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My Favorite Things

  • Naptime
  • Caffeine in various forms
  • Italy
  • The Beach
  • Family camping trips
  • The gym
  • Storytime at the Library
  • Rachael Ray
  • Running

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Girls, girls, girls

When I was pregnant, we didn't find out the sex of the baby. I really, really wanted a girl though. I would pray for a healthy baby...with a vagina (I'm sorry if that word offends you. If so, pretend I said "bajinko"). I swore we were having a boy though. I called Captain Destructo "he" when referring to her in utero (as in "his head is banging against my crotch") and even painted the nursery blue and green. I was THRILLED when the doctor announced "it's a girl!" And I adore having a little girl. It's so fun to relate to her toys-she has a Strawberry Shortcake that I remember having too-and to dress her up in cute little dresses and bows (which she pulls out and tries to eat, but the point still stands). But, oftentimes I think about how hard it is to be a female teenager, and even school age girl. Because if Captain is anything like almost all of the women I know, she will struggle with her self esteem and body image in a way that her brothers never will.

When Captain Destructo was about 6 months old, I ran into a former coworker at Target. My daughter is chunky and I think it's totally adorable. The coworker said "she's so chunky! Does she ever stop eating?!" No, she sits in front of the TV eating Cheetos all day. How about SHE'S A BABY!!! All she eats is breastmilk (OK, and formula) but would she have asked that if Captain Destructo was a boy? Would it have just been cute then?

It's no secret that I have struggled with body image and disordered eating my whole life. I am pretty upfront about my eating disorders, mostly because I am narcissistic and like to talk about myself. I've been as low as 90 pounds and as high as 185 (well, that was 9 1/2 months pregnant, but still). My earliest memory connected to my weight is being in first grade and being too heavy to ride the seesaw with the little skinny girls in my class. When I was 10, I did the whole "look in the mirror and point out your flaws so other people will compliment you" routine, but even then it was obvious that I was a lot bigger than the other girls my age. I started dating after high school when I had healthily lost a lot of weight and felt good about myself. From then I sought to lose "just 5 more pounds" until I got so skinny that I fell asleep at 7:30 every night and really didn't care about anything except working out and not eating. I'm recovered now, but still wouldn't consider myself "normal" about food and exercising. Just yesterday I asked my husband what normal people eat for lunch. (Now that you know this, you know why I get all weird if you ask me to have a big lunch in the middle of the week or my body fat percentage.)

This would be all just one person's sob story if I was alone, but I'm willing to bet that you all can relate. This is why having a girl terrifies me. Because our society teaches her that big men are strong and big women are lazy. Because she will watch normal sized celebrities be criticized for their weight, make a big fuss and shout "I'm normal! I don't have to lose weight for anyone!" and then lose a bunch of weight anyway. Because when she is in elementary school, she will hear kids call each other fat and she will begin to contemplate how fat or thin she is in relation.

So I pray for her. I pray that God will bless her with the self esteem I never had and that she will love on others in a way that makes them forget their worries about their bodies. Moms, I pray for us, that we will watch what we say and do in front of our daughters. When we look in the mirror and pinch our waists in disgust, little eyes are watching. I know I've caught myself doing this in front of Captain Destructo (a point that will surely come up in her future therapy sessions).

And I pray for sons. (Just kidding....don't get me started on boys...that's for a future post)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Moms Do the Darndest Things

I've always been what you might call an anti-hippie. Soggy (as opposed to crunchy) if you will. When I was in college, I had some friends who were hippies, but really we were only friends because it made me feel cooler. Secretly I would wonder who told them dreads and Birkenstocks were a good look, while I went back to my dorm to drive my car to Wal-Mart, where I purchased aeresol hairspray and voted Republican. I by no means consider myself crunchy now-the kid is fully vaccinated and got her fair share of formula, but since M was born I have done the following:

1. I've been told by several different people to squirt breastmilk in her eye when she got pinkeye. I would have done it, but I was so worried about the quantity of my breastmilk that I honestly didn't have the ounce to spare. How this remedy came to be I don't understand...who tried that for the first time???

2. I switched to cloth diapers. This switch, while done partly for cost-effectiveness, partly for environmental benefits, and mostly because cloth diapers are so damn cute, involves me swirling poopy diapers in a toilet bowl, spending Saturday nights stuffing inserts into pockets, and scrubbing diapers with a toothbrush and some Dawn. That's right.

3.I have begun conversations with the phrase "OH MY GOSH, guess what I found in Captain Destructo's diaper!" Don't know if this makes me a hippie or just weird.

4. Captain Destructo's first finger food was a brand called Happy Baby, and the food in question was called organic spinach puffs. Along those lines, I spent $4 yesterday on a product called "Organic Brown Rice Bars Coated in Vanilla Yogurt."

5. I spent a whole afternoon pureeing and freezing fruits and vegetables for her. And it was the greatest afternoon.

6. Today I googled "composting." Because I actually might start doing it. I also said this "Honey, can we get a clothesline for the backyard?" And meant it.

7. I only use cleaning products with "green" in the title and when they run out I use vinegar.

These are all clues that, during my C-section (which I loved...see, I'm not that crunchy) my OB took out the normal part of my brain. So if you smell patchouli and baby poop, look out for me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lessons from Labor and Delivery

Two of my friends had babies this past week, and I've been reminiscing about my hospital experience. Take a trip with me down my drug-clouded memory lane.

I dragged my poor husband with me to childbirth class, where a ridiculously peppy nurse spent 3 weeks lying through her teeth to a room full of hugely pregnant, uncomfortable women and our poor partners. We all suffered through videos of 1970's crotches and contorted ourselves into weird pushing positions, while our partners (mostly husbands, one mom, and my poor friend Hil on the night the hubby couldn't come) rubbed our backs as we pretended to "he-he-hoo" through non-existent contractions. The nurse relayed to us how easy childbirth could be as long as we could bounce on our birthing balls and pace the hallways. It would be a breeze since we were prepared.

When I was in the recovery room, the childbirth class was on their tour of the hospital and stopped at the room next to mine. We said hi to the teacher as she led her poor unassuming victims by and I had to bite my lip to keep from screaming "everything she tells you is a LIE!" Here's what I would say if I taught that class.

1. When you enter the hospital, you will be strapped down with about 15 different cords. I had wires coming from nearly every body part, including my hoo-ha at one point when Captain Destructo's heartbeat kept dropping. Thus, it is difficult to do things such as "pace the hallways," "bounce on a birthing ball," or "pee."

2. You will have absolutely no dignity and not care one bit. As one friend said, the UT marching band could have paraded through my room and played their fight song while staring at my crotch and I wouldn't have cared.

3. This applies double for when you are trying to breastfeed. Frankly, I'm still amazed that the human race has survived as long as we have if we were required to survive on breastmilk. I took off my shirt in front of many people, including my father and one of my pastors. If a bum on the street could have helped me figure out how to breastfeed I would have gladly let him grab my boob.

4. You will revert to childlike status, relying on other people to change your clothes when you barf on yourself (and you will), help you in and out of bed, and change your "dressing" (read: sanitary pads the size of China). You will beg for a popsicle, like you did in kindergarten. Along these childlike lines, you will be required to show people when you use the bathroom what resembles a large training potty.

It wasn't all bad. I did get room service, a free diaper bag and a pretty cute kid out of the stay. I still miss the nursery where someone else would watch the baby for a night (though I felt too guilty to leave her there, stupid me) as well as the sweet sleeping pills at my beck and call. Can't wait to do it again, as the stories afterwards are worth the pain.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Competitive Parenting

I was at story time at the public library a few days ago, and the Library Lady asked the kids what sound a kitty makes. I laughed to myself, as the room was filled with babies who were either drooling, pulling their mother's hair, or both (like my kid) when an adorable, crystal clear baby voice sang out "meow!" We all laughed, but not in a "your kid's so cute" kind of way. It was an "oh my gosh, someone else's kid can do something that mine can't, clearly my child has a learning disability/horrible side effect from all her vaccines" kind of way. The voice belonged to Sally (name changed to protect the innocent), a small, bald 18 month old who could walk, talk in complete sentences, and make the rest of us moms of ordinary babies very uncomfortable.

Why is it that mothers are insanely competitive? It's bad enough during pregnancy. I remember shopping for maternity clothes and seeing other pregnant women, and quickly assessing how I looked compared to them. Although, to my credit, I was convinced that I looked much better than I actually did, so I usually came out on top. (That's what she said.) If the other shopper was smaller than me, I decided that clearly she was not as far along as I was or that her baby was surely much smaller (imagine my surprise when Captain Destructo came out at 7 pounds, and not 35 1/2 as I thought based on the amount of weight I had gained). When the babies are born, the competition takes on a whole new dimension. We try to pretend that we don't care that our kids are not as advanced as others. I know I said "it's no big deal, she'll develop at her own pace" multiple times to people when trying to explain why Captain Destructo wasn't rolling over at 6 months, when in actually at home I was googling "average time to roll over in infants" and forcing the poor child to spend all her time on her tummy. People tried to calm my fears by saying super helpful things like "it takes bigger babies longer to roll over." So now she's fat and slow? Thanks.

The other thing mothers do is attempt to justify why other kids can do things that ours can't. I know I am guilty of this. When I first heard Sally reciting soliloquies at story time, I leaned over and said to her mother "Sally's a great talker! Does she have older brothers and sisters?"
"She has a 12 year old sister," her mother explained. "Does M?"
"No, she's our first," I replied, while thinking "ah-ha! That 12 year old sister must spend all her time teaching Sally to talk."

I wonder if babies go through this. Are we born with an innate desire to be the best? Does Captain Destructo walk around thinking "hey, that other baby can make the noise for the cow and I can't. I must prove my superiority." Or, "is it me or is her butt much smaller that mine in that diaper?" (This is my fault-we cloth diaper and her booty is huge in her diapers.) For her sake I hope not. I guess all I can do is continue to build her self-esteem by teaching her new cute tricks on a regular basis and showing off as much as possible.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dr. Mom

I remember being sick as a kid. My mom instinctively knew what to do, whether it was a cool washcloth for a fever, 7up and crackers for a stomachache, or popsicles for a sore throat. I would lay on the couch watching movies with a trashcan next to me and a sleeve of Saltines on the coffee table, and I always felt better the next day. Captain Destructo has been sick for what seems like 13 months straight, and more often than not, I have no idea what the heck to do.

For the most part, I have mastered the art of dealing with a cold. Humidifier, tissues, check. That's about all you can do for a baby with a cold and really all I feel I am capable of. What brings panic into my very soul is the stomach bug. I remember the first time Captain Destructo threw up-not just baby spit up, but real vomit. She was about 6 months old and it scared the bejeezus out of me. I called Ask A Nurse in a panic as my husband held her (she threw up in his face-that's a real man for you ladies) and they told me what I suspected: you can't do anything but let it pass. It was a horrible experience, and she had another bug a few weeks later. I turn into a panicked freak at the sight of vomit, scrubbing everything with Lysol and wondering if every twinge I feel is a virus. Honestly just thinking about it now makes me sweaty and nervous. So you can imagine my horror on Friday when I heard Captain Destructo gagging on the baby monitor. She never yakked, but I assumed it was a stomach bug, and because I am so vomit-phobic I waited the standard 2 hours to see if she would barf before I gave her Pedialyte and then only toast and crackers. So 2 days later when she was still not herself, I took her to the doctor to discover she had a sore, red throat. And don't you want scratchy crackers and toast when you have a sore throat? Poor baby.

I've grown a lot as a mom this year. I have used a rectal thermometer without passing out. I'm hoping that by the time she enters kindergarten I will be able to watch her barf without closing my eyes, plugging my ears, and then calling my mother in a panic to ask what to do.