“Mommy’s Best Friend”

As I folded laundry tonight, I stumbled across an adorable onesie with “Mommy’s Best Friend” embroidered on the front. And I laughed to myself. See, I’m pretty sure the Baby Union has a contract with clothier Carter’s to print stuff like that. That, and “Mommy Loves Me” and “Daddy’s Little Hero” and “Love My Grandma”. 

Because when your kitchen floor is covered an inch deep with 100 or so plastic sandwich baggies or your bathroom floor is one undulating sea of toilet paper, it’s smart to have the perpetrator of such crimes in something which disarms you with cuteness. Like I said, the Baby Union is definitely in on it.

Look, I know I’m one of the lucky ones. My Mother-In-Law retired not long before I got pregnant, and circumstances arranged themselves so she lives with us. And my sweet son’s default setting is happy; that is, when he is not teething or suffering from a horrible virus, or both – as was the case for the long, long, LONG, Easter weekend. Image

 

But “Best Friend”? Really? I think, Baby Union, you have overstepped your powers. My husband is my best friend. Thank goodness, because it would be awfully hard for someone who didn’t love me as much as he does to adapt to our insane schedule under this new regime.

“Mommy’s Little Dictator”; “Mommy’s Reason for Waking Every Hour”; “Source of Big Boobness”; “Reason for Childproofing” – any of those would be apt… especially since my amazing little man took his first tentative steps before 8 months. 

This mortherhood gig is no joke. I have learned that I have an exhaustion point past which I can no longer make grilled cheese. (I didn’t flip it over because the cheese inside hadn’t melted enough yet.) 

My house seems custom-made for killing the tiny 20-lb. explorer I birthed a little over 10 months ago.

And if the house doesn’t do it, wee boy’s ‘drunken sailor just arrived at port’ method of traversing the hard Spanish tile seems at the very least likely to cause me some sort of respiratory distress. I spend so much time holding my breath as he narrowly avoids ricocheting off one cabinet or another that I’m often lightheaded!

My Mom’s birthday is today. And starting a little less than 40 years ago, she undertook this journey of motherhood, first with me; then my two siblings. She managed to survive my tomboyish self, my intrepid brother and my cat-collecting rebellious sister; while allowing us the freedom to get muddy; bring home wounded animals (none of which we managed to keep alive past a day or two – our cats were hell on birds); and play in the snows of Idaho until our snowsuits were saturated – then later the rich red clay of Georgia which ruined most everything it touched. She did it all without a Mother-in-Law living at her home while my Dad worked at a job which took him out of the house over ten hours a day.

I bow to you, Mom, and I thank you for the amazing lessons you gave me growing up. I only hope I can pass them along to my son. 

Happy Birthday!

Love,

Cassie

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Tears of Joy

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Late last night, far into the wee hours of the morning, my sweet boy decided he was not happy with the new sleep-sack thingy his Mommy had decided to put him in. Foolish parent that I am, I had already forgotten how little he likes change in his bedtime routine/regime/surroundings. So Daddy and I carried the little man into his room to put him into an outfit he was comfortable with.

In an effort to keep him in his sweetly zonky state, Daddy put the Dixie Chicks “Lullaby” on. If you’ve never heard it, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFOac8zybPE As the song played, we switched him into his usual nighttime long sleeved onesie.

Softly I carried him back out to the sofa where his Daddy and I curled up around him, and I fed him his late night snack. The song wrapped us up in an astonishing cocoon of love and tears welled up in my eyes. I looked over at Hubby, and his eyes were bright with tears too. Together we sat, embracing our son, with love filling the entire room we were in and tears streaming down our cheeks.

The stillness after the song ended contained such hope for our future, such strength of love and commitment to the little boy we have been blessed with, such joy for the simplicity of the moment, that it is with me even as I write this.

Nothing prepares you for parenthood – not for the sleep deprivation or the radical change of life being about someone other than you all the time or moments like these – lightning-bolt-out-of-the-blue, magnificent instants which take hold in your soul like the greatest of the mighty redwood trees in the old growth forests. I will never be the Cassiepants I was before I gave birth to my son.

And no number of Thanksgivings will ever express the gratitude I have for that truth.

I Resent My Four Month Old

I’m pretty sure I’m an awful mother. Let me clarify. I am pretty sure that the way I have been feeling for the past few days makes me bad person in general. Because it isn’t fair for me to take umbrage at someone who has only been on the planet for 19 weeks for some of the stuff below.

I resent my son because:

  • I now think of 3 hours as a lot of sleep.
  • My boobs have now become some otherworldly food source with minds of their own, interrupting my slumber even when the boy isn’t hungry.
  • I now have coherent conversations about spitup, pee and poo.
  • I haven’t seen the early side of 12 noon without being exhausted in weeks.
  • I have dreams where something awful has happened to my boy, my husband or both and then I’m a wreck and can’t get that sleep I mentioned above.
  • My hair is starting to thin (a common side effect of the return to normal hormone levels for those of you who don’t know.)
  • Speaking of my hair, every time I make the mistake of leaving it down, I learn that it’s the perfect handle for him to yank if he’s losing his balance in my arms.
  • I think of my black yoga pants as my ‘daytime’ outfit and my grey ones as my ‘nighttime’ outfit. Every day.
  • He has trained me to sing ‘Old McDonald’ every time he pushes a button on his activity center.
  • I can’t imagine life without his smile.
  • I will do insanely silly, ridiculous, repetitive and exhausting things just to hear the laugh he is learning how to make.
  • His just-waking up, sleepy face is the most magical thing I’ve ever seen.

Looking at the list, which I have read and re-read a couple of times, maybe I’m not such a wretched mom.  Maybe, and this isn’t a terrible stretch, maybe I’m just going through the stage in my sweet boy’s life where he has a lot of mental growth and physical growth and growth in general happening, and so he isn’t really sleeping either. He’s found his toes now. On both feet. And he can shove both thumbs into his mouth while he sucks on his pacifier. That has to be a sign of some kind of super-intelligence, right? And he is starting to register faces and light up when I walk into the room.

When the powers that be give you pregnancy and baby ‘stages’ books, they don’t do a very good job of saying, “Hey! Yeah, you, in the nicely pressed outfit with the slim hips and the nicely curled hair with full makeup, earrings and a necklace on! Your life is Never going to be the same. And the first year, you are going to spend a lot of it as a blithering idiot while you try to figure out life with a tiny tyrant who will start off weighing less than 15 pounds.” I don’t know that I would have listened. I’ve heard parents blather on about how life-altering parenthood is. But they mean life-altering.

People should be warned.

Bimples and Preparation H

This is a gripe blog. It is not a blog for the faint of heart (nor my mother, who will most likely be horrified that I would even consider talking about this in a place where perfect strangers can read about my tuckus. Incidentally, I looked up ‘tuckus’ and the correct Yiddish spelling is tuches but since I do not speak Yiddish, I’m going with my cruddy American misspelling. Yup. Today’s blog is that kind of blog.)

I have already talked about some of the amazing things I’ve experienced as a Mom and also some of the trials and tribulations. But I have to address a posterior issue that is mentioned only as a part of the lump-sum of side effects and postpartum problems. Usually, they say gas-constipation-hemorrhoids like you might bump into one of those things in the aisle of the grocery store but can totally avoid taking them home with you. In talking with my OB at my six-week checkup, I asked him about my hemorrhoids (the result of trying to push a sideways baby out of my body for 3 1/2 hours)  – which only recently consented to shrink back to my zip code. He smiled sadly at me and said, ‘They’re yours for life. Part of the delivery process.’

Wait, what? I don’t recall that being in any of the literature. By the by, ladies, be prepared to eat fibrous foods for the rest of your days because your newest worst enemy is your butt. Every time you stress out or sit too long or take too long to poo, you’ll be reminded of the 37 hours you spent trying to push a tricycle out a stovepipe. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I would have believed it, convinced as I was of the glamour and glory of the joyous science experiment happening in my body that is now my sweet son. I don’t think it would have stopped me.

But maybe Preparation H could jump on the advertising bandwagon here and give every new mom a month supply of the really good cream. They could say, ‘We’re here to comfort you for the rest of your life. Because nothing eases the swelling like a little Preparation H… and a bag of frozen peas.’ There is nothing sexy about needing to sit on icepacks for 6-8 weeks to allow the swelling of a lady-rectum to subside.

And the other issue? Hubby sweetly helped me coin the term ‘bimple’ for my hideous butt pimples. This one may be limited to a smaller proportion of new mommies and I am ‘lucky.’ Maybe it was because my water broke in the hospital so I sat in rich amniotic fluid on my tushie for 8 hours as I got to the pushing stage. Or maybe the backne which plagued my pregnancy really didn’t want to leave me and migrated as far south as it could go without venturing into leg territory. Whatever the reason, my posterior is now the approximate texture of the face of ever stereotypical nerdy geek in high school. Full on breakout city. Bimples from cheek to shining cheek with no relief in sight. I am actually using one of those fancy acne creams on my BUTT.

I have few vanities about my appearance. I dye my hair so the ash-blonde and grey streaks stay rich auburn. I wear a ton of sunscreen so my face doesn’t wear all 39 of its years. But to have BIMPLES after my face and back have cleared up post-pregnancy is just aggravating. And the hidden horror of the hemorrhoid-hereafter… well, just consider this entire post a long, forlorn sigh.

I love my son. He’s amazing. But sometimes my postpartum body has issues which make me want to whine and talk to Oprah.

Sleeping Symphony

Last night, at the ungodly hour of 4 am, I climbed back into bed next to my darling husband, who had sweetly taken the early late-night shift (midnight to 3) so I could catch an early-ish snooze.

The characters in the master bedroom were myself, dear hubby, my sweet son, and Bailey, our black piggy. As I curled up under the covers, I tried to turn off my brain. It’s never an easy task. Exhaustion has not gotten me to the point where I simply pass out.

There in the darkness, I became aware of what can only be described as the Sesame Street effect, for those of you who watched like me back in the late 70s and early 80s. Bailey would snore, a deep long ‘Wahn’ kind of sound; then Hubby would inhale with a percussive ‘whoosh’; then Baby would, I kid you not, breathe out with the infant equivalent of ‘woop woop woop.’

It was a deafening cacophony. I was living with the Muppets from that long ago bit where some character was trying to sleep and those Sounds we’re destroying his peace!

So I did what any sane Mommy would do. I woke up the pig and made her turn over so she stopped snoring. And then I went to sleep.

Three Months in the Blink of an Eye

Wow, today is three months. Three months since we held our breath waiting for you to inhale your first one. Three months of sleepless nights and trying to figure out which cry means ‘feed me’; which cry means ‘change me’; and which cry means ‘I don’t know what the hell is wrong, but good luck getting me to stop screaming.’

Three months. It’s how long I used to wait for my health care benefits to kick in at a new job. Then, the time dragged like my right heel which really need a podiatrist to examine it.

But this time it has flown by like the summer vacation which was never long enough when I was a little kid.

In this tiny span of time, you have learned to focus your eyes; lost most of your fluffy newborn hair, except for that monk fringe on the back; figured out how to hold up your head; learned to react to our voices; discovered your smile; found your hands (and spent HOURS stuffing them into your mouth); drooled (and drooled and drooled and filled up a kiddie pool with more of your drool); discovered your feet – which are FASCINATING, apparently; and started to sleep in blocks of four or more hours at night.

Except for last night, when you mocked us by waking up less than an hour after you first fell asleep. Fortunately, you really were sleep – being 3 months old is very hard work – so you went back to sleep two hours later. And so did we all.

Happiest of monthdays, sweet son!

Communicating with a New Parent

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Your friends, the ones who always managed to pull crazy all-night video game campaigns and spontaneous weekends to exotic locations, have gone and had a BABY. What do you do?

Here are a few tips from a haggard new mom:

1) We want to see you. We do. We want to show off our bouncing bundle of joy, provided his most recent explosive diaper has not rendered us clothesless until the hazmat team cleanses our home. But if you think calling or texting once is going to facilitate a meeting, you have never spent three days trying to figure out whether your son thinks day is night or vice versa.

2) So call us.

3) But also email us, and suggest a date.

4) Offer up a specific night and a specific activity. We have no functioning adult brain cells left. We can sing the hell out of our ABCs, and we know which expression on our son’s face means ‘binky please’ and which one means ‘If you don’t feed me I will be postal in the next 3 minutes.’ Planning an evening out with another couple is overwhelming.

5) Or text us – and don’t be surprised if the return text is as much as a day later. The phone might have been sitting on the changing table – dropped there during the aforementioned pre-postal moment when getting a boob or a bottle into our little man’s mouth is our only priority.

6) When we do get together, we’ll do our best not to talk only about baby things. But you can help with little tidbits of real world news. As long as it’s not stuff about the Kardashians. Because we still don’t care about them.

7) And if we have to cancel? Know that it doesn’t mean we weren’t really excited to see you. We were. And we will be again. Once the projectile vomit smell has vanished from the back seat of our car. I hear it only takes a week or two if you have a really good cleaning service.