Misadventures of a 20-Something Mom: March 2012   

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Breast is Best...Unless your kid is over 6 months...then you are a f*#$ing deviant weirdo

I'll put it out there...and own it. In America,  we are not a breastfeeding society. We know the research has proven breast milk to be superior over formula, but still the idea of breastfeeding gives a lot of people the heebie jeebies. While I was pregnant I was bombarded with stories about how difficult and painful breastfeeding was, and how a lot of people tried but never even made it out of the starting gate. At the same time, everyone and their dog would ask me if I planned on breastfeeding. Some people would ask me multiple times.

My answer was always the same, "I'm going to try, but if it doesn't work out for me and my family then it is no big deal to use formula." All the self described "crunchy" moms are probably throwing up in their mouths as they read that (If they have even recovered from my last post!) I didn't want to set myself up for disappointment and frankly what difference was it to me whether the little sea monkey in my belly drank milk from the tap or milk from a bottle?

When my son was born, it suddenly made a difference. Seeing him struggle to latch on, while listening to a chorus of nurses tell me that he might not be able to breastfeed and I didn't have enough colostrum, devastated me in a way I could have never anticipated. I at least wanted to be given the option to breastfeed.

Those first few days in the hospital were a roller coaster of emotions. After speaking with a lactation consultant I discovered that I did have colostrum after all...those nurses were idiots..but my son had difficulty latching and my boobs struggled to keep up with my baby walrus' increasing demands. I was outfitted with all sorts of alien devices to help the process: nipple shields, a breast pump, collection containers, etc. Overwhelmed was the understatement of the century. I had no idea that breastfeeding could be THAT difficult.

Every time I hooked those breast flanges up and started pumping, I felt like Bessie the freaking cow. Honestly, that happens to this day! I'm not sure my boobs will ever be viewed as sexual objects again. They've become a sort of freaky sideshow act. "Look how far I can shoot milk out of this one babe!" But I digress..

Despite the pediatrician's assurance that my son would be fine until my milk "came in", I decided to supplement with formula a few times after his hungry cries got the best of me. The breastfeeding relationship has since developed substantially. We no longer need most of those alien devices, but it has been far from a smooth ride. I have developed clogged nipple pores, clogged ducts, and mastitis multiple times.

For those of you who don't know, a clogged nipple pore looks a bit like a pimple.. on your actual nipple. Super hot, right? And it feels a bit like a scalding branding iron every time you go to nurse. Now, I've got your attention! Eight hundred episodes of TLC's Make Room for Baby did NOT prepare me for that shit. On the other hand, a clogged duct feels a bit like you got donkey punched in the tit. Super sore. If you are lucky enough to get mastitis, the mother of all boob ailments, then you are in for a real treat! I've had it a few times now..which I'm positive equates to like six tear drops in prison.

Mastitis hits you like a ton of bricks. You suddenly just don't feel right. Perhaps, you're coming down with something? A few short hours later and your boob is painted with fire-engine red stripes, you have chills, body aches, and a fever that hovers around 104. If you're anything like me, you have no idea what the f#&k is going on the first time it happens. Hmm..is my boob supposed to be swollen like a Guatemalan cantaloupe? Basically, mastitis is when the shit hits the fan. They pump you full of antibiotics, fluids, and fever reducers. If that doesn't work you have to be hospitalized. HOSPITALIZED! How hardcore is that? Breastfeeding is not for the faint-hearted. (And you thought we were all a bunch of smelly, Pansie hippies)

I tell you all this, because I'm now in a pretty comfortable place with breastfeeding. Knock on wood, we haven't had any issues of late. So now, eight months later when me and the kid finally have our shit together, people are telling me its curtain call. "You only really need to breastfeed for 6 months." "When are you planning on going until?" "You're STILL breastfeeding?"

So you mean to tell me I went an extra two months, and I didn't have to?! Damnit! Who do I talk to about a refund?

Of course I know that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics 6 months is the minimum recommendation and 12 months is what society interprets as the "maximum." How about this...I do what I want. Yes, I'm still breastfeeding. No, I don't have an end date in sight. How about I do what works for my family, and you mind your own god damn business. :) Since when the hell did my boobs become open to your interpretation and advice anyway?

I get it. I used to be one of those people who thought it was gross and cringed at the sight of a kid old enough to walk over and plop a boob right in his own mouth.  But doing time in the breastfeeding trenches has changed me a bit. I don't know if that is what will happen in this house, but it doesn't bother me as much anymore. Even if your kid is old enough to tip his hat before sauntering over and saying, "I'm a might bit thirsty mummy, could I have a bit of milk", I think it's fine. It doesn't make you a freaking deviant. If that's what works for you and your family. Everybody just needs to mind their own boobs.

Monday, March 26, 2012

So your kid sleeps through the night, knows baby sign language, and wears cloth diapers that you stiched all by yourself; what do you want, a freaking cookie?!

Candidly, I have no issue with cloth diapering, baby sign language, or awesome babies who have slept through the night since birth. I WISH I was that mom. I wish I had all this crap figured out and could easily balance the trials of motherhood while single-handedly saving our planet's ecosystem and teaching my infant son how to use an abacus.

But the reality is, that's just not me. I am a big dreamer, and a perpetual under-achiever. This means I am far from the title of supermom..and maybe closer to Sub par Mom. Most of the time, I'm just trying to make it through the day. If my son is well-kempt, well-fed, and in a generally agreeable disposition by the end of the day I call it a success. My holy grail comes when I also manage to shower, comb my hair, and take a poop without interruption. Now THAT is something. You can see that this leaves little time for me to navigate a Baby Brezza manual (baby food maker) or accomplish the extra loads of laundry that cloth diapers necessitate. I am learning that motherhood is a juggling act and I am careful about what I try and add into the mix. Unfortunately, this means I don't quite add up to a lot of the other superhuman mommies out there. The following is a mini-list of my mommy grievances:

  1. I use disposable diapers. Loads of em'. They may have to start a new landfill just to contain all of my son's shitty diapers. I lack the motivation, and the stomach to even consider cloth diapering. I often wonder if those who choose to do so have baby's with dainty bowels. I'm pretty positive my son is part ogre and has epic diaper explosions to prove it. I don't care to keep those around as a souvenir.
  2. I don't make my own baby food, and..gulp...I don't even always buy organic. The stuff is crazy expensive and every organic garden I have tried to lovingly foster thus far, has died a slow, painful death far before it was time to harvest my fruits or veggies.
  3. I am not teaching my son baby sign language. I'd love to, I would. It's just soooo not happening right now. I guess I would have to first teach myself the basic signs, from a library book or something, and then try and get my husband and the baby to use those signs. I'm a little exhausted just thinking about it. Seriously, I found my car keys in the fridge this morning and I'm supposed to learn and teach an entirely new language? Ha!
  4. At eight months old, my son doesn't sleep through the night. I take responsibility for this as we have never had him on a set schedule, and have allowed him to sleep in our room or in our bed since his birth. I admit that I am completely spineless and lack the courage or willpower or whatever to let him "cry-it-out". Frankly, we'll just be glad if he makes it out of our room before college.
Really, the list could go on and on and on. I really don't know what the hell I'm doing most of the time. Fake it till' you make it, right? That is why, the majority of the time, I welcome advice. If you say waving a chicken feather over my baby's head while doing the macarena naked will get him to sleep all night, or making my own baby food is as easy as 1-2-3, I will probably try it. (If I haven't already). But oftentimes, it's just not a good fit for me and my family. So I leave the supermom dreamland and go back to our reality: Pampers, Pesticide-ridden Gerber food, and sleepless nights.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Stretch Marks are badges of honor": Post-baby body Blues

I admit that I sometimes find solace in the inspirational posters that say crap like that. The grotesque, disfiguring pink and purple stripes that have now taken over my body are instantly transformed into something to be proud of..something honorable..when I see such a quote. Then I am brought back to reality. The full length mirror and the fluorescent light bulbs at Macy's do the trick every time.

I hate those mirrors. A few weeks ago I went to visit those dreadful beasts in an effort to try and find a cute sundress for a friend's wedding. Knowing that I just had a baby (Ha! 8 months ago), I thought I'd get a few that were one-two sizes too big at first..as a sort of ego boost. They didn't freaking fit. Even the one that looked like a damn tent on the hanger..did. not. fit.

Part of it is probably my refusal to diet, since my son's birth. After all, breastfeeding means you can eat anything you want and shed pounds like crazy..right? Wrong. I have remained at a number too inflated to ever admit to..for months now. My giant ass remains equally inflated.

The other part of my new dress size is due to these "awesome" giant boobs that I've dreamed of since adolescence. Sure, I'm a D-cup now...except when you are breastfeeding, the boobs aren't the perky, fun, porn star kind of big. They are more like the scary, veiny, floppy kind of big. Think African tribeswoman. You can't fit these puppies into anything. The fashion designers assume if your chest is this big, then the rest of you is equally gigantic. So the dress sizes that I now fit into are far from ego-boosting.

So there I am, swallowing what little dignity I have left in this world. Asking the nice saleswoman to exchange, what I previously thought were "gigantic" sizes, out for beluga whale sizes. While trying on one of the new dresses, sans bra, I noticed two weird bumps in the middle of the dress, about halfway between my chest and belly button, courtesy of those God forsaken mirrors. Upon further exploration, I discovered that those bumps were in fact, my nipples. How they ended up there is beyond me. Last time I checked, I'm 24 years old. Nipples don't start migrating south at 24, do they?

I promptly removed the dress. My poor son, who had been witness to the whole sordid affair began wailing. He had clearly had enough and we were both approaching nuclear meltdown status. As I stood there, trying to take all of this in: my giant ass, my ridiculous dress size, my wandering nipples, I noticed that I was standing in a wet puddle.

I was disgusted. Macy's has clearly gone down hill. Who just has puddles of some unknown substance sitting around in their dressing rooms. Nasty! Why hadn't I noticed it before? As I spun wildly around, searching for the source of the mysterious liquid, I noticed other puddles forming. What the...?

Then the dresses I had tried on began showing wet spots and even the stroller was soaked.

It wasn't until I turned to face those beastly mirrors again that I realized...it was me.
My giant tribeswoman breasts were responding to my son's desperate cries in the only way they knew how to..with milk. Lots and lots of milk. I did my best to staunch the flow..and quickly dressed and gathered my things. I sprinted out of the store with my son, leaving the milk-drenched fitting room and a hollering saleswoman in my wake.

I clearly didn't buy a dress that day. I don't believe I'll go clothing shopping again until I lose some of this "baby" weight. Next time..I think I will bring a towel too. With swimsuit season swiftly approaching, I'm starting to think that the burqa gets a bad rap. What's so wrong with being covered from head to toe?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"You should write a blog"

I am surprised by how often I hear this from my mommy friends. Candidly, I think that if you have to google "how to start a blog", which I did, then you are far too uncool to write a blog. I know! That is unthinkable for a 20-something to admit, right? But I digress.

Anywho, so people tell me I should write a blog all the time. Either I am hysterically funny with a smashing personality... or, more likely, they just find pleasure in my many misadventures as a rookie mom. "Hey Sandra, did you hear what she did THIS week?"

Ya, I'm that mom. The perpetual fodder of mommy groups. My favorite is when someone tells me a story about what some crazy berzerko mom did, and the story is about me. You can't make this crap up. "Oh honey, don't feel bad. We all have our mommy moments." (Mind you this was over not returning an email quickly enough) "At least you aren't as bad as this one mom I heard about. She actually left her stroller in the parking lot the other day. I mean, the baby wasn't in it or anything..but the parking lot! Can you imagine? The police and the fire department had to come out because someone thought there was an abandoned baby in it! When she finally realized what had happened she had to go pick it up from the evidence department at the police station!" I smiled politely and admitted that the wacko mom was me. In all fairness, its my husband's job to load up the stroller..but "whatevs". Water under the bridge. Another chink in the fantastic mom armor. Anywho, that certainly put a damper on the conversation.

I guess that's what sets me apart. I swear that all moms must have moments like this, mind you I have a hell of a lot more of them. But I admit to them. I am no cop out. I'm new at this. I lost my parenting manual. Whatever. I have a ton of these moments and I have a few choices. My first choice is to  crawl into a hole and miserably pine away about how I will never be like Martha Stewart, June Cleaver or Supermom. Another option is to get up, dust myself (and potentially my baby) off, and laugh. I choose the latter. And because I do have that award-winning sense of humor, I choose to share these moments with other moms. So you guys can have a baseline to compare yourself with as well.