I often look at what's ahead, but occasionally, I look back. I only look back for the purpose of seeing how far I've come, or how different it used to be. This time is no exception.
A former good friend of mine just gave birth to her first son. We were best friends in high school, but rarely speak now. Several years have passed since we last spoke, in fact. You shouldn't be surprised that I know intimate details of her life from the life-sucking entity known as Facebook.
Ahh, Facebook. You have such a way about you when you remind me of my past. You have a natural talent for forcing me reminisce about things that I intentionally left so many years ago. You have an oh-so-curteous way of making me miss it, but only for a few seconds.
This year has been so full of milestones. I celebrated my child's first birthday. I delighted in my 5 year wedding anniversary. I partied like it was 1999, well... like it was 2000.... at my 10 year high school reunion. And now, it's been ten years since I packed two bags and left my life far behind me for a new, improved version.
I honestly don't remember saying goodbye. I can't imagine how my friends must have felt when I disappeared suddenly one morning. They all knew I was going away to college, but I never made a point to formally bid my farewell. I wanted out so badly, I knew if I wasted all that breath on "We'll see each other again soon!" to all of those people, I'd regret it one day.
Actually, I take all of that back. I remember one. This one, lonely goodbye was memorable because I knew I had to make it permanent. How many of those do we ever commit to in a lifetime? One? Two? How many times do we walk away and never come back?
I sat on the sofa and he sat in the computer chair. We stared at each other with the seriousness and coldness of a new machete in a deep freeze. The air exploded with the sounds of his voice. "I guess you'll be back in four years, right?" The silence that ensued lasted at least a millennium, perhaps a little longer. When I brushed the dust of the tip of my nose, I could only shake my head. I didn't like what I was about to say. "I'm not coming back." It boomed. It shook the foundation of the house. It made the hair on our arms stand up. It peeled the paint off the walls. It scared me. Was he... confused? Hurt? Angry? I couldn't tell. I don't think he could either.
I hung on to that one for another year or so... but I eventually got to a point where I knew I had to let it go for good, before I ended up going back.
I couldn't go back. I wanted a different life.
I tried to hang on to a few people, but the more I tried to hang on, the more I realized that my new adventure was in jeopardy of never existing. I eventually deserted every single friend that I had from back home for the sake of my new life. I can't blame any of them if they all hate me now. I would hate me if I were them. Some of them were very hard to turn around and walk away from. Some were very easy.
I didn't go back. I have my new life and I love it. It's perfect. I ran away from my problems and all of those monkeys chasing after me and it worked. My God, it worked. There are no "what-ifs" and "I shoulda/woulda/couldas." There are no regrets. Not one.
Nope. Not one.
Back to Facebook. Since FB has such a great way of bring all of this back, I've been considering (you might want to sit down here...) breaking up with Facebook. Right now, we are engaged in a trial seperation, which will last one week, and then we will reunite to discuss our options. Let's face it, we all now know that I have no problem packing up and leaving to pursue something better. I feel that Facebook is dragging me down and I don't like that. We're not seeing eye-to-eye on quite a few things.
I will be sure to keep all of you updated on the situation.
|JJ rocks the 'hawk.|
|If the shoe fits, chew on it.|
|Trying out our new car seat in the store!|
The other day, I backed myself up and read the blogs that I started posting in January. Memories of desperation, frustration, and anger resurfaced to shed some light on how I'm feeling now. I have to admit - it's been quite a journey.
My fears of him getting hurt or sick are still positioned on center stage in my life. I believe that this is quite normal, considering that he's my first child and the majority of parents that I talk to about this feel the same way. However, the paralyzing fear has eased into a state of constant caution, which is managable. At the very least, more managable than before.
America's birthday! We had a great Fourth, spending it with a few friends and some good food. Other than being HOT outside, it was a great time.
Even more importantly than that, I'm no longer a retail slave. I had accepted a position with Forever 21, a clothing retail store at a local mall. I mostly accepted the job because it was different and partly because the State of Virginia Unemployment board said I had to. I only had half a choice in the matter.
Anyway, working there was a little more demanding than what I expected. After the first week, I was not having fun, I was not fulfilled, and most of all... I was going home exhausted and wasn't able to spend any quality time with JJ. I just wanted to sit and put my feet up and that's just not like me. I decided after only two short weeks that I would start looking for another job.
It was a Wednesday that I got a phone call from a woman who found my resume on Monster.com. My resume had been there for... well.... forever. I was pretty skeptical when I called her back, and even more disbelieving when she asked if I could interview for a Proposal Coordinator position the next day. Of course I said yes; coincidentally I had the next day off. I arrived at their downtown office at 2 p.m.on Thursday afternoon, still not expecting much out of the interview. I had looked over the job description that the Human Resources Manager sent to me and the qualifications were higher than those I had under my belt. I knew there was no was I was going to nail this job.
As the interview progressed, I started cracking jokes and making conversation. I figured there was not much reason to be formal- I was under qualified anyway. The two men that interviewed me were hysterical - we laughed our way through the entire process.
I went home strangely satisfied. I felt like the interview went really well, despite my doubts of my qualifications. After all, they wouldn't have called me if they weren't interested. Around 7 p.m. that night, I was finishing up our bedtime routine when the HR Manager called. She told me that I should sit down, which I immediately did.
Not only did she offer me the job, but she wanted me to start that following Monday. I was in such disbelief that I nearly dropped the phone. This was my big break!! I had waited so long for this company to come find me and behold, here they were, with not a minute to spare. I accepted and wondered all night how I was going to break the news to my other job. It wasn't easy, but I divorced my tedious, tiring retail job to begin working with a wonderful Federal Government contractor in downtown Richmond. It's the first day of my third week and I couldn't be more thrilled. I'm not worried about JJ, I'm not worried about taking emergency time off if he's sick, I'm not worried about our finances anymore, I'm not worried about my job security.... it's a tremendous feeling. I have a purpose... my work has a purpose. This is it - this is the big one. The Fat Mama. The grande affaire.
Thanks, Monster. My calling really WAS calling... I owe you guys a big one.
I've FOUND all of these things in my blog. Just now. Go me.
I've been waiting and watching for something to come of my blog other than random blabber and words. Here it is. This is what I'm passionate about.
I have been thinking hard about writing a book but have yet to figure out what I would write it on. This may be a good start.
There are so many things that I wish people had told me about prior to having JJ. SO MANY THINGS. I want to make those things available to other women out there who wonder how in the heck they can make it back to daycare before they close if they get stuck in traffic and a host of other random things. These things I've learned on my own - it hasn't been easy. I'll share personal experiences, ways to save money, DIY projects, how to get more sleep, and many other fun things. I'll share things that I struggle with like Post-Partum depression and stress management.
This blog is now available on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. It is also emailable. I would love to receive questions from other new moms about every day events that seem very complicated, and offer help and advice when I can.
My whole point of this: Being a new mom does not have to be a constant guessing game!
See you in the next blog!
Monday is the day. I start a new job and I have to admit - I have some reservations. Sure, I'm excited about starting something new... but there is so much that sits on that excitement and smothers it.
I want to be with my son. I'm not talking spending some time with him - I'm talking about spending ALL the time with him. I worked really hard to find a stay at home job, but it just didn't work out. Perhaps one day. I'm going to keep looking.
Being a working mother is incredibly hard. I can't even describe how difficult it is to leave your child, come home exhausted just to put your baby directly to bed, and start all over the next day. When I'm at work, all I think about is my baby. When I'm away from him, he's on my mind.
I realized the other day that perhaps the root of the post partum depression wasn't because JJ is here... it's because he's not here. I haven't had a SINGLE symptom since I've been out of work. Not one. Now I already feel it coming back, just with the thought of going back and leaving him once again. Coincidence? I think not.
The real challenge here is not the new job, or the magnitude of the work, or the commute - it's surviving and coping with being away from my child. It's inevitable anyway... kindergarten is just around the corner, right?
It's true. I outfitted my kid's room for a serious fraction of what I could have spent (I'll explain how in another blog!). I'm not including gifts, here, but really the only thing that we received as a gift as far as the nursery goes were the crib bumpers. JJ's furniture is all handed down, with the small exception of his new crib, which I will talk about later. I will post a separate blog with instructions and tips for each piece in subsequent blogs, with close up pictures. Let's take a tour of the room!
Let's start with the door hanging, which was one of the last things that I made from his room. I purchased the guitar wooden cutouts for this door hanging and painted them, then put glitter and glow in the dark paint on them. They are mounted with guitar picks and letters on a yellow satin ribbon. The letters I cut out of cardboard and covered with decorative paper.
As you walk into his room, on your left is something interesting. Jerry had this OLD guitar (his first one actually) that he was going to get rid of. It was beat up and ugly, but I took it under my wing, worked hard on it, and this is what happened:
It is bolted to the beam right behind that wall. I always get tons of compliments on it when people come into the nursery.
Directly in front of the door is JJ's crib. His original crib was given to us by my parents, who still had it from when my 5 year old nephew was a baby. It was recalled and we exchanged it for this crib. Even if this crib wasn't exchanged, it was very inexpensive and we probably would have bought it if we didn't have a hand-me-down. It is a 4 way convertible and it cost about $89 on walmart.com. I'm not kidding. It's very sturdy and perfect for a kid that will just chew it up anyway.
Those crooked bumpers are awesome, and practically started this whole DIY nursery. I didn't want to invest in bumpers that I would have to take out of the crib anyway due to safety reasons, so I registered for these breathable ones (which aren't always crooked, I just didn't feel like taking another picture!). You can check them out at: http://www.breathablebaby.com/.
The crib skirt was made from a pattern I found online. It took about 20 minutes from start to finish. I also made the rail cover (JJ is a chewer!) from a cut up towel covered with music note fabric. I also got the idea and a pattern online. Each rail will soon have a cover, too, because I'd rather JJ not eat paint and wood as a midnight snack.
On the wall above the crib is JJ's name - the real one:
I printed the letters (big ones!) and then used them as a pattern to cut these letters out of cardboard. I covered them with the guitar fabric that I used for the crib skirt. Hot glue works great to fasten the fabric to the back of the letters. They are hanging with yellow satin ribbon.
On the other side of the room is the changing table, which was also a hand me down from my parents. It was a little scratched and beat up, but I sanded it and painted it, bringing it back to a very nice finish.
The changing pad cover was a PAIN to make, but it was worth it when I was finished. I don't know if I can even make directions for it. I don't even think I want to.
I used guitar pics and painted wooden guitar cut outs to decorate the changing table. I bought those bins at Walmart for $3 each, and they are worth twice their weight in diapers.
The next edition of DIY Nursery: JJ's Room will include a diaper stacker, curtains, two mobiles, and a rocking chair cushion.
Nine working days have passed since I won my unemployment case and we still have not seen a single dime from the Government. Thanks for the hustle there, Obama. You f-ing rock, dude.
While we're waiting for a nice fat Govie check, I've been trekking out into several interviews. One promising interview is for a Visual Merchansider Manager with Forever 21 (www.forever21.com) at Regency Square Mall. I'm extra excited about this job because it seems like everything fits - the hours, the pay, the duties, the type of work... the commute sucks, but I'm willing to trade for a great job.
The other was a big build up and a huge let down. It was with a marketing firm here in Richmond. They are looking for customer service agents to sell appointments for Sears and Home Depot and other retailers. The commission was good. The people were fun. I thought this might have been the big one, until I realized that the company required 6 day work weeks, with 10 hours per day. Sorry, but I've worked 60 and 70 hours per week before. My feet were angry with me for weeks after that. I can't do it to them again. Ever.
So the marketing firm offered me the job and I've yet to call them and decline. Sucks to be them.
Other than that, the hunt is going, uh, well....? It seems to me that every week or so, a bunch of great new jobs will turn up, but more than half of them are scammy, work at home deals that you have to pay to become involved in. What is up with that? Excuse me, but I'm looking to get paid, not to pay you to maybe give me a job. It just doesn't make much sense to me. This puts a crimp in my serious job searching efforts because I don't know if a unknown company is legitimate or scam. People will do anything to other people now, and scamming people out of money ranks right on the top of the "Dirty things that dirty people do" list.
Anyway. JJ will be 8 months old next week, so I will have some pictures up to commemorate the occasion. A big deal, indeed.
Moments I've missed it since then: 0
Kisses I've planted on JJ's head: 398,654 (approximately)
Number of times I've felt free: 1
My unemployment hearing was today. I don't "know" the outcome, but my previous company did not appear on the call. A small statement was taken from them, but there was no case. This is undoubtedly a good thing.
My ties to them are severed. I have nothing that leaves me hanging from them. Today, I'm truly free. Referring back to the previous blog, I have no contempt in my heart. There is no room now, because two Jerrys fill the space so perfectly. I am quite thankful for them.
I realized that a few things remain since I drove past my old office building today on my way out to do some work with my mom-in-law. I want a work family again. Badly. It's what I miss the most about Mikasa - the family I had there. I thought I had a family at my old company. I thought I was cared about. I wanted to be, at least. What's left almost feels like two months after a break up - you wonder what might have been, you throw away everything that reminds you, and you find a new boyfriend.
On the 69th day, I'm seeing greener pastures. On this beautiful 69th day, I don't wish my life was the same as it was a year ago. The day is a hidden blessing, giggling under it's cover with anticipation of the wonderful things about to come.
Upon realizing that today was, in fact, Cinco de Mayo, I also noticed that my older sister celebrated her 30th birthday this past weekend. Since I didn't even notice until today (her birthday was on the 2nd), it's pretty obvious to me that I still don't miss her. I'm still okay with that, too.
Now it's May 11. It's never taken me this long to write a blog, but I've avoiding this one. On purpose. It's a several day blog.
I don't talk about her much. In fact, I don't talk about her at all. I don't have any pictures of her and the memories that are left are fuzzy and gray. Most people don't even know that I have two sisters. Sometimes I don't know that I have two sisters...
We used to ride bikes together. We would have Barbie fashion shows and go swimming and play basketball and swing on the swing set. When times were good, that is...
She joined the Navy when she was 17, in order to "get the hell out of here." She would tell stories to people about how my mother was an alcoholic and beat her. She would say that she had to sleep on the floor while me and my younger sister got to sleep in a bed. She said all kinds of horrible things about our family that weren't true. We didn't know then that she was sick. We didn't know that she didn't know what she was doing. We thought she was evil.
At 19 years old, she was married to her second husband. In May of 1999, she called my mother at 2 a.m. to tell her that she was pregnant, and my mom hung up on her. The conversation had quickly turned from disbelief on my mom's part to my sister screaming at her through the phone "why aren't you happy for me?!" My nephew, William, was born in February the following year.
It wasn't long before my sister left her second husband, and her baby, to go be with another man. She'd been in and out of jail for numerous crimes against the Navy and later was dishonorably discharged. My parents assumed custody of William when he was 15 months old when his father couldn't afford to take care of him alone.
My sister found out about my parents' custody a few years later and launched a massive three year custody battle which, thankfully, she abandoned for completely unknown reasons.
My sister has Bipolar Disorder and is non-compliant with meds. I noticed the other day there was a special about it on TV, and I had to turn it off. I couldn't watch, because those stories were so close to home, it sent chills up my spine. Her story could go on for several more blogs, but no one wants to read about horrible people. No one wants to see what an awful person she had become, and what she did to those that loved her. I thought horrible things about her. I wanted her dead. I hated her. Passionately. She poisoned my life with rage and contempt.
I think all of this is coming out because my grandmother's birthday was Sunday. I think about her a lot. Every day, in fact. She talked about my sister often and prayed that she would come back a changed person. I once asked my grandmother if she really wanted that, after all that my sister had done. She looked me in the eye, and said "She needs forgiveness more than anyone."
Normally I don't quote scripture, but this one sticks in my mind. After my grandmother told me that my sister needed forgiveness, she went to her bible and read me this:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18: 21-35
That last sentance really is what I remember most from my grandmother's lesson. Forgiveness is not easy. It's taken me several years to do it. I forgive her. She doesn't know what she's done and doesn't understand what the result was. But her slate is clean in my heart. This doesn't mean that I want her to appear on my doorstep tomorrow. This doesn't mean that I want her to come be a part of my life again. It just means that I have no contempt for her. Not any more. The sister that I used to play with and have fun with doesn't exist anymore. And I'm okay with that.
Since no one asked me where my blog went, I guess no one missed it. In case you were wondering, however, I'll tell you. It went no where.
The past month has been rather busy. I've been very preoccupied in the yard the past few weeks, trying to get it ready to brave the summer. I didn't do much yard work last year due to my pregnancy, so now I have this year's work AND last year's work to take care of. It's been quite tedious, to say the least.
As most of you already know, I've also gotten into a new... hobby? Sport? I dunno what I would call it:
Yep. Roller skating. I'm talking old school, knee socks, four wheels per foot, roller rink skating. I'm amazed at the excitement and fulfillment that skating brings. When I'm out there in a sea of strangers, sailing around on tiny wheels, everything is okay. Nothing matters except staying upright. The stress, the worry, the doubt, the pressure... it doesn't exist out there. I feel carefree, only wondering how much faster I can go without the rental skate falling apart.
Don't worry, I don't think I'll be skating in rentals forever.
I've been tossing around the idea with Jerry of joining the roller derby. Although I have a long way to go, I think it would be hysterically fun, and I would have some hobby that I actually enjoy doing, rather than something I just happened to be good at.
Back to reality: The job hunt is going slow, as expected. The unemployment hearing is on the 14th. That's about all the news I have on that.
JJ has been sleeping much better lately. I can't remember the last time he woke in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep without eating. It's a big improvement. He's been napping well, too sometimes two to three hours at a time. He's been falling asleep on his own at night for a few weeks and recently started doing so for naps. It's very exciting for me because some of the pressure of his relentless dependence is easing a bit.
As far as the depression... some days are still not good. I'm happy to report that I have more "okay" days compared to bad ones, and a few good ones sprinkled in there somewhere. With time, I can feel the symptoms starting to ease, peeling away like the skin of an onion. For a long time, my focus was on surviving. Now? I think I might be living. Maybe.
Well, Blog, it's been nice visit. I promise I will try not to neglect you as much as I have in the past month. I'll see you real soon...
Today, though, we're facing our first cold in a few months and we're both feeling rather ill. At first, I thought my allergies were on hyper drive but then JJ got snuffly and congested. Since babies generally don't have allergy problems, I realized then why all of that allergy medication wasn't working.
I'm actually lucky I didn't accidentally overdose on Zyrtec, if there is such a thing.
It seemed like a perfect day to sleep in, laze around, and do nothing all morning. The sun is out now, chasing away the dreariness that lingered after last night's thunderstorms and downpour. I think it's always funny how rainstorms can make such a dramatic entrance, stomp and throw themselves around, and be so easily chased away by the quiet glimmer of a small sunshine beam.
So that's today. Quiet, lazy, and sleepy.
Emotionally I'm okay. Spending so much time with JJ is very good for both of us, and I'm working hard to make sure that we can have more time together when I go back to work... or at the very least, I can be more available for him. My plan is developing already and our big break is going to come through soon. I can feel it.
Time for another nap...
I sat and drank my coffee in complete disbelief. I felt like I had just gotten a visit from the Ghost of Easter Past. Memories of getting up at dawn and dressing in our Sunday best to head off to church for several hours flashed back into my mind. The visions of watching the sun rise and shine through the stained glass windows came back to me, too. Although I was too young to remember the Catholic Easters, as I got to college, several of my friends frequently practiced the holiness of Lent: 40 days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, in which I participated too. A more modern practice of Lent can be several different layers of the three elements, or simply giving up something that is pleasurable or addicting to your life, as a sacrifice to your faith. Holy communion was a big deal in my church on Easter morning, and I was always honored to participate with my community and my family.
The Easter Bunny was always on time, every year, In addition to a basket filled with goodies (not so much candy, but lots of toys, games, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk), the Bunny always brought each of us a new pair of shoes. One year he even brought me a kit to make a pair of leather moccasins that I got to sew together myself!
Easter this year compared to Easter, say, fifteen years ago, is dramatically different. I woke up this morning and didn't even remember that it was Easter Sunday. I think that's pretty sad. I know that as JJ gets older, holidays will mean more to us, but this year seems like a bit if a blur - every day is the same as the last. JJ will have the same experiences that I did as a child, perhaps even more. The Ghost of Easter Present got jipped on this one... sorry, dude.
It's so funny how things change so dramatically as we get older. Sometimes it changes so fast, you almost feel like one night you go to bed in your bedroom, and the next morning you wake up in Zimbabwe. Completely naked and ten years older.
Oh, and don't worry everyone - I talked it over with God and we're cool. And I'm still waiting for the Ghost of Easter Future to come around today...
Here's a hint: Too bad we didn't have a Plan B in place in order to pay the mortgage. We'll have to think of one now. At least, until the Unemployment Hearing in May.
Hey God, how did you know I needed more motivation to find a job? Oh wait. You know everything. Well, then you also know that we'll need some serious Divine intervention right now for our sanity and our bills, let alone putting food in our baby's belly and diapers on his bottom.
Moments like these make me think of that old, desperate question that has slipped out of every one's mind now and then: Why do such bad things happen to good people? I've asked myself that very question more than a few times in the past several months. Why us? Why now? And, most importantly, what did I do to deserve this?
I've spent most of my life with a desire to help people. At first I wanted to be a doctor, but then realized that I didn't love school as much as a doctor should. Then I kind of wanted to be a nurse, but I despised the grueling hours and the dirty work. I fell into retail in college as a way to pay the rent and really fell in love with the idea of helping so many people throughout the course of a day. Every day, I met an unlimited number of strangers who needed me and that was a great feeling.
As I climbed the retail ladder, I realized that helping strangers wasn't the only thing that I was good at. I quickly learned how to help employees, too. Helping those that I worked with, and who worked for me, became the highlight of my retail career because the fruit was there to see. The labor paid off, and I could see the results growing. I loved it.
I have never once treated an employee unfairly, although some disgruntled ones might think otherwise. Sure, I dished out some tough love every now and then, but in the long run, I only wanted what was best for them and the store. A leader is nothing without her team, and a team is nothing without each other.
I spent many years protecting my employees from unjust treatment, unfair advantages, and unethical practices. I've spent my whole life trying to please others. Isn't it a little ironic that I'm being handed all of those things now? Although treating others the same way you want to be treated is a nice gesture, it is far from a guarantee that others will treat you the same. I feel good knowing that I never treated others the way I am being treated now.
After speaking to a friend, my mom, and my 10 year old nephew, I realize now that everything has it's place. My child has his place, my husband, my dog... and this too... and perhaps in ten years, we will look back on this day and laugh.
I can't wait to laugh about this.
The past few days have been a little unsteady for me. I feel like I'm the only person in the whole world who has ever stared at herself in the mirror and said "Huh?!"
The past couple of weeks when I felt close to normal was a nice break, but as I previously reported, I knew it wouldn't last long. There suddenly aren't enough hours in the day. I can't find enough energy to be productive to my liking. I can't get motivated to do the laundry. I'm having a hard time falling asleep at night. I feel like I will be jobless forever. My appetite seems to have taken a vacation. I'm irritable and scared. Over everything. The auto-pilot switch has been on for a few days and I'm okay with that, for now. The problem with auto-pilot is I feel like I'm not really living, just surviving - kind of like just holding my breath and floating, rather than making headway by swimming. I desperately need a life jacket.
Our situation is far from dire and I know that. I keep thinking about all of the "what-ifs" and it's overwhelming. There are so many to choose from. Anything can happen to us in this vulnerable state and it's terrifying.
I'm struggling. God, I'm struggling. It's been six months, how long will this last? We're in between a rock and a hard place here when it comes to finding a solution: I was making arrangement to get some therapy to get through the post partum crap, but when I lost my job, I lost my insurance, too. Great timing, eh?
As I sit here listening to JJ snore into the baby monitor, my heart swells with love for him and Jerry, and it makes me think that adding a little glimmer of hope to the dreary blogs that find their way to the screen is a good thing. A good thing indeed. We're still getting through this together.
Have I practiced any of it since I moved out of Mom and Dad's farmhouse? That's another story.
When I got pregnant, my research on babies revealed two things: how expensive babies are and how significant a baby's carbon footprint is. Since long before JJ was born, we've been conceiving more than a bundle of joy - we've been thinking of ideas on how to save money and be greener.
The first thing that I decided on was making his nursery decor. It was easy after I decided on what pattern and learned a few tricks. Some forward planning was all I needed in order to make the decorations for his changing table, the changing pad cover, the diaper stacker, curtain, crib skirt, letters for his name on the wall, and the door hanging. We even fixed up an old guitar of Jerry's for a wall hanging. I will post pictures later, but the baby is asleep right now... or at least trying to sleep.
I didn't realize until recently of the global impact of my DIY nursery decor. Think about it: have you ever been amazed at the amount of packaging that, well, anything comes in? All of that cardboard for the original box, which is usually shrink wrapped and put into another box for protection. Then that box is put into a large cardboard crate with other units for shipment. Then those crates are shipped, which uses an exorbitant amount of fuel, to the store. Then the store unpacks those crates, outer boxes, and shrink wrap to put those items on the shelf. News flash: most department stores do not recycle those packing materials! The consumer then drives to the store, using more fuel, and purchases the item. Once the consumer gets the item, the packaging is thrown away, usually not recycled. This is the story for every new items you purchase in the store.
Other things that we did not cost packaging on: two borrowed cribs, one borrowed changing table, one old bookshelf that we painted, one borrowed rocking chair. We bought a good deal of our baby gear used, with the exception of the stroller and car seats. We borrowed his jumper and a lot of clothes from a good friend, too.
We also make our own baby food. Think about it this way: from about 6 months until about a year or so, a baby uses around 6 small jars of baby food a day. That's 1080 jars and lids used. Let me reiterate: not everyone recycles, and there is production waste involved with making all of those jars, too! Those jars are also packaged with lots of cardboard and plastic prior to grocery store arrival, who do not recycle those materials!
And think about it: do you really know why baby food doesn't expire for nearly two years? (hint, it's not the pressure cooking) Food manufacturers are not required to list ingredients if the amount is below a certain level of saturation. That is, if in a 2 oz jar of baby food, if the maximum level of a preservative is 1 gram per FDA, the preservative is not listed if the level is .9 gram. Making baby food is a surefire way to know exactly what is going into your baby and it's way cheaper, too. Not only that, nearly everything is available organic now, so that's a plus.
I'll agree that green living requires an adjustment. We're getting way into it now, by replacing our light bulbs, and hardcore recycling. We're unplugging our appliances that we're not using, and a few other things that reduce our footprint.
But... just because we're trying doesn't mean that we're doing everything. For example, I'm not cloth diapering (although I'm very interested in starting soon!) for the simple fact that it just doesn't fit our lives right now. I didn't put much forethought into it before JJ was born, but I'm doing my research and I may figure it out before JJ goes back to daycare. As soon as I run out of wipes, we will be switching to reusable ones, though. I don't want to get into the impact of disposable diapers in landfills, but you can google it if you want.
Other things are pretty easy: using washable bibs instead of those disposable ones, planting a garden (next year, I just couldn't get it together this year!) or shopping at your local farm or produce stand, and of course recycling. Any little thing that can be done to protect the earth is worth it!
Although we're still learning, it's still an adventure, like every other day. And now a cute picture of my kid.
JJ was in a bad mood today, too. I find much curiosity in how our emotions seem to parallel each other’s. The house is a mess, but do I care? Nope. Instead of cleaning, I took a bubble bath. Relaxing was delightful. It occurred to me in the tub that my body is finally mine again. After more than a year, it’s finally back to normal. Well, almost.
Disclaimer (I’m making a lot of these, aren’t I?): Slightly graphic material to follow. Use your own imagination at your own risk.
Top ten ways I know my body is mine again
-I noticed in the mirror, before I got in the tub, that my stretch marks are finally beginning to lighten.
-The “Linea Negra,” that funny brown line that appears down the center of every pregnant belly, is fading but still there. It’s ok, I don’t mind.
-My C-Section scar is still so sensitive, you can only imagine what my bikini line looks like, but at least the scar isn’t red anymore.
-My period FINALLY stopped after five STRAIGHT months (knock on some serious wood here.) No, I’m not making that up. Nine months of no periods is NOT a free pass – you gotta pay all that back later.
-The baby weight is long gone, plus five bonus pounds.
-All of the strange blood blister-looking-things all over my body have nearly disappeared; only a few linger here and there.
-The “mask of pregnancy” spot is still hanging around above my left eyebrow, but I can tell that it’s shrinking.
-I can wear my contacts again after about nine months.
-My hair has stopped falling out and is now back to it’s normal, frizzy, unruly self.
-The tummy squishiness is diminishing and the midsection figure is starting to return, just in time for bikini season.
After I thought about all of this, I began to feel better about the whole grouchy thing. Then I thought about myself a year ago. About this time last year, Jerry pulled over in front of a church on Easter Sunday so I could vomit my breakfast on their front lawn as they were dismissing the congregation from the service. I’ll admit it one of my better moments. How about the time that I sat outside on the porch at 6 a.m. and vomited into the snow beside the step? It wasn’t long after the March snow last year. OH and what about waking up at 2 and 4 every sing morning because I was starving, only to taste it again when I got out of bed in the morning?
Things that set me off: salsa, smoke, Arm and Hammer litter, coffee, riding in the car, sleeping upstairs (turned out to be the Airwick that was plugged in beside the stairs), flossing, dog and cat food
Things that made it all better: milk and Zofran for 26 straight weeks, until the Hell Fire otherwise known as heartburn kicked in. Then, nothing helped.
Ah yes. It’s nice having my body back again. Many people told me back then it would “all be worth it.” I didn’t see their point. In fact, I wanted to scream when people made any kind of light of the endless suffering that I was going through. I didn’t understand why I had to endure discomfort after hardship after trial after tribulation. Wasn’t this pregnancy thing supposed to be a natural thing my body was made to do? Wasn’t it supposed to be easy?! I HATED being pregnant, and everyone knew it.
Now, I have two words for the past 15 months: Worth it.
Since I’ve been a newly designated “stay at home mom,” (at least, for now) I’ve had a unique opportunity to observe other parents and how they interact with their children. I believe I’ve been looking for tips or tricks on being out and about with a baby, perhaps how I can make an outing more enriching or productive for both of us. The answers to my inquiries are far from resolved but I have noticed one consistent thing with all of the parents: Every single one is drastically different. I’m incredibly interested in the many different styles of parenting and will start with my own.
My parenting style is very simple: I do what feels right. I haven’t read a single baby book, I haven’t committed to a single parenting style, and I haven’t ever, EVER ignored my instinct. The mother’s instinct always conquers trouble. I never researched attachment parenting styles until recently and was surprised that a lot of the practices in our home fit in with this particular parenting approach.
I’m only going to address the areas in which I have experience, considering that my baby is only six months old. Much more information exists on a wide array of attachment parenting, most of which I haven't even read.
Attachment parenting encourages breastfeeding
I desperately tried to breastfeed and failed miserably, and it was right for both of us to switch to formula. I did everything I could to keep the breastfeeding going, but all of us were at our wits end and for the sake of all of our sanities, we had to switch. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but we were happier in the end, so that is all that matters.
Attachment parenting encourages co-sleeping
We tried co-sleeping but JJ slept much better without me tossing and turning all night long. Then we tried sleeping in the same room for a while, but JJ still woke with the tossing, turning, and noise that Jerry and I made in our sleep. When I switched him to a crib, he slept like, well, a baby. I am still amazed and very thankful now that he's sleeping in his own crib.
Attachment parenting encourages baby wearing
This one I can do. Other than today, I can’t remember a time when I pulled out my stroller out in public. Sure, I use the stroller when we’re going out for a jog, but when I’m out, JJ is usually in the Mei Tai or the Moby wrap. He loves it and its super comfortable, even for a 22 pound baby. When he gets tired of the baby wearing, or I need to bend or pick up a bunch of heavy objects, he’s in the cart, armed with his seat cover and toys galore. Today was the exception: I injured my knee yesterday and didn’t think that carrying 22 extra pounds on it was a great idea. I felt a little guilty about JJ being in the stroller and missing a lot of the sights, but my knee needs to be healthy for him.
At home, I wear JJ while I’m vacuuming, loading the dishwasher, folding clothes… pretty much anything that doesn’t involve the use of chemicals that he could breathe in, or a lot of bending over. He loves it.
Attachment parenting encourages natural sleep
Just the thought of sleep training makes me cringe. In my opinion, sleep training breaks a baby’s natural cycle of sleep and adjusts it to fit that of the parent. I have quite strong opinions on this: It’s selfish. It’s unhealthy. It crushes a baby’s confidence and trust in mom and dad, even if the training only takes a few days. Its future consequences far outweigh the short term benefits. When JJ is tired, I put him to bed. When he is awake, we do other things. We fell into a natural rhythm of sleeping at night and being awake during the day because we were so close when he was tiny. He’s made his own schedule and I stick to it faithfully. Granted, when he goes back to daycare, it will change again. We will adjust when the time comes.
He never cries when he wakes on his own after confidently getting just the right amount of sleep that his body needs. He falls asleep soundly on his own, because both he and I have learned what to do when he’s tired. We never miss an opportunity to nap. Ever. Even at daycare, the natural sleep cycle prevailed and he slept well there.
Another important thing about sleeping: I always respond to JJ’s calls at night. In fact, I always promptly respond to all of his calls and cries. He feels confident that if something is wrong, I’ll be there to fix it. If he wakes up and nothing is wrong, he goes back to sleep. I did nothing to encourage this cycle; it just happened naturally on its own. As it should. He sometimes sleeps 13 hours at night and usually takes three 45 – 60 minute naps a day. Sleeping is not painful or uncomfortable, so no crying involved.
All of these things worked for our family, so that’s what we have done and are currently doing.
Attachment parenting as potential prevention of Post Partum Depression
This one surprised me. Several resources out there have pointed to Attachment Parenting as prevention and even treatment for post partum depression. The reason for this is that attachment parenting builds confidence in the parent to do the instinctive thing for the baby. I can say from personal experience, a major symptom of PPD is extreme paranoia about unintentionally neglecting your child or not doing the right thing. With increased confidence that communication with your baby is at a premium, the paranoia eventually withers away, leaving a secure baby and parent.
Yes, some parents reading this will think “She’s lucky to have such an easy baby.” I believe there are no such things as “easy” or “difficult” babies. All babies are the exact same when they come out of the womb. They all have the same basic needs (with the exception of preemies, colicky, or other special needs babies, of course.) It’s the parent that makes or breaks the “easy baby” blessing, not the other way around.
Like I said earlier, I am not discounting any styles of parenting, nor am I endorsing attachment style parenting. I’m merely exploring the different types of child-rearing practices, including those in other countries. I’m amazed at the diversity of each parent and with this exploration; I’m hoping to become a better one.
They're everywhere. Red, polka-dotted, evil, falling into your food/bathtub/hair/coffee, crawling on your ceiling, buzzing into the light fixtures. They're everywhere, and I've had enough.
Just look at that bug. Sinister, isn't it??
Yeah, I know that ladybugs supposedly bring good luck, and they are "nature's crusaders." In fact, a ladybug can eat up to 20 rose aphids a day, which is great news for flower gardeners. Many farmers have ordered ladybugs from distributors in Asia, due to their sustainability and vigor. Most ladybugs live one season, but the foreign imported ladybugs live for many seasons and hibernate during the winter months. Virginia is seeing many of these imported ladybugs.
Great news for farmers, bad news for my kitchen window.
I tried spraying them with water and scooping them into a Tupperware container to get them outside. They resisted. I tried scooping them with the flyswatter, they again resisted. When the masses got the memo and invaded my kitchen, I was ready. Armed with the removable canister from my Bissell Lift Off, I vacuumed them up. All 234,216,997 of them.
The battle may have been won, but the war is not over. They will return tomorrow, and my vacuum and I will be ready.
It's been a pretty darn good day. I hope tomorrow is just, if not more... better? gooder? Sorry... it's late...
- ► March (19)