Monday, January 31, 2011

Someone throw me a rope please

The leftover Halloween candy is officially gone. So is the lemon cake I made last week, of which Matt ate only one tiny piece. Also gone is the bag of Reese's Cups, package of Twizzlers, and can of Pringles purchased to curb a pigout craving. And lastly, gone is the little bit of waistline I had begun to get back. I'm in an emotional eating black hole, and I can't muster up the will to climb out of it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A voice only a daughter could love

I melt whenever Addison smiles, but I especially melt when she smiles because I'm singing to her. I sound terrible when I sing, but her praise has me feeling otherwise. Here's a video of might want to turn your volume down (-:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Let's make it official

Me: "So, when are we gonna get married?"
Matt: (Insert caught-off-guard-not-sure-what-to-say smile) "When I propose."
Me: "Awww, come on.... (eyes roll) don't need to do all that. We already have a baby, and I think we're doing pretty good."
Matt: (chuckling, but he's kind of annoyed I think) "Yeah, we are..."
Me: "So, let's just make it official."
Matt: "I want to do it right. I want to do something the traditional way."

Man is he gonna be upset when he finds out I have no desire to have a wedding. There are a gazillion other way more important things we could spend that money on (non-existent money, at that). Like Monica on 'Friends' once said: I want a marriage, not a wedding.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Life Letters

On the day I was born, my father wrote me a letter. It's three notebook pages, handwritten in blue ink on the front and back of each page, complete with scribbles over his mistakes. It talks about his hopes and dreams for me as I grow up, and what kind of a person he hoped he could teach me to be. It describes how deep a parent's love is, and how it cannot be measured in increments small enough to compare his love for my sister to his love for me. It mentions his political views and the state of our country in 1980. It's a memoir of what their life was like when I was brought into it. He gave me this letter on my 16th birthday, along with a second letter. This letter recapped the past 16 years, touching on my depression and my mom's death, and confirming that I, in fact, turned out exactly as he hoped I would - bright, mature, respectful, hard-working. I will forever treasure these letters.

While pregnant with Addy, I was excited at the thought of getting to write my own letter to my daughter on the day of her birth. I pondered what I would write, not wanting to copy my father's words, but wanting to express the same ideals. I had decided to handwrite the letter as well, and included paper and pen on my list of items for the hospital bag. Unfortunately, the letter was never written. I quickly realized that, while my dad had time to get his thoughts on paper after I was born, my mom was busy feeding me and getting as much rest as she could. In the few days after her birth, it was impossible for me to take the time to write a letter. And after a few days, once the baby blues really kicked in, I was in no frame of mind to put my thoughts on paper.

I told myself I'd write it on her one month birthday, then her two month birthday, and now I've moved it to the day she turns one. I've rationalized this by thinking, "Cool, that way I can include a recap of her first year!" In truth, I'm really quite upset with myself that the letter was not written on the day of her birth. The whole point was to capture that day - in emotions, hopes, fears, dreams, politics, descriptions - and I can't get that day back. I let myself down, but moreso, I feel like I let her down.

Guest Blogger: Addison Marie

Lll                                                                                                                                                                         0000000000000000000000000                                                                                                                               ,     .,,,,,,,,       mfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff ,          n     jcccc                                                                                  c                                   ?/  

Translated: "Why are we sitting down, Mom? You need to be pacing the floor with me so my gas bubbles can work themselves out. This thing I'm touching is kinda cool though. I guess I can relax for a minute or two. But don't get comfortable."


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Til death do us part

I've always had the mentality that death is the only certainty in life - it's perfectly normal and when it happens, it happens. I don't believe in heaven or hell, or any kind of afterlife. I think that when you die, that's it. Lights out. You don't know any better. My mom died when I was 12 years old. She had suffered from a lung disease for two years, so when she passed away, it was a relief in many ways. Sure, I was sad, but I was also thankful that she was no longer suffering. Even at the age of 12, I wasn't afraid of death.

Shortly before she died, she sat on the couch between my sister and I, hugging us both, to talk about our futures without her. She expressed how sad she was that she wouldn't be at our high school graduations or our weddings, or be there when we had our own babies. It seemed difficult for her to get these words out. My sister and I both cried, but told her that she shouldn't worry because she was going to get better and she would be there for all of our big life events. I believe she died a couple weeks later, maybe sooner.

Over the past 18 years, I've never been sad that my mom hasn't been here for big moments. That is, until the day Addison was born. Becoming a mother changed my perspective, and the vulnerability of bringing life into this world left me feeling very sad for my mom. I can only imagine how difficult it was for her to look at us every day, knowing that her days were numbered. Sometimes when I look at Addison, usually when she's sleeping or nursing, my mind wanders to thoughts of how little time we might have together. One day, I will die and she will be without a mother. I hope that day comes long after her high school graduation, her wedding, and the births of her own babies. I've also thought about the possibility that one day, I might be the one losing a daughter. It's possible that she will die before me, and I hope that day never comes.

Becoming a mother has changed me in one very deep way - I can now say I am scared of dying. And I've realized that a side effect of being scared of dying is finally feeling that life is a gift.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

At least one of us slept

As I type this, Addison is approaching her eighth hour of sleep - in a row. Did I really just type that?!? Given that she's almost three months old, this might not seem so 'big news' to some people. But this is the longest stretch she's ever slept. And it's come after 5 nights of (roughly) the following:

Start bedtime at 7:00 with a feeding
Keep upright so gas/hiccups/reflux are kept to a minimum
Pace floor for one hour as she screams because the gas hurts
Swaddle because she's calm for a few minutes
Unswaddle because she wont stop squirming in an attempt to push out gas
Pace floor for another hour
Change diaper
Feed again around 10:00
Keep upright so gas/hiccups/reflux are kept to a minimum
Pace floor for one hour as she screams because the gas hurts
Swaddle when given the opportunity
Pace floor for twenty minutes once she's finally settled down and closed her eyes
Lay her in crib and wish there were higher powers so I could pray to them that she stays asleep
Climb in bed at midnight
Get up at 4:00
Repeat the above until 7:00

So right now, at 7:40am, she's been sleeping since midnight. She woke up at 4:00, but was able to work out the gas herself. It took her a good 40 minutes, which I listened to on the monitor, just waiting for her to let out the "come get me now, please" cry. It never came, and I lost valuable sleep. Then I woke up every hour, looked at the clock, and listened to the monitor, assuming she'd be up at any minute. So I've decided, going forward, I'm turning off the monitor at night. If she's gonna sleep, damnit, I am too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How I know life will never be the same...

I'm singing the line 'Let's Get It On' in Marvin Gaye style to Addy while trying to put her clean diaper on.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Product Review: Gas/Colic Remedies

Addison is an extremely gassy baby, poor thing. At this point, it's nearly the only reason she ever cries, and it happens every day without fail. There are a couple of holding positions that work best to help move the gas bubbles along, but we spend about two hours every day (mostly at bedtime) waiting for her to pass her gas. Last night, the bedtime routine took five hours. I went through two feedings, two diaper changes, three swaddling attempts, multiple Jewel Lullaby songs, and three rotations of The Ocean. She finally stayed asleep beginning at midnight, and she slept six hours.

I've read a lot of articles regarding infant gas issues, and talked to our pediatrician. The good news is this is likely to go away by six months of age. The bad news is, that's more than three months from now, and I'm running out of stamina. We've tried three products that claim to relieve infant gas, colic, and hiccups. I've decided to review them, because I know I'm not the only mother out there dealing with this issue. What works for my baby wont work for all, but I think personal testimonials are always nice. Afterall, the fancy packaging doesn't tell you everything.

Product: Mylicon Infant Gas Drops
Cost: $9.00
Available at: Babies R Us, all drugstores
Addison's reaction: Tastes great! She stops crying long enough to process the great taste, then immediately starts crying again.
My thoughts: Doesn't do a damn thing to help the gas move along. It only works on the gas at the top of the intestines; it's supposed to gather up the small air bubbles into a larger bubble, making it easier to burp up. It does not affect the gas that has already moved into the intestines, which of course is where the problem lies.

Product: Colic Calm
Cost: $19.00
Available at: According to their website, any CVS. According to reality, only the CVS in the ghetto of Akron.
Addison's reaction: Tastes interesting....not really sure...yeah, this stuff is okay.
My thoughts: This is a horrible product to dispense into a tiny human. It contains vegetable carbon. Carbon, in case you aren't aware, is black and very messy. This stuff is really thick, black, and stains anything it touches. The dispenser that comes with it doesn't push smoothly, so my first attempt at giving this to her resulted in her choking because I pushed too hard and the entire contents shot into her mouth - she jerked her head, and I stabbed the corner of her jaw with the dropper. Thick and messy black liquid went everywhere except down her throat. Not a happy moment for any of us.  Once she finally swallowed some, we could hear it working immediately. Lots of stuff was happening inside of her digestive system. Unfortunately, she didn't stop crying and the gas was not relieved, and she didn't poop for two days, which really had me worried.

Product: Wellements Gripe Water
Cost: $11.00
Available at: Walgreens
Addison's reaction: Tastes awful! Get this thing out of my mouth pronto!
My thoughts: Within five minutes of swallowing some, she started farting. She farted a lot. But we still didn't get her calmed down and in bed for another three hours. I had high hopes for this product, but today she spent the entire day crying about gas again, and Matt gave her gripe water with both feedings he did while I was at work. And she woke up from bedtime after sleeping for 45 minutes.

So my conclusion....try whatever you want, maybe something will work for you. Looks like we're just gonna have to wait this one out. FML.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Good Morning Mom!

Addy isn't a baby that spits up often. When she does, it's usually just a thick clump on our shoulder or sleeve. It happens so infrequently that I don't ever use a burp cloth on my shoulder. Not that it would have helped today. As I was moving Addy into the over-the-shoulder burp position, imagine my delight when a waterfall of spit up flowed right down between my boobs and into my nursing cami. Awesome. Thanks honey, I love you too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Top 10 Must-Haves for Birth to 2 Months

I'm a planner at heart. I like to be prepared. I freak out when I'm not. So when I was pregnant, I searched for a list that would tell me every item I would need to help take care of a baby. There was no single list that made me feel at ease, so I chose two of the best and combined them. After an initial registry shopping trip with a dear friend, I returned to the store with lists in hand and completed my baby registry. From bibs and onesies, down to the exact number of washcloths the lists said I needed, I asked for it all and I felt prepared. Now that baby is here, and we're two months into taking care of her, I have to say I think the lists did a pretty good job. In fact, there hasn't been a single item I've purchased that I failed to include since she's arrived. I do, however, have a stack of adorable receiving blankets that I can't seem to find a decent use for.

During the past two months, I have become very good friends with certain baby products. They are highly convenient, baby-friendly, make every day tasks easier, the best in their category, or simply help save my sanity. Here's my top 10 must-haves that I would be lost without:

10. Foaming head-to-toe baby soap in a pump dispenser:  
Why? Because the pump makes it super easy to use and it washes off clean.
9. Clip-on pacifier case:  
Why? Because it's always readily accessible for when she suddenly
decides she's pissed off.

8. Grass drying pad:
Why? One, it's way cuter than the chinsy white plastic drying
towers. Two, it easily holds the myriad of bottle part shapes and sizes.
7. One piece, full length outfits, with feet included, that zip or snap down the front:
Why? Because trying to put clothing on over an infant's head drives
 me over the edge, and socks don't really stay on the feet.
6. Crib sheet saver:
Why? Because it's a pain in the ass to change a crib sheet.
If she spits up or drools in her sleep, I only have to change this.
Plus, it's nice and soft against her pretty little face.

5. The Boppy:
Why? Because nursing is hard enough, so a little support is nice.

4. A portable swing:
Why? One, I can take it upstairs or downstairs. Two, it occupies her for
a brief time so my arms can have a rest. Three (I'm pretty sure this
applies only to this swing and only to my baby), she finds great
enjoyment with watching the gears moving, and I find great enjoyment
in hearing her coo at it.
3. Disposable diapers: 
Why? Because I can't imagine finding the time to clean the cloth diapers.
 2. Noise machine (aka, The Ocean):
Why? Because I enjoy listening to it on the monitor as much
as she obviously enjoys having noise when falling asleep.

1. Handmade blankets for swaddling:
Why? Because they are big enough to swaddle, and just the right
thickness so she's not too warm or cool. Sorry people, you can't
buy these anywhere. You'd have to hunt down our family friend
Shelia, who would probably be thrilled to make you a couple.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The first two months (Disclaimer: It's raw)

How can I effectively summarize how I feel about my first two months as a mother? One thought: Why the hell does anyone do this more than once? Thankfully, I'm beginning to discover some answers to that question. I'll be talking about those a lot more in blog posts to come; for now, I'll try to recap my not-so-pleasant start to mommyhood.

A few people closest to me have asked if I think I'm experiencing baby blues or the more serious post partum depression. While I do think it's a very fine line between the two, I'm comfortable saying it's an extreme case of the baby blues, with a focus on the continued mourning of life as I knew it. Most people, and professionals included, would probably disagree, but I know myself better than any of them. I'm quite intimate with the every day depression that I've carried around with me for 15 years. Although I can answer 'yes' to nearly every bulletpoint listed on a post partum depression checklist (including having suicidal thoughts), I know my boundaries. For 15 years, suicide has been an option in my head, and often times, a much desired option. 14 years ago, I attempted it. It sounds awful, but I would almost consider it my security blanket. When I reach the point where I feel so out of control, so helpless, and completely worthless, the thought of suicide is comforting -- to know that if I really, really wanted to, I could end it all and wouldn't have to feel anything anymore.  So two weeks into motherhood, when I haven't left the house yet, my hoo-ha has an unstitched gaping wound, every 30 minutes my boobs are being summoned, I still look 6 months pregnant, I'm unable to control ANYTHING, and I cannot even vaguely begin to figure out what the hell the baby is crying for, it doesn't surprise me at all that my thoughts would turn to suicide. Why would I be okay with this you ask? Because at the same time, I was totally pissed off that suicide was no longer an option. It's not just me anymore. This tiny little human needs me. She needs my milk, she needs my voice, she needs my touch. As I said, I know my boundaries. I will never be so selfish as to willingly leave her.

I listed in a previous post reasons why I would make a terrible mother. Those all stand true, and that's why I say the first two months were filled with mourning the loss of life as I knew it. I've had to change most everything about the way I operate, and that's a lot to take on, especially when also getting to know my new baby. I suspect that if I had been blogging through the process, the majority of blogs would have been about the torture of breastfeeding, my anxiety about the house being messy, my rising irritability with Matt and his inability to take initiative, and the extreme imbalance of parenting duties that the mother has to bear. Little by little, I'm starting to accept all of the above, and do whatever I can to make them less obtrusive to my well-being.

The first two months were filled with what feels like enough tears to compete with Niagara Falls. I was unable to enjoy Addison at all. When I looked at her, I felt nothing but a heavy burden. I did not feel love, and that created extreme feelings of guilt and worthlessness. I was honest with Matt about my feelings, but I think he brushed them off because he wasn't quite sure what to do. I was very, very scared that those feelings would not subside, but thankfully, they have. As Addison smiles more and more, has started to maintain what can *almost* be called a schedule, and feeds just about every 3 hours, I've been able to let her in and allow myself to find joy in her existence. I love her a little more with each day, and now I can understand why people do this more than once. I'm not quite there yet - right now I still feel like one is plenty for me - but I might get there one day.


Addison Marie

Born November 5, 2010 at 3:13pm
6 lbs. 10 oz., 20.5 inches long
100% precious

I was in labor for 13 hours. Steady contractions started at 2am, and by 3am they had moved from 8 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart. I went upstairs, woke Matt up and said "You're not going to work today honey."  By 5am, we were on our way to the hospital.

I went into this wanting to last as long as possible without an epidural, but was also realistic in knowing that I have a fairly low tolerance for pain (the nurses holding my hands during contractions tried to tell me otherwise, but I think they were just being nice). At 9am, with my contractions barely a minute apart, I made peace with the situation and begged for the epidural. Everything was amazing after that, even actually getting the epidural.

Around 1pm, it was time to push (and of course, this came 5 minutes after I had decided to finally take a nap). My sister held one leg and Matt held the other. I could feel the pressure of everything, but there was no pain. With every push, all four people in the room made it seem like the next push was going to be "the one". Assholes. "The one" didn't come for over two hours. At 3:13pm, our then unnamed baby girl made her debut.

There's a picture of what my facial expression looked like as they were checking her over. I think the look can best be described as indifferent. I was expecting, hoping rather, that I would experience the euphoric feeling of total awesomeness that everyone says happens when you see your new baby for the first time. Honestly, I think I felt...nothing. Maybe I didn't know what to feel. Maybe my mind couldn't process everything the was going on fast enough for me to discover any emotion. The only thing I remember thinking is "Holy crap, that thing over there belongs to me. Wait, it belongs to me? How did I get here?" The experience was very surreal. As I stumble through this new world of parenthood, I try to keep in mind the following

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new.  ~Rajneesh

I'm as new at this as she is. Mistakes will be made, tears will be shed, some days will be good and others will be very, very bad. In the end, I hope I'm able to teach her as much as she's already taught me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Pregnancy

I am one of the lucky ones - I experienced a wonderful pregnancy, from start to finish. I never got sick, I never had heartburn, I didn't get hemorrhoids, she never kicked my ribs, my skin was perfectly clear. And for the very first time ever in my memory, I was comfortable with my body. The extra chub on my face and arms was okay,  and my plump round belly was beautiful. Of course I was tired, and towards the end, sleeping was nearly impossible. But getting to know her, feeling her twirl around inside me -- those were the most amazing moments I've ever experienced.

It shocked me how much people really love a pregnant woman. Every time I was out shopping, people would glance at the belly, then look at me and smile. And not just women either, men are all about it too. Numerous times at work, male customers would ask me all sorts of questions about the baby, and they'd be smiling wide the whole time. Usually, they ended the conversation with some version of "It's the greatest thing you'll ever do!" Those guys always made my day because I knew that Matt would one day be one of those guys, smiling ear to ear talking about how great it is to be a daddy.

It also shocked me how comfortable our society is with an unmarried pregnant woman, especially since I look more like I'm 20 than 30 years old. People were so open with it, asking if the father was in the picture or whose last name we were going to use, and never with a judgemental tone. It was comforting in a way. And still, even being unmarried, people ended the conversation smiling wide, saying "It's the best!"

I wish I would have kept a pregnancy journal, day to day, of the highlights and pitfalls. It all seems mostly like a blur now. It went by ridiculously fast, and I want it back! Here's a  list of some things I do remember:

  • I found out I was pregnant on February 24, 2010.
  • I was so tired during the first trimester that it felt like someone drugged me. One minute I would be awake and functioning, then all of a sudden it would be "Need. Nap. NOW."
  • The anatomy ultrasound was on June 11th, the day before we left for vacation. There wasn't a single fiber of my being that wanted a boy, so when we found out it was a girl, I became much more accepting of the pregnancy. If it had been a boy, given time, I'm sure I would have been just as happy. But knowing it was a girl made it a whole lot easier to be excited.
  • I was 100% sure I felt her kick during our drive to Nags Head on June 12th.
  • On my apron at work, a coworker wrote "Baby on Board" really big so I couldn't be mistaken as just fat.
  • I definitely noticed lots of pregnant ladies everywhere I went. It's like we have radar when we're pregnant. Oddly, I avoided eye contact with these people, especially if I thought that they might just be fat. 
  • Because I kinda got sick of answering the same three questions, I wanted to make a shirt that read:
    1. November 4th
    2. It's a girl
    3. No name yet 
  • The entire time I was pregnant, I had a strong feeling she was going to come early. Like a week early. Turns out I was wrong.
  • She was always active around 10:00 at night. I looked forward to bedtime because she'd spend the first 10 minutes swimming around. I loved to feel and watch her move from side to side.
  • Matt and I would talk about how we hoped she'd turn out; we wanted her to have his eyes, ears, and body structure, but have my nose and face shape. So far, it seems like she listened 100%.
  • Almost everything I ate was Italian - pizza, spaghetti, garlic bread, canned ravioli. I didn't necessarily crave it, I was mostly indifferent to food in general and this was the easiest to eat.
  • I LOVED being pregnant and didn't want it to end!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A little history

This pregnancy was unplanned, though I admit the sex was unprotected. I have never been very good in that department; I've been having unprotected sex since I was 16, over the course of 4 serious relationships. It took 14 years for a sperm to finally pin down my egg. And the moment I learned I was pregnant, my world crashed.

I had never really wanted kids. I'd talked about it with girlfriends, joked about getting pregnant together, discussed it with previous boyfriends. My high school sweetheart once told me (during one of our many breaks) that I would be an awful mother. And I agreed with him. I'm an independent person, and I expect the people around me to be also. I don't like to rely on other people, and I really don't like people to rely on me. I'm borderline OCD when it comes to things being in their place (and yes, everything has a place). I lack patience, and I've always been intimidated by children. So when I saw 2 pink lines, I grabbed a pillow, curled up on the couch, and cried like it was going out of style. When I was finally able to pull myself together, I called Matt. And for the first four months of my pregnancy, I regretted that decision. On a daily basis, I questioned why I told him and why I didn't get an abortion. Because two days before I saw those two pink lines, I had decided to stop dating Matt.

We had been dating for about 5 months. A couple weeks prior, we had engaged in a lengthy conversation about our future together. He most definitely wanted kids, and I was nearly 100% sure I never would. We had horrible communication issues, I felt like he didn't quite 'get me', and we couldn't be more opposite in terms of personal finance practices. He didn't want to end the relationship; he ended the conversation by simply asking "Do you care enough to put in the effort?" After a lot of soul searching, I came to the conclusion that, no, I didn't care enough. I didn't believe that a relationship requiring so much effort was a relationship that should exist.

For four months, I punished him for getting me pregnant. I made snide remarks attacking his character, I showed no affection, I stopped smiling, but mostly, I just didn't talk. We would still see each other twice a week, but I would basically ignore him. But four months later, when I was ready to let him in and put in the effort, he was right there. I wouldn't say he was there with open arms and a smile, but he was there. And that was probably more than I deserved.

I've always believed that everything happens for a reason. We may not realize what that reason is for days, months, or many years, but eventually we are able to say "This is why I had to go through that".  It's taken me almost one year to realize this, but I believe that the life purpose of this one little sperm was to keep me with the right guy when I was too selfish to put in the effort myself.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Procrastinator is my middle name

I created this blog nearly 3 months ago as I was nearing the end of my pregnancy. My intent was to document life with a baby, a concept that I still had not fully come to terms with. I was hoping that one day I could look back on it with a different perspective, and maybe come to appreciate this gift of life I had created, if I hadn't yet gotten to that point. Now I can only laugh at myself because I actually thought I'd have the time to blog about life with a baby!

Addison is two months old now, and as I begin to slightly feel myself emerge from under the black cloud of adjusting to this new life, I really do wish I had those blog entries to look back on. They would have been brutally honest, raw, very dark, and probably would have made me seem like the worst mother on the planet. But I don't doubt for a second that I'm not alone as a new mother in feeling all the emotions I have.

So I'm going to try my best at blogging about life with a baby, which is mostly eating, pooping, and sleeping (and a lot of crying for both of us). I don't promise to entertain or elicit emotions from anyone reading this. I don't think that I'm a good writer, and I don't expect anyone else to think I am either. I want to continue this blog for myself, and for Addison. So here goes....