Useful Items for Pregnant Women

It has been nearly a year since I gave birth to C. Before I fully forget the, ahem, “beauty” of pregnancy (I’ll forget everything at year one, right?), I thought I’d note a few items I wished I had during pregnancy.

WARNING: some of these wishes include gnomes.

  1. Gel-like pads that conformed to my hips for sleeping. I had incredible round ligament pain and excruciating hip pain. Ideally these pads would keep cool throughout the night.
  2. A friendly gnome to put on my socks. It’s hard to bend when really pregnant. I was lucky that my husband cut my toenails for me.
  3. Self-administrating Preparation H. A gnome is not needed for this. I won’t go into the description of why this is needed.
  4. A friendly gnome to carry around my belly. It was heavy.
  5. A water retention water-removal sucking devise. I retained so much water when my husband would massage my feet at night his fingerprints remained on my feet. I remember during labor looking at my feet and saying “there are my ankles!” I hadn’t seen them in a few months due to belly placement and enough water to fill a kiddy pool.
  6. Speaking of water, I was incredibly thirsty. I could have used one of those dentist-like water pics at all times, especially when I woke up in the middle of the night, thirstier than ever.
  7. A Flowbee-like device for curly hair. My hair volume more than doubled. And it became four different textures. It was intense. Then it all fell out.

I’d love to hear from you. What did you wish you had during your 40ish weeks of incubation?

– MD

I am Not Buying Sophie

Everyone recommends Sophie – the moms at the moms group, friends on Facebook, Mothering Magazine and even a male friend that recently became a dad inquired, “do you have Sophie yet?” Apparently green parents, progressive parents, attachment theory parents, parents against too much baby consumerism and all other groups of good parents swear by this toy.

The World-Saving Sophie.

The World-Saving Sophie.

If you haven’t heard of Sophie yet, she is the perfect toy. She is made of all natural ingredients, free of everything bad, even things that have only been known to cause harm in the state of California. She is hand painted with the world’s safest baby food paint by fair trade workers who are part of a work cooperative, a labor union, and have a micro-loan program. Parents concerned about BPA, lead, or unfair labor practices can buy her worry-free.

But the real reason you should buy Sophie is because she is perfect for all aspects of your little babe’s development. She is the best toy for teething and grabbing. Her colors are best for your baby’s eyes and her squeak will make your baby learn cause and effect and other scientific principles before the age of 6 months. Further, the good parents have told me Sophie is perfect for healthy social and emotional skills development not to mention fine motor, gross motor, and your baby’s spiritual needs. Without Sophie my baby may not meet developmental milestones, may suffer stress disorders and will definitely fail kindergarten.

When I was pregnant I had a lot of ideas and even some ideals – cloth diapering, homemade wipes, organic cotton clothes, co-sleeping, no pacifiers and that I couldn’t wait to get Sophie. Turns out I hate doing laundry, homemade wipes aren’t that economical, organic cotton clothes are expensive, my adorable baby snores like an old man and I can’t get enough of the pacifier. I am not the mom I planned to be.

As far as I can tell, despite all the advice to the contrary, Sophie is a $22 rubber squeaky toy and I am not buying one.

– ACK

Target Zombies

About three days into motherhood, I started to get a bit antsy. I needed to get out of the house.

It would be my maiden voyage with the little man. Of course, I made it a practical one.

You see, the miniature-sized baby care products that the hospital provided were running low and I had to stock-up. A&D ointment. Alcohol swabs. And some itty bitty t-shirts. No one told me I couldn’t use the onesies until the umbilical stump fell off. For the past nine months, all I heard was “you can’t have too many onesies, you can’t have too many onesies.” A lot of good they’re doing me now. Thanks for the advice.

I decided we’d take a trip to Target.

So I packed up the diaper bag, bundled-up the little guy with about eighteen layers, strapped him in his car seat/carrier and hit the road.

After a hyper-cautious drive that took what seemed like an eternity (you know, first time driving with a kid in the car and all), the big red ball was in sight. As I pulled-in, the place seemed almost desolate. There were only about 20 cars in the lot. As a regular old working girl, I usually did my Target shopping on the weekend, along with what I thought was the rest of the city. It was 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday. Totally different scene. I was about to embark on a new adventure.

I was thrilled to get front-row parking, but there was an eerie tone about the whole thing. When I walked through the giant sliding doors, things really got weird.

It was quiet. Too quiet. And yes, empty. It wasn’t until I got to the accessory department that I saw the first living thing. And I’m using the word “living” quite loosely here. It was a fellow mom with a newborn. She had a car seat/carrier perched on the cart just like mine (YAY…I did it right). But she looked so…aimless. Staring at a hideous handbag for the entire 30 seconds it took me to walk by. How could it possibly take her that long to contemplate its ugliness? Was she okay? Was she breathing?

A few aisles down was another woman with car seat/carrier on her cart. This one had the added bonus of a toddler. “Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy.” The woman moved forward very slowly with a vacant stare that was framed by her stringy hair. I don’t even think she could hear her little boy.

As I made my way to the baby department, I noticed an undeniable trend. Save for a few retired types, Tuesday morning Target shoppers were Moms. All moms. Mostly moms of newborns. All buying sundries and a brief escape from the confines of home. Moms with their carriers perched on their carts.

A warm feeling rushed over me. I felt like I was part of a club that I never even knew existed. And I felt kind of excited. Maybe even a proud. I was a mom. This is where I belong.

But these women…would it kill them to run a comb through their hair before they left the house? And hey, maybe even wash it now and again? And when did pajama bottoms become appropriate outerwear? Sheesh. Ratted, tattered and clearly torn, they all looked and acted like zombies. Target zombies.

Maybe I didn’t want to be part of this club after all.

I picked up my supplies, checked out and was pleased that my little man slept silently through the ordeal (more than I can say for a lot of the other kids that were there). Turns out I didn’t need the four diapers, change of clothes, pacifier and umpteen million other things I packed in the diaper bag. Nonetheless, it seemed as though our maiden voyage was a success.

When I got home, I left the little man in his carrier as to not disturb his slumber. I went to the bathroom and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I gasped at the horror of what I saw. I suddenly remembered I hadn’t showered that day. Or maybe even yesterday. Wait…did I shower yesterday? I most certainly hadn’t combed my hair. My teeth felt like they had sweaters on them. And my maternity yoga pants (which looked so cute with my 8 month baby belly) looked an awful lot like pajama bottoms hanging off my rubbery, flubbery middle section.

Oh God.

The realization hit me like the ton of onesies. I was one of them. Whether I liked it or not I was a part of the club. I even had the uniform down pat. I was a Target zombie.

Oh…and I forgot the A&D. And the itty bitty t-shirts.

– ES

A Spin on the Sixth Sin

I am not a small-chested woman, but nearly one year ago and for a quarter of a year, I had boob envy. You could have been small chested, busty or anything in between, but if you had a certain type of boobs, I was envious, maybe even jealous.

What type of boobs? Your boobs had to be irresistible to your baby.

After C was born she decided that she didn’t like nursing. Some claim it was the 44-hour labor. Some claim it was my anatomy. Some claim it was her personality. But after five lactation consultants manipulating my chest in various positions and oodles of tears, C still wouldn’t nurse.

After only one day, she was losing weight faster than the doctors wanted. Her heart was beating irregularly. She would scream or fall asleep when placed on my chest. Again, they claimed it could have been the long labor. Her doctor decided that if she didn’t learn to eat in four hours we would need to give her “supplements,” their euphemism for formula. I cried.

Four hours passed. The nurse came in with the formula. I cried. We put the bottle in C’s mouth and she downed it like a barracuda. She was hooked. But placed against me, she refused to nurse. But she gained weight and her heart beat normalized.

“This is only temporary,” crooned the nurses and lactation consultants. “It’s a confidence game,” they said.

I turned down visitors because I was trying to get C to eat. I cried. I cried sitting in the shower on the plastic bench. I cried great, large sobs because I couldn’t feed my baby.

By the time we got home we had hired a lactation consultant. The best in town. She came over for home visits and my husband and I would absorb every tidbit she gave us. We even tried the siphon system, my husband standing over me, one bottle of formula in one hand, a thin line of tubing running into C’s mouth while we tried to get her to nurse. She screamed. She fell asleep. I cried.

I pleaded. This was not how it was supposed to happen. I had already given away my dream birth when it extended days and included minor medical intervention. We sat with our birthing class and watched videos of newborns rooting on their mother’s chest, latching on and sucking happily away. We had hired a doula. I was planning on nursing for a year. I dreamed of my husband bringing our baby to my work while he took his paternity leave, so I could happily nurse her over my lunch hour.

One day after we came home we found ourselves back in the hospital for C to spend 24 hours in a light box to cure her jaundice. I took her out every 2 hours to try and nurse. She cried. I cried, looking at her through the box.

On a last resort, I tried the 24-hour cure recommended by my lactation consultant. I stayed in bed with C, with her on my chest, for 24 hours. She nursed 4 times, but I cried all day. My friend L came over and sat with me as I cried. I begged. I pleaded. I asked her to pray for C to nurse while she was traveling to various religious places in India. She got me out of bed. C never nursed that many times again.

All the while, I was determined to provide only mother’s milk for C, so I started pumping every two hours, night and day. The alarm would go off at 2, 4, 6, 8 and I would pump C’s meal for my husband to feed to her.

One friend recommended a great site, MOBI. I cried while reading it. Finally, women like me!

I begged. I pleaded. Maybe C would only want to comfort nurse. I could do that! She decided she didn’t like it. She screamed. She fell asleep. I pumped and I cried.

Meanwhile, friends were having babies. And they were nursing, sometimes with problems along the way, but their days were never divided by running home every 2 hours to hook themselves up to a pump. They happily went to coffee shops, ran errands and chatted away while I was begging and pleading for my baby to nurse. And I cried.

Then, one day, after countless tears, I made a bargain with myself. I got help. I got help to help my family. I wanted to be able to enjoy my time with C instead of begging and pleading and crying with a healthy, beautiful baby in the next room.

I stopped trying. And when I stopped trying, instead of feeling like a failure, I started to feel like I was providing for her. I was providing food and comfort for her, just not in the way I had imagined.

And slowly, my tears turned to smiles. I would still see other babies happily nursing and feel a great sadness. A loss. I never had that relationship with C.

Good things came out of this. My husband and C got to bond over bottles. I was able to devour books during my various pumping sessions. I watched entire seasons of TV on DVD. I talked to friends on the phone, that whirring and sucking sound in the background.

It took months for me to move on from the sadness of C never nursing. I don’t remember when it happened, but as I got better and she grew, I realized that this was a gift. It was an extension of my jump into the unknown. It was painful. It was challenging. It was maddening. But it was.

And now, nearly one year later, here we are.

MD & C

MD & C six months ago.

– MD

LOST: GNOME QUILT. Very important to us.

Last night I suggested to my husband he take the kiddos fishing – a good daddy thing to do on a summer night so I could do the dishes in peace and take some time alone at the Grocery Store (a super big treat). On his way out, he grabs the fishing pole (Superman, complete with red fish already attached as to practice casting and not hook your brother in the face) and a blanket for the almost-one-year-old babe. But it’s not just any blanket. It’s the super awesome quilt I made for big H when he was just about one year’s old three years back. It’s nothing fancy, and it certainly won’t win any quilting awards, but it was made all from recycled stuff I found at thrift stores, and, tahdah!, all of the squares had a nice little gnome on the inside. I’ve always loved it, and it definitely holds a special place in our family. So, daddy grabs the quilt for the little A to sit on while big H is fishin’ away. Into the car, and off they go, and HOLY CRAP, all of a sudden, I realize, that the blanket is still on the top of the vehicle, never having it made its way INTO the car for the adventure.

At first I’m mad. Right? I mean, pay attention, daddy! But then I think, nah, it will be fine. He’ll feel it fly off the car, or magically, it will even still be there when he gets to the river. Not what I was thinking here – I should have just hopped into the other car and drove after them. Except, quite frankly, I didn’t WANT to chase after all of the boys. I wanted my peace.

So it should be no surprise to you that the damn thing was gone – poof – when he got home. Dear Husband retraced all of his tire tracks on his bike, but to no avail. The gnome blanket was Gone. 

First – feelings of Anger. Must be dear Husband’s fault. Carelessness! But it’s not really his fault. He didn’t Mean to do it. I can’t be mad at him, he’s sad, too. And it’s not like I haven’t ever left anything on top of the car and driven off (but we won’t go there).

Then, second – feelings of Disgust at myself. Can’t hold it together these days, so much going on, kids this, work that, blah blah blah, we’re all falling apart at the seams and no online tracking manager can keep all of it and my unruly children and all of my shit together. Nothing. Can’t do it. I make a terrible mother.

And then all I can think about is that damn quilt.

Well, not about the quilt, completely. It’s about everything that was going on when I made that quilt. H was, sorry to say it, the baby from hell. He never slept, and when he was awake, all I did (and, really, everyone around me) was wish that the damn kid would go back to bed. Never happy, always on the verge of crying, whining, crabby crabby crabby. Maybe he’s hungry, maybe he’s tired, maybe he has some sort of sensory disorder. Maybe he’s thirsty, maybe he needed a longer nap, maybe maybe maybe. But never anything Firm because it never ended. Sure, we had some happy times. I remember those, too, but really, in my mind H will always be the kid that sent me over the edge, That made me nuts. That made me wish I wasn’t a mother, and that made me think that clearly I was NOT cut out to be this or any kids’ parent because real parents don’t want to send their kid through the window.  Real mothers don’t want to escape their baby. Real mothers want to share pictures of their cute baby with everyone that they know and exclaim all of the joys of motherhood despite the sleep deprivation.

But then came that quilt. When H finally got close to being one, the happy times started outweighing the hard, rough times. Or maybe I was just learning how to make it happen, how to be his mom. And, the light – the light was having time to myself (well, just a little). And I wanted to make H a quilt.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m no quilter. And this certainly isn’t anything that’s going to win a blue ribbon at the fair. But it’s messy, it’s crazy, it’s funny, it’s done in my own way, no book followed; just a tip or two taken to heart. It was a labor of love for that crazy little H. I guess in some way it was my way of showing him that we’d figure it out together. And if we had to do it his way, well, I guess I’d go too.

So, now, that quilt was gone.

All day, I thought about it. I thought about where I’ve been since then, and what I’ve learned. I noticed that we’re going through a similar time now – a time where I feel like I can’t make it work for this kid. But we wake up every day, struggle, and move forward. And we laugh. H will always just be – well, H. He’s the kid that takes everything one step closer to the edge. But that also means he takes the funny things one step closer to falling off the couch in laughter. And he takes his hugs and his love for me one step closer to infinity. And he had to be that baby. And I had to be that mother.

Humanity was restored this evening when I got home from work. I had plastered the street in signs “LOST: GNOME QUILT. Very important to us. Ellen” and someone found it, and despite the cute gnomes, was willing to return it. H and A and I walked to their house in the rain (it was warm, after all) and H wanted to try out his new rain boots and broken Spiderman umbrella. We got to their house, and H grabbed the quilt and hugged it tight, and then immediately poked his head in their house, and said “hey, you got any toys in here?”

I laughed.

– EC

H&M(om)

H&M(om)

Great. Another mommy blogger.

This idea has been rattling in my mind for a while. Like all people, I have a story to tell. And like many, I didn’t know how to get it out.

I’m finally getting the mental scraps of paper onto real scraps of paper and onto the screen. It’s a creation of stories – of all moms I know and their first years of motherhood. What made them laugh and what made them cry.

There are magical moments of becoming a mom that are beyond words. There is no accurate poem, song or language that can express the joys of motherhood, but there are many. Conversely, there are few poems, songs or language that expresses the sadness of motherhood and I wanted to create a forum for both.

I’ve most recently been inspired by Heather B. Armstrong’s new book, It Sucked and Then I Cried. For those who regularly read her fantastic blog, dooce, you have followed her honest chronicles of being pregnant, giving birth and suffering through postpartum depression. Do Heather a favor and buy the book. I don’t know her, but she seems like good people. Penelope Trunk also chronicles with candor about her own battle with postpartum depression.

So stay tuned. I’m gathering stories from friends about their first smiles and their first tears from the first year of their baby’s life. We want you along for the ride.

 – MD