Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

New Mom Advice: Get A Thing

Monday, September 15th, 2014

When I was pregnant with Evan oh those many moons ago, I first discovered blogging. I mean, I “discovered” it the same way Columbus “discovered” America, since there was already an entire world of people who were like “Nice going, you found this big giant thing that’s been here for a long ass time”. But for me, it was all new and exciting. I wrote words on the internet. Then I moved up to pictures. I found other people’s words and pictures. I blogged and blogged and talked about blogging and read articles on blogging and read actual blogs and when I found one I liked I’d stalk their archives back to the birth of their children and I know more about some of those people than I do about my own siblings’ lives.

Blogging was My Thing.

My Thing kept me connected to people when I was too tired to get off the couch. It gave me something to think about when I couldn’t think about my crying baby any more. I learned the shorthand and the big players and the culture and made friends who I still talk to literally every single day. The internet connected us but I’ve now hugged them in person and slept on their couches and can’t wait to see them again.

If I could give pregnant women one piece of actual, helpful, universal advice, it is to get A Thing.

Obviously your baby will be Your Thing, but there is a lot of busywork with babies. You are up with them in the middle of the night, you are trapped on the couch feeding them, you are so so so tired you can’t even sleep. You need A Thing you can read about and think about and learn about and talk about. Thanks to the internet, it’s easy to find other people who share Your Thing and also want to obsess about it, so you’ll never run out of ways to waste your time. Even if Your Thing is something you can’t really do as much as you’d like, you can still obsess about it online. Like running. There are about fifty zillion ways to learn about running that don’t actually involve running.

Here is a brief list of Things you might try: blogging, photography, baby wearing, cloth diapers, knitting, crocheting, breastfeeding, scrapbooking, gardening, knitting, couponing, crafting, cooking, conspiracy theories, tv, computer games, video games, puzzles, art, eBay, Etsy, painting, sewing, puzzles, running, paleo, cross fit, hair, make-up, monthly subscription services, fashion, YouTube, nail polish.

Any of Those Things have a million deeper levels and sub-levels. Not just cloth diapers, custom-made WAHM diaper covers. Not just Etsy, handmade baby moccasins. Not just running, long distance marathon training. Find a Facebook group or forum about Your Thing and dive in. Don’t worry, you will never know more about your thing than ANYONE else, so just start somewhere.

Most Things are going to cost you a lot of money. Even if they seem cheap and harmless now, there is a collectible version or a new version or a fancier version or an exclusive version and you WILL want it and you WILL find yourself spending what previously would have been a crazy amount of money on it.

Try to find a way to get involved in Your Thing in real life too. Meet-ups, conferences, swaps, or even just one friend you can have coffee with. But even if you just have internet friends from Your Thing, they will easily become real friends (just not in-person all the time friends).

You can have more than one Thing at a time, but it’s best to focus on one and then let it become less intense while you move to another. I still tweet, but Twitter isn’t my go-to Thing. I can still knit, but I don’t hunt down a babysitter to go to the weekly knitting group. Photography will always be A Thing (your thing can often lead to an actual business), but the forums aren’t holding my interest they way they used to.

Clearly blogging is something I still love and do regularly (well, semi-regularly) but it is not longer my thing. Currently, My Thing is woven wraps for baby wearing. For real. I’m just now discovering baby wearing goes far beyond the Moby and the Ergo. Waaaaaaaay beyond. Insanely beyond. I’ve joined four different Facebook groups and formed a real-life wrap group that meets every other Friday (which was easy to do, thanks to mama friends I met through Stroller Strides, which was My Thing a few years go). I can browse the Facebook swap group any time of day or up at night with the baby and there’s new stuff to look at that I can google and learn about fiber content and warp and weft and brands and makers. It’s INSANELY boring to anyone who doesn’t care but right now I can’t get enough.

So tell me what’s Your Thing? Just don’t make it too interesting, I don’t have time for much more.

 

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Life With 3: Update 1

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

It is 11:25 am and I am watching The Price is Right, which means life is really good right now. That’s how I judge my level of happiness: am I able to be home, eating a sandwich, between the hours of 11 and 12 so I can watch Drew Carey give away cars? Yes? Success!!

Tomorrow Linc will be 1 month old, and I’ll start doing monthday updates again. I have big plans to do a same-spot monthly photo like I did with Caroline’s tutu, but I am TERRIBLE at following through with stuff like that so we’ll see.

It turns out the hardest part of having three kids isn’t the third kid – it’s the first two. I thought I had done a really good job teaching Evan and Caroline to play on their own without needing me to intervene or referee much. But in reality I just didn’t realize how often I had to step in until I was stuck on the couch under a sleeping or nursing baby and couldn’t break up their squabbles. There has been a LOT more yelling than I like (and I’m not even strictly anti-yelling) just because I CAN’T walk into the other room and deal with them calmly. Caroline has started shouting “Moooooom Evan is TORTURING ME again!” and Evan shouts “DON’T COME UP HERE!” and then I have to stomp up the stairs while they both shout “NOOOOOO! We’ll be good! We promise!!!!” It’s fairly exhausting just to listen to them all day, plus the stomping is really rough on my knees.

Luckily, I only have everyone home for one more week before school starts. School itself is going to be a challenge – Evan’s bus comes REALLY early and I’m kind of nervous about how he’ll behave during a long ride to school – but the quiet I’m going to get while both big kids are gone is going to be life-changing. I can start blogging again. I can edit photos. I can finish knitting one of the 5 baby hats I’ve started but not finished. I can start taking pictures for other people so I can start saving up for the new lens I want.

And I can do ALL that stuff because Linc is a super easy baby. I have absolutely NO delusions this has anything to do with me or my parenting whatsoever. It’s luck. Just luck. Maybe there’s a little truth to the idea that because I’m not tense and nervous and stressed the baby isn’t tense and nervous and stressed, but that’s anecdotal at best. I know plenty of people whose second or third baby was WAY more high-needs than the first one. I just got an easy one this time, for which I am unbelievably thankful. With E gone almost all the time I would be seriously, SERIOUSLY losing my mind if I had an inconsolable, colicky baby.

The day my mom left me alone with all 3 kids I looked around and realized my house was clean and organized, and if I could just MAINTAIN that current level I could avoid a disaster. I’ve been doing really well – right now there’s only one load of laundry not put away and all the dishes are in the dishwasher – but I’ve given up on the kids’ room. Until they go to school and I can spend a good 3+ hours in there purging it’s hopeless. Luckily the rest of the house is still in good shape, so I can just shut their door and ignore it. I’m also ALMOST done with Linc’s nursery – I still haven’t ordered the crib and I need my husband to build me a shelf – and I’m really excited to share it.

Now I have a very important episode of House Hunters: Where Are They Now? to watch while I make a grocery list and a meal plan and enjoy this slightly annoying update while I can. I feel like the next one (after the 6 am wake ups and lunch packing and school drama) will be…much less smug.

 

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Don’t Forget

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Evan is 5 years and 3 months old.

He refuses to let me cut his hair, even though it is getting long and shaggy and gets stuck in his goggles when he tries to swim. Swimming is the only sport or activity he wants to be signed up for, although he said in the fall he’d like to try football.

Evan loves cereal more than any other food. He would rather eat cereal than ice cream or candy or soda or anything else. Sometimes it’s understandable (who doesn’t love Lucky Charms?) but sometimes it’s something really random, like Honey Bunches of Oats. This week it was Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which he had never actually eaten before but INSISTED I buy at the grocery store. He ate 4 bowls between noon and bedtime.

He is a really good helper and will try to do anything you ask, even if he’s not physically capable of doing it. But he is willing to TRY and then ask for help if he needs it. It’s such an amazing grown up skill that even a lot of real grown ups struggle with.

If you ask him to describe himself, he’ll say he’s a ginger and he’s brave.

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Caroline is 3 years and 7 months old.

She thinks all “3”s and “C”s belong to her personally, so when she sees them on signs or in stores she wants to take them home.

All of her toys have basically the same name. Her toy horse is called Horse. Her zebra is named Zebra-Zeeb. A stuffed duck is named Ducky Duck Duck. The only exceptions are her two baby dolls, who are named Baby Memba and Baby Jesus. Obviously.

Caroline calls herself a “curly girl” because people are always commenting on her beautiful hair. Then she finger-twirls her curls because she’s in an invisible contest for the cutest child ever.

Today she told me that “duplicate” is when there is more than one of you, like when you look in the mirror.

rose garden-20

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Both children have no fear or strangers or people. They will ask to be friends with anyone and get sad when their “new friends” (aka the girl they met in the waiting room, the bagger at the grocery store, a random guy who held the door at the mall) leave.

They ate 3/4 of a watermelon today. A real full size watermelon.

They are best friends. They often try to kill each other. I hope nothing changes.

rose garden-38

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I Am A Better Parent When No One Is Watching

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Caroline doesn’t know how to walk. She skips or runs or jumps or hops or flings herself forward in space with no concern for where she will land. Right now she mostly gallops, which often ends in tripping over her own feet while shouting “Mommy I’m galloping like a horse!”

Yesterday on the way to the car for school she galloped herself right onto her face, slamming into our brick walkway hard enough that she reacted with stunned silence instead of immediate tears. I reacted exactly the way you are supposed to, calmly and tenderly, scooping her up to quickly assess the damage without scaring her or focusing on her pain. I collected the things she had dropped and got her into her car seat before I grabbed my well-stocked first aid kit from my purse. I told her I was going to clean off her knee (which luckily was the only injury bad enough to need attention) and wiped it with an antibacterial wipe without ever mentioning that “it might sting a little”. Since I didn’t TELL her it might hurt, she didn’t even notice. I let her pick a bandage (big or little?) and help me unwrap it and stick it over the scrape. Then I suggested maybe her baby doll had gotten a scrape too, so we put a band-aid on Baby’s knee.

The whole thing took maybe 90 extra seconds and no one cried. When we got to preschool, she flung herself out of the car and galloped inside, having completely forgotten her booboo. I looked around my empty car and thought “Man, I wish someone had been recording that. I am an AWESOME parent right now.”

After school we had doctor’s appointments. Two for me – non-stress test and ultrasound – and Evan’s 5 year well-child visit. Both kids were fine through my visits (due 1% to my stern talking-to about how they needed to be quiet and calm and due 99% to the fact that I brought both iPads and the hospital has public wifi) but they were D O N E by the time we got to Evan’s check-up.

When the nurse asked Evan to take off his clothes and put on the paper gown he stomped his foot and said “I DON’T WANT TO”. I bent down to his level and simultaneously bribed and threatened him: “If you can be a good listener during your check-up we will go get ice cream AND cheeseburgers. If you are naughty you will go home and sit in your room with NO iPad.” He glared at me with his arms crossed while the nurse waiting and I wondered what good parents do in this situation.

It went down hill from there.

I lied about his finger poke, saying it didn’t hurt at all (it does and I used to freak out even more than he did when I was little). When he flailed and screamed I held him down and said “KNOCK IT OFF YOU ARE FINE!” instead of being calm and understanding. I did a lot of clenched-teeth hiss-whispering after the nurse left, but none of it worked. When the doctor came in he wouldn’t cooperate, wouldn’t hold still, wouldn’t be quiet. I alternated between standing back and helplessly doing nothing and getting right in his face to threaten/bribe as he cringed.

The whole time I was acutely aware of how I looked, how I came across as a mother, what the whole office staff was thinking about me. What they said when they left the room or after I had dragged the kids out to the car. I am sure none of it was good.

I think it’s that self-conscious awareness that makes me a better mother when I am alone. It’s the opposite of the stereotypical dysfunctional family – we appear to be a mess in public but at home, behind closed doors, I am calm and understanding and loving.

(Don’t get me wrong, we are a yell-y kind of family. There is often yelling. especially when my children have occasional bouts of deafness after being asked to pick up the Legos or go put on their jammies or to PLEASE JUST STOP TOUCHING EACH OTHER.)

But without the scrutiny of strangers to judge my behavior (or more accurately, my children’s behavior) I am more confident in my parenting. When I lose my temper or get to the end of my rope I can regroup and reassess without anyone watching. Of course, it also means I can just IGNORE them when they are horrible, instead of dealing with it. But that also gives me more time to think about what I am doing, instead of reacting with something, ANYTHING to just make them stop.

I’m about ready to move to that commune my friends and I joke about, where we raise goats and co-parent everyone’s kids and no one judges you if your 3 year old throws herself on the ground screaming because you wouldn’t let her bring SEVEN different stuffed animals/dolls to the store. Again.

Although even commune-living would require trips to Target, so I don’t think parenting entirely unjudged is ever possible. I can only dream.

 

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Baby #3 – 30 Week Update

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

I am sitting on the couch eating the last of the giant marshmallows I bought “for s’mores”…even though I didn’t bother to buy chocolate or graham crackers. Today was my 30 week appointment for this pregnancy and – pardon my french – but shit is about to get real.

I was at Mom 2.0 Summit last weekend. It was really, really fun. Because you probably don’t blog and probably weren’t there I am not going to write a super long, super inspirational post about everything I learned and name drop all the fancy people I met.

Although excuse me if I freak out just ONE more time over my photo with Jessica Shyba. Even my mom watches The Today Show and probably knows about Jessica and her adorable kid-dog-sleeping pictures

Besides eating way too much and drinking nowhere near enough water and standing and walking and DANCING like a crazy person and only getting 3 hours of sleep on Saturday night, it also took a couple of long flights to Atlanta and back. After E picked me up on Sunday afternoon I was so swollen and sore I briefly considered calling the OB just to make sure I hadn’t somehow given myself pre-eclampsia.

Instead I drank a TON of water (and some Diet Coke because caffeine is a diuretic and that makes it legit) and lay on my left side and took a nap. By Monday morning I was only half as swollen and by Tuesday I could wear my shoes again. We even went for a family walk and I didn’t think I was going to die on the way home.

But today was that OB appointment and they broke some news: despite the fact that my sugars are normal (no gestational diabetes to see here folks!) and my blood pressure is still excellent and I’ve had no signs of labor and both my previous pregnancies went to at least 39 weeks and my water has never broken on its own…they Have Concerns. Concerns that mean I am going to be at the hospital a lot from now on.

Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY VERY glad my doctor is on top of things. I am glad the midwives at the practice reassured me everything looks fine. I am glad no one is freaking out and we are “just being cautious”. But I’m also not looking forward to bi-weekly non-stress tests or weekly ultrasounds to watch my fluid levels.

I’ve also lost the ability to totally block out the fact that a) I’m having a baby soonish and b) there’s always a chance something IS wrong and they just haven’t seen it on the scans or tests. The phrase “as long as it’s healthy” has never felt so much like a threat instead of just something people say because it’s something people say.

There’s obviously nothing I can do about it now. I’m in third-trimester limbo until either something happens on its own or we decide the baby would be safer out than in.

To be clear, as of right now, there is NO REASON to think the baby isn’t perfect. Well, no reason besides the unexplained high fluid levels that makes it hard for the nurse to keep the baby on the monitor for my NST and makes me look and feel ENORMOUS. But as far as anyone can tell with the baby on the inside, we’re still good.

I’d be more annoyed with the whole thing if there wasn’t any reason at all for the monitoring. But my doctor explained that in some cases – very rare cases – so rare he has never seen one in person – high fluid levels can compress the umbilical cord so baby doesn’t get enough oxygen. That is enough of a reason for me to keep my eye-rolling down to a “OK, I guess I can bring the kids and the iPad in twice a week for checks” instead of elevating it to “UGH. WHY DO I HAVE TO BE HERE???” There’s also the chance that it’s something in baby’s digestive tract or kidneys that isn’t working correctly. Or that it’s a facial or mouth deformity that can’t be detected via ultrasound.

But we DON’T KNOW, so thinking about it – or Googling it – is pointless. I say that to myself at least 20 times a minute while I’m on the internet. So basically 24,000 times a day.

I don’t want to be the person who freaks out over a healthy pregnancy, a third baby when many people struggle to have even one, someone who is ungrateful and annoying and everyone dreads running into. But I also miss my first pregnancy, when everything felt new and exciting and was so, so, SO very average and I had no idea how fragile pregnancy could be or how many things could go wrong. What To Expect might be terrifying for first time moms but it’s got NOTHING on almost 6 years of the internet.

So for approximately 10 more weeks I am going to live at the hospital being assured that no one really knows anything but they’re trying.

I will spend about 50% of that time pretending I’m not even pregnant so why would I need to buy a crib and the other 50% staring at cribs on the internet to find the perfect one for the nursery we haven’t started yet.

And also 100% of that time being punched in the lungs and/or cervix by a baby who has made so much amniotic fluid I basically have an olympic-sized swimming pool inside me.

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