Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I Think This Counts As A Bad Day

It's Tuesday afternoon. I just got Audrey down for a nap after three excruciatingly long hours of crying. My only explanation is that I think her mouth was bothering her. She still has no teeth to show for her many months of teething. Today, was the worst yet. I could not settle her down. She seemed to be hungry but she would try to eat and then pull away as though it was to painful to continue. Then she would turn away and suck her thumb (which she loves) that also seemed to be painful and she would reluctantly pull it out of her mouth sobbing.

I tried rocking her, walking with her, changing her diaper and then her clothes. I tried to lay with her, put her in her crib, sit with her. Nothing worked. It was awful. I was proud of myself for remaining pretty calm although I did feel terrible for her since she was so uncomfortable. Finally I decided it was time to try some Tylenol. I gave her half a dose and waited for it to kick in. It took a while. She enjoyed chewing and sucking on a frozen cloth for a while and watching 'Baby Einstein' while sitting on my lap. She became so tired, I suspect from the Tylenol and the endless crying, that she practically passed out. At this point I proceeded to feed her and she was sleepy enough to ignore the pain and eat a little.

Once she was napping I pumped since she really hadn't ate much. On top of having an unhappy baby I have milk supply stress, AGAIN! Since Audrey woke up at 6:30 this morning I missed my morning pump which I rely on for my work days which are tomorrow (Wednesday), Thursday and Saturday. I attempted to pump after she ate this morning but expressed less than a measly ounce. Just now I pumped almost two. I've been popping Fenugreek pills like popcorn hoping for a miracle.

Also, Peter is sick with what seems like a stomach bug. He went to work anyway and I'm sure he'll be exhausted when he gets home. I can't think of anything better than two parents who have had a very long day dealing with a grumpy baby. I can hardly wait!

I wanted to ask for comments from any of you who may have teething tips and stories for me. Remember the worse the stories are the better I will feel after which I'll feel guilty for complaining about my tiny difficulties. I need all the help I can get. You know how useless reading about this stuff can be. If I was a certain blogger I could ask and receive 1263 helpful comments if I wanted. That just totally blows me away.

I seem to be writing a lot of grumpy, sad, feeling sorry for myself posts lately. I should stop that.

UPDATE: Wednesday morning, she went to be at 8:30 last night and slept well all night. She seems more herself today. Grandma will be babysitting while I am at work. Tylenol will be supplied just in case...

The Comparison Game

How many times have I said how much I hate it when I feel compelled to compare myself to others? If it's not “I'm not as thin as she is and she just had a baby yesterday.” then it's “Wow, she sewed all her daughter's outfits for the week, made five casseroles for the freezer and redecorated her living room all in one day! Why am I so lazy?” We all do it. But why? And how do we make it stop?

At church on Sunday I was so happy to see that my friend was there with her new baby. I had been wondering about her since I knew she was getting close. She was nervous because this was her second child and her first had been born cesarean section. She had given birth on Tuesday. So there she was at church on Sunday. Looking great, glowing, new baby sleeping like an angel in his carrier seat. I told her how great she looked. I asked her if she was really doing as well as it appeared. She told me she thought she was. I gulped and smiled. “That's so great!” I meant it. But as Peter and I took Audrey to the baby room I felt like crying.

I fell into the comparison rut. I hadn't made it to church the following Sunday. I was still in the hospital. I was still crying my eyes out at that point. I was feeling like I'd made a horrible mistake. I didn't think I could do it. All of my feelings of inadequacy came flooding back. Other people were capable of having babies and carrying on as though life had barely changed. What had been wrong with me? I told my husband how I was feeling. He tried to comfort me, reminding me that things had been different for us. And they were. "Baby A was sick." I said out loud. It was different. I agreed. But inside, I still felt horrible.

I hate doing that to myself. Making comparisons and feeling like a loser. I should be happy if someone is able to have a baby without going through what I did. I am happy actually. I really am. That's one reason why I started writing this blog. I hope that anyone who reads about the things I experience as a mother may find comfort in knowing that they are not alone or are more prepared for what can happen and deal with it better than I do.

I sometimes wonder if I'm accomplishing that goal. I was visiting with a friend this weekend and she mentioned to me that she had been reading my blog. She told me how she didn't know how I had time to write and do all of the things that I write about AND take care of Audrey. She told me she found it difficult to find time for anything other than taking care of her daughter. I worried and felt guilty that I was making her feel bad. Then, I felt bad because I thought maybe I was neglecting Audrey while I was doing all this other crap. Ridiculous. Really. Sometimes I wonder why I bother getting up in the morning.

I have begun to realize why I still have so much pain about my first months as a mother. I can't seem to accept that it was the circumstances that made it difficult. I still believe that it was my fault and if it had been anyone else they would have handled it better. That I wasn't strong enough. And that's what kills me. I feel like I'm coping out to talk about the fact that Little A was sick and wasn't eating. Making excuses for my inability to get it together. I keep thinking 'Next time it's going to be different!'. But part of me worries that if it happens again I will lose all self respect.

My brain is so annoying the way it can take a happy occasion for someone else and turn it into Worry and Pity- Fest '06 for me. I know I let it happen. I try to say, “Stop it brain!” but it won't listen to me! Stupid brain. To cheer myself up and make all of you smile, here's a little picture for our viewing pleasure.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Tale of Two Bras

How much can one person talk about and obsess over their breasts? When that person is me, a lot! This is actually a tale of many bras but the first title sounds better.

We often say a mother 'wears many hats'. Well, I wear many bras. Not all at once. Well, when I work out I wear two at once but I digress. As anyone who reads my blog regularly knows, I have boob problems. They are many things, but mainly my complaint is that they are too big. Way too big. I have had this problem since I was about 14 years old. I went from na-da to woah-waah!! It was traumatizing. The boys who knew me didn't know what to do. They kept doing things 'accidentally' so they could cop a feel. It was, in one simple word, awful. Beyond awful. Not to mention the stretch marks that you get from growing so fast. Needless to say, I'm not one to show my stretch marky cleavage. I suffered along through school wearing over sized T-shirts which caused me to look not only large chested but larger in general than I really was. And let me tell you that is super popular in high school. My hate for them increased right along with my bra size. D to DD, DD to F and finally to G. G! Who knew?

I didn't actually realize bra sizes went up that high until my doctor told me to go here. I was asking him about breast reduction surgery at the time. I did go to the Bra Bar but was still annoyed that he didn't even want to discuss reduction surgery with me. I still think that once I am finished having and feeding my children, I will opt for surgery. Going bra shopping somewhere other than Wal-Mart was an awesome experience. Once I got over the horror of what my bra size really was I enjoyed the process. They explained to me how a bra was supposed to fit and how most people, even smaller busted people, are wearing ill fitting bras. I would have to agree. Now that I know how a bra is supposed to fit I feel I am a member of the bra police squad. “Excuse me ma'am, I'm going to have to stop you. Your bra is riding way up your back, that's just not right.” “Hang on there little lassie, your cups are running way over!”

Once I was properly fitted I actually felt a whole lot smaller in the bust. My clothes fit better. My self esteem was boosted. And my wallet was lighter as well. Buying a really nice bra costs a small fortune but for me, it is so worth it.

I was very, very nervous about what would happen to my boobs when I became pregnant. I tried to mentally prepare. Miraculously, nothing happened. My G's stayed the same until the end of my pregnancy. I bought two maternity bras. This one and this one. They accomadated me nicely when my milk came in and I was a little bigger. I have to say though, I just don't feel that pretty in those bras. They are my practical bras. And that is what got me thinking about writing this post.

I wear many different bras. I wear this one during the day, this one at night. I wear this one at the gym (with another cheap sports bra over top) and this one when I am working. They all have a purpose. Practicality to feed my baby as well as support, practicality to feed my baby and comfort, the ability to work out without knocking myself out with my own floppy boobs, and finally a bra that I wear when I don't have to feed my baby, one that makes me feel pretty - even though no one can see it and makes my breasts look nice instead of functional.

If I could I wouldn't have so many. It's complicated and expensive. But like so many things in life it is just something I have grown accustomed to. This is my body and I need to learn to love it. Or at least, I can buy bras that make it look better!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Sad Task

I am writing this post on Thursday, because as I mentioned earlier this week, I'm having company on Friday. I will be running around like a stupid maniac doing errands, cleaning, trying to prepare a decent meal and also something a lot more serious.

I will be doing my sister's hair for her appearance on a national television show called W5. This is my sister who looks after Audrey while I am at work. My sister who's oldest daughter was murdered. I vaguely mentioned this in an earlier post. It's so much a part of my life and there are so many things that have come up lately in regards to it that I decided it was time to talk about it here.

Erin was my oldest niece. She was only seven years younger than me and we were almost like sisters. She went missing in April of 2002 only five months before my wedding. She was 18 at the time. On February 13, 2004 her body was found. It is a truly gruesome story that I cannot bear to write about. I will link articles for anyone who wants to know the story. In a nutshell, her ex-boyfriend killed her. Even now, after so much time has passed I can hardly believe that this has happened to my family. The events that occurred were horrific. The length of time she was missing before her body was found, excruciating and the investigation that took place was unbelievable. He is currently serving a life sentence with no parole for 25 years.

Our family now has a gaping hole where Erin should be. We all miss her terribly, especially my sister and her family. I hate to see them suffer the way they have and still are. Since this all only happened last year the media is still composing documentaries and a book is currently being written about it. My sister and her husband have been meeting with all of these people lately, giving interviews. The W5 one will likely be the one most widely seen. She asked me to do her hair for it and of course I agreed. I think she feels guilty about wanting to look nice for the interview. I wish she wouldn't. I can totally understand. Just because you feel like hell on the inside doesn't mean you have to look like it on the outside. After doing her hair for the funeral, this will be easy.

I am now going to go and get my beautiful baby girl from her crib. The baby who bears her cousin's name. The baby whose presence in this world is helping my family to heal from the horrible loss of someone who we all loved so deeply.

What Break?

Yesterday was the kind of day that made me wonder if I should really be back at work. I knew it was going to be hectic, but things got out of hand and it became ridiculous. My work day was only five hours long. I begin at four, typically have a break around six or six thirty to eat a sandwich, a yogurt and pump, then I finish of the day. Yesterday was the first day since returning that I worked straight through. I didn't eat, didn't even have a glass of water and more importantly I didn't pump. It was bad.

The day was just out of control, once it started there was just no stopping it. I kept saying to myself after I am finished this client I am going to take my break. Then about ten minutes before I'd be finished I would be told my next client had already arrived. Then I'd do it again. I'll take a break after the next one. Next thing I knew my last client of the evening arrived. I decided to just finish up and go home.

I kept imagining my boobs saying to themselves “Oh, okay we don't have to feed Audrey anymore. Great, I guess we'll just take a holiday!” I hope they could hear me shouting at them inside my head saying “No! You can't go on holiday, get back to work! This is not going to be a regular thing, in fact I expect you to produce even more milk than usual. So lets get at it girls!” I felt absolutely terrible. Not pumping felt like I was depriving her of a meal. If I was at home with her I wouldn't just skip a feeding. I might put it off a little, you know “Hang on Audrey, I just have to take supper out of the oven.”. That sort of thing. And when I don't eat that's not fair to her either because that also affects the milk that I am producing for her.

In addition, there was the stress of having that much less milk to add to the surplus I collect for today and Saturday while I am at work. I tried pumping after she went to bed and barely had an ounce. I sadly put the tiny amount in the fridge and vowed to get up nice and early this morning so that I could pump a little extra. Which I did. The amount stored doesn't seem too shabby. No milk runs should be required while I am working on Saturday. I hope.

This used to be a normal thing for me before I had a baby. Working for six hours or more without a break. I didn't like it, but the only one I was hurting was me. I can't do that anymore, and I don't want to. In a book I read called “Nursing Mother,Working Mother” it details how you can pump at work. It seems to be assuming that all women work in an environment where they have coffee breaks and lunches at regular times and have their own private offices in which to pump comfortably. I do not have this. To begin with I pumped in a cold, damp basement where anyone could just come down at anytime and witness the horror of my great big boob with a plastic contraption attached. This has now been upgraded to a semi-private, less cold, area upstairs. (This occured after telling my boss how awkward I'd been feeling and he reluctantly agree to let me pump elsewhere) Pumping in this new environment seems to have only slightly increased the milk I am able to express. Shhh, don't tell anyone or they might make me go back to the basement. I am more comfortable though. Now I just have to get there.

It all makes me wonder if it's worth it to be working so soon. I happen to know that some people think I should just stop breastfeeding. This is not an option I will even consider at this point. It is less than a month before Audrey is six months old (WOW!) and I expect that once she begins some solids her demand for milk will lessen a bit. We will see how this changes things. Until then I will just have to make sure that I can take a break to feed myself and express the milk I need for my baby. I will not do what I did yesterday again. I have enough guilt without adding any more!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Settling for Less

I have some personality traits that are subjective. Sometimes they can be good other times not so good. One of these is that I am a perfectionist. Along with which comes obsessive compulsive behaviors. In my job as a hair stylist this often comes in handy. Really, wouldn't you want a perfectionist doing your hair rather than someone who is happy with the mediocre? My clients seem to enjoy this personality trait. When it comes to personal matters, it can be a struggle. Let me explain.

Since having Little A I just don't have the time that I used to have. Time for me or for my house. Going back to work has given me even less time. Blogging, although I love it, also takes up time. This classifies as me time. I set a goal for myself to post something every week day and take the weekend off. Since I am obsessed with blogging right now, this is going well so far. As for my house. When I clean it (not as often as I'd like to) I like to clean all of it. And after I do, I walk around for about a day picking up little pieces of nothing off the floor to keep it that way. I have discovered that this is impossible now that I have a baby. There just isn't enough time to clean the whole house during her nap, not to mention I don't want to wake her up. (Nap times are me times. They must not be interrupted.) So, this makes the perfectionist inside me want to scream. I have been settling for tackling one room at a time. Yesterday, it was the bathroom. I still felt a great feeling of satisfaction when I was done but once I stepped out into the rest of my home and notice the rug needed to be vacuumed, the floor mopped... Well, it just ruined it for me.

We have company coming over for supper on Friday. Of course I want my house to be clean because I am evil. (At my last La Leche League meeting we discussed that cleaning before another mom comes over is a terribly mean thing to do) The couple who is coming over has a baby who is a month older than Audrey. I am looking forward to our visit but I am compelled to want our house to be spotless. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who just doesn't care. But I am not, and I don't think I can change. Although this mom thing is forcing me to adjust.

I will attack one area at a time until Friday arrives and I will prepare the meal. I just hate the fact that I won't be able to enjoy that feeling of walking from room to room and be satisfied with the total cleanliness of my home. I shall have to beat down my inner perfectionist and obsessive nature. Kick back, eat some cookies and read some blogs!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Am I Hot or Am I Not?

Last night Peter and I rediscovered something that we find hilarious. Shortly after we were married we found out about a website called Hot or Not? It is a website where people can post their photos and be rated on a scale from 1-10. Much like a website The Sarcastic Journalist wrote about called Rate My Poo (blame her not me). Only different.

Anyway, we thought it would be funny to post a wedding photo of each of us. (Dawn and Peter) I thought they were quite nice pictures of us only, clearly wedding shots. Some people actually use this site to hook up with people. For a while we were obsessed with checking our ratings. Then we forgot all about it. Until last night. We looked ourselves up after several attempts at remembering our passwords. I had a rating of 8, which has now slipped to a 7.9 based on 2744 votes. Peter has a rating of 7.3 based on 228 votes. Obviously men use this site more than women.

When you log in to check your rating it shows this bar graph breakdown of your ratings. as you can see I am hotter than 77% of the women on that site! Right on! Although if you take some time to peruse the site you would see that some of the pictures are horrible. In fact I am certain they have been posted by that person's enemy. Some photos I have seen look like the person is totally hung over or just woke up from a nap. As if you would personally post a picture of yourself like that on the internet. Oh wait, I did that didn't I? I am rather impressed by the number of 9's and 10's I have received but 1's 2's and 3's? I am SO hotter than that! I deserve no lower than a 4 rating with that picture. I have never before looked that good nor will I ever look that good again. Since it was my wedding day, it's as it should be.

As for Peter's picture and rating. He received a lot of 1's 2's and 3's. I have to say I strongly disagree. It seems he has mostly been rated a solid 5. He is SO much better looking than a 5. And there is a huge lack of 10's. He's absolutely a 10 in my book. Women can be so funny about what they find attractive. I do admit I've seen better pictures of him, picture that capture more personality and are closer to how he really looks. Since we were going with the wedding theme this is the one we picked. I still think he looks cute. Those 228 women are just stupid or blind.

What have I learned from this experiment of putting my picture on the internet to be rated by the world? That I am a 7.9 out of 10? No! That I am 77% hotter than the women on a totally silly website? No! I learned that even if you put a picture of yourself looking finer than you'll ever look for the rest of your life, people will still rate you a 1 out of 10. And do I care? NO!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Is That All You Ever Talk About?

Becoming a mother has made me appreciate the fact that I am so stubborn. Again I am going to tell of my breastfeeding adventures. I know, I know, you're sick of hearing about my boobs but they must be talked about.

Never in my worst nightmares could I have predicted the emotional rollercoaster breastfeeding would be. If possible I have become even more obsessed with my boobs than ever before. As soon as Baby A was born suddenly they were no longer mine, they were public property. They were out there for everyone to see. My baby, my nurses, midwives and lactation consultant. My mother, my father, my sisters and brother, their husbands and his wife. And strangely I started to become numb to this. I was like “Yeah, I've got to feed this baby, (if she will actually eat this time!!!) so deal with it.” I also learned that my nipples were flat and that having large breasts actually made it more difficult to breastfeed. Then came the pumping. Peter came with me the first time I had to pump - when I learned how. It totally freaked him out and he never came back to that special room in the hospital with me again. I guess I can understand seeing the breasts of the woman you love being hooked up to a human milking machine would be a little weird. Not that it wasn't weird for me. I was the one being milked. I do remember being fascinated, watching it come out. It was surreal.

As I mentioned previously soon after I began pumping my competitive nature kicked in. I stole peeks through the curtains when other mom's were depositing their pumped milk into the containers. Jealous of the one's who had pumped what appeared to be enough to feed a small country, and sympathetic towards the mom's who had only managed a few drops. I judged myself, thinking that my milk wasn't coming in fast enough and that there wasn't enough. I was sad when we began feeding her my milk in a bottle, thinking we could never go back. I kept trying and with my midwives help, succeeded.

My next issue was dealing with the switch from bottle to breast. I went from knowing exactly how much milk my baby was getting to having no idea. I was thrilled to finally be breastfeeding but nervous about it as well. My mother didn't help constantly asking “How much do you think she has had?” or “Do you think she's had enough.” She meant well but it only made me more paranoid when I was already insecure in the first place. Bring on the next challenge, Mastitis. I really didn't know much about Mastitis. I think I may have read about it while I was pregnant but hadn't really paid attention. That was stupid of me. So when I began to shiver uncontrollably in the middle of the night I wondered what the heck was going on. The next day when I had three layers of clothes on, was aching from the top of my head to the tip of my toes and had a terrible headache my midwives confirmed it was Mastitis. At first we treated it by trying to really keep the breast drained. It went away and then came back again a couple of days later. We then decided to treat it with antibiotics. I haven't had it since.

Miss A has been sleeping through the night since she was about two months old. (Kill me quickly) And just so you aren't too jealous I will tell you it has it's draw backs. Well, one anyway. Sleeping through the night in combination with me working 16 hours a week is not great for the milk supply. I pumped during my break at work but I wasn't expressing much more than two ounces. I started getting very uptight, pumping during every nap, after she went to bed. I became convinced I was drying up. What I wouldn't give for that engorged feeling again or for my shirt to be wet from leaking. I started taking Fenugreek and expected to be able to feel the increase in my milk. What really worked was pumping about an hour before Baby A wakes up in the morning. That is the one time I have loads of milk since it's been storing up all night. I was worried there wouldn't be enough for her when she woke up but soon found there seemed to be plenty and she was satisfied. Since I began doing this I don't have any struggles keeping up with her milk demands. So for now we seem to have all our issues worked out. I find it so strange that after five months of this I can still be having problems, worries and insecurities. I guess that's just the way it will go until I wean her.

The other morning Peter and I were both in bed and I had commenced my morning pump ritual. He looked over at me and shook his head. I asked him why. He told me he was just thinking about how a year ago he never imagined this scenario. In bed with me as I expressed milk. We both chuckled. It is pretty funny when you think about it. Even after everything I've been through I wouldn't change a thing. It has been SO worth all the ups and downs to finally get it right.

(Reminding my three readers (oh the self depricating humor) again that I am a “Share the Love” blog awards nominee. You can vote for my blog here under the Most Meetable In Real Life category.)

Friday, February 17, 2006

To Whom I am Eternally Grateful

Today was a crazy day involving very cold weather, a car that wouldn't start, an argument with my husband and a staff meeting. And that was only the first three hours. Before leaving work after the meeting I see my midwife, Kari who is there for an appointment. I love this woman. She asked how Audrey and I were doing. I filled her in and told her that I started writing a blog. She gave me permission to write about her and post a photo. Also she wanted me to email her a link to my blog. So this post is dedicated to Kari. Not only because I know she'll be reading
it, but because she deserves it.

I decided a long time before ever getting pregnant that I wanted to have a midwife. I had heard nothing but wonderful things about them. When Peter and I actually started trying to have a baby I asked some of my clients who worked on the maternity floor in our hospital if they would recommend anyone in particular. Their overwhelming response was Kari. Once I had verification that I was indeed pregnant I called their office to make my first appointment. I eagerly anticipated this appointment and from the first moment I met her I immediately felt comfortable. I was very happy with my decision.

The months passed. At first, very slowly when I was so terribly ill. Kari was very helpful and supportive during this time. She was there as I got bigger and bigger and more uncomfortable. When I caught a terrible cold in my eighth month she was empathic. When I started to become nervous about the impending birth she was encouraging.

There was the small chance that she wouldn't be at the birth if she was not the midwife on call. She told me that she would make every effort to be there.

I went into labor on a Sunday and since babies always seem to prefer making their entrance in the middle of the night my water broke at around 12:00 am. I had paged the midwives earlier that evening to inform them of my progress and learned that Kari was not on call. I was a bit disappointed but knew the others and trusted them as well. I paged them again just after my water broke and Kari was the one to call me back. I nearly cried. I was so happy that she would be the one to deliver my baby.

She met us at the hospital at 1:00 am. When she checked me I was already between 8 and 9 centimeters dilated. Kari was amazing with me. I felt as though she just gave me the space I needed and watched me. She gave me suggestions on ways for me to be the most comfortable. I felt that she was totally in sync with my needs without my having to verbalize them. Just having her there knowing that she believed in my ability to do what I needed to do got me through it. When Audrey was on her way her heart rate dropped and things got a little sketchy. Kari told me she may need to cut me if her heart rate didn't come up again quick. I took that information and found the strength to push her out right away both because I didn't want to be cut and because I knew that Audrey was in distress. I appreciated her telling me what was going on so that I was able to do what I did. I have heard of women being cut without having any idea that it was about to be done. I appreciated her calmness in spite of the tense situation. I didn't panic because she seemed very calm.

Kari brought Audrey into the world at 3:14 am Monday morning. I cannot express the gratitude I have for this woman. Not only for being there for me during my pregnancy and birth but for being there in the weeks following. Those were the toughest weeks of my life and the fact that she was there to keep me from falling into the abyss ... She calls me a Saint for hanging in there but she is a Saint for giving so much to people like me. I respected her before I gave birth but my eyes were opened afterwards to the enormous number of hours she puts in, the sleepless nights, the home visits, the support and encouragement she gives. It must be absolutely exhausting. And her reward? Mothers like me who are eternally grateful and adore her for life. Did I mention that I love her?

(A quick note to my many readers (ha ha ha). I am a “Share the Love” blog awards nominee. You can vote for my blog here under the Most Meetable In Real Life category.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Losing I.Q. Points

It's true people. I'm getting dumber every day. I have determined my hair must have been the source of my intelligence. I have lost at least half of it and along with it half of my brain power. You may not believe me but I will provide perfectly good examples.

Example #1.

During baby A's swimming lessons her teacher gives us basic instructions for little games we will play. Such as “Swim over here on your tummy, get a puzzle piece, swim on your back and put the piece in the appropriate spot.” This is far too complicated for me to understand. I look at the other mom's perplexed and say “I just totally missed that. What are we supposed to do?” Audrey looks at me as if to say “It's okay mom, I know what I'm supposed to do.”

Example #2

I find myself mesmerized by the Baby Einstein videos. I like them almost as much as little A does and I have favorite parts. I have pointed them out to Peter before like “Oh, I love this part with the train.” or “Watch this part. The puppet moves to the music.” In my defense, Peter agrees with me that these are indeed 'good parts' and he wants to buy the train for 'Audrey'.

That's all I can think of right now.

My loss of intelligence began during pregnancy when I vomited most of my I.Q. into the toilet. It has only gotten worse from there. It is as though I have no attention span. Like in the case of the swimming lessons. I start off listening to the instructor and then my mind wanders to... oh that baby is so cute... and wait "What are we supposed to be doing?" It's embarrasing.

Miraculously despite the loss of intelligence I am still competent at my job. Not to say you don't need to be intelligent to do my job since this would encourage the stereotype. I am still able to make people look beautiful while telling entertaining stories which now seem to be about labor, breastfeeding or motherhood. Perhaps I need to expand my storytelling beyond my small world. Oh yeah, I talk about blogging as well.

Since it's been a while since I posted a photo (due to technical difficulties which I hope will sort be sorted out) of my dear baby, here she is looking disgusted with me for becoming such a moron.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy Heart Day

Audrey received her first Valentine from a boy in her swimming class! I thought it was the cutest thing but of course I wish I'd also thought of it. So there was the guilt of being an awful mother who doesn't give out Valentine's on behalf of her 5 month old child. There was also the resentment towards the mother who must have it all together. I mean, she gave everyone in our swimming class Valentine's cards! How does one have the time to be a mother and write out Valentine's cards? Not to mention the brain power to remember everyone's names and attempt to spell them correctly. Even if I had that fabulous idea and bought Valentine's cards, when I sat down to fill them out I would realize I didn't know the names anymore and if I did remember them I would butcher the spelling. I would then give up and feel guilty that I hadn't paid more attention to the other babies names. I don't know how I have time to look after Audrey when I'm so busy feeling guilty and resenting people.

My mother invited us over for supper for Valentine's. She doesn't have a Valentine so our little family would have to do. It was just like going out for a romantic supper except for my mom and baby were there, we ate at T.V tables rather than a dim candlelit one and we watched the Olympics instead of talking to each other. But hey, it was free!! Perhaps next year will be a bit different.

Peter wrote his own Valentine to me in a blank card. It said,

To my wife,

Thank you for your help and love, your joy and pain.
Thank you for our times in the sun and in the rain.
Thank you for the laughter and the tears.
Thank you for you, yesterday, today and in the coming years.

As I was typing it out I also realized that it rhymes. I accused him of copying it from somewhere. I didn't mind, I just thought he must have found the verse somewhere and wrote it in the card. He swore he wrote it himself. I think I may have ruined the moment. I do believe he has a future writing greeting cards. It may be his second calling. His first was computer geek.

Anyway, I was truly touched. It was certainly more meaningful than a gift. Actually, his gift to me was cuddling in bed watching the men's figure skating short programs. And he liked it. But Shhh don't tell anyone.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Two Months I Can Never Get Back

Last night I went to my Le Leche League meeting. There was a mother there with a three week old daughter. I couldn't believe how tiny she was. And how quiet. Even when she cried you could hardly notice. I thought she was beautiful and I totally appreciated her. And that made me very sad.

I think I have a sort of stress induced amnesia which encompasses the first two months after Audrey was born. Most of what I remember from that time is the stress, pumping, lack of sleep and bad dreams. What I remember most about her specifically is her not eating, screaming at me, scratching her face in anger, staying up crying all night – twice and crying during any car ride. What I don't remember is how tiny she was, her cute little face or times when she was sleeping peacefully. Thank goodness I took a lot of pictures so that I can enjoy them now and see how gorgeous she was. I wish I could go back in time and really enjoy that time with her but it is forever gone and I missed it. It makes me feel ill and I hate myself for it.

We are planning to have one more child although we are going to wait until Audrey is about two before we start trying. I am already imagining how different it will that time. It doesn't make me feel any better about not enjoying Audrey the way that I should have. I try to think if there was any way that I could have dealt with that better. More support? If someone could have warned me what was going to happen before I gave birth? I don't know.

I feel as though I cheated her of a more positive start. I am glad to have finally learned to cope with being a mother and I can see that she feels more comfortable with me also. She trusts me and is a much more relaxed baby.

I have this strong desire to support new mom's and try to prepare them for this time. To let them know that everything that they are thinking and feeling is normal. The thought of anyone feeling the way I did upsets me. If I could help just a few mom's that would give me a great sense of accomplishment.

I can't help but wonder sometimes if the challenges Audrey and I faced during our first two months together made us closer. That a bond was formed which can never be broken. The thought of that possibility gives me comfort when I want to go back and start all over.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Strength of a Mother

Mothers are proud. We have a lot to be proud of. Along with that pride inevitably comes competitiveness. I don't think we can help it. It is completely ingrained in us.

This was especially evident yesterday when I was having coffee with several friends, all of whom have given birth more than once. We somehow began sharing labor and delivery stories. I confess to enjoying this sort of thing now that I myself have given birth. I am so proud of my birth story. (I keep meaning to write about it.) Somehow I was able to do it drug free! Part of the credit really needs to go to my midwife for believing in me. While I was pregnant I had many of my clients telling me they thought I was nuts to even attempt having her “naturally” and actually told me I wouldn't be able to do it, that I would give in and have the epidural. Being the stubborn person I am it only made me more determined to do it without. Let me just say that under certain circumstances I would have had an epidural or a C-Section. I'm not that stubborn. I think that I was one of the fortunate ones who's baby was in a good position for natural childbirth. I also think I have a high pain tolerance.

Here's the part where I start voicing my opinions. How fun! Before I anger anyone let me say that I believe everyone has a different tolerance for pain and on top of that our bodies are all made differently as well. A petite woman could deliver a baby more easily than a not so petite woman although we would never imagine this to be so. Then there are those crazy babies. They can get themselves all turned around and backwards or sideways and no one wants to deliver a sideways baby. Having said that I really think that more women could deliver their babies without drugs. I mean this as a compliment! I know some first time mothers that decide they are having an epidural before they have even gone into labor! Epidurals have become so common place. And that makes me so sad. We are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. For someone to assume that they are not strong enough to do it before even going into labor is to underestimate themselves.

After having baby A we were unfortunately in the hospital for a week. During that time there were many births and the majority were C-Sections. I found this to be very disturbing. If I had a physician and they told me I needed a Section would I really question them? In fact if I had a physician I would have likely had an episiotomy. Audrey's heart rate dropped and my midwife told me if it didn't go back up quickly she would have to do one. I then promptly pushed her out. I'm not sure a doctor would have warned me first and then I wouldn't have had the opportunity to even try. I also learned this tidbit or information, if a woman is to have a Section and it is 11:45 pm they will wait until after 12:00 am because they get paid more. That goes the same for any other assistance such as forceps or episiotomy's. The more they do, the more they make. (I have to remind everyone that I live in Canada so this may not apply elsewhere.)

I would like to believe that all physicians would put the mother's body and health before making a little extra dough but I just don't think that all of them would. In fact I think that after a while they aren't even aware of the fact that making a little cut here or grabbing the babies head with a metal instrument there is bringing in extra cash. It just appears necessary. And worse than that, normal. A woman can't give birth without a little extra help. That's just preposterous. I hope I haven't just made everyone who bothers to read my blog so angry they'll never waste their time on it again. I just hate to think that there are future mothers out there who don't have the faith that they are strong enough to even try to have a baby without any serious intervention. Let me also say how thankful I am that we can have epidural's, episiotomy's and C-Sections when necessary.

Boy, did I ever get off topic!! What I was going to say was that when my friends and I all started exchanging birth stories that competitiveness crept in. “My baby's were both transverse!” “I was in labor for 46 hours.” “I had this many stitches.” However we give birth, it was our birth and we should be proud of it!

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Impossible Dream

I'll let you in on a secret about me. I wish I was an Olympic athlete. I realize it's never going to happen but it just feels good to say it. I think I mentioned how I would work out for a living if I was able to. I guess being an Olympic athlete would be the epitome of that dream.

As you can probably guess I've been watching the opening ceremonies. They were... amazing, boring, bizarre and moving all at once. To expand on that a bit I'll tell you what I saw (because I missed some of it). There were some aerial acrobatics (amazing), people dressed in tight spandex bodysuits in a heart formation waving their hands around (boring) and people in white overalls with huge white balloons (the size of an exercise ball) attached to their heads running around representing snowflakes (bizarre). I'm not kidding either. The announcer said “they are symbolic of snowflakes”. There was a young girl who sang the national anthem while they raised the flag which was very moving. At this time let me just express how much I dislike our national anthem. Not to be unpatriotic or anything but the more I hear every other country's anthems the more I think ours is nothing in comparison. Maybe it was the little girl's angelic voice but it was just beautiful. I have yet to hear a rendition of the Canadian anthem that sounds so pretty. Sorry. Another part that moved was watching all of the athletes coming in with their national flag. Some of the countries have such a small number of competitors. They all looked so proud and happy to be there representing their countries. That's when I felt jealous.

I think under the right circumstances I could have been an Olympic athlete. Here are the qualities I possess that make me right for the job. I am driven. I work very hard at whatever I put my mind to. I have the ability to be ridiculously strong. I am extremely competitive. I can't think of anything else right now but I think I have you all convinced. I should be there.

I figure skated as a kid. I had to give it up when we moved to the city though. But that sport would never have been my ticket. I'm too heavy set to get my arse off the ice to perform a triple axle. Maybe I could have been a speed skater. Or a cross country skier. Thinking about it makes me realize how circumstances need to be perfect in order for a person to become an Olympic athlete. I have a theory that the making of that kind of athlete is a fluke thing. Some people spend years of their lives training in a specific sport but they will never make it to the Olympics. Why? Maybe because they have been in the wrong sport. Maybe they are a skier but they should have been a skater. I also believe that it is almost always the privileged (rich) that end up competing at that level. Ordinary folks can't afford to have their kids in most of those sports. And once the athletes are old enough to be really competitive they need to train and have no time to work so they are usually supported by their parents. (I'm generalizing.) I know that some countries sponsor their athletes but that would still only be a fraction of the expenses they would have.

So, in order for me to have actually become an Olympic athlete I would have had to come from a wealthy family and miraculously have trained in the perfect sport for my body type. Although, considering the fact that I have blown my knee three times (and had the same number of surgeries on said knee) moderately competing in TaeKwon Do perhaps I would have wrecked my knee before ever getting that far. Or maybe I would have gone to the Olympics only to blow my knee in front of my country and the world and feel I wasted my life trying to attain an unreachable goal. Phew! What a relief I didn't become an Olympic athlete! That could have been so embarrassing for me. I'm very happy I got married and had a baby instead. It's probably a whole lot more rewarding anyway.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Can I Take It?

First of all I'd like to say I wrote a much longer and more amazing post that none of you will get to read because BLOGGER crashed or something and lost it!! Not that I value the time I put into writing it while my daughter was napping which she won't be for much longer!! So if the following sucks, blame BLOGGER not me.

I admit it. I am sensitive. I was very upset when I read one of my favorite blogs last night. It made me question whether or not I wanted to continue blogging. She wrote about why she blogs (among other things) which is similar to why many of us do it. We don't do it so that we can receive hateful comments (which she deletes) and emails or to be accused of copying another more popular blogger. (What are we in high school?) She didn't mention how she is plenty popular herself (I wonder what that would be like?) and doesn't need to copy anyone. She's gracious that way.

It made me start to wonder if I could take that sort of criticism myself. I am not a perfect mother. I am not always smiling at my daughter, singing a happy tune whilst changing her poopy diaper. Not by a long shot. Some day Audrey will have public temper tantrums. She will fall and bump her head. And I will write about it. The reason I started to blog was because I wanted to be another mom out there telling the truth. Reading the blogs of the mothers I admire rescued me from self pity and despair. Mothers who are honest about their depression, frustration and exhaustion. Mothers I could relate to.

Not the mothers and other people who are so perfect (or so they think) that they feel compelled to make hateful comments and send accusatory emails to people I respect. I guess we imperfect mothers give the perfect people a measuring stick to compare themselves against. I'd like to hit them all right in the face with that stick.

If I was given a glimpse of the awfulness contained in those comments and emails I might decide to delete my blog right now and never look back. Instead, in my (almost) ignorance I will continue and pray to be shielded from those people out there who would judge me for being honest about my imperfection.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


My baby is teething. Again. It seems this has been going on since she was about two months old and so far there is nothing to show for it. Although my nipples are probably very happy about that. They have experienced the gumming with no teeth and they aren't particularly fond of that so teeth would make it even more unpleasant. I do believe that the teeth are really on their way this time though. She seems to be very uncomfortable, drooling excessively and chewing on everything including her bottom lip. She also has a bumpy rash all around her neck and shoulders and under her chin in the no-neck area. I have been putting a zinc cream on the rash which seems to be helping.

She is an amazing little soul. I worry that she'll be fussy for everyone when I am at work and instead she is always an angel. Sometimes I feel annoyed that she would appear to be saving her grumpy behavior for me (and her dad). Then I remember I am, after all, her mother and I can not change my mind about looking after her like my mother or my sister could if she was a nightmare for them every time they were with her. So I grin and bear it and try to make the best of her unhappiness and think of how cute those teeth will be.

Of course another side effect of this hardcore teething is – you guessed it fussy eating. My daughter refusing to eat? Never. So uncharacteristic! I find during these times it is best to not be around my mother. This only leads to arguments between us which go something like this...

Audrey: Waaagh!! Waaagh!!! (as her mother attempts to feed her.)
Grandma: Is there any milk there?
Me: (sigh) Yes! (I keep trying to feed her, she goes on tries a while then comes off crying.)
Grandma: Well why else would she cry like that?
Me: (resisting the urge to squeeze my nipple and squirt her in the face with the milk that doesn't exist) She's teething.
Grandma: Teething shouldn't make her do that.
Me: Yes, is does.
Audrey: (Stops crying and listens to us argue)
Grandma: I don't think so. (wonders how any daughter of hers could be unable to produce enough milk for her baby)
Me: You're making me feel bad.
Grandma: Why?

Oh the guilt. She actually has me convinced sometimes that I am starving little A even though she is above average weight for her age. If worrying won't dry up your milk what will? I love her though. She is my mother and she loves me and she loves Audrey and she babysits her all the time. She has saved our butts many a time since I have gone back at work when Peter and I were both working at the same time. She has the experience of raising five kids which is more experience than I care to have and more than most mothers will have these days. Unfortunately for me all five of us were good eaters (and we all still are!) and she has no experience with babies who won't eat when the wind is blowing a certain direction. Therefore my milk supply will continue to be doubted by her at any time until I am no longer breastfeeding. I try to get used to it but it still feels like a slap in the face every time. Some day after she is weened I will miss those times both good and bad just like I am missing the feeling of being pregnant and the good and bad that came along with it.

The Job That I Get Paid For

Well folks it's official. My pits smell like maple syrup. If you don't know what I'm talking about then read this. I honestly can't say whether or not it improved my milk supply. I know Audrey isn't starving so that's all I'm concerned about. Waking up in the morning and pumping before she wakes up seems to have solved my difficulty's keeping up with her milk needs when I'm at work.

Speaking of my other job,(the one I get paid to do) I have spending a lot of time doing it lately. On Friday night some friends were in from out of town and we invited them over for supper and I cut their hair afterwards. They flattered me by saying my haircuts are the best they've ever had. After that compliment how could I deny them one of these superb haircuts? I couldn't. We had a great time, I think they looked fabulous and they paid me WAY TOO MUCH! (That's right A, way too much!) That's what you get when you accept a wad of folded bills. You think it's a reasonable amount and then you unfold the bills the next day and think “Holy crap! This is just a silly amount of money they gave me!” Oh well. It's nice to be appreciated.

Then yesterday I spent a lot of time at work. We all did one another's hair in the afternoon. This did not seem to be optional especially on my part since I had been getting several "You need your hair done!" comments from my co-workers. I guess I have 'new mother' hair. (Oh wait, I am a new mother! I guess it's not okay to look like one.) I took baby A with me and she was so well behaved. She played on a blanket on the floor and sang to us while we worked. She also sat on almost everyones lap for some of the time. Then we had to rush to our swimming lesson. Next we headed to Grandma's. She fell asleep on the way. I woke her, fed her, put her down for a nap, had a quick snack and went back to work. We each had a model and three words to inspire the cut and color we were to do. My words were away, clear and ethereal. We took before and after photos which I will post. (Feel free to tell me what you think!) The after photo doesn't really show off the color but I did a lot of blond as well as some lavender and silvery highlights in her hair. My interpretation of clear and ethereal. She had natural curl but I curled it all with my iron for a more polished and angelic look. I also did her makeup but it was very light and shimmery – again inspired by my words. Anyway, it was fun which is a good thing because we don't get paid for this sort of thing. My model was really nice, she liked her hair and so did I.

I was an hour late getting to my mom's and she and Peter had waited for me to get home before having supper. I felt bad but they didn't seem to mind much. Audrey loves her grandma and is very used to being with her at her place. I was sad that I didn't post anything yesterday but now you see what I was up to. Today I do not work and I am going to relax and fight the urge to not relax. How relaxing.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Sad Truth

Yesterday while driving baby A to my sisters before heading to work I had a moment. As much as I have been saying how guilty I feel that I have been enjoying work, and that's not a lie, I miss being at home with Audrey too. I was thinking as I drove about how right about the time I started working was when I really began to enjoy my little girl. Maybe that only happened because of going back to work but I don't think so. I think she just started to be a lot of fun at that point. The really hard part was over and I could finally deal with being a mother.

I began to mourn the time I was missing with her. I really love her. This seems like an obvious thing for a mother to love her baby but there was honestly a time when I didn't know if I did. I knew I should love her but I just didn't feel like I did. Although I have written a lot about how hard being a mother is and how depressed I felt at first, it has taken me a while to admit that I didn't think I loved her. What kind of a mother doesn't know if she loves her newborn baby? Apparently this one didn't. I had small flickers of affection for her but I was so consumed by the sleep deprivation, the feeding issues... did I mention the sleep deprivation? I just thought “This is my life now. Like it or not, you are a mother. Now deal with it.” I felt sorry for my baby because she had a mother like me and I felt sorry for myself because this was not the kind of mother I'd dreamt I'd be. And I really didn't think anything was ever going to change.

But it has. I am excited to see her in the morning. It feels like Christmas every time I creep into her room and peer into her crib. Often she's already awake and when she sees me she smiles excitedly at me. I sing silly songs to her about changing her bum or what will we wear today? Her giggles make me cry happy tears. She holds my hand while she eats and I stare at her. I can't believe I helped to make such a perfect human being. Then I realized that this is it. I am in love. My heart feels like it will burst from loving her so much.

Later as I walk to my car after dropping her off with her Auntie I take a deep breath and focus on something else. I don't want to cry. I'm just so happy to finally be the mother that I knew I could be.

Fenu - What?

For someone with size H breasts (yes, I'm talking about them again!) I can't believe I have had so many problems with breastfeeding. I mean really.

I am back at work 16 hours a week. That's it. That's not a ridiculous amount of time to be working. I have been back for approximately a month now. Last week I was having a hard time pumping enough milk to leave for Miss A while I would be at work. In fact on Saturday she and her dad made a 'milk run' which entailed them coming to my work to collect the milk I had pumped on my lunch break. (Which she promptly guzzled back.) The upside? I got to see her while I was working and also everyone oohhed and aaahed over her and told me how beautiful she was. Which is good for my ego. I make pretty babies. Good for me. Just what the world needs, more beautiful girls to make the average girls feel crappy about themselves.

So needless to say I was stressed out. Sitting there with my pump saying my milk mantra 'come milk come' (kidding) but I end up with a measly two ounces. I think I may have figured out part of my problem. Pumping at work SUCKS! My workplace is in the middle of renovations and our 'staff area' is currently a cold, dim, drafty, dungeon of a basement. I have tried to make myself as comfortable as possible. I do my pre-pump routine. Put my sweater on, have a glass of water, eat my lunch while looking at my photographs of Monkey A, put her blanket on my lap, assemble pump and get out the ladies. I look at the photo of her sucking her thumb for inspiration. The lighting is so poor I strain to see if there is anything coming out. Panic. Think “I have to have milk for her tomorrow” then notice it is coming out. Just when things are looking promising someone comes down the stairs with laundry, or to get their jacket or something. I pretend I am super cool with my boob hanging out and a contraption warping my nipple into it's plastic mouth. 'Don't mind me, just milking myself down here.' They also act cool and remind me they have boobs too which is true but they aren't currently exposing themselves to me. On one extra special occasion my male boss sat downstairs with me and had a conversation with me while I pumped. I believe he was trying to make me understand that he is a man who is not uncomfortable being in the presence of a woman expressing her milk. I have my suspicions that he was indeed uncomfortable as was I and it has never happened since.

I called my La Leche League leader and my lactation consultant for advice yesterday. I was given suggestions and also a reason why my milk supply may have lowered. The combination of work with the fact that my sweet baby sleeps through the night are likely the reasons. I had begun pumping in the morning about an hour before she wakes up and this is when I express the most milk. (I figured that one out on my own. How wise am I?) Also I am going to take a 'Magic Bag' to work to lay on my chest before pumping and I have started taking 'Fenugreek'. I just read up on it this morning and taking it could lead to a post dedicated to the side effects I may be experiencing. To name a few... it stimulates sweat production (yippee!), promotes breast cell growth (oh boy!) and it can make your milk and urine smell like maple syrup (delicious!). I am to take 3 tablets 3 times a day with meals and in 24-72 hours it should be working if it is going to work for me. I'll let you all know.

So the adventure continues. What shall become of my blog after I wean my child? I'll have to start posting about 'American Idol' again. This is a photo I call 'Baby A vs. The Pump'.