Category Archives: Motherhood uncensored

Tl;dr

So. Guys. There’s something that’s been going on recently, and it’s been bothering me. I’ve talked to a couple of people about it, and MOSTLY I am probably in the wrong, or at least in the minority, with my opinion, but I want to explain WHY I feel the way I feel and maybe hear from the handful of people who are on my side. Or perhaps I’m looking to be convinced by the people on the opposing side why I’m WRONG.

Now, normally when you come around here or any other blog sort of like this one where we’re big on BRINGING THE LAUGHS, this would segue into some sort of flighty, traditionally unimportant topic. This is ACTUALLY, for once, a more serious thing I’m talking about. Though not really all that serious. No life or death involved. Well, sort of both life and death, but not life OR death, which is a bit more pressing.

An article/blog post went viral recently, and the gist of it was that as mothers, we are too often told to “enjoy every moment!” and “seize the day!” by strangers, usually old ladies in the grocery store, when they see us out with our children. The general consensus seems to be that this is annoying, it’s intrusive, it’s rude, and it’s unrealistic; it is impossible to enjoy EVERY moment of motherhood. (Note: I’m not linking to that post because some things have come to light recently about the author and possible plagiarism in other pieces, so let’s just NOT go there.)

Which, truthfully, I don’t take issue with. Of course no one enjoys every moment of ANYTHING. No matter what the best day of your life was, you probably didn’t ENJOY using the toilet or that one sneezing fit or the car that cut you off in traffic. OBVIOUSLY, right?

The thing is, I can’t help but put myself behind the eyes of every person who has ever said this sort of thing to me. I instantly flash forward and imagine my children all grown and gone from the home. Maybe they’ll be married and have children, maybe they’ll all choose to remain childless, maybe they’ll struggle with infertility, maybe we will be estranged for one reason or another, or maybe I’ll just be melancholy over this part of my life being over. And then there is a woman out with her three beautiful children, in the PRIME of her life, really in the thick of things, LIVING even though every day is filled with chores and dirty diapers and screaming and tantrums and fights over the stupidest things imaginable. It will take EVERYTHING in me not to run up to her and grab her by the shoulders and tell her to HANG ON TO THESE MOMENTS, FOR THEY ARE TOO FEW.

I won’t, though! I promise.

What I am telling you here, though, is that I am in PRE-MOURNING for this part of my life. This is IT, this is what I have always wanted. It is ten million times harder than I ever imagined it would be, and it has me exhausted to my core. It has me filled with more worry than I knew I could carry. It has pushed me to my limits and beyond those limits, and I am saying this in a way I do not intend to be taken romantically. The last seven months since Leo was born? The HARDEST months of my life. OBVIOUSLY I did not cherish every bowl of oatmeal or bowl of rice and peas or bowl of ANYTHING BECAUSE THE ONLY THINGS I COULD EAT WERE SERVED IN BOWLS while watching my family eat pizzas and cakes and other assorted foods that required chewing. Of course I didn’t. And I am not insisting that any of you — any of us — should be counting your blessings every single second of your incredibly difficult days.

Just … it is HARD. It is SO SO HARD.

But, you know? I’m pretty sure all of us are going to miss some part of it. I am NOT a baby person, not at all. I cannot wait for Leo to turn one. I mean, I am practically wishing this entire year AWAY. I wouldn’t mind taking a nap from now until July 6th, thank you very much.

What got me thinking about this was a tiny little moment in the middle of the night last night. Leo got two immunizations yesterday. This was his second round with these two particular shots, and it was those shots that gave him a high (102+) fever last time. That was when we tried the HA HA corn-free acetaminophen. We were told this time that he needn’t be medicated for fever unless it got that high again, and by 10PM last night, he was at 100.9. I spent the entire night with the AC cranked and the fan on with my pitiful baby wearing a onesie beside me in the bed nursing while I kept him cooled down with a damp washcloth on his sizzling forehead. I barely slept, fretting in the dark that I’d have to give my baby medication that was sure to make him more miserable than the fever. I was MISERABLE and I HATED THE WORLD. I hated everything and everyone and I started thinking about the ladies in the grocery store with the love in their eyes telling me to cherish every moment.

Then I thought about Vio, 5 years old and down the hall in her own bed, who does not want to be touched if she is sick. Vio who had a tooth under her pillow for the tooth fairy, her second one already. And I was already that lady in the grocery store, telling MYSELF to cherish this moment, because that little girl was just this little boy. She JUST WAS. They are only a month off being exactly 5 years apart, and we find ourselves looking from one to the other in awe. Look at her! Five years ago, she was learning to sit up, and now she is READING US BOOKS! Etc. etc. etc.

I guess what I am getting at here is that I get it. I get why they do it. And it’s FINE if it bothers you when they say it to you, it’s just that I don’t think they mean it that way. Swistle wrote a great post recently about this where she talked about how we need to weigh the INTENTIONS along with the words they are saying. I wholeheartedly agree.

MY intention in writing this is not to guilt anyone who currently is NOT loving every moment. FAR FROM IT, as I hope I’ve made clear with the admission that I am most definitely not doing that myself. I have this problem, and when I tell you what it is, I’m going to sound like I’m trying to pass off a strength as a weakness or like when you answer that question about your flaws in a job interview and you say, “Oh, I’m a PERFECTIONIST,” but I promise you I am not. The thing is that I am fair to a fault. It sounds like a positive thing, but it has cost me more friends that I could possibly comment on here. Once, when confronted with the end of a friendship, I asked the question WHY? What had I done wrong? “It’s just … you’re always the bearer of bad news.” See, someone would come to me with a problem they’d had with someone else, and instead of being supportive, I would IMMEDIATELY try to see it from the other person’s side. I would put myself in BOTH sets of shoes, shoes that had no business being on my feet at all, and then WORSE, I would start in on my friend. Kindly, of course, but completely without regard for it being what the other person needed to hear. It’s something I fight like hell now that I realize how obnoxious it must be. It is something I have gotten more successful at pushing out of my head over the years, but it still creeps into my personal relationships far too often. Because I think I am being helpful! I only realize much later that it wasn’t the case at all.

That right there, now that I think about it, is the root of why I am writing this at all. I see people forming an angry mob against these (I’m assuming) well-meaning people and their well-meaning comments, and all my instincts tell me to DEFEND them and put me in their shoes. I think they’re right at the same time I think it is perfectly right to be annoyed and furious at all they have to say. I am here now living moments that drag on horribly and I am there looking back at a lifetime of moments that passed in an instant.

So, I don’t know. I DO carpe diem. I want to carpe the HELL out of all the diems I can. For me, anyway, it is so much better to be the one hearing the words “Cherish every moment” than the one speaking them.

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Filed under Motherhood uncensored, Probably too serious

There are worse ways soap operas could have screwed me up, but I guess I’m only on my first marriage, so there’s still time

As I said on the Twitter last night, we’ve got PINWORM all up in our house. All up in one very small part of our house, anyway, and that one very small part is Roo’s bottom. I’m hoping that’s the only spot, anyway. PLEASE LET THAT BE THE ONLY SPOT. I mean, we already all got the HAND FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE, so maybe this can be the one highly contagious thing only one of us gets? Ha. Ha.

Let me pretend.

Well, no, if we only get ONE of those passes, then I’m saving it for the HEAD LICE.

It took me way too long to figure out. She’d been sleeping poorly for weeks, but I thought it was just the holidays. Then a growth spurt. I didn’t even associate it with the hands-down-the-back-of-the-pants we caught her doing a couple of times, because, well, 3-year-olds just DO that sort of thing. Then yesterday she actually complained about incessant itchiness, and my Mom Brain kicked in. Thankfully the pediatrician trusted my assessment and called in medicine without us having to scotch tape her nethers. (Though we did, the two of us, go in there with a flashlight last night to check things out, and I don’t ever want to do that EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE except I have to again TONIGHT so we can keep an eye on Vio to see if she needs to be treated as well. AIN’T NO PARTY LIKE A TAPEWORM PARTY.) So anyway if around 10PM tonight you’re wondering what Matt and I are doing, think of us fondly with a pig-shaped flashlight trying not to wake the children with the cries of our 21-year-old selves who really had no idea what hilarity would befall them.

I like to think if our life were a movie, there would be shots of us in our carefree college days, doing the typical college student things — jigsaw puzzles at 4AM and going to movies at the student union on Friday nights and drinking way too much Dr. Pepper, whatever we were totally awesome — mixed in with flashes forward of all the poop-related hijinx associated with child-rearing.

Except I don’t really do that just with flashes forward (I keep wanting to call them FLASH FORWARDS, but NO, DIANE. NO.) Especially with things like this PINWORM situation. There must be a moment, out there in space and time, where Roo picked UP the PINWORM. I keep seeing things in slow motion, as though there is some magical camera that RECORDED the moment that they would then use the footage of in a sitcom or something. Slow motion as she wipes her mouth while sitting in the grocery cart! A (canned) gasp from the (fake) studio audience! Or after holding hands with her friend down the street who unknowingly has the same affliction! AUDIENCE GROAN. As I’m trying to launder everything in the house (I NEVER STOP DOING LAUNDRY LIKE I SAID LAST WEEK AND I EVEN CAUGHT UP ON IT AND THEN BRAGGED [TO ROO, FOR SOME REASON] THAT I HAD CONQUERED IT AND NOW BLAAAAH) I keep picturing stills of two microscopic PINWORM eggs resting within the tangles of Rapunzel’s hair or wafting gently through the room (THEY CAN DO THAT) and settling on one of Leo’s biting toys.

I also do it with lost items. Whatever I’m missing, I’m imagining someone at home is getting a shot of the item, panning out and fading to black. The back to my earring! LOOK UNDER THE BED, DIANE! IT IS UNDER THE BED, JUST BEYOND WHERE YOU CHECKED BEFORE!

You guys, I do this ALL THE TIME. And the worst part is, part of me ACTUALLY BELIEVES IT. I seriously, a tiny bit, believe that I could find that thing I lost if only I could see the FAKE SURVEILLANCE VIDEO.

Of course, applying the Temerity Jane Rule of the World, I can’t be the ONLY one who does this, so out yourselves! We can have a crazy little party up in here!

I just pictured shots of each of you calmly closing this tab and finding something better to do. You are all SO screwed when I get my hands on the footage.

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Filed under Motherhood uncensored, My girls, Not even kidding

New year quick takes: now with less quickness!

1. I tried to do that questionnaire thing that was circulating involving year-end recaps and blah di blah, but by the time I was 2/3 of the way through, I couldn’t stand the thought of reading it back over. And if I didn’t want to read it, I knew YOU didn’t want to read it, so you can go ahead and thank me for that when you finally make your way to the bottom of this post and the comment form. Not yet, obviously, because you don’t want to miss any of the rest of my piercing wit. BUT! When the time comes, you can feel free to thank me. 2011 was a DOOZY of a year, to put it mildly. I’m trying to focus (now that it’s OVER MUAHAHAHA I WIN 2011!) on the blessings from last year — like the ice cream that came in the mail from Maureen and, you know, the baby — instead of plotting ways to destroy the life of Evil Pharmacist.

2. Which … did I even talk here about Evil Pharmacist? From the Evil Compounding Pharmacy? If you follow me on Twitter, you saw me have this breakdown involving probably seven straight hours of shouting. <LONG RANTING RANT REDACTED> I just deleted a good 600 words that basically boil down to: the pharmacy said they were giving us corn-free medicine, but they were not. We stopped giving him the medicine, his eczema stopped flaring up constantly, he caught up on motor skill milestones, and now I can eat almost anything so long as it’s corn-free (so almost nothing but it feels like almost anything). I wish I could somehow get that pharmacist to understand what she put us through. MONTHS of eating the way I was eating, and it was all because he was continuing to ingest corn. I’m furious, more furious than I have EVER BEEN, so furious I can’t even think of an ironic sort of thing to put here in second place, like AND I AM A JOSS WHEDON FAN SO I KNOW ANGER WAH DOLLHOUSE or whatever, because I AM JUST THAT MAD. I almost quit nursing him! DEEP BREATHS WHILE ALSO FANTASIZING ABOUT FORCE-FEEDING THE PHARMACIST THREE MONTHS’ WORTH OF RICE AND OATMEAL.

3. Don’t we all feel better now, having that off our chests? Let’s just relax for this quick take. You don’t even have to read this one. Me mentioning Dollhouse got me thinking about Paul Ballard, though, so that’s another thing you can thank me for in the comments.

4. The actual reason I sat down to write this post today is that the housework is just out of control now. It’s smacking me in the face with its not-doneness pretty much constantly. Every time I think, “Let’s do all the laundry!” I start with the kids’ laundry, because they get one hamper between the three of them, and of course it is always full. Especially in “winter” which means putting one of our two long-sleeved t-shirts under a short-sleeved t-shirt and applying one (1) extra hoodie/sweater for each 10-15 degree drop in temperature, meaning we dirty all of the things on each of the days. [ASIDE: Where would we even be as an internet right now if not for Allie Brosh giving us the phrase “CLEAN ALL THE THINGS”? What would we even SAY? She’s defined a generation! Or at least an internet meme cycle!] Anyway, I always start with their laundry, but by the time I get to the end of their laundry, there is no more time to do other laundry. Then the next day I feel like “WOW! I did so much laundry yesterday I won’t need to do any today!” so I don’t do any and then the next day I STILL feel that way because I’m still folding the 900 pairs of pants and socks and onesies that fit into a single hamper at which point the laundry is even more out of control and I think “NOW LET’S START WITH THE CHILDREN.” If I keep putting their laundry’s oxygen mask on first, I’m going to be naked and WITHOUT AIR.

5. The actual reason I sat down to write Quick Take #4 was to tell you the actual reason I sat down to write this post today and I am now actually going to tell you what that reason was which is that I think maybe it’s gotten to the point where I need to make myself some sort of CHORE CHART. Like I am five. But basically breaking down the things that need doing and then assigning them to days of the week. For the most part, I manage to keep up with the kitchen and sort of the laundry and a good chunk of the tidying, but you don’t want to know how long it’s been since the mopping or the sweeping or the other deep-cleaning things that need doing FAR more often than we do them. So something like a laundry schedule where I always do linens on Tuesdays and whites on Wednesdays and then always do floors on Fridays and dust on … well, let’s not get out of hand. Do any of you do that? Or are you just really awesome at remembering what needs doing? WELL GOOD FOR YOU I NEED A CHART.

6. Another thing we’ve had going on around here lately is teething. I am not even talking about THE BABY exclusively, because all three of my children are cutting teeth right now. All of them. How. How did they coordinate this? I mean, for the love, Vio is cutting her first 6-year molar at the age of 5, and Roo is cutting her last 2-year molar at the age of 3, so they really REALLY had to work to line that up. AND AND. They are in the same place (upper left) in their mouths. Leo is working on cutting his first tooth, one of the bottom front ones as babies are wont to do, which is the exact tooth Vio just LOST, so she is cutting her first ADULT tooth in that EXACT SAME SPOT. I can make Venn diagrams with overlap on the teeth my DIFFERENTLY AGED children are cutting.

7. Today is my half-birthday! I mentioned that on Twitter this morning, and it is something that stupidly excites me (on the years I actually notice the date, anyway. Usually I’ll find myself on January 7th or 8th REALLY REALLY bummed that I missed it.) Another reason I love my half-birthday is that it is on TOPSY TURVY DAY. If you don’t know what Topsy Turvy Day is then you aren’t as big a fan of Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame as I am which basically means you don’t know what Topsy Turvy Day is because I have never met ANYONE ELSE who actually liked that movie and SO WHAT if I was 14 when it came out IT SPOKE TO ME GOD HELP THE OUTCASTS etc. etc., but in one of the songs they sing, “Scurvy knaves are extra scurvy/on the 6th of January/all because it’s Topsy Turvy day!” Really though the best part about it being my half-birthday is that that means tomorrow is Leo’s half-birthday, making him a ripe old One Half years old. I am really really excited about age one-half, you guys. So! Be extra scurvy for me, won’t you?

(More quick takes here.)

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Filed under Little lion man, Motherhood uncensored, My girls, Not even kidding, Quick takes

How I’m convincing myself this is okay

Monday I hit sort of a low. I was coming down with a raging illness, and with Leo’s sensitivities, there was nothing I could take beyond a couple of regular strength Tylenol. I had all the hopelessness one normally gets when sick (WILL I EVER BE HEALTHY AGAIN? UNLIKELY) with an inability to have cough drops, tea, ibuprofen, or ANY cold beverage other than water. So pretty much the world was ending, dogs and cats were cohabiting, and Chicken Little was doing laps around my brain. I told Matt I couldn’t do it anymore. Go buy the formula.

The only wrench in my plan was that Leo had his 4-month well-check scheduled for 8:40 the next morning. I didn’t want to send an overtired, hungry, fussy baby in for his first immunization. We agreed we’d start after the appointment. I ate a small bit of a turkey sub — literally the first cold food I had eaten in three months, all the rest was hot, cooked food — with a whole mess of enzymes. I figured I’d give it one last test. Maybe his system was stronger, maybe I could get away with “bad” food every once in a while. Maybe maybe maybe. My last ditch effort to keep this bond with my last sweet baby.

In the past his reactions have been a slight flare in the eczema on his forehead, gas, and the pinpricks of blood in the diaper. I assumed that would be what I’d see if he reacted to what I ate. HA! Ha. This morning, after his first feeding, I noticed a bit of red around his mouth. I thought maybe my hand had been pressed against there, or his had, or something. But it didn’t go down, it got brighter. And it was hot to the touch. It’s still there, nearly four hours since he last nursed. He also threw up most of the feeding.

So I gathered my resolve, and I sterilized the bottles, and I started to come to terms with the fact that this is happening. After three solid years of nursing my daughters (well, with 8 months of pumping for Vio, but it was still all breast milk that she got) I am going to have to give my baby formula. Even though I know that I would tell ANY OTHER WOMAN in my situation that absolutely this is one of those cases where breast milk is no longer best for everyone involved (and may not even be CLOSE to best for the baby) I am having trouble forgiving myself what I perceive to be my own personal failing.

There have been things I’ve been reciting in my head the past few months, trying to prepare myself for this moment. Ways and words to convince myself this IS okay. I don’t know how convincing any of them are, but I’m putting them down here so I can read them over and over again until I believe myself.

First and foremost, the diet I have had to be on to keep him happy and minimally bloody is not sustainable for my health. When this first started was around that point after you get the baby home that maternity pants are NO LONGER AN OPTION. When he was about a month old, I went to Old Navy and bought myself some pants in what I called a “depressingly large size”. I am now comfortably wearing pants that are three sizes smaller than that. That’s a pants size A MONTH. I weigh less now than I ever have in my adult life. (I’d be almost a little bit excited about that if not for the fact that I am REALLY SAD right now, and there are bags upon bags of Halloween candy in our kitchen. Plus Thanksgiving in two weeks, HA HA HA.) That aside, I have had nagging symptoms off and on since starting the low salicylate diet. I finally put it all together, and I think I have some vitamin deficiencies. My skin is dry and awful. I’m getting headaches. And if I’m not getting enough vitamins (read: NONE), Leo isn’t either.

Second, what is best for Leo (if that were somehow breast milk) may not be best for the rest of the family. Matt, saint that he is, has stepped up to take over a lot of the dinnering for the girls. It was too much on me to try to make them a meal AND make me a meal, and try as I might, there just weren’t meals I could make myself on this diet that I could adapt for them. What that boiled down was that they were more often than not eating food from cans/the freezer section/the magical blue box. Now, I am FINE with kids having those foods, but for my family, I try to keep them in moderation. These children were used to fresh vegetables with their dinner every night taking up half of their plates, and I feel as though I have undone YEARS of work by them eating less nutritious food for the last three months. (Not years of the nutrition they got, but years of them eating plate after plate of vegetables without whining for something else.)

Going along with that is the resentment I feel toward the ENTIRE WORLD for eating things I can’t eat. I go in the grocery store and I’m actually angry at the people in there. They can just buy whatever they want! Such freedoms they have and do not appreciate!

I’m really really FAIR is what I’m saying here.

Seriously, though. I should copy and paste the food log I’ve been keeping since August. It is a sad, sad document. Every day basically looks like, “Quaker oatmeal, sugar, salt, white rice, green peas, potatoes, sunflower oil.” Copy and past that 90 times, and you get the basic idea.

Now, as far what is best for Leo, nothing else considered, I don’t think the breast milk was going to work. No matter how carefully I ate, the blood was still coming back. Sometimes I could trace it to something I did (like taking a multivitamin I desperately needed, researched the hell out of, and even rinsed off the sucrose coating to make it as safe as possible) but sometimes it wasn’t easily explained. And that is MADDENING. With the formula, I will know there is one constant input. If he continues to have flare-ups on that? Well, then we may need to get some testing done.

There was a short period of time when I think the stars aligned and we got everything right. He had no blood, and he was STRONGER. You guys, though we know he CAN do the mini-pushup (because he did it that week when everything was awesome) he mostly doesn’t. Sometimes, when he’s flared up, I can tell he’s trying, and he just can’t. I don’t know if it’s related. He’s got some other physical/motor skill things we’re keeping an eye on, and I feel like it would be negligent for me, at this point, not to at least give the formula a try.

Formula feeding comes with so many negatives. The bottles to wash, the loss of that closeness, the bottles to wash, the cost. The GUILT more than anything. The feeling that every single anything that he deals with later in life that his sisters don’t deal with will leave me feeling like it was somehow tied to the formula. But I guess I’m hoping the good will outweigh all the bad. I won’t get a pit in my stomach whenever it’s time to change his diaper. I will be able to cook my family a proper meal at night. I will be able to trade off sleeping through the night.

I am so afraid of what is going to come next when it is time to start solids. I want his body to be as healed as possible before we can even think about it. Starting today means he can get two solid months of easy-to-digest nutrition before his little body has to think of breaking down anything more complex.

This does not undo what I have already done. That’s the hardest bit for me to accept, but it is so important, and my heart knows it is true. I still breastfed three children for a total of 39 months. If he had been my first baby, Roo my last, I would be ending on a positive note, and I would feel content. I can’t beat myself up that they came in this order. This does NOT undo what I have already done.

I am going to pump. I’m going to keep pumping as long as there is something there to pump. I’m going to file it all in the freezer, just in case. Maybe I can donate it? Maybe it doesn’t have to go to waste. (I’m also afraid of dealing with the hormonal drop from weaning. IT IS NOT FUN, and I’m already a ball of anxiety. Let’s deal with that NOT RIGHT NOW.)

I always thought there was no breastfeeding situation I couldn’t rise to the occasion and beat with research and discipline. Maybe I could have beat this if I tried harder, I can’t really ever know that. But I don’t think I’ve got any fight left in me. And he needs me to make this change, even if he isn’t going to like it. This IS what is best.

So. Deep breaths. Enough giving myself a pep talk. He’s starting to wake up now, and it’s time.

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Filed under Little lion man, Motherhood uncensored, Probably too serious