Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chasing Victoria And Her Secret

When I was in sixth grade I really started to notice boys. I'd like to say that it was around then that the boys started noticing me but that would be a lie. Creepy old men wearing scrubs at the Boardwalk "noticed" me (i.e. followed me around and hoped to catch me alone - thank God for vigilant parents) but I'm pretty sure that to the boys my age I was invisible. Case in point: one sunny afternoon during recess, after having confessed my love for Timothy to my group of friends, several of them decided it would be a good idea to go interrupt his game of flag football to tell him I liked him and to see if he liked me in return. I stood, utterly embarrassed but oh so curious, and waited for his response. My friends came running back to me moments later and a girl who I later found out wasn't really my friend, gleefully informed me that he thought I was "a dog." Not wanting to look like a total loser in front of my friends, I sucked it up and said something to the effect of "whatever, I didn't really like him anyway." Way to save face.

As much as I hate to say it, this was one of many defining moments in my life. A little bit of my innocence melted away in that moment. You know, the part of you that was blissfully unaware that you aren't actually perfect like your parents (if they were good ones) told you. Not only did this boy reject me, he attacked my appearance, most likely in an effort to look cool in front of his friends. From that point on my eye became more and more critical. It wasn't until I was fifteen that I started to think that maybe this boy (and few jerks after him) might be wrong. Interestingly my change of attitude had to do with another boy. (Possibly a completely separate post on why boys have so much influence over us and how to make sure my son doesn't abuse that power). He was an older boy. My brother's best friend to be more exact. It was all very innocent, in fact I'm betting he has no idea the impact this moment had on me. We were standing in my kitchen where someone had posted an ad for an open casting call for models and actors on the refrigerator. He looked at it and said, "Are you going to do this?" I told him I probably wasn't. Then he flashed his smile at me (that kind of Johnny Depp, makes every woman melt smile) and told me I should do it. That was it. He, in a roundabout way, told me I was pretty and I'm sorry but if Johnny Depp told you you were pretty there's no way that wouldn't make your fifteen-year-old self feel beyond good.

I would love to say that from there on out my confidence was sky high and I never had a moment of insecurity after but again, that would be a lie. I live in a culture of self-loathing, especially for women. No matter what we do we aren't tall enough, thin enough, curvy enough, straight enough, blonde enough, perky enough. We're just not enough. Fortunately, due to a lot of great people around me I've been able to experience great moments of self-confidence. People who not only think I'm beautiful but also find value in me beyond my looks, imagine that! Every now and then, however, that moment of self-doubt creeps back in. "Am I pretty? Do I look fat? Am I in fact a dog??"

As a new mom I've been struggling more and more with my overall appearance. Things just aren't looking the way I want them to. My husband tells me I am beautiful. My son clearly adores me. But when I look in the mirror all I see are the bags under my eyes, the chubby tummy that won't go away, the thighs that now touch, the hips that go on forever, and the slightly saggy boobs. Not to mention the bad skin, the crooked teeth, should I go on? Where does all this self-loathing come from? I blame her:

and her:

and all of them:

(I'm kidding - sort of)

I also blame my own inability to control negative thinking. Most days I am too tired to really care what I look like, but sometimes I long to be one of those girls. You know the ones? Think little stick-like thighs, perky butts and breasts, perfectly straight white teeth, no hips, perfect skin. Or at the very least I want this:

Yes, that's me... a pre-baby, heavily made up, very photoshopped, glittery version anyway.

But most days this is what I see instead:

*In case you don't see what I do (because you're not warped)... note the quadruple chin, the bags and circles under my eyes (double score!), the excessively gummy smile and the crooked teeth. Oh and my nose. I'm not a fan.

See what I mean about negative thinking? It's out of control. When will I (and probably most of the women I know) put an end to the body/appearance bashing? When will I be able to look at that picture and see one happy mama and her adorable baby? When will I be good enough for me? When will you be good enough for you? When will I stop chasing the fantasy version of myself and realize I'm perfectly imperfect the way I am?

**I should note that a lot of this post was inspired by the look Husband gave me when I gave my critique of the the second picture of myself. As I wrapped up with some sort of ridiculous statement about how I looked like a hideous monster (yes, sometimes I'm crazy) he just looked at me like I had lost my marbles, laughed and told me I was beautiful and them seamlessly went back to feeding our baby. I hope some day I will always see what he sees.

***Also, I am in no way fishing for compliments here. I know you all love me (those of you that I actually know) and think I'm pretty. I do too, most days. :) I'm just hoping for a time when I think that every day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shopping Like a Mom

Many moons ago when my now seventeen-year-old niece was just a chubby little baby I remember her mom (my like-a-sister-sister-in/out-law) doing something I swore I would never do. She bought clothes... without trying them on. Oh the horror! At twelve or thirteen years old I clearly remember thinking this was a beyond wasteful activity (sorry J!). How often do you experience trying something on in the store only to find you don't really like it once you get home? If you don't even try the clothes on the chances of this happening greatly increases. You are almost guaranteed to be making a return trip to the store with your unwanted merchandise or just tossing the item to the back of your closet never to be seen again. Surely she could see this. Surely it mattered!!

Sixteen plus years later I sit here ready to confess: I buy clothes... without trying them on. (*gasp!*) Not only that, I do it on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong, I still occasionally put in the effort to try things on, but only to get a general idea of how the sizing works in that particular brand. Once I know I'm not a medium but am in fact a large (WTF? No seriously What. The. Fuck??) I can just go from there and buy without trying.

Why do I do this, you ask? Well let me paint you a little picture... I live in a small little beach town where everything is little, the parking lots are little, the shopping centers are little, the stores are little with little aisles and the dressing rooms are tiny. Impossibly small. No problem right? It's not like I'm a giant. And my baby? Well he's only 28.5 inches (inches not feet!) so how could that pose a problem? Well in case you don't know, babies come with an enormous amount of gear, gear that is in itself enormous. Enormous diaper bags, enormous carriers, enormous strollers... you get the idea. This makes trips to anywhere but big box stores completely impossible. Shall I remind you of my first experience trying to get Starbucks with G-Man in the stroller? Or how about the time I tried to find non-mom jeans while G cried hysterically in the changing room?

So, since I would like to start buying my clothes from places that don't also sell toilet paper, I decided to start taking G in the Beco carrier while I shopped. No stupid ladies cutting in front of you, hands are free to pick up items and I don't have to try to figure out how to cram an enormous stroller into a minuscule dressing room. Genius right? Yeah, except for the part where you have a kid strapped to you, which pretty much makes taking your clothes off (a necessary part of trying on new clothes) impossible. Luckily my town is so impossibly tiny that the only department store we have is Macys and since I'm not really a $200 pair of jeans kind of girl the desire to go shopping has been limited. That is until they put in a Forever 21 (Don't judge! Just because I'm 29 doesn't mean I can't shop there too.). My little town was finally getting with the times. My first trip there was kind of rough because I had to do the whole stroller thing in order to try on a few items. There were many glares and generally snooty looks from all the teenyboppers that pretty much made me want to run right out of the store. That and the ridiculously loud music. (When did I get old?)

BUT! The next day, Monday, I returned because I wasn't able to go to the top floor due to the fact that their elevator was broken and I had my darn stroller with me. With G strapped into his Beco I found a whole new world; softer music, fixed elevators and the best part... about fifteen other moms all with strollers and similar carriers. I casually perused the merchandise, picked out tops with lace and "skinny" jeans (if we call them skinny does that in fact make me skinny? I hope so.) and then when G-Man started to protest (as men inevitably do while shopping) I marched straight over to the register and paid. I returned home, a bag of new clothes and put my little darling to bed. As he snoozed I had a quick little fashion show in my room. The stuff that didn't fit? It was exchanged on our next trip to the mall. No big deal. Turns out my wonderful like-a-sister-sister-in/out-law had it right all along. :)

***As a slightly random aside I will leave you with this... Trader Joes parking lots suck ass! I have never ever been to one and found a spot to park in under five minutes. Today, as my baby cried I circled the lot for twenty minutes when I finally saw a car pulling out. I got as close as I could and put my turn signal on to indicate to the world that it was in fact MY spot. Then, just as I was about to pull in two teenage girls, driving a BMW with a pink feather boa and tiaras in the back window swooped in and stole my spot. The entire scene was caught on tape, complete with my reaction. Check it out:

I kid! I kid! But that did happen in my head. Towanda!

Friday, April 8, 2011

9 Months (and a couple of days)

As it turns out, maintaining a blog while having a baby is difficult, or at least more difficult than it was when I was confined to the couch during bed rest. It is especially hard to find the motivation to blog when I have the convenience of updating family and friends in short little blurbs via Facebook. What could be easier than quickly sitting down and writing out a short message about G's latest adventures? Easy-peasy. But coming up with things to actually write about in detail on my blog? Not so much. I don't know about you, but my favorite kind of blog tends to be one that is well thought out and has a little meat to it, so I tend to not bother with the short little quips that pop into my head. Because of that, also my lack of sleep and general lack of time (I'm pretty sure Husband wouldn't agree that taking time to blog should take priority over something like the mountain of laundry piling up in our room) I tend to neglect my blog which means you may have missed a few thing in little G-Man's life. So let's take a few minutes to update. If you know me in my Facebook life, or even better - in my real life, then this is probably going to be a bit repetitive for you. Oh well. You'll live.

Here we go... 9 Months!! What in the world?? How did we get here so fast? G-Man has officially spent more of his little life outside of me than he did inside. **tear** He's growing up so fast. We just got back from the pediatrician and these are his stats:

Weight - 17lbs 14oz (10th percentile) Skinny mini! The pediatrician says not to worry, that at this age it's quite common because they increase their activity and are burning a lot of calories. At this point he nurses every three hours during the day, has solids 3 times a day as well as snacks so the boy isn't in want of food.

Height - 28.5 inches His height seems to be tapering of a bit, at his 6-month appointment he was in the 96th percentile and now he down to the 50th or at least that's what the doctor's chart said. When we go to my mom's group he's one of the tallest babies there. He's also one of the youngest.

Head - 46.3cm A large melon just like his Daddy and Mama.

Things he's been up to lately:

Crawling crawling and more crawling! For a while there he was doing this crazy army crawl where he kind of just flailed around the room. I was starting to think he would never do a "normal" crawl but then one night while we were visiting the grandparents a couple of months ago, he just did it. Within the next couple of weeks he had a burst of developments, crawling on hands and knees, pulling up to standing, cruising around his play yard and crib, and standing on his own (he's only done this a couple of time and he can't stand for very long without collapsing).

Talking talking talking! Of course there are all of the normal baby babbles, the ones you have no idea what they mean, but then there are the real words too. In his current repertoire: Mama, Dada, Hi and maybe Bye-Bye. He loves to scream "Hi Dada!" when Husband gets home from work and periodically throughout the day he will say "Bye-bye Mama" not really sure what he's trying to tell me with that one. Then there is the swearing. Despite my best efforts, we haven't quite cut all the swearing out, although Husband's way worse than me! ;P The other day I was feeding G and he quite clearly said "damn" the "gah damn" and then just for good measure "damn" again. I guess we won't be winning parents of the year any time soon.

Teeth! He has four of them. The bottom two came in with relatively no problem. He did have a little (----------- WARNING --------- TMI ALERT!!! ----------) diarrhea which caused quite the diaper rash, but other than that there was minimal fussing. Then about a month or so later the top left one came in, again not a lot of problems, some runny nose issues and a low-grade fever but he got over it quickly. Then his top right tooth started to make an appearance and that hasn't gone as smoothly. Luckily the teething didn't start until after we had already done the sleep training (see previous post) otherwise we wouldn't have been able to do it. There has been a lot of screaming and fussyness. He wants to nurse constantly and chew on everything. For a while there the gums looked pretty raw and red, but I think it's mostly in now so the worst (of that tooth) is over.

Sleep - for details see my last post. We had yet another night of sleeping twelve hours straight. Woooooohoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sharing - He just (within the last few days) started offering his toys and food to people. Mostly to Daddy, not so much to me.

Things he loves:

Sophie the giraffe - a teething toy
His activity table - he loves to stand next to it and push all the buttons, he also enjoys crawling under it, but he might cry if he feels trapped.
His lovies - one is a little mini-blanket with this dog head attached to the corner. Don't know how else to describe it. The other is his glow worm.
Books - He loves to be read to, to help turn the pages, try to sneak peaks at the next page before we're ready to turn them and of course he loves to chew on them.
Baths - he now sits up in the tub like a big boy and plays with his toys, he also loves to lie down and splash like a maniac.
Being tickled - his inner thighs, his tummy, his neck, his back - pretty much everywhere.
Food - Mum Mums, Yogurt melts, rice cakes, sweet potatoes, most fruits, chicken, pasta, avocado, but he's pretty much not a fan of veggies. We're working on that.

Milestones we're still waiting on:

Standing on his own for an extended period of time.
Clapping his hands - he loves it when other people clap but hasn't quite figured it out.
Waving - he kinda/sorta did it once, but he definitely doesn't do it regularly.

That's all I can think of for now. Hopefully it won't take several months for me to think of a new blog post. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'll Have a Full Night's Sleep With a Heaping Side of Guilt Please

I've been trying to work this post out in my head for a couple of days, but have been having trouble finding the right way to approach it. Matter-of-factly? Humorously? Heavily laden with guilt? I don't know. How do you describe doing something as a mother that you never thought you would do? How do you describe putting your child in the crib and walking away while they scream for you, without looking like a monster? Although I haven't quite figured out how to approach it, I'm going to try my best to talk about what we've been going through for the last few days. Perhaps someone, somewhere will benefit. Bear with me.

In case you are just tuning in, a little back story: G is (was) a terrible sleeper. That's pretty much it.

Oh, you want more? OK. Well picture this: Eight and a half months of fighting to get your baby to sleep. Eight and a half months of having no longer than two hours of sleep at a time (two hours of sleep being a good night). At his worst, it was taking over two hours to get my little man to sleep at night. Two hours of patting, rocking, shooshing and nursing. In fact, some nights I ended up nursing him so much that he would spit up from being so full. Finally after two hours of nursing, spitting up, nursing again, screaming, rocking, bouncing, etc. he would allow me to place him in his crib. Heart pounding from fear, I would gently lower him into the depths of his crib, stand for twenty minutes, on the tips of my toes, bent down with my hands on his chest. Only then could I even think about ever so slowly sneaking away.

So what? Everyone knows it's hard to get a baby to sleep, right? If that's all I had to endure then this wouldn't even be a blog post, but that's not where it ended. Between fifteen and thirty minutes after stealthily sneaking out of his room the wailing would begin. Back to the room I would go, rock, nurse, shoosh, repeat. If I was very very lucky he would then sleep for an hour in his crib, mind you, only if I was lucky. On such a lucky night, Husband and I would wearily crawl into our beds and pray for rest. (No really, I think I actually petitioned to God on a nightly basis for my baby to sleep - death and famine all over the world? Sure, but could you also make my baby sleep? Please??) Like clockwork, an hour later G-Man came a-callin'. Have you ever noticed if you wake up at the wrong time in your sleep cycle it almost physically hurts to move? Well inevitably that's right where I would be when the little man would begin calling to me to from the other room. In a sleepy haze, I would drag myself to the other room, pluck him from his crib and as quickly as possible slip us both back into bed where he would happily nurse to sleep. Eventually he would fall off of me and I could adjust and fall asleep myself. Then... thirty minutes to an hour later I would feel a slap on the face, or a kick to the stomach and scream in my ear. Having not even bothered to *ehem* put myself away, I would quickly pop the boob back in and off to lala land we would go. This lovely pattern would then repeat all night long, every thirty to sixty minutes until we woke up for the day. Some nights I would just pray for morning to come because being awake had to be better than that.

For months Husband has been trying to persuade me to let G cry it out (CIO) but every fiber of my being told me it was wrong. Leaving your child to cry himself to sleep? How cruel and unfeeling can you be? Instead I read every book I could get my hands on, on how to get a baby to sleep gently. The No Cry Sleep Solution, Good Night Sleep Tight, Nighttime Parenting, Attachment Parenting, on and on. While some of the books offered up some useful tools nothing really worked. At Husband's insistence I believe I did try CIO one night (see blog post from a couple months ago) and he just kept crying and crying and crying. He cried so hard that he spit up/threw up all over himself. Eventually, nerves completely shot, I rescued my baby from his crib of torture and swore never again. Lesson learned. Never swear.

After eight and a half months of sleep deprivation (an actual form of torture) I decided to research this whole cry it out business. I grabbed Ferber's book Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems and decided that perhaps he wasn't really the devil like everyone thinks he is. Perhaps a man who is the director at the Center For Pediatric Sleep Disorders and has taught at Harvard might actually have something of value to say about how to get my child to sleep. Maybe he knows something I (and many other mothers) don't. Maybe... With Husband's support, I decided to give it a try. I committed to three nights and if it didn't work we would quit. I could take three nights of crying and I was feeling pretty sure that three nights wouldn't turn my sweet baby into some sort of serial killer. Right?? And so it began.

Night 1: This night was kind of a mishmash of two techniques: Kim West's Sleep Lady Shuffle, followed by Ferber's CIO. After our regular bedtime routine of bath, pajamas, stories and one last nursing session I started with the Shuffle which involved sitting by the crib and gently soothing him from there. After about an hour of him thinking I was in there to play with him I fully submitted myself to CIO. I gently helped him lie down one last time, gave him his lovey, turned on his noise machine and walked away. The screaming began. At this point I wanted to make sure that he knew he wasn't alone so after five minutes I went back in. I didn't talk to him but instead shooshed him, patted his belly and gave him his discarded lovey. Once calm, I left. More screaming. This time I stretched my time away to ten minutes. Once again I went and soothed him without picking him up or talking to him. Once sufficiently calm I left the room. He immediately started crying and I started watching the clock again, waiting for the next ten minutes to pass (a little secret - wine helps). Again I made my way back into his room. I believe he was pretty hysterical at this point and it took a long time to calm him down, but I could see he was winding down. He desperately wanted to sleep he just couldn't quite figure out how. When I put my hands on his chest his eyes would start to droop but they immediately popped open when he realized he was falling asleep. Again I left and this time I stretched the interval to fifteen minutes. This went on for about an hour before he finally gave in and fell asleep.

I would love to say that that was it and he then miraculously slept through the night blah blah blah. No such luck. He woke up an hour later and I had to do it all again, but this time it only took twenty minutes. After which he slept for four whole hours. That night he woke up once and we had to do the CIO process again for about forty-five minutes. Then, after that he woke two more times but miraculously put himself back to bed within a matter of minutes. Overall the night was very difficult. After he first fell asleep I cried. I mean I really cried. Like sobs in the bathroom so Husband wouldn't see/hear. But, the night also had a few successes, like putting himself back to bed. I never in a million years would have imagined that happening on night one. Also, we didn't need to nurse at all. Amazing.

*side note - if you go from nursing all night long to night weaning, remember to pump a couple of times at night. Otherwise you may get some nasty plugged ducts or even worse, mastitis. Lesson learned.

Night 1 v 2.0: Unfortunately the morning after our first night little G-Man woke up very sick. Right then and there I almost gave up, thinking I had broken my baby with the crying. The doctor reassured me that I had done no such thing and that it was purely a coincidence. Unfortunately, due to his illness I couldn't continue the routine that night. Ferber specifically says not to CIO when sick or in pain (teething, ear ache, etc.). So once again G returned to bed with me for a night of marathon nursing. Oh well. The next day however, G was feeling a hundred times better so we started again. Something that I found really helped ease my mind was having a video monitor. At any time during the process I could easily check in on him without disturbing him. I could see for myself that he wasn't crying from pain and that he wasn't throwing up, he was fine. Oh and did I mention the wine? That helped too. Basically this night was just like the first, but a little shorter. I went in after five minutes, then ten, then fifteen and then fifteen again and that was it. He fell asleep. It's interesting watching him learn how to fall asleep on his own. There were a couple of times during his naps that day and that night where he fell asleep sitting up, which if you have any sort of sense of humor is actually kind of comical.

Night 2 (or 3 depending on how you look at it): Again I followed the pattern of stretching out the intervals, but this time I skipped the five minute interval and went straight to ten minutes, then we did a fifteen minute and then a twenty minute interval. It was hard but I could tell it was working. His crying was less intense, more like complaining really. After the last stretch, he quietly put himself down on his tummy, popped his little diaper butt up into the air and fell asleep. That night he woke maybe two times and each time he put himself back to bed. Pure amazingness.

Night 3: We went through our bedtime routine, I nursed him then stood in the dark with him singing until I could feel him relax. I put him in his crib and said "night night" then walked away. He was quiet. Luckily I have a handy dandy video monitor. Turning it on, I found him quietly playing with his glow worm. A few minutes later he let out a little cry and I prepared myself to start up the ten minute timer in my head. But that was it. He cried for maybe a minute and then he was out. For. The. Whole. Night. He slept, completely undisturbed for ten hours.

Since then we have had good nights, followed by amazing nights. In fact, for the last three nights in a row, I have put him in his crib, he fell asleep without crying and he woke up twelve hours later, a happy and well-rested baby. It's like a whole new world. I am like a band new woman and a much better mom because of it. As much as I never wanted to hurt my child by letting him cry, this has been our life saver. I spent the first five or so months of G's life struggling with a mild form of post-partum depression and although I felt like I had been coming out of it the last few months, the sleep issue kept dragging me back. I can't even begin to describe the kind of strain having a non-sleeping child can put on you both mentally and physically. So, while I know that Ferber and CIO is so completely looked down upon (at least in my neck of the woods it is) I know that I did the best thing for me, for my baby and even for my husband and our marriage. Judge if you must, but my baby sleeps through the night and so do I!