Thursday, June 18, 2015

dear pre-childbirth me,

I see you. I see your growing belly, I see the excitement and the impatience on your face. I see the way you count down the days until that due date. One day closer. One day closer to meeting him.

I also see the way you read those books. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones all about childbirth. Hypnobabies. Bradley birthing. Natural childbirth.

And the online articles. So many articles. Medical jourals, news stories, blog posts, baby center community posts, facebook shares... You read birth story after birth story.

Moms who experienced an epidural-free delivery. Moms who said "no" to medical intervention. Moms who "made it through" without anything but their will and their babies.

Natural childbirth. You want it. You want to use those hypnobabies tracks to relax during contractions. You realize it'll hurt, but you believe you're ready for it. You want to feel that baby be born. You want to hold him to your chest and hear his first cries right against your skin. You have so many dreams about what that moment will be like.

And because you've read so much, you think you know what birth will be like. You think you know how it goes. You've read hundreds of birth stories, and you feel like you have a pretty good idea of how it'll happen.

Along with that, you've read so much about the dangers of medical intervention that you're pretty sure why other people's births went "wrong." So-and-so had an induction? You feel sorry for them and think to yourself about how you would never have an induction unless it was absolutely necessary. Oh, they ended up with a c-section? It's obviously because of the induction. Because, hello, "cascade of interventions," anyone?

Well, I'm your post childbirth self, and I want to tell you something. You have no idea. You don't even have a clue.

Yes, that reading you've done and that preparation you're doing will be invaluable. Keep doing the hypnobabies, keep practicing your relaxation techniques, keep learning about how things work.

But stop presuming you know anything about anyone else's birth. Stop thinking, "well, if she hadn't gotten induced..." and "if she had said no to the epidural..."

Because guess what? Childbirth is hard. It is long and it is exhausting and it takes you to a level of physical strain that you've never even been close to in your life. It's unimaginable, it's impossible to describe, and it's not like reading a childbirth book. You're going to feel more feelings in those hours than you've ever felt in your life. You're going to cry. You're going to scream. You're going to pray harder and faster than you've ever prayed in the entirety of your existence.

And things hardly ever go according to plan.

Don't presume you know what it's like when "the plan" gets turned on its head. Don't even pretend you know what that feels like. You don't.

Because even though you are me, a funny thing has happened since my little baby boy was born.

I feel judged. By you.

In the way you judge others for their birth choices and their birth outcomes, I feel judged because my birth was not perfect, was not painless, was not easy, was not without intervention, and was not even in the tiniest bit according to that plan you have in your head.

But my birth story was beautiful. And my baby is even more beautiful. The less-than-perfect childbirth experience isn't even a blip on the radar when compared to the astronomical amount of joy and love and life he has brought me.

So you keep crossing off those calendar days and you keep taking those prenatal vitamins. Keep preparing for that natural, unmedicated childbirth. That preparation will go a long way.

But keep your judgments out of it. Childbirth is already hard enough without ghosts from your past judging you for things they know nothing of.

Read my birth story here.
Read my letter to my c-section scar here (my most popular post to date).
Check out my advice on how to prepare for an emergency c-section here.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

seven things i still suck at after seven months of motherhood

Holy crap, you guys, I made it seven months! (cue celebratory applause)

Insert sappy, cute-but-kind-of-cliche paragraph here about how it's been the best seven months of my life and I love my cute little munchkin so much and being a mom is great and yaddah yaddah yaddah. (All of which is true, but let's be real--I say that crap enough. :)

Anyway, as I was looking back on the last seven months since my little one entered the world, I realized just how much motherhood kind of forces you to adapt and grow and learn new skills. And for the most part, I'm pretty proud of the mother I've become.

But I'm going to be 100 percent honest with you guys. There's still stuff I suck at.

So, to celebrate Bug's seven-month birthday, I give you a great list of seven of the things I should probably not suck at anymore but still totally do.

1getting the baby to bed on time
Oh, I could tell you all about my baby's bedtime. It's 8:00, my friends, on the dot. That is the time my little munchkin is supposed to be tucked into his crib and I get to put my feet up and watch me some Netflix. I could tell you all friggin' day about 8:00 and how awesome it is.

If you came to my house at 8:00, you'd see a lot of things. A sleeping baby is not one of those things.

Can I just ask the world a question?

How the flip does anyone keep a strict bedtime with a baby?! He doesn't understand English (as much as we've been working on that) so no amount of saying "It's time for night-night!" will make him go to sleep before he's tired.

His real bedtime is usually a range. He goes to bed somewhere between 7:30 and 9:00. But at the same time, the universe hates us this week and slammed us with two teeth at once (see this post), a growth spurt, a move, and a drop in my milk supply all at the same time, so guess what his bedtime was tonight? About thirty minutes ago. And it's midnight. Don't judge me. I really tried.

2peeing BEFORE i start nursing
You'd think I'd have learned by now. But every single time Bug wakes up during the night, I stumble in there in my mostly asleep stupor, scoop up the squirmy one, slump down into the rocking chair, and stuff my nipple into his mouth to stop the screaming.

It's usually around the time when my milk lets down that the near-explosive state of my bladder becomes obvious enough that it snaps me out of my slumber-induced coma.

I then spend the next 20 or so minutes of that feeding session wiggling around under my baby and whisper-shouting at him, "Suck faster!" and "Why are you so slow?!" and "If you don't hurry up I'm gonna pee on you and then you'll know how it feels to be me!"

As soon as he's done and has slipped back off to dreamland, I all but toss him into his crib as I dash across the apartment. I'm basically blinded by the amount of urine in my body at that point and have become a sort of potty-dancing Hulk in ratty pajamas who smashes into every single piece of furniture possible on my way to the bathroom.

And as I finally sit down on the porcelain and feel that sweet relief, I swear up and down, sideways and backwards and forwards, that I will pee first next time. Even if I don't feel like I have to go. Pee FIRST, dangit!

But the next time Bug wakes up to feed? I do the same dang thing all over again.

What is wrong with me? I'm serious.

3the cradle hold
I see all these sweet pictures of mothers breastfeeding their babies so comfortably--reclining in chairs with their cute bald babies cradled in their arms. I've seen women breastfeed babies my whole life using the cradle hold. And whenever I see a mom breastfeeding her baby this way, it takes everything in me to stop myself from running over to her, kneeling at her feet and asking, "How? How do you do it? How do you look so comfortable? Teach me your ways! Please! Pleeeeeease!"

I just plain can't do it. I started out nursing Bug with a nipple shield (may it burn and burn forever!) and the only way I was able to keep that stupid thing on my nipple was to hold it with the hand on the same side and cross-cradle hold the baby with my other hand. Once I finally was able to ditch the nipple shield (and praise the heavens forever and ever amen), I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to nurse using the cradle hold. Every time I tried, no matter what I did, my baby's face would end up smashed into my breast in the kind of way that made me wonder if he still had eyeballs.

So don't mind me and my awkward inability to nurse any other way besides hunched over my baby like Quasimodo in a weird iteration of the cross-cradle hold. I'm just an awkward nurser. After seven months, I've just come to accept it.

4nursing in public
I'm not the type to plop out a breast and feed my baby in full view of anybody and everybody (kudos to women who can). So that means that for me, I'm more comfortable using a cover or blanket.

Except for that's like the most impossible thing  in the history of ever.

Let me just say right here that I've learned since trying to nurse in public that I'd be a pretty crappy blind person. Once that blanket's on, I can't seem to do a dang thing. Get the breast out? Get baby's face even remotely close to the breast? Don't drop baby on his head and give him permanent brain damage? Forget about it. The whole time I'm fumbling with my shirt and nursing bra and baby and that blanket over the top, I probably manage to give everyone a view of what I'm doing but myself. I'm totally useless.

And those fancy covers that have the little plastic or wire inserts that hold it open so you can see? Yeah, those don't help. Like I said, totally useless.

5trimming baby fingernails
Is it just me, or is trimming a baby's fingernails basically the single most intimidating task on the face of the earth? I mean, what kind of super-human can wrangle down a wriggling baby, wield those baby-sized nail clippers, and chop off those mini claws-of-death without at least six extra hands?

I've tried all the tricks (and all you mamas who say, "just bite their nails off" need to explain yourselves because I can't even get my teeth around those tiny, flimsy things), and somehow even once I've successfully trimmed every nail, he still manages to claw my face so bad I swear I'm gonna bleed.

And the one time I thought I was doing really well... I clipped my baby's finger! I've never felt like a more awful human being in my life than I did at that moment.

Those nails... I wish babies didn't even have them. Can't they just wait til puberty to grow?

6going to bed on time
In the same way I can't seem to get my baby in bed on time, I can't even get myself into bed at a decent hour. I mean, now it's pushing 1:00 in the morning. 1:00, people! And my baby isn't even sleeping through the night! Why do I do this to myself?

Oh, I know. Because I have no self control and apparently think I'm still in college back when it was fun to stay up all night and my body had the uncanny ability to be okay on 3 or 4 hours of sleep. But every morning I'm reminded that I no longer have that ability. And that I should be an adult and just go to bed at a human hour. But I never do.

So, I've been really lucky. My baby naps like a pro. I've worked hard to give him a predictable routine so he knows when it's time to sleep and he does. Plus also he's probably a little bit brilliant too, so that helps. But whenever anyone asks me when his naptimes are, I get this super uncomfortable knot in my stomach and tend to avoid all eye contact for the rest of the conversation because what kind of lame-o mom doesn't even know what time naptime is?

Much in the way his bedtime is more fluid and all depends on when he's showing his sleepy signs, I put my baby down for naps when he gets tired. Which some days ends up being 10, 1, and 4, and other days ends up being 9, 1, and 5, and then some days noon and 3. It sometimes drives me wonky not knowing exactly when I'll be able to do my workout or the dishes or shower, but I've found that following his sleepy signs is what works for us.

But sometimes I feel like the most unorganized, clueless mom in the world when people ask me when naptime is. Your guess is as good as mine, lady.

And there you have it! Seven of the (many) things I still suck at. But all in all, I still think I'm doing pretty okay. I mean, look at that boy!

Check out the list of seven mom skills I've gained here.

So, what things do you still suck at? I'd love to hear about them! Comment below!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

the good things never seem to last

I'd heard people say that as soon as you get used to your baby, they change everything up on you. I didn't really understand what they meant.

Til now.

My sweet baby boy just started sleeping through the night about two weeks ago. And he did it consistently! Every night for almost two weeks he went to bed between 8 and 10 and didn't wake up until after 7 in the morning. It was glorious. It was heaven.

The first couple of days into it, I was cautious. Every night I expected the worst. I didn't want to let myself get too comfortable. Didn't want to really relax. Didn't want to tell people he was sleeping through the night because I didn't want to jinx it.

But after 10, 11, 12 days... I started to expect the sleeping-through-the-night thing. I mean, twelve days? That could not be a fluke!

And all was well.

And my needs-to-be-super-swaddled-or-will-not-even-close-eyes baby suddenly decided he didn't need to be swaddled anymore, either. I was shocked and astounded and I praised the heavens because swaddling a squirmy, 21-pound seven-month-old is HARD.

It was the best double-whammy ever! He was sleeping through the night AND I no longer had to worry about that dumb swaddle!

I rejoiced. I patted myself on the back for my superb parenting skills (because it was obviously all me). I got more sleep in the last two weeks than I have in the last seven months combined. It was heaven.

But then these two, sharp, jagged, tiny little white daggers popped out of his bottom gums about three days ago and everything I knew about my baby was suddenly thrown on its head.

Sleeping through the night? HA! Good one!

Sleeping unswaddled? Not anymore!

Keeping his freak-outs during breastfeeding to a minimum? No way, mama!

Smiling? What's that again?

Waking up giggling after every nap? I wish!

My poor baby boy. :(

Dear little teething monster,
Who are you and what have you done with my sweet baby Bug?
Love, a very tired mommy who is so sorry your teeth hurt but that was really mean of you to tease her with the whole no-more-swaddle thing. She really got her hopes up with that one.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

5 things i miss about being pregnant

I can already hear what you're thinking:

"Is she a crazy person?" (yes)

"What's her problem?" (not enough nutella)

"She obviously had a cakewalk pregnancy!" (nope. See my most recent post about PUPPP.)

The truth is, there is a heck of a lot of things about pregnancy that I do not miss at all. Not one bit. I think they're about the same as any other mom's list. You know, things like cankles, night sweats, baby stomps to the cervix, the inability to even roll over in bed... stuff like that.

There are, however, definitely some things I miss. The list is short, but the things on it are things I remember much more than the night sweats.

1the ultimate feeling of purpose
I felt so incredibly important while pregnant. Like everything I did mattered--because in a way it did. Every single moment of every day seemed so much more monumental because of that little life growing inside of me.

No longer was eating right important for just my own health. Eating had more purpose. Sleeping had more purpose. Exercising had more purpose. Simply being had more purpose. Even when I sat around in my pj's and watched episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" on Netflix, my body was working away at growing, creating, and sustaining a tiny human being.

I didn't recognize that feeling until I'd given birth and it went away. Suddenly, it was just me again. What I ate mattered about as much as it ever had before I'd gotten pregnant--which meant that if I ate poorly, I was the only one who would suffer for it. It was really depressing, actually. Like an important part of who I was for nine months was suddenly gone. I was no longer growing a baby. My body was just my body now. And even though some things still applied because I was breastfeeding, that ultimate feeling of importance was no longer there.

It's true, I did gain a lot of purpose as a new mom. So much depends on me every day to keep my little boy alive and healthy. But it doesn't feel quite the same as that incredible mantle of being the vessel of new life. And I miss that.

2never feeling alone
This one may seem kind of silly, but when I was pregnant, I always felt the presence of my baby with me. Even though he wasn't, you know, having conversations with me or anything. He moved, and I felt that movement and it felt like I was getting to know him on a level I'd never known anyone before.

Four months of my pregnancy my husband had to be away, so I spent a lot of the lonely nights falling asleep with my hands over my belly. I would lie there in bed talking to my boy, telling him about what life would be like and how excited I was to meet him. I felt his little nudges under my fingertips and fell asleep with lullabies on my lips. Even though my husband was far away, I didn't have to feel as lonely because my little baby was there with me.

3everyone loves a pregnant lady
It's true. You can't go anywhere with a baby bump and not have people opening doors for you, carrying your groceries, or offering you their seats. Add to that all of the people asking excited questions about when the baby is due and if it is a boy or girl, and it feels like it's your birthday every day.

When I was pregnant, I loved telling anyone who would listen about my baby. And the fun thing about being pregnant was that everyone wanted to talk to me about my baby, so I could get my fill of gushing about tiny blue shoes and crib mobiles anytime I wanted--all I had to do was step outside my house.

Sometimes it feels more difficult now to carry groceries to my car or open doors when I've got my hands full of a squirming, wriggling, 21-lb baby, but I don't get nearly the number of offers for help now as I did when I was sporting that belly. Maybe I should try sticking a basketball under my shirt next time I head out to Smith's?

4not having to suck it in
Let's be real. You walk past a reflective window, you check yourself out, right? And usually that involves reminding yourself to suck in your gut. I know I'm constantly adjusting my pants and shirt to make sure my tummy looks good.

But when I was pregnant? No sucking in at all! I don't think it's even humanly possible to suck it in even a little bit--believe me, I tried once. That belly is all uterus, and those abs and diaphragm have no control over that.

5great excuse for not doing dumb stuff
Like shaving your legs or wearing nice shoes. Obviously you still have to take care of yourself, but trying to do crazy body-morphing stunts to shave the back of your knee while sporting an extra 30 pounds on your stomach is ridiculous and sometimes it's nice to just say, "whatever. I'm pregnant." and be done.

Obviously, pregnancy is not a walk in the park. But there are definitely some perks. :)

Tell me, what things do you like about pregnancy?