Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Old Friend Fear

Fear it a very basic emotion. It is, supposedly, one of only 3 emotions animals ever feel (joy and sorrow being the others).

It is a very important emotion. It helps keep us safe and aware.

But sometimes it is only a menace. I have found this to be true my entire life. Fear of rejection causing me not to talk to a cute boy or a new kid that might make a good friend. Fear of failure causing me not to try my hardest.

Never has fear been more of a menace than the fear I feel as a mother. It is all-consuming and it does no good. I’m sure it has a great biological purpose but in my life it feels useless.

I am terrified of Maggie dying. When I was pregnant, I was constantly terrified of miscarrying. Once she was born, I was horrified by the thought of SIDS or some scary baby disease or some regular disease that her fragile little body wouldn’t be able to fight. And now it’s nameless. It’s nothing I can put my finger on but it’s there.

I read two blogs by women who have lost children. And their children died around this time of year because they are both writing about it. I read it and I cannot imagine. I do not think I could continue to live if Maggie died. When I pray for her health, I ask that if she is taken to take me too.

I read an interview of Elizabeth Edwards. She has two “sets” of children. She has an adult daughter and two little kids, maybe 9 and 10. She had a son who was a year older than her now-adult daughter who died when he was 16. The first thing I noticed was that her younger children would have been conceived immediately after her son died.

I hear of this a lot and before I had children I might have thought that was selfish. Bearing your own replacement child. But now I understand it for what it is: a survival mechanism. How much a mother would need a newborn, an all-consuming newborn to concentrate on. I can see how without that she might swim deeper and deeper into herself until she is no more.

Elizabeth Edwards is also dying. She has terminal cancer. She will be leaving behind her 3 children, 2 of whom are still quite young. But she is not scared of death. How could she be? She believes with all of her heart that when she dies, she will be reunited with her son. I hope she is.

I know this is a heavy topic but it’s overwhelming my brain recently. Every time Maggie is quietly sleeping I worry that maybe. . . something’s. . . happened. I hate it so much. But I get the feeling it doesn’t really go away. Maybe it will be better some times that others but it will always be there.
At night. In the dark. My old friend Fear will remind me of all the tragedies that could befall my daughter. And I’ll fight in vain to shut him up. But, truly, why fight?

He always wins.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Plan and throw a house party

Take that 30 before 30 list. Woo hoo! I threw a big party.

A month or so ago I sent out evites for a housewarming party. And every day between then and the actual day of the party I considered cancelling. It was really scary. Especially the planning.

Seeing as how I’m a, uh, I think a pesco-vegetarian, or something. Basically I eat no meat, chicken, turkey, mammals (are chickens and turkey mammals?) but I do eat fish. All that is to say that I had to figure out a menu for a large group of people who are not at all vegetarians (Elaine doesn’t eat cows, pigs, etc. but she does eat chicken, turkey, fish). R was all up in arms about this, saying I was forcing my choices on other people. Which is unfair. I refuse to cook with meat.

Although Elaine’s husband, Bruce, wanted to bring sausage and I said no. This is a tough decision. On the one hand, it’s my house and I would prefer no meat be here. But R has meat here sometimes, although he does make an effort to not eat red meat in the house.

Wow talk about getting off topic.

Anyhoo, so I couldn’t figure out what to serve. And I was totally freaking out. Finally I decided to make several different kinds of veggie and fish burgers. For sides I would make some a pasta salad and potato salad and have chips and dips. In theory this should have been easy. But it turned out like a freaking Ben Stiller movie. Problem after problem but everything works out in the end.

Other than the salmon burgers and sort of the tofu burgers all the burger recipes were disasters. We were sure we wouldn’t have enough food. (At one point Elaine said, "Worse case you order pizzas.") I didn’t know how to do a lot of the prep work (hard boiling eggs? Blanching??). Craziness ensued. But in the end it was great.

We had more than enough food and pretty much everything was good. And we had so much fun. Maggie had to take a couple of naps but she loves being adored by her masses (who wouldn’t?).

Our house is really big with so many areas for entertaining. There were big groups of people all over the place and lots of laughing and conversation.

It was exactly what you hope for in a party.

Fixing my Hooha

Vaginal stretching. It doesn’t sound that bad, does it? Nah. I mean stretching is what you do after a workout. It’s the good part. The easy part. Ha!

Don’t be fooled, my friends. It’s evil and quite painful. The word horrific comes to mind.

I went to my hooha physical therapist last week and she told me that we had pretty much come as far as we could with the easy stuff. I’ve been doing my Kegel’s and pelvic area stretches (not at all the same) and deep, relaxing breathing. But there’s still pain.

She asked me to describe the pain. It’s actually quite easy for me to describe. It hurts on the bottom of my hooha at the entryway (ha!). Oh and it feels like I’m being stabbed. She informed me that’s almost certainly scar tissue that will need to be broken up. With vaginal stretching and massaging.

Massaging? Again, who doesn’t love a massage? And a vaginal massage doesn’t sound so bad. *sob*

At that point my choices were to go there 3 times a week and let her do the “exercises,” try to do them to myself, OR have R come in and her teach him how to do them to me. Guess what I chose?

R, of course, was horrified. And who can blame him? I’m horrified. R told me he wasn’t mature enough to do this sort of thing (good Lord isn’t that the truth!) but I insisted. Especially because she told me that the window for breaking up the scar tissue pretty much closes at a year. Yikes!

So yesterday R and I had the appointment.

First we sat down and Monica explained the whole thing. What the problem was and how this was going to help and what they were going to do. Then she left so I could strip and get on the bed.

When she came back in she did a quick exam to see how things felt (looked?) now. Then she started doing the stretching*. Oh my God. I cannot even. . . awful. . . painful. . . burning. . . tearing. In fact it felt an awful lot like giving birth.

R was great. He did it and he didn’t panic and he promises he’ll do it with me everyday.

Oh I’m so scared. She told us we’ll have to do this for weeks to months. That’s a long time of doing this. It’s amazing that something that takes 5 minutes can be so awful. Just thinking about it makes my stomach hurt. Which is bad. I’m supposed to be as relaxed as possible while he does it so that I’m not fighting him. Great, sure no problem. You beat up my hooha while I do my deep breathing. Yessiree Bob!

*I didn’t give the details of the “exercises” because I didn’t figure anyone would want to read that but if you do, just email me. Assuming you’re a woman interested because of similar issues or just curiosity and not a creepy guy.

Birth Story, Part 3

Click for part 1 and part 2.

Where were we? Ah, yes, the end of transition. So I was in lots of pain. Truly bad pain. And finally I thought I had to go to the bathroom and not to pee. So I kicked everyone but R and Elaine out. And sat down on the toilet and nothing happened. At this point I figured I must be close.

I got naked and got back in the tub. At this point I decided that since nothing much was happening I would speed things along by pushing.

I’m not sure if I did anything or caused anything but I did start pushing. Then about 5 minutes later I told Elaine that I felt a burning sensation in my hooha, which apparently is referred to as the ring of fire and is a sign that the baby is crowning. I didn’t realize that at the time but I figured it was close.

I remember saying to R and Elaine that the baby was coming and jumping up on my feet into a crouching position. Not sure why.

Elaine and R were filling up the bath and I kept telling Elaine that it was too hot and finally I just turned off the hot water and just let the cold fill the bath. (Wow that’s a long sentence.) Then Elaine came back in and asked me if everyone else could come back in and be in there for the actual birth. I so didn’t care at that point. So the room filled back up with my Mom, stepmom, R’s Mom, my other sister and my Dad stood in the doorway (I was naked so he didn’t come all the way in.)

Betty was now back in the room and by the tub with me. And I still had no desire to push but I was pushing. Then the baby really crowned and I started to get an idea of what it was going to feel like to push a child out of my body. And I decided I wasn’t going to push.

If you haven’t had a non-epidural (I’m pretty sure, but not positive, that you can’t really feel if you have an epidural) vaginal delivery, let me paint a picture for you. First of all you feel like your entire bottom half is going to split open. It’s a burning, stretching sensation that is un-Godly painful. And you have to pull your knees back to your ears and hold your breath and let it out slowly and push, push, push. It’s soooo not fun.

But seeing as how I had no can’t-fight-it need to push, I didn’t. I downright refused. Betty would say, “With this next contraction I want you to push big.” And the contraction would come and I would just sit there. Or I would barely push. Or just kinda try to relax and see if maybe the baby would just fall out.

Finally after taking a lot of abuse from various people in the room (mainly Betty who was going the tough love route with me), I started pushing. And everyone was yelling, “Oh, I can see the head, she’s right there.” But not much was happening. So Betty tells me to reach down and feel my baby. This was probably a mistake. For some ridiculous reason I thought I had delivered part of the head (*shrug*), so when I reached down and realized she was still completely inside me. . . oh good Lord. Horror. I was not happy.

But then I figured there was no way out of this thing. That baby was coming out and the only exit, quite unfortunately, was my hooha. So I decided to really push and I did. Twice.
On the second push, she came out. All of her. You know how usually in births they deliver the head and then the top shoulder and then the other shoulder and then the body. We skipped all that and she shot out like a freaking bullet. Which at the time seemed freaking great. You know, like, thank God that’s over. However it turns out shooting out like bullets causes very bad tears which sometimes don’t heal right. But that’s another story.

Once she was out Betty put her on my chest and put a towel over her. Then everyone started yelling, “What is it Carrie? A boy or a girl?” I didn’t even look. This is how sure I was. I just announced, “It’s a girl!” And it was. My precious perfect daughter made her grand entrance in grand style. And it was and is the absolute best thing that has ever happened to me.

Back to School

Missed me?

I started back to work. And I’m very conflicted about it. On the one hand I have to admit that I am loving having a set schedule. I have been getting up at 5am and I love it. How crazy is that?

I love getting up early. I’ve been getting so much more done. It’s amazing. I feel like I’ve been more productive this week than the entire summer. Ok so I’m exaggerating but not by much. It’s been great. For me.

For Maggie? Not so much. She hates it. She has twice cried when I handed her over to my Mom. It’s awful. She goes over to my Mom but then turns back to me and cries and reaches for me.

And she’s having trouble sleeping. She doesn’t like sleeping anywhere but in her crib at our house. Plus she doesn’t like getting up early which, of course, we have to get up early. So the combination of her having to get up early, making her extra tired, and not being able to sleep so great at my Mom’s house means she wants to sleep as soon as we get home. But she wants to sleep for a long time and then she gets up at odd times. It’s all and all bad.

The main problem for me is that she wants to sleep here. Which means the only time I’m with her she’s usually wanting to sleep. And that sucks. I’m afraid she’s going to think my Mom is her Mom. I know that’s selfish. I should just be happy that Maggie is taken care of by people she loves and that love her. And I am but still. . .

It sucks. It really sucks. I just hate that I’m losing all this time with her. I hate that this time, this important time of her life, can never be gotten back. And we’re missing it. We’re losing so much time together. I know that there are tons of mommies who do the same thing (and much, much worse) but it’s really hard.

The worst part is that she doesn’t understand. At all. There is no way of explaining the situation to her. How can I get it across to her that I have to leave her for nine hours (at least) a day so I can go spend time with other people’s kids. The way she looks at me is heartbreaking. She looks like I’ve just slapped her.

Does anybody have any advice about this? A ritual or something I can say? Anything?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

(Un)comfortably Numb

Depression must be contagious. I read about a million blogs (I have an addition, ok?) and at least 3 of the authors are suffering from (and blogging about) depression. I'm just now getting over my most recent bout with depression and I guess I'm feeling the need to look back over it.

Now that I have a name for this illness, it's easy for me to look back over my life and see that I have suffered from depression as far back as I can remember. I can remember reading about depression in books and magazines. I can even remember thinking that I did, indeed, have the symptoms listed. And yet, I never really thought I was depressed.

Which isn't to say I didn't think something was wrong. I did. I KNEW something was wrong. I just didn't know what. I took my symptoms and looked for cures. Issues with eating? Nothing a good diet can't fix, right? Right? Hiding out? Social anxiety? Force. And booze. Nothing a little social lubricant can't fix.

But it didn't. I never got better. No matter how books I read, people (sorry Elaine) I talked to, therapists I saw, "traps" I set for myself. Nothing ever got better. Quite the opposite. It got worse. It didn't really occur to me that I was depressed until I started fantasizing about suicide. Not romanticizing it, just thinking about it. Like if I put a gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger, what path through my brain would the bullet take?

And I had those thoughts for a while. Until one day, I woke up. I was thinking about suicide and I just suddenly thought, "What the hell am I thinking?" That day I made an appointment with my doctor to get on medication. And I've been a different person since.

It's taken me all this time to figure out how I missed the glaring fact that I was depressed. It seems fairly hard to miss. But not until after I'd had Maggie did I figure it out.

When I think of depression, I think sad. I imagine constant crying and unexplainable grief. But I never had that. At all. For me, depression means numbness. It means curling up in bed or on a couch and zoning out (reading, watching TV, surfing the Web). It means avoiding friends and family and hiding in my house. It means not getting dressed or showering.

After Maggie was born I had textbook postpartum depression. It started exactly 48 hours after delivery and lasted exactly 48 hours. And it was exactly what I always imagined depression to be. I cried and cried and cried. I would lay on R or Elaine and just weep. Over nothing. Over everything. And it was really hard. I cannot imagine how anyone could deal with that for longer than 48 hours.

But numbness has it's own problems. I've been working on meditation and prayer and the man who's been helping me has noticed the numbness. The other day he said, "You know you're kinda numb. You don't really react to things you should react to. Have you ever noticed that?"

When I changed meds recently I started having bursts of irritation and anger. Something little would happen and I would get so angry. When I went in for my check-up to see how my new medication was working I told the lady about it. She said, "Well last time you were here you told me there was a marked lack of emotion and now you're angry sometimes. Maybe you just aren't used to feeling anything."

And maybe that's true. It's hard to say.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Birth Story, Part 2

To see part 1, click here.

Sure enough the pain woke me up around 2am. Elaine would be getting up at 3am to give me my antibiotics so I decided not to wake anyone up.

Now I am sure that every woman that has ever given birth will laugh at this but I really did not believe that labor could hurt that bad. I know, I know. How stupid. But I just could not imagine that kind of pain. Ha, ha. For anyone else out there harboring this foolish belief, let me be the first to tell you, it really freaking hurts. If someone tells you otherwise, run. They are telling you evil lies.

So, yeah, I was pretty shocked by the pain. And boy did it hurt. Oh, my Lord it hurt. I was trying to breath and walk and whatever but I quickly noticed nothing helped. And I was a little worried.

You see I had decided to have Maggie naturally. As in no epidural, no Petocin (is that right? the stuff that speeds up labor), no nothing. Just me, R, Elaine and Betty. And a bathtub, if I so chose. Oh, and the rest of my family was there too.

Elaine got up and R woke up quickly after that. We all laid in my bed (and R's). Elaine timed contractions, R held and rubbed me and I had contractions. We did this until 5am. At that point I had been contracting long enough and often enough that we decided to call Betty.

Betty was already at the birthing center because she had send home another laboring mother who was far enough along to be there. Elaine told her about the contractions and I think I talked to her too and she told us to come on in.

So Elaine and R got everything together while I did whatever and then we were on our way. Before we could even get going R had to pull over so I could vomit. Seriously why? Why couldn't I have thrown up at home? Why did I have to throw up while contracting and hanging out the car door like an 18 year old partying too hard?

We got to the birthing center around 6 or 7am. We went in and I got up on the little table for Betty to do the vag check. Her rule is less than 4cm, goes home. I was 3cm. I wanted to bawl my freaking eyes out. I'm not sure why but Betty let us stay. And thank goodness, cos we got the good room. The big room with the tub. Betty told us later that was only the 5th time ever that she had had more than 1 laboring mother at a time. She gave me a shot of Tylenol PM (or something) that blissfully knocked me out for a couple of hours. She's a big proponent of taking something in early labor to help you sleep so you can save up your energy for the hard stuff. And God bless her for it.

R, Elaine and I all went into the room and I almost immediately fell asleep. About 5 minutes later I heard the other laboring mommy come in and to the other room. And then like 10 minutes later (with no sounds in between) we hear her baby crying. What the fuck? No yelling, no nothing. Just baby!

So I slept off and on. R and Elaine started calling people and people started showing up. My Dad, stepmom, Mom, stepdad, R's mom, my other sister and a friend of mine all came. R's best friend came by a couple of times and Elaine's husband came by after Maggie was born.

I'm sure to some people that might sound like overkill but I loved it. I loved having all those people there. R and Elaine and I were practically connected on the bed. They were talking to be and massaging me and I don't even know. It was just great. And Rae, my sister, or my Mom would rub my feet or calves. And everyone was quiet but totally rooting for me. I don't know how else to explain it. It just felt like all the energy in the room was going to me and Maggie. It didn't make it hurt any less (I guess) but it truly made it an amazing experience. I'm sure this isn't the right choice for everyone but I would recommend it to anyone that asked. It was a wonderful birth.

Where was I? Ah, yes. Honestly all of this is quite hazy so I'll just try to put in little snippets I remember.

I remember laying on the exercise ball and not liking it. I remember getting in the tub and not really liking it. I mostly just liked laying in the bed. I remember saying over and over that I couldn't do this and everyone saying, "But you are. You are doing it." I remember everyone supporting me and talking to me. I remember Elaine telling me not to fight the pain. She said to just let it wash over me. She told me I couldn't stop it so don't try to. And she would touch where ever I was tensing up and tell me to relax. That helped more than anything else.

To be continued. . .

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Riding with the Windows Down

Yesterday when I was getting out of my car the lid of my chai tea latte came off and it spilled all over my car. This was bad. First it completely pissed me off. Second it was about 9 million degrees outside. Third I had a pounding headache. Fourth I had to get inside to put Maggie down for a nap. So I just went inside and was pissy for a few minutes. Then I promptly forgot about the whole thing.

Today I was putting everything in the car and R was putting Maggie in her seat. He was kind enough to inform me that my car reeked like something had died. Ah, spoiled milk.

So I had to drive with the windows down. I never drive with the windows down and I don't think Maya's ever been in a car with the windows down. About 2 minutes into the drive I looked back at her and she was laughing and smiling and reaching her little head up to be in the wind. It was too freaking cute. Who knew?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Birth Story, Part 1

Ever since I started this blog I have wanted to write Maggie's birth story. I have it written in a few places but what's one more?

My due date was September 17, 2008. Around 3am on September 15, I woke up wet. Despite having never experienced incontinence (in my pregnancy or otherwise), I was sure I had wet the bed. So I got up and went to the bathroom and changed clothes. And immediately was wet again. Now I was a little pissed. So I changed again and went back to bed.

When my alarm went off I got up and got dressed. I had to change my clothes again due to my sudden incontinence problem. On the way to work I remembered reading that waters don't always break in a big way. Sometimes it's a slow leak. Hmm. . . (psst, this is foreshadowing)

As soon as I got to work I texted Elaine (she is a former labor and delivery nurse and currently a women's health nurse practitioner--ie OBGYN) and told her what happened. She didn't think it was that big of a deal and told me to just keep an eye on it. Now that I standing up (and the baby's head was blocking the cervix), I was no longer having issues with leakage. So on I went.

When I told my aide (I'm a special ed. teacher), she flipped. She had the exact same thing happen to her and insisted that I leave immediately. Which I didn't do. But I start to notice that I felt the baby move in a while (by the way, we didn't know whether we were having a boy or a girl even though everybody was sure it was a girl).

After a little back and forth with Elaine I decided to err on the side of caution and just have everything checked out. I was so embarrassed leaving work. I kept telling everyone I was just being silly and I'd be right back.

When I got to Elaine's work she gave me a strip of litmus paper and told me to go get some of the fluid on the paper and bring it back to her. I brought it back and she looked at it and said, "I'll be damned. You're water is definitely broken." Which, holy cow. She also hooked me up to the machine thingy to check the baby's movement and everything was fine.

I delivered with a midwife, Betty, and her rule was if your water breaks but you aren't in labor, just wait it out and DON'T PUT ANYTHING IN THE VAGINA. No fingers, no nothing. Well, I just couldn't do that. I had Elaine's partner do a vag check and found out I wasn't dialated or effaced (God, I can't even remember if that's the right word--amazing) practically at all.

After that I started making phone calls to let everyone know that the countdown had begun and the baby would be born within 72 hours (the longest Betty would let me go on my own without inducing). Yowzer! I was having a baby. For real.

I fessed up to Betty what I'd had done with my hooha and she was less than thrilled. She insisted that I take antibiotics every 6 hours until I delivered. That sucked. Really badly. Luckily Elaine can do all that so we were able to just take the supplies home and Elaine did it. But still. Not worth finding out your so not about to have a baby. Well, except I was.

And for the next couple (yes, couple) of days, nothing really happened. I slept, got a pedicure and eyebrow wax, went to dinner with Elaine (where I added red pepper flakes to my pasta at the insistence of my GG, who swore it would start labor, and I did go into labor about 3 hours later). Nothing too exciting.

After dinner on Tuesday evening Elaine, R, Bruce (Elaine's husband) and I sat in the living room and I realized labor was starting. This entire time I'd had no contractions and when they started I knew I was starting labor. And this time I did exactly what Betty told me to: I went to bed. I told R to be ready cos it coming soon.

To be continued. . .

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why are you a vegetarian?

I get asked this question a lot. Which is fine, I'm more than happy to share my reasons. What surprises me is how often my answer is met with belittling sarcasm. I guess it shouldn't surprise me too much since this how I used to react to my sister's decision to stop eating beef, lamb, basically cute animals (not a judgment). But I'm pretty sure I reacted like this because deep down I felt guilty in my own decision to continue to eat animals. Maybe that's why people do it to me now.

So, why am I a vegetarian? It's 100% for ethical reasons. I do not believe there is anything wrong with animals eating animals. My problem is with factory farming. The way these animals are treated is disgusting. It's beyond disgusting. And it's just not ok.

I'm not sure why I'm writing about this since this is a really charged topic for me. I get really upset when I think about what these animals go through before being slaughtered. Their living conditions are truly horrifying. I won't get into any specifics because it's horrid. But I think that anyone who chooses to eat meat should watch the videos of what happens. Or maybe not, I don't know.

I feel guilty if we're gone from the house too long and the dogs are in the house. Because they may not be smart but they can feel the discomfort of needing to go to the bathroom, of being lonely or bored. And that is enough of a reason to do my best to not put them through that.

I'm always a little disturbed when people tell me that it's ok for them to eat meat because animals are stupid. Perhaps but they are also aware. And, after all, humans are animals. Humans can have IQs the same or lower as a pig or cow and also be aware of what is happening. I have read that pigs have the intelligence of a 3 to 5 year old. Following this logic, does that mean it would be ok to treat a 3 year old in the same manner as a factory farm pig?

Or that the food chain dictates our right to slaughter and eat meat. I know of no other animal in the food chain that tortures its prey, by say systematically burning the beaks off of baby chicks so that more can be stuffed into cages, until it is cruelly killed.

I'm sorry. I promised no details. I shouldn't even be writing this. It will only make me and maybe you upset. No more.

You will be rich, gorgeous and happy! That’ll be a $500.

On my life list (not on my 30 before 30) I have the goal (?) of going to see a real (not sure how to determine this) psychic. I have always wanted to go to a psychic and be amazed. The problem is how the hell do you know whether you are seeing a quack or the real thing.

Now, it's only fair to say that it's possible there is no real thing but I don't believe that. Evidence: My stepmom went to a psychic when she was 24 who told her she had a sickness in her belly that would prevent her from having any children (years later she was diagnosed with ovarian or cervical cancer and had to have a total hysterectomy) but that she would marry a man and raise his children (she married my Dad when she was 40 and my sister and I lived with them until we went to college). Seriously you can't guess that kind of stuff.

While we were in Maine I went to a psychic. We just happened to see a shop and I insisted that I must go. She told me that I will live a very long life (Thank God, I'm terrified of death). She said I will experience some kind of change in my work that will be very profitable. Woohoo! She told me that I'll have 2, maybe 3 kids (you should have seen the look on her face when I told her I want way more than that). She told me that R is insecure (You think?) and had to break up with his first love (kind of true). She said I will meet another man, with dark hair, in the next 9 months and will have to choose between R and this other man. She said I will have a marriage opportunity in 3 years. So this is my future.

I have decided that if I meet a dark-haired man and feel that I must choose between him and R in the next year or so, I can safely say she was right and mark seeing a psychic off my life list. If not, she was clearly a fake and it stays on the list.

PS I told R about it and now he asks me constantly if I have seen any dark-haired men. When I was mad at him the other day, I told him that this dark-haired man was looking better all the time. ;)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Damn you, Sonic!

I gained weight in Maine. More than I care to admit. I also gained weight while we were moving into our new home. And, seeing as how I was still trying to lose weight before all this happened, this isn't good. Since getting home I decided to recommit and really be purposeful about the fact that I am sort of dieting and being healthy and trying to lose weight.

Yesterday I went to lunch with my Mom, stepdad, Elaine and her husband and their neighbors. And of course the precious Maggie. I didn't eat. I ate a healthy lunch before I went and abstained from the food. The delicious-looking food. My sister got a gourmet grilled cheese that looked amazing. But I was good. I know that I want to lose weight.

(I need to lose weight. I only bought a few pieces of maternity clothes and refused to accommodate in most ways for my huge size. And now I have no big clothes for my bigger size. I have very, very few clothes that aren't in my pre-pregnancy size (4-6--*giant, pathetic sob*). Ipso facto I can't fit into the vast majority of my clothes.)

With me, any time I try to lose weight or to be healthier, my downfall is always restaurants. I love eating out (probably because it was such a treat as a child). I love being with friends and family and eating great food and someone waiting on us. So anytime I try to lose weight I try to steer clear of going out to eat. But I hate having to miss out on seeing people so I try to balance it out (especially since losing the HUGE amount of weight I need to lose probably isn't going to happen over night).

So when my Mom invited me to lunch I decided to go but not eat. And I did it! Which is totally awesome. I was strong. I didn't even glance at the menu and I didn't feel deprived and I had a really good time with everyone. I was so proud of myself.

BUT. . . I was pissed off at R for not coming to lunch (he doesn't understand why my family socializes by eating out; he thinks it's a waste of money) and for being a huge lazy bum and not helping out. When I got home he kept apologizing and trying to be all cute but I was staying strong. Then he decides to go get some food for himself.

And what does he come back with???? Sonic for him. . . and for me. He got my favorite drink and tater tots for me. Uh!!!! Why?!? And what could I do? I can't throw it away. Can I? So I told him thank you (and ate it. *big, big, sad sob*) but that I'm on a diet and not to bring home bad food anymore please.
But I ate it. Damn you, Sonic! And your damn delicious tater tots and addictive-almost-certainly-laced-with-crack Java Chillers. Damn you!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Label me this

When I was in Maine I saw a personalized license plate that read, "KWLTR." It took me a second to discern quilter from that. And I thought it was kinda odd. I mean to feel so defined by your hobby (or I guess, possibly, profession) to consider it a label that encompasses who you are. And then I wondered what I would define myself as. I guess I see myself first and foremost as a mother.

But when I thought that it immediately brought up the millions of times I have heard women complain about being defined as a mother. "I'm so much more than that," they say. And I can see that. Truly aren't we all? But I can't think of anything more important than being a good mother. So why is the knee jerk reaction to be insulted?

The answer is obvious. Motherhood is so looked down upon. According to Linda Hirschman monkeys could raise children. She doesn't understand why highly educated women would rather raise children than argue court cases or cure sick people. (I would say "teach children" but my guess is that if she thinks mothering is worthless she probably has a similarly low opinion of teachers--Those who can't do, teach.)

When I think of the dilemma as my own I immediately know that nothing is more worthy of my time and abilities than to raise Maggie (and all the other future kids I'll hopefully end up with) to be a compassionate and intelligent person. But am I raising Maggie to be a mother? Or rather, if I look at it not as being my choice but Maggie's choice. Would I be ok with Maggie wanting to be a wife and mother?
And even if I were, truly, what would I say if she told me her life aspirations were to be a mother? My first thought is that it's not that easy; one must have a mate and preferably an education and an ability to stay home. But it's not so easy to be most things. You can't just decide to be a lawyer either; you must get a bachelor's degree and take the LSATS and get into law school, etc. Would I encourage Maggie (or anyone) to approach becoming a mother in the same way?

I remember a (female) friend telling me once that she thought women who were in school to get their M-R-S "degree" were so presumptive to think that it was ok for them to stay home and raise children rather than working (because we all know raising children isn't real work). And yet, traditionally that's been women's role in life. I know, I know. Women can do anything and should have no limitations. And I completely agree with that. Obviously. But still the first generation to be raised in the atmosphere that women can do anything they want and be whomever they want is the generation that "opted-out."
But I guess my point isn't whether or not women should or should not be SAHMs (in fact that's not point at all—to each her own), but rather why do we have such a low opinion of mothers in the first place. Why do we live in a society where is completely acceptable (and encouraged) to openly discuss and criticize mothers and the way they. . . well everything, interact with their children, talk to their children, deal with their careers/jobs/homes/spouses?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I’m Back!!!

I'm sure you're probably thinking, "Uh, I didn't know you went anywhere." But I did. I took Maggie on her first vacation. We went with my Dad and stepmom and sister and brother-in-law to Maine. It was really beautiful. I mean really, really gorgeous. The mountains and the forests and the ocean and the boulders and moose (I saw 2 moose!). It was amazing.

Ok I have to interrupt myself to tell a story about my sister. On the day we were going moose hunting (not like actual hunting, we just wanted to see them) someone says something about moose and Elaine corrects them and says that the plural of moose is meese. And we all laugh at her but she refuses to believe (this is the sister with the master's degree). So I get out the laptop and go to Webster and show her that moose is both the singular and plural form. And still she won't believe. Her response: Look it up on Google. Ha! We were able to find many logical arguments for why it should be meese on the Urban Dictionary. Basically we had to shame her into believing.

Maggie was so good. How did I get so lucky? On the flight up there she slept for about 45 minutes to an hour and was awake the rest of the flight. She was quiet and sweet. Never cried, nothing. It was amazing. She was pretty pissed about the sleeping arrangements. I got like no sleep on "vacation." It actually occurred to me in Maine that I would do well to just redefine vacation for myself. Because as far as I can tell it's a whole new ballgame with little ones in tow. And Maggie was great. Better than I possibly could have hoped for. But it's still very different from a kid-free vacation.

One thing I noticed on vacation that I've heard about but never really noticed for myself is how when you are around you're family you revert back to your old self. Like I'm the baby and Elaine is older (she's not the oldest but you wouldn't know it by her ;). Now I consider myself to be pretty adult and grown-up but not so much when we're all together. I guess usually when I'm with my Dad and Elaine we're at my house or I have Maggie and those things kind of keep me grounded but when I'm in a different state and don't have my baby, I feel like I'm 13 again. Dad was yelling at me not to get in trouble and my sister called me "whiny and kinda demanding." Yikes! It's such a weird feeling. And I gotta say I can do without it. I much prefer being an adult. I guess you spend umpteen years establishing your family roles and then the kids grow up and become adults and it's always easy to slip back into those old roles.

So I'm back now. It's pretty crazy here trying to get back on track. Trying to eat right again (oy vey!), work out, clean, organize the house, take care of lots of crap, and what else? What am I missing? Oh yes, write. This post was so hard to write. Which is why it sucks. Hey they can't all be gold.