The Lies I Tell

My kids love hearing all about how “when they were babies”.  They often ask at bedtime for me to tell them the story of the day they were born. I snuggle up next to them and tell them each a beautiful story of how one day, after being in my tummy for a long time, they said “It’s time to come out!” and started kicking my belly.  Mommy & daddy headed to the hospital and the doctor took them out and we all were so happy! They both were pink round chunky little turkeys and they giggled as soon as we saw them.  Then, they cuddled up next to us for the rest of the day and cooed and smiled as all of our family came to meet them for the first time.   They were perfect and the cutest little things I had ever seen.  I tell them both that each day they were brought into this world were both the best day of my life.  The thing is, the only good thing that actually happened on either of those days for me was that we added them to our family. Each time I tell this story, I’m telling them a long, concocted LIE.  Truth be told, I love the fact that they were born, but I hate both of the days that they entered this world.

My youngest child turned three this week. At thirteen months apart, I’m now living with a full fledged three and four year old. They aren’t toddlers anymore, they aren’t babies. They’re preschoolers. I’m not sure how I feel about this.

Their birthdays are always a mix of emotions for me; happy to celebrate a milestone for them and yet both their births were both such terrifying experiences  for me that I actually ended up having a panic attack the morning of my now three year old’s birthday. I started thinking what exactly was going on at this moment three years ago and as I then thought about my experience giving birth to my four year old (which was equally as chilling). I could feel my chest start to constrict and my body become clammy.  My breathing became short little breaths and my eyes were getting blurry. Sobbing, I called my mother, who helped me calm down.

I’ve written about this before, but the long and short of it is that  my first child was two weeks late.  After 31 hours of labor, I ended up with a horrendous emergency c-section.  My first act towards my sweet newborn baby was to push him away my because I was in the midst of the mother load of all panic attacks imaginable on the operating table. Instead of giving him a kiss, I literally pushed him away.  My experience resulted in me being drugged up for the entire first day he was born. He ended up in the NICU 24 hours later, due to irregular breathing.  In retrospect, I was so drugged up that first day that I realized I didn’t even attempt to feed him.  I had no maternal instincts. I didn’t even want to hold him, out of fear I’d drop him.  This fat 10 pound baby was probably starving, which caused him to hyperventilate. I failed him.  I waived my right as a post- op patient and joined my first baby in the NICU; sleeping in a chair in his room while recovering from major surgery and an exhausting and harrowing few days.

My husband and I were inexperienced and it’s so easy now to say what we should have done. We should have asked the nurses to feed him some formula, we should have had me transported separately to the hospital where the NICU was so that I was being taken care of as well as he. We should have never let this happen.  Hindsight is always 20/20.

With my second, the delivery went surprisingly well, but what followed did not. I couldn’t see over the sheet they put between mother and baby, but I could see my husband’s ashen face. My child was blue, the color of the summer sky before a torrential rainstorm begins. He was not healthy and he wasn’t crying. He wasn’t a chunky, pink fat baby. He was struggling to stay alive.  Something was very, very wrong.

brewingStormIceland

He was later diagnosed with a genetic issue: Respiratory Distress Disorder. Simply, if you can imagine blowing up a balloon, it’s tough at first, but then gets easier the bigger the balloon gets. He was born without the hormone that covers the lungs to help them expand. He was fighting to breathe, and we are lucky he didn’t end up with brain damage due to lack of oxygen. He was whisked out of the operating room before I could see him.  Meanwhile, I was in the midst of massive hemorrhaging. I had five nurses attending to me in recovery and I didn’t care… all I could think about was my baby who I couldn’t see or even help.

I was questioned humiliating questions by the NICU rep for the hospital in front of my husband, mother and mother in law ( while still hemorrhaging and basically spread eagle in my hospital bed.

  • Did I engage in illicit drugs during my pregnancy?
  • Did I smoke cigarettes while pregnant?
  • Did I drink alcohol while pregnant?

The answers were all  NO, but I could read between the lines : What did I do to cause this?  The weight of the guilt I felt was like holding up a 1,000lb rock above my head.  I couldn’t help it.   The first time I saw my sweet little baby, he was in a contraption that looked like a glass coffin to transfer him to the NICU.  He was sedated and all I could do was reach my hand into a little hole in this glass coffin and tell him I loved him.  It was four days before I was able to hold that precious peanut. These four days felt like four lifetimes.

Life is crazy. Life is hard. I am so thankful that they are both thriving, healthy children now, and I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I know people that may have had the perfect delivery but ended up with a child much more seriously sick than mine. I know people who have watched a child of theirs go through pediatric cancer treatments. In no way am I comparing my experience to anyone else’s, but mine is all I know. My story is all I can tell.

I selfishly can’t help but feel like I got handed the short stick both times. I was robbed of the first few weeks of my child’s life. I have no pictures of their first few moments. I have no happy pictures of us as a family on either day.  I have very few happy memories of their birthdays.  I wasn’t given the opportunity to create an immediate bond and connection with either child, and both experiences were so intense that four years later, I’m still suffering from PTSD.  I’m angry because this has partly effected our plans for any future children. I’m angry that I missed out on so much.  I’m angry that things were so much harder than I had ever planned on them being.  I’m angry over the amount of helplessness I felt in both situations. I’m angry with myself for feeling any of this at all.

I still Care

I’m hoping that one of these days, I’ll have told them each my fake version of the day they were born so many times that it will start to slowly sink into my brain; memories of the truth washed away, only to be replaced with my fairy tale that I have made up.  I lie and tell myself time heals all wounds, and one day, this will all be a distant memory.  I can only hope that this is true.

stronger

Toddlers: Such a Blessing

I’m a mom of two toddler boys and my life consists of going to work everyday and breaking up WWE fights the remainder of the time.  Whenever I do get a chance to go out, please excuse my awkwardness. I never know what to say when people ask what my hobbies are.  I am a mom… I enjoy trips to the bathroom alone and silence… and sadly, not much else.

I consider myself an intelligent person. I have a college degree and a professional job that requires a great amount of multitasking, juggling client details and ensuring that each event I plan goes off without a hitch, all while handling events equating to multi millions of dollars each year.  Yet,  there are relatively simple things that cannot seem to accomplish at home.

We own a nice flat screen television. For the life of me, I cannot teach my toddler that the TV is not a touch screen. No matter how many times I explain, they are children of the 21st century and treat everything as if it is an iPad.  The amount of fingerprints I clean off our television set is innumerable.

I’ve decided that there are certain types of toddlers…  yours may fall into one or all of these categories.  If they don’t, please contact me directly, so that I can learn your secrets.

TYPES OF TODDLERS YOU MAY BE LIVING WITH

♦THE NEGOTIATOR & MASTER MASTER MANIPULATOR♦

One of the more savvy of the toddler clan, and typically the first born; they never miss a chance to counter the deal you have presented to them. You announce that there is “One more TV show, and then it’s bedtime.” Immediately, without skipping a beat, they reply:

“Five. Five shows before bed.”…. “I said one. One more show.” … “Four. We need four more shows before bed.”… “That’s not happening. I said one.” …. “Four shows!!!! WE NEED FOUR SHOWS!!!”   …. “Fine, two shows and that’s it.”  TODDLER: 1 PARENT: 0

♦THE FINICKY EATER & THE BOTTOMLESS PIT♦

This includes a variable number of toddler eaters.  At one point or another, they all go through this stage.  The Finicky One:  One day, they’re in love with grilled cheese, the next day, it’s thrown from their plate in disgust. How dare you serve them something they enjoyed just 24 hours previously!

The Bottomless Pit: Snacks are required ALL OF THE TIME. Literally, every twenty minutes, snacks are demanded.  It doesn’t matter if you just served them a three course breakfast, gourmet lunch, or seven course dinner.  Dinner will be half way done and they will already be requesting a “snack”.  God help you when they are old enough to figure out how to open up the fridge. Our freezer is on the bottom of our refrigerator, and I have found my two year old eating frozen fish sticks in the middle of the kitchen floor at 5:30am in the morning. The other day, I found him polishing off an ENTIRE bag of butterscotch baking chips he found in the freezer at 7am.  When I threw the bag away, he asked when breakfast was going to be served.

♦THE CHAMELEON♦

The Chameleon is the type of toddler who changes personality based on whose company they are in.  Of course, at home, their true, wild selves are revealed.  Screaming, jumping on the couches and beds, plain old craziness. They’re always the worst with their parents.   Bring your child into the bank and have a stranger say hello to them, and they will immediately turn into the shyest child youll meet.  Anytime I have dropped off one of my children at any of their grandparent’s house, I get nothing but stellar reports: “What a well behaved child! He was so funny! He played so well alone!”  I almost want to ask them if they’re sure actually have MY child in their care and haven’t brought home the wrong kid from the playgroud.

THE POTTY TRAINER

This one is a tough one. When first had infants, I was truly disgusted to see what came out of that tiny body.  I was not prepared for the toddler years.  By the time they are toddlers, they are essentially eating the same solid food as you are.  Those diapers are a true joy to change, and I swear that the amount of poop that comes out of these little guys are more than I have ever seen in my career using the toilet. They say girls potty train earlier than boys, I am not sure, but I knew it took a full year of trying to convince my three year old to stop the diapers.  The two year old is on his way, but not 100% there yet.  Either way, there is a process that needs to be followed.   You’ll find yourself asking sixteen times a day “Do you have to use the potty?” You’ll also find yourself saying things that you’ll never have thought would exit your mouth in your life. I have sat my two year old on the toilet and coached him to repeat after me: “Poopy, I am in charge of you, I am the boss- not you. Go in the potty, poopy.” It’s hilarious to hear your two year old repeat these words and you’ll spend countless hours sitting in your bathroom, attempting to use ESP to WILL THOSE POOPIES to come out.  For boys, peeing is a different story. Getting them to pee on the toilet is the easy part…. Aiming,  not so much.

A full container of bleach wipes sits in our bathroom specifically for the use of wiping up toddler pee every single day.  When they are standing, it’s not so bad… If they have to sit, you can occasionally look forward to a five foot spray across your entire bathroom.  I was not prepared for this.

♦THE “I CAN DO IT MYSELF PHASE”♦

One of the most frustrating stages of all of them is when your child decides that he can “do it himself” This applies to everything. We will be running late for something, place my two year old in his car seat and all hell will break loose. “I CAN DO IT MYSELF!!”  I must patiently wait for him to climb all the way back down out of his seat, navigate OUT of the car, back onto the driveway and then start the entire process again. This can take upwards of three minutes-which may seem insignificant to you, but if you’ve ever experienced it, it feels like THREE HOURS.  Same goes with my previous mention of him helping himself to anything he can find in the freezer, and denying any help you may offer.   Would you like help putting that shirt on? “NO. I CAN DO IT MYSELF”… backwards and after a four minute struggle that you don’t have in the morning when you are trying to get out the door.  The “I CAN DO IT MYSELF” may possibly be the one that tests your patience the most.


 

 

Throwing Modesty Out the Window: Things No One Tells You Before and After You Give Birth

Congratulations! You’re pregnant? 

SAY GOODBYE TO ANY SHRED OF MODESTY YOU HAD.

I was two weeks overdue with my first child and took a week off prior to my due date (in case he was early) and ended up sitting around for three weeks as a hormonal mess. 

I kept wondering if this baby was ever going to come out of me. Finally, the day before I was about to be induced, I went into labor. I waited nine hours before actually going to the hospital. 

One of the fun parts of labor they don’t tell you about is that your stomach muscles are contracting so much, you’ll probably end up shitting yourself at some point. Everyone is so worried about doing it while pushing the baby out, no one thinks to worry about what happens before the baby comes out. As soon as I arrived, the nurse gave me a hospital gown to change into and I headed to the bathroom. The toilet seat was obviously made for a NBA basketball player and was way too high. I hoisted myself up onto the seat and was sitting there, buck naked, 8,000 months pregnant, feet dangling 5 inches from the floor, literally going to the bathroom when the nurse casually came in to have a little “chat” with me. It was as if this was completely normal. I was a gigantic  naked, fat whale, having a complete coversation with a stranger while I was actually pooping at the same time. There were literally audible sounds coming from the bathroom that neither came from her or my mouth. She didn’t seem the least bit phased, and as I sat there in all my beluga whale glory, I answered her questions . I walked out of that bathroom in my cotton hospital gown and knew in that instant that any privacy I was used to was soon to change, very quickly. 

For the last nine months, as my belly grew,  I had been having external and internal exams by my OBGYN.  It’s like your yearly OB exam on crack- a super pleasant experience where as a bonus you get to weigh in every.single.time– reminding you that size 4 dress in your closet will forever haunt you as what could be considered “your former self, before children.”  You might as well use that tiny piece of fabric as a burp cloth, because your fat ass isn’t going to fit into it again for a loooooong time; if ever.

During the holiday season while I was out shopping, I was asked by no fewer than five strangers if I was “due any day now” or “carrying twins.” I was 3 months away from my due date at that point and my only answer was that I was carrying an enormous beast in my belly- but thanks for asking anyway.

I had come to the point where I just wanted to wear a tee shirt that said: 

“Yes, I am pregnant. No, I’m not having twins. It is a boy. We do not have a name picked out and if you even try to go near my belly with your grubby hand I will back hand you… have a great day!”

I started growing out of my maternity clothes and refused to buy new ones because I was just so sick of wearing them in the first place. I’d sit in weekly board meetings with my staff, 2 inches of my bare belly hanging out of my shirt, in spandex and wearing slippers because my feet were so swollen. I had given up. 

In this world, there are “hot” pregnant ladies and then there are…. the rest of us. My wedding photographer begged me to take maternity pictures to commemorate this time. I should have done it at 3 months along- because that was pretty much the only time I looked like a “hot pregnant lady”

By the time my first child decided to make an entrance into this word, I had been in labor for 31 hours and my 10lb pork roll child was born via emergency c-section because his fat head couldn’t fit for a regular vaginal delivery. My delivery was documented in a previous post so I won’t go over that again, but this was the first time I really valued how incredible modern medicine is. I counted my blessings because if this had been 100+ years ago, I probably wouldn’t have lived through that delivery, and neither would my child. Without that c-section, he was not coming out.

There were quite a few post-partum moments that my modesty just flew out the window again. The first time my nurse took out my catheter so I could pee normally, she insisted it was her job to  “monitor me”. At this point I couldn’t give two shits about what was happening, so I sat on the toilet, I watched her squat down in front of me and spray warm water onto my nether regions. I swear, if I could have kissed this lady, I would have. Nurses deserve a lot more credit for what they do. After carrying a gigantic human inside of me, EVERYTHING was swollen. As this nurse helped me out, I almost cried because it felt so good. There needs to be a tip jar in your hospital room. 

Four glorious months later of living with a colicky, screaming baby, I found myself miraculously pregnant again. We had talked about having more children, but certainly not this soon. I always joke that I got pregnant with my second baby alone. My husband had gone out for the night with friends and I decided to drink and entire bottle of wine alone to celebrate my child  finally sleeping through the night. My husband came home as I was throwing the bottle in the recycling bin, and the rest is history. 

I ended up having two c-sections,13 months apart. My second c-section was planned. For months, I hadn’t been able to see my feet, never mind anything else below my gigantic belly.  I had an infant to take care of, while waddling around pregnant with my second child and maintaining my lady parts was last on my list of priorities. As I was being prepped for surgery, the nurse asked if a student doctor could shave the area of the surgery site. I was in a good mood and replied “Sure, as long as she brought a weed whacker with her. ” My husband almost fell off the chair in embarrassment. I was a million months pregnant at this point and was happy at least someone was taking care of what I had been neglecting down there for so long.

I started some new medication earlier this summer and one of the side effects is weight gain. It had been 2.5 years since having my last baby and I remember wailing to my doctor “but I just lost all my baby weight!!!!” 

He assured me this medication caused the least amount of weight gain… and to some extent he was right- my ass stayed the same, my face stayed the same and my legs and arms look fine. Those lovely  extra few pounds have taken up shop in my gut and I look essentially early first trimester pregnant. I’ve been asked 4 times over the past 2 months if I’m expecting baby #3, resulting in a meltdown in my office one day that startled every one of my co-workers, including the Vice President of my company, who just stood there, wide eyed.  Like a crazy lady, I randomly screamed  “Attention! I have an important message for you all!  In case you’re wondering- I AM NOT PREGANT- THERE IS NO BABY IN HERE, just FAT, most likely caused by wine and hard ciders that I use to nurse myself to sleep each night, so spread the news, THERE IS NO FREAKING BABY IN THERE, suckers!” 

Once you’ve had kids, apparently these are the things you have to yell in your office to get the point across. I’m pretty sure no one talked to me for the rest of the day in fear I may bite their heads off.

Bottom line. Prepare for the unexpected. Prepare to be embarrassed, but know that no one else is. They’re professionals and see this stuff all the time. Having a baby changes things; I’m just glad I was married before going through all of this, because I knew my husband was bound to me, even after seeing what he saw, he legally couldn’t run away.

Prepare yourself to feel your heart burst with something that is unexplainable; a love that you never knew existed until you see those little eyes looking up at you and you realize you made this tiny human.

Once you get over the initial endorphin high, If you want to talk REAL FUN, we can discuss post-partum adult diapers and the dreaded first post partum poop sometime. I’ve got some great stories.

Until next time,

Coastal Mama 😘

Our Last First Birthday

My sweet baby turns one today.  ONE! And all I keep thinking of is where did the time go? I can’t remember our lives before this little guy and yet I feel like he just got here. 

My little fighter. The baby who lived in a 10’x10′ NICU room for the first few weeks of his life, fighting to breathe. My little baby, who was hooked up to so many tubes and monitors and was so swollen that we  couldn’t truly see his face well enough to see how handsome he was for over a week. My little baby, who didn’t know what it felt like to be cuddled and loved upon and snuggled for the first few days of his life because he was so fragile and so sick that no one was able to hold him. The same baby who has kept me up consistently for the past year over night; my midnight (and 2am, 5am and 6:30am) buddy.  Besides his affliction for overnight parties, he is my perfect baby; and quite possibly my last baby.

I always say that we were blessed with two children on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Ben entered this world with a loud battle cry letting us know he had arrived. He scored a perfect 10 on his Apgar test and within moments of being born, he turned his head towards my husband, who came over to greet him on the scale as to say:

“What’s up, Dad? I recognize your voice, I know you. Pop the champagne: I’m heeeeerree!” 

Jack had a rougher start and there was little celebratory fanfare when he entered the world, just a lot more fanatical running around by the doctors and nurses. Ben likes to be the center of attention. He will boss you, your dog, and your mom around and make sure you know that he is running the show.  He has recently picked up the award for bossiest back seat driver at the ripe age of two years old. “Go THIS way, mommy!” He’s kept that in your face attitude since the day he was born, and I’m scared to say that he’s a spitting image of me in that respect. For better or worse, when it comes to Ben, I birthed a high energy, bossy, loud-mouthed mini-me. 

Jack has been a breath of fresh air. I had been preparing myself for another loveable little hellion and was pleasantly surprised that he was content to sit back and just take it all in. He doesn’t need, or appear to want to be the center of attention. As his personality has emerged over the past year, he has proven to be much more like my husband; he’s definitely fiesty, but thoughtful and just genuinely happy to be a part of the action instead of being the one creating the scene. I’m sure every parent finds it as fascinating as I do to look at their children and see parts of them emerge. Jack is simply a pure delight. I can honestly say he is a perfect baby.

But, as of today, he is a baby no more. He just started walking and it’s hilarious to see him start to challenge his big brother during playtime. And as much as I am happy to see him grow into this beautiful little boy, I can’t help but be sad. Did I just complete the last “first year of childhood” that I’ll ever experience? While our family will never be 100% sure that we won’t have another child, we aren’t necessarily planning another one.  As much as I look forward to the future, I can’t help but be sad that our “baby” days are over. Every day, these boys do something new and take one more step towards growing up. I complain about being so exhausted from being needed and wanted all day long and yet there’s this nagging part of me that is screaming Stop! Enjoy this! It will last for a little while longer but these boys aren’t going to want to be with me forever. 

I guess this is the eternal internal battle that every parent fights every day: looking towards the future while desperately holding on to the past and present. It’s bitter sweet to celebrate these birthdays because as hard as being a parent is, you only seem to remember the good times and you don’t want things to change. 

I forget that Jack has probably slept through the night three times in the entire past year. I forget that Ben was so colicky that I considered checking myself into a mental institution from listening to him cry.

I remember the giggle Jack has when I give him raspberries all over his belly. I remember the look of amazement on Ben’s face the first time we took a train ride together. I remember the first time I saw both of them take their first steps. I remember that as tired and cranky as they make me on a daily basis, that there isn’t anything in the world I would change.

I remember that I am the luckiest person in the world to be called their mommy and I count my blessings every night before I go to bed for the beautiful family that I have… I just wish things would slow down. 

Happy Birthday to my dear, sweet Jack. Please don’t grow up too fast. Always remember that I love you and I am so proud of the little boy you are becoming. You and your brother are my greatest accomplishments in this life and I’m one lucky woman to be your mama. 

  

Do Me A Favor

I just had a baby.  Well, I actually didn’t just have a baby, but for the purposes of this post, let’s pretend.  You just got word that I’ve finally had the baby, and before you jump in your car and rush over, there are few things that I need from you.

Don’t stop by the hospital. If this is my first baby, I don’t understand that this is the only time I am going to have round the clock “help” ever again. I am so pumped up on adrenaline that I don’t fully comprehend that I should be using every second I have before I go home to rest. If this isn’t my first rodeo and I’ve given birth before, I understand the fact that I need to chill out and you being there is just pissing me off. Unless you are immediate family, do me a favor and don’t stop by. Send a card, a cute gift, or shoot me a text. Give me a few days to bond with my new baby and new family and visit when things settle down.

Thank you for giving us some breathing room in the hospital. When you do decide to make your way over to our house to visit with our new bundle of joy, I have some requests.

Make an appointment. Do not, under any circumstances, just “pop” over to my house. If you do this, I promise you, I will cut you.  Give me a chance to anticipate your visit.  Give me a chance to brush my hair and brush my teeth.  I would like to look like the best version of the cave woman I have been impersonating that I possibly can.  I have no idea when the baby will be napping, and Lord help you if you come over right as that child falls asleep.  Hell hath no fury like a woman who’s newborn has just been unintentionally woken up.

Wash your hands without me asking you to.  I don’t want to insult you and remind you to wash your hands before touching my brand new baby, but I will if you don’t do it before I ask.  We all know how filthy money, your cell phone, and your steering wheel is. I don’t care if you tell me you bathed in antibacterial soap before coming over. Your first step after saying hello to me is to walk right over to the sink and scrub up.  Make a production about it for good measure… Say something like, “I can’t wait to see that cute new squish! First let me wash my hands, and Ill be right over.”  Spend longer than you think you need to wash you hands. I appreciate it.  I’m not even going to mention the fact that if you even think you may be getting sick that you shouldn’t come by. Just don’t do it.

On the topic of coming over, don’t stay long and don’t expect anything more than small talk from me. Whether I admit it or not, I’m exhausted and overly hormonal. I’m so glad to see a member of the outside world, but I’m too overwhelmed to have a proper conversation.  The likelihood that I took a shower before you came over is slim to none, and you’re lucky if I remembered to put on a bra.  I’m wearing a maxi pad the size of an adult diaper and recovering from birthing a tiny watermelon.  While you discuss the latest work gossip, I may or may not be sitting there, breaking into  a sweat, trying to mentally prepare myself for my first post partum poop, which I now realize I am more scared of than actual childbirth.  Don’t ask me how I’m feeling if you don’t want the truthful answer. I feel like a tractor trailer truck ran me over and then backed up a few times to make sure the job was done. Do me a favor and just tell me I look great. Even if it’s a lie, I need to hear it.

Same thing goes with my baby.  At this point, my child probably looks like a wrinkled up old man, regardless of it’s gender.  You can tell me how cute my baby is, but don’t ask me anything that is going to play into my insecurities. “That weird mark on their head will go away, won’t it?” “Wow, isn’t her nose is an interesting shape.”   I’ve already spent more time freaking out about that weird birthmark and whether or not it will go away.  I haven’t fully come to the conclusion if I think its cute or not, and I’m not sharing that fact with you.  In my delirious hormonal state right now, if you say something even just a little bit off to me, you can be sure I am mentally preparing your funeral in my head. Just shut up, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

Please don’t ask me to make you anything to eat or drink, even if I offer. I’m just being nice. The thought of me playing hostess makes me nauseous right now. I have never felt so needed by someone else so much in my life and I’m still wrapping my head around the amount of responsibility that has just been placed on my shoulders. Help yourself to my coffee machine or grab a cookie from the cupboard yourself- I won’t care, just do it. Do me another favor by putting your cup in the dishwasher before you leave too.  If you want to be really awesome, bring my family an easy meal to heat up.  I can’t remember the last time I turned my stove on to cook something, and a hot meal would definitely make me feel more like a human.

When you hold my child, do not under any circumstances put your finger in their mouth.  I’m not sure why people do this, but it’s disgusting. Do not do it. I don’t do it, and I’m not sure why you think it’s ok to do.  I know where your hands have been.  I don’t care if you washed your hands in bleach, I don’t care if you have been blessed by the Pope, your fingers do not belong in my baby’s mouth.  It’s not cute to have my infant practice sucking on your finger, and its making me physically ill to see you do it.  Thank you.

If you offer to babysit, you better mean it. Every single person who has come to visit me in the past few days has offered to babysit and what I will soon find out is that no one actually follows up on their offer. Help a sister out.  My baby is four days old, I’m not ready for a night out on the town. I could use a nice hot shower and a nap though. So offer to hang with the baby while I do both things.  If I have older children, offer to take them to the playground, the library, out for ice cream, anything. Get them out of the house and give me a break.

I’m so glad that you love me and my family so much.  Thank you for being an awesome person and caring about us. As you read these requests, please remember that I love you, and I can’t wait to get back to re-capping the latest episode of the Bachelor with you, glass of wine in hand.  For the immediate future though, I’m just trying to survive, so please try to understand.

crack

The Secret To Being A Better Mama

It was a grey March morning the first time I ran away. Ben was only 10 days old and my mother in-law was over, helping out. I think I said something like “I gotta get outta here” and was out the door within five minutes of her showing up. I used a nail appointment as my cover, but when I pulled into the parking lot of the nail salon, I found that couldn’t get out of the car.  I sat paralyzed behind the steering wheel and just wept. I picked up the phone and unleashed my crazy post partum hormone amped-up state on my mom “This is too hard!!” I sobbed. “I can’t do this. He won’t stop screaming an I’m loosing it! I hate being a mother.” And I did. I hated it. I felt like a failure, and this child I had just birthed was a nightmare. I didn’t feel a connection to him and he just would not stop crying. None of this was going the way I had planned.

I worried that I was going to freak out again when I had my next baby. How was I going to deal with two babies under two, when I clearly could barely handle the infant stage the first time? Of course, I couldn’t tell this to anyone, because everyone loves a squishy newborn, don’t they?  They just sleep, and coo, and sleep some more. Not me. I freaking hate newborns.  The older Ben got, and the more expressive he became, and the easier and more fun he was.  I can’t stand that newborns can’t tell you what is wrong.  They cry when they are hungry.  They cry when they are tired.  They cry when they are not feeling well. They seem to cry just for the hell of it, sometimes!  Newborns are not on a schedule for the first few weeks of their lives and my OCD Type-A personality cannot handle this.  I need a routine. I am not a newborn person.  And after my first baby, I am definitely not a newborn person. 

I was a freak with my first baby. Ben had a short weekend length stay in the NICU, where the nurses weighed every diaper, keep a record of what they were, as well as noting when he ate and slept. This intense record keeping played right into my “need for order” and gave me a false sense of routine. I thought by looking at my cheat sheet, I would be able to anticipate Ben’s needs before he actually needed them, and I assumed that I would eventually form a pattern by deciphering when he last needed a diaper.  I would study when he last ate and calculate that he would be hungry again in approximately 2.5 hours. It took me a week after we returned from the hospital for me to realize that I was wasting my time scribbling on a  worthless piece of paper.  Newsflash: New babies do not have a routine.  My plan was foiled, and Ben was quickly becoming an increasingly fussy baby.  I was having a hard time just “going with the flow”. 

I knew Ben was a colicky baby by the time he was a week old. After some research, I had narrowed down his symptoms to be acid reflux. I knew something was wrong, but I put my faith into the fact that Ben’s pediatrician was an experienced doctor and knew it all. In reality, she may have a PhD, but she wasn’t living with a newborn who screamed 23 hours of the day. She talked to us about the “witching hour” and how some babies went a little nuts in the evening hours. He was gaining weight, and she wasn’t concerned because if he had reflux, he wouldn’t be eating as much and would be underweight. She convinced us that his behavior was normal and it would pass. Meanwhile, my husband and I were downright drowning at home. DROWNING. There is only so much crying you can listen to before you start to go crazy. I literally couldn’t leave the house with my baby because he would scream the entire time. He screamed in the car seat on the way, the entire time at our destination, and the entire ride home, and then continued once we got in the house. The only time he was quiet was when he was sleeping.  It took three months of complaining before his pedi wrote a prescription for reflux meds. 

Ben stopped screaming that same day.  

I’ve changed my perspective with this second baby.  After all of that worrying about what would happen when I added another little person to our family,  I have been pleasantly surprised to find that in many ways, I’ve found it easier this second time around.  Yes, adding another person to our family was a huge adjustment, but I’ve been able to relax a little and I’ve come to understand that kids are more resilient than you think.  When we took Jack home from the hospital, I didn’t keep notes on when he ate and when I changed his diaper like a bumbling idiot.  I’ve learned to chill out, and I’ve come into my own as a mother.

I didn’t wait three months to before demanding that Jack be put on reflux meds like I did with Ben. In fact, I didn’t even bring him in. I called the pedi one morning as soon as I started to see him exhibit the same symptoms as Ben was and told her to write the prescription. “Jack has reflux, can you please send in an Rx before your lunch break, I’ll be in town later today and can pick it up.” CLICK. 

I’m not screwing around this time. I don’t have the patience, and I don’t have the time. And I have way more confidence than I did with my first baby. The fact that my children rely on my husband and I to be their sole advocates in this life is much clearer this time around. I certainly knew that with Ben, but I put too much faith into other people who I assumed “knew what they were doing.” the first time around.  I was seeking advice from the wrong people, when I needed to be talking to my fellow new mamas who were experiencing the same things as me, right now, in real time.

The biggest positive  change I’ve made is to talk with other new parents.  In an age where everyone is bombarding your newsfeed with happy, serene pictures of their seemingly perfectly happy children, its easy to feel very much alone when you are sitting home with a screaming baby, hating life. I’ve found that by opening up to other parents, we’ve both benefited immensely, and I’ve become a better mother because of those other moms out there.

I joined an online moms group, all with babies who were born around the same time as Ben.  I can honestly say I have found some serious friends on there.  We ask advice, compare notes, celebrate milestones and complain when we are feeling beaten down. I also started taking it upon myself to reach out to new moms who I may not have been best friends with before in real life.  I contacted a girl I knew who had an emergency C-section and let her know that I understood that the mental and physical toll something like that puts on you through isn’t easy.  I shared that I cried every single day during my first month of motherhood.  She was so grateful to hear from me and let me know that she was relieved to know that she wasn’t alone.  There was an instant bond, and we’ve kept in contact ever since.  

No one tells you about the helpless feelings that you’ll experience when you can’t get your new baby to stop crying. You don’t fully understand why they use sleep deprivation as a torture tactic until you haven’t slept in weeks. No one talks about post partum depression. No one talks about how lonely being a new mother can be sometimes, and no one tells you how much you’re marriage is going to instantly change over night. It’s true when they say it takes a village.  I challenge you to reach out and search for your mama village of support.  With experience comes confidence, and it’s important to let our fellow mamas know what they are feeling is normal. Share your story with someone else; you may be surprised to find out they’re feeling the exact same way. Tell them that it’s going to be okay, and tell them that it will get better.   Tell them it’s ok to cry, to feel beat down, and to feel like they’re going crazy.  Tell them that for every difficult moment they’ll encounter that there will be five rewarding moments behind it. Most importantly, remind them that they’re doing a good job. If I had opened up to someone sooner, I may not have run away in the first place. 

Forget the mommy wars. Forget who is breast feeding and who is formula feeding. Ignore who chose to have a natural birth and who begged for drugs 10 minutes after checking into labor & delivery.  Put the vaccine debate on the back burner and be a good mama to other mamas.  Share your story and open up your heart. If you do this, I promise you that you’ll become a better mama at home. Xo



Cry Baby

I’ve lost all of my street cred. In a former life, I would like to think of myself as somewhat of a badass. I used to see my mom tear up at happy occasions and was honestly perplexed.  Come on, I know watching your youngest child graduate college is a proud moment, but tears? I didn’t get it.

I get it now, and becoming a mother has totally knocked me down a few steps on the badass ladder. Truth be told, I cry at my desk a few times a week while perusing the internet.  I had to feign a sneezing attack when I cried at not one, but two Super Bowl commercials last weekend.  Just now, I lost it while reading another mother’s account of living with her autistic child.  I didn’t cry out of pity for this mom or her young boy (who, coincidentally is named Jack), I cried because I was so moved by her strength; her ability to handle her “new normal”- this crazy new frustrating and confusing situation she had found herself thrown in.  She amazed me.

We received so many heartfelt messages and kind words from friends and family when my youngest child Jack, was in the NICU. One consistent thing that almost everyone said to me was “You are so strong.”  This shocked me. I didn’t feel strong at all.

I felt like I was falling apart at the seams.  My world was crumbling around me and I was living in the twilight zone. Jack was the one who was strong; he deserved the kudos, not me. He actually deserved a medal for enduring what he was going through: hooked up to a million monitors and wires, with a breathing tube down his throat and being pricked constantly with needles throughout the day. I was just a bystander- watching it all happen. I cried a lot in his private NICU room.  I cried for Jack, for myself and husband, and for my sweet baby Ben, who was at home.  I was pretty sure I was causing him some sort of permanent damage by leaving him for so long while I was recovering in the hospital and visiting his new baby brother.  Was this what it was like to have more than one kid?  Always feeling like you were abandoning one in order to give attention to the other?

I cried when I walked into Jack’s room and looked down at my little baby and saw three new bald spots from where they had shaved his head overnight, trying to insert a new IV line- all which inevitably fell out hours later. I cried when they told me for the third day in a row that it would be yet another day before I would maybe be able to hold my new baby for the first time. I cried because I didn’t even really know what my baby looked like! He had so many wires and tape on his face, and his tiny face was so swollen from constantly being pricked and prodded. No, I was not strong. I was a cry baby.Picture 386

I knew something was wrong right there in the operating room when Jack was born.  He was not pink, but rather a pale shade of grey and was having a hard time breathing. I saw the look on my husband’s face as I peaked at him from behind the curtain I was laying behind, as he watched the nurses attempt to get some more oxygen into him by using a manual air pump. Jeff was able to get a picture or two of Jack, so I didn’t realize the severity of the situation because no one was really saying much. I heard a weak little cry and knew he was alive and figured he just needed a little help.  It wasn’t until an hour later, back in my own room, when I asked the nurse if I would see him soon, or what his weight and height stats were.  She confided that they actually hadn’t weighed him yet and she was unsure. They hadn’t weighed him yet?? He was on an air ventilator and having some issues- they were monitoring him.  I thought I was going to throw up.

Jack was born at 8:25am on a beautiful Thursday morning. I didn’t see him for the first time until he was wheeled into my room nine hours later.  He was housed in what looked like a gigantic clear coffin, already intubated and had tubes everywhere, including a breathing and feeding tube.  He was sedated. They already had him in the huge traveling container that they roll onto the ambulance to transfer babies and he was on his way to another hospital to be admitted into the NICU.  Unfortunately, this was not the first time we had said goodbye to a new baby in this ghastly contraption. Ben had been wheeled into my room in a similar fashion only 13 months earlier. I felt like it was deja vu. I was once again watching my baby leave me, while I stayed behind, awaiting my transfer to the new hospital.  I was only able to reach my hand into the viewing container and touch Jack’s tiny fingers before they rushed him out.

It was four long days before the doctors felt Jack was stable enough for me to hold him.  He still was intubated and pretty out of it.  His oxygen levels weren’t good and he was fighting to breathe, requiring a lot of assistance.  His heartbeat was a little irregular and the monitors that were connected to his tiny little body were constantly beeping that something was wrong. I nervously pulled the chair next to his crib and watched as two nurses assisted in picking him up, arranging his cords and placing his warm body on my chest. Within moments of our skin touching, the room went quiet. The monitors calmed down and we were stunned to see that all of his vitals immediately leveled out.  He had needed me. I needed him. I felt like I had waited years for this moment. I closed my eyes and soaked him in.   And then I cried.

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Jack had Respiratory Distress Disorder and Pneumonia- his lungs wouldn’t fully expand, causing fast breathing and he was unable to get the oxygen he needed- He also had a small infection in his lungs. He returned home with us two weeks later, 100% recovered.