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You can go and love yourself

Today’s daily affirmation was, “I love and respect myself.” Though I have no idea how I got daily affirmation alerts on my phone, I’m glad I did. It’s actually inspired a few days of reflection, today being no exception. As I repeated that phrase to myself, it wasn’t because I’m going through a period of self-loathing, but rather because I was trying to figure out what that meant. How can I love and respect myself? What does that look like?

If you’re a gal with some extra time on your hands or someone to watch your life-barnacles, the first thing that pops into your mind would undoubtedly be self-care, pampering, shopping. But, I don’t have that much free time, and I’m trying to be a bit more conscious of how and where I spend my money since we’re in the US for an extended time and expecting another baby, so my options when it comes to indulgent self-care are a bit limited, thus forcing me to really think about how – right here, right now – I can love and respect myself.

Here’s what I came up with today: I loved myself by grocery shopping for the week so I don’t get take-out and feel like a bad mom with indigestion. I respected myself by taking some time this morning before the house woke up and doing some reflection on how I wanted the day to look, as well some time to meditate on what the month of Ramadan means to me and how I want to celebrate and honor it, for both me and Adam. I loved myself by getting enough protein, drinking enough water, nourishing my body – and the baby that it’s growing – ensuring that even after a day spent chasing a toddler, I feel great. On the other hand, I respected myself by laying down with Adam while he napped and basked in his sweetly sour “boy” smell while I drifted off to sleep for 20 minutes.

I realized that sometimes loving and respecting ourselves looks like getting adult things done in a timely fashion, or making and keeping appointments that we’d rather not, or holding down a full-time job that we are less-than-enthusiastic about to make sure our families are fed and well-taken care of.

I’m not sure if loving and respecting myself will look the same tomorrow; I have big-girl errands to run that involve government offices with the monkey (pray for me!), but I do know that whatever I do will be done with the same intention and presence that I had today.

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Dirty ears, happy heart

It’s been a whirlwind of a time here in the States. So much so that the two months we’ve been here have practically flown by (unless I’m sitting thinking of how much I miss hubby and our home, and then the time crawls excruciatingly slow…). A is enjoying his time playing outside in the dirt, and I’m enjoying watching him, and rinsing it off at the end of the night and inhaling his sweet, fresh smell as we jump into bed.

Letting go and letting him run wild is a good reminder for many things in life; sh*t happens but most everything can be managed, either through re-planning, meditating, prayer – whatever you’re into – as long as you have someone in your corner to cheer you on and hold you up when it gets a bit too overwhelming. Everything can be washed off at the end of the day, and while the dirt, sweat, and ickies swirl down the drain, the memories and happiness remain in our hearts, remind us we’re alive, and what’s important in this life.

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To medicate or not?

When planning for the future, we weigh the pros and cons carefully, as objectively as possible, while paying great attention to all the possibilities. Some of us are naturally optimistic, while others tend to see things more on the negative side, coloring things in one way or another each step we take. With birth, however, I’d be willing to bet that many women are pretty pessimistic right off the bat.

From the way that the media portrays birth to the horror stories our friends and family share, it’s not hard to see why most women are petrified of what labor and delivery will bring and why they choose to plan every last detail before and after baby’s arrival, glossing right over what will happen during those crucial hours when baby is actually working his or her way out into the big, bright world. I was one of those moms, and let me be the first to tell you – that ain’t a good strategy, mama, because ready or not, labor is coming and you NEED to be ready.

Arming yourself with information while remaining flexible is essential when considering your birth preferences. Note that I don’t use the term birth plan because I don’t believe you can plan your birth, nor can you expect everything to go as planned. Through this series of posts, I hope to shed some light on the most common issues and decisions that will pop up during labor and delivery, while pointing you in the right direction informationally. Remember, mama, if you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.

Today’s topic is whether or not you’d like to medicate during labor. Since I’m a bit late in posting (the link was supposed to be live at the same time as my insta post over at http://www.instagram.com/mamafilbirth), I’ll just post the links below for you to browse, which you most definitely should!

ACOG’s info on pain-relief during labor and a breakdown of the kinds of drugs available

NPR’s awesome and simple breakdown of Pitocin and epidurals and why you may – or may not – want them

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Thursday Thoughts

I know, I know. I’m inconsistent with Thursday’s thoughts and should just stop the whole thing altogether. But I can’t. I really love the idea and have so many thoughts throughout the week that could never actually form their own blog post, so this is the perfect way to share them. Thanks for bearing with me!

Nursery rhymes:

I’m not sure how many of my readers have or have had small children that listen to nursery rhymes, but after the last 12 months of frequently visiting the Little Baby Bum YouTube channel, I’ve got some concerns. First, is the old man OK? He bumped his head last night and no one is concerned that he has a concussion and needs to be seen by a medical professional, especially given his age? I think his subsequent lack of control in eating until his clothes don’t fit and PROVOKING BEES should also be taken into account (though, I totally feel him on the eating thing, tbh).

Also, why has this mom not been reported to a government agency for neglect? Like, I totally understand that shit happens, but after the 2nd monkey falling off the bed because they were recklessly jumping, it makes me wonder if Mama is watching them at all or just doing her own thing.

Collaboration:

This is by far the quickest and most organic way to expand your client base and social media reach. But, are people really all they’re cracked up to be? I’ve seen a lot of collabs lately where the narcissism is just dripping off of every word they say, especially the ‘thank yous’ they give for how others have helped them. Times are tough, Y’all, I get that. We’re all trying to make it, we’re all trying to get our hustle in and make it work. But I can’t help but feel… slimy when it sounds like I’m promoting myself a little too much. And, hey, that may be my problem! Maybe shameless self-promotion is what works in today’s society. I do think it’s a bit gross when people are so interested in showing others what they can do – or even funnier what they want to do, “I’ll start starting to start doing this soon…” – than what they have to offer others.

What’s your take on this?

Netflix must-see:

We just finished the limited series “Godless” and oooooooomahgoodness it was amazing. Lady Mary was a heartless, man-eating goddess just like in Downton, but she really needs to work on adding some inflection to her American accent.

Samsung’s Multi-tab function:

This feature was definitely created by a parent who was bored to death of having to watch another episode on the Little Baby Bum channel and thought, “hm, wouldn’t it be cool if the baby could watch this and I could do something productive like scroll mindlessly through Facebook?”

Life, mamahood, Uncategorized

Let’s stop the ‘shushing’

Last week I wrote about not being able to form, let alone speak in, complete sentences since become a mom. Mainly, my brain is fried from having to keep mental tabs on another human 24 hours a day, and I’m generally pretty exhausted by the emotional and physical labor that goes into motherhood. Most moms can relate. Having a kid that looks and acts like you is (mostly) great, but there’s just something about it that sucks the life out of you and makes you really excited for bedtime, theirs and yours. And, while these topics often come up in conversations with a laugh and a stifled sob amongst moms, we rarely get into the nitty-gritty of how moms’ brains can change and how hard – and scary – those changes can be.

We joke about not having time for our husbands or being touched out after having the baby on top of us all day and night, but rarely ever talk about how painful it is to see our dejected spouse shrink back onto the couch after realizing that we really, like really, can’t stand to be touched. How we want to scream, “I want you too but I don’t have the mental energy and I’ve had a toddler attached to my boob and hip all day and the thought of anything entering my personal space right now infuriates me!” How much we wish we could shake the layers of exhaustion off and be fresh and welcoming for them, but that requires a hot shower and a major offloading of feelings about how the day went, and we still have to do the dishes and put the leftovers away and then before we know it, the baby’s awake again, frantically looking for the boob, banishing you back to the bed with him when all you really wanted was that hot shower…

Another thing that I rarely get out of my mouth before I’m being shushed and told not to think such things are the awful thoughts that pop up randomly throughout the day. If you’re a mom, you know what I mean. Sometimes, when the baby is playing, I imagine him moving the wrong way, and the TV falling on top of him, or his head smashing into the hard tile. I see it in my head; the blood, the bones sticking out, I hear the crying, the gasping for air. I still wake up in the middle of the night, my heart pounding in my ears – if only for a second – and check if he’s breathing, especially when I haven’t been woken up in more than 2 hours. One night – and the only night – when A slept 5 hours, I woke my husband up in a panic and insisted on waking the baby, too, just in case he was breathing but there was something wrong. Sometimes when I leave him with someone else so I can go to the bathroom or if we need to make an emergency shwarma run (yes, there is such a thing!), I imagine the person dropping dead and A crying until we come back, traumatized for life by what his little mind saw. Or what if they hurt him, or kidnap him, or let someone else hurt him?

My body physically reacts when he falls, when he cries, when he’s not feeling well. This is how we were designed, this is what connects us to our babies, even though they can be autocratic jerks most of the time. The thoughts that come and go, the visceral reactions to our baby’s discomfort are uncontrollable, and just because they’re ridiculous doesn’t make them any less scary. The constant stream of what-ifs can really take a toll, and – I should actually consider myself one of the lucky ones. Some mamas who struggle with these thoughts can’t actually see reason and find themselves consumed with horrible images, and unable to function. Their fears of the unreasonable grip them by the throat, leave them crying on the bathroom floor, and make momming even harder than it already is. It can be compounded by pre-existing health conditions, Postpartum Depression or Anxiety, lack of support in their journey through mamahood, or just a Type A personality that is having a hard time adjusting to the chaotic, sleep-deprived nature of being a mom and can’t compare to the perfectly curated shots she sees on her Instagram feed.

I’m not sure why as a society who’s so connected by this thing called motherhood refuses to talk about the ugly sides. I find it comforting to know that another woman is going through the same things I am; it takes the edge of the craziness that I see when I look in the mirror. I also think it’s important for those moms who may not have control over those thoughts to know that they’re not alone!

So next time your mom friend wants to talk about the uncomfortable side of this new life, try comforting her in a different way. Instead of telling her that it will all be OK, and not to think so negatively (I get this one a lot…), tell her that you too have those thoughts, feelings, crazy-lady moments, and thank her for being brave enough to share it with you.

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Thursday Thoughts

So I’m getting more regular with these! Who knows… in a couple of months I may have the brainpower to make them weekly occurrences!

Nighttime parenting: If you’re not familiar with this term you either, a.) don’t have kids or b.) aren’t familiar with Dr. Sears. He and his philosophies aren’t for everyone, but they work for me and fit nicely in line with how I would like to parent my kids. As with most things in life, you take what you can use and leave the rest. A sleeps in bed with us, which was much more of a survival tactic than conscious parenting choice, but here we are. Most nights I love having him snuggled close. But last night, ya, last night, not so much. Instead of snuggling, think suffocating. He squirmed and screamed and squealed and even woke and sat up a couple of times to have a conversation with me. I turned my back away from him several times trying to compose myself (and close. my. eyes.) but he just kept climbing on me, screaming, squealing, insisting on being latched on the whole. damn. night. So, ya, nighttime parenting isn’t always fun and, although I understand that my child has needs that need to be met during the night too, it’s really hard to reason with myself at 3 am when the boobie barnacle just won’t quit.

Awkward WhatsApp convos: I think there are generally two kinds of people – those who use emojis and those who don’t. You may be thinking, “well, that’s not true because sometimes I don’t use emojis, but sometimes I do,” and to that, I would answer – you’re definitely in the former camp. Why? Well, because you do use emojis, but you just choose not to in some situations, for whatever reason. I’m constantly afraid of being seen as rude (even when I’m totally being rude #hellopassiveagression) so I use emojis fairly regularly. In fact, if you’re having a convo with me and I’m not using emojis, I totally don’t want to be talking to you. Then there are people – usually older generations, like my grandparents – who just don’t use them, EVER. These people you can have lovely convos with because you know even when it sounds like they’re being totally snarky, you assume they don’t have a serious face on and it’s just lost in the land of emotional translation between what’s typed and what’s meant. And talking to those people who I know do use emojis yet they don’t even give me a monkey covering his eyes is just awkward and makes me super uncomfortable. Anyone else?

Social events – We have another one tonight and I’m so looking forward to being in a big enough group of people that I can look scroll my Instagram feed while someone else chases A around. Kidding, kind of…

Have a great weekend, y’all

Life, Uncategorized

Chronicles of a hair-brained mommy brain

I used to think that going out with a 4-month-old was tough, and then my son started walking. While it’s a lot of fun to chase him around restaurants while he squeals and points at other customers and tries to steal everyone’s cell phone off of their tables (read: NOT FUN AT ALL, GUYS!), I also realize that we can’t just stay in the house until he’s learned to behave. So, a couple of times a week, we gather our strength and leave the house. Usually I like to wait until my husband is home so I can zone out with my ice cream cone and just watch him chase A around, but I do have friends and they do invite me out and it’s hard to say no more than 14 times in a row, so eventually I end up going out with A by myself.

Now, I will say that I have amazing friends. They all have – or have been around – kids enough to understand that going out with my will be chaotic. And, really, I don’t deserve such gems of friends because I wasn’t nearly as great as them when I was single and childless. I was kind of an asshole and didn’t want to deal with screaming kids so I always avoided going out with my mom friends (I’m sorry, ladies, please forgive me!!!) But, aside from having great friends, you really need to have a lot of stamina, not just to chase to your screaming child while he makes a beeline for the stairs, leaving a trail of crumbs in his wake, but also to remember what you were saying 3 seconds before you started chasing him.

Seriously, having a continuous stream of conscious thought it hard enough with a toddler, so making sense of those thoughts and translating them into a coherent, grown-up conversation is damn near impossible. I would say I feel dumb most of the time but I don’t even think I get enough time to myself for that thought to cross my mind before I’m off chasing A again.

To top things off, just when he naps and I plan to sit down to do something productive, I have to clean up 37 messes and put away 467 things before I get the chance, by which time the cat or just the sound of oxygen moving around has definitely woken up my child and he’s either, a.) happily awake and ready to make 532 new messes, or b.) he’s screaming for the boob and I’m banished to lie beside him, going over my to-do list so that I won’t forget, ultimately falling asleep from mental exhaustion.

So, my point is that if you ever feel like having 76 incomplete conversations and watching me run around after a little terrorist all morning, apologizing repeatedly for the way he’s thrashing your house, hit me up!

Life, Uncategorized

New-old spaces

In a fit of restlessness, I moved all the furniture in the house around yesterday, thinking it would give me some inspiration, but something weird happened – I felt depressed. The sudden anxiety that hit me was strange, but I thought it was just due to the chaotic nature of moving things around; one step forward and 3 steps back, one thing rearranged, 3 messes to be cleaned up, especially with a toddler in tow. But as I was cleaning and reorganized, I realized that the reason I for the anxiety and melancholy wasn’t because of the cleaning I had ahead of me, it was for something that was already behind me.

Postpartum depression was something that I wasn’t going to let happen to me. I had read all about it, knew the supplements that made it less likely, had plenty of help around the house so I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed, and had a pretty good handle on dealing with depression due to several bouts with it previously. And then the baby came. Everything was spinning out of control. I was healthy, he was healthy, my husband was happy, everyone was congratulating us, but there was only one problem: I was miserable. Not only was I miserable, but I was also crippled by anxiety. As soon as the sun started to set, I went into panic mode, knowing the long, lonely night that stretched ahead, full of feedings, burps, and diaper changes, all while everyone else slept. That space I was in – the dark, isolated, suffocating space – made it difficult to function let alone interact with others.

Eventually, I made it out of that hole I was in, but the imprint on my life with forever be there. When I rearranged the bedroom, I realized that I had moved the things back to the way they were immediately after my son was born, and somehow I’d moved all the negative feelings back too.

I was exhausted after I moved everything so there was no way I was going to attempt to move them again, and after waking up this morning – happy and well-rested with my energetic toddler – I’m not sure I want to. I’m a firm believer in working through things, regardless of how painful they are. I know not everyone deals with things like this, and I respect everyone’s right to handle their own issues in their own way; our differences in perspective are what make us us. But for me, today, I think I’ll sit here and enjoy as many good memories in my new-old space as possible.

Life, Uncategorized

Moms need friends, too.

I’ve always been a pretty open person, and don’t usually shy away from divulging about my personal life with friends. I mean, chances are what I’m going through at any given moment is something that you too have faced, so why not share and at least get some comfort, if not a solution? The human experience is such a fascinating one because literally billions of other people have gone through or are going through the same thing as you, yet our days are punctuated by moments of isolation and our circumstances sometimes really make us feel like nobody else would get it. Throughout the years and the stages – high school, college, whatever the hell comes after that – our circles change, and we start to see the herd of friends thinning out, yet, with the more time that passes, we start to realize that’s actually not a bad thing.

The funny thing about becoming a mom is that you’re thrust into this community of other mommies and – whether it seems like it or not – you suddenly have so much in common with women all over the world. It’s also such a weird time because you’re typically physically isolated with a tiny human staring at you 24/7 waiting for you to do something interesting or give him the boobs, which can really take a toll on your emotional state and ability to string coherent sentences together. By the time the baby is old enough to take out and you have the chance to reunite with your friends, you may find that you don’t have much in common with them anymore, especially if they don’t have kids, and sometimes even if they do. Our families take over our lives and the small differences in philosophies now become more pronounced as you’re juggling the new role of motherhood as you see fit.

So when you do find a mom friend that you share the same philosophy with, it’s really a special moment. But, just like your growing bump opened you up to unsolicited advice from complete strangers, the way you raise your kid will, strangely, always bring out peoples’ very strong reactions. Having mom friends doesn’t always mean having a support system during the times when we need it most; I’ve found that it can often mean judgmental, harsh criticism and advice during the times when we need it the least.

Look, I get that you’re doing the best you can based on what you know and that your way really is the right way. For you. But for me? Well, maybe it is, but it probably isn’t, and that doesn’t make me wrong. I find my self-doubt crippling enough most days without having to hear whether or not I’m turning my son into a spoiled brat by staying home and co-sleeping. If I were going back to work and leaving him with (gasp!) a stranger, I’m sure I would hear how awful that is from other mamas, so it just seems like a lose-lose situation in which everyone wants to flaunt how great they are at motherhood, when I’m sure that we all waver in our confidence (if you have any, to begin with).

I guess I just wish making mom friends was a little less stressful and a bit more inclusive; I breastfeed and co-sleep, so I probably won’t be able to give you advice on formula or sleep training, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grab a cup of coffee and commiserate together about all the extra laundry we have now that our babies want to feed themselves or come up with theories as to why causing us excruciating pain (especially by biting the nipples at 4 am) is the funniest thing in the world to our littles.

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Thursday Thoughts

In this week’s edition of the highly-irregular and too-infrequent-to-be-called-a-segment segment of Thursday’s thoughts:

  • I’m 30, Y’all. Well, not yet, not technically, but almost. I can see the date on my calendar whenever I look at the month of October, and I guess more than anything I’m just hyper aware of where I want to be in the next 5 years and wonder if there’s anything I could have done to be there now. I know the answer is no – mainly because the birth of my son was the catalyst for this journey I’ve found myself on – but I still can’t help but feel like everyone else has it a bit more put together than I do. But then when I talk to everyone else they’re like, “no way, I feel the same way you do, I don’t have my shit together at all,” and that doesn’t make me feel any better it just makes me then wonder who is responsible for an entire generation of people pretending like they know what they’re doing when they have no idea.

 

  • I’m also really going through it. And by it, I mean everything. Adam is teething, which I’m pretty sure is just the state of any fresh human from the age of just-born to maybe around 2 years. I actually got really lucky with him as a newborn because he was pretty easy, as long as I followed my instinct of just popping out the boob whenever he wanted it (which I did!). There have been phases that have been more challenging than others, but it seems like now-me would go back in time not to tell then-me that it gets easier, but instead that it actually gets a LOT harder so to stop crying. (Kidding. Kind of.) The hardest part about having him as a newborn was just the fact that I had never done it before, and the PPD and PPA kicked me down a notch or twenty, too. So, here we are, sleepless nights, nursing strikes, days spent with a fussy baby attached to me, wishing I would take away his pain. Another part of that ‘it’ is personal, as I am definitely in the middle of a life lesson, and I know that because it’s uncomfortable as hell. Without unpacking the whole thing here (because I wouldn’t even know where to start at the moment, honestly) I will just say that the mantra, “everybody gets what’s meant for them,” has been on repeat, and not in a psychotic, hope-karma-kicks-your-ass way.

 

  • Part of what made today easier than the last two days, even though Adam has been the exact same totally un-chill kid is that I lowered my expectations and just enjoyed the moment, even when the moment was a screaming baby who wanted to be held without being touched. Today, I wasn’t shocked when he woke up at 7 am (after sleeping at 1), and I didn’t expect him to nap as easily as he did before teething pains took over his life, so I didn’t find myself as frustrated as I’ve been when he finally did nap (8 hours later…) I think part of what can be really challenging as a new mom (and maybe as an experienced one, too) is the ideas that we have in our head, particularly the one that we can maintain some kind of similar life to what we had before kids; we can’t expect to be able to cook, clean, self-maintain, and socialize the way we used to because that’s just not practical. I find myself getting the most upset at the 2-hour go-the-F-to-bed routine when I have something else I expected to do. Instead, I try to be present and understand that the needs of my baby will change so quickly and frequently – and that they are actual needs! – and postpone whatever else I had in mind until he’s settled. It’s not necessarily being patient (because I suck at that), but more so letting go and just going with the flow.