Saturday, January 23, 2010

Your Newborn Baby

This is to all you new moms out there who are trying so hard to do the right thing for your little, tiny newborns. If your heart is in the right place and your only problem is that you are worried for the well-being of your baby then I have one word to say to you. Relax. Really, just relax because everything will work out. Those little tykes are so resilient and really need very little from you other than love. Let me explain.

It wasn’t until this week when my 40 year old best friend brought her new baby home from the hospital and called me in a panic about all of the things that were concerning her about her baby that I realized that I had something very helpful to share. I thought back to those first days at home with my second daughter and began sharing everything in an effort to relieve some of her stress about the fact that she thought someone had to sit in the backseat of the car with her baby to make sure he was still breathing because how could he get any air being slumped over like that?? Oh boy did it take me back…

My second daughter was born on 12/20/2007 and being so close to the Holidays it was a wonder I even survived. First of all she was so terribly jaundiced that the whites of her eyes were bright yellow. My first daughter had no jaundice at all so this was alarming enough. If that was all however I imagine I would have been in better shape. She also had two ingrown toenails that I was informed I had to get out myself or she would have to be sent to a podiatrist for surgery. So three times a day I had to first soak her feet in Epsom salts (ever tried to soak a newborn baby’s feet? I can think of more fun things to do) and then put on gloves to literally dig her little toe nails out all the while puss is oozing everywhere and did I mention she was completely hysterical? Yes, she was and the first 100 or so times her cries made me cry so I was trying to do all of this through a curtain of tears. She also came home with pink eye in both eyes. I am telling the truth. In both eyes so two times a day I had to pull her eyes open and line the inside of them with this cream and pray to God that I did not poke her eye while I was doing it! This is why I think that all mothers should carry an honorary “M.D.” behind their names but that is the topic for another post. And lastly, poor little baby also had an oozing bellybutton that I swore was going to make the ugliest “outie” anyone had ever seen. I could not make this stuff up. And as I told Anna these things I could feel the tension dissipate and a calm start to settle over her. I wish someone would have said to me “you can’t hurt her, just do your best and don’t worry so much about everything.”

A few days after you bring your baby home you will start to notice things like maybe they are constipated, maybe they cry what you think is a lot, maybe they are not eating as often as you had hoped or any number of other things that you deem noteworthy. Rarely is there a problem that is serious or does not work itself out. By all means call and visit your pediatrician often but at the end of every day take time to relax and remember that it is all going to be OK. Newborn babies are made of a material comparable to titanium in their durability so try not to stress so much!

Look at my second daughter! Is there anything about her that is not perfect?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

For a Title

What are you willing to do for a title? I don’t mean a title in the sense of a status symbol the title I am talking about is one you are born with. “Brother” or “sister,” “mom” or “dad” how much are you willing to put up with, help out or even forgive someone because of their title in your life? I was speaking with a very good friend of mine yesterday who I have a lot in common with and we were talking about family issues and she made the comment “I would not do that just because she is my sister, she is an adult and can make her own decisions and live with the consequences.” This is a valid point.

I am the oldest of four and my three younger brothers are some of my very favorite people and my best friends. Each in their own right is a truelove of mine and before I had children they were the most adorable things in my life. Now we are all grown and those of us who are going to get married have done that. Even though we are older now there is still not a lot I would not do for any one of them. Maybe this is not “normal” but the first time I even recognized another way of thinking was on the phone yesterday. And I cannot argue with my friend either. She is right, our siblings (all 28 years old and up) are responsible for their own lives so we do not owe each other anything just for a title. And while there are times when a brother will aggravate me to the point that I have to just walk away from him because I do not agree with decisions he is making I would still not ever refuse him help. To take it even one step further I still wish that my brothers have every joy and pleasure in life and it would be enough for me if they did even if I did not. I love them sometimes because I like them and sometimes not.

Any one of my brothers could call and ask for anything and I would give everything I could. I feel the need to add the caveat that unless of course he is a threat to one of my children but my brothers are saints to their nieces. There was never a better uncle. I would not ever put my little girls out for them but I will always be there for them to lean on. I guess that I am lucky that my brothers are my soul mates because that makes it easier but for a title I would do most anything.

Monday, January 18, 2010

All For a Nap

I will roll down a car window in the rain in a heartbeat to keep a kid awake. And you know, I have realized that I am not alone. The more mothers I speak to the more I realize that we all do that. How hard are you willing to fight for a nap? Me, I will fight to the end. If my little girls (either one) fall asleep in the car you may as well call it a day. There is no way you are going to get them to take a nap after that. Even just a five minute cat nap will suffice for a long and energetic rest of the day; at least for them.

God intended children 4 years of age and younger to nap. Do you know why? It is because the care takers of children in this age group are tired. We are so very physically and often emotionally tired after even just a morning with our energetic and curious little people that we need to sit down. We need to sit down and we need to eat. Maybe we even need a nap too. So before calling CPS on me for opening the car window during a down pour consider the fact that it is their nap that actually keeps you from having to call CPS in the first place!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Have Fun With The Kids!

Some assumptions like the fact that you love your children and are happy to be a parent must be made here. If you are still reading then I assume you have affirmed that. Now what? They like to run around in circles and play with everything in sight and I can only spend so many minutes saying either “no, don’t touch that” or threatening to leave knowing that would be more of a punishment for me then for them since I would have to figure out some other place to go. Pretty much the only place that a kid can run wild and you don’t have to worry is a place like the Children’s Museum. I know they won’t hurt anything by running around a place like Funigan’s or Chuckie Cheese but I personally do not allow my girls to run free at those sorts of places because I am afraid of the other, more “assertive” (or something like that) children. I hear complaints all the time from moms who are trying to find ways to entertain their kids that they themselves can tolerate. There is a good balance between being a parent and still having fun. I think that some of what you do does obviously need to change upon the birth of a child but it does not all have to be the pits for you. Especially if you stay home with you children and so do everything with them. Now granted you probably should not be taking your children into the bar at happy hour or expecting a 3 year old to wait patiently while you get a manicure but there are so many fun things you can do with your children that are fun for both you and them. You don’t have to give or take everything in order to continue to be a happy person who enjoys life.

My favorite is to get a group of 3 or 4 parents who enjoy each other’s company together and let the kids play while you sip on a glass of wine (careful if you are driving). Don’t get hung up on whether the kids are best of friends because I guarantee you that if they are put together for long enough with some toys they will eventually play once they realize that they may be there a while. So when selecting your play group make it people you would want to be around. Really, I wish there was a place like a Children’s Museum that would offer such a setting. Of course the drinking should be taken seriously but if we could just for the purposes of my pretending assume that all parents are like you and me and would never put their kid’s lives in harm’s way by drinking and driving then this would be perfect. Have a Children’s Museum type setting along with perhaps a little area with music where the kiddos and their parents could cut a rug or shake it a little if they so desire and of course some type of food you would be in business!

Monday, January 11, 2010

No More Waiting in Lines

On Thursday I spoke to a good friend of mine and we decided to have dinner together on Friday night. Do you know the first thing I did when I got off the phone with her? I made a reservation at a “Fine Dining” joint in town, that’s what I did. You know, so that we don’t go somewhere and have to wait in line. That was when I realized that these days, these mid-30’s, two children, stay-at-home days, the ones when a chance to sit down let alone have a good conversation accompanied by good food days are oh so very rare that I will not spend a single second waiting in line for a seat. Really, there is not a time when I will stand in line to eat anymore. In fact there are few things that I will stand in line for at all anymore. The necessary grocery store and Costco line aside there is nothing that I can think of that I want bad enough to wait in line for it! Can you? I mean with the advent of on-line shopping came a whole new mindset about how best to spend your time. If you can do it all with the click of a button and then a day ( or several later your desire materializes at your door step while you are folding laundry and the girls are napping then I am sold! And waiting in line to wait in line to buy something? I don’t get that at all. Like when everyone wanted a Wii or a “Tickle me Elmo”. I remember people standing in line for hours and some people even having altercations about who would get one first. Seriously? If I can’t either get it at Costco or order it on-line then I don’t need or want it bad enough.

Parents multi-task, I am talking about the Crock pot, dryer and writing all going at once. I will certainly never use my time to wait in line for a table at a restaurant again so yeah, maybe I will pay more for my food but I will also spend more time sitting and enjoying my meal and my company. Worth it? Yes! To me it is!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hold That Baby!

Really. One of my very best friends is at the end of her first pregnancy right now. If she has not given birth herself by next weekend then she is going to be induced. I was talking to her on the phone yesterday and she said “I am just ready to go ahead and have this baby,” and I thought “Whoa sister! Enjoy these last few days! Go to the movies, get a massage or a pedicure or just sit in a silent room and relax for a while. Do things that you will not be able to do with children.” I know, I know you are big and fat and can’t breathe or sleep and at this point there is not even any enjoyment in activities that are typically quite fun like eating and sex but listen, these are the last days that you will ever be able to go out to eat or get a pedicure without having to think about what you are going to do with the kids. I love nothing more than being a mother. Really it is my favorite thing! But when I want to do anything besides be a mom I, like all other mothers, have to make sure the kids are accounted for and that is something an expectant mother does not always realize. So my advice to you is enjoy these last few days because your life is getting ready to be shaken up a bit…to say the least!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Second Child

This morning I had coffee with several girl friends of mine when I was inspired to write this post. The four of us all had one thing in common. Two kids. My second child, at two years of age, was the oldest of the bunch making me the most familiar with the sensations that come with the birth of a second child. The youngest was a newborn baby who accompanied his mother and was 4 weeks old. Then there was a 6 month old who was with his mom and a nine month old who was with a sitter. The conversations we had about our various experiences made me realize how common some of the feelings that come with having a second child are and even more that I should share them in the interest of providing comfort to anyone else in those same shoes who was not fortunate enough to be sitting with us.

For me it started during the second pregnancy when somehow everyone seemed to forget I was pregnant. Since I already had another one running around I was not really treated with the same type of careful consideration as when I was first pregnant. Then the nine months were up and I went to the hospital where the standard of care seemed to somehow transfer over and, in comparison to the first birthing experience, I was essentially ignored. I do not blame the hospital (maybe I should?) but the point is that they knew that this was my second child so I guess they did not think that I needed as much help as I got the first time. In pretty much every area from checking me physically to caring for my newborn they performed significantly lower. Measured on a scale from one to ten and ten being the best and the type of care I got the first time I would give them a 4 at best the second time around.

Now I leave the hospital. I get home to a house with a 21 month old, a husband and now my newborn baby. The next six months to one year are essentially a blur with the exception of the emotions I felt. I was breastfeeding so that meant no sleep. Then when I did have a chance to even just sit down in the quiet I felt like I needed to spend time with my older daughter since her care had been taken over by grandparents and I feared she would forget who her mother was or even worse that she would stop loving me. I used maternity leave this time around more as bonding time with my almost two year old than I ever thought I would. So I did not ever rest at all. Well, I went back to work 4 months after having my baby and cried daily for several months to follow. I hated leaving her, it hurt me not being a part of my older daughter’s (Andira) life anymore and on top of all of that I was piecemealing childcare together based on who (which grandparent) had which day free in the name of avoiding daycare which put me at the mercy of everyone else’s schedule. At the time I felt like my husband was not even supporting me but as I look back now I see that nobody could have helped me with the state I was in except myself.

I wish someone would have told me back then what I am telling you now. About these feelings and that they are OK, about the fact that it is expected for you to feel the way you do but that it is not forever or that you are just going to have to wake up everyday and decide to be happy and the rest will fill in. Don’t allow your happiness to depend on some vision of “perfect” that is unattainable with a newborn baby and another young child. I would have been in better shape had I known these things. We need to be there for each other especially in times of such massive transition when a mother is literally the food for another living thing as well as the shoulders for the rest of her family.

If you have or are having a second child rest assured that if you are feeling it I most likely have too and if I have not I guarantee you that one of the four of us girls who met for coffee today have. And know that you are just fine and many women have sat right where you are sitting and are better for it. There is no need to waste your energy on sadness, worry or any other negative emotion. Just pray for strength and do the best you can without expecting everything to fit into a mold you have built for yourself. “Perfect” is not the same for everyone. That is what will define “perfect” for you.

Enjoy that baby because although it may be challenging, they grow up so fast. We love you and you are going to be great!

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Secret

In the spirit of starting the week following a Holiday off on the right foot I would like to offer some advice. As a mother (and this goes for any parent) I have found that I benefit greatly from getting a “head start” if you will, on my day. When I was working outside of my house I found that when I was awakened by the calls of one of my young girls as the call to my day I felt like I spent so much time just trying to catch up. One girl would wake up and then shortly after that the other one and then somewhere in the middle of that my husband would start his day and all the while all I wanted was a cup of coffee! Not to mention the fact that I too needed to get ready for my own job which required me to wear a suit daily. Before I knew it I was in a bad mood and wanting to be or just flat out being snappy to the entire family toddler and all!

I want to share my secret with you since it has been a saving grace in my life. Get up early. I mean early and I also recommend getting your exercise out of the way if you are an exerciser. If you are not an exerciser I recommend you start but that is the topic for another post. I have found that the extra minutes I get to myself when I get up early (I get up a lot earlier than I probably “need” to but I love the time) make me feel like I am heading off the day instead of being catapulted into it. I am happier and more peaceful since I have exercised, showered and had a few quite moments to myself and everyone knows that when mommy is happy so is everyone else!