Wednesday, February 27, 2013

is this thing even on?

I know, it's been a super long time since I've written anything here. I've been busy being a mom, as a matter of fact. Ha ha ha, see what I did there?

What? My 2.5 year old thinks I'm hysterical.

I have reached a point where I think I'm ready to start writing about myself again. After not really having a self for oh, lets say 2.5 years..... I'm ready to find myself again. (it's funny, how long i'd spent trying to lose myself in my teens and twenties.... i had NO IDEA that all i had to do was have some kids and devote my life to them fully to really lose myself)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What works for me: Green Toys

I've been putting together my son's holiday wishlist and it's reminded me how much I love products from the Green Toys brand. If you have a child under the age of 5 years and aren't familiar with them you ought to be. They are made in the USA from BPA-free recycled milk jugs. They are not only food safe, but if you're lucky enough to have a dishwasher you can toss those bad boys right on in there. Everything is solid and sturdy and neatly designed, and things come in minimal recycled (and recyclable) cardboard packaging. That's right, no wire twist ties to contend with, no plastic bubble pack to try and hack open. It's fantastic. Gibson has a number of their toys, and the small plastic bowls were the first I used to feed him from. If I have any complaints at all about their stuff it is the minor complaint that they've introduced a line of pink things which just seems like a cheap ploy to appeal to the standard issue gender stereotypes, but I'm sure that I only think this because I'm a tree hugging left coast intelectual elitist. So yeah, Green Toys! Made in the USA with both the environment and your children in mind. No bells, no whistles, just sturdy toys that both appeal and stand up to children. Green Toys remain one of my favorite brands.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

No More Nursing

My boobs closed up shop over 9 days ago. If you had told me back before I had a kid that I would be breast feeding my baby successfully and happily until he was past 16 months old I would never have believed you. It's not that I was ever anti-breast feeding, I just never thought about it. But that is exactly what happened. Nursing was not always easy, and especially during those first few difficult months it never occurred to me that I'd still be doing it over a year later. And yet.... despite all the curve balls and different challenges I made it an incredible 16 and a half months.

Back at the start there were the sleepless nights, the sore cracked nipples, the clogged ducts, the inability to drink and take medications whenever I wanted or needed to. After the nighttime feedings ended came the teeth, the fidgeting, and the feet in my mouth. But it did get easier, we got into a groove. There were days when I didn't think I had the patience to get through a nursing session, but overall nursing my son has been a great privilege and I feel lucky to have been able to.

I was sad last weekend when I stopped. It's bittersweet. I felt lost for the first few days, unsure of how to comfort him. How do I put him to sleep without whipping out the boobs? It's been easier for him than for me. He seems not to notice that I'm no longer offering the breast to him, and he's not once asked for it. He used to bring the boppy over to me whenever he was tired and wanted to go to sleep. He'd nurse down to a nap or for the night, and always right when he got up in the morning. He'd let Todd put him to sleep at night or for a nap without nursing, so we knew it wasn't a must, just a preference. All we did was hide the pillows and started to offer a cup of (soy or almond or cow) milk to him when he was obviously tired and it worked. He's fine with it. He accepts the cup of milk and lets us cuddle and rock him and sing to him before going to sleep. And I've only cried a little bit. I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I am a little sad that he's quite obviously not my little baby anymore. But at the same time, it's nice to have my breasts back to myself. After the initial swelling and engorgement ended and I no longer had to stuff cabbage leaves down my bra it's gotten easier. I'm less sad about it, and I make sure to get a little extra cuddle time whenever I can.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Who? Me?

I'm a stay at home mom. I never had a job that was more than a job, no career or calling or something I was meant to do. I was not raised to believe I could be anything I wanted. Never told I could be an astronaut or the president or pushed to be a doctor or lawyer. I don't know if I was ever told that women were meant to be wives and mothers, but when I informed my mom about which college I really wanted to attend (an arts college) she said, "You'll never find a husband there" I didn't care, I wasn't going to major in husband hunting- although for all the use art history has been to me maybe I should have). When I got pregnant I knew that I had no qualms about quitting my job to take care of the baby once he would be born. The idea of figuring out child care and it's mind bogglingly expensive costs in NYC was too much for me to handle, especially considering I'd have been leaving my baby to deal with over privileged mommies, nannies, and other people's screaming babies. Also the idea of having someone else care for my child didn't sit too well with me. All of the costs, emotionally, monetarily, logistically seemed to be too much. Giving up the highly rewarding job of receptionist at a posh pediatric office wasn't exactly the hardest thing I've ever done, even if my bosses and coworkers were the best I'd ever had.

However now one year later I find myself enviously watching my husband get ready for work in the morning while I struggle with a squirmy toddler and wondering how hard could it really be to find a nanny, or day care, or sitter, how much could it really cost? I don't live close enough to family, nor have any friends I could dump my darling son on. No one to take advantage of that way. I've never used a sitter. Not once. He's a year old and my husband and I have not once gone out without him together. We've gone out alone- or out with own friends to do our own social things... but never once have we left the babe at home with someone so we could have time together (lack of date night type things is a different post altogether though).

I do not begrudge my husband his job. He does not love it, and I know he'd rather be home all day, even if he doesn't full understand what being a stay at home parent really entails. There is more than playing with the boy and/or being present while he plays quietly with his toys. Even after a year I'm still struggling with my own identity. I am a mother and a caregiver. I am a wife and home maker. Am I more? I must be and yet I have no great passion and no great drive. I get my fulfillment from watching my son learn and grow, his smiles and giggles bring a song to my heart. But what else? Do I really want to go back to work? I would be bored there as well. But at least then I'd be making my own money and not be as completely reliant on my husband as I am now. And I'd have time to myself, even if it would be spent thinking about how much I hate the commuting and the phone ringing and the people interrupting my lunch with stupid questions and demands. Would going back to work be more fulfilling than staying home? Will I be able to concentrate on anything of my own for more than five minutes at a time?

Some days I want nothing more than to go back to zombie workland. Some days I want to be the one get a few snuggles and head out for the day and come home later to get a few more snuggles and put the boy to bed and think how awesome it is to be a parent. I know it's not that easy. I'd feel guilty and miss him. It is an honor to raise my son and listen to him chatter and sing, watch him learn to walk and chase the cats. But some days are harder than others.

Friday, May 20, 2011

What works for me: Diaper Genie II Elite

I can understand wanting to reduce the amount of crap you consume, especially when it comes to babies. There are so many, many things that people will try to convince you need and try to sell you. (So many I purposefully wrote 'many, many' in that sentence!) But these are things that I highly recommend. Because I'm the expert now, ya know, having had one kid almost a year ago and not killing or maiming him yet!

Parents love to talk poop. It's strange how 2 grown adults can become so engrossed in something so gross. Even if you resist it, you find that one of the only ways to know if your babe's doing alright is by checking what comes out of them. Once you've checked you've got to get rid of it, right? But how?

I've read some posts on a parenting forum about how people don't like the diaper genie. It wasn't 'necessary'. I guess that part is true. Even if you choose disposable diapers, you can dispose of them anywhere. You don't HAVE to have a dedicated trash pail just for diapers. You can do as my friend does and ball them up and take them and put them into her kitchen trash pail. I find that I like the convenience of mine. I have the Diaper Genie II Elite. That last part, the pretentious 'II elite' is the important part. It's what separates the winners from the losers in the diaper pail game. That's the step-on functionality which allows for hands free operation of the thing. And believe me, if there's one thing a parent never has- it's enough hands, especially when poops involved. Yes, you could use any step on trash pail. It'd work probably just as well. The Diaper Genie says it's got a multi layer odor trapping technology or some malarkey. I don't know about that. It's pretty good, but once your kid starts solids and the smells that come from the diapers are not to be believed- the smell sometimes lingers no matter what you do. I can say that I've used my diaper genie at least 6 times a day for the past 11 months and I haven't had any problems with it. The interior's stayed clean, the exterior has needed minimal cleaning. The step on pedal's worked fine and the changing 'the sausage' is so easy that I could probably teach my 11 month old to do it. We change the sausage about twice a week and the plastic wring of casing/bag lasts us about a month. It's compact, easy to use, and collects poopy diapers. What more could I ask of it short of changing the diapers itself?

**I am just writing this crap because I want to. I have not been compensated in any way for my opinions.. **

Monday, March 21, 2011

on modesty

I may have had a more *ahem* wild time when I was in my twenties. I may have been more free and indulged what could be called an exhibitionist streak and lived very publicly online. But I got old and married, and became a more private person. But there's nothing like having a baby to pull yourself out of any self imposed notion of modesty or propriety.

To start there is the beautiful business of baby making. Sometimes it takes more business than others. Sometimes it takes a lot of business. But it's hard to be modest when you're checking the gauges regularly and really trying for it. But that's not even what I'm talking about.

As a pregnant lady you get accustomed to dropping trou for your doctor and/or midwife on a regular basis. And as times goes on your visits become a little closer together- really warming you up to the idea of showing a host of medical staff your goodies. Although by the last trimester you can't see them over the giant belly anyway, so at least there's that bit of added privacy built right in to the situation.

I took a birthing class at a local place. It was a bit hippy dippy for me; held in the back of a pilates studio by a doula. Considering that all I knew about birth I learned either in 9th grade biology class or self taught out of handy 'what to expect' type books.... I guess you could say I needed a class. I knew where babies came from and how they were made (thanks miracle of life!) but it seemed like a good idea to learn the stages of labor, and pain coping techniques and different situations I might encounter.

What I did learn is that it's difficult to meditate while chewing gum and not being able to hear the very quiet instructions on meditation were not in fact relaxing but incredibly stress inducing. I learned that holding ice for an extended period of time is actually pleasant when I was swollen and looking to relieve my carpel tunnel - not quite what the instructor had in mind with the breathe through the discomfort exercise. I learned that Todd and I don't have a special favorite place in which to creatively visualize ourselves in times of duress.

Also, I learned that I actually have a lot of puritanical WASPy shame/body issues. You see, we watched a few birth videos and they were exactly like you'd expect. A little dated, but full of information. Lots of clips of ladies of all sorts grunting and pushing and bouncing on their birthing balls or waddling along with their partners. I decided pretty immediately that I didn't want to give birth on an office chair while leaning into/sitting on my husband's lap as I saw one woman do. Water birth didn't seem to be so bad, I liked water. But mostly I had to stifle uncomfortable giggles as voice overs proclaimed the women to be wise and beautiful and knowing. We watched the short film 'Birth Day' about a Mexican midwife who delivers her third child at home in her hot tub with her family surrounding her and without any other help. If there was anything I was sure I did not want it was to be without any medical help, or naked on camera, or swimming with my naked family in a pool of afterbirth. And especially all of that together rolled into one. (Although at least those little boys in 'birth day' weren't going to grow up and have any of the hangups I quite clearly had.)

After each movie the doula asked, "How did that make you feel?". Uncomfortable. Embarrassed. Prudish. Awkward. But by the time I was in the hospital I was ready to show my bits and bobs to anyone who'd help get the little bugger out of me. I hardly even was able to give any thought to the fact that it was a teaching hospital, and that a very nice nurse was using my vagina as a teaching opportunity ('So this is how you place a catheter'). And by the time the baby was out I was well used to the revolving cast of strangers checking out my lady lumps.

Getting the baby to latch while breast feeding gave each nurse the chance to show me how they thought it should be done. And yes, each nurse had a little different take on it. So many people just got in there and grabbed my boobs, it was like madi gras or spring break. And now, 9 months later I'd still rather not show the class the girls if I can help it. Not because of any shame in nursing my son, but because I'd really rather keep milky mountain to myself and a select few others.

And being a stay at home mom it's been difficult for me to shower without having company most of the time (unless I get up very early, or want to shower very late in the day). Soon I am sure I'll not even be able to pee alone thanks to an increasingly mobile little boy who is about to hit his separation anxiety stage. I'm sure it'll continue to be an adventure and experience, no matter how exposed I may or may not be.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Let's hear it for the busty ladies pt 1 : bras

I make no pretense in life, I am a big girl. Bigger than I used to be since I've become a mom. And if I thought that pre-baby shopping was difficult, I am now even more challenged to find things that fit, flatter, and are comfortable enough to wear daily while still nursing the little dude. I am a stay at home mom so I could be one of those sweat suit wearing gals and to tell the truth I do sometimes stay in my lounge-pants pjs during the day. But usually I do try to put a little effort into my appearance even if I'm not leaving the apartment. While I may not always put makeup on, I do make a point to wash my face, brush my teeth, brush my hair back into a neat pony tale, and put on day clothes. I know I need a new hairstyle, but that's a post for another day. It would be far too easy for me to slide into a sloppy pit of stained and shlumpy duds and stay there. And no one wants to see that.

I gained a lot of my baby weight early on in my pregnancy and watched my 38C's become D's and then some. They're currently hanging out in the realm of the F's, and the 38 is but a distant memory. Finding a good nursing bra in my size that is comfortable, does not have an underwire and yet still supports the ladies, well... I thought it was damned near impossible until I found hot milk.

As my husband likes to say, it's a nursing bra made by a company who wants people to have more babies. They are pretty. Sexy even. And come in my size, and bigger! And are quite possibly the most comfortable bra I've worn in years, regardless of my nursing status. They're expensive-ish, though I'm strangely frugal when it comes to undies, but I have managed to buy a half dozen or so whenever they show up on zulily. I love them so much that even though I intend on weaning the boy soon(ish) I just bought a couple more bras a few weeks ago when they came up on sale again. I can not recommend them enough. (And I am addicted to zulily - you can't beat their prices for the hotmilk bras which would normally run about $60 -I get them for about half price).

It is so wonderful to have a pretty thing to wear. Even more so a pretty undergarment. Having a baby has thrown my mojo for a loop. I wasn't the type who got to feel sexy and gorgeous throughout the pregnancy, and even now almost 9 months on I'm trying to get it back. So here's to the sexy nursing bra for giving me the fit, the support and the little extra oomph to make me feel better about things all for less than the price of a victoria's secret bra.

I've tried a dozen different styles/brands from motherhood maternity and none of them fit as well, nor were half as attractive. And I experienced the dreaded inconsistent sizing, one bra's DD cup was another's C, and there's no way my girls were squeezing back into a C. Also, most of the things I've gotten from motherhood maternity fell apart after a few washings and were surprisingly expensive for such shoddy quality. And yes, for the record, I totally went straight ahead while pregnant and bought nursing bras as I went up sizes. I figured even if I didn't end up nursing, I would still need larger sizes while my cup runneth over, and I might as well have the option of a one handed clip should I need it later. And boy howdy have I needed it.