Saturday, October 2, 2010

Spin off blog, or perhaps not

I've been thinking on an idea lately (the past 6 months really) and would like to know what you my readers (reader) think about it.
I sortof spun the idea off of Ina May Gaskins Birth stories as told in Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (which everyone who ever plans to have a baby should read). The birth stories are usually told by the woman having the birth with supplemental information given by the midwife who attended the birth. I found them extremely helpful when I was in labor with the Tyke. I felt like I had this bank of ideas for coping with the intensity of birth and I could pull out any of them I liked and try it for a while.
My idea is to create something like this but for after your children are out and driving you crazy. I'd like to start a blog where mothers could tell their stories and share the challenges that have faced them while raising their children. I think it could be helpful to new mothers to see what other mothers have tried and what has worked.
Personally, I think that's a story I'd want to read. There is no end to the multitude of ways there are to mother and I think it could be helpful to new moms and moms who are facing new challenges to know of other mothers who have faced these things and what they did about it.
So, assuming that you my readers (reader) would like to read that too, what would you like to ask other mothers? Do you want to know about potty training, discipline, sleep training, homeschooling, regular school, nutrition, puberty, teen years, college applications? What is it that you would most like to learn about and ask other mothers? You tell me, and I'll go find the answers.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I don't think so...

I just had my meeting with the hospital midwives. I went in with an open (ish) mind and as I stated earlier, the financially responsible part of me really hoped I liked them.
But I didn't.
There were several things that they do simply to maintain privilages at the hospital where they do births and to keep the Ob/Gyn's in their practice happy that are just not compatible with a healthy and happy birth for me. Here are the deal breakers:
  1. They induce at 41 weeks. Not only is this one not backed up by any evidence that it gives you healthier babies and mommies, the opposite is often true because a pitocin induction is no picnic and is associated with higher rates of c-sections and epidurals which both come with their own set of side effects. Pitocin is not much fun either because it can lead to hyper-stimulation of the uterus and more cases of fetal distress than if mothers were left the hell alone and allowed to labor as nature saw fit.
  2. They insist on an IV line. Anyone else here feel like going through a though mental and physical ordeal that requires every inch of your concentration and stamina with a needle stuck in your arm? Yeah, me neither.
  3. They routinely give pitocin after birth. They do this to get the uterus to contract back down to it's previous size (or close to it) and it can be helpful with warding off things like postpartum hemorrhage but there are several other ways of doing those things without giving you this powerful drug that can produce very painful contractions while you're trying to bond with your newborn. Breastfeeding can also have the same affects (clamping down the uterus and preventing hemorrhage but they don't trust that one.
Dilbert was saying that we could still go with them and just hope that I'm not GBS positive and lie about when the LMP was so that I could go to 42 weeks but they wouldn't know it. That may work for some but I don't want to have someone I don't trust in the room while I'm trying to birth a baby. That was the great thing with the last birth, everyone who was there was trusted by me so I wasn't self conscience or awkward.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Waiting for Oscar

Dilbert and I are currently trying to have another baby. We both feel we are ready (as ready as you ever are for these things) for another one and can't wait to have another child. But we are both dreading all the stuff that comes in between.
I'm not really talking pregnancy. I'm not one of those people that really enjoys being pregnant and it is kindof a pain but I'm ready to tackle that one. I'm not even talking about birth. I'm actually looking forward to birth because I enjoy the challenge and the competition with myself to climb that mountain. The stuff I'm dreading is the insurance battle or the big pay out.
It seems that if you've done a lot of research and decided that you want a natural birth and decided that the best place to attain said natural birth is in your own home with a qualified individual there to oversee the process you bring upon yourself a massive fight with insurance companies.
I don't know why this happens and I have heard tales that some happy people have beautiful insurance companies who simply pay for home births as well as ones in the hospital but none of the insurance companies that are an option for us will do that. In fact they specifically say in their statement of coverage that most home births are not covered. This makes no sense to me for the simple fact that a home birth midwife is about 1/3 the price of an uncomplicated hospital delivery. It would be in their best interest to cover them but they don't and I don't understand why.
And so, I have an appointment tomorrow with a group of midwives who do hospital births and the financially responsible side of me hopes that I love them while the more emotional/hormonal side of me hopes I hate them so we can justify making the sacrifices to pay for another home birth. I just hate that money comes into this decision so much but in the meantime, I look forward to meeting Oscar.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homeschooling from a newbie perspective

I started homeschooling the Pudding the first week of September. Dilbert and I had been thinking about this for a very long time and decided that this year is our trial year. We had several reasons for doing this and here they are:
  1. Neither of us had particularly great experiences in public schools. Dilbert liked high school but not for academic reasons. I didn't really like any of it and was labeled "learning-disabled" early on which I think could be more accurately called "learning differently."
  2. Both of us had a few great teachers, but they stuck out like stars in a sea of darkness. We didn't want to trust our children's education to people who might just be the lights of an airplane.
  3. We are both very conservative and don't really like the idea of our kids education being a matter of labor union policy and political debate.
  4. We think we can do a better job at home.
Those were are reasons for starting this little journey. Having done it for all of three weeks now I can add a 5th reason: It's totally fun.
I'm sure there are super moms out there who are constantly planning activities for their little ones, making sure they experience the full spectrum of what their world has to offer. Occasionally I've branched into super-momhood but usually it's just getting through the day. However, now that Pudding's education is in my hands, I'm finding all kinds of things that I thought about doing before can now be classified as "educational" or "field trip" or "learning experience" and woven in with what we are doing at home.
For example, this week we've been reading about the ponies at Assateague island. We've found several reference books in the library on this subject and Pudding eats them up. So we read about ponies for about an hour every day (that's a lot of ponies). Then in Math we just did a color by number picture of a pony that got Pudding to focus on differentiating between the different numbers. Then we went to Frying Pan Park and saw all the animals but spent most of our time with Jesse and Michael the old Percheron horses. They are as gentle as kittens but still big enough to make quite an impression on Pudding. We talked about how old horses can get and what horses used to be used for and why people needed big strong horses like Jesse and Michael and what sort of work they did. Then we talked about how horses bodies worked (they have multiple stomachs) and what they ate and why. So there we had reading, geography, math, history, agriculture and science all out of one topic. Best of all, I didn't have to cajole or beg her to pay attention to any of it because it's what she's into right now. I couldn't teach like that if I had even 10 or 15 other kids to look after much less another 20 or 30 as some Kindergarten rooms do.
Then this afternoon we went over to a very wooded park to pick leaves which we will identify in the morning when we do some science. Maybe then we'll count all the maple leaves or draw letters on them or I'll teach her how to press them so that they are preserved. The possibilities are endless and it's exciting to have this much room for creativity. I'm a little ashamed of myself for not taking advantage of it sooner.
I'm sure there will be ups and downs on this process but so far so good. I'm just enjoying the ride.

Vacation Survival guide

We took a roadtrip this August from our home in Virginia to Door County, WI (look it up). We took two kids under 5 on a 40 hour car ride round trip and lived to tell the tale so here is how we survived.
1. We packed up the night before and left early. I'm not talking just after breakfast early, I'm talking 6am kindof early. We had the kids sleep in very comfortable clothes the night before, jammies that could pass for clothes so that we didn't have to change them when they woke up. We loaded them into the car while they were still asleep along with their special blankets and lovies and away we went.
2. I packed all kinds of food. I made popcorn and cornbread and sandwiches and cookies. I packed clementines and apples and lots of juice boxes. We made a breakfast out of cornbread and apples at around 9am the first day which means we got in about 3 hours of our drive before we had to stop for food. Not to shabby.
3. Car seat arrangement. We drive a Honda CR-v and I had each kid next to a door with a big basket of toys in between. This basket doubled as a toy box once we got where we were going. We used the space beneath their feet for most of the food we brought, that way it was accessible.
4. Portable DVD player! I love this particular invention. My kids watched Finding Nemo about 7 times on the way to Wisconsin but I'm OK with that. We did turn it off from time to time so that they could enjoy the scenery and we could have some family time together but for the most part, there's not much scenery from the toll road in Ohio and Indiana so bring on Nemo.
5. Think outside the box. When looking for places for your kids to stretch their legs on a road trip, may I just suggest a Walmart during off hours. Think about it. You've got these long aisles for kids to run, it's well lite and if you're there during off hours, there aren't very many people to run into. We did laps around the garden center so that we were getting some "fresh" air as well. The garden center was particularly great because you're outside but it's fenced in so the kids can't get too far from you and run into trouble. That, and the Walmart bathrooms are much nicer than the typical rest stop bathrooms.
6. Don't expect to be able to do more than 12 hours (that includes stops) in a day. If you start traveling at 6am, you're checking into a hotel at 6pm or your kids will be friend and you'll have a bad next day. There are no quick stops with kids, plan on at least 45 minutes for lunch, potty, and run time before you're back on the road.
7th and final tip. Most rules are suspended on vacation. The nutrition police go on strike, the bed time patrol is asleep at the wheel. Even the behavior cop is a bit lax. This is OK! You will run into some trouble because of all of this but it's more important for your kids to be able to get to know the rest of their family and build good memories with them than for them to eat all their veggies or get to bed by 7:30 on the dot. Your kids will understand that the rules kick back in after you get home. And yes, you will probably have a couple of bad behavior days once you get back home but this is to be expected and would probably happen anyway.
There, now you have no good excuse for not heading off to that family reunion in the sticks. Kids do travel and as long as you're cool, they will be cool. Be prepared and all will be well. As always, good luck!

Catching up

It's been a long time since I've posted but I have several very good reasons for that so if you still love me enough to read them, here they are.
We went on Vacation! I will post more about soon as I've figured out several survival strategies for road trips with small ones.
We started homeschooling! I will post more about this soon as well because it's awesome and Pudding really seems to like it. She's not reading Shakespeare or anything yet but she's learning a lot of other things and seems to enjoy it.
We've tentatively started trying for another baby. That's big, I know. Part of me is terrified about this and the other is really excited but I know we want more and I feel like we're ready. Life has been entirely too manageable lately, got to stir things up again.
That is the strange thing just now, things have been manageable, as manageable as they ever are with kids under 18 around. My house is still a mess but that speaks more to my poor use of time and messy being genetic than to things being to hectic. I'm able to get diner on the table every night and it doesn't feel like a hardship anymore. I can knit, not as much as I want to but then there aren't enough hours in the day for that one. I can sleep when the cat doesn't decide that he needs to express his heartfelt love to me at 3am by making biscuits on my neck, claws and all. Overall, life is pretty chill right now and I always feel a little uneasy when life is this calm.
And so, bring on the crazy! Bring on the diapers and the endless nursing, bring on the tricky nap schedule and the crazy wakeful nights. Bring on the 3 shirt days and the constant spit up, the discomfort and nausea of pregnancy and the joyful trial of birth. Here we go again!

Monday, June 14, 2010 it or not

This post is a response to this article. Please read it and then come back for my take on things.

A long time ago I took a Woman's Studies course during my matriculation at Montgomery college. I found the discussions in that class to be fascinatingly ridiculous and quickly realized that most common sense was viewed as insanity. I remember one girl stating that a man's opinion on some woman's issue was just as valid as a woman's because "It's all just opinion." I may have an opinion on civil wars in Africa and anarchy in Greece but I'm not really part of that discussion, nor should I be, even though, "it's all just opinion."
On the first day in that class our teacher defined feminism as "the belief that women should have equal rights and opportunities with men." No where in this definition did it state that being feminist also meant that you must believe that it is a god given right to have your unborn child hoovered out of you and disposed of whenever you saw fit. (Yes, I know the decision to have an abortion is a deeply personal thing and I know many of my dear friends have had the procedure done. It breaks my heart that they felt that this was the only option left to them and that the multitude of other choices out there are so rarely taken.)
The hard core feminist of the NOW and things like that seem to believe that if you don't believe in abortion rights then somehow you aren't really a feminist. If you believe say, that women should have the right to choose not to have sex, or to use multiple layers of protection or to have their baby adopted to parents who could take care of it, or perhaps to take responsibility for the choices they have made and find a way to raise their child and change the life they had in mind, then the feminist label really isn't for you because after all, men don't have to have babies and we want to be equal with them, don't we?
So now, political candidates who are women and claim the title feminist for themselves because they believe that all women deserve the same rights as men are called fakers by the established feminist press because they disagree on this issue.
Rights are a funny thing. People define them so differently these days that the term is starting to loose it's meaning. I personally believe that a right is something that cannot be given to you by someone else. It can be interfeared with but it cannot be given at someone else s expense. My right to free speech isn't given to me by anyone in particular. I don't have to ask my neighbor to let me have this right. I do have to ask that he leave me alone to practice my free speech and very occasionally I have to ask that my fellow countrymen defend that right against those that would take it away but I don't have to ask them to give it.
As a woman I have the right to bear children or not. I can choose not to participate in activities that result in children if I don't want them or I can choose from the many varieties of contraception that are available if I decide I just can't help myself. I can choose to do things that I know lead to pregnancy if babies are what I want. I do not have equal rights with men, I have greater rights because no matter how hard a man tries and despite some medical gimmickry, men can never do this. With this awesome right comes awesome responsibility, as it does with all rights. You want the right to free speech, you better be prepared to defend it and deal with the consequences of whatever crazy thing you say. We women have the right to bear children and we have to know that that right comes with the responsibility of making a clear and logical choice to have them or not and deal with the consequences of that choice. Why do we sell ourselves so short, to think that the only choice is between having an unwanted child or an abdication of our ultimate responsibility?
As for the political types, why is it so hard to understand that there are millions of women out there who don't think that abortion is OK and who don't think that national health care is a good idea and who don't think that the way our government is handling things is appropriate. Why shouldn't these voices have representation and why shouldn't that representation come from a woman who shares those ideals?

One final thought, why have the feminist mainstream devoted so much energy to protecting a woman's right to choose to end her pregnancy where there are millions more women who are denied the right to choose how and what means to continue their pregnancy? The maternal mortality rate has been going up in the US for the last 28 years (since 1982). That means that more women are dying around the time of childbirth(percentage wise) in my generation than did in my mothers. That fact ought to have every feminist worth her salt up in arms because it effects every woman who will ever have a child, not just those who will choose to end their pregnancy. This is a discussion for another time, check back later for that one.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Family Planning

I've been just itching to have another baby lately. Many of my friends have small ones right now and I hold them and feel the ovaries jumping.
However, recent events have me thinking that maybe another baby, no matter how much I want one, just isn't a good idea. The fact that my Pudding still seems to be stuck in the terrible twos two years later and the Tyke is moving into them six months ahead of time makes me think that this could be all that I can handle.
I'm trying to think long term. What would I wish that I had done when I'm 80. When I'm 80 I want to be surrounded by my children and their children and their children's children. I have always wanted a big family. I see the closeness that my grandmother has with her 5 brothers and sisters and I want my kids to have that kind of community.
Weather I can handle another one remains to be seen. I may turn into one of those mothers who you see with their eyes twitching and at least one kid on a leach but at least they'll have someone to sympathize with them when they're older, a few fellow survivors of mom's house of crazy. We'll see!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I am one of "those" people. The one's who have to literally bit their tongues to keep from telling new mommies exactly what they are doing wrong and how they could do it better. I can't help it. I know they don't want to hear what I have to say and I know that I don't know everything about babies so I really do try not to interfere when I'm not invited to do so but sometimes it's just so tempting.
You see, the thing is that I didn't really know many other mommies when I was a new mother. Everything was hard and my mom was 1000 miles away and even when I talked to her, there was an awful lot that she just couldn't help me with. Case in point. Pudding used to scream her little lungs out on any car ride that lasted more than 10 minutes. We tried music, we tried having me sit next to her, we tried no music, we tried NPR thinking that it would put anyone to sleep. Nothing worked.
I asked my mom what she had done and she told me that when I was little (1981) that she hadn't used a car seat, she'd just put me on the passenger seat next to her and kept a hand on me to make sure I didn't roll off. If I got fussy, she'd just pull over to the side of the rural road and nurse me back into quiet. She was living in rural Wisconsin in a sparsely populated county where the nearest grocery store was two towns over and you could drive for miles and miles without seeing another car. Her experience was not particularly helpful to a mommy living in the DC metro area.
I read books of course, but all of them seemed to disagree or just not to work in real life. One told me that if I went through our nightime routine and then simply placed my daughter in her crib that she would fuss for a while but eventually cry herself out in under 30 minutes. It only shows how desperate we were to get some sleep that we actually tried this. 45 Minutes of hysterics later, Pudding came into bed with us, tears, hiccups and all. The experts underestimated the Pudding's endurance.
The only thing that ever really seemed to help was talking things over with another mother who was going through it. Even if her experience was different from mine, talking things over with her helped to keep me from getting lost in the maze of infancy.
The only problem with this was we were basically the blind leading the blind. Neither of us really knew what we were doing so it was more comparing notes than passing on knowledge. As a result, most of what I know about mothering and babies, I had to learn the hard way, and quick. Here's a short list of the things I figured out so far.
  • nursing is not the answer for everything
  • potty training is not as scary as you think
  • you can't go back to the person you were, motherhood is life altering
  • boxed drinks are not to be trusted in the hands of toddlers
  • Adjusting expectations changes everything
  • modern ideas are all well and good but chances are the way your great-grandmother did it was better
  • babies can't tell time, when your baby is still new, you should forget how
  • take time to enjoy your baby because you will blink and they'll be toddlers
  • babywearing is way more fun than a stroller
  • The second one is easier because you are already a mother, the transition is less stressful
  • trust your body, trust your baby, trust the process that nature set up
Part of the reason I started this blog and started writing for was so that I could get some of this hard won knowledge to new mothers who may need it and who don't have anyone else to ask.
So if I accost you in the grocery store about the joys of babywearing or offer to help you with your latch at a cafe, I apologize. I know this advice is not really wanted. But please know that it comes from a place of love for mommies everywhere and an understanding of how hard the job unfamiliar the territory can seem.

Monday, April 5, 2010

More on Parenthood and identity

Most of you know that I write for as well as this little blog. A while ago I did a piece on parenthood and identity that was read by a woman producing a play for DC Fringe fest. I haven't seen the play yet but from what I understand the play deals with three women who have recently become mothers who feel that they are losing themselves in the job, something like that. I have been asked to review this play (!) when it is performed at the festival and I'm going to do a "Q&A" with the writer and producer to gain some background on it before I see it.
So first of all, let me just freak out for a minute that someone who is not related to me or friendly with me actually reads my column and likes it!!!!! Ok, I'm composed again.
Secondly, all this talk about the identity crisis that new mothers go through got me thinking a few more thoughts on what I'd already written and I'd like to share them with you. If you'd like to read my original post, here it is.
The first thing I thought about after re-reading this was Madonna. I'm a child of the 80's and 90's so I saw or heard about Madonna going from the creepy/slutty pop star to the sex goddess to Evita and now suddenly she's the mother of many kids and seems perfectly happy to be Mrs. Richie(?) for the rest of her life. Do you think she misses the pointy bra or regrets giving it up to be a mother? My guess is no because, as much fun as I'm sure the pointy bra was, it's not compatible with the other choices she's made and you just can't pull that stuff off after a certain age. She reinvented herself to fit the life she wanted and that is what we women have to do in order to fulfill our goals. Our lives and our identities are not static, they are constantly changing and evolving based on the choices we make.
The second thing I thought of was how long life is and how short childhood is. The average life expectancy is now past 70 but if you choose to be at home with your children while they are small, you're looking at anywhere from 5 to 15 years, depending on how you space those babies. That leaves another 55 years (35 if you subtract the first 20 for your own childhood) to do whatever else you want to do. Being with your children and giving yourself over to their needs is a temporary arrangement unless your kid is one of those that doesn't mind sleeping on his Batman sheets until he's 45.
The other thing about the timing of motherhood that I have never seen in one of those expert books is how much easier it all gets after the first year. For that first year you can feel like you're drowning. You have time for nothing and you are never off duty. But after your baby's first birthday, suddenly you have a lot more options. Your partner can take on a lot more of the baby work that they couldn't do before. Things like feeding and nap schedules are suddenly much easier because your baby has turned into someone who eats people food and who doesn't need a breast in their face ever 3 hours. You can spend a few hours with a friend, you can go grocery shopping by yourself, you can take a class at your community center (I totally recommend Belly Dancing 1), you can get out. Plus, your baby is now learning to play independently at a year so there is less pressure on you when you are there to entertain them. Compared to the life you had before children it won't seem like much but after one year with a baby, you will feel like a free woman.
My final point is the same as that in my post but I think it bears repeating. Children are an investment that lasts. Investing your time and your talents with your children and your family and really being there for them when they need you isn't something that can ever be taken away. You may look back at your life and wish you'd done things differently. You may wish you'd traveled more, experienced more, taken a different path from time to time, but you will never regret the time you spent with your kids. That time is precious and is worth far more than all the promotions, raises, and accomplishments that would otherwise define you.
And so, to all the new mommies out there who feel so overwhelmed right now, know that this to shall pass. Your baby won't always want your undivided attention, you toddler won't always want one more story, your preschooler won't always want to ask you about your day. So if you put in the time now, you give your undivided attention, one more story or lesson from your day, you can know that you are planting something that lasts far longer than the next nap time. As hard as it is, you can get through it and you'll be glad you did.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The questionable importance of "Date night"

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. When you're married with little ones having date night is a tough thing to come by. There are sitters to arrange, reservations to make, curling irons to reaquaint oneself with. It's a big production.
Then, once you actually get out without the kids, what do you do with yourselves? Last date night, Dilbert and I went to a very loud restaurant with good food which meant we both ate too much and paid too much for it and could barely hear ourselves speak much less each other. We managed to chat through the din but it was tough going. After that we went to the book store and browsed around for a while before we both settled down with a stack of magazines and books and read. While all this was nice to be able to do, it wasn't exactly a bonding experience for us. We chatted about when we'd plan our next baby, Dilberts crazy plan to arm himself (more on that later) and the prospect of homeschooling our kids. All of this is stuff that we've talked about before with our without the kids around.
While it was nice to have a break from being on call for the kids, it's not like you get a weight lifted from your shoulders when you walk out the door. You don't get a break from being a parent because it's who you are, not something you do. Babysitter or not, you are where the buck stops whether you're in the house or not. So to the mommies out there, don't think that a night out is a night off because there is no night off.
As far as being good for our marriage, date night was a bit of a bust there as well. I had built up so many expectations for what our date ought to be that when it wasn't this big romantic extravaganza, I got hurt. That's not my husbands fault, it's mine. I wanted us to have this sweet romantic time like we used to when we were newlyweds or when we were dating but we aren't those people anymore and romance has changed. Romance is now him saying "I cleaned out the cat box for you because I know how much you hate when it gets smelly," or "This meatloaf is awesome!" Romance is now a door propped open when I'm struggling to get the Tyke, Pudding and two bags of groceries into the house while not letting the cat out. Romance is not a box of chocolates and a bunch of flowers anymore. I value the other things more but even I occasionally forget and succumb to the Hallmark expectations of romance, yet when these things are actually presented to me, I wonder why he'd spend the time and money on something so silly as flowers. (Note to Dilbert: This doesn't mean you're off the hook for flowers for big occasions or any occasion at all, I do enjoy them and they are a wonderful and thoughtful gift. My point is only that I value many other things as romantic besides them.)
My point here is not that we shouldn't do date night, it's fun to actually get out without the kids and do things we can't do with them. However, it's not something that will make or break our marriage. Cleaning out the cat box might but certainly not date night. All joking asside, our marriage hinges on mutual respect and our willingness to meet each others needs. The way we translate that respect and willingness into our daily routine is what makes or breaks us and all the fancy diners and outings in the world wouldn't fix it if that were missing.
Between the carried responsibility of parenthood, the price of date night, the expectations and the changes of romance, dates just ain't what they used to be. Most of the time, I'd rather be curled up next to him watching bad TV after putting the kids to bed. That would only require sweat pants and the remote, that sounds like my kind of date.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bull by the horns

On Tuesday night I attended my first Over-eaters Anonymous(OA) meeting. Since we had a bunch of snow that night and people in Virginia don't travel once the flakes fly, there were only 4 people there so there was no chance to sit in the back of the room and just check it out, no sir, I was 25% of the group that night so I did my share of reading and sharing and get-to-know you stuff.
I suppose it is a good thing, people there know me and hope that I'll come back, I'm more accountable than if I'd been able to sit in the back of the room.
What impressed me most was how seriously everyone there took this thing. There weren't any jokes about pigging-out or self-deprecating remarks about waistlines or pants size. The people there introduced themselves by their first name and their problem and they spoke so seriously about the long hard look they'd had to take at themselves and how they had to continue to take that look everyday. They also talked a lot about how they have to surrender their addiction to God and relying on a higher power to master and control their compulsion.
I am now at about 36 hours of "abstinence" which means I haven't pigged out or deviated from my food plan since before my meeting which is a big deal for me as I live in my kitchen surrounded by food. I am constantly preparing various snacks and such for my two crazy people and I had to be very mindful and stop myself a couple of times from not falling into old habits like finishing off the Pudding's PB&J (she never eats the crusts) or snacking on a cookie or piece of bread while I was fixing lunch or diner.
As I finish this I've now finished my 2nd full day of abstinence and it's growing on me. Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Adventures in Co-Mothering

Amid the chaos of 5 children under 4 I coudln't help but notice the way mothers are like soldiers. I put this together after watching the Hurt Locker, a film about a squad of soldiers who diffuse bombs in Iraq. As the soldiers move through a building they move as one organism. They seem to be able to read each others moves and respond accordingly. They're doesn't have to be any verbal confirmation of goal, they are well trained and know what needs to be done so when one sees the other do one part of the task at hand, he jumps right in and does the rest.
My friend Fergy and I are becoming like this. I have two children and she has three. Our oldest ones are exactly a week apart and we've know each other since before they were born. We know each other well enough to be able to read what the other needs most of the time. When the Pudding is screaming that she doesn't want to go, Fergy is packing up my diaper bag and hanging it on my shoulder while I frog march Pudding out the door. When Fergy is wrangeling her two boys into hats, coats and mittens, I rock her baby. When one child pushes another, one of us jumps in to comfort and the other to reprimand in one seamless action.
It helps that we've grown up as mothers together. We met in childbirth classes while we were both going through the shock and awe that is ones first pregnancy. When our babies were born, we adjusted to the life of a mom together and were able to learn so much from each other. We spent many afternoons walking our neighborhoods and checking to see what the other did for diaper rash and what kind of sleep schedule actually worked. We saw each other work through the conflict between the ideas we had about motherhood and its reality and we know which side won.
My message to all you mommies or mommies-to-be out there is to find a friend like this, someone to go through the struggle with. A war buddy, a traveling partner, someone who knows what you're going through and doesn't expect more than you can give because they are going through the same stuff. It has been invaluable to have a friend like this. She always says something to make me feel normal when I feel that I'm loosing my marbles and tells me I'm a good mom when things feel like they're unraveling. She knows how hard it is to loose the baby weight and how tough potty training can be and what a challenge it is to choose a preschool for your child. Not to mention how weird it is that we're old enough to be choosing preschools.
I am so grateful to have found someone to go through these trenches with so to all you future mummies out there, I wish you the same. Thanks Fergy!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Houston...we have a problem

All of my life I've felt like a big girl. Most of that time I wasn't actually fat, just (quite literally) big boned. I'm tall, I have a large frame and next to the average woman I look like someone hit the zoom in button. Just like the average woman only everything is bigger.
When I was in my early twenties I worked very hard on becoming OK with this. I told myself that I was never going to be small and petite. I wasn't ever going to be a pin up but I could be attractive in my own way. I worked really hard at that but while I was starting to feel better about myself the numbers on the scale were ever so slowly creeping up.
One of the side effects of being a larger person is that you have to gain 10 to 15 pounds before you really notice it in your body. I'd see that my weight was up 6 lbs and not be too worried about it because I knew that if I skipped lunch and danced all night it would go away. That worked for a long time. But while I was busy ignoring the actual numbers on the scale, I was developing some deplorable eating habits.
I loved getting late night gyros at Mon Cheri in Georgetown after dancing and drinking all night with my friends. The place would be packed with fellow drinkers and lively conversation always ensued. All this over some greasy "Lamb" and a pita. I also fell in love with Mountain Dew and Cheesy Puffs from 7-11. This was cheep and when I was broke, it was occasionally my diner.
Then I met my husband, a man who loves to analyze the various distinctions between domestic Cheddar, who glories in a good Steak Au Poirve and spent years developing a pasta dish based on one at his favorite restaurant. He was a foodie and I knew how to cook, it was a match made in heaven.
So I started cooking for him and over the years I've gotten pretty good. I've developed a few of my own recipes and I know how to make things taste good. The problem is that the way to make things taste good is to add salt and fat, usually butter. Really, is there anything better than that combo right there? We went to a restaurant in New York called Prune and were served the lowly radish with butter and sea salt, it was a revelation. Butter and salt can make anything good.
As babies have come into our lives and I no longer have that "no one besides your mother will love you if you get too fat" voice in my head to spur me to occasional starvation, the weight has crept up further than I thought was possible. And now, with two kids constantly demanding to be fed I find myself no longer able to pass myself off as just "big boned."
What's worse is that my compulsion to eat is getting stronger and harder to hide. When I was on my own I could curl up with a box of donuts and a bottle of merlot without anyone noticing but now with a family I find myself turning my back on my kids while they eat lunch so that they won't see me scarf down a brownie.
My real addiction is Chic-fil-a. They have a drive through and people who speak English and say thank you for stopping at Chic-fil-a. They have sinfully delicious waffle fries and chicken fingers that are the awesome. I am disgusted with myself for pulling into the parking lot but I don't ever turn around and drive away.
And this brings me to my point. I've been saying that I want to loose weight for years but in truth that's not it. What I want to loose this year is the sick and twisted compulsion to eat, the urge to eat out of boredom , the urge to eat only things that will be bad for me. I want to loose the urge to self-destruct.
To that end I have decided to join Overeaters Anonymous when we get back from Wisconsin. They don't have a meeting that I can get to before the trip or I would do it then but better late than never I guess. This year I am deciding to confront my food and body issues in a way that I have never really done before. In admitting that this is something that needs fixing rather a simple opting out of the skinny olympics, I hope to finally get this monkey off my back and go back to simply being big boned.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thrill Issues

I was at a birth today. It was a beautiful, spiritual, life-affirming home birth and I felt so honored to share in it with this family. Another close friend has had a baby recently and these two other moms and I have been joking that in another few months I'll have to get pregnant or I'll break our string of babies. Between the three of us we've had at least one baby born every year since 2005. Since this baby just made it over the line into 2010, I think I'm off the hook until 2011 which is a good thing.
The Tyke just turned a year old on the 30th. He's a big, happy, healthy boy and he's working on being as independent as he can but he's still my baby. He still looks to me for comfort when the Pudding doesn't want to play with him. He loves the pudding and is devastated when she doesn't want to play. He still needs to be held for 30 minutes after every nap. He still needs to be the baby whenever life gets too overwhelming.
Lately I've been jonsing for a new baby. I hold my friends newborn in my arms and look down at that squished up little face and those blinky newborn eyes and I swear I can feel an ovary jump. I also love hanging out with my midwives and the only time I get to do that is when I'm pregnant. I love all the attention you get as a pregnant woman. People smile at you, wish you good luck, ask you how you're feeling. Some pregnant women hate that stuff but I eat it up.
I love the whole process of what your body does during pregnancy and birth. It's all so primal. You have to learn to listen to your body and do what it wants. You have to learn the process and get out of the way. You have to learn to take care of yourself so that lack of sleep, poor nutrition and fear don't get in the way of this awesome force of nature. I actually hate the experience of being pregnant. The weird joints and the big belly are not much fun to deal with but I love the process and I love birth.
I had a home birth with the Tyke and when I made it through that I felt like there was nothing I couldn't do. My body built a giant, perfect baby and got him out in once piece, what can life throw at me that I can't handle?
I'm missing the high of that experience. I think that's what it really is. I love babies and I love my kids and I want more but right now I know another baby just isn't the best idea. My baby needs to be the baby for a little while longer and I need to get to know who that little person is before we add to our little family. So as much as I may love the idea of having another one, now is not the season. I'm just going to have to find more births to attend to take care of my thrill issues.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why I write

My brother, the Bear, sent me the sweetest message yesterday. I won't reveal all of it just now, only the really important part that illustrates my point in this post.
"I feel like because we don't see each other nearly enough that I started to lose touch of who you are... and though small, this piece of you really makes me feel more connected..."
This is one of the reasons I write. In our far flung family, it is difficult to maintain the relationships that are so important to us. I've become more aware of it as my children grow and I realize that their family is missing whole stages of their lives. The Bear hasn't seen the Pudding since she had just turned two. She's changed so much since then that I sometimes look back at her pictures and wonder how that girl became this one. Both are great in their way but this present version is much more challenging and stubborn. Sometimes I miss the one in the pictures.
My point is that this little outlet of mine isn't just an exercise in navel gazing or narcissism but rather a chance for those dear but not so near to share in the joys and tribulations of my family and feel more connected to us because of it.
There are other reasons of course. I like to think that someday I'll be a good writer, good enough to have someone else think so and pay me lots of money to do it. Practice makes perfect so here I practice.
This little blog is also a way to make new friends with those I never seem to get enough time with. The lovely and talented Nurse Betty and I have known each other, or at least of each other, for over 3 years but we are friends because our husbands are friends so they are always around taking up valuable conversation time. Nurse Betty now reads the blog (Hi Nurse Betty!) and so has a chance to get to know me without those pesky husbands getting in the way. : ) Someday I'll have a chance to return the favor.
Aside from connecting with family, making new friends and practicing the craft of writing I feel that I have a story to tell and a unique perspective on a common situation. By this I mean that my take on typical suburban motherhood is different from many other women's. I've seen what happens when the perfect family picture falls apart and what's more, I've done research and analysis on the impact that has on people like me who are trying to build families after their own has fallen apart. I write to let other women out there know that it is possible to conquer your past and do better than your history. It takes work and self examination and discipline but it is possible to do and if I can help other women to realize this, I will have accomplished my goal.
The last reason I write is because I am in the trenches. This job is hard and sometimes lonely. The buck always stops with mommy because she's the only one there most of the time. When your toddler has an accident, the cat gets sick and the baby pulls over the trash can, you are the only one around who will put it all back together and while you're doing this, you have to be sweet and keep a smile on your face so that your kids know you aren't mad at them. In most jobs you could yell or swear or be grumpy with your co-workers when the job gets tough but in this one, you can't. I put a humorous spin on things to make the frustration and angst seem lighter. Like a pressure cooker on the stove, this blog is my steam valve. I make it funny so I don't explode. And if all of you get a laugh out of it, well that's just gravy.