Old News: Past Blog Posts

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Two Under Two: Part Five


Settlers piled into covered wagons and travelled across this great nation with about 10% the amount of luggage we are hauling for a long weekend away with our boys.  As my grandfather, an aeronautical engineer, was apparently fond of saying, 'it's not so much the kids, it's the ground support equipment.'

Here's a brief list of our 'ground support equipment' for our holiday travels:

1. Two pack n plays 
2. One double stroller
3. One umbrella stroller 
4. One Baby Bjorn baby carrier 
5. Seventeen teensy-tiny onesies
6. Six infant-sized pairs of pants
7. Eight toddler-sized shirts
8. Three miniature hoodies
9. Five 18 to 24-month-size pants
10. One crazy-small and hopelessly adorable fleece vest
11. Four fists-full of itsy-bitsy socks
12. Two pairs of size five shoes
13. One corduroy pageboy hat that will only serve to aggrivate and (later) embarrass the baby, but cause no end of delight to mommy
14. Four pairs of footie pajamas, ('p-jammers') for adequate 'pitter-pattering' of little feet
15. Three sleep sacks -- Halo brand, could not live without, wouldn't want to try.
16. Five knit winter hats (for a total of two adult and two pint-sized heads, I know--the math didn't work for me either)
17.  Three winter coats, one pumpkin-seat cover, and three warm blankets 
18.  Six bottles and six slow-flow nipples
19.  Enough frozen milk to feed the baby for four days (because when packing the cooler, I had the totally rational thought that I could get hit by a bus, rendering my boobs useless)
20. Two sets of pumping supplies -- because scrubbing those bastards all the time gets annoying.  But because I must...
21. One bottle scrub brush.
22. One electronic breast pump
23. Two nursing covers -- presumably one for each boob?
24. One cigarette-lighter power adapter
25.  Seven books
26.  Two balls (ha)
26.  One iPad -- ghetto rigged to the back of the passenger seat because we couldn't find an actual mount on short notice.
27.  One fully-stocked diaper bag PLUS a second bag with even more diapers and wipes.
28. One inhaler, because vacation is an opportune time for colds.
29.  Infant Tylenol, because you never know and I'll be damned if I have to 'run out' to the store on Black Friday.  
30.  One DSLR camera for which to harass my children, overwhelm my 'vintage' laptop, and document this fiasco we're calling a holiday.


....and maybe a thing or two for mom and dad and whatever else we forgot....

...like say, the kids.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Please don't buy us any Christmas gifts, the trunk is already begging for mercy. 





Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ok I'm a Runner, Get Over It


I recently read a surprisingly mean-spirited op-ed piece called, Ok, You're a Runner, Get Over It published by (here's another surprise) the WSJ criticizing runners; questioning their motives and declaring that the reason they run is to be seen participating in the most 'visible form of strenuous exercise.' He even launches into a rant about running magazines, running stores, bumper stickers, and race t-shirts.  

At first, I was flabbergasted and offended on some very fundamental levels.  So I happily reposted a Runner's World response that was arguably even more mean-spirited, but resonated with my own response and therefore in my mind, totally justifiable. 

Who was this guy to pick on the entire culture of running?  What exactly were his motives?  Did a 5K participant insult his mother?  Did reflective running gear once trigger a childhood seizure?  Why so angry Mr Stafko? Why??  It's been suggested to me that the whole thing is just 'tongue in cheek' satire and I should relax, but sarcasm is like a second language to me and I like to think I can spot the difference between irony and an angry rant. 

I spent a decent amount of time fuming, a number of conversations complaining, and more energy than I should have playing defense against his aggression: I don't run for the praise or exposure, I run because (gasp) I like to run

And then I started mentally composing this response.  Get this, I did that while I was on a run.  And I'm not ashamed to tell you that.  Some of my best thinking happens while I pound the pavement.

Here's what I decided:

When I started running with any seriousness back in college, I initially did it as a way to help shed the 20 lbs (ok, 30) that had accumulated with my growing appreciation for alcohol and love of late-night grease (po-key stix, po-key stix, po-key stix...*) both of which are available in unavoidable abundance on college campuses across our great nation.  But eventually, I did it because I began to actually enjoy it.  I know.  I was just as surprised as anyone.  

So I could argue that I fall into the apparently forgivable 'fitness nut' category that Stafko mentions briefly near the end of his piece; those who started running before social media ruined humanity and who also enjoy a good spin class when they're not out bothering Jon Q. Public by hogging precious sidewalk space. 

But I won't.

I will stand firm in solidarity with even the least serious of runners.  I will happily defend those following programs called things like 'Couch to 5K' and 'Running 101' and those who occasionally enjoy a good half mile jaunt around the neighborhood.  Hell, I'll defend mall walkers to the death.  Now there's a group of dedicated mother f*ckers who you better not pick on.

Our unfriendly writer tells us that,
There is only one reason running aficionados display the (26.2) stickers. They want the rest of us to know about their long-distance feats. 

Yeah, so? 

Know what pisses me off? Concert t-shirts. There is only one reason music aficionados display the names of their favorite bands on their chests. They want the rest of us to know about their concert-attendance feats.   

Dicks.

Now, it's very possible that I have committed all the offenses listed in Mr Stafko's rant ...and then some: I have shopped at a running store, worn a 5K t-shirt to Starbucks, own a 26.2 bumper sticker (magnet, lives on my refrigerator), and yes, I run outdoors.  I am even guilty of using an app that posts my runs on my Facebook page. Hear that? It was Stafko's head exploding.

This is me, not apologizing for my apparently inexcusable behavior.

I consider running to be a part of my identity: Mother, Wife, Physical Therapist, Group Fitness Instructor, Mediocre Mommy-Blogger...Runner.  And while I certainly don't consider myself by any means an accomplished runner (I regularly get by a handful of dudes 20 years my senior) it's not any less important to me.

These two are smiling because they know they can kick your ass with or without a bike.

...and *this* guy is more than just a pretty face (who loves himself a good derby party)

When a failing cervix put me on a forced fitness hiatus during my second pregnancy, I cried like a damn baby.  Yup. That's how much it means to me.  

But apparently, I'm not allowed to talk about it because that counts as self-congratulations.  I can't announce it on the back of my car alongside the names of my graduate school and local NPR affiliate because it bothers some dude with a computer and a byline with the WSJ.  

And why is that exactly?  Are we still operating under the assumption that he once had a refector-induced seizure?  Or can we assume that (more likely) there's some amount of fitness guilt there?  We don't get cranky and spew out 17 paragraphs of bitterness when confronted with a bumper sticker proclaiming affiliation with a particular baseball team, so why is this so different?  I can only assume that on some level Mr. Stafko is jealous. 

There, I said it.  

He just can't seem to fathom that a person would actually enjoy those particular behaviors that your doctor and scientists and Mrs Obama are always insisting will keep you healthy and happy (endorphins!) ...oh, and less of a drain on our flailing healthcare industry.  So he thinks these folks are just rubbing their healthy habits in his face as a form of bullying, boosting themselves up while making him feel bad...which he clearly does (mission accomplished team, we can all peel off our bumper stickers now).

Maybe you happen to agree with our running-phobic bard (because he is so poetic in his angry rant).  Maybe you think that deep down all runners are just show-offs in sneakers.  That's your deal and only you can identify where these feelings are really coming from.  I can say with certainty that I do not run to be seen, because newsflash: it is not a pretty sight.

Exhibit A

But, I will not apologize for my hobby.  I will not be self-conscious of wearing a race shirt to the grocery store because that is what happened to be clean that day.  I won't even quit for posting my runs to Facebook; because if Suzie Snorefest gets to post pictures of her dinner, I get to jump on the look-at-me bandwagon and post about my runs.  I think it's safe to say Mr Stafko didn't hesitate to sit down and toast himself in the absence of his (former) running friends when his WSJ piece went viral.  Why can't we all be allowed to celebrate our accomplishments without ridicule?

Ok, I'm a runner.  Get over it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

24

01:15 
Wake to crying baby.
Nurse.
Fume over beeping smoke detector. Complain on Facebook about the smoke detector, because people love reading status updates about that sort of thing. 

02:00 
Return to bed.
Ask dog nicely to move over.
Ask dog less nicely to move over.
Try to manhandle dog off the bed.
Give up and squeeze into the six inches of space between dog and edge of bed.
Quick prayer that the house doesn't catch fire.
Fall asleep.

04:45 
Wake to crying baby.
Nurse....Zzzzz

05:53
Wake with a start only to realize there are seven minutes before scheduled meeting with running buddy.
Check weather on phone.
Learn it is 23 degrees outside.
Text running buddy with half-assed apology and climb back into six inches of allotted bed-space.

06:30
Wake to husband's alarm and promptly go back to sleep, enjoying the extra 8 inches of space afforded by his absense (until the other dog hops up on the bed).

07:30
Wake again to sounds of toddler babbles and thuds from the next room. Click video monitor to confirm that thuds are not suggestive of immediate danger; only indicative of toddler's desire to unload the bookshelf of all items within reach.  
Remain in bed, deciding to be really good for the rest of the year so that maybe Santa will bring either a bigger mattress smaller dogs or.  

08:00
Happy noises turn unhappy, wade through 45 discarded books to rescue bouncing toddler from crib.  
Turn on channel nine just in time to catch Dinosaur Train and ponder yet again whether Dr Scott, the paleontologist is actually good looking or if it's just his vast knowledge of the Paleolithic era that's intriguing.  

08:30
Try to remember the last time the baby had a bath.
Fail in that task and decide it's probably time for another bath.
Bathe baby with one hand while wrestling back toddler and deflecting flying bath toys with the other; dry baby; diaper baby; bundle baby into adorable guitar onesie, socks and hat; admire baby; listen and feel as baby simultaneously spits up and poops.  
Put on annoyed face.  

08:50
Discover toddler has climbed into the damp tub, footie pjs and all.  

09:00
Document toddler fiasco through a series of photos and post to blog; thinking it's funnier than it actually is, chuckling to self all the while.  

09:30
Serve well-balanced breakfast of honeydew melon and Cheerios to hungry toddler. 
Nurse hungry infant while darting around the house straightening things up in an act of pure futility.  

10:20 
Load children and diaper bag into car for 'play date' at the zoo. 
Chase toddler around reptile house with the double stroller for 30 minutes while flashing smiles at and exchanging fly-by pleasantries with other play-date moms.

11:45
Arrive at home to pass baton -- sorry, care of children -- off to husband.  Decide showers are overrated and eat lunch instead.

13:15
Leave for work.
Pump party!

Omitting details to comply with HIPPA, suffice to say there is plenty of back pain and balance deficits and general running around. 

17:00
Leave work for the six mile commute home.
Make tentative plans to run later.
Pump party!

17:45
Arrive home, deciding to be really good for the rest of the year so that maybe Santa will bring a helicopter to make the commute run smoother.

18:00
Eat dinner.
Relish in the fact that the husband is capable of cooking a delicious meal and gracefully handling the children while doing so.
Come to the conclusion that whatever Santa brings could never be better than the man who made dinner.
Maybe won't be so 'good' after all, save the big guy a trip ;)

18:30
Dump the children at the neighbor's house to attend the wake of a beloved aunt-in-law.  
Stand the sort of endless line that we should all be so lucky to have at our own wakes someday (she was loved and will be missed).
Learn through small talk that even the most vaguely known of cuz-in-laws are active blog-readers.
Leave feeling flattered, a little horrified, and extremely grateful for such a warm and welcoming group of in-laws.  

20:30
Arrive at neighbor's home armed with ice cream (insufficient payment for an evening with a total of four children under five, but don't tell her that).
Visit briefly.
Home for bedtime.

21:00
Call running buddy to cancel for the second time in 24 hours.
No great excuse this time.
Will run tomorrow...right?

22:00
Squeeze into tiny space between dogs and husband.
Decide to just be thankful for the warmth the crowd brings to the bed.











A Chilling Tale

Duuuun Dun...

Duuuun Dun...

Dun-dun dun-dun...

Dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun...

Weke-a-Weke-a-Weke-a-weke!!!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Survivor's Guilt

Today is World Prematurity Awareness Day.  That probably doesn't mean much to you, unless there's a premature child who plays (or played) an important role in your life.  But in the spirit of spreading 'awareness' I thought I'd post again on the topic.

So here goes...

Wikipedia defines survivor's guilt as a mental condition that occurs when a person perceives themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not. (I thought I'd open this like a seventh grader's term paper).  

Most days, I wake up feeling fortunate and entirely grateful to have been blessed with two healthy, feisty little boys teeming with with spitfire and sass, and endlessly adorable.  

Other days, I wake up feeling nothing but guilt.  See, those virtual support groups to which I belong are constantly filling my newsfeed with heartbreaking tales of loss and personal devastation.  Early yesterday morning for example, I found myself watching a  four minute UTube video one mother had posted of her cradling her stillborn son (photos set to a Sarah McLaughlin song).  I watched it from start to finish, immersing myself in each beautiful and devastating photo.  Moments later, I was asked to pray for a woman who lost her 24-week baby after delivering in an ambulance.  

I'll give you a minute to pull yourself together.  

So it's not really a wonder then that shortly after these encounters I spent the ten minute trip to meet my running buddy ugly-crying in my car, right?  

I know.  There's an easy fix to all this anguish.  The tragedies aren't mine.  My story has a really nice ending.  There's no reason to spend every other day grieving for the terrible loss of some total stranger, right?  I could easily leave those groups, or even just 'hide' the posts from my feed.  I could even do it from my phone, right now, with two taps of my finger.  

Sure, it wouldn't mean that babies would suddenly stop dying and that their parents would suddenly quit being torn apart with sorrow and despair.  It would just mean that I wouldn't have to scroll past the tormented posts of their mourning parents in order to watch that video of the lip-dup proposal that my old classmate posted or laugh at the latest cartoon from The Oatmeal.  I could instead go about my day living in blissful ignorance to the pain and suffering felt that same day by those parents of preemies who were too fragile or sick to survive.  It's what we all do, really.  We have to turn blinders on to all the tragedies that happen daily all across the globe so we can make it to work without melting down in despair somewhere during our commute.  

But somehow, I just can't bring myself to hide those posts.  

And no, I don't even think it's the same as that innate fascination we all have with 'watching a trainwreck.'  Instead, I think it's a form of survivor's guilt.  Why should I be so lucky to have gone into labor before the prescribed amount of time (twice!) and be fortunate to bring home a tiny but basically unscathed baby (both times) when other women are met with such unimaginable tragedy under similar circumstances?  The whole thing leaves me feeling conflicted and guilt-stricken.  

Who's to say that these women aren't more patient or kind or loving?  Who's to say they're not more suited to be mothers than me?  Certainly there are women who have ached to be mothers more than I ever did; ladies for whom motherhood is all they ever really wanted.  It makes me self-conscious of all the moments I get to nuzzle a newborn or tickle a toddler while cribs sit cold and empty in homes of potentially more worthy parents.    

At times of tragedy, people often talk about 'God's Plan.' Well, it leaves me wondering what sort of sick son of a bitch is running things up there.  

Please don't get me wrong, I did not write this post to generate sympathy for myself and my misplaced culpability.  Instead, I hope to honor the tiny souls that have moved on too soon and to honor the courage of their parents.  I can't imagine the bravery required to somehow find a pathway through such devastating tragedy.  

We are so lucky to be living In a time where modern science has taken a giant slice out of the infant mortality rate.  On this day designated to promote awareness of prematurity all over the world, please take just one moment to reflect on the struggles of those impossibly small warriors (both fighting and fallen) and their enormously courageous parents.  Then, if you want to do more, visit any of these sites to see how...







Saturday, November 16, 2013

Laughter or the Looney Bin


This post is part of the first Humor in Parenting (and Breastfeeding!) Blog Carnival inspired by the anthology "Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding", a collection edited by Rachel Epp Buller and published by Demeter Press in August 2013. The anthology looks at the lighter side of nursing. All of its contributors found something funny to say about their days as a non-stop milk shop, even if it was a tough job to have.


This carnival celebrates the craziness that is parenting and asks the question of how we use humor to get through our days, or minutes, or years. Just what's so funny about being a parent? And why is it soimportant to make life with kids funny even when it doesn't exactly seem hilarious?


Please share widely and connect us with other funny parents who are blogging and Tweeting. Use the hashtags #funnybreastfeeding and #humorcarnival along with whatever witty originals you come up with. Those ought to be worth some laughs, too!

See below for links to the other contributors. And, as you might have said to your nursling once upon a time, enjoy the buffet!


***

During my first pregnancy, a girlfriend sent me a link to an article on Parenting.com about preparing for breast feeding. Take a moment to click and read it for yourself (don't forget about me though! I'll still be here rambling away, pining over your virtual absence the whole time you're gone).  

Oh good, you're back.  The article was - and is - comic genius, am I right? Which really doesn't really explain why it made me cry.  The thing that does explain my tears is simple: hormones.  Hormones and anxiety.  They're essentially the two defining factors of a pregnant woman; the reasons you better watch you ass around those crazy, bloated, unpredictable lunatics.

My reaction was alarming though.  See, I happen to fancy myself a fun-loving, good-humored sorta chick.  Humorous snippets on the Internet are my wheelhouse.  I can frequently be found watching comics stream on my Netflix account or listening to them on Pandora.  My heroes are Tina Fay and Mindy Kahling.  Laughing is my thing.

Yet here I was weeping like a--for lack of a better analogy--baby, over an article that was meant to inspire it's readers to engage in chuckles and belly laughs and spit-takes (my thing dammit!).  Who was this weepy stranger who had suddenly invaded my ballooning body?

As my pregnancy progressed, I was generally able to generally keep those bastard hormones in check.  That is, until I reached 31 weeks and my water broke.  

I was sitting innocently at our dining room table, piecing a puzzle together with my neighbor's three-year-old during the St Patrick's Day/30th Birthday Party we were throwing in honor of my husband.  All of a sudden, my chair filled with a warm fluid which I initially mistook for urine (so I sat quietly contemplating my exit strategy for more than a couple of minutes). Eventually I clued myself in on the significance of what was happening, mainly because my neighbor (mom, not 3-year-old) was able to spot the look of panic on my face and then guide me out of denial.

Can I just say there's no more dramatic way to bust up a party than by sending a bawling pregnant woman and her drunk husband out the door to deal with the premature arrival of their first child?  To make matters even more dramatic, the only other truly sober party-goer was a very pregnant girlfriend of mine who sprung into action by inquiring about a hospital bag (which only made me cry harder...of course I didn't have a bag packed!) and herding us into the backseat of her shiny new mom-sized-SUV -- at least someone was prepared for parenthood.  It seems that between my tears, I was able to spout accurate directions to the hospital where I had planned to deliver.  Guess which one of us they wanted to plop in a wheelchair and roll over to maternity?  I'll give you a hint, it wasn't the one who looked like she'd just had one too many servings of corned beef. 

Upon further investigation (and the three cups of coffee ascertained by our preggo friend and her husband for the purposes of sobering up my husband) it was determined that my membrane had indeed ruptured and I would be admitted to the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy, which would ideally be at least a month, but turned out to be only 20 hours.  

The delivery of my first son was painful (vaginal delivery of a breech baby, no time for an epidural...my vagina still hasn't forgiven me), mercifully fast, and happened during the brief period after my husband and I had finally decided it was safe for him to sneak away for a real meal.  And also a brief but futile argument with the doctor as they were wheeling me to the delivery room and anther when they told me to push (but I never made it to the classes! I don't know what to do!)

Needless to say, there were more tears at this point.  

In the five weeks that followed, my husband and I bounced between work, our home, and the hospital's NICU and I discovered the devastating combination of hormones and sleep deprivation that provide new mothers with a foggy, tearful, blended sense of fatigue and bliss. 

I cried with my breast pump, in the car, as I decorated the nursery, while buying tiny preemie clothes that sagged off our tiny little man, and once when I ran into my poor, unsuspecting OB who was trying to get home from working a 36-hour shift but made the enormous mistake of asking how I was doing.  

Again, all these unprovoked tears were disturbing to both me and my husband -- who one time had to simply turn the radio off because every station seemed to be playing a song that made me cry harder than the last. 

I eventually leveled out as our son came home and we all learned to sleep better.  My husband and I adjusted our sense of 'normal' as all new parents do.  We settled in to witness all the tiny miracles that make up the first few months of human life; all the while, falling deeper and deeper in love with our amazing little creation.  Laughter began to once again outnumber my tears.

Then...BAM!  I was pregnant again.  
(Betcha didn't see that coming)


No one was happier than this guy. 

That's right ladies, I am a walking, talking, cautionary tale for woman who stupidly rely on nursing as their primarily form of birth control.  Don't get me wrong, we were both thrilled.  Maybe just a little freaked to learn that #2 was scheduled to arrive a mere 17 months after we had welcomed #1.  

I soon discovered that my previous OB had scaled her practice back (possibly because she was tired of evoking tears in her patients with common niceties exchanged in hallways) and therefore I had to choose a new doctor to guide us through the chaos of my second pregnancy.  The new OB was very matter-of-fact and reassuring, but that didn't stop me from lying awake at night, reading up on the odds of delivering a second preemie.

Sure enough, a little beyond the halfway point of my pregnancy, we began watching my cervix slowly thin out on biweekly and then weekly ultrasounds. Eventually we also discovered that unbeknownst to me, I was having contractions as well.  By the 30th week of my second pregnancy, I was admitted to the hospital with an official diagnosis of preterm labor.  My cervix had basically sacked out, I was beginning to dilate, and my contractions had become even more persistent and evasive to the medication I had been taking regularly, though they were still barely detectable.

I remember feeling a particular sense of foreboding as I sulked my way across the parking lot that separated my OB's office from the hospital, nervously clenching the 32-ounce water bottle that I had foolishly hoped would be my salvation and desperately breathing in the warm spring air like I imagine a prison inmate might do in the precious last minutes before being incarcerated.

The next five days were a bit surreal.  I was admitted, gouged with an IV and pumped so full of magnesium sulfate that I could barely walk straight.  And of course, I once again morphed into my alter ego: Weepy McBasket-Case, who is summoned to deal with any pregnancy-related crises that might arise.  

Despite the best efforts of the medical team assigned to my case, Ms. McBasket-Case delivered her second son at 31 weeks and 2 days, just one day shy of the gestational age achieved by his brother (that kid is clearly a competitor). 

And so we suited up and jumped back in the ring for round two of the NICU challenge.  The walls had been repainted and the security doors had been replaced, but much of the staff was the same and they were just as bewildered as we were to learn of our encore appearance so soon after #1 (a 17 month age difference had suddenly become only 15).  Round 2 was a bit more chaotic than Round 1 had been, what with adding that additional 15-month-old into the mix.  But the stay was a bit shorter and a bit less stressful by virtue of the fact that we had been there and done that.  

The thing we didn't anticipate was a 10-day face-off with viral meningitis, earning us a PICU stay and a ventilator a mere week and a half after discharging home.  (It's possible our health insurance provider has decided to just put a hit out on our entire family so we don't end up tanking the whole system). You can imagine that ol Weepy McB was there for every step of that road.  

We now reside in a far less dramatic and chaotic world.  My oldest is nearly 20 months old now and the little guy is 4.5 months (making them respectively 18 and 2.5 months 'age adjusted').  Much of the medical side-show we had created is now a vague memory and it all feels a bit like a dream where the details are fuzzy, but the feelings it evoked are still fresh.  The tears have subsided some, but as a mom, I think I will always be putty in the hands of the marketing team over at Johnson & Johnson (those bastards know just how to trigger an ugly cry).

It was in the days after being admitted with my second son that I began composing my blog; thus joining the ranks of the bazillion and ten mommy- bloggers on the planet (you're welcome, world...).   In writing blog entries, I was able to both vent and find perspective; also, two imperative things became abundantly clear:

1) The tears were an important part of my coping strategy; Weepy McBasket-Case was indeed a necessary evil.  

However...

2) Without my usual identification as a fun-loving, good-natured kinda gal, I might have lost my mind completely.  

I am so lucky to have married a man who fills my chuckle bucket (that didn't sound right, now did it?) and makes me laugh with such ease.  In that shiny new SUV after my water broke, he held my hand and cracked more than a couple of zingers to lighten the mood.  He brought nothing but smiles into the delivery room even after missing the arrival of his first-born (though he did comment on the bloody state of the room, noting later that it resembled a crime scene).  It was his quick wit and my need to laugh that got us through the chaos of my failing mommy-parts and eventual early delivery of our second son.  

Laughter has most definitely kept us both afloat in the past 20 months, it helped chase away the tears in a delicate process necessary to cleanse my anxiety.  Laughter has kept us strong as a couple and grounded as parents.  Our toddler loves nothing more than to make us laugh and sometimes just flings himself into our arms, all giggles and dimples for no apparent reason.  Even the littlest guy is suddenly cracking smiles and melting hearts like a true professional. 


Priceless.

I am so grateful for smiles and giggles and quick wit.  I am so lucky to have my boys and the joy they all bring.  Even if it means there might have been some tears along the way as well.


Follow Ready or Not Mom on Facebook, you won't regret it.
  


 ***


Please check out these the other submissions to our humor carnival:

I will sleep when I'm dead:
Zoie at TouchstoneZ needs some sleep but her kids have other ideas.


Boobs are in the House
 Jenny of Half Crunchy Mom shares how her love affair with her nursing breasts was hindered only by the act of pumping, but she found a way to party with the pump.


Send in the Nipple Clowns
Pickle Me This shares a story in which a mother who hasn't slept more than three hours in a row for six months reflects back on the comedy of her breastfeeding life.


And, from Have Milk contributors:

The importance of laughter
Jessica Claire Haney of Crunchy-Chewy Mama gets serious about looking for humor with her kids where her own parents didn't.


Underwater and Excuse Me Adriann Cocker of Cockerchat muses on the absurdity of parenting while leading a hip loft lifestyle in downtown Los Angeles.

***
To learn more about Have Milk, Will Travel, or to buy a copy for your favorite mom

(or the people who love her), visit the Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding site






Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Just call me Bessie...On the Go!


This post is part of the first Humor in Parenting (and Breastfeeding!) Blog Carnival inspired by the anthology "Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding", a collection edited by Rachel Epp Buller and published by Demeter Press in August 2013. The anthology looks at the lighter side of nursing. All of its contributors found something funny to say about their days as a non-stop milk shop, even if it was a tough job to have.


This carnival celebrates the craziness that is parenting and asks the question of how we use humor to get through our days, or minutes, or years. Just what's so funny about being a parent? And why is it so important to make life with kids funny even when it doesn't exactly seem hilarious?


Please share widely and connect us with other funny parents who are blogging and Tweeting. Use the hashtags #funnybreastfeeding and #humorcarnival along with whatever witty originals you come up with. Those ought to be worth some laughs, too!


See below for links to the other contributors. And, as you might have said to your nursling once upon a time, enjoy the buffet!

***



When I was a younger version of myself, I never had much of an opinion about my boobs.  My pear-shaped figure gave me fits starting in high school, but mostly I spent my energy taking issue with my butt.  I guess that makes me more of an 'Ass Woman'?   
Then I had children.  And now my fun-bags are under the sole proprietorship of a toothless, hairless, non-verbal sub-10lb person with zero patience and no desire to sleep through the night.  I am a slave to him and thus, a slave to my breasts. 

Yup, like any other dutiful nursing mom, my lady-lumps are at the beck and call of this insatiable little man from the time I arrive home in the evening to the moment I drop him and his brother off at the sitter the next morning.  And the fun doesn't stop there.  I spend my commute and my lunch break and any spare moment in between tethered to a merciless little wooshing, whirring and sucking machine.  The breast pump: it's a contraption used solely by women, but undoubtably designed by a man.  



I will give credit to my youngest because he doesn't treat me like a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet, which was my experience with his gluttonous big brother (who I once nursed for nine hours in a single day).

Still, when you're a working mom of two under the age of two, who's husband frequently clocks in 60+ hours at work, you learn to nurse on the go.  My childhood best friend is the oldest of five. Her mother jokes that she spent so much time nursing on the move that her youngest was served mostly 'milk shakes' rather than the standard variety of breastmilk.  I'm thinking my little guy is having a similar experience (minus the chaos of four older siblings...can you imagine?).  

I will now bestow upon you a brief list of dos and don'ts for the nursing mom who doesn't have the luxury of kicking her feet up for every baby meal.

Nurse and...

1. Do the dishes.  But then don't expect spotless plates.  And certainly don't later criticize your spouse for his/her poor pre-dishwasher scrubbing habits.  You are now equally responsible for the less-than-ideal state of your flatware.

2. Do the laundry.  Because babies might be tiny, but we all know they somehow triple your laundry volume.  Maybe it has to do with the fact they can't seem to keep their bodily fluids to themselves.

3. Prepare a meal.  Clarification: I am not a skilled chef, not by any stretch of the imagination.  So by 'preparing a meal' we're talking about punching buttons on a microwave oven and/or slicing up lunch meat and bananas for my toddler, not parleying a falafel or snarking a roast (see? I know so little about cooking, I had to make those words up).

4. Run the vacuum. Quick tip for those who may not have discovered it, babies love vacuums.  Vacuums and blow dryers.  Turn one on the next time you have a screaming infant.  It's pure magic and I will happily take credit for the peace it will restore in your home (unless you already knew this trick). 

5. Comfort a screaming toddler who still hasn't quite mastered the art of ambulation and moves too fast to notice little things like rugs or toys or say, furniture that may cause a face-plant situation.  

Do not attempt nursing and...

1.  Changing a diaper: Leave that sh*t to the professionals. And since no one is paying you to breastfeed (and I'm fairly certain that wet-nursing is no longer a 'thing') and you probably don't enjoy having someone else's urine in your lap (not judging if you do...wait, judging a little) I say don't do it.  But still, raise your hand if you've tried it.  This is me: sheepishly lowering my hand in a crowd of alarmed and disgusted faces. 

2.  Drinking a beer (in public).  You'll get some serious looks from passers-by who don't know that it takes 30 minutes for alcohol to hit your milk supply with any significance. Unless you're the type who enjoys stirring up trouble. In that case, drink away my friend.  You deserve a cold one ;) 

Short of the obvious safety violations (nursing and driving, nursing and swimming laps, nursing and skydiving, etc), I can't really think of any other tasks that can't be accomplished with an infant latched firmly to your nipple.  

Happy nursing, my friends.  As they say, breast is best...probably because it frees up that other hand to keep your world running at the requisite 90 mph.

FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK!


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Please check out these the other submissions to our humor carnival:

I will sleep when I'm dead:
Zoie at TouchstoneZ needs some sleep but her kids have other ideas.


Boobs are in the House
 Jenny of Half Crunchy Mom shares how her love affair with her nursing breasts was hindered only by the act of pumping, but she found a way to party with the pump.


Send in the Nipple Clowns
Pickle Me This shares a story in which a mother who hasn't slept more than three hours in a row for six months reflects back on the comedy of her breastfeeding life.


And, from Have Milk contributors:

The importance of laughter
Jessica Claire Haney of Crunchy-Chewy Mama gets serious about looking for humor with her kids where her own parents didn't.


Underwater and Excuse Me Adriann Cocker of Cockerchat muses on the absurdity of parenting while leading a hip loft lifestyle in downtown Los Angeles.

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To learn more about Have Milk, Will Travel, or to buy a copy for your favorite mom
(or the people who love her), visit the Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding site

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to Show Love for a Preemie Parent

November 17th is World Prematurity Awareness Day.  It's a good day to honor those littlest warriors among us: those who fought and prevailed; those who are presently battling the big, mean world; and those who came and left, too precious and fragile for this life.

It's also a good day to honor the professionals who dedicate their careers to caring for these tiny miracles: the doctors who sacrifice sleep and energy (physical and emotional) and precious time with their own families; the nurses who position their hearts and souls out on front lines of one of the toughest battlegrounds in the medical field; and even the support staff who keep the floors spotless, laundry fresh, and units running smoothly.

Thank you.  

Those words are not sufficient, but they will have to do. 

Over the past few months, I have joined a handful of virtual support communities on FB, partly out of necessity (the alternative being to slip slowly into a Gaudi-esque state of total lunacy and eventually run into oncoming traffic) and partly to pour fuel haphazardly over the fire of my full-blown FB addiction.  One of my favorites of these groups is called: Preemie Mom's.  I have forgiven the Admins for their grammatical error because the group is so well run and they've done such a lovely job of maintaining a safe space for mothers to share, encourage, celebrate, and grieve together.  

On any given day, at any given hour (because preemie parents don't sleep either) there are women from all over the globe reaching out to each other; asking for advice, sharing photos of their little ones, and cheering each other along as they struggle with one crisis or another.  This month, a number of these ladies have been posting daily factoids about prematurity, starting with the letter A and working through the alphabet.  They mostly post these to their own pages, to raise awareness in the spirit of Prematurity Awareness, but also sometimes share with the group and often turn to each other when they're stumped on a particular letter.  

It was on that page that I was inspired to write this post.  

See, on November 17th, I think we should honor the babies and the medical professionals, first and foremost.  But I also happen to think we should kick a little love in the direction of the mothers and the fathers on this particular day.  No, I'm not trolling for sympathy or a pat on the back or baked goods or anything like that (unless you're offering baked goods...wait, are you offering baked goods??).  In fact, if the Facebook support community has taught me anything, it is that my husband and I are among the luckiest of the preemie parents.  Our boys were early (31 weeks), but not sick or in need of significant respiratory support (our brief run in with the ventilator during the great meningitis debacle of 2013 left me beyond grateful for this). 

So how do we show love to those struggling preemie parents? (Besides baked goods...?)

That's a tough one. It really is. A new baby is supposed to be a joyous occasion.  It's supposed to be cause to break out cigars and pat daddy on the back and shower mommy with onesies and praise.  But a new baby who is encased in a plastic box and covered in leads and maybe relying on a machine and a tiny tube to fill their lungs is a little more complicated.  

I remember feeling a little conflicted at first, when my phone filled with messages of bewildered but very sincere 'congratulations' after the arrival of our oldest, 9 weeks early.  Nothing about my delivery felt normal, so was I entitled to receive the usual sentiments?  

I also got the feeling that in some cases, people weren't really sure what to say and that occasionally they would unwittingly say the wrong thing.  I also found my gut was not always as gracious as my mouth (thankfully, my mouth has at least some tact) and I would take offense to very innocent and well-intentioned remarks. I'm sure the apocalyptic state of my hormones had nothing to do with this either (sarcastic font).

Like I said, it's a tricky situation.  Learning of the (very) early arrival of the daughter of an acquaintance of mine just a few months ago, I found myself torn between wanting to lend my support and say something and accidentally offending her by saying the wrong thing.  A hormonal new mom (preemie or not) is a bit like a dangerous animal on a sedative that could wear off at any moment.  You sort of want to pet it, but also don't want to lose your hand.  

So what's the right thing to say?  

Well, like I said, I was inspired by a recent post on the Preemie Mom's page.  It was innocent enough, a fellow preemie mom looking to make a 'how to' list for survival in the NICU and also one of 'things not to say' to a NICU parent.  The responses came in droves, with all the voraciousness  you might expect from a group of overly-stressed and sleep-deprived new moms, all hopped up on hormones.  They blew right past the appeal for NICU survival tips and bellowed out a laundry list of insensitive comments they'd been subjected to by (probably well-intentioned) friends and family.  

And so, I will begin by sharing the remarks you might avoid and then close with a list of things to say (and do!) that might be comforting and even helpful.  I do this because the last post I wrote on the topic of what not to say (understandably) left some folks feeling too paranoid to speak to me at all.  

And I fancy myself a friendly gal who would hate to alienate anyone.

AVOID: 
At least you can still get some sleep while he/she is in the NICU!  Here's a case of a well-meaning sympathizer who is obviously trying to put a positive spin on the situation and instead demonstrating a certain amount of ignorance.  This person is usually also a parent (of a full-termer) and rarely a close friend.  And yes, I heard similar versions of this statement with both my boys (never from close friends). Newsflash: no one sleeps well when their infant is in the NICU; particularly not breast feeding moms who wake every few hours to the sound of an alarm instead of hungry baby-cries only to spend 15-20 minutes with a cold, unforgiving boob-sucking machine instead of a warm, cuddly newborn.  

SAY INSTEAD:
I can imagine you're exhausted, I hope you are able to find some time to rest.  

AVOID:
When is he/she coming home?  This one seems pretty innocent and frankly, it's a valid question.  It's a question that plagues every NICU parent and pops up every other day like a damn bad penny.  The answer is: when he/she is good and ready.  Otherwise healthy preemies must meet basic milestones before discharge: maintain temperature, gain weight steadily, and master the ability to suck-swallow-breathe so they can eat without turning into baby smurf.  Even the doctors don't know when that will be until it actually happens and the smart ones won't speculate on it.  It's a question that likely only raises the anxiety level of our preemie-parent, who has likely reached maximum stress-capacity already and could 

SAY INSTEAD:  
Your little one is in good hands and we will be so happy for you when he/she is healthy enough to come home!  

AVOID:
Oh, your baby came at 33 weeks? Well, that's nothing.  My cousin's baby was only 26 weeks and... Blah blah blah.  
Guess what.  It's not a competition.  And there are no comparisons.  My boys came within one day of each other gestational age-wise (31+3 and 31+2) and we had very different NICU experiences.  Yes, some situations may pose more risk than others, but this is not the time to start playing the one-up game.  Hard is hard.  Hurting is hurting.  It's far better to support than to compete.  

SAY INSTEAD:
My cousin had a preemie too.  I'm sure she'd be happy to talk to you if you like some support from someone who's been there!

AVOID:
Oh, I guess you won't be able to breastfeed...or any similar BFing or formula comments.  Can we just put this on the taboo topic list along with religion and politics and the Affordable Healthcare Act?  This goes for any new mom, in fact.  If the topic is raised by your particular preemie (or full termer) mom then it's safe to discuss...with caution.  The decision to BF or formula feed is highly personal and in the case of a mother who is physically separated from their kiddo (who may very well still rely on tube feeding) it's even more sensitive.  

SAY INSTEAD:
Nothing.  Go find someone to argue about healthcare with instead. 

AVOID:
Wow! You don't look like you just had a baby!
In my case, my body just sort of ballooned in all directions and I went into both my deliveries looking more like a woman who appreciates a good Big Mac and less like a glowing mother-to-be.  I came out looking somewhat similar.  However, a fair number of preemie moms don't have a chance to look very pregnant and therefore don't look much different after delivery.  It may seem like you're paying a compliment here, but really you're just reminding her that she's been unable to keep her little one safe and snuggled in her belly to 37+ weeks the way God or Allah, or L. Ron Hubbard intended.

INSTEAD SAY:
Nothing.  She doesn't care how she looks anyways.... No NICU mom has enough energy left to be vein.  

So, there's a short list of how to show love to your preemie moms and dads.  It's certainly not a complete list and it is not meant to discourage you from lending support.  A good rule of thumb is to just be compassionate and willing to listen.  

Come to think of it, that's probably good advice to live by in most every situation.


If you're looking for more ways to lend support to spreading prematurity awareness, click here.