Sunday, April 26, 2015

Friends, I do not want to talk about my baby with you...that much

Recently I had a conversation with Hubby that, in summary, was that it's important for me to not be one of those moms that becomes obsessed with their children to the point of ruining friendships with non-parent friends. We are at that age where "everyone" is getting married and/or having kids. Everyone except half of our friends who are not married and/or not planning on having kids for awhile. It seems that the stereotype of the new mom is to discuss everything in the most minutia of detail about their child to anyone who will listen. I had a friend a few years back that said to me when I adopted Puppy, "I hate people who get a new dog or have a baby and cannot talk about anything other than them, right down to the number and consistency of every poopy diaper that they take."

Right now. Once and for all. Unless Little Guy shits gold or a toy action figure, you will not hear about what his poops look like. And if he does, it will be delivered in a witty package topped off with a sarcastic bow.

But the truth is that I do actually want to talk about him with my friends once in awhile. Unlike what I said in an earlier entry about every random person asking me about new motherhood, I do want to talk to my friends about that. Mainly because they are my friends and we have talked about everything else in life up to this point. Why is it ok to talk about break-ups, new relationships, stresses at work and with family, and the joys of other life milestones. But having a kid and talking about that is boring and annoying? And why is this something that only women need to watch out for? No one warns men about this (regardless of how much or how little they choose to talk about fatherhood).

Just like any other aspect of my life, sometimes I need to be giddy or vent about something for a portion of our hangout. Then I'll be ready to move on to the next thing. And it is important for me to move on to the next thing. I spend 23-24 hours a day with this kid (aside from when I get my breaks thanks to Hubby). As much as he is the main event of my life right now, he is not the only event, and sometimes it is nice to talk about other things. Just recognize that if I'm willing to listen to you tell me the same revolving story about the 324th guy you've dated, or how your mom did the same shitty thing to you for the 972nd time, this needs to be ok too.

So when did it become a huge pain to deal with newly minted moms? I know that there are those moms that surrender their identity to their children, but not every mom is like that. Some moms struggle with inner guilt as well as unacceptable pressure from those around them to be like that. That pressure starts early too. Even before we announce our pregnancy, the message that society sends us, that we are merely hosts for a new life to come into this world, starts the moment we become pregnant.

When I was looking for maternity clothes I was incredibly angry at the lack of actual fashion that exists in the world for pregnant women. Most stores with maternity lines do not reflect the fabrics, colors, and prints that are available in "regular" clothing. (I put regular in quotes because otherwise it implies that pregnancy is not a normal stage of a woman's life.) And the clothes that do exist are usually not carried in stores, only online. Jersey knit basics were all I could get unless I wanted to spend a lot, or obsessively checked the 2-3 affordable (when not marked up purely for putting the word maternity in the description) websites with offerings that found.

Then when we tell the word about the new life growing inside us, it gets worse. When talking to my mom about her experiences as a first time preggo and mommy she said that for a period of time she begrudgingly lost her identity as anything other than "Lulu's mom." I understood that more than I care to admit. All I heard was "how's pregnancy? how's the baby?" I had many things going on in my life during my pregnancy that did not revolve around the baby and few people cared enough to ask about any of it. I also often heard comments about what I ate, how my body looked, and my birthing choices as if I became a factory process to be scrutinized. No one commented about my decision to love and eat cheese puffs until I became pregnant, dealt with morning sickness where sometimes a cheesy chippy snack was the only thing I could tolerate without making me sick. These comments and lack of care about the rest of my life only made me think, that despite the fact that it is 2015, society still considers a woman's only job to make and care for babies.

Yes, I did grow a baby (but I didn't make him, that takes 2 people).
Yes, I do take care of him (but so does my husband and a whole host of other people).
Yes, I am on a kind of maternity leave (but I do have a career that's extremely important to me and I actively work on it every day because I LOVE it, not because I am afraid to fall behind).
Yes, my body did change (but whose doesn't? and it is pretty much back to normal).
Yes, I made lifestyle choices (but I am ok with them and you should be too).
Yes, I am a mommy (but I'm also a wife, daughter, sister, friend, clinician, soccer player, foodie, wino, audiophile, and most importantly, human being).
Yes. I shouldn't have to add "but" to every single one of these sentences to justify my experiences.

So, friends, if I want to talk about my kid a lot, a little, or not at all, you need to let me do that. I may be a mommy, but I'm a human being too. Deal with it.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Hardest thing about Being a New Parent

Even though I love my son and getting to be his mommy (saying "my son" and hearing "mommy" are still cheap thrills to me), it's not all giggles and nap time. There is some stress. But for me, I've realized the stress comes from caring too much.

I may come from a family of stressed out anal retentive control freaks (and I know there are plenty of people who will say that when descriving me), but I have always lived my life with the motto "work hard, rest hard." I am the person who must get everything done and out of the way as soon as possible so I can take the rest of the day to be as lazy and chill as possible. Typical weekend (when I can swing it) wake up at 7am to clean, put PJs back on by 10am to be on the couch to nap while watching TV until dinner time, drink wine, and go back to bed by 10pm.

I have spent the vast majority of my adult life in school getting advanced degrees to become a clinical psychologist. Therefore, when awake, I have spent the vast majority of the last 12 years being stressed out about something. I have learned to relish in the relaxed atmosphere I've created for myself in both my professional and personal life. And despite, what my mother may think, I am generally known as the laid back one in the clinics I have worked in. Angry or suicidal patients do not freak me out. I know how to handle myself in a crisis, and my ability to overcome them without batting an eyelash is something that my husband has said he loves about me.

But since having Little Guy that relaxed attitude has been a rare thing in these parts. I have had to pull out every therapy trick I have learned the last 5 years and use them on myself to get over the anxiety I have felt every time I look at him. "What if he stops breathing? Why does he sound like that? Does he have allergies? Is he too tiny? He's having a seizure! I can see his vein pulsing in his head. Why hasn't he pooped yet today? Is he breathing? What's that thing on his toe? HOLY SHIT HE JUST PUKED OUT OF HIS NOSE!" Every one of these sentences has had to be combated with a logical thought. Reciting statistics about SIDS. Babies have small nasal passageways. No. No. No he's not; he sleeps with his eyes partially open like you do. That's normal. That's normal. Yes. It's lint. That's normal; just clean it up.

The first week we came home I was worried I might have developed post-partum depression with a presentation that looked like anxiety. Then I realized, I'm a new mom, and I'm still trying to figure out what it's like to be a parent to a newborn. Even though I'm the oldest in my family and only have one cousin out of 7 who is older than me, I have no memory of what it is like to be around a newborn and thus everything is a new experience for me (well, except how to change a diaper and avoid being peed on, that's pretty universal). And thus, every new action gets an anxiety filled reaction out of me. But I can't really help it. I mean, I carried this little human being that my husband and I made with care and love inside of of a protective bubble for 9 months. The moment he was born our relationship became personified in the cutest littlest thing I've ever seen. How could I not love and want to protect the most precious thing I've ever held?

My husband jokes that he married his mother or that I need a wine & Xanax cocktail. I think I just need to figure out how to get that relaxed attitude back in this new context. Considering I've already reached the "just rinse it off" stage of pacifier cleaning and have been yelled at for trying to not wash Little Guy's laundry before letting him wear it, I think I'm starting to figure it out a little bit...until the next time something new happens, which I expect should happen in 3...2...1...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Real Music for Babies

Within the first two weeks of Little Guy's life my dad says to me, "so what music are you playing for this guy to educate him?" I think, 'Dad, he's less than a month old. I'm not sure he cares as long as it's not scary sounding.' But my dad is a musician with little cognitive flexibility (despite this he is still a killer drummer able to think on his feet and improvise---why can he not do this about how to do laundry and vacuum?!) so the idea of not having music around a child is inconceivable.
The truth is, though, he did a pretty good job with my brother and I. We are both major music nerds in our own right. I can still remember the first rock and roll songs on the first mixed tape he made me (I was three), the first Beatles song I loved, the home-made recording "studio" I made out of Fisher Price tape decks, singing Michael Jackson as my show and tell at school, among a host of other music-themed memories---including a lack of child-specific music. These are all things I want for my son.

My issue, though, is that he sleeps constantly. So I needed to pick out music to play that would not cause nightmares (because he would sleep through it; he would just body jerk at every loud moment) and that I could tolerate hearing over and over and over again (I'm not ready to listen to insert pop art here sings nursery rhymes and lullabyes). Thus, like any good music nerd and former college radio DJ would, I made a mix. Granted my mix is about 8 hours long, but here is a small smattering for those of you who are interested in giving your brain/ear buds a break while soothing and educating your child:
1. Le Tombeau De Couperin - 1. Prélude  - Ravel 
2. Concerto In D Minor For Oboe. Strings I. Andante e spiccato - Alessandro Marcello
3. Jade Visions (Take 2) - Bill Evans Trio
4. Gloria's Step [Take 2] - Bill Evans Trio
5. Blue Ridge Mountains - Fleet Foxes
6. Mother And Child Reunion - Paul Simon 
7. Wheels - Jamie Cullum
8. Mind Blindness - Dirty On Purpose
9. Eleanor Put Your Boots On - Franz Ferdinand
10. The Next Time Around - Little Joy
11. I'll Follow the Sun - The Beatles
12. Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
13. I Still Care For You - Ray LaMontagne
14. Everything Has Changed - Taylor Swift & Ed Sheeran
15. Acid Tongue - Jenny Lewis
16. Pink Moon - Nick Drake
17. Those to Come - Shins
18. Aqueous Transmission - Incubus

Monday, April 20, 2015

The life of a Tamagotchi parent

Do you remember what it was like when you went away to college for the first time and at every event for the next 12-48 months people asked you: "so how is it to be away at college?" At first it was an exciting question to answer. You had waited for the moment when you could finally say goodbye to your parents and your old self to grow the wings of a butterfly and flitter off into the fun of what you thought adulthood would be like. Endless parties, sleeping in to skip class, junkfood for three square meals a day, with a little bit of self-exploration and personal growth thrown in. Life is wonderful! But after the first 15 people ask you the same question you dread these conversations and recite your publicly acceptable rehearsed answer as it gets shorter and shorter. "Yeah, my roommate is ok. I'm a psych major. College is great. No, I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Thanks for the $20."

Talking to people about having a new baby is just. like. that. Except there is the added bonus of lots of unsolicited advice and personal anecdotes because people assume that you are suffering as much as they did when their child was born. "Oh, I'm sure you're exhausted to the point of hysterics." Actually no. He sleeps constantly; I sleep at least 50% of the time that he sleeps. "And everything must smell like baby puke." How did you not master the art of avoiding being spit up after the first time? "I know you're a clean freak, but get used to a messy apartment." He's not a toddler yet, so we're more than capable of cleaning up after our normal daily mess in a timely manner.  "You must want to kill your husband constantly." WHAT?!?! The person who actually makes my life easier???? Never!! I think they want to see that you are suffering as much as they did because it validates how difficult their early baby experiences were. The truth is, not everyone has that kind of a parenthood experience.

Baby (or as he will now henceforth be known: Little Guy), is a little over a month old now. What is it like to be a new parent to him? Boring. Yes, every once in awhile he pukes half his body weight and it comes out it nose or poops WHILE I'm changing his poopy diaper and then pees on himself (despite the fact that I covered up his own little guy...that thing sure knows how to snake itself to me just stop there because I am picturing him as a teenager and the trouble he is going to get himself into). But for the most part he just sleeps, eats, and goes to the bathroom. He is a glorified Tamagotchi.

Yes. A Tamagotchi. A mid 90s electronic appropriately looking sperm-like pet that everyone had to have. At first you were very excited when you got yours. Finally! The cool toy that everyone had, you now have too! My little egg was purple (my favorite color during childhood) and like most children, I spent the better part of at least 36 hours being completely obsessed with ensuring its survival. I fed it and cleaned up after it's poop like a dutiful mother would. I turned the light off when it needed to sleep and checked it all night long, when I should have been sleeping, to ensure that I did not wake up to a miserable electronic pet...or worse yet, a dead one. And I was in heaven. It seemed so easy! I was going to be a great nano-mom.

Then, somewhere around day two I started to space out and wanted to do other things with my time. I didn't want to be tied down to a schedule of checking up on a time-sucker when I could be playing with things that were actually alive like my cat, my friends, or even my little brother. I tempted fate often enough, wondering what would happen if I didn't feed it or let the poop pile up. It would look sickly; It would be sad; It would eventually die, right? But I had too much guilt. I would save it at the last minute every time. And when it finally did die, as devastated as I was, I took solace in the fact that I could just reset it and get a new one. I'd be a better parent this time around.

Having a newborn baby is exactly like that. Except there is no reset button. My job is to simply keep this little guy alive. And the first few days at home were bliss. Like clockwork for the last 32 days every three hours he needs to have his diaper changed, be fed, have his diaper changed, and then go back to sleep in that order. Do all that on repeat and have a happy, healthy baby. Then, somewhere around day 2, my ADHD kicked in and I started to wonder what were all the things I could do with one hand. I learned pretty quickly that, with no upper body strength to speak of, was basically work a remote and drink a beverage of my choice. I also learned that I cannot feed him and do something else at the same time or I'll miss his mouth and make a mess everywhere. I also learned that up until this week he was too small for any device we own that will keep him out of his uncomfortable bassinet for extended periods of time and that he is VERY particular about how he lies on me (his only other housing option aside from my husband) while sleeping. I now have more pillows around me at all times than I did during pregnancy to prop him and every one of my limbs up to remain comfortable for as long as possible.

But on the plus side I have watched two whole TV series and about 30 movies, learned more about classical music and jazz thanks to Pandora, grown closer with my fur babies, eaten so little that I have lost enough weight I am back into my normal jeans, napped more times than I thought I ever could in one day, and online shopped until I wallet under the coffee table where I could not get it until my husband came home and took Little Guy for his shift.

I can see why some parents become overwhelmed by their children. The brief moments when Little Guy cries are terrifying as I quickly scan over my brain for all of the things he might need until I press the right button to make him smile and fall back asleep again. I can see why hours and hours of that would wear anyone thin. These moments, though, are brief and nothing like the horror stories I was told to prepare for. My little guy is not a cryer. He's a sleeper and a snuggler and thus, after waiting and waiting to be a parent to a newborn, it has actually been pretty great. Maybe he's just saving it all up for when he turns two?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Is this thing on?

This blog has been so defunct for at least three years now. Aside from the random entry here or there I have been way too busy with school and life to keep up.

My life has also considerably changed. I started this blog to try to learn to keep a budget and still live a nice life (which is still a goal of mine considering I am mainly dependent on student loans); but the circumstances of that life has been in constant flux. Things are relatively settled now (or as much they can be while I juggle being a new mom AND trying to finish up my doctoral degree which means moving constantly for training), but I still have little time to write. Despite this, I still want to write.

As part of our schooling we're often told about "self-care." Think about the analogy that is often used of the airplane oxygen mask. You are supposed to put your own mask on before you put the mask on of someone who can't that you are traveling with. This is to ensure that you survive and can continue to take care of that person (whether it is the simple action of putting their mask on or the more complicated one of surviving a crash and living on a tropical island with polar bears for three years). Writing has always been one of those things that is self-care for me (along with soccer, cooking, and drinking a lot of wine). Well, for the last several months 2 of those 3 things were not an option but a number of things prevented me from getting my act together to sit here and write. And now that I spend many hours a day holding a sleeping baby too small for a wrap, swing, or even his car seat, I have plenty of time to at least think up things to say.

So, yeah, I hate to be that mom who is says, "hey, I have a new baby! I am full of wise gems now that I think I know everything about life! (because having that baby suddenly granted me with the wisdom of all moms everywhere)," I sort of am that mom. Except I think the train of thought that I had was, "I need an outlet so I can share my demented thoughts with someone other than my half drunk with exhaustion husband." Even if that someone is just my laptop and my grandmother.

I can't guarantee regular updates because even now I am only able to write since I am home alone (work is being done on our apartment so hubby took the baby to my parents') and have finished my homework for the day. But at least there will be updates, and for now that's a start.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...