Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Mama Musings

I devoured the second book of Kevin Kwan's Rich Asians trilogy. While on the waitlist for a copy of the third book, I'm reading about toddlers. Max turned two a couple of months ago and has been pushing boundaries more often and throwing dramatic tantrums more than ever.

A friend of mine warned me about hitting. Max hitting me; not me hitting him. 

In the past week, the hitting and throwing things at mama began. It's playful, not malicious, but hurts just the same especially when aimed at my head. We put him in timeout when he does it. Max protests and cries but, thankfully, still stays in the corner until we call him over to explain why we was put there in the first place. No hitting. He apologizes - sorry, mama - and goes back to play only to run back towards me arms ready to throw a toy at me a few minutes later... and the cycle of timeout starts again. It's sucks for all of us.

On the other hand, Max greets us with good morning, mama/daddy with a big smile when he wakes up and is quick to give us hugs and kisses throughout the day. He can play on his own and shares toys when playing with others. A few months ago, he finally started sleeping through the night consisently (I know!) and wakes up at a reasonable hour - around 6am instead of four - these days. He's happy, healthy and super sweet. Other than the apparently normal tantrums and hitting/throwing, Max is easy and, as a result, Fraser and I are fairly hands off.

Other than putting him in timeout when he's crossed a boundary, Max runs around, dances and plays freely. Early on, we made a choice not to run to Max whenever he ran into something or lost his balance. Fraser and I would acknowledge the incident, tell Max he was okay and watch him pick himself up; obviously, we scooped him up in our arms and helped him up when he actually hurt himself a bit or was completely surprised by a run in with a wall or fall. We're not heartless. Quite the opposite really. It took a lot of self control for me not to run to Max and comfort him every single time he lost his balance or got frustrated with something, but it was important for him to learn to self-soothe. To figure out the difference between a small physical/emotional discomfort and one that needed more attention. 

Many times, Max has tripped and fallen while walking in front of me and a friend, who instinctively crouch down to help him the moment it happens while, after a quick assessment of the situation, I assure both Max and my friend that he's okay. I've been told a number of times that I'm such an easygoing mom, which I don't think is true but take as a huge compliment. It all comes down to our ultimate goal as parents: we want Max to leave.

You read that right. 

When the time comes, we want Max to leave with the knowledge that he can properly take care of himself and can always come home if he needs to. 

As a mother, I want to protect Max from everything because the world can be cruel, ugly and unforgiving. The best way for me - for us - to protect him is to give him the tools to deal with the world. To love him with all we have, teach him to appreciate people and the infinite beauty of the world while acknowledging that things will not always go his way. Yes. You are loved by many. No. You can't hit mama or throw things at her head. Yes. You have to share that. No. You are not allowed to have more than one piece of chocolate. Yes. Mama/daddy will be back.

The freedom to pursue my dreams and live my life, and my siblings are the best gifts my parents have ever and will ever give me. We are still not sure if Max will have a sibling (that's a blog  post on its own); sibling or no sibling, Max will hopefully grow up confident, in touch with his feelings, strong, compassionate and with love and respect for other people and, more importantly, himself... Yes. We love and support you. Yes. Of course, you can! Yes. Mama wants you to stay with her forever. No. You can't actually do that.  

Honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing as a mother. There are days I feel like I'm not doing enough and days when it feels like everything I'm doing revolves around him. Both are true. It's different every day. The only thing that stays the same is the desire to raise a boy into a man who will make the world better than he found it.

For now, while that boy is happily in daycare, I'm finishing a cup of coffee, writing for a bit then working out before meeting a friend. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Breastfeeding No More

Four weeks ago, I breastfed Max for the last time. Admittedly, I’d been putting it off for a myriad of reasons but knew that afternoon that it’d be one of last times we’d be connected that way. We’d just had family in town to visit and they, along with Fraser, wondered how much longer I’d planned on breastfeeding.

Let me back up.

Neither of my sisters produced much milk and, therefore, didn’t breastfeed very long. I was as surprised as they were when my milk came in and soaked my shirts until I bought breast pads (wasn’t sure I’d need them so buying them was not a priority... until it was). We were all thrilled and I set a goal to breastfeed Max for a full year.

I’d read somewhere that it’s important to check in with yourself and your baby every few months to make sure you’re both still on board with the boob, so I was very conscious of doing so at six and nine months. Several of my friends had a mutual breakup between their babes and their boobs around that age; some mamas stopped producing milk, some babies stopped being interested and variations between the two. My milk production was solid and Max showed no signs of slowing down in spite getting his first teeth at four months and happily eating solids.

As his first birthday approached, the idea of no longer connecting with, calming and comforting him by breastfeeding made me sad, so I decided to give it a couple more months. Then my schedule changed over the summer and the next thing I know it’s Thanksgiving, Max is 18mos and still full on breastfeeding.

I weaned him down to twice a day (once in the morning and another as part of his bedtime routine at night) between Thanksgiving and Christmas only to fly to Wisconsin for the New Year. He caught a cold and ended up breastfeeding on demand again by the time we flew back to LA. I blinked and my family was here for a visit and Max three months shy of his second birthday.

So yeah. He was a 21mos and a few days that Tuesday afternoon as I held him, telling myself I need to wean him cold turkey like Fraser had been saying for months. I didn’t want to hear it because Max is growing so quickly, I can barely wrap my mind around all of the phases he’s gone through already. Breastfeeding was something special to just us. I had no idea how much I would cherish that bond with my child and am so grateful my body was able to sustain it for as long as it did.

Baby number two is not completely off the table but Max may very well be an only child. Letting go is hard, beauties. I want to freeze time (when he’s not throwing a tantrum) and hold on to various phases of his all too short time as our baby. (I know. I know. Toddler. He's technically a toddler.) He’ll always be our baby, but he’s not even two yet and has had so many incarnations of himself already. His laugh, his voice, what he gets excited about, his face... his limbs no longer have baby fat on them! And while it’s such a gift to watch him grow, it is also heartbreaking to know we’ll never be as important to him as we are now. We recognize that his world revolves around us being around, so Fraser and I take him in as much as we can as he moves from yet another phase he'll never go through again.

It took him six days to stop crying when we walked him over to day care. In fact, on day seven, he waltzed straight to the table with his friends, took off his sweater (I helped), handed it to me, said bye! and turned his back to me to face his friends. When I asked him to give me a hug, he half turned in my direction, gave me a half hug and repeated bye!; I was so proud of him for having the confidence to own that room and know that we’d be back to get him. That said, I also cried as I walked away knowing he’ll continue to open his wings and, if we raise him right, take flight sooner than I’d be ready for it.

Okay. Back to four weeks ago.

I’m having this beautiful, sad mama moment breastfeeding my baby when Max utters mmm the way he does when enjoying a cookie he'd dipped in milk. Whoa! I’m literally food. Don’t get me wrong, I know my breastmilk is nourishment but that “mmm" sounded like that’s delicious, which weirded me out. I knew it was over and immediately felt sad then, eventually, relieved that the time had come. Max threw full on tantrums the first couple days when I gently told him we don’t do that anymore and offered him something else: milk, juice, a cookie, to be held, to play, to go outside... Within a few days, the tantrums became whimpers then a look of disappointment and, finally, a mere change of direction as if to say oh, well; he took it better than I did.

I was super sad for a solid week and talked about weaning Max to anyone who’d listen. It was rough.We live in a one bedroom apartment, so I slept on the couch for a week. Don’t feel bad. Max was still waking up in the middle of the night regularly at 21mos, so I hadn’t slept through the night for about two years. I slept a solid 6-7 hours a night that week, which was heaven. We all did.

When I went back to sleep I our room, none of us slept with Max waking up to talk, play and try to get in my shirt from 2-4am. Once until 6am... back to the couch I went. We all slept well for another week before I snuck back into our room to with my boys. It took several days for him to sleep in his crib again (he'd gotten used to sleeping next to daddy and having all that space), and as much as I enjoyed getting a full night’s sleep, I savor his sweet voice saying hi, mama! and telling me stories for a bit before drifting back to sleep in between us. I'm happy he's now back in his crib, which we push against my side of the bed at night. If he awakens in the middle of the night, I slip a hand through the bars for him to hold until he falls back to sleep, a trick Fraser uses to get put him to sleep in the first place... Another beautiful phase for us to cherish.

Motherhood, man. Greatest gift I’ve ever been given. Complicated terms. Never a dull moment and some of the best, smallest, most authentic moments of joy. I wish this type of happiness (whatever it looks like: the dream job, perfect vacation, delicious cup of coffee, a parking spot at Costco...) for all of you.

Then, just to keep it real, your toddler will dump all of his toys out of their bins and throw himself on the floor screaming bloody murder because the broken hot wheel truck you set aside to glue back together is nowhere to be found.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Daycare: Day One

Hello, 2018.

It's Max's first day at daycare and I have to consciously stop myself from picking him up now that I'm home from teaching private Pilates at the studio and my first audition of the year. He was actually registered to start a couple of days ago, but I kept him home because he was just getting over a fever and had cold from ten days of traveling over the holidays.

I know it's silly. I've thought and written about wanting time for myself again for many months and, now that it's here, I don't know what to do with myself. It's so calm and quiet here without Max. It's weird... and sad.

Of course, Fraser is totally fine about it. In fact, he dropped him off this morning because we decided it would be harder for Max if we were both there (and he's more attached to me). Fraser sent me a picture of Max at the table with other kids, looking like he'd been hanging out with them forever. Max cried when Fraser said bye but not for long (I called to ask). I reached out to Bells this morning and she reassured me, along with my amazing mama tribe, that Max is fine. 

Both of my boys are fine.

Why am I sad? 

That is a loaded question and one that I want to answer. I think it all starts with motherhood being all shades of gray, never black and white. For me, the fact that he may be our only one adds a layer of bittersweetness to every phase he grows into. While I don't want to be a helicopter parent, I have to admit I can understand why it happens. They grow so fast and you want to hang on to every stage of their development for just a little longer.

Max doesn't enthusiastically run to the door when I come home anymore nor does he cry when I leave. It's as if every stage is around just long enough for us to get used to it before he moves on to something else. Even his laugh is different. 

I am so glad he's independent and very social, and there are days I wish he was more so then he's in daycare and I want him back in my arms all the live long day. What kind of crap are you trying to pull, motherhood? You surprise and humble me every step of the way.

The sadness is recognizing the change and not being quite ready for it. I'll probably never be ready for all the growth Max will go through by the time he is, and I have to be okay with that. 

In my early twenties, I told my parents that I was moving in with my college boyfriend and asked them to trust me because they've taught me right from wrong and I didn't want to lie to them. How foolish of me to think my parents could simply trust me and be okay with my very adult decision. I have tears in my eyes thinking about Max saying those very words to me because I finally get it now. I will always be a little girl to my parents just as Max will always be my baby.

This is a new chapter for all of us. Fraser is going back to the gym; I'm happily auditioning again and have time for yoga, coffee with friends and writing; Max will make friends and thrive in daycare. I can get on board with all of that. 

What a way to start the year. Happy happy, beauties. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Did I give birth?

It's an odd question with a fourteen-month-old toddler attached to my hip, but it's a question I actually asked a handful of fellow mamas a few weeks ago after this conversation with a friend:

Me - (responding to sexist comments a mutual friend was sharing) Well, only women can give birth.
Her - Not all women can give birth. Some women have to have a C-section.
Me - (confused) I had a C-section.
Her - Yeah so you don't know what it feels like to give birth.
Me - What? No. I gave birth to Max.
Her - No. You had to have someone cut you open and take him out of you.
Me - Because I wouldn't dilate.
Her - Exactly. You don't know what it feels like to give birth.
Me - (not knowing what to say) So what did I do?
Her - You carried him...
Me - We are never going to agree on this.

Before I continue, I feel it necessary to tell you that this fellow mama is a really good friend; we've known each other for nearly two decades. If I'd had the conversation with someone I didn't know or even an acquaintance, I would've dismissed it as a difference in opinion and not thought twice about it. Because of our history, I haven't been able to let the conversation go. I also want to clarify that had she said I didn't know what it felt like to have a vaginal birth, I would've agreed in a heartbeat. Because that is a fact.

When I asked a handful of fellow mamas if they thought I'd given birth to my son the following day, my question was met with confusion. After explaining why I'd asked, every single one of them validated my birthing experience. I wish I could say I didn't need them to but, if I'm being honest, at least a part of me did; having a C-section was a last resort for me and I was disappointed that I wouldn't be pushing Max out once I made the decision. Thankfully, I was reminded by my sister and a dear friend that my job was to go home with my new family and that having a C-section was my birthing experience before I had the surgery. I'm fairly certain, my friend knew this, which makes me wonder why she'd say it out loud. To me... or any woman but I digress.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a to-each-her-own type of person. I like to think that we're all doing the best we can in life and believe that people are inherently good. Don't get me wrong. I understand that there are people who are not nice, who are greedy, who take advantage of other people, who do awful things, who are assholes for no reason. I don't like those people and don't invite them in my life but also wonder what happened in their lives for them to fear being nicer, being generous, treating others as their equal, doing good, choosing to be kind.

I don't understand it when people are rude, mean or feel entitled to judge other people's choices. That's really it. What's with the judgement? In general but especially among women. More specifically among mothers.

Honestly, I think it's great when moms go above and beyond with all organic, well-balanced meals, regular playdates, fun activities outside the house, no screen time, strict nap and bed times and a million other things I do not do. I admire these mothers for their diligence (and truly wish I could be more like them) but am equally in awe of and applaud mothers like me, who do organic when they can, are happy when their toddler eats more than five bites at mealtimes, get playdates in when they can, mostly stay home playing with their child, use screen time while cutting nails or to use the bathroom, have nap times that fluctuate and bed time that is generally at the same time and a million other things I do that aren't by the book.

I've read the books (and the blogs, forums and websites) and appreciate the studies and information so easily available to me, but at the end of the day, Max is my baby. Fraser and I know him better than any parenting expert or opinionated non-parent we know. It's really interesting that friends without children tend to have more opinions than those raising tiny humans... because other parents know. They know about the never-ending choices you have to make as soon as you find out you are with child. They've heard the unsolicited advise and listened to strangers' opinions, smiling and nodding all the while imagining how this person would be without a full night's sleep for over a calendar year.

What I'm trying to say is SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Unless I ask your opinion (and I won't because I reserve my questions about parenting for non-judging mamas who are also raising tiny humans), I don't need or want to hear what you think about Max's sleep schedule or whether or not he needs his diaper changed (he likes to poop in clean diapers and needs a few minutes to do his business). Stop wrapping your judgements in thinly-veiled shows of concern. There's no need for you to be concerned about my child's comfort, safety or well-being because, trust me, I spend every second of my waking hours telling my psyche to not worry about every little thing because I do. All the time.

Every mother does.

If you're so concerned about my child, then take him for a few minutes and play with him. Make him laugh. Tell him a story. Show him something new. Teach him a song... Have compassion for his sleep deprived mother, who is doing the best she can and is probably moments away from losing her shit. Again.

I am doing the best I can.

I've actually written that down numerous times to remind myself because I am my own worst critic. I regularly question my choices and my ability as a mother; I don't need anyone to join in. Being a parent is overwhelming enough.

The conversation that inspired this post still baffles me. While my friend is certainly entitled to her opinion, I don't know why she felt the need to tell me what she did. She's a sweet soul and wouldn't hurt me on purpose, so what was her intention? Why make the distinction?

Are women who need fertility treatments less than because they can't get pregnant naturally? No.
Are women who give birth prematurely less than because they didn't make it to full term? No way.
Are women who adopt less than because they didn't carry their child? Absolutely not.

The path to motherhood is as varied as it is beautiful. While painful and not at all easy, giving birth is nothing compared to the daily challenges and elations of raising a child. It is the ultimate marathon of unconditional love and constant care that is easier in some ways and harder in others at every turn. Being humbled by motherhood is universal. The self-doubt I wrestle with and difficulties I face as a mother is not unique. My experience as a mother is as valid as anyone's, including the amazing day I gave birth to Max.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Oh, Motherhood. How you humble me.

It's my first Mother's Day.

Max woke up before six, found his way into my shirt to nurse and wanted to play after. We finally got up when his diaper leaked and decided to have breakfast at home before going to the beach, which is my only request for the day. By the time we finished eating and I was getting ready to write in my journal while enjoying a mug of coffee, Max was ready for a nap.

I've been in blissful silence, drinking hot coffee and writing, while Max naps with Fraser.

Now that I'm a year into this gig (Max will be one in nine days!), I'm finally starting to have a grasp on this whole motherhood thing, which is easily the most humbling experience of my life. It is all consuming and full of challenges but also incredibly fulfilling and, at times, pure joy (whenever he laughs, gives me a hug, tries something new and loves whatever it is, smiles when he sees me, sleeps… Max being here is pure joy).

Bells and I were talking about motherhood a few weeks ago and agreed that we both have a modern take on the whole experience because, while we are deeply committed to the happiness and well-being of our children, we are also committed to our personal happiness and well-being. In short, we are women with goals and dreams beyond our children, which is tricky especially when your child is barely one.

Last month, I managed to spend fifty hours in an intermediate reformer course for Pilates in the midst of momming, putting a show together with the non-profit I run with fellow artists, a part time receptionist job and running our household because I wanted to do something that was just mine. Though just mine is relative because, eventually, teaching Pilates will mean making more money in less time at the studio. It was a long month and we had a lot of help (my mom came and stayed with us for two weeks; friends babysat Max for us; we had his nanny come on Saturdays), but we got through it... and it felt great. Once it was over, it felt great; going through it, I felt like I was hanging on by a thread.

To say that motherhood is about balancing it all at once is misleading. No woman can be totally present at home, in her career, for herself, and everything and everyone else in her life all the time, at the same time. Something has to give otherwise she will break... I've never had anything close to an anxiety attack before I became a mom; I described not being able to catch my breath, my heart racing, due to a sudden fear something I couldn't put into words to Fraser recently. He said it sounded like an anxiety attack; I can't be sure but, whatever it was, it sucked. Thankfully, I knew enough to quiet my mind and mindfully breathe. Phew!

During my very busy month, I only worked out a handful of times, went on one date with Fraser (our first in many months), and did not have a single audition, which all sucks but I don't feel bad about it... It can't feel bad about it because, well, I don't have time to; there's a diaper to change, food to prepare and nursing to be done... And I only have one baby!!!

I used to see twins, triplets and other multiples and think, How cute! It must be so much fun to have all those babies in matching outfits!! Now I see them in photos, news clips and social media and feel overwhelmed for their parents, who have multiple diapers to change at once, various taste palettes to appease... I don't even want to think about nursing multiples; it's a full time job with one.

We are fortunate that my job allows me to be home with Max most of the time and only hire a nanny when I'm teaching 8-10 weeks in the spring and again in the fall. The owners at the studio a I work at part time, welcome him to go to work with me. It's a wonderful set up aside of the fact that it doesn't give me a break from momming.

Nursing is something I wasn't sure I could do because neither of my sisters produced much milk. Thankfully, I broke the mold and am still nursing Max. My goal was always a year and, as his birthday approaches, I am both sad and excited about weaning him. I had no idea how much nursing would mean to me as a mother; it really is a special bond beyond the womb. That said, while Max doesn't bite (he started getting teeth at four months and I trained him then that biting me meant no more milk for him), he now casually slides his hands down my shirt whenever I'm holding him, going as far as pulling my shirt down and sticking his face inside when he wants to nurse.

Even if he wasn't doing any of that, I'm just about ready to move on from nursing; it takes a lot of time and I'm ready to have my body back as my own. I've felt guilty just thinking that before, but I need my body back. I need to read books and articles other that baby/child development/parenting ones. I need to spend alone time with my husband. I need to breathe... I need time away from being mom to be a better, more effective mama to Max.

Using the bathroom alone is a luxury, especially now that Max is full on walking. I've held him while on the toilet many times but, a few weeks ago, took the experience up a notch and nursed him there. I sent texts to my mama tribe about it and the response was a unanimous, Been there. Not one them even batted an eye because motherhood is an equalizer of women. When Max is crying because he's hungry, my instinct is to pick him up and nurse him: in the middle of a coffee shop, behind the desk at the studio I work at, in the car (after I've pulled over safely), and, yes, while sitting on my toilet at home.

I've wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember. I am delighted to finally be one. That said, I had no idea how much I would miss the freedom of randomly going out for dinner with Fraser, meeting friends for a hike or coffee at the last minute, taking a yoga class whenever I wanted to, reading a good book in one sitting or washing my hair more than once a week.

Max is a dream come true, one that's required a transition nothing else in life could've prepared me for and it's important for me to recognize that it's okay for me to say it's hard, ask for a break or go to another room for a minute. Because motherhood is fucking hard and I need breaks and silence... Among the moments of delicious laughter, fun games and absolute privilege of watching Max discover, learn and grow, are moments of utter frustration, boredom, loneliness and misunderstandings with Fraser, who is going through a transition of his own.

And they're up... Time for the beach.

It'll be Max's first time walking on sand and feeling the ocean at his feet. I'll have Fraser take photos of us and put them on social media with a link to this post because we have to keep it real, mamas. For the sake of our collective sanity, let's support each other and our individual choices in this beautiful journey called motherhood.

Gotta nurse the babe before we go.

Happy Mama Day, Beauties!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

So... I'm a mom now

Max is six months today and I finally feel coherent enough to write again (yey!). So much has happened since my last post. I've wanted to write about everything but simply lacked the time, sleep and sanity to do so. Being a new mom is, without question, the most challenging and rewarding experience I've ever had, and I am constantly surprised by it. With all the amazing mamas in my life, I've found myself wondering why no one told me this, that or the other until it dawned on me that they must have; I just didn't understand what they were saying because, until I became a mother, there was no way for me to fully comprehend the intricacies of being one. As someone who loves to share, I can think of no better topic to open my motherhood posts than to discuss the things that have surprised me so far.

Getting a C-Section: My pregnancy was relatively easy and I naively thought it would translate to my delivery even though I had to be induced (because I was thirty-eight at the time, my OB would not let me go past a few days after my due date). After spending an uncomfortable night at the hospital with something inside me to ripen my cervix, I was put on Pitocin for twelve hours. On average, you're supposed to dilate a centimeter every hour or two. At the end of my twelve hours on Pitocin, I'd dilated one centimeter bringing me up to three centimeter total. The goal is ten.

I wanted to wait but both Fraser and my mom asked me to reconsider. They didn't think I would dilate any quicker and I already had Epidural dripping into my system. I'm a take-Tylenol-only-if-it's-unbearable girl after all and my body was not happy being pumped full of drugs, so I agreed to have a C-section. My goal was always to go home with Fraser with peanut in tow.

If I have to have a C-section, I won't feel bad about it, I said proudly to anyone who would listen. I've done the best I can in my pregnancy and refuse to feel guilty for taking drugs to help with labor or having a C-section, I'd continue.

But I did feel guilty.

Like I'd failed somehow because I wouldn't be pushing my baby out. The guilt surprised me even more than getting a C-section. Thankfully, my sister and a dear friend both reminded me of my no-guilt mantra and the fact that a C-section was actually part of my birth plan (as a last resort but still part of it).

Exhaustion: Nevermind the four days that I stayed at the hospital after Max was born. I didn't sleep lying down for longer an hour or two at a time for a solid three months. I started getting 3-4 hours at a time around three and a half months only to have Max hit a growth spurt, which meant cluster feeding. It happened again as he approached six months.

There is no way to describe the not-sleeping-because-I'm-a-new-mom kind of tired. It's like staying up all night for finals every night for weeks at a time and taking day long exams in between all the cramming. It doesn't stop. People always say to nap when Max does, which is great in theory but not in practice. I may not clean much but someone (me) has to wash dishes (half the time), do and fold laundry, sanitize bottles and breast pump parts, pump for milk... Then he's up and needs to nurse, play, get his diaper changed, take a nap, repeat.

I remind myself several times a day that I will not always be this tired. That my exhaustion is part of the deal. That being a new mother is a gift I asked for. But, let me tell you, it is rough. There were times those first few weeks that Fraser found me inconsolably crying in bed as I held Max; I was so tired my body couldn't process anything other than my need to sleep. Fraser would take our bundle of joy, close the door and let me fall into a deep slumber. Hours would pass and I'd feel like I'd just closed my eyes for a few minutes.

Breastfeeding: Neither of my sisters produced much milk after they had babies, so I wasn't sure I would. I walked around with milk soaked shirts for a couple of weeks until I finally ordered breast pads, which are staples for nursing mothers. Needless to say, I am one and there are two things that's been surprising about it: how much I enjoy nursing Max and the fact that I'm not crazy about my augmented boobs.

Breastfeeding hurt a lot at first. For several weeks, nursing was really painful then, like magic, it wasn't anymore. I love nursing Max, who is the size of an average one year old at six months (so much for calling him peanut). There are countless benefits for him to have breast milk and there is nothing like the connection of breastfeeding your child. I am grateful my body has been able to keep up with Max thus far and will reassess nursing him within the next couple of weeks mainly because he now has two bottom teeth (with a third newly broken in) and bites. The idea of not nursing him anymore saddens me, but I also do not want to resent him. If I have to pump for him to continue to get breast milk so be it.

Of course that means continuing to have my boobs fill up with milk every few hours. My boobs are solid Cs these days and, oddly enough, I am not a fan. My clothes don't fit right and I look funny with such big boobs. That said, the fact that they are able to produce enough milk to nourish my son makes me appreciate my breasts and the rest of my body.

I'll breatfeed Max anywhere, which surprised me when I first started doing it. Middle of a coffee shop? A table at Chipotle? Behind the desk at work? Without a second thought, yes. I feed him when he's hungry and do not apologize for it.

So Much Poop: Now that Max is eating solids, he's become more regular. Fraser once said that we should stick to breastmilk because he only pooped every 3-4 days before he started on solids. We didn't, of course, because he loves to eat like his parents. Fraser and I tag-teammed a couple of his blowouts pre-solids and they were nothing compared to now; I imagine it only gets worse, unfortunately. I've given Max a number of emergency baths because he's pooped so much but there are two I had to take photos of for Fraser: the time he projectile pooped (grateful I was not in the line of fire and it landed on the door and floor), and the time he shit so much he had poop up to his shoulders on his back. Up to his shoulders (damn prunes). Where does it  come from?

Losing Hair: Pregnant women have thick, shiny hair. Mine was long and full and, frankly, beautiful. Even though I'd read about women losing hair post pregnancy, I was surprised when a couple of weeks after Max was born, my hair started to shed worse than it ever has. I am no stranger to losing my hair in the shower, when I comb it or run my fingers through it. This was something else: clumps of hair in the drain and on the bathroom floor enough to donate to Locks of Love. I sent texts to my mama friends about it because I was convinced I'd be bald by now. They all told me it's the change in my hormones and told me not to worry. I'm pleased to report the shedding has returned to normal.

Stress: Having Max has made life more stressful and less stressful at the same time. More because Fraser and I are responsible for a new human, which is overwhelming enough. Add lack of sleep to the equation along with the fact that we don't have family close by, and it's a recipe for disaster. Or at the very least, a lot of added stress. It all boils down to the fact that Fraser and I are both doing everything we were doing before and now tag-teaming Max, who needs constant love, care and attention. It's easy to feel unappreciated when you don't have time to just be together.

No one talks about the toll having a child has on a marriage. Let me tell you, it's a lot . Fraser and I look at each other at least once a day and ask how we're doing. Most days, we're okay, but there are days, those Max-is-cluster-feeding-and-woke-up-every-hour-to-nurse-last-night, when neither of us feels appreciated by the other. It's not easy to admit and it sucks, but it's the truth. I would be a lying asshole if I didn't say that.

Being new parents is no joke.
It is fucking hard.
It's easily the hardest thing I've done in my life.
It is also the most rewarding.

Life is less stressful when you wake up to a sweet, smiling face that is somehow the perfect combination of your own and your husband's. Our stress diminishes when Max laughs or discovers something new, which is always. He sees the world the way all children should see it: fun, carefree, safe and warm.

There is nothing more heartwarming than watching Fraser interact with Max. They have so much fun together, my boys. Everything is an adventure between them; there's an undeniable bond in whatever they do. Beyond that, Max has a sweet, gentle soul like his daddy.

Even with little to no sleep, I can power through because one look into my son's eyes makes the world instantly better. His laughter invites joy into our lives. His smile brightens the room and warms my heart. Max is all love.

Perspective: My world has pretty much been Max over the past six months. As it should be. We're super lucky that my schedule has allowed me to stay home with Max for most of his life so far. I once remarked that I'm pretty much a stay-at-home mom while at my part-time job. You work. You're not a stay-at home mom, my female boss, who welcomes Max to come to work with me (awesome, I know), replied.

Beyond that, I run a non-profit working with inner city high schools and am an actor so, yes, technically, I am a working mom. The thing is, stay-at home moms are working moms with one of the hardest jobs there is, and working moms are stay-at home moms when they are home. The distinction is moot.

I'm thankful I can be home with him and work because I know that's usually not the case. We only have a nanny for the 8-10 weeks I teach each semester with the non-profit I run otherwise Fraser and I juggle Max. Because my schedule is much more open than Fraser's, I have Max more often. At home and anywhere I need/want to go, which is awesome but not always ideal. There are days I have to put him in his crib and walk away for a minute to center myself and shift my perspective. It can be overwhelming to have a helpless human depend on you for everything. I've cried out of frustration more times than I care to admit but, at the end of the day, I love being a mom. I know not everyone who wants to be gets be one so I always find my way back to gratitude. How can I not? I have my very own baby.

As much as I loved Max in utero, I did not think it was possible for me to love someone more unconditionally than I love my nieces and nephews until I met him in person. He is even better than I imagined. Not perfect. Better. He is my heart in human form and I am so grateful to Fraser (and the powers that be) for giving me a child.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


i didn't get much sleep last night. one of the books i'm reading said something about not being able to sleep towards the end of your pregnancy in preparation for the lack of sleep you'll experience once your baby is born. i call bullshit... if anything, women in the last few weeks of their pregnancy should be banking hours of extra sleep. but no!!! because sleeping is uncomfortable with a baby kicking and jabbing at your ribs or pushing their butt up to your lungs making it hard to breathe.

peanut will be here in six weeks, which is simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. i cannot wait to meet the human who is half fraser and half me but am not looking forward to all the things that must be done before he's finally in our arms. aside for all the stuff i have to go through and get rid of to make room for baby gear, there's, you know, labor.

i've read and heard firsthand from my closest girlfriends (and total strangers) about the ultimate female experience: delivering a baby. texts and conversations with my girlfriends, and women in general, are much different from what they were just a year ago. something about being pregnant invites other women to talk to you openly about their own pregnancies and give you unsolicited advice, which i'll gladly listen to. i want to know what they know but there are lines that shouldn't be crossed, and it's not what you may think. being told there may be pooping and tearing and lots of blood during delivery is very helpful, but telling me things like don't get the epidural or keep him whole comes across judgmental and is not okay. those are personal choices and it bums me out that some women feel like their personal choices are somehow better than other women's decisions.

my birthing plan (if you can call it that) is this: go to hospital. feel a cycle (or two) of contractions. ask for epidural if the pain is unbearable. get a c-section as a last resort. rest and recover. (hopefully) learn how to properly breastfeed and pump. go home with peanut.

the first three months of my pregnancy was awful physically; i was nauseous for six weeks straight and pretty much hibernated. there were the weeks of nosebleeds, headaches and constant runny nose during the second trimester. then throwing up in my mouth every day for a few weeks, an introduction to hemorrhoids and now not being able to sleep. i also drank 50 grams of sugar on an empty stomach for a glucose test four weeks ago and had to drink the 100 gram concoction this week because the results from peanut's first sugar high was a bit high.

i'm not complaining. in fact, i'll happily do it all again if fraser and i are lucky enough to get pregnant again in a couple years... that said, i will not feel bad asking for pain relief or possibly getting a c-section if it comes down to it as long as both peanut and i get to go home safe and sound with fraser. period.

oh. and i'm leaving the whole circumcision decision to fraser because, well, i'm not the one with a penis.

honestly, peanut has been relatively easy on me so far and i'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be his mother. all that physical stuff sucks. yes. but i'm still doing pilates on my own 3-4 times a week and started walking a mile a day last week in preparation for the day he decides to come out. i'm 34 weeks now so he's in good shape, but i've been encouraging him to hang in there until may. (because i'm 38, peanut will be evicted by my ob in six weeks; he won't let me go past week forty. i'm hoping peanut comes on his own before that happens.) i feel really good and having him move around in there is really comforting in a there's-an-alien-i'm-in-love-with-growing-inside-me way.

musician and sassy have lovingly taken on my baby shower; bells insisted on sending proper invitations in the mail and have worked out the details with them. packages for peanut started arriving this week; fraser and i have been given all the big ticket baby items by friends and family already. we're requesting gift cards because we'll likely end up needing diapers, wipes and maybe formula the most, but we really just want to celebrate our growing family with the people we love.

my parents are coming from wi the week after my baby shower and throwing me another shower for my dad's family and friends in the area. more celebration. more love... we are so lucky.

just don't ask us if we're ready.