Friday, June 30, 2006

It's Hard to Believe...

...that anyone who could create something as gorgeous as this little man could be so badly in need of a make over that the makeup consultants were tripping over themselves and clawing at each other to get to me first when I walked through the doors of Sephora the other day. But that is what happened...

Ethan & I were strolling the mall and I decided "what the heck". Sure I'd been in the Sephora at Georgetown just two days before and bought frivolous Stila lip glosses (because all stay at home moms like plump shiny lips when they are loading the dishwasher and folding burp clothes).

The consultant for the "Benefit" line managed to scratch her way to me first, so she had the honor of transforming me from haggard hausfrau to yummy mummy. Ha. Ha. Really what she did was focus on my eyes and how to make them look less tired, frazzled and all around "old". It's amazing what a make up consultant can get away with saying to you in the name of making you look better. She must have insulted the "bags" and the "shadows" and the "tired appearance" of my peepers about a hundred times. And of course, each time I was determined to take her makeover and walk out without spending a freaking dime on her fancy shmancy product.

But damn it all if my eyes didn't look lighter, brighter and more alert after she spent about 20 minutes dabbing, patting and brushing. I hated to admit it, but she was right--I had looked like the living dead (my words, not hers. I mean, she has to have some tact, right?!) So I walked out of there $40 poorer after buying two of the four products she slathered on my face.

Of course, just like that fabulous hair cut that looks so amazing at the salon, it is impossible to recreate the look at home. This morning, in between Ethan's crying jags (I can't even bring myself to write about these--they are just too much), I made a mad dash into the bathroom and attempted to transform myself into that vibrant looking young thing that sashayed her way out of Sephora yesterday When I walked out of the bathroom a few minutes later, I still looked like me, but with lots of really light makeup around my eyes. Hmmmmmm....

Good thing I had that lip gloss to really complete the look. I'm sure the cats appreciated my fancy new look as they watched me scoop out their litter box. Because if that isn't a good excuse to get prettied-up, I don't know what is

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The One Where I Kvetch About the Size of My Ass...

So today I had to go to Old Navy and purchase a pair of jeans that could replace the spinnaker on a sailboat. It is depressing. I mean, really--he was 4lbs, 13oz people! That accounts for about 5lbs of the forty--yes, forty, that I managed to pack on. Where is my size 8 body??!! Yes, yes I know--"9 months up, 9 months down" and yes, I know that my body just performed an incredible feat and under difficult circumstances. Fine. Let's all join hands and sing a verse of Kumbya in honor of my body's tremendous accomplishment. And then let's call Dr. 90210 for a consultation on some serious lipo...

I lost 20 lbs within the first two weeks, and that leaves me with approximately 20 extra pounds. Perhaps that would not bother me so much if I hadn't spent my entire 20's battling the exact same 20 lbs. I am one of those girls who went to college, discovered fruity, frozen drinks and proceeded to pack on the freshmen, sophomore and junior 30. By senior year, I was waddling to class. It took me almost a decade to really get in gear and shed it. I cannot adequately express the fear that strikes me when I think it might take me another decade to get rid of this baby fat. Buying those jeans in a size I haven't worn during my 30's almost drove me to fill my prescription for Zoloft.

I would love to work out. Really I would. I would go to the gym this very instant, or even get down on the floor of my livingroom and knock out 100 crunches right now. But, see, I have this baby and he has a thing for being held. All. The. Time. Unless he is sleeping, he insists on being in my arms. I must have signed some contract or something because he is really adamant about it. Of course, he's not in my arms at this exact moment (ahhhhh, sleeping babies are the bestest babies in the world!!), but that means I have a choice to make: crunch or blog. Something tells me that "blog" will win out in that race every fingers will be in magnificent shape.

if only I could teach my ass to type...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back...

So we were out of the house yesterday for 8 full hours. Yes, folks, 60-minutes, 8 times in a row. That's the longest I have been out of this house for the past 6 months (not counting, of course, all the time I spent in Hotel High Risk and delivering the little man). And to top that off, we spent those 8 hours without the security of a bottle. Oh no. I was feeling bold and I just packed up my boobs and took them along instead. Living on the edge. And I'm thrilled to report that
a.) my child did not starve to death, and
b.) no one got a free boob show

Of course, before you go nominating me for "public breasfeeder of the year", I must confess that my audience was comprised of in-laws and close friends in the privacy of their homes. It's not as though I whipped them out on the subway or in the Cheesecake Factory. But that is the dream, my friends. That is the dream.

Now for the "one step back" segment of the post. I grocery shopped at 6am this morning. After some lovely bonding (which consisted of more rocket-launched poops--his, not mine), I tucked the little man into bed with the big man and skulked out of the house for a little "me" time at Harris Teeter. I recall a day when "me" time consisted of pedicures, a leisurely perusal of the paper in Starbucks, maybe taking in a movie in the middle of the afternoon with the pleasure of my own company. Now it is roaming the aisles of a grocery store at an ungodly hour hair in a messy ponytail and wearing my husband's t-shirt. The deli people weren't even working yet. There was one check-out lane open, and with a chatty-Cathy cashier--annoying.

The last time I was at a grocery store at that type of obscene hour I was a drunken college student, jonesing for a box of "chicken in a biscuit" crackers. I bumped into my 1800's American Literature professor in the same aisle. As she was reaching for a box of animal crackers, I can only assumes she was as wasted as me. Um, awkward.

The only people I encountered on my trip through the aisles today were young, sleep deprived parents much like myself. Some had their spawn with them, and some of them were just recognizeable as new parents by the look on their faces---the dark circles under the eyes and the vague expression of an escaped mental patient; clearly lost and aimless, but hoping they don't get captured and sent back to the ward.

One thing I've never realized about grocery stores is how freaking loudly they play their muzak. Without the countless bodies of roaming shoppers to absorb the sound waves, the plinky plunky versions of Les Miserable and Celine Dion songs are enough to make me want to jam forks in my ears until I achieve the blissful peace of silence. Truly if muzak had existed in his time, Dante would have devoted an entire circle of hell to it in his Inferno--perhaps as "musical" accompaniment to his river of excrement chapter. Good times.

Not the quality "me" time I had been craving, but I did kill two birds with one stone; the few minutes in the car alone were fabulous and now we have cereal, soy milk and wine to get us through the week.

Friday, June 23, 2006

File this Under: Shut Up, Bitch!

I can't believe this slipped my mind the other day when I wrote about my craptacular trip to school. I had the most inappropriate interaction with a lady who needs to have her jaw wired shut to keep her from ever speaking to anyone ever again.

It has been my experience that as soon as a woman announces she is pregnant to friends and family, or through her appearance becomes obviously pregnant to strangers, the population at large suddenly assumes the generally accepted rules of socially acceptable comments and topics of discussion are null and void. Anything goes. Please tell me about your 3rd degree vaginal tear. By all means, comment on how fat my fingers are and how relieved you are that I am pregnant, because you were afraid I was just "letting myself go". I want to hear nothing more than about how a co-worker's friend's sister-in-law lost her baby at 26 weeks. All opinions on, and condemnations of, parenting styles are welcome (especially if you've not asked my opinion about it before you rail against one technique and swear by the other).

But this, my friends, takes the cake...

As I was leaving the bbq, getting ready to pick up a few last things from my office, I was stopped in the hallway by one of the special education teachers I have worked with for the past 4 years. She's a nice enough lady, but apparently she has no internal filters with which to make socially appropriate decisions regarding her conversation with others.

She approaches me in all seriousness and waits for me to finish a bizarre conversation with another coworker who thinks that somehow I have the power to get another person fired (I was partially administration this year before leaving) and is trying to get me to exercise said power (which I don't really have to begin with, but especially not after 5 months off and my boss signing my year-leave-of-absence form). As psycho #1 leaves, psycho #2 enters and says to me....wait for it....wait for it...

"You know, Sarah, that he (points to Ethan like she's selecting a lobster from the tank at the fish counter) runs a high likelihood of being LD later in life." (for anyone not in education, LD means Learning Disabled).

Oh. My. God. Are you fucking kidding me? Did you really just say that??? Really???

Now, Husband tells me I have no poker face, but if anyone ever tried to hide her rage and absolute horror at the inappropriateness of something said to her, I did. My face hurt almost immediately from the fake smile I plastered on. Apparently she, as well as everyone else in the school, knows that he was 5 weeks early and as a special education teacher, she decided it was her duty (yes, this is how she described it) to let me know what we might "have to deal with down the line."

She seemed to realize a split second later just how horribly rude her little friendly "fyi" was and tried to back peddle by saying she hoped it didn't upset me to hear that and he might not have any issues, but that it was better to know early on so we can intervene before he hits school age, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Now, she may very well be right. Having a preemie does come with some baggage. Husband and I are prepared to have to deal with residual consequences of having Ethan at 34w5d. But is this really something you bring up casually, in the hallway, a total, "by the way..." sort of comment before saying, "Have a nice summer!"? My head was spinning. Since then I have spent an inordinate amount of energy fighting the urge to type "prematurity" and "learning disabilities" into a google search. My son is 7 weeks old; I don't want to worry about these things yet. I want to enjoy the cute little noises he makes and the faces that make Husband and I giggle without wondering if everything is the sign of some developmental delay.

These are the times when I wish I could come up with a witty sarcastic comment on the spot; I mean, this situation was begging for a pithy little retort, but I was tongue-tied. I am one of those people who is completely unable to come up with those sorts of comebacks when the situation calls for it, but on the way home I am a regular stand up comedian--with an audience of This time, though, the only thing I could come up with on the way home was, "shut up, bitch!!"

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My Son, the Rocket Launcher...

Yes, that's him. Look how innocent. Yeah, right.

Today was the day of explosive bodily functions. Good times.

This morning I was audience to and target of a lovely butt blast of poo. Right in the middle of a diaper change. The first diaper change of my day. You know, that groggy, not on my game yet, reflexes still a bit slow diaper change. Yeah, that one. Ethan, or at least his butt, is always on, however, so we were not at all equal opponents in this battle.

I had just removed the dirty diaper and was lovingly coo'ing to my seemingly sleepy little one, the picture of innocence and peace (surprising for a diaper change; they are usually greeted with a sense of righteous indignation that involves some serious wailing and flailing). As I reached for a fresh-scented wipe, I heard the "thpppbbbbttttt" of air. This is common; one would think my son reguarly indulged in chilli or other bean-based treats considering the frequency and ferocity of his gas. He does not.

Well, this time the gas was accompanied by whatever was left from my darling's last feeding. I will spare you the details, but let me say this--thank goodness we used washable paint on his nursery walls. It was a bit modern-arty and perhaps would be worth some money someday if it hadn't been made of poo...

One would think this was enough explosiveness for the day, but no. With the butt explosion conquered, Ethan clearly felt he had to give equal time to the realm of burping/spitting up. By mid-day we had had a fairly peaceful day. There was play time, nap time, tummy time, and several little noshes to fill the little man's tummy.

After one of the above mentioned noshes, Ethan was inspired to "bedazzle" mama's shirt with a fabulous spray of milk. Let me say this, once it's out of my body via the boob, I really don't expect to ever see it or interact with it again. I'm done with it. But my son seems to think that I want it back, like it's only on loan to him, and that I want to wear it. He looks at me like a cat bringing home a dead bird and dropping it at my feet, "Here, Mama, I thought you might like this. Love you." Yeah, thanks, kid. Who needs a necklace or pair of earrings for accessories when you have a kicky little breast milk stain all over your collar and shoulder?! And you can toss out the perfume, too, as it's got quite a distinctive aroma. So cost effective...

like I said, good times...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Life Before 45 Degrees...

Six months ago, I walked out of my school building on a Friday afternoon, after promising my class of 8th graders that on Tuesday (Monday was MLK, Jr day) I would bring them homemade cookies to reward their excellent behavior during our library research project. Yes, I bribed them. I"m not above it--you try dealing with 24 fourteen year olds who have no interest whatsoever in anything but who said what about whom in the cafeteria or who's wearing what, and then you judge me. Until then, back off. Cookies work. Candy works. As a matter of fact, I spent a good deal of my salary on chocolate bribes in my years as a teacher and my test scores were consistenly impressive and "no child left behind"-ish. So there.

So anyway, I made that promise, and walked out of the building. Three days later, I had an ultrasound that showed a lazy, weak, incompetent cervix. It was not susceptible to my chocolate bribes. I never went back to work.

Until yesterday. The last day of school. It is tradition for the faculty to have a little bbq picnic after the last bus full of sweaty, screaming, swearing teenagers pulls out of the lot for the summer. It is definitely a sight worth celebrating. See ya, kiddos!! As a teacher, I can honestly say that we are happier than the kids when the last day of school comes around--it is an indescribable joy to say goodbye to them, even if they weren't hellions.

So I packed up Ethan and his gigantic diaper bag ( you know the phrase, "everything but the kitchen sink"? Believe me, if i could find any reason why he might need it, 'i could fit the damn thing in this bag). We drove the GW Parkway to work, listened to the old morning radio team I used to listen to on my commute and sadly, this nostaglic drive was pretty much the highlight of my trip down memory lane. And even then, it was greatly enhanced by the fact that I could look in my rearview mirror and see little E staring at the world going by him.

I got to the school building just in time to see the busses pull away as I parked my car. I was careful not to bring Ethan during regular school hours, because my god, the germs! I don't know exactly when covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough or using a tissue instead of your sleeve to wipe your nose becomes an automatic sort of reflex, but I'll tell you, I rarely see a middle schooler do either. They generally seem to feel it's their duty to spread as many germs as quickly as possible. Perhaps there is a prize that I am unaware of. But anyway, taking him to school while the students were still roaming the halls would be akin to letting Britney Spears babysit, so I waited until the halls were clear of all but tissue-using, mouth-covering grown ups.

There were many "ooohs" & "ahhhhs" each time I encountered someone I hadn't seen in months. I reiterated over and over that he is 6.5 weeks, but should really be 1.5 weeks (this in response to the "he's so TINY!!" crap that everyone spewed at me). Granted, they also gushed about how gorgeous and precious and handsome he is (duh), but the "tiny" comment really irked me after awhile. Did anyone say to me, "wow, Sarah, you're so fat now!"? or do people say to men under 5'10''. "wow, dude, you're short!"? No. Then why would you focus on a baby's size like that? They all know he was born early--of course he's small. No need to harp on it, people. Talk about all that hair instead.

Of course, there's nothing really wrong with pointing out that he's small, but really...the mom of a preemie has this residual guilt that can be sparked by the most innocuous comments (at least this mom of a preemie does). And after about the 15th time I heard it, I was knee deep in guilt-stew. Yes, people, I know! He was early! I did a bad job of gestating--I get it! grrrrrr.....

Aside from the overly-sensitive reaction to mindless comments from these people, the vast majority of whom made no attempt to contact me at all during the previous months, the morning was relatively pleasant. I caught up with people I had been missing, said goodbye to people I knew I'd never see again and ate a really yummy cupcake. But it was a detached pleasant; kind of like running into an old friend from high school that you really sort of forgot until they were standing there in front of you. You catch up, talk about old times & promise to keep in touch when you know damn well you'll never call or email and most likely never cross paths again.

My office looked exactly as I left it on January 13th. The paperwork on my desk was in the exact same spot; the voice mail light was flashing on my phone (I never checked my work voice mail, ever); the big bag of chocolate bribes was still in the third drawer down. It was eerie. The only sign of any time having passed was the fact that the humidity of the room (it was like a swamp in there) had turned all the paper damp and curling up at the ends. I threw a lot of stuff away without really looking at it & gathered up some personal stuff.

After the picnic, I drove home with my baby and the wedding pictures I retrieved from my office, feeling....nothing. I expected to feel a sense of sadness. I was closing a door. Officially I am "taking a year's leave of absence", but I have a strong suspicion that that year will stretch into either several years or a new career. I am usually a sentimental sap, tearing up at anything that remotely looks like a goodbye. But leaving the school felt like nothing but relief and freedom. I don't even feel like the same person who used to work there.

I realized as far as change goes, I may as well have been wrapped up in a cocoon during the 4 months I spent in bed because who I was and who I am today are as different as catepillar and butterfly.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Picture and Some Thoughts...

baby camoflage...

When he's not lounging in his aquarium kick & crawl and poking hesitantly at the giant squeaking, crinkling inchworm, Ethan is enjoying his new found skill as a breastfeeder. Yes, we've almost entirely cut out the middle-man and it's down to just him and me. Thank GOD! Finally feelings of inadequacy are starting to fade away and maybe, just maybe, I'll let myself believe that I'm a relatively competent mother. I mean, when you hold me up to someone like, say, Britney Spears, who is probably supplementing with Bud Light, I am in the running for Mother-of-the-Freaking-Year award simply for being sure Ethan is strapped into his car seat and not hanging out in the glove compartment or something.

File this under: "she thinks too much"--I am realizing that every day that passes with Ethan is a day he will never be this little again. While a couple weeks ago I felt like I was wishing away this "up all night, no idea what he wants when he cries" and really wanting him to skip straight to 6 months, now I am sad each night when I go to sleep that the day is over and he's going to be a day older when we wake up in the morning. He changes so much every day; how will I ever remember it all?

In other news, Ethan is 6 weeks old, over 7lbs and is starting to show interest in things other than the back of his eyelids and my boobs. As seen in the picture above, he is beginning to "interact" with some of his toys. And by interact I mean he lies there, inadvertently kicks things when he flails and spits up when he gets too excited. Good times...

Speaking of good times, I made my first attempt to reclaim my pre-baby "party girl" ways on Saturday. Husband took Ethan up to his mother's for a visit and I tried to find something in my closet that didn't make me look like I was still pregnant (unsuccessful) and went out for drinks with the girls. Having made the plans almost a week in advance, I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation---me, my girlfriends, gorgeous summer weather and a pitcher of margaritas! I could barely contain myself!!

I was home, asleep on the couch and hour and half after leaving the house. I had two drinks. Two relatively weak, very girly frozen margaritas. I was not drunk, or buzzed or even tipsy. I was exhausted. All I could think about was, "It's quiet at my house. It's empty. I could sleep for a couple of hours. Really sleep." That, combined with the sedative effect of the tequila and I was powerless to fight it--I practically nodded off at the bar. And I used to be life of the party....sigh.

The nap was fabulous. Waking up when Husband and Ethan returned and snuggling with my little man was pure bliss.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Two Speeds....

"Sleeping" & "Crying"...

oh good god, how long does this last? These are literally the two faces of my spawn. A.) The angelic repose of peaceful slumber, a face so precious you have to remind yourself it truly isn't made of spun sugar and begging to be eaten. and B.) The wailing, gape-mouthed, turning purple, howling ear piercer that you fully expect to morph into some kind of underworld demon and devour you whole as his eyes turn glaring, smoking red.

Yes, these are the two faces of the little man over the past couple of days. Perhaps I exaggerate a smidge. Perhaps. But I do guarantee that after twelve hours of just me and the kiddo, it certainly feels that way. Of course, at this very moment he is quietly babbling to the octopus over his head on his aquarium "kick & crawl" mat. A momentary middle of the road. I can only assume this lull in the action means he is gearing up for a scream-fest of epic proportions. Good times...

I am happy to announce though, that when he chooses to grace us with the presence of option #1, we are now able to nourish ourselves during the momentary quiet, as I was finally able to successfully grocery shop. Amy, thanks for the advice on the car seat--unfortunately the store we go to apparently hates children, because the seat simply doesn't go in the cart. I will try your trick at another, more kid friendly establishment. However, Husband and I made it a team effort and I pushed the cart while he pushed the kid in the stroller. I bought actual produce and actual ingredients with which to cook real meals. Now I just have to make sure I use said produce and ingredients rather than allowing them to unwittingly turn into science experiments in my in-house lab, otherwise known as a refrigerator.

And, in the span of one paragraph, the scream-fest has begun. So I bid you adieu. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

We're all going to starve...

So I've become quite the adventurer--thanks to the "rear view mirror" my father installed in my back seat so I can see my son while I'm driving, I no longer fear that he is turning all shades of blue in his car seat while I warble along with the radio, oblivious (although I should be worrying about the distraction factor--looking at Ethan while I'm driving is the equivalent of talking on about a dozen cell phones all at once), and I am feeling like getting out of the house might be the one thing that saves my sanity.

That is, of course, unless I am driving to the OB's office, in which case, I question my sanity even more, considering that at yesterday's appointment I said, "I cry a lot" and 30 seconds later I held a prescription for Zoloft in my hands. Wow, they just hand the pills out like candy--can I get a Pez dispenser with that?

But that is not the point of my post--I'm talking about my adventures, not my flirtation with supposed post partum depression.

Yesterday I attempted to get into the swing of things BIG TIME. In two weeks time, my full time, all-but-live-in maid (aka Mom) will be heading for higher, baby-free, ground and I will be left to my own devices to keep my family afloat. That means there will be laundry to do, dishes to wash, meals to plan and cook, piles of clutter to move around from one place to another and groceries to buy.

Last week I slowly tackled the in-house chores like laundry and dishes, building up to the bigger stuff. Amazingly, this week we have clean utensils and underwear due to my efforts. Yesterday I decided to bite the bullet and take the kid to the grocery store with me. I thumbed through my Rachael Ray's "30 Minute Meals" (her show is so much more fun than her books...booo!) and picked out a few innocuous, how-hard-could-it-be, recipes and made a shopping list.

As mentioned, the ride to the grocery store was super stress free because every time I looked up, there he was in the rearview mirror thingy, not at all any tinge of blue--just looking around at the world wizzing by him (have I mentioned that he's awake a lot now?) Fabulous...this was going to be a life-affirming trip! I can leave the house with an infant! I can do all the things I used to do (short, of course, to wheeling his stroller into Friday afternoon happy hours and downing 4 cosmos before 6pm).

Buuuuuuut, then I got to the store. I figured I would simply transfer his car seat to the front seat of the cart, and voila--let the shopping commence!!! I have seen this for years. I figured it's what you do when you take a baby shopping. No brainer.

Um. That's not how it works. The car seat, complete with my now fussy baby, was too wide for the cart's seat. When I tried to set it in there, it was balanced precariously in such a way that only Britney Spears would find it an acceptable mode of transport for a baby. I may not win a mother of the year award, but I don't want to be in her baby-dropping, front-seat-driving company...

There I stood, in the parking lot of Harris Teeter, shopping cart in front of me, car seat in my hands, fussy baby complaining about---whatever. Mkay...this is not what I was expecting. The refrigerator at home is full of rotting produce and sour milk. Aisles and aisles of fresh, new food was just feed away from me. We NEED food...and yet, I can't get through the grocery store door. I contemplated putting him in his stroller and pushing both the shopping cart and the stroller through the aisles, but then I realized I might be asked to leave and never return if I attempted that.

So, sighing heavily, I accepted that I would be returning home empty-handed. My refrigerator would remain a haven for questionable left-overs, flat soda and year-old marinades. Dinner would have to be yet another experience with take-out.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...

I love having a baby. I love my son in a way I never realized I could love another living thing on this earth. I love him so much it hurts and there are times at night when I wake up just to look at him, to make sure he's still there--that I haven't dreamt it all up and little Ethan is just a figment of my imagination. When he smiles, even though rationally I know they are gas smiles, my heart melts and I am just soaring. This is the meaning of my life.

I feel the need to say that, to make that abundantly clear, before I embark upon this post. Because this post is about how f*cking hard it is to be a parent and I don't want anyone to post a comment questioning my love for my son or my willingness to throw myself in front of a bus for him if the situation even remotely called for it.

I am torn. Between wanting to hold Ethan close to me 24/7 & wanting to run screaming from the house the moment Husband appears from his office at the end of the day. Between wanting to breastfeed like a champ, luxuriating in the bonding and the empowerment of providing my child with his sole source of nutrition, and wanting to go to Costco to stock up on the biggest canisters of Enfomil they have, letting my aching boobs dry up, never to be heard from again.

Clearly I opt to stay and hold my son and whip out the boob at the slightest indication that he might be remotely peckish for a nosh. Of course I do. And I love him with a fierceness that staggers me. But sometimes I catch myself on just this side of a panic attack. Because none of this is easy. The only part that comes easily is the love. The aching, unconditional, "I'd die for you" love. The rest of it is like the hardest geometry test I've ever taken (and if you've been reading for awhile, you know how math and I don't get along).

The difference is that this is a test I have to pass. In math, I could always just fail--what's the worst that could happen? It was a class and as important as it seemed at the time, it's significance in my life, in the grand scheme of things, was miniscule. It meant, I guess, that I'd never be an astronomer. But passing the test of motherhood--well, its hard to venture into hyperbole when consiering the importance of that. And there are times when I feel like I am teetering dangerously on the edge of a disappointing grade.

Everyone says that breastfeeding gets easier; they swear up and down that soon I will love it; that it will become second nature and I will be a pro--the encouragement is nice and there are times when I believe them. But there are also times when I feel like I would enjoy this whole motherhood thing so much more if I could give Ethan a bottle and a schedule and actually get a shower in more than once every two or three days.

I know that, due to the brilliant incompetence of my reproductive system in general, Ethan is the only child I will ever give birth to; therefore I feel incredible pressure (yes, from myself alone) to get. it. right. To be sure that everything I do with him and for him is right and perfect from the first step. If I quit breastfeeding because it is too difficult for me, I know I will look back later in life and feel like I let myself and him down. It's not about me--I don't come first anymore--so the discomfort, the frustration, the anxiety--they all have to take a backseat to doing what's best for Ethan. 95% of me accepts that gladly and willingly--5% of me resents it bigtime.

Because I haven't left the house in days. Because I haven't slept for more than 2 uninterrupted hours in a month. Because sneaking out to the grocery store for 10 minutes at the end of the day is a luxury. Because I haven't seen any of my friends in weeks. Because sometimes I miss Friday afternoon, drop down drunk happy hours with my "work friends". Because now that I'm breastfeeding, it is all on me. And it is overwhelming. And I feel guilty when I get overwhelmed. I want so desperately to be good at this. And sometimes I feel like I am being sucked down a drain.

Everyone tells you that you "forget the pain" of childbirth. A few women are honest and say that's a bunch of bullshit--the memory of that pain stays with you forever. What noone ever told me was hard it was after the pain of childbirth subsides.

Would love to blog...

but i have a little man snoozing on my lap & he's just too freaking cute to move...

so I'll just give you a picture for today.

Like his mommy, Ethan finds it impossible to express himself without using his hands...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Aimless rambling....

My preemie is quickly approaching his due date and therefore the sleepy little bundle is suddenly awake a LOT and apparently exercising whatever muscles one uses for screaming bloody murder. Also, we have developed a new pasttime--spitting up. Not just a little dribble here and there. Oh, no. I'm talking "did you even EAT that much??!!" spitting up, after every meal. So add the reguritation of mama's milk to her pre-existing "is he getting enough; where are my see-through boobs?!" anxiety and mama is basically a big old basket case, obsessed with the idea that her little boy is starving to death--regardless of the wet, poopy diapers he continues to present to us with tremendous pride (symbolized by his insistance that he spray what can only be described as a triumphant stream of pee all over the place the moment we remove his diaper--if this were an olympic sport, no judge could give him less than a perfect 10 for this.)

Ah, the joy of it all.

I won't dwell on my growing neuroses about my child's eating habits. We are going to the cute, younger than me pediatrician tomorrow and I'm sure he'll assuage all my crazy-mama fears.

In other news, I sit here today, officially wearing my interim "fat chick" clothes. Yes, I gained 40 lbs during the saga of the bedrest. Okay, so 10 lbs of it was in the first trimester when I was not restricted to bed. Carbohydrates were the only things that even qualified as food for me, and considering the hit-by-a-truck fatigue I felt during those first couple of months, I could literally feel the potatoes and bagels adhering to my ass. So sad. I did lose 20 lbs in the first two weeks after delivery, after all 40lbs seemed to settle temporarily in my ankles and feet. But I had to go to Target the other day to purchase a cart load of inexpensive chubby duds to wear until the breastfeeding diet starts doing it magic...

Speaking of, (yes, there's much more aimless rambling now that I am a sleep-deprived lunatic), I think when a breastfeeding mother steps on the scale, she needs to take into account the fact that her breasts are now the size of a small country and as dense as the poplulation of NYC. Yeah, I have 20 lbs to lose, but I really think 10-12 of those pounds are just sitting in my boobs. A quick glance at myself in the mirror this morning left me wondering when, where and how I had breast implants without my knowledge...

In an attempt to begin losing some of this weight, Ethan and I ventured out yesterday for our first "mommy & me" walk to the park. We didn't make it all the way to the park (I was in bed for four months, people--some slack, please!), but we did find a gorgeous little bike path that leads to the park, through many back yards and I realized that we live on the outskirts of a really nice neighborhood. Not that we're ghetto, but I may have mentioned in previous posts that we are a neighborhood "in transition"---well, the bike path people have transitioned into rich, BMW-SUV driving, flower pots on every porch, new addition on the back of the house yuppies. Ah, that is the dream...

Some of these people have landscaped their asses off for the viewing pleasure of those on the bike path. And it amazes me that I am 3 minutes from Georgetown and the hustle & bustle of DC, yet this path is complete peace and quiet, not to mention laced with tons of pretty flowers and chattering squirrels (they all probably live next door to me in the abadoned house). Soon I am going to have to get my flabby ass to Home Depot and buy some flowers to plant in our yard. Ethan enjoyed the view of the inside of his eye lids, as usual, so the walk was really for me. I think we'll go again today. If I can get off the couch...

Monday, June 05, 2006

One Month

Dear Ethan,

It is hard to believe a month worth of days and nights (oh, how they all meld together after awhile) have passed since you made your grand entrance. Your daddy and I can scarcely recall what life was like before you joined us and made us a family (although I have a vague recollection of showering daily and sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time). There are no words to adequately express the joy you have brought to our lives. (Note to self: re-read this post at approx 2am tomorrow morning during nightly scream-fest to remind yourself about all the joy.)

When you first came into the world, I only got to see you for a few seconds before they took you away to make sure you were healthy and strong (you were a little bit early). It was so strange to know that you were in another room, away from me. For the past several months, you had been my constant companion, always making your presence known with a kick to the rib or your constant hiccups (you still have those). I hadn't been without you since the moment of your conception and the next several hours were so difficult for me. I just wanted to have you next to me, but you needed to be in the NICU and I was recovering from surgery.

This is you, right out of the oven; what a stylish little hat you have on.

Daddy and I visited you in the NICU every day for 8 days, sometimes several times in one day. We learned how to feed you, bathe you, change you and basically not be afraid of your tiny little self! Your favorite thing during this time was to "kangaroo" with me--I'd lay your tummy on my chest and we would listen to each other breathe & feel each other's heartbeats--no matter how fussy you were about a noise or a light in that busy place, when we kangaroo'd, you would just melt onto me; it was almost like having you in my belly all over again. That was the era of the "Joe Cool" sunglasses and the magically appearing lactation consultants. I swear, my breasts must make some sort of high pitched squealing noise that only LCs can hear when I unhook my bra; they arrived within seconds of each attempt to get you on the boob.

You've been home with us now for three weeks and every day has been an adventure. You have mastered the art of sleep grunting and babbling, and you know how to hold the pacifier in your mouth with the back of your hand. You created the "sneezescream", though I fear you've outgrown it (and alas, we never captured it on tape). You already share your daddy's mannerisms when it comes to sleep--one hand up and tucked underneath your chin.

You are even developing some basic language skills (I can dream, right?) You have a very specific cry, particularly when we are changing your diaper, that sounds exactly like you're saying, "Okay", as in, "Okay, you got me. Good joke. Okay, you can stop with the wipes and the ointment now! Okay! Okay! Seriously! Okay!"

We do spend most of our time on the essentials: eating, sleeping and pooping. In those rare moments when you are awake, you spend most of your time in the sling (this is how we "attach), the bouncy seat (this is how mommy is able to blog or luxury of luxuries, paint her toenails) or enjoying some good old fashioned tummy time (this is how you learn to hold your head up and release gas--two very important skills that will impress people later in life).

sling time with daddy; we digs the naps in this house right now.

swimming in the bouncy seat, apparently just after taking something really hot out of the oven

Rocking tummy time with the boppy

Sometimes it is overwhelming to have a little person to take care of 24/7; before you, we only had ourselves to worry about. It was easy. Now it's not. Now every new day is a challenge that we've never faced before. But I cannot begin to tell you, little Mr. E, just how much your mommy & daddy adore you and how much we look forward to the challenge and the joy of each new day.

Love, Mommy

Friday, June 02, 2006

Where can I find see-through boobs?

Because I'm in the market for a pair.

The lactation consultant came over yesterday and worked her magic. Ethan is now a breastfed baby (albeit awkward and frustrating). I think there's been one mini-bottle in the mix since 2pm yesterday afternoon--the rest has been all boob, baby.

The problem is I am spoiled by the bottle. I knew that at every feeding, Ethan was getting 2oz of milk from start to finish. And I knew when "finish" was because there was nothing left--just that satisfying "I'm sucking on air now, mommy" sound of an empty bottle. I could rest assured knowing that he was getting enough and Husband and I could say, "Let's see if he'll take 65mls this time" and assess how ready he was to up his intake, based on whether or not he spit up after he ate. It was a wonderful feeling of being able to monitor his growth and gave me an incredible feeling of security that I was doing a good thing for my son--like taking care of him and making sure he was growing.

Well, boobs don't make a "I'm sucking on air now, mommy" sound when they are empty and that whole lying down on the job positioning in breastfeeding makes it really easy for the little man to snooze rather than eat. I need to be some sort of Hindu goddess with 15 arms to do all the tickling, poking and prodding required to keep him conscious long enough to actually swallow anything mommy's got to offer. It makes for a long feeding and a weepy, insecure mommy. What fun. It's as if, almost a month into the adventure, I am back at day one and relearning it all...

And so I scrutinize the poopy, wet diapers even more obsessively and hyperventilate at every cry--does he need to eat again? Did he get enough last time? Do I have anything to give him? How do I know when he is done?

So what I need is a set of transparent boobs, clearly marked for milliliters and ounces. Then, perhaps, this neurotic mommy will be able to peel herself off the ceiling, take a few deep breaths and actually get through a feeding without melting down..I think I'll start looking on Ebay...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

At least they haven't eaten the baby...

Yes, I am referring to my cats. My poor, long-suffering, attention-starved, elderly kitties.

This is them usurping the glider and ottoman that my parents thought they purchased for Ethan's feedings and midnight cuddle-fests. They didn't realize (nor did I) that what they were really doing was furnishing my cats with a retirement home. Poor Penny (the ottoman kitty)--she just looks so pathetic lying there. "Fine, kick me out of your room. Forget all about me. Forsake me for that tiny crying, flailing, pooping thing. Sighhhhhhhhhh" (Yes, in my head, she is a Yenta with an accent to boot)

A little background: the cats have been with me for over a decade. I got Abby from an over-all and flannel-shirt wearing farm lady during my senior year of college in Lee, NH and I rescued Penny from the animal shelter in Manchester two years later. I actually fought off an entire family of whiney children to get her after seeing her on the humane society's public access tv show (Oprah was in commercials).

Until I gave birth to an actual human baby, I truly believed that I loved these cats as much as a mother loves her child. I called them "my babies" and I spoiled them rotten. Husband likes to tell people that if it ever came down to him giving me a "It's me or the cats" ultimatum, the cats would be curled up on his side of the bed while it still had his indentation on it. And while that is totally untrue, I can't blame him for thinking that--I do love the cats to distraction.

And I still do. But I can't afford the time, the space or the energy right now. Abby used to spend her day curled up at my side (in the days of the bedrest); but now Ethan is curled up in that same location. Abby is currently pretending she is happy at the foot of the bed, poor thing; and she is NOT a foot of the bed type of cat--she is far too diva for that business.

With the warm weather, Penny has high-tailed it to the basement which is her favorite summer hang out. Thank goodness she loves lurking down there while it is sweltering out, or I would feel such guilt--imagine, a cat banished to the basement and me to blame...I don't think I could live with it. But if she's happy down there, I'm happy for her to be there.

There is much tentative walking around and sniffing of the baby, but thus far they have agreed to leave him pretty much alone. He is smaller than them and therefore poses little real threat. Plus, they never know when he will cry, SneezeScream or otherwise freak them out with his sudden noises and movements. Cats don't really like surprises, I've found, despite the whole curiosity adage. For a few nights I slept with one eye open and my ears on high alert to be sure they didn't try to jump into the pack n' play and take a nap on my son's head or lick him to death with their germy little cat-food smelling tongues (I love them, but I am a realist--they have some nasty cat breath). They have attempted neither and I am beginning to believe they will not show any ill-will towards him until he is able to grab hold of their tails and give them a good yank. Then he's on his own...

Now, that's not to say there's been no feline-related drama with the arrival of Mr.Ethan. While I was in the hospital for the several days following my c-section, the cats apparently decided that rather than take the time to develop the gift of speech and express their displeasure verbally, they would simply pee everywhere and leave the occassional poop lying around in pooping-restricted zone (that would be anywhere but the litter box, obviously). Fortunately for me, I was laid up in a hospital bed, counting the seconds until my next dose of pain relief, so someone else got to clean up those joyful expressions of feline frustration (thanks, Husband and Mom).

I feared the rebellion would continue when we returned home, but it seems that as long as I am here, regardless of the "baggage" I am towing (and I use the term baggage from their perspective, not mine), they are content.