Old News: Past Blog Posts

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Silence of the Asshole

If you're not already familiar with theoatmeal.com, first of all: shame on you, you're reading this crap and ignoring Internet GOLD?  Secondly, allow me to enlighten you:  The Oatmeal is a site that is home to a blogger, cartoonist, liberal-thinker, distance running enthusiast, and personal hero of mine.  My uncle introduced me a few months back and I was quickly smitten (as is often the case with me, as I'm a total blog whore).

Anyway, in one of his most popular cartoons, The Oatmeal introduces us to the Blerch. He's a pudgy fairy-esque creature with beady eyes, a hairy back, jagged black twigs for appendages and embodies "all forms of gluttony, apathy, and indifference."  He is relentless, constantly craving snacks, and always parking himself in the way of success.  Sound familiar?  I bet he does.  I think we probably all have a Blerch.  He resonates so well with people that you can buy a T-shirt with his face on it.  
Feed me.

I have a Blerch.  I'm not very clever, so I call him my Asshole.  That's because he usually provides me with my excuses.  And excuses are like assholes.  You know, everyone has them, and they all stink.  

So recently, my Asshole has been pretty persistent.  He's been following me around carrying a jar of peanut butter and pelting some really convincing excuses my way.  

He's like, Hey you, yeah you. You, with the obesity genes and the baby weight and the 13 jobs and the inability to sleep long enough to achieve the REM phase.  If you think you're gonna make it to the gym today, you're even stupider than I thought (do you see what I'm dealing with here?)

He's there. All. The. Time.  When I wake up, he's like: Listen lady, that combined 3.5 hours of sleep you got between feedings for that insatiable little monster is just not gonna cut it. Let's say you skip your workout, call in sick to work, send the kids to the sitter and just flipping *sleep* for 10 hours.  

When I'm wrestling a crabby, half-asleep toddler into his clothes on a workday morning, he snickers at me and is all: Seriously, just quit your job(s) already.  Then you and the kids can just lounge in your PJs and binge watch the Bravo network til your brain explodes.  You can glue your ass to the sofa and OD on Real Housewives and it will be glorious.  

As I drive to work, he pesters me the whole way: Egg McMuffin, Egg McMuffin, Egg McMuffin.

At work, he is generally ignored because I just don't have time for that shit.  Unless someone brings in a tray of brownies.  Go ahead fatty! Smash your face in the pan and start chewing! You deserve it!!

Every time I start assembling my pumping paraphernalia, there he is.  Fuck it.  Find a baseball bat and some gangster rap, smash this godforsaken contraption Office Space-style, and go buy some goddamned formula.

By the time I get home, he's laughing at me.  You're a damn fool if you think you have the energy to do anything but zone out in front of the TV.  Have you noticed?  Even the *sun* has packed it in for the night.

...and so on and so forth.

Your Asshole/Blerch is probably just as terrible.  He (I use the male pronoun simply to satisfy my inner feminist) may be either more or less vocal and either more or less successful in his endeavors.  

I think that successful people find a way to silence the Asshole.  Miserable people (you know them, they're the ones screaming at their kids in checkout lines, bringing bad juju to the office, and clogging your Facebook feed with complaints and negativity) live their lives as resentful captives of their Blerches; giving in to his whims and ridicules and left feeling abused and defeated.  I wouldn't consider myself a 'successful person' per se, but I haven't quit my job(s), given myself type II diabetes by way of drive-thru and/or baked goods, OR beaten my Medela Pump In Style into smithereens (just yet), so I guess 'success' is all relative.  

Here are a few tips I have found to be helpful in my efforts to mute that meddling little bastard:

1.  Acknowledge his existence: if you know he's there and recognize his agenda (tear you down to his pudgy, pathetic, self-loathing level) he is easier to defeat.  If you actually don't have an Asshole/Blerch, stop reading and consider us no longer friends because you're either A) in denial or B) too thin and wealthy and accomplished for us to ever get along (maybe your Christmas card video went viral last year?).  

2.  Give him an unbecoming name and appearance.  I beg you to be more clever than me in this department...maybe consider applying the name and/or face of a particularly unappealing Ex?  

3.  Label him as public enemy #1 and vow that you won't rest until he is destroyed.

4.  Recognize that he can never actually be destroyed --- the world is too vast and we are way too complicated --- but he can be silenced.  And if not silenced, he can at least be ignored. And boy does it feel good to rise above the vicious taunts and ugly remarks of your own personal Asshole.  Let his mean-spirited negativity fuel your fire for success.

So yes, my Asshole has been especially persistent recently.  But guess who's been getting the last laugh?  Since resolving to kick my dangerously appealing baked-good habit and rejoin the world of 'clean living' and non-elastic waistbands almost 4 weeks ago, I am down 8.3 lbs.  

So keep talking Asshole.  
I'm not listening.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Blistered Nipple

A friend posed a simple question as her FB status about a week ago: 'If you had a band, what would you call it?'  Without hesitation, I replied with 'Blistered Nipple'

Besides being a totally kick-ass band name (you may steal it, but you sure as sh*t better give me credit -- or at least a free t-shirt when your hipster fan base gets big enough to warrant merchandising), it happens to also be a somewhat accurate description of the state of my right nipple.

That's right team, this is a blog post about my right nipple.  So men, either commit to feeling grossed out and uncomfortable, or close out and move on with your day; carrying with you a strong sense of relief that your bodies aren't designed for childbirth and milk-production.  Freud never talked about 'lactation envy' ... no surprise there.

So for those who are still reading (whom I suspect are mothers, men who claim to have strong stomachs, and possibly a curious teenage boy or two who just got done Googling the word 'nipple' and is holding out hope for a photo), here's my latest thoughts on the physical trials of motherhood: there's the physical agony of childbirth and the extreme pain of a thrush diagnosis, and frankly I am not sure which is worse. At least when you're delivering a baby, there's a distinct end to your suffering.  That kid is coming out one way or another.  With this thrush thing, it took me a week for a diagnosis and now I am on day three of my fourth treatment strategy and still feeling somewhat defeated.  

It started at the end of last week, after my second marathon 12-hour workday in a row which resulted almost exclusive pumping and hardly any actual nursing.  My nipple was red and raw and bleeding, like it had just gotten into a knife fight and had lost badly.  I initially blamed my breast pump shields and promptly ordered a larger size (the 36mm, largest size you can get, designed for nursing baboons I think) on Amazon Prime, and began counting the minutes until it was scheduled to arrive.  I limped through the weekend, tolerating nursing fairly well and pumping as best I could, but mostly just fighting back tears and flirting with the idea of violently throwing my pump and nursing cover out into the nearest dumpster.  But, I'm a stubborn a-hole on a mission, so I wiped back the tears and pressed on. 

After my new monster-sized shields arrived, I could finally pump with at least a little comfort.  It took about twice as long because I initially still only tolerated the lowest setting on my pump.  Still, that damn nipple just didn't want to heal.  It continued to feel like someone had set fire to it and then started sawing at it with two dozen tiny meat-cleavers.  And since it's not socially acceptable (especially at work or when your parents are in town) to walk around with your breasts exposed, I had to douse the damn thing in lanolin and tuck it in behind my bra after every meal/pumping session where it would protest loudly to it's restricted quarters for several minutes before resigning to it's defeat and letting me carry on with my life.  This was often just as painful as the initial pumping and would cause me to catch my breath and mutter some colorful profanities through my teeth (also not super acceptable at work or around parents).  

Finally, after almost a week of banging my head against the wall (metaphorically, of course), I finally had an afternoon open up and so I high-tailed it to my OBs office where I was given a last-minute appointment with a very sweet urogynocologist who diagnosed me with thrush and had my nipples and my poor baby's mouth painted with some pretty gnarly purple stuff that some of you may be familiar with: Gentian Violet.  

Now, we both looked a little like aliens and/or something out of a low budget horror movie about blood-sucking demon babies. A word of advice for you ladies who haven't (yet) had the pleasure of a thrush diagnosis and subsequent Crayola-esque treatment: get ready to toss out a bra or two and at least three onesies because no matter how careful you are, that shit is gonna seep into and destroy at least that many items.  

I also have a bottle of purple breast milk in the refrigerator that I'm not sure what to do with but it makes me giggle.

After receiving my diagnosis, I began broadcasting it via text and social media...because my misery enjoys both company and sympathy (I'm one of those friends).  I couldn't believe how many of my poor mom-friends had quietly suffered through this agony on multiple occasions and soldiered on in their nursing ventures.  Heroes.  Damn heroes, all of them.  They offered support and sympathy and a variety of tried and true treatment options.  

A mom slash doctor-friend suggested Monistat, which (counting the new breast-shields) was treatment #3.  

Treatment #4 was initiated after I got a text yesterday from my sitter reporting that our littlest man was bark-coughing and breathing like a locomotive.  I wasted no time in scheduling an appointment with our pediatrician and whisking the little guy in for a closer look.  He sounded terrible and freaked everyone out at first (myself included) but was ultimately deemed to have good oxygen saturations and was likely just suffering a virus causing mostly upper airway disturbances.  He was prescribed oral prednisone to open things up and dare I say, it seems to be working so far.  I took the opportunity to also discuss our apparent brush with thrush (because his purple mouth suggested either that or a lollipop) and they also passed me a script for niastatin.  

So now, we are both at home, licking our wounds (well, not really--that's physically impossible--but you get the gist , you people get how metaphors work, I don't know why I keep explaining) and enrolled in night three of my self-prescribed Breastfeeding Bootcamp to attempt to boost up my now pathetic milk supply.  The little man snoozed (quietly at times!!) in the bassinet next to my bed and nursing every couple hours.  My nipple is stained and broken still--it looks like a smurf tried to take a bite out of it--but functioning for the most-part.

I may not be emotionally equipped to soldier through this setback like so many of you heroic nursing warriors out there....but at least I can say that I tried.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Two Under Two: Part Six

The little man is rapidly closing in on his seventh month of life and when people inquire about my kids' ages, I have started referring to the proximity to the big guy's second birthday ('two in March') rather than spouting out 20-something month numbers... Which is, let's face it, just confusing and leaves most non-parents either lost momentarily in mental-math hell and/or feeling totally annoyed.

I still feel the need to quantify the little guy's preemie status when people are looking quizzically at my 11 pound seven-month-old, but the oldest is comfortably caught up to the size and (average) developmental status of his full-term peers.  This is largely due to his enormous and seemingly insatiable appetite...inherited from his mother no doubt.

If you follow my Facebook feed, you know that sleep is a relative scarcity in our house.  Apparently, seven months of living is just not enough to fully appreciate the true beauty of a full night of sleep.  Still, things are generally improving and that precious eight hours of uninterrupted sleep seems to be looming somewhere on the horizon--between here and the spring thaw.  

Meanwhile, my favorite part of being a mother to two under the age of two is watching my boys begin to interact with one another.  

The little guy is quite often fixated on the antics of his big brother.  He will sit and gaze, eyes wide, drinking in the absurd chaos and general mayhem that is involved with toddler play.  

He will stare unblinking as his brother darts around the living room gathering up various objects redistributing them in such a way that may defy all logic to the casual onlooker, but apparently makes perfect sense to him, based on his furrowed brow and deliberate movements.  

Likewise, the toddler seems to take an occasional (though generally fleeting) interest in the infant.  He can occasionally be found offering 'soft touches' -- which are open-handed pats -- awkwardly to the top of his brother's head or thigh...or face.  He will supply a pacifier and even shove it (with a bit more force than necessary) squarely in the baby's mouth, smile, sigh with satisfaction and resume his tireless galavanting.  

About a month ago, we began supplementing the baby's diet with oatmeal and various other solid foods. Happily, the little guy has become quite taken with the idea of ingesting gloppy mash from a spoon, and I generally find myself twisting two fingers together in hopes that we will be blessed with two relatively un-picky eaters.  Sadly, the solids didn't magically trigger the preferred circadian sleeping patterns in our fussy night owl, a theory vehemently supported by the generation ahead of mine (all of whom I suspect don't accurately remember their children's infancies and also seem to believe that most infant issues are best resolved by a bottle or bowl of rice cereal)

I was concerned that the toddler would take offense to his little brother's invasion of one of his favorite places in the world (his high chair), but on the contrary, he seemed happy to share.  He will occasionally even climb onto our laps during meal times and insist on helping with the feeding process (by way of pointing and grunting like a Neanderthal until we un-hand the spoon). It is almost as if he is finally finding a common bond with his little brother: Oh, so...uh, you eat too? We should totally OD on bananas together sometime.

I joke that soon enough they'll be conspiring against us.  Probably, the universe is smiling when I make comments like that.  Yup, get your laughs in now lady...while you still can. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Look! I'm a cliche!

Check it: I'm a mommy-blogger who has made a New Years resolution to finally lose the rest of that baby weight.  Go ahead, put on your unsurprised face and go find something better to do than continuing to read this post.  Because you've probably read it before.  

Here's the thing about me, I have never been and will never be a Size 2.  My BeyoncĂ©-scale booty and thighs are deeply rooted in my genetic code, as is my resentment for naturally skinny bitches whose 24-inch waists have never once graced the inside of a gym.  And I think I'm finally sort of okay with that.

As a woman who dabbles heavily in feminism, I officially believe that you are more -- so much more! -- than what the scale reads. I believe we should judge each other on the quality of our characters rather than the size of our asses.  I believe our society is stuck in a very damaging vacuum that worships starving, sex-ified stick figures who bombard us from all media outlets and literally 'pop up' uninvited on our computer screens.  

And when I say 'damaging,' I mean damaging.  

I was raised by socially-conscious adults who constantly reminded me that the most important thing I could put on my face was a smile (vs lipstick) and responded to comments regarding my childhood 'cuteness' by insisting that I was also very smart.  But alas, I have still had my fair share of 'I'm a whale' meltdowns, reducing me to a pile of self-conscious tears and overwhelming self-hatred.  All that positive self-esteem building couldn't stand up to the Seventeen magazine covers, petite blonde pop stars, and top heavy MTV dating show hosts (yup, that damn McCarthy woman has been ruining America for decades now).  Our culture is riddled with women -- beautiful ones! -- who are plagued by the fact that they'll never win America's Next Top Model but still spend their days judging themselves and others (albeit, less harshly) as if we were all contestants.  

All of these astute observations aside, I also believe in physical health.  As a healthcare professional, I am a firm believer that our bodies should be treated with respect.  Unless you feel strongly about reincarnation, we only get one chance at this life and only one vessel to host us as we plow through it.   Doesn't it just make sense then to take good care of that vessel?  

Confession time: I have recently been taking terrible care of myself.  At some point between Halloween and the middle of November (AKA the start of To Hell With It Season) I decided I just didn't care anymore.  I was too tired, working too much, too stressed, too busy preparing for the holidays, and just too damn weak-willed to stand up to the power of baked goods, fried decadence, and salty snacks. My exercise frequency plummeted and soon whole weeks would pass between workouts.  By Christmas morning, the waistbands of my pants were working overtime to contain my belly and my overall mood was at a level normally reserved for burrowing earthworms.  It didn't take much for a passing killer cold virus to strike down my weakened immune system sometime between Christmas and the New Year.  

That's when it dawned on me that it was time to take action. 

And so, in honor of my (admittedly predictable) new resolve, I have set some goals and some preliminary ground rules for myself and would love to take this opportunity to share each: 

Goal #1: Lose 8 lbs by my birthday.  In six weeks, I'll be 32 and I would prefer to be sitting comfortably under 160 lbs when I can finally crack a beer to celebrate the onset of another year of life (have been pregnant for the past two birthdays). 

Ultimate Goal:  Wedding weight (145) by our summer beach vacation in mid-July. 

Most Important Goal: Feel good about the choices I am making every day to rediscover my healthiest, happiest self.  

Current weight (as of January 2): 165.8

Rules and regulations:

1.  Write it down: Losing weight is simple math.  When calories in are fewer than calories out, the pounds will go packing.  Historically, my diet is best managed when I am holding myself accountable by logging every bite.  Time to take control.  Time to write that shit down.  I even dusted off and updated the ol' Weight Watchers App. 

2.  Paleo when possible: Fundamentally, I don't buy into fad diets.  However, some of my dearest friends have adopted the 'Paleo Diet' over the past two years and they look fantastic.  After some light research, I am realizing that the principles of the diet make total sense and I am happy to go at least partially paleo.  

3.  Drink dammit:  Water is essential for so many reasons.  I need more of it in my life.  

4.  Set that alarm:  ...and beware the snooze button and pre-determined excuses.  I am significantly more likely to work out if I start before 6am so the alarm is essential.  I am *also* very likely to snooze or ignore the alarm altogether if I have prefabricated an excuse to do so (re: up too many times with the baby or have a long day of work ahead of me).  I must always remember that I will ultimately feel better for the entire day if the workout actually happens -- regardless of hours of sleep or hours at work. 

5.  Stay busy, but make time to eat.  The 'busy' part is necessary due to there being truth in the old adage: 'idle hands ... ' Lucky for me, I'm incredibly busy.  Still, I get myself in trouble when I leave the house with an empty stomach, work through lunch and come home famished.  It happens a LOT and generally results in an evening binge on the fattiest most unhealthy foods within reach.  

So, I may be a cliche.  I but I'm a cliche with a game plan and some serious determination.  

Look out 2014, this mama is gonna grab you by the balls and reclaim her former pants size, squat weight, and moderately damaged self-esteem.