Friday, June 14, 2013

On the fence...

I have quite a few friends sitting on the fence right now about having children and they want to know what it’s like. Not what the pregnancy is like (there are tons of books about that) but about what it’s like to go from childless to having your schedule and life ruled by someone who can’t even talk. So, from a place of honesty, I thought I’d share my experience in what it’s been like to have Charlotte. Of course having a baby is like getting a tattoo – I can describe to you what it feels like but you won’t truly know until you go through the process yourself. Like a tattoo you better be damn sure this is what you want because after it’s done it’s not going to magically make you happier if it isn’t what you wanted already.

The first thing in your life to change is the relationship you have with your spouse. For Chad and I this started with the pregnancy. For many men, it’s hard to relate to their wives during this time because they aren’t experiencing the same thing. Even though “we” were pregnant I would often feel alone in the process. Chad didn’t have heartburn, a growing waist line or a shrinking bladder. While he could feel the baby kick, it wasn’t kicking him in HIS lungs or ribs. One day he came home and I was on the couch bawling because I didn’t think I would ever be up to the task of being a good mom. Chad just couldn’t process my crazy thoughts or ideas but he could listen and that’s what he became – a good listener. I believe every husband should witness his wife giving birth because it will make him respect you in ways that no other experience can. This process should ideally bring you closer as a couple and make you realize what a wonderful team you can be. Once the baby is born then your husband becomes your helper but not entirely your equal in raising your child. Not yet anyway if you are breast feeding. At times, I’m not proud to admit, I resented Chad because I was up every two hours feeding Charlotte and he was not. Even if he woke up it wasn’t the same as having to physically feed Charlotte like I had to do. Fortunately our doula had a meeting with us pre-baby and asked us what our expectations were of one another for after the baby arrived. We decided that if Charlotte needed a diaper change then Chad could handle that task then bring her to me to feed her. If she couldn’t be soothed back to sleep, it’s Chad who would walk her around the room until she stopped crying. He also took care of me so I could take care of her by cooking dinner, bringing me water or renting me movies to watch during the day when I couldn’t leave the house. So yes, your relationship with your husband will change but in a lot of ways it will be better. You may fight about parenting styles but you will fight more conservatively and a lot less…because now someone else is in the room and you will cringe at the thought of fighting in front of her.

going through childbirth together will strengthen you as a couple

the ultimate reward - being parents
Your relationship with your friends will change as well. I found for me this started when I was pregnant although it really changed even more once Charlotte arrived. My friends that had children are the ones I became even closer too. They are the ones who have given me advice, a shoulder to lean on and free baby sitting when I needed it most. Let me just be clear, when your friends that don’t have children offer to baby-sit let me spare you the drama and tell you they won’t. They won’t because they have lives outside of kids and therefore have plans 90% of the time you would like them to baby-sit. Your friends with kids are far more likely to watch your child because they aren’t going out all the time anymore either. My suggestion is to trade off with these friends on babysitting that way you can go out and you won’t have to hire a sitter. Some of my friends without children I have become closer to as well. These are the wonderful souls who get me out of the house, who meet me for lunch and pool dates and who do not mind having a baby around. They forgive you when you are running late because your baby blew out its diaper when you were just leaving the house. These are the friends who remind you that there is still a life and a YOU outside of being a mom and since they don’t have kids you can talk about anything under the sun but kids. These are wonderful friends to keep close. While they may not be far behind you in having your own, they have freedom now and you can ride on their wings. Then there are the friends who you thought you were close with but cease to exist after your child is born (or maybe even before in some cases). Be ok with this. Everyone exists in your life for a different season and purpose and these friends just may not be the ones for you at the current stage. You probably intimidate them and they don’t know how to act around you anymore. Some people treat pregnancy like a disease that they might catch if they hang around you. That’s not for them so you aren’t for them anymore. Perhaps life will cycle you back around to each other once your kids are grown and you are both older and have free time again.

some of my best friends were there after charlotte was born

mom of two with a lot to teach me!

she's raised two wonderful kids and came to see my her
Most important of all having a child will change YOU. Here is how it will change you – you now have to plan things in advance. You will have to leave the house after your baby is fed and changed and this might take two hours to do at the start. Having a baby will make you realize you can’t hang out all night even if it’s at a friends for dinner. Baby has to go to sleep at 8:30 and I’ve never successfully transferred a sleeping Charlotte from car seat to bassinet which means if we get home and it’s ten the whole routine has to start from the top – feed her, swaddle, put her down. Remember those days you could come home from dinner and a few glasses of wine and just drop into bed? Not anymore. You cannot be selfish anymore and when you try to be selfish you are the one who suffers now. You will also become accustomed to doing whatever is free and in close proximity to your house. When activities are free that means you can show up and leave whenever and not feel guilty should a meltdown occur when you are out and about. Baby calls the shots now and the sooner you can get over that and adapt to their schedule instead of having them adapt to yours the happier you will be.

can't hang out all night anymore but that's ok most of my friends don't either
For my friends on the fence about having kids I can only tell you that ultimately the experience of pregnancy, child birth and raising a child will make you someone who is more relate-able to your fellow women. I am someone who loves to connect with other people and I didn’t realize how much I would connect to a whole other world of people until I had a child. My mom friends have become my biggest support group right now and are the most understanding. If I cannot make it to a park date because Charlotte is napping, that friend won’t care or hold it against me because she might flake on me the next day. Mom’s are probably the biggest flakes there are and guess what, its ok! You waive the white flag and surrender saying, “well I guess I couldn’t do it all today” and no one will fault you for this. I now cannot imagine having not gone through life without having a child on purpose because I thought my life would be better. All the traveling, freedom and sleep in the world does not mean as much as the conversations I’ve had and the connections I have made. As someone who did not think they ever wanted a child I can say I am glad that I had one. While Charlotte has taught me a lot already it’s the other women around me who have had kids that I admire the most. Raising children is a selfless and some days thank-less job and I don’t know why I didn’t see before that women who make this sacrifice are usually some of the best friends you will ever have. This is not to say if you never have kids that you aren’t a good friend or person….it’s just that I was always one to shy away from mom as friends because I didn’t ever think we had enough in common. Now I have the best of both worlds when it comes to friends and relationships.

Having a baby will change your life but I’d say overall it makes the life that you thought you knew way better than one you could ever dream for yourself.
how could I not have that smile in my life

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Embracing your post partum body

I would like to thank my friend Felicia for inspiring me to write this post. This is a reminder and an open ended letter to her, to myself and to all the other mom’s and mom’s to be out there. I want you to read this, to learn it, memorize it, tie it to a stick and beat yourself with it…

You, yes YOU are beautiful. In fact you are more than beautiful you are fucking fantastic. I know you may not see it and you may never see it but truth is you are.

Of course every woman should hear this but right now I’m speaking to all those out there with a post baby body I know you because I am you. Just when you started to accept that baby bump and your changing body then BAM that baby was born and here you are left with an empty shell of a body. No longer a container for a baby, your body is probably now a stranger to you. Depending on the type of labor and delivery you had you may not be able to work out for up to six weeks after the baby was born. I started at two because working out for me isn’t about vanity it’s about sanity. As much as I thought I would hate it, I grew to love my pregnant body and my curves. I loved wearing tight maternity tops to show off my growing baby. I had a place to rest my hands and my cereal bowl. People would stare at me with a mix of awe and wonderment and friends and strangers alike would touch my belly. When I worked out I know I was inspiring others to try their best because “hey, if the pregnant lady can do it, so can I!” My body was a temple housing a tiny person and giving it all the love and nourishment and nutrition it needed without me having to think. 

38 weeks
Then after 39 long weeks I had a wonderful natural drug free quick 8 hour labor and delivery with no tearing. My body had done its job and now I was ready to have it back to myself. However, the body I was left with post-partum wasn’t the same one I had going in to the journey.

three days post partum
I was not prepared for how different my body would be post baby. I know it has only been nine weeks and I must give it time but it’s hard. I feel as though, since I’m not carrying the baby on the inside anymore that I should look the same as I always had. There are no stretch marks but there is extra skin on my stomach which is not tight anymore. There are pants that refuse to fit over my thighs and buttons which will not close over my waist. Due to breast feeding my boobs are bigger so my tops don’t fit the same. I’m in the purgatory of clothing wearing land – not quite ready to fit into all my pre-baby clothing but too small to fit into maternity wear. My hair has started to fall out. Don’t even get me started on my bladder and how jumping and running are my new worst enemies.

Yet, like those that climb Everest I so admire, I refuse to give up. I drag my butt out of bed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for bootcamp outside at City Park. I’m fighting for my old body with every burpee, box jump, squat, crawl, sit up and push up. I’m fighting for something that I’m pretty certain will never look the same again no matter how hard I try. I am learning to accept that this is OK. I hear people tell me all the time how good I look and how fabulous my post-baby body is and I have a very hard time accepting their words. I look in the mirror and see something totally different than what they see. I feel my tighter pants and with them defeat and I know I’m not alone. So for myself, my friends and for everyone else out there I’m going to stop listening to myself and start listening to everyone else. And I hope you listen to me too when I say this,

You are beautiful. You are fantastic. You are amazing.

Your body just gave birth to a baby and that is an achievement. That, my friend, is what your body is made to do. It’s not made to have six pack abs or rippling biceps. Your body isn’t made to look good in a thong or have thighs of steel. Having your body look like a Victoria secret models is a little bit of genetics and a lot of work day in and day out. Your body’s ultimate purpose…how it was designed…is to give birth. Whether you had a c-section or vaginal delivery you have to thank your body for creating and sustaining life.

So be proud of the body you have. It won’t ever look the same and that’s something you and me and everyone else just has to get over. You may have stretch marks, hemorrhoids, a leaky bladder, bags under your eyes from lack of sleep, wider hips or bigger thighs now and that’s ok. It’s the new you. When you realize how many women hope, pray, beg and cry and pay thousands of dollars for the experience of carrying a baby then you will be grateful. There are women who would take your complaining over your post baby body any day just for the chance to have a child. So thank your body and love each and every little perfection. You may not look the same as you did before…I know I don’t, but I’m a mother now. So are you.

bikini body last year
bikini body this year
And to me that’s a new kind of beautiful. Embrace it.

Because everyone looking at you thinks you look damn fine.

Trust me. Really…you do.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My hippy dippy side - Sleeping, Diapering and Vaccines

Blame it on Colorado but I’ve kind of become a hippy. Perhaps I always was one and living in this beautiful state has allowed me to truly express myself. I am not a vegetarian, I don’t make my own clothes, I shave and I drink alcohol so I guess this exempts me from  being classified as a total “hippy” but I have realized when it comes to motherhood there are a few things that set me apart. This started with my desire to have a natural childbirth but has since extended into other areas of raising Charlotte as well. It’s not that I think there is anything wrong with the way anyone else chooses to parent I just want to share my experiences with what has worked for us and information that may help other mothers out there when it comes to the basics: sleeping, diapering, vaccines.

Co-Sleeping: I started down this path from the day Charlotte was born. My hospital advocates that infants stay in the room with you and I could not have agreed more. When your child sleeps in the same room it helps them to regulate their breathing and you also learn their cues and cries. Charlotte would not go down in the bassinet the hospital provided so she slept in the bed with either Chad or me. When we came home we would put her to sleep in the snugabunny vibrating chair at night but whenever she woke up I would feed her and in the bed she stayed. You are waking every 1.5 hours or so to feed them so there is just no point in having them in another room. However, after 4 weeks of no sleep something had to give. One night she was crying after having been fed and changed and Chad put her in the bassinet, dragged her into her room and shut the door. My heart broke for her hearing her cry. Ten minutes later she was asleep and so was I. From that day on I started researching more about sleep schedules and was determined to stick to one. What is currently working for us now is feeding Charlotte every two hours, letting her play then letting her sleep. I make sure she gets three naps a day and sometimes those naps last ten minutes and sometimes 2 hours. I started to implement the schedule around 6 weeks but by that point I had learned Charlotte’s cries and could differentiate between hungry, tired or bored. When she was a newborn anytime she cried I would stick a boob in her mouth. I soon learned, however, I was doing her a disservice because she was “snacking” all day and not getting full meals. I read “The Nursing Mother’s Companion” and once I became better at breast feeding it made all the difference with Charlotte’s sleeping. I cannot thank my doula Casey enough for recommending that book to me and I highly recommend every mother picking up a copy.
Now that we are not co-sleeping both Charlotte and I sleep a lot better. At nine weeks she is sleeping from 8:30pm until about 4:30 or 5:30am. I get some time to myself at night with Chad and after her early morning wake up she usually goes back to sleep from the time she wakes until mid morning. Here is where you must listen to your instincts. For the first few weeks mine told me to feed her on demand and allow her to sleep in the bed. After wanting to jump off a bridge from being sleep deprived my instincts told me different. I know proponents of co-sleeping and putting them in their own room and I’ve tried both and I must say both served their purpose for the length of time we tried them.

Diapering: I knew I wanted to cloth diaper from the beginning but I didn’t know how to go about doing so. My reason for choosing to cloth diaper is not only environmental but economical. Diapers are expensive and I couldn’t fathom spending so much money weekly on something that will be filled with poop and thrown away. I would get more satisfaction from lighting my money on fire. Fortunately my friend Nikki helped us kick start our cloth diapering collection by gifting me a set that she had received as a hand me down. My mom had also bought me some on Ebay so I had a set of FuzziBunz and about ten snaps. My friend Jessica also bought me a Rumparooz for a gift and honestly if I were to buy a complete set these are the ones I would choose.
 I like how they have an extra liner on the thigh to prevent leakage and are a one size fits all from newborn on up. The Fuzzibunz came with Velcro in extra small and since the set was used the Velcro is a little worn out. I must take extra care to make sure it’s secure or we end up with a diaper falling off. The small, medium and large all have snaps which have been a lot easier to secure. I must admit I was intimidated by using cloth diapers at first. I used disposables for the first five weeks because Charlotte was so tiny and the newborn diapers fit her best. Plus I liked the pampers because they had an indicator line on the diaper that turned blue when the diaper was wet – very cool! I still use disposables when we will be out and about all day or when we travel but for the most part I use cloth. You do not have to use diaper cream with the cloth because they don’t get diaper rash and as a bonus since they are so big and bulky she can wear some of her bigger onsies because they take up room! I do laundry every 2-3 days and because it is just breast milk I do not have to rinse the diapers before throwing in the washer. I know some of you are thinking, “That’s so gross you throw poop in the washer!” Well let me tell you, babies have frequent blow outs and poop will end up on most of their clothing and sometimes yours. I use the sanitize setting on my washer to clean them and there is never any poop stains on the diapers after. Here is where I consider myself a bit of a hippy….or perhaps it’s just going back to a tried and true method. I want to limit the amount of plastic Charlotte is exposed too. If you think about it most everything around children is plastic – toys, bottles, diapers, mattress, high chairs, playgrounds, teething toys. If I can limit her exposure to plastics which have been proven toxic then I will….and it doesn’t hurt to save money while I’m at it.

Vaccinations: In yoga one of my motto's when it comes to poses is, “Does the risk outweigh the benefit?” For my own body and my students, some poses are just not worth the risk of injury they can cause. The same, I feel is true for vaccines. The side effects of some are not worth the supposed benefit they claim to cause. While I want Charlotte to be safe I also do not want her to be a pin cushion. If I wouldn’t get six shots a day for myself then why would I do that for her? Here’s where my hippy side kicked in and I began researching a delayed vaccine schedule. I chose Peak Pediatrics because they were recommend by my friend Kylie and also supported delaying vaccines which was important to me. If your child’s pediatrician does not support your choices then I suggest you find another so you won’t be butting heads your child's whole life. At birth your child is supposed to receive a Hep B and Vitamin K shot and eye goop. These are recommended by the state and so unless you decline treatment that is what the hospital will administer. I saw no reason for the Hep B or the eye goop (to prevent STD’s which I do not have) so I only had Charlotte get the Vitamin K shot which helps their blood clot because that was the only one that made sense to me.
At two months the CDC recommends: Hep B (second dose from when they were born), Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV and Polio. I decided to follow an alternative vaccine schedule because I felt like there has been overwhelming research done that suggests a severe reaction can be likely upon giving 5-6 vaccines at one time. The alternative schedule won’t overwhelm young immune systems but still provides protection.
So at our 2 month appointment the other day Charlotte received Hib and DTaP. The DTaP is for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis and the Hib is for Haemophilus influenza Type B bacteria that were once the leading cause of childhood blood infections, pneumonia and meningitis. Both vaccines had relatively low side effects and Charlotte seemed a little lethargic the next day but did not develop a fever and wasn’t fussy.
Delaying vaccines means more trips to the pediatrician but that is ok with me because they weigh and measure her as well. If you are interested in knowing what the different vaccines are and the delayed schedule you can read more about it here. I will not be giving Charlotte the Hep B and Hep A vaccine because the only way they are transmitted is through bodily fluids – especially sex, fecal matter and sharing needles. I don’t think Charlotte will be doing any of those things anytime soon.

Before I had Charlotte I did so much research into labor and delivery. I became so consumed with her birth that I did not do much thinking about what would happen after she was here. Having an infant makes time spent researching a little more difficult but it is so important. The decisions you make for your baby are important ones because they cannot advocate for themselves. I guess this is where the whole parenting thing comes in to play. I am not saying any way is right or wrong, just that as parents you have to do your research and trust your instincts and see what works best for you. Baptism by fire at its best!

Speaking of instincts we are testing out a nanny for the next few Mondays while I return to teaching yoga and before I have to go back to my life in the sky as a flight attendant. Yesterday was the first time I had left her alone with a stranger and it killed me! We found our nanny on after interviewing a few people and getting stood up by a few no shows. I recommend the site as a helpful tool in connecting with care takers in your area but again ultimately you must do your homework. After calling this girls reference I felt comfortable enough to leave Charlotte with her for a few hours. When I came home Charlotte was crying but she wasn’t any worse for the wear. How do you know if you trust the right person with your child? I read that the right nanny should be an extension of you. No one could possibly love Charlotte as much as I do but I’m willing to take a chance and trust that maybe this girl can come close. Like most things I’m finding out, when it comes to parenting the answers aren’t always in books or online…they are in your heart. I trust my heart to lead me in the right direction when it comes to returning to work and entrusting the care of Charlotte with someone new. While this is not easy for me I can only take it day by day.

I try and resist the urge to not cry when I leave her. Am I doing the right thing with all of this? I have no idea. I don’t think anyone does. What a relief.