Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Few Parenting Milestones

A Few Parenting Milestones:

You arrive at work and realize there is dried poo under your thumbnail. You realize you prepared your breakfast and lunch with that poo thumb.

Your child makes an embarrassing comment about your body in a public place. For example yelling  “MOMMY! YOU HAVE A BIG HUGE BUM!” as loud as possible in the library bathroom. My aunt recalls a dressing room incident when she was trying on a bathing suit and my cousin says with astonishment and a little disgust, “Mom! What HAPPENED to your BODY?!” 

Your child makes an embarrassing comment about a stranger’s body. For example: “Not him, the tough one.” Luckily for us, she says ‘tough’ (for now) when she means big or plump, so only we know she is insulting someone’s size.

You clean up vomit in a public place with every used tissue and crinkled up napkin in your purse, and you don’t dry heave or vomit yourself while doing so.

You stick your baby’s pacifier in your own mouth to clean it off because you are not near any water source to clean it. This also applies to sippy cups.

You are disgusted by the tacky, sticky film covering restaurant high chairs. Really, do they ever clean those things?

You plan road trip pit stops based on which gas stations/fast food restaurants have a changing table in the bathroom. (I am still shocked at how many places are lacking changing tables.)

You crawl/roll out of your sleeping child’s room with ninja-like stealth.

You cry when you knock over the 3 ounces of breast milk you just spent thirty minutes pumping.  You get angry when your husband doesn’t understand that it IS a big deal.

You are forced to make a split-second decision on naming anatomy during bath time. Example: The child stands up grabbing his penis and questions “Bum? Bum?”  You have two seconds to make the wiener/penis/whatever you are going to call it decision. You had no idea it would happen RIGHT NOW, so you shout out your answer like a contestant on The Family Feud, “PENIS!” but there is no one behind you yelling “Good answer! Good answer!” there is just a naked toddler staring at you.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Everything is Better in 3D

When I was pregnant with my daughter in 2010, my husband had the itch to buy a new TV. Not just any new TV, a gigantic, high definition, flat screen TV, to replace what I already considered a gigantic flat screen TV. The extra special thing about this TV was it had 3D capabilities. That is right, you could watch television in the third dimension from the comfort of your own couch, because, EVERYONE needs to be able to do that, right? In his mind, the answer was absolutely.

My husband is not one to make an impulse purchase. He researched. He fact checked. He read message boards. He watched YouTube videos. He weighed the pros and cons of LED screens versus plasma screens.  He sprinkled in random tech facts into our conversations. It would go something like this:

Me:  "According to my book, the baby is now the size of an heirloom tomato. I don't even know what the difference is between an heirloom tomato and a tomato-tomato."

Him: "Did you know that the 3D glasses work by alternating the images your eyes see at an incredible rate of speed?"

As my belly grew, so did my list of things we needed to purchase to get ready for the baby. I had the lists from the pregnancy books, suggestions from friends and the weekly pregnancy emails I received.  Wouldn't you know it, not one list included a 3D TV. I humored him. I went to Best Buy with him, waddling straight to the bathroom, leaving him in the home theater room. I would find him in the dark room, his smiling face illuminated by the glow of the enormous screens.  One of the young sales guys would approach and start a conversation. My husband typically knew more about the TV than the employee and would stump the salesman with a question regarding pixel burn out or ambient light.  

As my pregnancy progressed, the more the TV talk started to exhaust me. I would roll my eyes every time he would exclaim, with a dramatic arm sweep in the space in front of me "Now, picture this in the third dimension!" By this time my hormones were taking control.  My internal conversations would go to extremes. "How could he be so selfish by wanting to get that TV at a time like this!?" to "Maybe he is freaking out over becoming a dad and needs this TV as a comfort thing."  

He wore me down. I was swollen, I was hungry, and sleep deprived. I just didn't care anymore. I said yes. He triple checked all of his facts and ordered his new baby. He recruited a friend to move the old giant beast of a TV upstairs. He hooked up the new TV giddy with excitement.  He moved the couch back a few inches to optimize the 3D viewing experience. We sat on the couch, turned off the lights, turned on our 3D glasses, and watched tropical fish jump off of the screen and swim directly at our faces.  

It is now 3 years later. He likes to tell anyone with a pregnant wife/girlfriend that if you want something, wear them down while the hormones are in control. Last year, when I was pregnant with my son, he set his sights high and started dropping hints about a fancy sports car.  He does not have a Lotus Elise parked in the garage. He does, however, have a new Xbox that celebrated its first birthday just a few months before we celebrated our son's.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Letter to My Breast Pump

A letter to my breast pump:

Our first encounter was like a bad blind date.  I saw you at the lactation consultant’s office four days after Baby Girl’s birth.  I opened the door nervously, unsure of myself. I scanned the room and there you were, confidently standing next to a chair, like you owned the place.  You knew this wasn’t my scene, and I knew that you were a regular here. The lactation consultant and my mom watched as we hooked up. No one wanted to make eye contact.  I had no idea what I was doing.  Just like a terrible blind date, I left embarrassed and in tears. Baby Girl wasn’t latching correctly. I was drunk on that new mom cocktail of hormones, exhaustion, fear and doubt.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see you again.

I decided to give you another chance. In our early days together, we rendezvoused in the pre-dawn hours, the baby, my husband, the cat, all sleeping. It was just you and me. We talked over a bowl of cereal and a gigantic glass of water. The quiet of the house interrupted only by your rhythmic pulse.  I sat, slumped over in exhaustion, defeated and depleted by the demands of that tiny human being, breasts swollen and aching.  You offered relief. Painful relief.  I watched, a little terrified, as your collection bottles filled. I had no idea that nipples could be pulled like that, sucked into those openings, literally looking like udders, and still come out OK. We bonded.

When maternity leave was over, you accompanied me to the office every day. Your black backpack attached to my back like my own shadow.  We met three times each day at work. I figured out how to hold all of your parts in my left hand, freeing my right to type.  There were days when I was exhausted, eyes half closed, head bobbing, as you chanted, “Armpit, armpit, armpit, armpit.” Most days our time together was a welcomed break, other days I didn’t have time for you and I would panic, filled with guilt.  We ended up together again, every night, including the weekends, tethered. You were an umbilical cord of sorts. You allowed me to provide the nutrition of my choice to my baby.

Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of days and nights that I wished I could dump you. My schedule revolved around you. Once, I took a vacation day and sent the baby to daycare. I got my haircut, I felt alive again. I felt like me.  I wasn’t thinking about you. Even the harsh light of the Gap dressing room didn’t get me down. I was out of the house, alone! Then, I felt that familiar prickly twinge in my breasts and knew I had to come home to you. I left the clothes behind, eyes stinging with tears. My time was over. It was your time again.  You and I had exchanged vows, a commitment to stay together until the baby turned one.  A month after her birthday, I packed you up, said goodbye and put you on the shelf in my closet, not sure when we would meet again.

We renewed our vows one year later. Baby Boy was born the day before his sister turned two.  I pulled you down from the shelf, wiped the dust off of our relationship.  I was confident this time, knowing what I was getting into.  I wasn’t as horrified at the sight of my nipples being pulled like taffy. It didn’t hurt as much. We fell into our familiar rhythm.  We witnessed colorful sunrises and summer sunsets. We spent our evenings playing Candy Crush and stalking people on social media.  You once again occupied your place of honor on the back kitchen counter, next to my purse.

When Baby Boy was ten months old, something went wrong. During one of our sessions, you started making noises. You hiccuped. You coughed. I worried.  As the weeks passed, the coughing became more frequent. One day, you sputtered “Armpit, arrrrrrrmpi…” then silence. I panicked.  You can not quit on me now. We have one more month together!  I jiggled your cord, bringing you back to life. I begged you not to leave me.  Soon, every time we were together, you showed me that you were tired.  You were ready to end our relationship. You did the thing where you started acting like a jerk so I would break up with you first.  You would start and stop erratically, causing me endless frustration. We tested each other’s limits. I coaxed you to stay with me, please, do it for the sake of the baby. We limped our way past Baby Boy’s first birthday. I bargained with you, just a few more weeks while I slowly introduced cow’s milk, then I promise, you can quit.  Our last time together was a Tuesday night. You stubbornly did not want to turn on.  The only way I got you to work was by standing, holding your cord high up in the air. You lasted 15 minutes. Enough was enough. It was time.

If my calculations are correct, you and I spent approximately 1100 hours together over the course of two years. I have spent more one on one time with you than with my husband since the births of my two children.  It’s bittersweet, this parting of ways.  I have appreciated you, I have resented you. I will forever be grateful that you allowed me to be a working mom and still provide my babies milk when they were not with me. Thank you for offering that sweet relief in the early post partum weeks.  Thank you for supporting my commitment to breastfeeding.  Sure, I am looking back on our time together through nostalgia tinted glasses. I can not think of you without thinking of the first years of my babies’ lives. You are part of my motherhood story.

Thank you.