The Wrong Reasons

Society places many “shoulds” on parents. You should breastfeed. You should dread going back to work. You should love your baby at first sight. You should make your own baby food. You should let your baby cry. You should not let your baby cry.

And then, we are also expected to do these things for noble reasons. We should breastfeed because it’s the best nutrition for baby, etc.

I had a mom come up to me yesterday and say “Not everybody will understand why you cloth diaper,” and the she looked at me like we shared some secret. I couldn’t bust her bubble, but I use cloth diapers because they’re cheap. They save us money. Period. I wish I could say I love the environment that much or I’m worried about evil chemicals in diapers, but that’s not the case. I cloth diaper for “the wrong reason.”

I also hated breastfeeding and one reason I kept it up for five months was because it burns a massive amount of calories…yep, I said it. I stuck with breastfeeding a cranky, poor nurser so that I could look good in a maxi dress.

What do you do for the “wrong” reason?

Tell A Mom Tuesdays: Ordinary Mamas

Motherhood involves a lot of monotony. It’s so easy to become bogged down by the tasks of the day. Instead of striving to find joy in the ordinary, we often look ahead and try to plan some extraordinary event for the future that will be more fun than the present. And the thing is, our kids don’t care about all that thoughtful planning. They have more fun with an empty cardboard box than a new toy, and a yard full of leaves is just as full of possibility as a playground. Every day, we must remind ourselves to delight in the miracle of our ordinary lives, to pause and watch our child’s amazement at the light coming through the trees, as if she’s never seen it before. Keep up this mindful work, Mamas. I think it will make all the difference for you and your babes.

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
–William Martin

Slow Down, It’s Saturday.

It’s gorgeous today after many rainy days this past week. The air has a hint of fall in it, and we are home for the weekend without too much to do. Jimmy is gone to the NC State game today, so Mae and I are just hanging out. I really love it when I have time to slow down and really watch her and take her in. Today, she slowed down and took me in. She spent about fifteen minutes (that’s like two hours in baby time) just exploring my leg. It was a busy work week and this was exactly what I needed. Slow time with my baby girl, both of us re-discovering each other.

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Tell A Mom Tuesday: C-Section Mamas

If you’re like me, you planned for a natural birth. You made a birth plan and a c-section was merely a footnote. That was most likely not going to happen to you, even though it happens to more than 30% of American women.

I thought of my C-section Mamas today as my scar, after seven months, was itching. There it sits, always red and sometimes itchy.

This is when I should say those scars are battle wounds and wear them with pride! Yes, on a good day, maybe. But let’s get real: most days it just feels like I’m scarred, marked, imperfect.

I didn’t “achieve” a vaginal birth, the kind of birth I “should” have had.

But I will say this: C-sections aren’t easy. At first, I declined pain meds and my first post-surgery walk to the bathroom was horrific due to the pain, and I’d just been through the pain of labor.

The recovery is beyond difficult. You’ve had major surgery. Oh yeah, and you have an infant, who wants to breastfeed and cry and be held all the time while you can barely sit up.

But we warrior through because what are our other options? Our baby is here and he/she needs us, and the fact that we had major surgery is a minor detail compared to motherhood.

So, no, we didn’t have a birth that’s considered natural, but we made a baby and then got cut open in order to bring our baby into this world. And we have a gnarly scar to prove it, and it can be beautiful or ugly, depending on what day you ask me about it, but it is beginning to heal and so am I. I guess all I’m saying is, we’re pretty badass.

Church: maybe I get it, a little

So last night at my postpartum support group, I was really feeling like a community, and realizing how these women bring out the best in me, and I had the random thought that my group is like church, and I kind of understood the appeal of fellowship.

At my support group, we are all so different: we are wealthy and not wealthy; we are breastfeeders and bottle feeders; we are Christians and atheist. But we all come together and admit to each other that we are broken, imperfect. We shed our facades for that hour and a half and sit vulnerable in front of each other.

I think this is the closest I’ve felt to having a “church.” We listen to each other without judgement; we help each other; we can call each other at anytime and someone will answer.

I don’t believe in following the word of the Bible. I see it as a text to interpret, but I do believe in loving each other, in letting your light shine so others can, and in setting differences aside.

The acceptance I’ve found in this group is beyond anything any organized religion has given me. I’m finding that I like “church,” places where we join in love and acceptance, which we can make wherever we like.

Dear Mae

You turned seven months old this week, and your first tooth broke through. I wouldn’t have known it without accidentally brushing against something sharp as I fed you a bagel that you were begging for. You want everything mommy and daddy are eating and drinking, so we let you gnaw on bagels and hold our glasses. And then your gummy grin lights up your entire face with pleasure and mischief. Really, child, you smile with your entire body.

When I get home from work, it usually takes you a few seconds to process who I am and what it means. You slowly take me in and then your entire body wiggles and shakes with glee. Whoever is holding you, has to hold tight because you almost jump out of their arms with excitement.

You love to twist your wrist back and forth. It’s something you do when you’re happy or drinking a bottle. It looks as if you’re in a pageant half the time though! You wave and wave, mesmerized by your hand’s movement.

When you are pleased with the world, you also do a happy gargle. It’s hard to explain, but it’s my favorite sound.

You’ve learned to reach for me and dad, and you know just a little grunt will get you picked up and held.

You loooooove your outdoor swing and stroller rides. We live on the back porch and gets tons of fresh air.

I like your focus and observant nature. Nothing gets by you! Your Tutu also says that you’re patient for a baby. You can spend a good amount of time playing with one toy. This is SO your daddy’s side of you.

You have his lips and eyes, but when you smile big, I can see me for a second. I don’t care who you look like though because you’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen. We drink you in each day, Maebelle.

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Tell A Mom (Dad) Tuesday

So I know I set aside Tuesdays for praising moms, BUT I’m in the mood to praise a dad, and it’s my blog, so that’s what’s happening this week.

I know I’ve discussed my postpartum anxiety in detail on the blog, but I haven’t been able to fully explain the support my partner and husband gave to me during this time.

Jimmy and I discussed how we would handle postpartum depression when I was pregnant. We decided that it would was important for him to watch closely for signs since I probably wouldn’t admit or accept this diagnosis.

I had my first panic attack the first week of Mae’s life, but I was able to fight off more for a while, and I was sleeping, some. Jimmy and I both thought I had the normal “baby blues,” and we just kept trudging through the fog of the first few weeks. Weeks 4-6, I should have been improving, but I was getting worse, but so was Mae and our feeding issues, so we attributed my anxiety to those situations. At seven weeks postpartum, I wasn’t sleeping or eating. Jimmy would have to fix me food or remind me to eat, which he did constantly. He would take Mae on walks or outside to try to help me sleep, but I would stay awake, my mind racing. Finally, he made me tell my midwife about my lack of sleep and overwhelming worry. At this point, even when I could fall asleep, I would wake up having a panic attack.  Jimmy would hold me during these times. He’d reassure me. He couldn’t fix me, but he was there with me, and he never made me feel guilty for my anxiety even though it put a lot more pressure and responsibility on him.

Jimmy too2014-02-17 07.19.55k additional time away from work to help support me as I recovered. He knew I desperately needed sleep to recover, so I pumped breastmilk and he got up every night with Mae for six weeks. Yes, he did nights on his own for six weeks, and he never made me feel bad about it. He wanted to do this because he couldn’t stand to see me suffer, and I could feel that. I wasn’t a burden; I was his wife, his family, and he was there to care for me. Mae and I were both solely his to nurture and care for; it is more than I could have handled, and I don’t know how he did it, but I’m so thankful he did.

They say you don’t truly know a person until you observe them handle a crisis. Jimmy and I have been through what we would have considered crises before my postpartum anxiety, but this was a whole new level. And Jimmy shined. It was like he had superhuman strength; he kept trying to lift me up, again and again, and I was so heavy with worry. I can’t explain it very well because I’m in awe of his behavior still.

I had a village supporting me through this time, but I believe that I would have ended up in the hospital if it wasn’t for Jimmy. He saved me (he would say I saved myself, but I couldn’t have done the work without him), and now that I’m getting better, we can keep saving each other through this first year of parenting.

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