Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Post About Boobs

***This post is going to be about boobs - and not in that fun way, dudes, so you've been fairly warned.***

Perhaps my biggest bout with mommy amnesia comes in the area of breast feeding. Because right now I actually think I missing nursing my daughter. When I got pregnant, I was on the fence about nursing. I figured I'd give it a try (because "breast is best"), but wasn't going to stress over it. I was actually excited when right after Anna was born, the nurse asked if I wanted to try breastfeeding her. Exciting until I realized that I was leading a toothless shark to what would soon be lumps of chapped and bleeding flesh. OUCH! But not one to quickly give up, I stuck with it in the hospital figuring that it would get easier eventually.

Then we went home. Any of you other moms have that "oh my, God, where is the emergency call button???" moment when you first walked into your house with your new baby? But Hubby was great, got me all set up on the couch and commenced whole-heartedly supporting me while I endeavored to feed our child at intervals that seemed inhuman at best.

Did you know that it's completely normal for some new borns to nurse, TRULY, around the clock? Anna would be up to eat, take nearly an hour to do so, sleep for 15 minutes and wake up wanting to eat again. Lather, rinse, repeat for a 12-hour cycle and you not only have one tired Mama, but you also have some EXTREMELY sore boobies.

I told the hubby, "Don't even look at them. I can feel your eyes and it HURTS! Definitely don't ever think about touching them again. EVER." Poor hubby.

Then let's consider when my milk came in. I laid down for a catnap with my normal, somewhat larger-from pregnancy breasts in place and woke up with HELLO - Size F cup chest puppies throbbing like you wouldn't believe and busting (pun INTENDED) out of my piddly little D-cup nursing bra. Hubby was somewhat happy until he saw me crying from the pain. Then he dutifully and without me even having to ask went to Target to buy me nearly every nursing product they offered in the baby section. My favorites were the icepacks to fit into my bra with holes in the middle to spare my sore and bleeding nipples. It takes a good man to unashamed go into a Target and purchase all of those products. Honey, I commend you. Not sure if you even remember doing that, but I was/am very greatful!

Plus Anna had latching problems, but you know what? Lack of sleep, soreness and frustration aside, breastfeeding took on a whole new importance to me when I had to go back to work when Anna was just 6 weeks old (let's not get me started on the archaic maternity leave policy of my previous company!). That separation was (and often still is) one of the hardest things I've ever endured. I can't explain it, but I imagine some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. It took a long time for me to accept that this tiny little person was building her own little life apart from me. But at the beginning and end of each day she and I had 30-45 minutes of quiet time together where I was forced to just sit quietly and nourish my child. And I began to live for those times. I didn't even mind the awkwardness of pumping in an office full of people who either hadn't breastfed or were men, just to hang on to those precious moments.

One last fact that I grew to accept as a result of nursing - everyone, including my pastor, has now seen the ladies. And I'm OK with that!

So I'm sold on breast feeding. I plan to do so with any/all subsequent children. Especially now that I know what to expect and that thigns do indeed get easier. I made it to 9.5 months with Anna and I'd really love to make it to a year next time. But I'm not going to stress over it. I'm just going to enjoy the closeness and bond that it builds between me and the baby.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Spreading the News

(Yes, you're getting two posts from me today - give thanks! :))

There's nothing quite as exciting as sharing the news with friends and family of your first pregnancy. In fact, I still get emotional thinking about how I told everyone in my life about what was to me, the most exciting and life altering news I've ever had to share. I found out I was pregnant with Anna on December 4th, 2007. BEST. TIME. EVER. to find out you're expecting. Know why? Because you get to tell people during the holidays!

The impending holiday season has me thinking about THE Christmas. The Christmas that has set the bar so high that I don't think any other will ever measure up for me. Let me preface this by telling you that I had great joy telling all of the people in my life that I was pregnant, but this particular incident stands out for me. Enjoy!


Finally. It's FINALLY Christmas Eve. Well, it's 7:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve. But whatever, at least it's today. I've saved some gift wrapping and cleaning specifically to keep myself busy today because I know how anxious I'm going to be to get over to Hubby's parents' house. This is the most excited I've been on a Christmas Eve since I was a little kid begging to open "just one present" before Christmas morning.

No one in Hubby's family has any idea, except for his dad of course, who was in on the surprise. Here's the deal. My mother-in-law is a family childcare provider and has run a successful business out of her home for more than 20 years. There is a waiting list for childcare at Billie's house. One need only fill out an application to get on that list. So that's what "one" did. Only we wrapped our application in a Christmas package and stuffed it under the tree with the rest of their family's gifts. The name line says "TBD Mylastname." The parents are listed as me and Hubby. And the birthdate says "On or around July 28." We addressed the package to Billie, but knowing their family, everyone will be watching as she opens it.

I spend the day cleaning, organizing, wrapping and napping, and FINALLY 6:00 pm rolls around. Hubby and I load up the car with our remaining gifts and make the 10 minute drive over to his parents' house in Milwaukee. After grabbing some Chinese food for dinner (a family tradition, which I am usually fond of, but for some reason chicken smells and tastes really bad to me today) we settle in the living room to open eachother's gifts, another family tradition that I love at the in-laws'. There is more bonding and conversation than gift opening that happens on Christmas Eve. Suffice to say, when the whole family is together, there isn't much quiet time.

In order to not arouse suspicion, we simply allowed Billie to put our extra special gift in her present pile to be opened at her leisure. But this suspense is KILLING me. And, is it hot in here? Or is it just me? I suppose it doesn't help that I'm sitting in front of the roaring fireplace. Or that I have the 75 pound golden retriever lounging on me like his own personal sofa. I had a nice cushy space on the couch picked out, but realized that it was the best vantage point for video-taping Billie's reaction to the gift so I casually mentioned how cold I was to Hubby and asked him to switch with me, winking so he'd understand that this was more for his benefit than mine.

Billie grabs another present and I crane my neck to see around the arm of the couch which gift she's grabbed off the pile. We've been at this for a while now and I'm starting to feel really anxious. Yes! She's got it! It's on her lap! I sit back and try to look casual, nonchalantly interested in what her gift might possibly be. My adrenaline is flowing now from the anticipation. I'm shaking and my face is turning red. Someone around here MUST notice something. But everyone is absorbed in their own conversations, paying a bit of attention to Billie opening her gift.

"Oh, it's really light. That reminds me..." Billie starts telling us about an encounter she had at the store earlier this week. That's it. I lean forward at stare at her, willing her to open the present faster.

Finally she reaches the inside of the box, where I have tied a red ribbon around the rolled up sheet of paper. This whole process is going in slow motion. I'm really shaking now. My eyes are tearing up with anticipated emotion from everyone else when they find out what Billie is really opening.

She slips the ribbon off of the paper and unrolls it to read. She's straight-faced and silent for a moment, and then, in the most perfectly revealing way I could have ever imagined, Billie's eyes widen, her jaw drops and her left hand flies to her face. Now everyone is paying attention.

Choruses of "What is it?!" and "What did they give you?!" ring out around the room. Her stunned silence lasts only a minute as she finally turns the sheet of paper around for everyone else to view and, with tears running down her face stammers, "It's an application for childcare. They're going to have a baby!"

"What??" one of Andy's sisters stutters out from her position on the couch.

I can't hold it in anymore. I'm crying now and getting to my feet. "I'm pregnant!" I am so excited and so happy and so nauseous and oh, my God, I'm going to be sick. No, wait, I'm OK.

There's much hugging and many happy tears. And this is Christmas. This is by far the best Christmas moment I have ever experienced. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to top this feeling of excitement, joy and love...and nausea.

We head to church as a family that night and I spend more than half of the service lying flat on my back on the floor of one of the Sunday School classrooms, praying, pleading and begging God to keep me from throwing up all that Chinese food I ate for dinner.

It's moments like those that reinforce the mommy amnesia, convincing me that the nausea, the weight-gain, the moodiness and the cankles are all worth it. And, you know what? It IS all worth it. Just to be greeted by an exuberant, yet confused little girl smiling and shouting "Daddy! Daddy!" up at me when I arrive home tonight. At least she's not shouting "Go back where you came from!"

I'm Thankful, Just Short on Time!

I know what you're thinking: "What the heck? Kerry, that ingrate - she's not even really thankful for anything. She was supposed to be posting once a day until Thanksgiving."

Yes, I WAS supposed to be posting once a day. But life has gotten in the way, as it often does. We'll just say that it counts that I've been THINKING ABOUT POSTING every day for the last week and leave it at that!

Since I know I'm not going to have time to keep up with my previously set posting schedule, please see my list of 14 things I am thankful for below (please note that these are in no particular order):

1. My Family (as previously stated in my last post)
2. Being a Mom
3. A job I sincerely love
4. Friends who not only put up with me, but also seem to kind of enjoy spending time with me :)
5. Being an organized person
6. Other Mom friends I can talk to about the joys, frustrations and questions of parenthood
7. Non-mom friends who I can cut loose and relax with
8. Opportunities hidden in seemingly bad situations* (will elaborate below)
9. Enjoying the age I am, no matter the age I am, 'til death do I part
10. Looking backward and clearly seeing the hand of God guiding my life
11. Our house, quirks and all, I REALLY love it
12. A husband who loves me in spite of the crazy (or maybe because of it?!) and who I'm fully aware I am lucky to have as my partner
13. My health and the health of the people I love - something I frequently take for granted and SHOULDN'T!
14. Chocolate (OK, I can't lie, making a list of 14 things was getting hard - though I do appreciate chocolate!)

There is one point above that I'd like to elaborate on a bit. And it sort of ties in with another point - #8 and #10. First of all, 2009 was a stressful year. A pretty challenging and bad year, if I'm being honest. I was laid off of a job I loved in January. I have a lot of opinions on this particular incident that I won't share in a public forum. I wish that company the best, but I certainly am not happy at how I was treated. Such is life. Moving on. I went through a couple of REALLY tough months after that. Suffice to say it threw me into a depression that I really didn't think I would be able to climb out of on my own. Finally after almost 6 months, things started to get better. And I realized that while I was suffering through the gloom and doom of my daily life, I had actually, inadvertently wound up in a much greener pasture. I found a job where I am appreciated, where I am able to stretch a bit, where I am trusted for the capable individual that I am. When I really thought about it, the only thing I missed from the old place (besides a few friends who I've kept in touch with) was the extra day off that I had arranged each week to spend with Anna. It was an opportunity that I NEVER would have sought out, but has in fact put me in a much better place both mentally and financially. I guess my main point here is, looking back now, I can see that even though it wasn't a path I had chosen for myself, that it was, in the end, for the best. It was an opportunity stumbled upon in what seemed like a bad situation, but has obviously become good.

Anyway, that's definitely not everything I'm thankful for, but that's all you're getting! I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving. Rest assured that I'm once again tackling my life-long goal of eating my weight in mashed potatoes this Thursday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Two Weeks of Thanksgiving

Multiple times over the last couple of days I've started writing posts that just sound downright whiny. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I need to shut my mouth when I feel like complaining and just be thankful for the MULTITUDE of great things I have in my life. Focusing on the positive is not always easy to do, but I'm going to make a go of it by posting one entry per day until Thanksgiving about the things that I am thankful for in my life.

Today's focus: My Family

I am blessed to have a supportive and loving family. Yes, we've gone through rough times, but who doesn't? I am fortunate enough to have loving parents, an awesome brother and sister, in-laws who treat me like I was born into - rather than married into - their family and three sisters- and one brother-in-law who I'm lucky to call family. That doesn't even cover my husband and child or my outstanding extended family. When I'm feeling lonely or bummed, I need to remember that there are LOTS of people who love me (even when I'm a raging crab who doesn't deserve it!).

It was a humbling moment when the hubby and I arrived home from the hospital with our new little crying, pooping, sleeping bundle of joy and realized that we were now a family. Not that we hadn't been before. But when you're a twosome, it's different. Now we are the ones saying "eat your peas, don't stick that up your nose, just WAIT til your father comes home." He and I have marveled at the fact that in a few short years, we'll have a homework-doing, attitude-having (ha! few years?!), party-attending teenager. And I am privileged enough to be wiping her hind end until those days arrive! It's an odd change going from being a kid to having a kid. REALLY makes me wonder how my mom made it look so easy with three of us!!

Anyway, to those of you who read this to whom I am related - thanks for being awesome! I'm grateful to be part of your family!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Everybody's a Critic

Between a dentist visit for Anna's chipped front tooth from her intimate moment with the floor of aisle ten at Target on Saturday and an impromptu trip to the pediatrician to get the Pig Shot for Anna this morning, I pulled up to a red light. When Anna is in the back seat, I like to flip the sun visor down and open the mirror to interact with her a little bit. She gets to get antsy in the car so this seems to help remind her that I am still paying attention to her. While we were stopped, a song by Credence Clearwater Revival came on the radio. I LOVE them. So I understandably started singing along.

At that same moment, Anna made eye contact with me in the mirror. She frowned and emphatically shook her head "No!" Surely she couldn't be telling ME no! So I kept singing. For about 5 seconds. At which point I heard an exuberant "NAH!" from the backseat (which is how Anna says "No" these days) and looked up to see her shaking her head "No" even harder than the first time, frowning in between "nah, nah!"s.

Bah. Everybody's a critic.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nothing Stops the Party like the Pediatrician

"It's a party over here, a party over there. Put your hands in the air. Shake your derriere." That's from a song, right? I'm pretty sure it's also Anna's philosophy on life. The girl is non-stop fun! Dancing, singing, performing (sometimes at inopportune times, such as during church) her, life is a good time.

Unless she's visiting the doctor.

We had Anna's 15 month well baby visit yesterday. I picked her up from daycare just as she was finishing lunch and she pulled her usual "Daddy?" as in, "You don't usually pick me up, Ma, what's the deal?" When I started putting on her shoes, she thought she had it figured out - FIELD TRIP!

She chattered away to me from the backseat all the way to the doctor's office. Probably telling me just exactly how her light pink pants had turned a strange, streaky shade of mud in just the few hours since I'd gotten her dressed for the day. I bet her excuse was a good one. I'll let it slide this time.

Even as we entered the reception area, she was still in party mode. Playing with my glasses, hiding behind her sippy cup, all was right with the world. But she became suspiciously quiet when her name was called by Mary, the nurse, and we followed her down the hall to the exam room. Fear not, that quiet was replaced by ear-shattering, blood-curdling, heart-breaking screams as she realized that I had done it again. Mean, mean mom had brought her to the one place where there is no party.

We didn't get an accurate weight because she was clinging so tight to my arms that we couldn't pry her off to put her on the scale. We couldn't get an accurate height because she was wrestling so hard to get off the table. We couldn't hear her heart, well, because nobody within a 4 block radius could hear anything but her screaming. And all the while she glared at me with a hurt and accusing look of betrayal.

The doctor told me he was impressed that someone her size could fight so hard. He said he'd never seen a 15-month-old wrestle herself away from two adults with the wiry, efficiency Anna displayed. "Thank you!" I said. I think he meant it as a complement. I hope he did. He may have just been afraid. It took me laying across her, pinning her hands above her head and the nurse pinning Anna's legs with her body to get Anna prepped for her two shots. I'm not even sure she knows she got shots. She was just SO MAD that we would even think of putting her on a paper covered table in this accursed place. No book, pacifier, animated version of Old MacDonald, funny dance from mom would make up for this at all...but wait, that Tigger sticker? Yeah, that'll do it.

Long story short, I've got a healthy kiddo who is ONE HECK OF A FIGHTER, according to the doctor. A fighter and a party animal. Yeah, that's my kid.