The Mom I Thought I’d Be

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So here we are at the final day of maternity leave*, and I wouldn’t say the time has “flown by”, but it has certainly passed.

It’s been an adventure.  Not just the maternity leave, but also the stuff leading up to it.  I had planned to do certain things with my daughter, and they’ve all pretty much been blown out of the water.  I nurse and pump, but I also supplement because of an insufficient supply**.  We co-sleep, but the baby’s been moved to Mike’s side of the bed because of my night terrors.  I bought a ringsling, but she was too small to ride around in it initially, and lately I’ve had no use for one.  We cloth diaper, but…well, actually, that’s worked out just fine.

Zoë is the light of her mother and father’s life.  Our daughter has grown from a jaundiced little 5 lb 15 oz squirt to a nearly-11-lb nubbin who is currently ahhh-WHOOing at the mobile in her Pack n’ Play.  The ahhh-WHOOs are cute, but they also signal an imminent meltdown. I need to pick her up soon.

On my end, I am mysteriously more weepy whenever I see a pregnant woman on TV.  I’ve been re-watching my way through Scrubs while nursing, and Carla’s storyline (c-section, postpartum depression, trouble nursing) hit a nerve.  I know it’s just a show, but there are echoes of my own experience in there.  And if at any time I see an image of a preemie covered in wires and tubes, I start to sob.  I remember trying to hold my daughter in those first days, my daughter covered in wires and tubes, so helpless and tiny, her heartbeat beeping on a monitor, and — yep, there are the tears.

I’m not the Mom I thought I’d be.  I didn’t think I’d be setting up a subscribe and save for formula on Amazon.  I didn’t think I’d be looking at a scar every time I take my pants off.  I didn’t think I’d still be trying to figure out the %@&#ing ringsling.  But then, the Mom I thought I’d be had it pretty easy.  She was kind of boring.

The Mom I am is the woman who can pick up a fussy, ahhh-WHOOing girl and have her quiet immediately, just because I’m holding her.

I love my daughter.  The Mom I thought I’d be could never know how powerful that statement would become to her.

Zoe and Her Mom

* I still have 3 weeks of CA Paid Family Leave, but I’ll be using those throughout the year to do family stuff. The 12-week block I took starting April 2nd ends today.

** “Why?” she asked, because she can’t stop doing that. Is it because I didn’t nurse my daughter in the first 24 hours? Is it because leftie didn’t get stimulated enough on account of big boob/tiny baby syndrome? Is it because I’m olllld? We can only guess. We’ll never really know. All that matters is we’re healthy and life goes on.

Sleeping with Cats

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Mike, his mother, and his grandmother are currently on the I-40 and have (hopefully) escaped the worst of the bad weather that forced them to stop early in Liberal, Kansas. When Oklahoma starts closing roads, you know it’s bad, yo.

Meanwhile, I’m at home with two cats and trying not to spook myself out with 2300 square feet of empty space. So this means I’m sleeping with cats.

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CPR and First Aid

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In high school, I enrolled in a semester of EMT training.  This was awesome and I nearly went off and became a paramedic because of it.  But it also taught me some very important things about EMTs in California in the 1990s: they were essentially glorified cab drivers.

Administer drugs?  Couldn’t do that.  Put in an IV?  Nope.  Emergency tracheotomy using a pocket knife and a pen?  Stop watching medical dramas, please.

Essentially, this was what I learned in my EMT course:

  1. If they’re bleeding, use stuff to stop or slow the bleeding, and get them to the hospital.
  2. If they’re cool, pale, and diaphoretic, get them to the hospital.
  3. Children go downhill very fast.  Get them to the hospital.
  4. If the patient is in cardiac arrest, check airway, breathing, and circulation.  Then you can administer CPR.  And get them to the hospital.
  5. Use a cervical collar if you so much as suspect a spinal injury.  Put them in one before you get them to the hospital.
  6. If someone is having a severe allergic response, try and get their consent before using their EpiPen on them.  Then get them to the hospital.
  7. Sucking chest wounds sound awesome, but please get them to the hospital.
  8. If they were on fire, definitely put them out before getting them to the hospital.
  9. Downed powerlines are a hell of a way to die.  Do not underestimate them.  Getting you to a hospital probably won’t help if you stumble into a live current.
  10. Everybody lies.

I’ll probably re-read my old EMT manual sometime between now and labor.  I’ve signed us up for a CPR course, and when Mike’s mom arrives we’ll get her certified as well.  Basically, my first aid breaks down to this: can it be treated with a bandaid and a kiss?  No?  Then call 911 and get them to a hospital.

Non-Girly-Girls Having Girls

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I’m not exactly known as a girly-girl.  With respect to my daughter and her future usage of make-up and hair-styling products, I suspect that I’ll be turning to Youtube (or the equivalent thereof in 12+ years) for aid. I literally just this week learned how to curl my hair in an attractive style, and I’ve been out of high school for almost two decades.  I need a manual to apply eyeshadow (I have it tucked in my make-up case for whenever I decide to put some on).  I have been blessed with a career that doesn’t require me to slap on make-up and heels, and I have exploited that ruthlessly.  Ruthlessly.

At one point Mike and I were in a Macy’s, riding the escalator up to housewares, which also contained the kids clothing section.  As we inched upward, a violent display of ruffles, lace, and pink hoved into view. The girls clothing.  The baby girls clothing.

At the time I was only a few weeks pregnant with our first, and both of us exchanged a look, a look that said: this.  This is our inescapable future if we have a girl.  We might not dress her that way, but our collective families will almost certainly descend in a storm of taffeta and satin, laughing maniacally at our feeble cries of, “No — we’re not raising Honey Boo-Boo!  Noooooo!

I’ve been ducking the pink things, though I did buy her some pink diaper covers and there are a few skeins of pink-toned yarn in the blanket I’m knitting for her.  Zoe, of course, won’t care (yet) that her mother dresses her in non-girly colors, that she’ll have just as many green and blue things as she does violet and pink.  Someday she will, and on that day she’ll get to pick what she wears and how she wears it…to a certain degree — I wouldn’t let my child run around in a bathing suit in the middle of a Wisconsin blizzard, if that’s what you’re thinking.

Well, I might. For about ten seconds, so she’d understand why you don’t do that. But I digress.

I don’t hate “girly” things.  I don’t even hate “pretty” things.  I know my kin, when they generously buy my baby girl gifts, will probably get her things in pink, and I am okay with that.  It’s not my preference, but I’m not going to decline a gift on a ridiculous notion such as that, and let’s face it: she’s going to be hella cute in that stuff.  I rejoice that I’m bringing another girl into the world.  I really do.

If I hate anything, it’s stuff that labels my daughter as a “princess” of any stripe. Because it’s so…passive.  Boys get to be athletes and firemen.  Girls get to be married off.  “Princess” isn’t a career choice, it’s something that happens to about one in a zillion girls and it’s not a job one acquires because one is talented or works hard.  I’d rather my daughter wear shirts that say things like “Daddy’s Future Astronaut” or “Mommy’s Future Blues Guitar Virtuoso”.

My daughter may decide she does want to be a princess. Or president.  Or Batwoman.  She may enter a pink phase that will cause my own mother to cackle maniacally.  I just hope that if I convey anything to her, it’s this: she defines herself.  Not a color, not a phrase, not her prom date, not her dad, and not me.

And more specifically, I hope she knows this, and takes it to heart: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  This is the heart of all my bad decisions in the past — that I let someone make me feel less-than.  I hope the girl I raise knows she doesn’t need to do anything she doesn’t want to.  And if she feels someone is pressuring her in the wrong direction, I hope she knows her parents will be there to back her up.  Possibly with baseball bats.

In Which I Turn Into a Pumpkin

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Yesterday was Mike’s holiday party, which was lots of fun and there was food (which I like) and also a DJ and really neat San Diego architecture.

I had spent about three hours previous wandering Solana Beach and getting my toenails done because that’s what you do when you’ve got three hours and don’t want to buy $50 light bulbs (Solana Beach, ladies and gentlemen).  And so we got to the party and I put ham in my face and then something not-so-magical happened.

I literally could not keep my eyes open.

Around 8 PM, in fact.  It was like someone found the plug on my go-juice and pulled it.  I sat down in chairs.  I leaned against Mike.  I tried eating cookies to give myself some pep, but this only succeeded in putting cookies in me.  I ended up stretched out in a cabana-like thing, ignoring my lack of dignity and trying not to be That Person Who Makes Her Significant Other Leave Early but oh man I just barely made it to 9 PM when we finally left.

On the bright side: I slept great.

And now here I am, full of vigor and eyeing my next party, which is tonight, which starts at 8 PM and ha ha ha ha ha how the hell am I going to make it?

We’ll need naps.  Lots of naps.

Our Lack of Tree…and Everything, Really

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We have never put up a Christmas tree.

Part of this is practical.  Truth is: there’s two of us, we don’t get a lot of guests, and though we’re sure the cats will admire our handiwork, we’re also laying bets on which will be the first to pull the tree down.

This is also our first year owning a house together, and with my parents nearby, there just wasn’t much reason to actually expend the effort to decorate.  Why spend money on lights and ornaments when you can just slack off and go to Mom’s house?

But Zoe will change that.  If not in 2013, then almost certainly in 2014.  And that means…shopping the day after Christmas.

My plan is to stock up on all the crap we don’t already have.  Ornaments.  Tree blanket.  Tree stand.  All the stuff that, right now, we would pay full price for.

Oh, and outdoor lights. Our glorious lightshow, let me tell you about it.  Are you ready? Ready to have your mind blown?  We have two pitiful strands of ultrabright LEDs wrapped around the railing of our upper balcony…

…and that’s it.  IMPRESSIVE, I KNOW.  Our neighbors, meanwhile, all have electric menageries of snowmen, reindeer, and elves. LED snowflakes sparkle from their rooftops. When I asked Mike how many lights he’ll need for next year, he glanced up and down the street, turned to me, and said: “Many.”

We do have a tiny fake plastic tree.  It’s black.  It has little star ornaments.  It is very…modern. Definitely bought on sale at a Borders. I’m guessing it probably won’t work with a two year old. Or maybe it will — she could always be a little Goth girl. I guess we’ll find out, in the coming years, just how lazy we are. Or just how into the Cure she is.

One thing we do have?  A holiday wreath.  A non-denominational holiday wreath.  Blue and silver ribbons and decorations over a fake pine backdrop. A former coworker made it, and I’m happy to say I still love it, all these years later. Basically, from Halloween until New Year, my door wreath needs are covered.  I may not have electric Santa or a giant whirring snowglobe on the lawn, but I’ve got my non-denominational holiday wreath and that’s good enough by me.

The Morning Ritual: Month Six

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The Morning Ritual looks something like this:

  • Alarm goes off.  Evaluate bladder.  Hit snooze.
  • Hit snooze.
  • Hit snooze.
  • Finally admit I need to get out of bed.  Start wondering when she’s going to kick.
  • Shower, slather on moisturizer like frosting on a birthday cake, eye my closet and decide — do I want to wear the maternity pants that constantly need adjustment, the leggings that probably won’t fit in a month, or the skirt that makes me look like a walking pregnancy monolith?
  • Wake up the grumpy half with a smooch. He grumps. I smooch some more.
  • Greeted by noisy, demanding cats who are all WHYYY WHYYY WON’T YOU LET US INNNN?  Evaluate cat excitement level to decide if they’re being whiny about their bedroom exile or whether they actually need something.
  • Start coffee.  Put away dishes while it brews.
  • Listen to upstairs creaks to make sure the grumpy half is actually getting his grumpy self out of bed.
  • Worry for the twentieth time that I haven’t felt a kick yet.
  • Set out everything I will need to take to work: banana, phone, coffee travel mug.
  • Heh.  “Bananaphone“.
  • Eat hardboiled egg.  Take redonculous amounts of vitamins.  Eat cottage cheese with a tablespoon of sunflower butter.  Wonder if I will ever eat anything ever again for breakfast.
  • Feel a kick.  Yell out to the empty kitchen, “Good morning, young lady!”  Startle cats.
  • Get in car, decide if I’ll call mom to tell her for the umpteenth time that we felt a kick.  She can’t be sick of it yet.  Right?  Right?
  • Forget {coffee|banana|phone} and only realize it as I’m pulling into the work parking lot.
  • Begin workday.

The morning ritual doesn’t apply during weekends.  Pretty much I stick to the script during workweeks because if I don’t, I’ll forget something vital, and that’s how you get to work with a banana but no phone.  Or heaven help if I don’t take the vitamins.  The baby needs the vitamins, people.

Lately I’m wondering how it’s going to change when she’s here and I’m working.  I’m guessing I’ll be up earlier so I can feed her and get her ready for the day, but how much earlier?  It all depends on what kind of baby she is, I guess.  And whether or not breastfeeding works for us.  And other things.

These discoveries (and more) will have to wait until then, though.