You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category.

I can’t believe my baby (who is no longer a baby) is almost a year and a half old. She turned seventeen months on Monday. She is a full-on toddler. Running, climbing, tantruming, talking… Here’s a slideshow of her year so far:

Advertisements

Okay, so I’ve had two different but connected experiences lately. Some women I know are pregnant for the first time, or just had babies, and I desperately want to give them unsolicited advice. I know, everyone gives unsolicited advice to pregnant and new moms. But mine is so good! Mine isn’t all intrusive and fucked up like all that other advice, really! Except I think I just weird people out. Just like I was weirded out when people told me seriously random shit about their horrific childbirth experience, or post-partum healing, or whatever. When it’s your first time, all you want to do is stick your fingers in your ears and go, “LALALALALALALA!” And honestly, that might be the smartest thing. Everyone’s experience of pregnancy, birth,  postpartum, and new parenthood is totally different. And the advice-givers are more interested in validating their decisions or sharing their trauma than helping. Hmm. That might apply to me as well.

The other thing is I keep daydreaming about getting pregnant again. It would have to be an immaculate conception because David will move to Mexico to be a dive instructor before he gets me pregnant and signs on for another 1.5 years of Crazy Alternate Wife.  I think some of it has to do with wanting to get another shot at doing it right. Which is nuts for more reasons than I can count. Also, my hormones (a.k.a. Continuation of the Species Chemicals) tell me there is nothing more beautiful and desirable than getting pregnant right before a fucker of a hot summer. Because they lie and they hate me.

So I give you, “Stuff I wish I’d know/done/ignored before and after birth” in the hopes that I will no longer feel the need to brain dump on unsuspecting pregnant women or beg my husband to knock me up again. I’ll let you know how that works out.

Pregnancy stuff I think you need/should know/do

  1. Don’t listen to advice unless you ask for it. Change the subject or ask them to stop.
  2. Don’t listen to birth stories unless you have asked to hear them. They just make you crazy and paranoid and have no relevance to your birth. At all.
  3. Don’t freak out about/over prepare for/ spend a whole lot of extra money on the birth. I wish I had taken all the money I’d spent on my doula and used it for a post-partum helper. That $750 would have gotten me a lot of naps.
  4. Prenatal Yoga is The Bomb. It helped me physically and emotionally. I got support from the other ladies, respectful advice, and made some good friends who have become my primary mama support group. Physically, it made a huge difference. Start when you get pregnant and keep going until you can’t move your toes any more. That being said, try different classes until you find one you like. There are some great tirades way back in this blog written after going to classes I didn’t like.
  5. Get The Snoogle. Dear God, I hate that name. But you can wrap it around you multiple ways and you’ll need that as the baby grows and your body doesn’t work the way it used to. It will allow you to sleep without setting up a mountain of pillows you have to dismantle every time you have to get up to pee, which may be many, many times per night.
  6. If you’re going to take a babymoon, don’t be an idiot like me and take it in the first or third trimester unless you’re one of those freaks who never gets nauseous or swollen or uncomfortable. Aim for the golden second trimester when you’ve got energy but you’re all cute and pregnant looking.
  7. This is really for after, but get the My Brest Friend Deluxe (oh dear God what an awful name) nursing pillow and put it in your overnight bag for the hospital. Just do it. Nothing sucks more than trying to learn to nurse on those awful hospital pillows. This thing will make your life infinitely better. I promise. And if you want more nursing boob advice, I’ve got it. Nursing is no joke, the adjustment period can be formidable.

Birth

  1. Don’t stress out about it. It will happen however it happens. Learn about the process, but don’t try to predict the outcome or craft your ultimate birth experience. You will probably remember very little of it. To me anyway, it was a tiny blip on the massive radar screen that is new parenthood. And my blip lasted 36 freaking hours long. But do you know what’s worse than 36 hours of labor? The tandem stomach flu the three of us got last fall. Way worse. In spite of the hairiness of my labor, I still felt super powerful at the end, and glad I hadn’t tried to script it in any way. Kid healthy+ me healthy = Good. Basta.

Parenthood

  1. Get as much help as you can for the first few (and I mean six) weeks. Call in all your favors, save your pennies. Grandparents, friends, night nurses, post-partum doulas, whatev. It was super overwhelming at first for us, and we had a lot of help.
  2. If you’re feeling freaked out, talk to someone who you know will be supportive and non-judgmental. I don’t know how I got the idea that I would be a perfect, balanced, competent parent but I was WROOOOOONG. It was exhilarating, terrifying, blissful, and painful, sometimes all at once.  I went back to therapy two weeks after having Lillian. I have other friends who joined new parent support groups that really helped. You feel like everyone has done this, why is it so hard? Because it’s hard for everyone. If it’s not they’re catatonic or lying.
  3. Stuff. Most stuff you need for the baby can be borrowed. Other than a crib, nothing you use in the first six months to a year will be in the rotation for very long. Bassinet – incredibly useful for the first three months. Dust catcher after that. Swing – dude, you need a swing. But only for about six months. Bouncy chair things – the only way I could take a shower for six months was to strap Lillian into one of these things. Then she started crawling and it was done. So either buy them at a resale store and sell them back, or borrow them from a friend who is between kids. The only things in our house that are semi-permanent and worth the investment are our IKEA crib (very cheap) and our BOB Stroller (very not).
  4. Books – just throw them the hell out. Once you get on the milestone train, it’s a long way down. Comparing your kid to the “average” kid in America (regardless of your actual lineage) may make your child seem like a giant/midget/freak of some kind and he or she is not. He or she is just your kid. It’s hard enough to tune into the blaring radio station of mother instinct without eating yourself alive with self-doubt.  Bringing a bunch of “experts” into the mix who want to sell books does not help.
  5. Find a pediatrician you like and trust. My therapist pointed out at one point that I was avoiding taking Lillian in to have something checked out because I was afraid of her doctor. Doh. I switched doctors. Much better.
  6. Stay away from the interwebs.  I’m not saying that a little research can’t be useful when you want to check something out, but stay away from Dr. Internets in the middle of the night when you’re feeling sure that your kid’s 101 fever is actually spinal meningitis, mkay?
  7. Advice. Random strangers, well-meaning relatives, innocent bloggers (ahem) will tell you all sorts of crazy shit about the validity of your parenting, the health and well-being of your kid, and other stuff it would never cross your mind to say to another human being. Ignore them. “But they mean well…” No, they don’t. If it makes you feel bad, it’s not useful. It is so hard to feel confident about this terrifying, epic, massive job of creating and raising a little human being. Just don’t let people fuck with you.
  8. Be flexible. Your kid is totally unique and so are you. We made mistakes in the beginning by expecting Lillian to follow “typical” patterns that blinded us to her actual needs. I think everyone does this at first. But your kid will communicate what she needs, and you have to be listening to figure out how to respond. And then her needs will change, and you’ll have to respond differently. Forever. Don’t get so attached to a school of thought that you stop observing and responding to your kid.

Wow, that was fun!

Lillian turned a year old a few weeks ago. I have been seriously slow in getting this post written. To be fair, I was teaching my first class, grading a truckload of papers, throwing a rather large party, and hosting my parents. Then I fell over and died.

It was actually pretty fun, though exhausting. Did I mention I love teaching? I really, really love teaching. I’m pretty much focusing everything right now on trying to find more teaching gigs, though it may take a while. I’m also looking at starting a PhD. For realz.

Back to the baby stuff.

The party was a big success and Lillian looooooved the extended attention from her maternal grandparents. Lucky for me, she didn’t start walking till a couple weeks later, so she was more easily contained during the madness. Here are some adorable pictures:

Trying her new rocking elephant with Grandma Nancy

Feeding Mama

Opening presents.

 

Tiffany made amazing coconut cupcakes with mango filling. David and his friend Chris made excellent fajitas. The babies made a mess. A good time was had by all. You can see lots more pictures here.

The last month has been baby-birthdaypalooza. All the babies in our playgroup are turning one and having parties. This weekend we have two! That first birthday party is a crazy gauntlet! It’s not like the babies will remember it, but I personally felt like I needed to get in touch with all the people who thought I’d fallen off the earth in the last year. Next year her party will probably be more about Lillian and less about us. All the parties have been different, but fun. We’ve eaten a lot of cupcakes.  It’s been cool hanging with all the parents and babies and realizing we’ve all made it through the first year more or less intact.

Since then Lillian has started walking, which is crazy. She is so coordinated, and so very mobile. She has also decided that high chairs are for punks, so my days of long lunches with friends seem to be over. She has also decided that nursing is boring and stupid and she likes her straw cup full of whole milk way more. She’s not totally weaned, but we’re getting close. It’s all happening a little fast for me! Slow down, kid.

 

I think I’m having an identity crisis. How fucking cliché is that? I get so bent out of shape when I feel like I “fail” at mothering (or housewifing). Failure can be not getting the baby to nap, not getting the laundry folded and put away, not making a good dinner, making a good dinner but not making it from scratch, not paying enough undivided attention to Lillian, not running enough errands, running too many errands, and the list goes on. And on. Does it seem a little crazy? Uh, yeah.

I take parenting criticism waaay to personally. This is crazy, because I’m REALLY GOOD at taking criticism usually. I’ve been a musician, a grad student, and an entrepreneur. All of those things are like taking criticism for a living. You listen, take what works, discard the rest. Not internalize it and use it to define your value as a mother! Argh!

I was all into being an entrepreneur before I had Lillian, and now I don’t know what I’m into, or what I’m good at. But solely defining myself by my expertise (or lack thereof) as a mother is not good for my psyche. Granted, the last few days have been spectacularly crappy, but I’m tired of getting exhausted and emotional.

Lillian and David and I have all had a bad stomach flu for the last several days, each of us in different but nasty stages at the same time. If I had a sneak preview of this particular type of experience before I got pregnant I would have run screaming the other way. It’s not as bad as the first six weeks postpartum, but it’s running a close second.

I guess if I try to get back to my Buddhist roots, not having an identity is ideal. Letting go of labels is a good thing, right? But the problem is I’ve taken on UberMother as my identity and I’m not her. I’m just a new mother who fucks up just about the same amount as every other new mother. So every moment I’m not UberMother I feel like a big FAIL. Which is silly.

Being older has some advantages and disadvantages. Having some wisdom, flexibility, and adaptability are good things. I think I generally make good decisions for Lillian because I don’t take the party line on parenting and I don’t react the opposite direction. I look at what’s going on and adapt as necessary. I’m aware enough of my own emotions to not let them cloud my decision making process as much as I would have when I was younger.

But being at a stage in my life when I feel like I have my shit basically together, and then suddenly not knowing which end is up is a little trying, especially nine moths out. Maybe it would have been easier if I was younger? Or maybe not. Maybe this shit is just hard.

I’m not going to write a whole lot about it since it’s all about the pictures. We had two Halloween events – a Weds. play date and a barbecue at our house on Halloween Sunday. The first helped us figure out how much dressing and photography the babies would tolerate for the second, so we got really good pictures the second time. The party was a blast, everyone seemed to have a good time, including the babies. There was some excellent food which I neglected to take pictures of. You know where my priorities lie these days. I am, however, eating some dairy now with no ill effects and very slowly easing into the soy. This makes mama happy. Enough about me. Pictures!

Halloween Playdate!

Tinkerbell!

Halloween Playdate!

Such happy, well behaved babies!

Halloween Playdate!

Whoops.

Playgroup Halloween BBQ

Yes, I dressed my child up like a fairy and put her on a pumpkin. Sue me.

Playgroup Halloween BBQ

It's a baby rainbow!

Halloween Playgroup BBQ

Chaos eventually ensues.

Playgroup Halloween BBQ

Yes, I dressed like a fairy too. I know.

 

DSC_0003

No, I'm not teething. Why do you ask?

Lillian turned seven months old on Saturday. That last month just disappeared. But major stuff happened during it. We got our first cold. Then we got it again. Yuck! Two sick parents and a sick baby = not so fun. But we staggered by like always. I’m starting to mend other than my useless lungs which insist on pretending they have asthma despite the metric ton of steroidal inhaler I’ve pumped into them. Man I hope Lillian does not have my asthma, because yuck. At least it’s way easier to treat these days.

More fun stuff: crawling! Really crawling. Not almost/slightly/scooting/army crawling – the real deal. Don’t believe me? Bam!

Every day she’s getting better and faster at it. It took her about a week to make the mental connection: see object – go get object (insert object in mouth/bang against other objects). Now she’s got it and is booking it around the house. She’s also pulling herself up to standing on stuff, and grabbing stuff out of baskets (laundry, toys).

She says Mama a lot these days. Or more accurately, “MAMAMAMAMAMA” – especially when she’s upset. I think she’s supposed to be too young to associate the sound with me yet, but tell me that when she’s shouting across the house at me.

I thought she was teething for the last week. She had a big swollen lump on her top gum, but it kept not showing up. After a spectacularly fussy day on Saturday, I felt around her gums again and there it was, all pointy and hard. That brings our grand total of visible teeth to three.

For whatever reason, ’tis the season for dead rodents to be left around the house by well-meaning terriers. They considerately leave them where Lillian is most likely to be playing, necessitating a lot of disinfecting and vacuuming. Loki is very competitive with the baby, and has limited tolerance for her hi-jinks, especially when they involve crawling on top of him and pulling his ears. This might be revenge? A peace offering? Mostly it’s just really icky.

Lillian is just an awesome kid. Even when she’s got this icky cold, she’s really funny and active and curious. I can’t wait for all of us to be healthy again. The weather has turned in Texas and it’s finally starting to feel like Fall. We’re going to spend more time outside and take advantage of the cooler temperatures.

Morning walk

The Princess surveys her subjects.

I’ve thought a lot about the nature of perfectionism – my perfectionism in particular – and how it is totally screwing me as a parent.

Perfectionism has pervaded most my life. I’ve always felt that I’m either “not enough” or “too much” and neither of those options are acceptable. For example, I’ve felt like my body is too much by nature of being on the roundish side. That it takes up too much space, that it’s not attractive enough, firm enough; it’s not enough and too much at the same time. This perception makes it hard to be comfortable with my body, and it makes it harder to take good care of it because I never reach my own standards.

I really wish I could exercise every day. It makes me feel better mentally, physically, and emotionally. But it just doesn’t work out that way all the time. Sometimes I have to make it to an appointment. Sometimes it’s just too dang hot to take the baby outside for a walk. Sometimes I want that extra hour of sleep after being up 5 times during the night.

I realize that I’ve faulted myself for not exercising “enough” even though all the above reasons are valid. That every day I don’t exercise is a FAIL. What if I stopped looking for enough and started going for “the best I can do right now”? Wouldn’t that be wild?

Especially when I was a singer, I clung to my perfectionism like a barnacle. I thought it gave me an edge; without it I wouldn’t be any good. But it really just caused me a lot of pain and wasted energy. When I’d listen to a recording of myself I’d invariably decide it was crap because it had audible flaws. Especially I’d felt like it was a good performance before I heard the recording. There was no good enough, only perfection or failure. And since perfection isn’t attainable, guess how I felt most of the time?

I realize that I’ve applied these same standards to parenting. If I can’t  get Lillian to nap enough (what the hell is enough?) during the day, I’ve failed. If I don’t narrate my whole day to her, sing her songs, dance with her, read her books, and otherwise force her brain to develop I’ve failed. If she has a bad night, I’ll review everything I did the day before and find some reason it’s my fault.

This is totally insane. There is no perfection. It’s an ideal that changes from moment to moment. And trying to apply it to taking care of my child is bad for me and probably not great for her.

So my new mantra is “I’m not perfect.” This probably seems uninspiring, but I really used to get my panties in a twist about not being perfect. Now I’m trying to take comfort and refuge in it. It’s okay that I didn’t do yoga today because I’m not perfect. It’s okay that the dinner I made the other night was kind of crappy because I’m not perfect. Instead of thinking “FAIL!” I’m just thinking “I’m not perfect.” It’s pretty relaxing to realized that I can ditch that checklist of things I think I’m supposed to do every day on Lillian’s and my behalf and just get what I can done. And some of what I want, too.

Cara, Lillian, Nimue, Lola, Leighton, Isabel, Stella, and Charlie at Cristina's playgroup

It’s all about playgroup.

When I was going to prenatal yoga several times a week towards the end of my pregnancy, a few of the other regulars and I started to get to know each other. In prenatal yoga you check in at the beginning of class, and instead of just saying you have a sore back, you can bitch about your husband, talk about your latest ultrasound, or ask the group if they know any cures for nausea or edema or whatever. It’s very bonding, and it really helped me not lose my mind, during the last trimester especially.

Just as we were starting to make some social plans outside of class we all started having our babies. A few weeks later we reconnected on Facebook and tentatively began to talk about some of the struggles we were having with our drastically new lives. When I was about 5 weeks postpartum we had our first meetup at Izzos Tacos. I remember mostly being in a sleep-deprived haze. We were all deep in the trenches at that point and just kind of getting by. Some of us were getting out and about, and some were hiding at home shaking (that would be me). Soon after that I hosted my first playgroup, and we each started inviting other new mamas we knew into our informal group (Tiffany, for example, is my bellydance pregnancy buddy and she drags her butt from north to south Austin weekly to playgroup). At some point we realized that Facebook wasn’t going to work for our ongoing chats because we couldn’t easily invite new mamas in, so I set up a group on BigTent.com and we were in business!

So from those early days of posting our woes on Facebook in the middle of the night to now – we have 15 mamas and babies in our group and at least one playdate a week, usually more. We go swimming, go to movies, go to yoga, and mostly just hang out, bitch, and eat. We have a ton of forums on our website and we lean on each other to give advice, commiserate, celebrate, and just plain keep us company at all hours.

The first year of mamahood is wicked isolating, and I totally would have lost my shit by now if I didn’t have these fine ladies to talk to. Lillian seems to enjoy our activities, and it’s fun to watch all the babies develop and change, and see their individual personalities emerging. I also feel this group is an incredible gift to the new mamas who are joining – it’s so hard in the beginning and it seems like the more we understand we’re not alone, the easier and more fun it gets. Inviting a stressed-out mama to join our group feels like a huge mitzvah to me.

Please enjoy some photos of our babies and mamas:

Playgroup!

The early days: Lillian, Charley, Isabel and Cara at my house

Playdate!

Cristina and Stella working on tummy time

Playgroup at Cristina's

Tiffany and Cara at Cristina's playdate

6/16 Playgroup

Tori and Nimue

Potluck at Heather's

Daddies Mike and Sean with Nico and Cara at Heather's Potluck

Playgroup at Susan's

Babies: Isabel, Lillian Lola, Atticus, Stella, and Cara Mamas: Jamie, Susan's feet, Addie, Cristina, and Tiffany at Susan's weekend Playgroup

June 30 Playgroup at Andria's

Lillian and my feet attending playgroup at Andria's

June 30 Playgroup at Andria's

Heather with Charley and Arely with Nico

Lillian on Mother's Day

Don't play innocent with me, kid.

My first Mother’s Day started off with a bang! At 4 am cleaning poopsplosion off the nursery walls. Yes, motherhood is full of serene, peaceful fulfillment and joy. Well, it is, in between screaming, pooping, nursing till you fall over, and hormone surges that turn you into a psycho.

So I’m helping David change the baby during her 4am feeding (that’s bottle time) and he lifts her legs up to get a wipe under her butt and kaplow! Green poop everywhere. We laughed our asses off. David claims I shrieked loudly but I have no such recollection. I think he’s making it up.

We’re still dealing with the gastric issues. Our baby is cute, funny, happy, and sleeps like a champ. But she definitely can’t process either dairy, soy or both. Last weekend we went to dinner at Odd Duck Trailer – it’s gourmet locally sourced tapas place – and ate some great food. Unfortunately, something either contained dairy, soy or both and we started the whole poop thing over on Monday, and we still don’t know what the mystery ingredient(s) is/are.

On Sunday we went to the in-laws’ for Mother’s Day bbq from Rudy’s. Which I could eat none of since they marinate it in milk and rub it with soy oil. Joy. So I got to nurse in the other room while everyone was eating, and then eat some pork loin I brought and overcooked the crap out of. It wasn’t my best day ever. But David got me a nice card and we’re getting the Bob stroller next week. It’s the ultimate running/walking stroller and it makes mama very happy.

In other news, Lillian sleeps like a champ now. We started a ritual a few weeks ago – eat-bath-eat-sleep by 8:00, and we do as much sensory deprivation as possible in the bedroom so she doesn’t get overstimulated. This kid likes to look at stuff, wiggle, pump her legs, coo, and generally spazz out. But after the cuteness comes the babypocalypse. Harbingers include:

  1. Pumping of the legs and giggling
  2. Hiccups
  3. Wide adorable eyes

One minute it’s all cuteness fun and the next it’s screaming and misery. The trick is to get her on the boob or into the bath or bed or something soothing before she gets so wound up she can’t calm down. We’re doing a lot better at it. David is also really good about letting her self-soothe when she can, I tend to overdo the rocking and shushing. Between the two of us she’s getting better naps and better sleep at night (and so are we praise be the Jesus).

Lillian was eleven weeks old this past Thursday. It’s hard to believe she’s coming up on three months. Her personality gets more developed every day, and she’s much more vocal than she was. She’s got a whole new vocabulary of coos and squeaks, and has great head control and legs. She’s going to be unstoppable when she figures out how to roll, which looks to be very soon.

Lillian and DaddyYes, I’ve been a slacker. Being a new mom is not conducive to well, anything except nursing, changing diapers, and trying to sleep. In addition, we’ve been dealing with some digestive issues with Lillian that have necessitated me cutting out dairy and soy. Do you know how hard it is to avoid all dairy and soy? Really freaking hard. Pretty much eating out and any prepared food at all – anything that comes frozen or bottled – is out. I now have to read ingredient lists obsessively, call restaurants in advance and ask about what they cook with, and mostly just cook all my own food. And while this is probably way healthier than the plethora of junk food we enjoyed during Lillian’s first six weeks, it is very time consuming. I’m kind of over it. It’s been three weeks so far and there’s no end in sight. Some of Lillian’s more distressing symptoms are gone (specs of blood in the diaper, discomfort) but some remain (lots and lots of green poop. you asked).

Have you ever heard of soy lethicin? Neither had I until this happened. It’s in EVERYTHING. And so is soy oil. Crisco, margarine, and vegetable oil are all made from soy. It turns out soy is way harder to avoid than dairy.

On the plus side, we’ve re-upped our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture – weekly organic vegetables) subscription and have started shopping at the farmer’s market on the weekend. I’ve also become a huge fan of Jamie Oliver’s Food Nation. He’s right – there are way too many ingredients in most of the food we get at the store. Everything at the farmer’s market is made locally and doesn’t have ingredients you don’t recognize. It’s nice. We’re subsisting mainly on rice, vegetables, and meat. And that’s not a bad thing really. Because bacon is meat. Bacon is my new cheese.

Meanwhile, the baby is doing great. Her skin looks great, she’s sleeping great. She’s cute as a button. Well, cuter because who ever said buttons were cute? But she’s dang cute. She’s 10 weeks old, is hopefully approaching 10 lbs, and is 10x more fun than she was a few weeks ago. Lots of smiling, happy shrieking, scooting, and general trouble-making. And mama is having a hard time not buying her cute new clothes every day.

Lillian and Daddy

Hanging out with Daddy

Playgroup

Rocking the Bjorn

Two months!

Modeling the latest in Carter's Coture

Categories

%d bloggers like this: