Life is Rich…E-R-S-O-N

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Archive for Bein' a Mom

My beef with Baby Center

Baby Center.com was my best friend when I was pregnant.  I could google ANYTHING – and Baby Center would usually be the top hit.  I joined as a member and even “chatted” on some of the member forums (please stop making fun of me in your mind…I also belong to a LOST forum, on which I have spent many-a-hour feeling dumb by talking to smart LOST watchers…).  Anyway – Baby Center was great.  It would email me each week with a little paragraph about my baby’s development (it does leave a lot to be desired because one teeny little paragraph was just not quite enough for me and my paranoia quest for knowledge) and I would read it and feel so great about the fact that my baby had eyelashes.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, Baby Center just got plain ole mean.  It kept telling me I was gaining weight by POUNDS each WEEK which is just not what I wanted to hear.  Uh, excuse me BabyCenter, you don’t know me or my weight so just relax with the weight gain talk.

Well, after Baby was born, Baby Center continued to tell me about my baby as she aged.  Each week, by golly, Baby Center was sending me all sorts of stuff, and I was eating it up.  At first I thought it was wonderful…“Dear Erin, Your newborn baby will sleep all day and eat a lot.  She might even open her eyes to look at you once, but don’t worry if they are crossed. And, you will be tired.” Dead on BabyCenter.  Good work.

About 8 weeks into it (or somewhere around there), Baby Center decides to send a new email: “Dear Erin, Your baby should be grasping rattles and making them shake.  She will bat at objects in her sight.  She should be able to reach for a toy held just out of her reach.  Her head control is great at this time and she loves to sit up and reach for bright colored toys.  And, you will still be tired.” Well, Baby wasn’t doing these things at all, but I was one up on Baby Center because I wasn’t tired! HA!  Anyway, Baby looked at stuff, but certainly wasn’t grasping them, let alone batting at them.  And, her head was still lollygagging all over the place.  But, regardless of the small disclaimer at the bottom of the emails (all babies develop differently) Baby Center KEPT TELLING ME THE SAME THINGS!  Email upon email would tell me these things.  I was starting to get very annoyed.  Well, Baby Center, ya know what?  BACK OFF.  We’re working on it. We’ve got saucers, and toys hanging from every stupid thing we own, and by golly, sometimes she’d rather just put her OWN hands in her mouth and not a stupid crinkly noise toy.  SHEESH.

Around that same time, I noticed something happening to me as well.  I had clumps, YES, clumps of hair coming out.  I was beginning to think something was wrong with me and I’d acquired some new disease.  Weeks went by, and my hair kept falling out.  (I wasn’t bald by any means, but was worried that was coming!)  Well, good ole Baby Center decides to tell me about post partum hair loss SIXTEEN WEEKS after giving birth.  “Dear Erin, Your hair is probably falling out.  You probably noticed 4-6 weeks ago.  It’s normal and your hair won’t be regular again until about 1 year post partum.” HELLO?  Where were you 4 weeks ago when this started.  You are so quick to jump the gun on the grasping of rattles and super head control, but when MY hair is falling out  you decide to wait a little bit before giving me a clue about this fun fact.  Thanks a lot for all your helpful tips, Baby Center.  Love ya.

Rasta, Mon (insert your best Jamaican accent here)

I thought as you get used to having a baby things start becoming more natural and normal.  I also thought that between Husband and me, with combined qualificiations of two bachelor’s degrees and two Master’s degrees (ahem, the Master’s are both mine…not that I’m bragging…I’m just sayin’…), we were almost over qualified for the job of having a baby.  I mean, really….between the two of us, we have taught thousands of children in our careers (…this also makes choosing a name for your child VERY difficult….) and I was pretty sure that it would be difficult, but we’re not idiots.  C’Mon…how could we mess this up?

So, yesterday, as I get Baby ready for church in her darling striped dress that her Aunt gave her.  (People will give you ugly clothes….my sister in law is not one of those people.  Everyone should know her simply because she knows how and where to find the cutest baby clothes.) I try to smooth out her hair in the back.  Baby’s hair is trying very hard to be curly.  On a nice humid day, Husband and I don’t look that great with our frizzy curls.  He keeps his short and I spend a lot of time trying to fool people into thinking that my hair is actually straight.  I do my best to help Baby’s hair know that it should stay straight, too, but it I think it will end up having some curl.  And, since Baby’s hair is “baby fine”, it really just gets kinda….icky in the back.  Anyway….

Back to getting her ready for church.  I begin the smoothing process thinking it would just smooth itself out and be fine.  Well, APPARENTLY, sometime in the night, Bob Marley snuck into my house and gave Baby a new hairdo fit for the Jamaican bobsled team.  What in the world?  I KNOW I brush her hair.  Sure, she has a good amount of hair, but it is the consistency of spiderwebs.  How tangled can it get?  I’m Cousin It compared to Baby and my hair doesn’t get that tangled.

Needless to say, these new dreads on Baby do not “comb out”.  In fact, that makes them worse.  (Note to self: Do not comb out dreadlocks.)  It also makes Baby very annoyed at me.  So I did what any mom (who should apparently know to comb her baby’s hair multiple times a day) would do and I got out my scissors.  And I cut those little buggers out.  And now, Baby looks oh-so-much better with her four weird bald spots and a mom that carries a comb around all day.

Shoulda just left it….  Shoulda….just….left….it.  Good call, Miss I Have Two Master’s.  Sheesh.

The first real day of maternity leave

Today was the first day I would have HAD to go back to work.  My maternity leave was deferred because I had Baby in the summer time, after the school year had ended.  (If you don’t know, I am a teacher…)  Maternity leave: each day will start with a good 3-4 mile run (please see My Cure for the Race on how that would have worked out…), then a wonderful protein breakfast, followed  by quality time teaching Baby EVERYTHING so she can start reading chapter books by 6 months of age, enjoy a nice hour long lunch with a friend or my mom or my sister in law and her kids, and then have dinner ready for Husband after watching anything other than Oprah (I really dislike Oprah, but will comment later….).

So, today all my work friends sharpened pencils, put up bulletin boards, laminated things, went to meetings, and made grandiose plans for this school year, while I stayed home and followed all my plans…

Instead, I woke up at 4:30am (again, this is after Baby had slept 9 hours….so don’t feel sorry for me).  I fed Baby, and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I checked Facebook (Why has NO ONE updated their status yet??? UGH!)  I took my Dad to the airport at 7am while drinking 100 cups of coffee (although Baby slept 9 hours, I decided to stay up late after book club and watch TV for awhile….).  I then got dressed, and went shopping at TWO different stores for punch out letters for Husband (he’s a teacher, too, and needed help with bulletin boards.).  I then drive to Husband’s school, and start laminating, cutting out shapes, and putting together bulletin boards after eating a fast 10 minute lunch.  All of this while taking breaks to feed and burp and play with Baby.

Seriously?  This is NOT how I planned it.  I’m not supposed to be doing ANY of these things.  There has been no running today…lunch was 10 minutes IN MY CAR…I did have an egg for breakfast…and I didn’t even get to catch up on Big Brother OR teach Baby how to read. (Did I mention that I STOLE my own bulletin board stuff from MY classroom and took it to Husband’s school for HIS bulletin boards???)  The rate I’m going I’ll be volunteering in my own classroom tomorrow morning while I pay out of pocket for day care that isn’t supposed to start until 12 weeks from now….


Knock on Wood

Last night, Husband and I were talking about how we certainly must be “lucky” because we have an easy baby.  For the last week, she has slept a good 7 – 9 hours each night solid, and wakes up with a smile, and we really felt like we might be the only people who have had it this “easy”.  But, when we stopped and really thought about it, we came to the conclusion that people must feel lucky when they have an “easy” baby because all you ever hear about are people who have difficult ones.  Is it really luck of the draw?  Do we need to hold our breath every time we get pregnant hoping we “luck out” and get a baby that is easy?  It can’t be this hap-hazard, can it?

No one ever talks about easy babies.  No one ever talks about easy labors or easy deliveries.  And since I’ve never been one for a verbal filter…I’m gonna go ahead and talk about mine.  I think people should talk about it if it is easy – because I don’t think first time moms need to go through pregnancy holding their breath thinking labor and delivery is the worst ever every time or that as soon as that baby comes out it cries for 3 months straight.  The cruddy part for me came on my own body afterwards, and only because I wasn’t aware these thing happen.  People only share horror stories it seems.  And that isn’t how it happens for everyone – or at least not for me.

I was induced in order to have my baby.  The only negative to my story is that I had a TERRIBLE 1st trimester +4 weeks and a very painful 3rd trimester and I think my doctor felt sorry for me and let me be induced….regardless it really worked in my favor.  Back to induction.  I started on pitocin at 7:30am, water broken at 9:30, was tired of having contractions by 11:00 and got an epidural.  I hadn’t felt that great in a few months, and literally 5 minutes after getting that epidural I cried because I couldn’t feel the pain in my hips for the first time in a long time.  It was AMAZING.  After that, I hung out and enjoyed my day.  My doctor was paged when it was time for delivery, but Baby was already making her entrance.  Luckily a different doctor was standing in the hallway at the time, because he was grabbed to come in and deliver.  I looked at the clock when they put my feet in the stirrups.  The minute hand was between 5:29 and 5:30pm.  He told me to push, and I did…9 times, 10 seconds each with a breath in between.  At 5:35pm my baby was out and I was finished.  Piece of cake…. seriously.

At three weeks old, Baby was able to sleep about 4 – 5 hours at night for her “long sleep period” the majority of nights.  Books and such call this “sleeping through the night”.  Really?  I’m pretty sure sleeping through the night for me would be a good 10 hours, but maybe that’s just me.  Regardless of the definition, Baby started sleeping longer and longer at night with each passing week.  I was tired, sure, 5 hours isn’t enough for me.  But it was better than one or two, or ZERO.  We can now put her to bed with wide awake eyes, and she will go to sleep, and she will sleep for 7-9 hours.  I can also put her to sleep in the daytime, eyes wide open, no fussing, and she will take a good nap.

Baby doesn’t cry much.  Sure – she let’s you know if she’s hungry, or needs her pacifier, or has dirty pants, but other than that she likes to gurgle and “talk” to me.  She smiles a lot (and not just at Husband anymore!).  She likes to look at Crazy (our puppy) with his white flash on his black face.  She smiled and giggled today when I took her hand and put in on his fur.  Grumpy was out chewing his bone so he missed out on the pets.

I can count on one hand the times where I have been so frustrated that I wanted to cry in the last 9 weeks due to the baby and I would say 3 out of 5 of those, it was only because she was needing to eat sooner than we expected.  One time was because she had gotten shots and the house was hot and so she was hot.  There has never been a time when she cries simply for no reason and I love her for that.  Every noise she makes has a reason, and I love that I know what each one means.

She sleeps, eats, and poops like clockwork.  Maybe I’m getting used to having a baby, or being a mom is becoming more second nature than something I have to think about consciously.  Regardless, people should know that some babies are easy, and I (knock on wood) got one…luck or not.  I know there are several of you out there that would like to punch me right now, and I’m sorry.

My Cure for the Race

I used to be a runner….not in the sense that I was running marathons every weekend…I probably averaged about 20-25 miles a week.  Regardless of how far you go or how fast you pace, I say you are a runner if you run…even if it is only to the bathroom when you really have to go…

I stopped running while I was pregnant because, honestly, I was afraid to do it.  But, after that baby came out, I was a determined woman.  I signed up for Race for the Cure when Baby was 2 months old and was sure it would be just like old times…breathing crisp, morning air in my lungs, hearing the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, watching the cracks in the sidewalk going by…it was going to be awesome.

Well, I wake up the morning of the race to go meet my team (we raced for a friend’s mom who is a Survivor) and 29,000 of my closest KC running friends downtown only to find out that the high temperature of the day was to be 95 degrees with 5000% humidity and last night’s low was a chilling 77.  Still, I am determined to rejoin my running community with full force regardless of the temperature.  It would STILL be like old times….minus the crispness of the morning air.

I arrive at the starting line and am already sweaty and red faced.  Seriously?  I count the walk from the car to the starting line as my warm up seeing that we had to park a good mile away or so and figure that was good enough.  Plus, the emcee said “GO” right when I got to the starting line, so I had no choice.  I was off….

The first steps were exhilirating!  “I still got it, I own this race” I sing to myself as I went up the first hill.  Then I realize am in WAY OVER MY HEAD.  What was I thinking?  After the first 5 minutes I can’t even breathe normally and my stretched out stomach skin (gross, I know) is swaying back and forth so I have to adjust my stride.  Forget ‘listening to the sound of my feet hitting the pavement’.  All I could hear was my heart pounding louder and louder with each step I took.  But I was committed – and I tell you – I ran with gusto.  And walked.  And ran a little slower.  And walked.  And then jogged a little bit.  You get the idea….

The finish line in my sights, I decide I need to finish with all I’ve got.  Plus, there were several people there watching me and I certainly didn’t want them to notice how extremely tired and out of shape I am.  Forty minutes after starting this brilliant idea, I cross the line.  Forty minutes?  I’m pretty sure people can WALK 3 miles faster than that.  Seriously, a nice saunter and you could beat my amazing 40 minutes.

At least now I get to go eat breakfast and go home.  Once home, I realize that my legs have cramped up to the point that I walk like Frankenstein.  My knees are achy, my feet feel slightly swollen in my shoes, and my hips a clickety clicking with each step.  I admit to Husband it was difficult and that I hadn’t worked that hard in a LONG time.  He says very nicely, “Yeah – it’s been about 9 weeks.”  How sweet Husband is, to remind me of my hard work to birth our beautiful baby, and acknowledge this difficult task of bringing life into the world.  It would have been a great moment to relish in, but instead, with my crampy legs, achy knees, and swollen feet,  ALL I could think about is how much better I would feel if I could just get another epidural after my sad little 5K performance.  Plus, then I could eat all the popsicles I wanted…..

5 more things…about AFTER the baby is born

Please click here for things #1-5 about what I wish I’d have known about after the baby is born….

6) Your brain will continue to forget things.  You know how when you got pregnant you stopped remembering ENTIRE conversations?  Well – don’t hold your breath because it doesn’t come back anytime soon after that baby comes out.  This is the main reason on why I will have to post items in a series of 5….I simply cannot remember anything more than that.  I forget to eat dinner, I forget that I have to go to the bathroom, I forget to feed my dogs, I forget the reason why I go into the kitchen (Oh yeah – to take my birth control pill….)

7) There is a smell. (I really should have put this in #1-5, but in my defense see #6.)  Look up the word Lochia and just know that if you had a sensitive smell issue while pregnant, please know it will continue and this amazing cleansing of your body is very distinct.  I will say no more unless we are good friends.  Just putting it out there.  No one told me.  You may be different…I have a really heightened sense of smell to begin with.

8.)  Your tolerance for any type of alcohol is nil. I don’t care if you were one cocktail away from calling Dr. Drew, or if you had a random glass of wine here and there before you got pregnant.  The first drink even containing a small amount of alcohol will require a long nap and a ride home.

9)  Feeding in the middle of the night will not take 5 minutes.  This was a shocker for me – and it could just be due to the horrible phrase that helps no one “all babies are different”.  Baby would wake in the night, eat, and take about 45 – 90 minutes to go back to sleep AFTER eating.  (Of course when my husband would feed her, she would go back to sleep in say, 20 minutes.  I like to think that was because Baby knew from the start who was more entertaining and wanted to stay up and talk about E! News…)  Regardless of what your baby does, don’t think it is like getting up to let out a puppy….it takes MUCH longer (at least for us….)

10)  It is quite possible that your baby might save those first smiles for someone other than you. Ugh – does it get more annoying?  After all that morning sickness, heartburn, hip pain, sciatica, weight gain, AND hard work of childbirth (OK – my childbirth experience was fantastic and easy but the girl in the room next to me that same day was really letting us all know how much it should hurt….) that first smile is probably gonna go to the one person who made a contribution and then waited out the entire process with ease.  I worked VERY hard for some smiles while Husband was out of town for 4 days when Baby was 6 weeks old.  I probably got one or two smiles over the four days (sing “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”….my baby LOVES it).  Husband walks in, looks at Baby, says NOTHING, and Baby gives the biggest grin and coo.  Now – I think my husband is very cute and definitely worth smiling at – but STILL……

5 things I wish I’d have known…for AFTER the baby is born

So I had a baby 8 weeks ago.  It was my first baby and, needless to say, there are things that just aren’t talked about in What to Expect When you’re Expecting in that last part covering the six weeks after.  It’s a great book, don’t get me wrong (a little conservative for me…my doc gave the OK on Mr. Goodcents deli sandwiches…thank the LORD!!!).  Here’s what I wish someone would have told me…not that it would change things (well a few things maybe would have changed) but still…

1)  You turn into a crazy person. (And you thought you were crazy while pregnant-I’m NOT a crier and I BAWLED when the girls wearing pink shirts came in last on The Amazing Race and were eliminated during my 2nd trimester….)  For real – craziness takes over as soon as that baby comes out.  Warn people ahead of time that you will become crazy and that there is no rhyme or reason for the craziness.  You aren’t even crazy about the baby – you did that in the 3rd trimester.  This is new crazy…about nothing and everything all at once.

2)  You may not LOVE LOVE LOVE your baby like a cheesy movie right from the start and that is OK. Now – those of you who think I am heartless, you have a point, but hear me out.  I loved my baby – from the moment I found out I was pregnant the moment my morning sickness all day/night sickness went away.  But when the baby is born you may expect music and a quartet of sopranos singing “ahhhh” and a feeling like no other.  I didn’t have that.  There were tears, sure, but that is only because the mirror that I requested NOT be there was showing me things I didn’t want to see.  You need to realize that, like any relationship, it may take time to build and realize who the other person is.  So, it is OK if you need some time to get to know your baby….it was normal for me.

3)  Breastfeeding is hard and it’s OK if you hate it and switch to formula.  (Please remember these are my own personal opinions on breastfeeding, and I realize that, much like the decision to wear white shoes after labor day, many people have strong opinions that probably differ from mine….)  First off, when your milk comes in, it feels like you have gotten hit by a train but only in the chest.  You swell up, big time.  I looked like Pamela Anderson, minus Kid Rock and the blonde hair.  And when books describe them as “hard” – you have no idea.  Rocks, frozen meat, knots on trees – you get it.  It was awful.  I was determined to breastfeed my baby because everything I read said it was best (and plus it was free and I was gonna lose weight!).  Well, baby had a hard time latching, and lost weight (a LOT of weight – not the generic <5% like most people’s babies).  So I pumped while the baby ate from bottle for a few weeks.  I spent the time that baby was eating locked in my bedroom pumping – because my breasts were so huge and engorged.  So I felt as if I developed a relationship with my pump and not my baby.  Then we would try again to feed “the normal way” and it was frustrating each time.  After much deliberation and hysterical crying (see #1 “you turn into a crazy person”) I decided to go to 100% formula and started the drying out process.  I felt horrible, but when I thought it all out my mom and husband helped me realize it was okay, I knew my baby would be great if I used formula!  Afterall, I was formula fed and I have a job….   In sum, if it doesn’t work out for you – don’t beat yourself up.  You do what is best for YOU and YOUR BABY.

4)  Drying out is quite possible the worst thing ever.  Yowser.  Just when you think it can’t get worse with the whole milk-coming-in process, you decide to dry out.  Rewind all those same feelings of hardness, getting hit by a train, etc and push play.  Apparently drying out is not so bad if you have breastfed for several months.  Well – I did only two weeks of pumping and the drying out process was terrible.  My advice (coming from my nurse) DO NOT stimulate, DO NOT let warm water relieve you in the shower, DO NOT pump for even a second to let some of the pressure go.  Go cold turkey, wear a sports bra (or two!) all day, every day, until you no longer leak.  Oh the leaking….Let’s just say those little circular pads you can get to stuff in your bra didn’t cut it.  I used the maxis they sent home with me from the hospital AND towels cut in circles to soak it all up.  Again – I know it is vivid – but gals need to know!!!!

5) People WANT to help you. LET THEM.  They aren’t doing it because they feel sorry for you – they are excited for you and understand how hard it is to have a newborn.  Take their food.  Let them hold your baby while you eat (or shower!).  If your baby cries while they are there, THEY DON’T CARE!  If they want to clean for you, LET THEM.  Or hire a cleaning service (this I did in trimester 3 because I couldn’t bend over, or move really, and my husband admitted he didn’t want to take over the cleaning….).  Seriously – get all the help you can and LOVE it.  Because when it is gone – you will miss it.