Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ho! Ho! Ho! Where do the stockings go?

One dilemma Michael and I have faced trying to create as much holiday spirit as possible for our child ((who's only 4.5 months and has no clue what's going on, but we're mostly just ironing out the kinks for next year)) is the hanging of the stockings. Growing up, our house had a fireplace, so there was no real concern as to where the stockings would go. Michael's mother made a makeshift fireplace on the bureau in the living room, where he and his siblings hung their stockings. Now we are left with a sort of predicament as to where Vedder will hang his.

Even though I think it is fine that he leave it for santa under the tree, I dont want him to just find it there in the morning with the rest of the presents. It was always a part of christmas tradition growing up that we first got to open our stockings. Then my parents would make us eat breakfast before opening all those taunting presents under the tree. While as a child it seemed like cruel and unusual punishment, now looking back, it made the magic of christmas morning last just a little bit longer. So now, while I cursed my parents for making me do this throughout my childhood, I will be enforcing this same tradition on to my inevitably aggravated child.

We thought of the idea of Santa hiding his stocking, to make for a fun game. However, with our apartment being essentially four rooms - living/dining room/kitchen, our bedroom, Vedder's bedroom, and bathroom- there really isn't many places to "hide." Michael also suggested doing a makeshift fireplace like his mom did. I'm pulling a scrooge on that one, since we do not have a similar bureau in our "living room." Also, because the less I have to do or make around the holidays, the better. We also had the idea of having Santa hanging the filled stocking on the bedroom door. The latter is what we will be doing this year, while we search for more ideas for years to come.

Who knew that the lack of a highly un-child-friendly household furnishing would create such a problem at year's end.

Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

a hard look in the mirror


It's all I can do not to scream some days. At myself, not anyone else. You'd think 2.5 months later, equaling out to about 600+ bottles, I'd be used to it by now. But I'm not. I've got the hang for being a mom, learning to tell the difference between my son's cries, and keeping him on a healthy growing track of the 95th percentile. I can handle juggling my job, my husband's job, and family time ((the little that we do get)). I am doing great at keeping everyday life interesting for my three month old, making sure he's meeting his milestones, and getting out of the apartment at least once a day for fresh air. With all of this, feeling like I have sacrificed my entire life, my art and photography, and my marriage, I'd still do it all the same. I absolutely love everything I have given up for this little one. I only have one major regret. And it kills me everyday.

I hate hate hate more than anything  I have ever done in my life, that I gave up breast feeding my baby. The pregnancy and delivery were nothing I planned on them being. Being pumped with drugs and having my son come into this world in the most unnatural way possible was hard for me to deal with. However, I could care less about those things now.  I just wanted some part of the beginning of his life to be au natural. Breastfeeding was the only thing I could have probably controlled. But I gave up. He wouldn't latch. Pumping became a very painful and difficult task. It was an emotionally draining and mentally exhausting journey those few weeks I tried to keep supplementing. But then I just gave up. Now I am kicking myself every day.

I cry reading friend's posts and blogs about their sleepless nights because of feedings. I would give up sleep for that now. I also get emotional reading other mom's blogs about how they still breast feed their 18 month olds. Before, I would have thought this was absolutely insane. Once a child can walk up to you and say "I want mama milk" I would think that's when to pull the boob. However, now I want to be that woman. I don't care if people would look at me as that crazy mom. Given the chance, I'd do it. A few weeks ago I was in Babies-R-Us, in the little separate area for women to change and feed their babies. As I bottle fed my absolutely beautiful and content baby boy, a woman sat next to me with her daughter, who was nine months. She whipped out her boob and started feeding. And I started crying. In the middle of Babies-R-Us, next to a complete stranger, I stared down at my son and cried. In my head I was saying, "I'm so sorry. I love you so much and want to be the best mother to you. But selfishly I gave up feeding you like that because I couldn't deal. I could've just sucked up my own feelings and pain and kept pumping and kept trying to get you to latch. It's a bond now you and I will never have and I'm so sorry for that. I am so so sorry."

Now even though our pediatrician reassures up again and again that Vedder is growing amazingly in the 95th percentile, I cannot help but think my selfish decisions have hurt him. The doctor has told both me and my husband that our son is impeccably healthy. His verbal skills are even beyond his level and he's as "strong as an ox." But I keep thinking, What if I just tried harder and dealt with the pain? How much farther along would he be? I am not a person who has really ever lived her life asking "what if." I have always just done what I wanted, taking chances, blowing down barriers, because if I didn't try then, what if would rule my life. And now that is exactly what it is doing.

I have written this blog not for a need for sympathy or even apathy. I am just a new mom and this is the journey most of us are thrown onto - the crash course of parenthood that we are supposed to just figure out while holding a fragile life in our arms and not fumble. Making sacrifices is a daily norm for parents. My parents did it. Their parents did it. And so on. But what if I sacrificed the wrong thing, his health for my emotional sanity? This is just something that I struggle to forgive myself for. And probably will for a while, maybe forever..

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Occupying Sesame Street

I find myself as of late torn between two worlds. Part of me ((the liberal hippie hearted part)) wants to do nothing but stand down on Wall Street, marching up to Bloomberg's residence, and demand that Amercia's 1% start giving a damn!! The other part of me ((the new mom part)) knows that I am now only back to work part time, cutting coupons, and budgeting to make a better life for my child whether the 1% gives a crap or not. Protesting, while emotionally and morally fulfilling to me, will not put clothes on my child, pay rent, or buy food and formula.  For now I will stand on my viral soap box and yell "Damn the Man!! Save the Empire!!" while I cancel my Bank of America account.

I cannot help but think 10-15 years from now, when my child is in school learning about the Unites State government and certain political movements, will he be learning about "Occupy Wall Street?" Will his teacher ask him to go home and ask his parents "Where were you when...?" The freebird spirit in me wishes I could say, "Yes, Vedder, I was there! And so were you!! Wrapped up close to my chest, while I held a sign that said 'GIVE A SHIT! if not for us, then for the kids!'" But this protective mother bear persona I have now taken on since giving birth knows that there is no way I would ever put him into potential harms way for the sake of making a statement, or really for the sake of anything at all. So instead I will smile and say, "While some stood down on Wall Street singing chants demanding for a better life for themselves, I stood in our kitchen holding the life I just made singing along to Sesame Street on vinyl." And I will be perfectly fine with that answer.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Broadway vs the Beach

So let me start this blog off with a little story. Yesterday I was leaving Barnes & Nobles in Manhattan when a woman stopped me. She asked me if I was a New Yorker because she needed directions. I gladly gave her directions to the Met which was only 3 blocks away. However by doing this, she labeled me a "New Yorker." I do not consider myself one at all. I love my New Yorker husband who was born and raised and has lived 31 out of 33 years of life here, but marrying him doesn't make me one too. I am a New Englander. Plain and simple.

Now that I have said that, living here in NYC definitely impacts the way we are raising our son. He is only 12 weeks old but has already adapted to the lifestyle. Sleeping through fire engine sirens and the horn of the Amtrak train that flies by our apartment. Smiling at the screeching breaks of the approaching trains in the subway. Calmly sitting in his stroller while mama bumps up and down the stairs of our apartment building. All of these things I believe he has inherited from his dad. Me not so much.

Where as Michael grew up ten blocks away from our current apartment, it feels like sometimes I grew up worlds away from it. Plymouth, Massachusetts is not the middle of nowhere. Like NYC, it is filled with tourists coming to see the "foundation" of this country, America's Hometown. And while Rockafeller Center may be impossible to walk through from early November until after the new year, Plymouth can hold its own in the tourist industry, especially around Thanksgiving. That said, I don't believe that the population of Plymouth would even fill the first 20 floors of the Empire State Building.

I grew up in a neighborhood. Not like anything here in the boroughs. A place where we would have block parties with all the families. BBQs, bike races, camping in the back yard, getting lost in the woods between houses, coming home for dinner when my mom would ring a bell. Yes. That is right. My dad hung this big cast iron cow off the back porch that had a bell hanging from it and when we heard it ring we would run home from where ever we were in the neighborhood. My dad also would bake homemade chocolate chip cookies every Friday when he got home from work, and me, my sister and brother would always have friends over. We had a tree fort in our back yard and when we were old enough, were allowed to ride our bikes down the road to Bramhall's Country Store to get ice cream. No, I did not grow up in the olden days. This was only ten to fifteen years ago.

Fast forwarding to now, 2011, living in Queens, NY, I do not see myself raising my son in the same way I was raise. This sometimes really makes my heart hurt. Years ago I never even imagined ever having children, nevermind worrying so much about how I would raise them. I, myself, have definitely adapted well to the "city life." I love not having a car, being able to walk a few blocks to get everything I need, having fresh fruit and veggie carts at every corner. I like being able to walk eight blocks to my job, and the convenience of being able to get pretty much anything you need 24 hours a day. However, it kind of sucks knowing I won't be able to just ring a bell for my son to come home from playing in the street with the neighborhood kids. ((There DEFINITELY isn't any "playing in the street" here.)) And he won't be able to go play in the woods, or even in a yard for that matter, without having to walk 24 blocks to the nearest park.

I know this probably sounds absolutely ridiculous. I am laughing at myself as I type this. Plymouth is not worlds away from Queens. It is actually only a 4.5 hour drive! I look at the surroundings of my childhood and the surroundings of my husband's, and they are just very different. Part of me feels like my son is going to miss out on alot not being able to grow up like I did. Another part of me is excited for him to experience a city that has so much more than was ever offered to me in a small town. There is a lot of different culture here, from museums to even the corner deli. But Plymouth has great history, too. While NYC is the mecca for the most different types of art, it is small towns on Cape Cod that inspire such beautiful works. Where Manhattan offers a great enviroment for those business people with the need for speed ((well maybe not in this economy right now)), New England offers that slower, simpler life of many family owned businesses that towns are founded on. All my thoughts of raising a child seem to be caught up in a vicious cycle of this vs. that, here vs. there, Broadway vs. the beach.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Daddy Daycare

Today I am getting ready for our first roadtrip as a threesome to Massachusetts for the week. This is a trip Michael and I have been making six to eight times a year, but never with a little one. Making lists of everything we need for Vedder, I feel like we are packing the entire nursery!! But as first time parents, I'd rather be safe than sorry. ((Even though I know that packing stuffed animals for a seven week old is a little much, but I just cannot seem to get myself to take them out of the bag.))

Taking a bit of a break this morning, I picked up my Parenting Magazine and began to read. Skipping over some articles (("Family Unplugged," because I'm denying all thoughts of how my attachment to my blackberry may be borderline unhealthy)), I came across a page titled "The Okay Dad." Written by a father, it talks about how most fathers just consider themselves to be "okay" at parenthood. In a big orange circle in the middle of the page, reads a very frightening statistic: 6.5 HOURS - AVERAGE TIME MARRIED FATHERS SPEND CARING FOR THEIR KIDS PER WEEK. This makes me so sad!!

The article also pointed out the fact that the percentage of fathers who do not live full time with their children has sharply risen over the past 50 years. This statistic made me even sadder!! Both my husband and myself grew up in what some people call "broken homes." Divorce, custody battles, visitation, splitting holidays, fill memories of parts of our childhoods. Fortunately, my mother remarried to a man, uniting two families and fixing our "broken home." ((Little Known Fact: At the age of 13, I went to court to legally change my last name from Turner to my "step" fathers last name. More Widely Known Fact: I hate writing "step" because I consider him to be the only father I have ever had.)) I also think this is why both Michael and I put alot of pressure on ourselves to be the absolute best parents we can be. I especially think my husband is his worst critic.

Getting back to the article, it also stated "More than half of dads say fathers are replaceable by mothers and other me." MORE THAN HALF!! I see my husband everyday interact with our amazing son and to think that he could be replaced my anyone upsets me. Especially having a son, I consider the father's role to be even more crucial. I think already the time he has had with his son is critical to the growth of both Vedder as a child and Michael as a father and man.

After this vacation in New England, we will head back to New York and I will head back to work. As much as I am going to miss my daytime with my already chatty newborn, I am very excited to get back to work, even if it is only parttime. Whenever this topic gets brought up, the first questions people ask are "Where will Vedder go? Will he come to work with you?" I respond with "He is staying home with daddy." As awful as it is having opposite schedule from my husband, it allows us to save on childcare and offers the opportunity for Daddy Daycare three days a week. It warms my heart to know that we have been giving the opportunity, for atleast Vedder's first year, that Mama and Daddy will be doing the raising. I know this is not the case for most families ((my job is being a daycare teacher)), that is why I feel so fortunate to have our situation. It makes me so happy after reading this article to know that Michael will be be blowing the daddy care time statistic out of the water. Three days with Daddy, four days with Mama, six nights together as a family. I am so excited for the childhood memories that will be made with both of us and Vedder, together and separate.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Dating Scene

Four years ago, I was newly single and enjoying my first few months of freedom to their fullest extent. Friday nights were dedicated to my girls. After a long week of work, getting dressed up and my drink on was the highlight of my week. I was 23 years old and soaking up all the bar scene had to offer. Meeting guys, exchanging numbers, going out on dates. The single life dating scene was fun and carefree for me. I knew I didn't want to get serious, especially so soon after ending a very long term relationship, so there was never any hesitation. I dated here and there and just enjoyed each day ((or night)) for what it was. The only draw back was how exhausted ((hungover)) this type of dating scene got after a while.

In February 2008, I agreed to go on my first real blind date. Having absolutely no clue what this guy looked like, or really anything about him besides he was 6 years older and from New York, it was the first time a date actually made me nervous. Long story short, the date went great and we saw each other three more times that week. Then five months later we were engaged and a year later married. Now three years later we have a beautiful baby boy. Having those single days far behind I have found that the dating scene doesn't really go away. It just changes. Instead of purses and heels, it's diaper bags and flats. Instead of bottle of jameson, it's bottles of formula. And instead of meeting guys that could be prospective dating material out at bars, it's meeting moms that could be prospective playdate material out at baby classes or the playground.

The biggest difference between these two dating scenes for me is that the latter makes me nervous. The whole playdating scene is a bit uncomfortable for me. Years ago I was open to dates with any type of guy. I had no real "type" ((except in my single days the bad boys were always much more appealling)). Now I feel very concerned already about who I will chose to have playdates with. My concern is not really for me. I love meeting new people and can hold a conversation with a wall. But for my son. Who is this mother? How does she raise her children? How will our families click? Will this relationship encourage or stunt my child's growth? Those once "bad boys" I would gravitate towards were now what I worried my son will turn into if he hangs out with the "wrong crowd." Granted I am very well aware that he is only six weeks old. I just tend to over think things now and want what's absolutely best for my son. ((Boy, don't I sound just like my mother!!))

I have left the dating scene of "me" and ventured into the dating scene of "we."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Like ten minutes. I'd just like him to appear."

-designer Rachel Zoe, on what her ideal delivery would be.

When I watched this episode of her reality show, I laughed hysterically! I would actually consider having another child soon if this is how delivery went. I'd consider even have five more!! Instead I'll take my still healing uterus and keep it dormant for another, lets say, three years. Then maybe I'll start to think about another one.

Another misconception that many people let me believe was that I could plan my delivery. November 12th, 2010 was the day we found out we'd be plus one nine months later. Both my husband and I cried staring at the five ((yes, five)) pregnancy tests lying on the counter. One of the best days of my life. From that day on, I planned exactly how I wanted to have the baby. I know I am not a very tolerant person when it comes to pain. I am one of those people who will cry for three days about a stubbed toe. So I knew I would have an epidural. Which was fine because I was determined for that to be the only drug to go in me when I was delivering. Even though I was not the happiest person throughout my pregnancy, I was so very excited about giving birth. I would day dream about being home, or at work, and starting to feel contractions. Then after my water would break, I would excitedly call my husband at work and say "ITS TIME!!" He would run down to his locker where my hospital bag had been so patiently waiting for this moment since May, and then head twelve blocks uptown to wait for me at the Labor and Delivery entrance at Mt Sinai Manhattan Hospital. We would hug and kiss and head inside where we would then go into a room and wait for the doctor to say "Its time to push." I would scream at the top of my lungs, swearing at my husband for the pain I was in. And then BAM! We would hear that little cry of life just emerged from inside me. My husband would kiss me and then go to cut the umbilical cord and then they would hand me my beautiful baby boy.

Well lets just say not one of those things happened. Instead for the last four weeks of OB appointments the doctor would say the same thing.. one centimeter dialated. The week before I was due I tried every natural way to induce pregnancy: hot sauce, accupressure, sex, herbal teas, everything!! Then July 23rd came and went. The next week I walked an average of 3 miles a day. ((I would like to remind the readers that this was also during that 100-113 degree heat wave here in NYC.)) Nothing was working. Our Little Lang was not budging. So came the last OB appointment where we had to set a date when I would be induced. At this point I knew my hopes and dreams of the "ITS TIME" phone call were shot. So the night of July 31st, we took the subway to 96th Street and walked two blocks uptown to the hospital. I was induced at 1 AM on August 1st. I had held off on the epidural due to the fact that I wanted to have control of something. I figured all the other drugs they had given me we're already ruining my "au-natural" plan, so I would take the pain. Well after my OB had to manually break my water ((I will spare the details of this horrific thing which still scar me and my husband to date)), she told me it was time for the epi. I asked her if there was any way I could do without it. She said no and sent the other doctors in to give me the comically large needle to the back. By 6 PM I had not dialated fully enough but Little Lang decided he was going to push thru anyways, causing him to get stuck and to go into stress. Another doctor came in and said they would be sending me to the OR and I would be having a C Section. There was no time for me to come to grips with the fact that I would not be seeing my son get born, that I wouldnt be able to push this life I had made out on my own, that my husband would be able to cut the cords and then hand me our beautiful baby boy. As they wheeled me out of the delivery room towards the OR, I looked at my husband and said "I'm going to be sick." The nurse handed me a bedpan and I proceeded to puke out all of the water and soup I had eaten in the last 18 hours.

I couldn't believe it. It was time. But not the time I had prepared for for the last nine months. Forty-five minutes after arriving in the OR, I heard that adorable little cry but couldnt see anything. The surgens cut the cord and handed him off to more doctors to clean and examine him. Then I heard words that would make me cry harder than those sleepless nights months before combined. "His glucose level is low. We need your husband to feed him some formula." What? Formula? NO! I had all of these hopes and dreams of putting him to my chest and finally feeling that bond that mothers always rave about. As I watched him feed our son a two ounce bottle of formula, I cried. Everything I had planned, everything I had daydreamed about. None of it happened. It was another 12 hours before I actually was able to try to breastfeed and when he didn't latch, my heart felt like a bullet had shot thru it.

Now with my son turning a month old tomorrow, I have officially given up breastfeeding. I tried to get him to latch, but it didnt work. I pumped for a while, bottle feeding him both breast milk and formula. Then when I had to take a few days off from pumping because of bleeding, my breast milk slowly depleated to nothing. I have cried over this so much. I dreamed of introducing my son into the world the most natural way possible and giving him life's nutrients all natural too. But dreams have been shattered. Even though his pediatrician has reassured me that he is completely healthy and will not go blind or grow a third arm due to formula feeding, I am still having a hard time coming to terms with it. It's something that makes me think, when he's crying and I dont know what's wrong, "maybe if we had that bond thru breastfeeding, I could figure out why he's so upset."

I guess this is one thing that is going to have to just settle with me overtime. However, no matter how he came into this world and what he eats, I am so thankful to have this big beautiful baby boy in my life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Baby

A month ago, I was anxiously waiting for my son to arrive. And as I talked to friends, coworkers, and family about my plans for delivery and motherhood all I heard were words of encouragement and positive vibes. Now as my son turns one month old on Thursday, I wish loved ones had given me a little bit more of a realistic idea of it all.
Throughout my pregnancy, everyone just told me the "good," how the miracle of life is so amazing and each kick and movement is just the most beautiful feeling. No one told me the "bad," that I would have a foot lodged in my rib for five weeks straight and that restless leg syndrome would also affect my arms and only allow me to sleep 45 minutes at a time for the last four months of my pregnancy. And if during that last month one more person was to tell me to "get sleep now, because you won't be sleeping once he's born," I was going to lose it!! However these few "bad" things ((along with many others)), no one talked about. And if I brought them up, most people just tried to steer the conversation to more postivie topics, like how I carried pregnancy so well. Truthfully, one of the only things I found to be so beautiful about pregnancy was that I could eat a pint of ice cream everyday for nine months and still "carry pregnancy so well."

Normally in my life I am a very happy person who only likes to surround herself with the most positive energy. So when I started hating being pregnant I thought there was something wrong. I would cry at 3 AM walking around my apartment, trying to get the tingling to leave my arms and legs while I watched the clock tick down to 6 AM when I would cry even harder thinking, "How am I going to get through this work day?" Not to mention the heartburn that was so bad I was vomiting at least twice a night. The worst thing, however, was the ridiculous rush of hormones clouding all rational thoughts, especially about my marriage. Whoever said "sex during pregnancy is amazing," was clinically insane. I could barely keep my eyes open at 8 PM to even hold a conversation with my husband, never mind anything else. And who is supposed to feel all sexy and in the mood when you're 40 lbs heavier, nauseous, and being kicked from the inside out. But due to these lovely hormones running through my head I for sure thought this amazing, caring, and patient husband of mine was looking for love somewhere else. Crazy, right?? But all of these unspeakable feelings of pregnancy can make a girl go crazy!!

I was afraid of all these "bads" because no one warned me. So when no one would admit to me its not all rainbows and butterflies, I seriously thought something was wrong with me. I thought I was going to be a bad mother. What I found to be even more surprising was that after my son was born, EVERYONE was willing to talk about the good, the bad, and the baby.

I decided to start writing this blog because I found myself doing what I hated, sugarcoating this miracle of life for all of my friends who are currently expecting. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love being a mother. It is one of the most amazing feelings in the world when my son is sleeping so peacefully in my arms. So I am finding it very theraputic to write about all of the fears and triumphs of this journey called motherhood, and I hope that my blog can only help other friends realize their not alone within their own pregnancy peaks and pits.