. I cried because my son was going to have a sibling to be life-long rivals with. I cried because my poor son was no longer going to be my only child. I cried because my son had no choice in the matter. I cried because my sweet son was so excited for the baby to come, but he really had no idea how his life was about to change. But mostly, I cried because I was worried that I could never love this second baby the way I love L. How could I possibly? L was my real child. I knew him so well. This new baby was just a stranger. Boy, was I wrong! So wrong it’s funny.

Turns out, I loved the new baby the second I saw her. It was L who was suddenly hard to like. He seemed so big and loud and annoying. The baby was nothing but sweet.

Now S is 7 months old, and even through those difficult first months of sleeplessness, several colicky weeks, and more spit up than I care to remember, she’s still much easier to like than L, now 3. So, when I tell L that he can’t have a Popsicle before dinner and he responds by telling me that he doesn’t love me and only loves Daddy, I think to myself: “I know just how you feel!”* And I do. I’m harder to like because I’m the one constantly saying no, constantly corralling him to get places on time etc. Daddy is so easy to like when he breezes in each evening and plays all weekend. (Back when I was a kid and I pulled out the big guns and told my mom that I hated her, I never in a million years would have guessed that she was thinking, “Ditto!”)

Since I feel this way, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a callous monster of a mother, I’m going to go ahead and say this is normal. So, if you just had your second baby and you are finding yourself constantly irritated by your first child, rest assured, you are normal. Or, at least, I won’t judge you for it.

*Please see April 4th’s Introduction blog where I state clearly that I do, in fact, love my children. Both of them. 😉

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New Baby Smell was something I had heard about – one of those unbearably pleasurable things that I hadn’t yet experienced, like new car smell (since I always had used cars). But this time I was going to get the real deal. My baby would be new!

Before my son was born, swept up in the romance of the about-to-be, I would sometimes bury my nose in his tiny new clothes and blankets, which of course had been pre-washed in the special, super gentle, baby detergent. I inhaled the aromas of all the  baby oils, lotions and soaps, all organic naturally. I imagined New Baby Smell to be a wonderful fusion of these soft sweet things combined with some special fragrance that my baby would emit from his pores and his sweet baby breath. I was in for a surprise.

My baby smelled like vomit and rotten milk. All the time. This was his signature scent. Certainly there were times when his smell would change. Like immediately after a bath. If I was quick, I could smell him and get a noseful of water and baby oil before he vomited again, but I was rarely quick enough and often got a hairful, or even once an earful, of vomit while trying this risky maneuver. The only thing that really covered the vomit and rotten milk smell was his gas.

My baby did not know how to shit, you see. He’d push and clench at the same time leading to no movement but much frustration, crying, and I imagine abdominal pain. Apparently this is normal. But no one tells you that you are born not knowing how to shit. What he did know, was how to fart. The boy could clear a room. I’d be trapped, nursing him, and suddenly be enveloped in a thick death cloud of smell that I swear lingered in my hair and on my clothes. (Oh, I forgot to mention that my signature scent during the early months was also rotten milk and vomit, and sometimes, baby fart.)

Ah, yes. Nursing. This is the time I imagined I’d breathe in New Baby Smell. I thought I’d stroke the soft downy hair of my tiny baby, nuzzle my nose into his warm, soft cheek, relish in these quiet moments. Maybe I’m ungainly, or maybe it’s because L was born over 10 lbs, but I never got coordinated enough to nurse, stroke and nuzzle at the same time. Not that I’d want to. That soft downy hair I imagined was actually falling out in clumps. And the scalp underneath was covered in the thick yellow scabs of cradle cap, which is also totally normal and common but you never hear about. And of course, the warm, soft cheek was deeply fragranced with vomit and rotten milk. Oh, and the quiet moments. Yeah right! L thrashed about wildly while I tried to hold onto his massive head in one hand and steer my equally massive breast into his mouth with the other (it is easier to move your breasts than the baby’s head, by the way).

For us, nursing was not a simple thing I could quietly do while sitting around with others having polite conversation. First of all, the others usually had left the room anyway because of the aforementioned gas problem. But more importantly, to me, was that I had to be completely naked from the waist up. It was enough work for me to steer the giant head and giant breast without also having to discreetly move aside layers of clothes designed to be easy to discreetly move aside.

So, I spent the first several months of motherhood mostly alone, mostly naked, mostly in a noxious cloud of stink. New Baby Smell my ass.
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Here’s one from my personal archive. I wrote this when L was a baby, before I had S. At the time, I didn’t know many people with kids, so I was all about warning my friends about what pregnancy was like.

Pregnancy is actually a great transition from normal life to motherhood. In pregnancy, you get used to things not going your way or according to your plan, and you get used to the fact that your life is all about this other being and not at all about you (or certainly your husband!) anymore. Also, you get accustomed to gross. Which is good, because babies are gross. Toddlers are gross. And the way things are going, I’m assuming that kids are gross.

Without getting into too much embarrassing detail, I’ll tell you that pregnancy is a full body experience. This is not something that is localized to your uterus. There’s fatness on your ass and face. There are veins, lines, hairs, skin tags and other new physical features all over you. And your bladder, stomach and intestines, have to do some serious moving to accommodate for your growing baby. This, as you might imagine, leads to issues related to these organs. You might know that you pee a lot when pregnant. Did you know that you might pee when you sneeze? And that after you have your baby this might continue for the rest of your life? Peeing a lot is “cute” enough for people to talk about. There’s a host of other things that people don’t talk about. Like, you also burp and fart. But you don’t poop.

Ah yes, poop. As parents, this is something that my husband and I talk about probably more than any other topic. Current events? As if! Personal happiness and fulfillment? Hahahhahahahahha, wait, oh, God, hahahahhahahah. Sigh, no, wait, hahahahhahahahahhaha. OK. Moving on. Jobs, money, day to day happenings, all take a back seat as dinner conversation. Poop is it. Of course, we’re talking about our son’s poop. But pregnancy is a good warm up act because all of a sudden your poop is an issue. As in, it’s not happening. Poop is something you take for granted in your pre-pregnancy life. But when it stops happening, it’s a topic of conversation. Colace is your friend in times like these. Prunes and prune juice also. Steer clear of the banana. I was taking 3 Colace per day for at least the entire third trimester.

Then I had my baby, by c-section. No more baby in there, no more problem, right? In the hospital, in addition to the Percocet and Motrin, I was given 1 Colace per day. In my sleepless, Percocet delirium, I didn’t inform the nurses that this was a significant decrease in my daily intake. Surgery stops things from moving. Percocet stops things from moving. And my things were already not really moving. Fast forward to 6 days post partum. I’m home now with my new baby. I’m still in pretty bad shape from major abdominal surgery. And, I now have to go. I will spare you details but will tell you that what followed took no less than 5 hours, 3 calls to the nurses in the maternity ward, many requests for an epidural, 2 pairs of latex gloves, 1 trip to the pharmacy, 1 enema and much crying. It ended finally. What lay in the bowl at the end of all of this was very similar in size and shape to a grapefruit or small cantaloupe. Obviously, this could not be flushed. The whole incident ended with my dear husband fishing it out of the toilet, wrapping it in several plastic bags, and throwing it out in the garbage can on the corner of our street. And promising me that we would never, ever speak of this again.

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Perhaps the best way to introduce myself is to tell you who I am not.

You know those women whose bodies are unchanged throughout pregnancy except for their cute emerging belly? The ones who keep their slender arms, legs, face etc? Well, that’s not me. I have full body pregnancies. Apparently, my babies need a great deal of maternal back fat while developing. They need thick arms, cankles and skin tags too.

You know those women who are in the best shape of their lives 3 months postpartum? The ones who have to buy new clothes in a smaller size? The ones who look impossibly incongruous holding their tiny infant? Well, that’s not me. I’m the woman who tells you my 7-month-old is really 5 months old so that I have a better reason to still be so fat. (And you are shocked at my 18 lb, very alert 5-month-old.)

You know those women who cherish their time with their young children because “it all goes by so fast”? The ones who constantly engage their kids in enriching, creative and exciting activities that are fun for everyone? Well, that’s not me. It does not all go by so fast over here. In fact, I often look at the clock multiple times within the same minute, stunned that it’s still not naptime. I am annoyed that there are no new Curious George episodes because we have seen them all a billion times.

Finally, you know those women who have wonderful scrapbooks and baby books documenting every adorable smile, date of first teeth, lock of hair? Well, that’s not me. I have exactly one printed photo of my 7-month-old and it is her birth announcement. I have a baby book, and it’s empty. I already don’t remember when she smiled for the first time, when she sat.

So, who am I? I’m the mom who makes you feel better about your parenting. If you’re not still a good 40-50 lbs overweight 7 months postpartum, then you’re doing better than at least one other mom. If you decide that it actually is worth the trouble to wrestle your 3-year-old into his snow gear to go out to play more often than not, then you’re a step ahead of me. And if you have a single photo of your not-first-born child, then you are, well you get the idea.

I am not proud of my mediocrity by any means, but I do think that I’m probably good enough. Yes, my poor daughter may one day lament that I don’t have a baby book for her, but I’ll explain that I was just too busy getting spit up out of my hair (on most days, I do bother with at least that much), keeping her from constantly scratching her full body eczema, all while trying to control her impossible to control 3-year-old brother who has taken to opening doors and leaving the house. If, by the end of the day, I have not lost her brother, or ended up in the hospital with him, and she is not bleeding and infected from scratching, then I’ve done well enough. Add to that actually providing palatable, healthy(ish) meals and snacks, ensuring everyone has enough sleep, and reading a couple of books together then I think the day is a success. Even if at one time or another, I ignored both of my crying children and locked the bathroom door to pee in private. I don’t need to be a martyr. I am allowed to pee and shower on my own. I am allowed to sit and drink coffee. So, S, stop scratching that, and, L, get down from there; Curious George is on.

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