Sunday, March 27, 2016

Short-term Memory Loss Theory

Maybe it's been proven already, I could probably do some googling but I think we are biologically wired to forget a lot of that first year. Perhaps its due to lack of sleep, but when I'm around new parents and they mutter about how their baby does such and such annoying thing I hear a mental ping go off in my head, like 'Ohhh yah! How could I forget that baby thing?'

What is the most terrifying about short-term memory loss is when someone hands you a new-ish baby and it feels so unnatural to hold it. Didn't I spend like 24 hours a day for three months holding a newborn, but wait, how do you hold something that can't support it's head? Should I sit down so I can position your head better? Ohhh-kay I'm done, here you go baby back to your expert parents. Annnd I just brushed my breast your daddy's arm in the transfer, whoops! Promise I wasn't trying to make a move.

Also when can babies just eat whatever they can reach again? Was out for a beer and had some crackers on the table for my almost two year old, the 8 month old reached for the same crackers and without thinking I was like 'Yah that's nice, Theo, share." The mom was like "uhhh no, he can't eat those yet." Oh my god, how did I forget that babies can't just eat everything? It has not even been two years since Theo was born. I remember some fancy soccer footwork or how to throw a backhand disc better than I remember how to take care of a baby and I haven't done those things in 5+ years.

For me, it's probably the only way I'll actually get the blind courage to do it all again, thinking yep I know what I'm getting into, but no actually I need to re-learn everything. I still have diapers down and know to keep kids away from moving cars, so I have 2 things down of the 1,000 that you need to remember to raise a newborn infant.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Eye-rolling at "Are you going to have a second?"

I know, I know every milestone in life is exciting for everyone to know about, hear about, they're curious if you're doing things the way they would or did. I remember my senior year, I got really tired of everyone asking where I was going to go to college, then as an undecided major, I got really tired of explaining that I didn't have a major yet, then after college when Phil and I had been together for 6 years, we got asked about marriage all. the. time. Fast-forward and this experience of having an almost 2 year-old feels more emotionally charged than the other milestone questions.

Like so many other parents who have just past the 1st birthday of their first child, the interest in whether or not we're having a second is a common question when we're out in the world. I believe I counted 6 times in a half an hour when we went to a recent birthday party with acquaintances we hadn't seen in a while. I don't get offended by the question, I understand the curiosity because myself included is curious when and if this will happen for us. That being said, still every time the question is asked it takes my breath away and I stumble through an answer. 

I especially get nervous as someone who doesn't like lying to anyone even by omission so what if the true answer is we're trying but we haven't had an positive pregnancy tests yet, because what am I supposed to say? We're trying? Or we are pregnant but aren't sharing? What if it's that I finally feel like I got my pre-pregnancy body back and I'm too vain to create another human for at least six months while I enjoy wearing normal clothes? What if it's that our marriage is really struggling given all the pressure that parenting and working and planning for the future creates on a couple? What if we can't have any more? Or that we're in financial ruin? The truth is you don't ever really know and you could be twisting a knife in a wound when you ask that question.

Also, given the possible answers, then where does the conversation go with 60 year old man I just met? "Well we've been having lots of unprotected sex lately, but nothing." And c'mon, I went to the party partially in fact to get my own mind off the topic since it's started to consume me. Honestly, maybe not the best answer, but one that feels the most comfortable is comedy and deflection. "Ha, no I never want to do that again." Or "As soon as he starts pulling his weight around the house, I'll consider it." Vague. Mildly Funny, but hopefully sends a message to somewhat in tune social people that I'm not super interested in small-talking my uterus plans. Or there's option C, perhaps my favorite, inserting some political advocacy in there "As soon as there is a national maternity leave policy in place that I can live with I'll have another" or "We're waiting to see if a democrat is elected before we start trying because we're really concerned about climate change. Do you have one minute for the environment?" 
So now I'll contradict myself to you completely and discuss the dilemma with you all since you may face the similar decision. Why is this decision so much harder than the first one? Because we hold the knowledge on how much our lives changed with our wonderful, cuddly bubbly life-ruiner son. The first decision was so exciting, thrilling, like jumping on a roller coaster for the first time. Let's do this, adrenaline rush with not really sure what all is entailed in the ride. 

Now, it's hard to imagine that the curtain isn't going to come down just as hard as it did the first time, even though we arranged our house to be a monkey-baby gym and we're now used to staying home every night of the week (Netflix, am i right?). I'm also totally used to my breasts being out all hours of the day and spending countless hours of my life trying to get a little human to just sleep. I went to a hair stylist who said it best,

 "It's hard to imagine giving so much of yourself to another human again, or in addition to the other one you've already created." 

When I think about how much I love theo, the idea of duplicating that love is overwhelming. I really didn't anticipate fears like this for the second - it seems like if you've been through it before, you know what you're getting into, but I think for both Phil and I there's a feeling of we really lucked out with this one. He has seen kids as a teacher that are really challenging and trying to meet their needs as parents is something I imagine to be more exhausting than bringing home a newborn. 

I believe in us as a team as parents as corny as that sounds. I love how dedicated Phil is to creating environments where Theo can learn and play and explore together. He doesn't mind throwing a ball 100 times back and forth or reading the same book 4 times in a row. I think I bring a different set of skills to parenting where Theo comes to me for comfort, nutrition, curiosity about the world including people and nature. We share a deep love for all animals. 
Theo's daycare recently posted this picture to the day care app so if he could do that all day with a new baby, I'd be set, decision made since this photo pulls at my heart so very deeply. 

He would make a wonderful big brother and I've imagined my life having kidS and have fantasies of driving around teenagers who can't stand me, singing along to music that's relevant to them, driving them absolutely crazy. I don't want the fear of the first year of their life (though it's insanely hard) to make me miss out on that. I want that basement full of angsty teens learning to play bass or drums like I had growing up. I want to watch siblings love, learn and hold a forever bond. The best gift my parents gave me are the three other people in the world that I'm forever connected with and share the same ridiculous stories from childhood. They're people that even if our personalities are different and might not otherwise ever be friends, we are there for one another no matter what.

Regarding that fear of the first year, I know that parenting for me so far from baby-toddler has mostly required a plethora of patience. Sometimes I think of my patience meter like a video game where you can see how much life you have left. You all know what can help you build up your patience meter, breaks, self-care, special moments with your family, exercise, good food, etc. When I've put Theo down for the night for the 4th time my patience meter is blinking in the danger zone. Sometimes I need a visual of my patience meter, take deep breaths, similar to what one needs to break through the exhaustion of running a race.  For now, I guess I'll tuck this knowledge in my back pocket should we need it again in the future. 

In summary, I guess what I'm trying to say is, if people ask you when you are going to have a second baby, the opportunities are endless for how you respond. It's nice people care about you and your life, maybe that's important to remember, but there's nothing from stopping you about asking them when they're going to have their next colonoscopy or gynecological exam since what they're asking is about your internal parts as well.  

Saturday, October 10, 2015

I didn't expect that Essay #2

Yesterday I suggested to Phil that we take Theo down to the park near the river before dinner. Sometimes I get frustrated being a working mom because it feels like you have this two hour window every day to have a meaningful interaction with your sweet little human. In my mind, we would go down to the river, maybe walk along the path checking out the changing colors and then head home. You know what ended up being the best part of the park? The monument near the parking lot with gasp two whole stairs to throw a ball up and down over and over. A quick run with the dog through the grassy field and then it was time to go home. I had to laugh on the way home because of course that would be how that played out. Paths left unexplored, river left lonely but the monument by the parking lot made a new best friend. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Coffee Break: Essay #1 on Motherhood

I get so excited when I get a couple hours break that I am almost paralyzed by the possibilities. I could go to target and slowly browse the shit, wait that sounds awful. I could get my eyebrows waxed, I could and should quit the gym membership that you have to quit in person which is so stupid since I can't get there in person and hence why I need to quit it. Instead I try to listen to my exhausted, overworked, overwhelmed heart which says, go to a coffee shop, enjoy drinking a hot cup of coffee instead of having to reheat one over and over. Read a book. No pressure to create, invoke something other than just absorb and be filled with poetry. Get out of the house where the Everest of chores looms on your shoulder, go out into the world and pretend you belong at a coffee shop again. So I do and I order food and by habit inhale my sandwich until the last couple bites and realize I don't have to. 

Then I catch a glimpse of myself, dis-shuffled realize I look incomplete without my reason for looking so in towe. I Almost need a name tag that says, I'm a mom so excuse my hair, my workout pants and baggy eyes. Then a couple with kids my sons age plus a 4 year old brother enter the shop, sit down, eat and I feel defeated, I didn't know you could do that, actually sit and eat. But then you can't because the mom is up every 2 minutes at the toy box while the husband surfs his Iphone, calling her over to come look at something they're looking for on Craigslist and she walks back and forth between her boys and her husband responding to their immediate needs. I almost want to engage her in conversation curious about the age differences between the boys as I ponder our future, but then I would be just a another person requesting her attention. 

Grandma texts saying the babe is asleep, a perfect time to return to my castle or my dungeon depending on how one views it and how much sleep you got the night before.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

The lost rooms of pumping moms

Do you ever find yourself in the strangest places on your pumping adventures? I'm currently at the MN Council Of Nonprofits Technology Conference at the Hyatt hotel. The organizers were thoughtful enough to set aside an entire room for those who are pumping. It's great! It has an outlet, a chair and even a mirror. It's also an entire ballroom with a deserted bar and a kitchen that makes lots of ghostly noises. I questioned whether or not to lock the door behind me given that it has a certain  Shining feeling to it.

I am thankful to organizers that anticipate the needs of lactating moms at these events, especially because it wouldn't be a need I think those who haven't been in a relationship with a mother or been a mother themselves would easily recognize. 

This year I have found myself breasts out in the following places:
Conference rooms
Standing over sinks in public bathrooms
Vacant airport terminals with kiosks meant for charging devices
First aid tents at adventure shows
Backseats of mini vans (well I guess that wasn't the first time)
Front seats of subarus
In my assigned seat on the airplane
At the customs arrival in Canada
At the customs arrival in the US
At a hockey arena in Toronto (and not because of an amazing play)

Now here I am 11 months later in the creepiest but nicest designated areas of then all. Maybe the abundance of space is the strangest part because I'm used to my 5x5 closet at my work where the former man in charge said proudly "it meets the affordable care act standards!" 

Thank you Obama and I actually mean it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

4 things I've mastered, 4 things I'm still learning

Now that Theo has been apart of my daily life for 11 months I've become a master at a couple of things and am still working to figure out others. 

First the list of things I've mastered:

1. Diapering a non-stop speeding train. 

I've learned to adapt my diaper changing habits and can put a diaper on him whether he's standing, crawling, laying down or doing the 90's worm. 

2. Keeping him entertained.

I can keep him busy as long as I have two things: one thing to smash and the other to drum. If the items can be used interchangeably for smashing and drumming major bonus.

3.  Hanging out with Babies/Theo.

I've learned so much in 11 months about what babies like. Even if I repeat my silly games, read the same book for the 100th time, it is rewarding every single time Theo smiles or laughs or discovers something new. The other day, he found it hilarious when he pulled the clothes out of the drawer and I said in a monster voice "Put that back in the box." We played this game for 20 minutes and laughed and laughed. He also loves when I pretend to eat him - lots of monster games...

4. How to be helpful to other new parents.

I truly didn't get the whole bringing over food thing until all of a sudden the community of experienced parents showed up at my door (sometimes over and over) with food for weeks after Theo came home with us. I still get teary eyed when I think about this village effort and informal way our culture supports each other. I now know to bring food and not stay long and to read the cues about when its time to go, be a listening ear and have real expectations of the changing friendship. 

I have yet to master the following:

1. Cooking food, washing dishes, doing laundry, dusting, mopping, sweeping, or unloading any of said washing machines/devices. 

How do you do that other parents? Unless he's sleeping or my partner is around there is no way any of those things can happen unless I'm ok with the bookshelves being emptied, the dog being harassed or my little climber attempting to scale Mount Dining Room Chairs or Peak TV Stand on his own.

2. Finding a "work out time." 

My breasts are ticking time bombs as well as my baby. Working full time, still breast feeding and pumping, I have yet to figure out this magic hour in the day where a workout can happen. I think it's also partially that our beautiful baby boy sleeps almost  through the night so it's very unpredictable when a good night sleep will happen lending itself to a morning workout. For now, I continue my baby tri-cep presses, endurance bicep baby holds, and reflex training when food is thrown at my face. 

3. Gates

Our 100 year old house didn't really get set-up for baby gates when it was constructed with beautiful maple pillars, built in hutches or an extra wide stair case. It has been impossible to find gates that fit the house, thus contributing more to not mastering no. 1. At least it lends itself to no 2. since I'll run from one side of the house to the other to make sure Theo isn't going on his own stair adventure.

4. Energy

It's been an amazing 11 months. I've never known a love like this one. I've also never been so tired in my entire life. Yes, I know no. 2 would definitely assist in this area but I also know that not sacrificing sleep for working out also helps me be better at my job and most importantly be a better a mom. Trying to eat energy rich foods is helpful as well as saying no to things that aren't meeting criteria on this list:
a) contributing to my community
b) keeping up important friendships
c) contributing to Theo's learning and development
d) making the world a better place
e) being a good spouse/partner and earning brownie points
f) will possible lead to further opportunities
g) have a major likelihood of fun or will rejuvenate the soul

What things have you found that you're good at and need to work on?