Taking a Small Step for Mankind, a Giant Leap for Me

Tom and I were discussing last night how we perceive the world around us. Little things have started me noticing more about Tom that I hadn’t really seen before. He called me “baby girl” the other day and I looked up at him (I was sitting on the floor and he was walking toward me) and I realized he was studying my reaction, unsure how I would feel about this slip of a term of endearment. I actually didn’t mind it, I thought it was sweet. It also made me realize that he watches me, much more than I watch him.

We talked about how I live in my head and wander through the house in this kind of bubble where I go through the motions while constantly thinking. I also rarely see other people as individual people, but more as extensions of my own experience. Think Descartes’s Evil Demon theory. I’m not SURE the world around me is real, so other people’s experience, their motivations and how their minds work is irrelevant if the world isn’t real, but completely relevant if it is because a human should care about other humans. I took some time to study Tom last night, ask him about his human experience, take into account that he might be real.

My first memories are of me inside my head, considering my own motivations and my surroundings. I know how other people perceive Tom. I’d taken note of his mannerisms before and knew how they came off to others because there was a time when I didn’t know him as well as I do now. But I don’t know how they perceive me, if my inner-reflectiveness comes off as cold or distant. My father once told me, in a loving and advice-giving way, that I need to take care not to alienate people because I risk that with how often I try to correct people. He fed my “I’m-smarter-than-most-people” ego a little and told me to just let less intelligent people be. Showing them their errors would only make them dislike me. I’ve never been a shove-my-opinion-down-your-throat kind of person, but if someone says something factually incorrect or comes to a conclusion based on prejudice or incorrect knowledge, I feel compelled to argue. My brother and I used to drive my parents crazy with this because I was right most of the time and my brother wouldn’t admit it. He was right sometimes and, in an effort to improve myself, I began to admit when I’d been wrong. When my brother learned I’d been right, I tried to be a graceful winner. Not always successfully.

Anyway, I became interested in other people’s experiences. I hadn’t really much considered them before. How do others perceive this world we live in? Do they feel like they’re floating around, like I do? Or do they feel more interactive and in touch with their surroundings?

Tom told me sometimes I look lonely, which I found interesting because I rarely seek out company from others. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I have low tolerance for being around people, for having to divert my attention from my own inner monologue to interact with others. I wouldn’t call it misanthropic, but it is a fault, nonetheless. My mom used to joke about how quickly I’d get sick of my friends during sleepovers and how I needed my space by dawn. Give me a few hours alone, then I’m over it. I still don’t go seeking company, but I’ll be ok interacting with the same person for a brief amount of time the next day.

I can handle a couple hours, no problem. I can handle seeing people every day. But an extended period of time with someone makes me really irritable. My family was always very affectionate, very loving. I have no idea how I got this way. I enjoy being around my parents (sometimes my brother) and Tom very consistently. Even when they annoy me (as all families will do) I don’t feel any sense of “these people need to go away.” Tom is probably the only person not blood-related from whom I’ve never felt I needed a break after a whole day of being constantly around each other. It’s a miracle. And probably how I knew he was right for me. So yeah, the “you seem lonely” comment took me off-guard.

I’ve also always struggled to make eye contact with people. I find it intensely uncomfortable and tend to look away from most people when they start to look into my eyes. I make the concerted effort when I’m trying to convey seriousness or at a job interview. Other than that, I avoid it like the plague.

Stepping outside myself for a few minutes completely shifted my understanding of the world. But by this morning, I was back in my own head and thinking about work, about what Tom was talking about without contributing much to the conversation, about Charlotte, etc. It’s difficult to shake off a paradigm I’ve been living in my whole life. I’m hoping that, over time, I’ll take more and more time to seriously consider others. I hope that I’ll look at the people around me and really see them without filtering their existence through my own limited understanding of the world around me. People are more than furniture, after all.

I’m not going to use the “I have a baby excuse”. I’m just not.

She sleeps enough in the evening that it is absolutely no excuse for not posting more often on the blog. Not that people REALLY care. It doesn’t affect their day-to-day lives and I’m fine with that. No, my excuse is that I’m obsessed with my birth board. Drama, drama, drama! Who needs soap operas when you have a bunch of crazy tired, irritable women to lash out at any stupid question. For example:

I just found out my husband cheated on me with another woman the same day we conceived. Could the baby be hers?

Can my baby catch another girl’s period if she holds her too long?

Is the pullout method effective?

Oy. You lay some stats or facts on a woman and she goes bonkers, saying everyone’s mean and ganging up on her and then hair-flipping and going home to play by herself. Then some other chick pipes in with “why is everyone so mean?” Which requires the obligatory “you must be new here” thing. Which causes ANOTHER girl to hair-flip and round and round we go.

I’m on other groups on this site as well which provide plenty of crazy stories that are fun to read.

Anyhow, I’m not abandoning this blog because I’d rather read drama llama noms, but I have been distracted for awhile.

Charlotte’s doing well. She’s 3 months old now. She isn’t the most convenient baby, but we love her and she’s adorable.

Remember that post about questions you hate hearing as a pregnant woman?

Yeah, well there’s stuff you get sick of hearing as a new mom.

-What’s her name?
-Is she sleeping through the night yet?
-Do you get much sleep?
-Is she in daycare?
-How are you dealing with her being in daycare?
-When are you going to start (insert milestone or outdated practice or something I just plain don’t intend to do.)
-How does your husband feel about having a girl? (“He says boys make better offerings to our lord Satan, but she’ll have to do.” WHAT? She’s gotta be inferior to my husband because she’s a girl?!?!?!!? WTH kind of outdated Medieval perception is THAT?)
-Do you have any pictures?-When can I babysit?
-Don’t worry, you’ll get sick of her.
-You’ll need help.
-You’ll need a break.
-Yeah, when that happens, you’ll be BEGGING me to babysit.
-She’s crying because she’s hungry/her diaper’s wet/she doesn’t like me. (No, she’s crying because she’s a baby!)
-You think it’s hard now? You just wait.
-Girls are terrible because they turn into teenagers. (Always said by a WOMAN.)
-Can you say (insert word)? (No, she’s 2 months old. And her first word will either be “dada”, “mama”, or “shit” thankyouverymuch.)
-In my day, the husbands didn’t help.
-You must feel so guilty for working.
-When I had MY babies…

I’m not a patient person. I’m not exactly homicidal, but I could be. The mood stabilizers help, but the complete lack of energy also keeps me from doing more than replying in a snarky way. I’m cool with that for now. I’ll get tons of unwanted input on my parenting choices for the rest of my life from nose-stickers-in. I’ll enjoy being rude to them. I get a sick satisfaction from it. No shame!

Title (optional)

Boss: My new blog post was 297 words!!!
Me: That’s really short.Boss: But it’s only part one!
Me: Yeah, that’s still really short.

So yeah, life and such. Wow. Well, Charlotte is doing well. She’ll be two months old on Sunday, my first mother’s day. Tom has to work so we’ll be celebrating on Saturday. I’m not disappointed because I have an adorable little girl and a wonderful husband. 🙂 Oh, and a cat who has decided Charlotte is just another human being to ignore. No big. lol

Charlotte’s been going to daycare regularly for awhile now. It’s going well. I really like her provider. It’s an in-home daycare, so I know that Charlotte is getting the attention she needs. Plus, the lady is always holding/feeding/just finished changing Charlotte when I walk in to pick her up. She’s been great. And I love driving the 15 minutes to get to her every afternoon because then I get to see her and bring her home. And I miss her so much.

We had our most recent doctor’s visit and Charlotte got her shots and she’s also perfectly healthy. Here’s something funny: Tom and I are short people. Our baby is in the 81st percentile for height. If she had been taken away from our hospital room even once without one of us going with her, I might think we have the wrong baby. She was so tiny when she was born! 18.5 inches long and just 7 pounds! Now she’s 11.5 pounds and freakishly long! lol

She’s also been awake a lot more lately. She’s starting to learn to laugh and she plays with us. She recognizes our faces. She smiles and makes noises at us. She loves music. We’ll play her a CD or turn on the (obnoxious!!!) music in her swing and it calms her down. Not always, but often enough that we try to use it whenever she cries.

I’m still tired. So is Tom. Every day has something we have to do. But I am so happy. I see that little girl’s face or feel her in my arms and I just melt.

This morning…

I was making coffee in my half-asleep mode, which seems to be my only mode nowadays. I put the grounds in with the filter, I poured the water in, and I hit the start button. What I forgot to do was put the pot back in. Coffee and grounds EVERYWHERE. I’m pretty sure I giggled the giggle of insanity. Utter and absolutely insanity. Tom came into the room, too tired to be angry. He had the brilliant idea to go get an actual towel, seeing as how the one paper towel I’d pulled off the roll just didn’t seem to be doing a sufficient job. Honestly, I’m surprised I remembered to put underwear on today.

Charlotte is such a beautiful, amazing child. But if she could learn to sleep until 7:00am, that would be awesome. This 5:30 thing is just killing my spirit. Tom’s is pretty much dead already. We look at each other and we’re just like “what was your name again?” The only words we can form consistently are “diaper”, “formula”, “feeding”, “poop”, “diaper rash” and “pee.” We can’t quite use them in a sentence, nor can we form a complete thought. It’s a new feeling to string together broken phrases in my head. When they come out as words, I sound like half my brain was removed. I will say things like “when she eat last?” and “diaper? How bad?” Tom will respond similarly with “uh 4:30.” and “bad. Poop all over. Through outfit. Had to change.”

But, in spite of the fact that we sound like cartoon cave-dwellers speaking English for the first time, I’m happy. I’m in love. And I am dog-tired. Someone, for the love of God, bring me a white chocolate mocha with no whipped cream. Thankyouverymuch.

Straight Talk

I had my six-week appointment with my primary care physician on Tuesday. This is the guy who I switched away from for all my prenatal care because I didn’t want a dude looking at my lady parts. He also coincidentally delivered my baby because my OB didn’t do deliveries. I was cool with that because I figured I wouldn’t care who caught the baby as long as the baby came out. He also spent some time down there taking care of the business that is childbirth after the baby comes out. He saw the lady parts at the absolute worst they could possibly be seen and was polite enough to never speak of it. So, I saw him on Tuesday for my lady parts’ checkup.

(I know my dad reads this and I’m very sorry, Dad, but you might want to skip this paragraph.) My breasts used to be amazing. Perfect. The stuff of legends. Perky, firm, full, gorgeous. They are no longer. My doctor examined them for cancer, as per the usual when you go in for your lady parts exam, and I kind of felt bad for him that they were no longer of their former glory. No embarrassment. I didn’t say that to him, though. That’s just creepy. Then he looked at the land down under (once called the promised land, but no longer) and I gave not one crap. No shame. None.

(Ok, Dad, this is probably safe now.) They tell you that after childbirth, you will have no shame. I agree completely. I am so not satisfied with my body anymore (working on fixing that!) and at the same time I do not care who sees it. I had a friend coming over early after the baby and I was trying to pump before she got there. Seeing as how she was always late, I figured I had time. Nope. Halfway through she knocked on my door. I considered for a moment just continuing to pump when she walked in and decided that would probably make HER too uncomfortable. So I covered myself up. I was never really one for a whole lot of modesty before. One could not accuse me of having a moderated ego. But now it’s like, who cares?!?!?!!? Not me, not the doctor, not the nurse. No one.

(Dad, skip this part, too.) Speaking of nurses, when I had to go to the restroom for the first time post-baby, my nurse followed me in. I sat down on the toilet and while I relieved myself, she sprayed me down there with warm water. And it took awhile. A loooooooong while. And I stood up and looked down and thought of the ending of the movie Carrie. Or, you know, the elevator doors opening in The Shining. Whatever. The nurse saw that, too. The night before that, I had nurses “checking me” every few hours. The promised land had been conquered and became the land down under around the second or third time some woman did that to me. I’ll never forgive her for the pain she caused. Seriously, I’m traumatized! lol

(Safe from here on out, I promise!) So there it is. The dire truth about how childbirth robbed me of any sense of decency I once had. I mean, for societal reasons I will continue to cover up. I don’t want to run around getting arrested and stuff. But doctors? Pfft. Over it!

By the way, I’m doing very well. Healthy as a horse. I think that was the point I was going to make to wrap all this up. Yeah.

Follow Up

Last night, after submitting the previous post, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I finally had the breakdown that had been building up for a few days. Poor Tom had to stay awake with me and try to calm me down til I finally went to sleep. Then this morning, Charlotte woke up for her 7am feeding an hour early, as always. I got her out of her cradle and brought her into the bed with me and cuddled with her. She went right to sleep. When she wouldn’t sleep anymore, I took her with me into the kitchen to prepare her bottle. She was resting her head on my shoulder as I got the bottle into the warmer. When I changed her diaper, she looked up at me with those big blue eyes and didn’t cry or scream like she normally does. She wiggled around like she does when she’s awake but happy. When I burped her, she bobbed her head and looked up at me with those gorgeous eyes again. Then when I tried to put her down, she began crying loudly.

That’s when I realized that I am not missing out on bonding with my daughter. She knows who I am and she likes cuddling with me. She finds my presence comforting. She likes to be fed by me and to burp on me. I don’t want to say she loves me because she’s just over a month old and I find it a bit silly when people assign traits and feelings to a being who cannot express an emotion other than “I have needs which need tending to.” But I feel loved by her. Maybe I’m missing out on an important bonding experience. And maybe I’m not the best mother I could be. But Charlotte recognizes me and responds to me when I try to comfort her. I’ve spent hours in the rocking chair, singing to her to help her go to sleep. I’ve snuggled with her so she wouldn’t cry when I put her in her swing or cradle. I’ve gotten to know her and I love her to pieces. And that makes me feel like I’m doing something right.



Struggles with Motherhood

Due to latching issues and milk supply not being enough, I have given up on breastfeeding. Sometimes I don’t care, but other times, like right now, I feel like a failure as a mother. I mean, this is supposed to be a natural thing. People talk about it like it’s no big deal. But I just couldn’t get my supply high enough and Charlotte and I couldn’t seem to work it out. I was pumping to get her some breast milk, but no matter how often I pumped or how long I pumped for, it was only enough for one or two feedings. We were having to give her formula for so many of them. And pumping was painful and took so long. Plus, it’s hard to get it done when you also have to beware of the baby starting to cry and needing something. I’m struggling with the decision I made to give up on it completely. Charlotte is doing just fine, but I feel like I’m missing out on a very important experience with my daughter and that I’m depriving her of her best chance in life. (There’s just so much research that says that babies who were exclusively breastfed for six months have higher IQs, function better as adults, etc. And the medical field pushes this information at you so much to convince you to breastfeed.) I can’t shake the sadness I feel about it.

Charlotte is developing baby acne. It makes me sad because, even though she’s still a beautiful baby, it looks painful and is spreading. It lightens up and then spreads in intervals. She doesn’t seem bothered by it, but I guess my own insecurities are affecting how I react to it. I still tell her how beautiful she is. Because she is still very beautiful. I know she’s a baby and doesn’t understand what I’m saying, but to criticize her or say something that would make her feel bad about herself as a child or teenager, just seems like an awful thing to do. I want my little girl to know her Daddy and I think she’s gorgeous and that we love and support her. I hope to never say anything that puts her down.

I’m also struggling with my body. I gained a bunch of extra weight while pregnant because I pretty much ate what I wanted when I wanted to. I haven’t lost all that weight yet. My wedding band and engagement ring still don’t fit. I can’t wear my old clothes yet. My stomach used to be small with just a tiny pooch. It was cute. I used to feel self-conscious about it. But now I’m longing for the pre-pregnancy days. I still have hundreds of stretch marks all over my body that are taking their time to lighten (although they have started to do so.) And to top it all off, I’m going through a second puberty with terrible acne. I just do not feel attractive.

Tom has tried to comfort me on all these fronts. He assures me I’m not a bad mom, that Charlotte’s acne will heal up soon, and that I’m still attractive to him. But, as we all know, compliments from our loved ones basically go in one ear and out the other. They have to feel that way. Or at least they have to say they feel that way.

I love my little girl. That’s why I feel so guilty about the breastfeeding. My struggle with that is deeply personal, and I feel incredibly vulnerable admitting to it. But I also felt it was important to talk about it. So many women and so much in the media and medical field make it seem like it’s such an easy thing to do. They tell moms not to feel like failures for not being able to breastfeed, but I don’t know that I would have felt guilty if they hadn’t suggested I might. They also tell moms prior to trying to breastfeed that it’s what is best for the baby, making you feel like you’re hurting your baby when you can’t do it. I want to hide the fact that I wasn’t able to do it. I want to let people believe I’m succeeding at it so they won’t think I’m a bad mom and so I won’t have to admit that I didn’t excel at something I so desperately wanted to be able to do. And with the other things on top of it, I just feel hopeless sometimes.

I want to support other women who are going through similar things. I want to reach out and find other women who were forced by their situations to formula-feed and know that their children turned out well. I want someone to stand up and say “Breastfeeding is hard. It doesn’t come naturally to every woman.” I want other women to read this post and know that it’s tough. It’s not as simple as everyone makes it seem. And I want so badly to not be judged, to not be seen as a failure or someone who didn’t try hard enough.

I guess it’s part of our generation, with all the blogs and information so readily available, to vent about things and search for support online. It’s created something I’ve seen referred to as the “Mommy Wars”, where we all convene on the internet to bash each others’ parenting decisions and dismiss their struggles. Sometimes you find support and sometimes you just open yourself up to a bunch of people who feel superior to you and let you know it. I am so jealous of moms who can breastfeed. I read posts on my birth board about moms who love doing it, who do it for 18 months or more, who bond with their babies and connect in a way that I just can’t connect with my child. It’s still so raw for me that I’m tearing up as I write this. Apart from talking to Tom about it, this blog is actually the first time I’ve admitted to anyone else that I just can’t do it. I am so scared of people knowing, but if every woman tries to hide it like I instinctively wanted to do, then no other women like me would have the support they may want or even need.

So, maybe it sounds a bit egocentric to think that this post may reach out and help other women, but maybe it will. And if it does, then I’ve done something good. I have stepped so far outside of my comfort zone in writing this. I hope that other women don’t have to feel uncomfortable admitting to this struggle in the future and that, maybe one day, there will be at least one less battleground to fight in the Mommy Wars.

I JUST Realized…

I was looking at pictures of Charlotte and JUST realized that, oh my god, I gave birth! I have a baby! And she’s beautiful and sweet and amazing and I love her so much.

Yesterday was Tom’s first day back to work since she was born. Charlotte and I were all alone for a little over 12 hours. I was struggling at first to get her to stop crying. Then, in a last-ditch effort of desperation, I took her to the rocking chair. I rocked her and sang to her. I teared up during the verse of “Hallelujah” about pregnancy (“remember when I moved in you, and the Holy Dove was moving too, and every breath we drew was Hallelujah”). I openly cried during “Amazing Grace” because it was my Granddaddy’s favorite song. And I got to thinking about him looking down on me and being proud of me. I also thought about how my baby sleeps every night in a beautiful cradle Granddaddy bought for me to sleep in when my parents first had me.

My singing, despite my crying fits, put Charlotte to sleep. And then she wouldn’t sleep anywhere but in my arms or in my lap, til I sang to her while she was in the swing. (I also discovered, when I ran out of songs to sing to her, that just talking to her in a singing voice makes her fall asleep. I was singing “Charlotte, go to sleep. Mommy wants to take a nap. Go to sleep, little one.” And other stuff like that until she passed out.) I feel so loved. I feel like a realMommy, not just someone taking care of a baby.

I feel like I’m starting to really know her personality. I can’t articulate what she’s like, but I know her and I love her so much. And I love watching Tom with her. Especially after I have done 6 of the 8 daily feedings, changed about 10 diapers, dealt with about 8 crying fits, and missed out on about 2 hours of sleep in the morning. But she sleeps on his chest, makes adorable faces at him, wiggles, and generally feels completely at ease with him.

Tom said it best when he said we’ve made an irreversible decision. He was a bit shocked by all the changes in our lives (I tried to warn him, he didn’t believe me) but we’re just so happy. Sleep-deprived, cranky, and moving a little slower (except when we hear Charlotte crying), but happy.

Right now I’m watching her spit out her pacifier, wave her arms in the air, yawn, and toss her head around like the little spaz she is. Oh, and listening to the toots. Oh, the toots. I’m of course awaiting the inevitable crying fit… and there it goes. Gotta run!

Baby Effects

Me to Tom regarding naive hope: That’s a unicorn. Kill that unicorn. It’s not a mockingbird, it’s not a sin to kill it… you don’t believe in that Harry Potter s#^% anyway!

While watching Return of the King last night…
Tom: I wonder what goes on in the Dead City.
Me: I heard it’s kind of a ghost town.
Tom: -__-
Tom: They’re not a very lively bunch.
Me: Whatever, my joke was better.

Charlotte gets this face like a sleepy little old man when we’re trying to burp her. Tom and I have begun to call her “little Norman” when she makes that face. Get it? Because Norman is an old man’s name? Ok, we’re not that funny.

Last night we got some pretty consistent sleep. Our brains are almost to normal again. We’re finally figuring out how to interpret Charlotte’s cries and how to calm her down. She has a favorite blanket, a favorite pacifier, doesn’t mind dirty diapers, prefers to have a pillow under her head to sleep, and sometimes likes to sleep in our bed next to us first thing in the morning. We’ve got her on a 3-hour feeding schedule. She hates baths and diaper changes. She makes the cutest faces when she’s pooping her diaper.

I spent a few hours writing in her baby book the other day. I spent an hour cleaning out and reorganizing my closet earlier today. We have all this time because we work together as a team. I enjoy the amount of help Tom provides. But he goes back to work next week and I’ll have three whole 12-hour days without any help all in a row. And I’ve agreed to do all the 4am feedings the mornings he has to work. That is a feeding at 4am, 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, and 7pm all by myself. All the diaper changes in between. And trying to calm her down all by myself. I’m particularly talented at calming her down, except when my beloved husband is trying to sleep in at 7am.

Next Monday and Tuesday, for that week and the week after, I go back to work. I have the rest of the week off to take care of the baby while Tom works. We’re looking into daycare centers (found a few affordable ones!) and it breaks my heart to think of someone else taking care of my sweet baby girl. A pain every working mother feels when she leaves her child for someone else to take care of. But my income is higher than the cost of daycare and we need it to pay our bills. I love her so much, it hurts physically to think of someone else cuddling her and calming her down. Thankfully, as Tom reminds me, it’s only two or three days per week and I’ll get to be with her during every lunch when he’s not at work.

I love this little girl so much more than I can explain. And I love Tom just as much. We’re getting a chance to play like we used to before we had to be careful of my tummy. We’re getting time to bond with our little girl and give our own relationship time to adjust to the changes a newborn brings. And while it hasn’t been an entirely smooth road, I’m sitting here listening to him singing to our daughter. He alternates between singing “Sober” by Tool, “Black” by Pearl Jam, “Real World” by Matchbox 20, and various Disney songs. Sigh. He’s ridiculous and I love him. Plus, Charlotte is sleeping in his arms, which is most important for our sanity.

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