Mom’s Burning Her Bra Again

Last night I went to a Partylite show at my sister’s house. Partylite is a candle and home decor company that sells at in home shows and online. Their target audience is middle class female home owners. Last night wasn’t my first show but it was the first time I almost left a show.

See, the shows are a little gimmicky and the guests are asked to participate in cheesy games. There is the purse game and the right-left game. The game we played last night was a point game. It was written in rhyme and required you to add or subtract points. It was probably the most offensive game I have encountered in a long time (and I played a game names the purse game). I felt like I was in the 1950s.

Beauty was highlighted as a negative or positive (five points for blues eyes but minus ten for red hair). Housekeeping was brought up (minus ten for not doing your dishes). And of course relationship status was a high point (points for kissing your husband or boyfriend but penalized for having both and being single was not even mentioned). All of these made me angry. All of then pissed me off. But the kicker was giving point values to children.

See daughters were only worth three points while sons were with four. I was livid. Talk about living in a society where stereotypes are systemic. In a room full of women, we were reinforcing the idea that sons are worth more than daughters. I couldn’t believe it.

And what happened when I said something? I was shouted down. By a room full of women. “Its just a game”. “Obviously we don’t think our sons are more important”. “Well boys are just harder so that’s why they are worth more points.”

I just couldn’t believe it. This is exactly where change needs to occur. This is exactly the situation that allows gender stereotypes to perpetuate. This is where we complictly accept the current gender inequality in our society.

Why are women still paid less then men? Why is body shamig acceptable? Why do we turn a blind eye to male infidelity but call women whores? This is why. We as a society don’t find these games offensive. We don’t see anything wrong with shaming a women for not doing the dishes. We have no problem reinforcing ideals of beauty in blue eyes. And we, a room full of women, had no problem writing down more points for our sons then our daughters. And our daughters were there. Our daughters saw. Our daughters heard. They know that they are worth less then their brothers now… Even if it is just a “silly” game.

I quit the silly game. I am sure I was being a bad sport but I don’t care. If being a bad sport makes a change, then I will continue to be a bad sport. I want my sons to understand that they are no better than women. I want them to advocate for changes in society and I want them to be better than me.

 

Time is a hot commodity and time management is not a choice; it’s a lifestyle.

I used to think of myself as laid back. I could roll with the punches and handle surprises with ease. Not so any more. Any deviation from my schedule is a crisis CRISIS! Sound a little dramatic? welcome to the world of a full-time working mom (plus some). Let me give you a run down of my week (Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday all bets are off).

Wake up at 6:30am

my husband showers while I get Sorkin together (sometimes we just snuggle).

By seven, we are already behind as we look for shoes, shirts, and socks. Emerson is just waking up and, even though the nurse is there, he is usually asking for mom or dad. I love and hate this part. I love that Emerson wants me and hate that he is so sad when we leave.

Out the door by 7:10

I drop Matt off at work first since he starts at 7:30. We usually get there between 7:20 and 7:25 depending on how we hit lights. Matt is legally blind so he does not drive. Most of the time, he can bike to work, but it’s colder than a witch’s teat out there during the winter. After Matt jumps out of the van, I peel off to bring Sorkin to daycare. (for those of you who don’t know, Emerson stays at home with a nurse). Sorkin should be dropped off by 7:30, but we usually get there around 7:40.

Drive to work 7:44

I know it’s 7:44. I check the clock when I get back in the van. I drive to work (which means some back tracking). I arrive to work around 8.

Work 8 00-4:00pm

It’s a shit show. I cannot predict from day-to-day what will be waiting for me. These days, I can pretty safely guarantee it’s a headache. New statutes and standards means more work. I really need more than 8 hours in my work day, but I don’t have time for that. Because Matt is done with work at 4pm and I need to pick up him and Sorkin.

Pick up Matt 4:17

I am pretty reliable getting there just after 4:15. It means Matt has to wait 15 minutes but a 15 minute wait is better than an hour walk home. From there we go get Sorkin.

Whip into the daycare driveway 4:33

I am usually racing the clock about this time. Here is where time really is money. Every minute I am late, it costs us. Our daycare provider is actually amazing and she knows we are usually late. It helps that Sorkin is incredibly sweet and she doesn’t want to let him go, so she is pretty lenient about paying late fees! We get an update and try to be out the door by 4:40

Nurse shift ends 5:00pm

We drive home quickly, get report from our nurse and then she is gone. Emerson has his last feed of the day starting at 5pm. Matt and I set him up (g-tube) and then get going on our dinner. We usually eat by six and then it is Sorkin’s turn to eat at 6:30. We have about an hour between seven and eight where nothing happens. Some nights we do baths (my shower usually happens now. it lasts about three minutes and the door stays open in case of emergency) and some nights we just play.

Then it is off to bed. Emerson is great. He puts himself to sleep right at 8pm. We get him his medicines (sometimes, sometimes we leave it for the nice nurse) and hook him back up to his pulse ox. Sorkin is another story. Sorkin usually falls asleep around 7:30 but is in a bad habit of waking up between nine and ten to play. We’re working on this.

Matt and I assess the house and decide what we need to do–usually what we need to do is collapse on the couch. We pick up the worst of it (Sorkin likes pulling all the books off the book shelves these days) and wash only the necessary dishes. From 8-10, Matt and I (and sometimes Sorkin) have our adult time. It’s our two-hour window to focus on us and our relationship before the nurse gets to our house for night shift. Usually it means prime time TV and no talking.

I am usually in bed by 9:30 and Matt waits up for the nurse. My head barely hits the pillow and it all starts again. And this is just a normal day. Matt and I are involved with different activities. I teach confirmation every other Wednesday and have monthly meetings of the Children’s Hospital Family Advisory Council. Matt is on RCIA Thursday nights, and we have Emerson’s D/HH teacher over on Thursdays at 5:30 to teach us ASL.

It’s madness. And it’s routine. It works for us because we know it is what we have to do. These are the choices we made when we married and had children. I don’t even mind it most of the time. It is the times when something just “pops up” that I go crazy. The order flies into chaos on a whim. For an outside observer, I am sure I seem like I am overreacting. But when my heat goes out on my van and we only have one car and I drive to meetings for work, I just don’t know how or when I will have time to fix it. If we forget to pack formula, that’s an hour of my day gone just for a stupid mistake. Suddenly I need to find an hour of work to make up somehow. If a nurse can’t make it in for her overnight shift, Matt usually stays up the night and then goes to work the next morning (or he may have to miss work).

It is crazy to me how much time means to me now. I am not talking about time with my family, but rather the mechanics of maintaining a schedule. It blows my mind how scheduled my life is and  needs to be for a day to run smoothly.

And Matt and I have it easy. Our kids are two and six months old. Their life is what we say it is. We don’t have to juggle activity schedules or school yet. And we only have two kids. My parents had 13 and I remember being involved with EVERYTHING (dance, church, cross country, track, speech, etc.). I just don’t know how they did it.

So there you have it. The mundane life of a working mom: all you need to do is rearrange my schedule and I am a hot mess. Welcome to parenthood.

My experience with breastfeeding

I want to take some time to discuss my experience with breastfeeding. Let me be clear: I think breastfeeding is amazing, I encourage women to do it. That being said, I personally did not breastfeed. It’s not that I didn’t want to; I just feel like I set myself up for failure and didn’t have good environmental supports. Below is my intimate (seriously, stop reading if you don’t want more details) story of  my experience with breastfeeding.

I have two sons ages two and 6 months. I want to explain my experience with both of these children. Starting, of course, with the elder.

Emerson was born at 37 weeks by emergency cesarean. He was diagnosed in-utero with a complex congenital heart defect. My pregnancy was closely monitored with the understanding we would probably not make it to our due date or deliver naturally. I was, of course, a part of the on-line community for expecting mothers. I remember getting emails about birth plans and preparing for the hospital. Some of the plans were extremely detailed. Our birth plan was detailed too. The difference was my husband and I did not get to pick the details. It doesn’t really matter because more important than what I want is my child’s medical needs. I know many will agree that your child always comes first.

So on 11/11/11 my first son came into the world. Since I had not had the birth experience I wanted and because I knew we had a long road ahead (starting with a surgery five days after he was born), I wanted to embrace the one area I could care for my son: breastfeeding. Except, I couldn’t actually breastfeed. My son had lines placed to deliver medicine, he had rows and rows of machines providing him with his needs (including TPN a replacement for milk), and he was intubated a few days after his birth. So I settled on pumping.

And I was good at it… at first. My milk came in quickly for someone pumping. I remember the absolute pride I had watching the bottle fill up with colostrum for my child. I knew this was something concrete I was doing to care for my child. The first few days after any child are difficult, a blur really, but a child with medical needs is a completely different experience. It became apparent in the first few days that Emerson had more than a heart defect. We knew he also had kidney abnormalities but he also had other problems; including brain abnormalities. We pushed ahead with his care. Matt and I were confident once we got over the hurdle of his first surgery, Emerson would recover and become a happy, healthy(ish) child.

To say our bubble was burst was an understatement. Emerson had complication after complication after complication. Remember the TPN I mentioned earlier? This was only intended to supplement him through the first surgery and then he should have transitioned to milk. It didn’t work that way. In fact, by the time Emerson received my milk, I was already done pumping.

Stress is inevitable after a child. Stress is also not a helper when it comes to breastfeeding. It makes it more difficult. Luckily, I was pumping, so it was a little easier. I didn’t have to worry about Emerson latching for one thing. Still the stress took it’s toll. I was exhausted. Emotionally wrung out every day but my day never ended. Always in the back of my mind I knew I would need to pump again in a few hours. I never got the rest I needed. And pumping started becoming an interruption. I had to step out of the family waiting room while my child was in surgery (I am all about meeting the needs of your child wherever you are, but I was not about to pump, covered or uncovered, in front of my mother and in-laws). I was anxious during that pumping. What if we got an update? What if something went wrong? What if, What if, What if?

And I was tired. I learned that I do not operate well without sleep. I suspected as much prior to pumping, but it became evident quickly. I was sick. First with migraines then with nausea. So there I was: stressed, sick, oh and in pain. Did I mention the pain? I don’t know how many people told me it shouldn’t hurt, but it did. I had consultations, I was shown how to wear the pump and I was doing it right. I know I was, but I still hurt. And I bled. And I just couldn’t understand why.

Now add my mental state in to all the areas I was physically struggling. I was a train wreck. My son was hanging out somewhere between life and death and no one could tell us how the tables would turn. I don’t think I can adequately explain how my psyche was affecting my ability to pump but, to be succinct, it did not help.

He was also still on TPN. My milk was being put in a freezer, stored away for the future. But what future? Finally, there was no more room in the freezer. I filled up a deep freezer with my breast milk before my child could eat it. Talk about devastating. At the time, I felt heart broken. And what was I going to do with my milk? I didn’t just stop producing because the freezer was full. I made the decision at that time to stop. I didn’t have the energy or time to research a milk donation bank and I couldn’t stand the thought of dumping my breast milk.

In the long run, I made the best decision at the time. I was breaking down day by day. There was no joy in pumping. I felt like a machine. I was producing milk with no purpose. When Emerson finally started having milk, he was taking it by a feeding tube. My breast milk was also being fortified which ultimately was the biggest slap in my face. I was being told by the medical field that my milk was not enough for my child; he needed more than I could give him. Now I know he did need more then I could give him. He is still on a specialized diet today. A diet that I cannot provide for on my own.

My second experience with child bearing and breastfeeding was very different. Sorkin was healthy and on time. We did another c-section at 40 weeks for his and my safety. Sorkin probably would have been two weeks late if we let him. I wasn’t experiencing labor at all prior to my c-section. He was 9lbs, 11oz compared to Emerson at 5lbs 4oz.

I was so excited to try breastfeeding. It was new and exciting and there was no pump in sight! I failed. Once again, my colostrum came in quickly, but it was more difficult with a real child than a pump. Babies move, they’re breakable, and they don’t get it at first. Plus I was loopy from the medication used during my c-section. My medicine was given at 7am and I was still throwing up at 5pm. This is my normal reaction to strong medication. I hate it.

Lining Sorkin up with my nipple was hard, especially when I didn’t have full control of my arms. I relied heavily on Matt and my first nurse. She was fantastic. There is a part of me that feels that if she was my nurse the entire stay, I would have continued breastfeeding. But she wasn’t.

The first night was…terrible. After talking with my (5) sisters who have had kids, Matt and I decided to have Sorkin sleep in the nursery between feedings. The nurses did not respect this decision. The night started with Sorkin in the nursery but by morning he was sleeping in the room. The nurses brought him in for his first feeding. I was tired and disoriented. They had brought me my schedule pain medication an hour before and I had barely drifted off when I was re-awoken. I couldn’t get Sorkin situation and I asked for help. The nurse sighed as if my request was a big imposition. She told me I would have to do it on my own at some point as she pushed at me to adjust Sorkin. The first feeding done, I looked forward to a few hours of sleep. All too soon (as new mothers know), I was being woken again. Time for another feeding.

After that feeding, I was asked if I wanted Sorkin in the room again. I said no, please take him to the nursery. I wanted to use the help available in order to recover more quickly from my surgery (yes, a c-section is a surgery and takes longer to recover from than natural birth). About an hour later, I was again awoken from my sleep by the nurse. Sorkin was crying and he now had to stay in the room. They kicked him out of the nursery. Because he was crying. He was not hungry and he did not have a dirty diaper, but the nurses couldn’t figure out how to sooth him and so he was brought to his mom. My husband was asleep in the room. My wonderful husband who is more than capable of holding a crying baby who just wants love, but the nurses woke me up instead. Matt was there to help with Sorkin during these times because he knows me. He knows I need sleep or I get sick. He knows I recover poorly from anesthesia. I comforted my child, got him to sleep, and put him back in his bed (which remained in my room).

The next feeding came around and, again, I was struggling. I could not get Sorkin to latch. The nurse came over and assessed the situation. Her assessment? Your nipples are too short. What does this mean to a new mom at 3am? It means: It’s your fault, If only you were better, you’re the problem in this situation. I struggled through the feeding and I realized the pain has started again. I assumed that I was doing something wrong but now I am scared to ask the nurse. I was scared to ask because I took her assessment as a personal judgement.

Sorkin went back to the nursery after that for a few hours. At the next feeding, the nurse tried nipple covers. She tried to help me adjust my body. She tweeked my nipple, rubbed my breast, and lowered the bed. It was very impersonal and demeaning to me. I was also embarrassed that this is what my husband was seeing and how he was being taught to support me during breastfeeding. The nipple covers were terrible. Plastic over my nipple to encourage my nipple to form the correct way. I could see that my nipple was not converging in the nipple cover correctly so I took it off. I didn’t want to feel like a machine again. I didn’t want plastic between my baby and me while I was breastfeeding.

Sorkin had some of his initial tests which showed he was jaundice. He was also loosing weight. Both of these can occur naturally after birth but they can also happen if a child isn’t getting enough nutrition. My stress increased. My nipples were too short and I wasn’t providing enough milk for my child. After another half day of struggling, I spoke with the lactation consultant. She looked at Sorkin and she looked at me. She explained that I did in fact have short nipples which is part of what caused the pain. She also said that Sorkin had a shorter tongue which makes latching difficult (even with normal nipples). She explained the jaundice and weight loss would be hard to overcome but they could be overcome. I could continue to try to teach Sorkin to latch, I could pump, I could supplement with formula. All of this information filled me with despair: I didn’t want to supplement and I didn’t want to pump– I just wanted to breastfeed my son. She did not think Sorkin could latch successfully and she expressed concern that continuing the same course would make weight gain a problem. She then told me what I needed to hear: It was okay for me not to breast feed. It was okay to have him take bottles and formula.

I felt an immediate relief upon hearing those words. Matt and I decided together that the best thing for Sorkin, our family, and our lifestyle was to bottle feed (I was already worried about going back to work while breastfeeding; although my work is supportive of breastfeeding women it is not an easy task to manage both work and breastfeeding). Sorkin was a hungry boy. He ate a lot each feeding. He started gaining weight and sleeping better. Matt was participating in feeding which made him feel like he was meaningfully involved with Sorkin. We were still bonding and I wasn’t crying at my failure every time Sorkin ate.

I am not saying bottle feeding is better. Absolutely not. I feel incredible amounts of guilt at times when I see women post about breastfeeding. When my milk came in, it was a painful reminder that I had failed (again) to provide milk for my son. But it is the decision I made to best serve my family and my own needs. I will always be a strong advocate for doing what is best for your family. I think we need better systems in place for teaching women how to breastfeed. The myth that women should experience no pain is just that: a myth. There are reasons you could feel pain. There are reasons you may be struggling. And it’s okay! I wish the message I received and my experience with breastfeeding would have been more positive. After the first nurse left (she was fantastic, supportive, encouraging), I felt an expectation from the nurses that I should know what I am doing.

Guess what, I didn’t know what I was doing. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to breastfeed when and where your child needs to eat. It is okay to bottle feed. It is okay to donate your milk to a donation center and it is okay to feed your child with that donated milk. For years and years and years, women could not breast feed in public and were, to an extent, discouraged from even trying. I love that breastfeeding is once again socially acceptable and I hope women get enough support in their endeavor.

That being said, I have been thrown nasty looks when the formula comes out. I have been judged, comment on, and asked “why i’m not breastfeeding”. Really, it’s none of your business. Women get to decide how they feed their infants. Women have the right to decide how to safely care for their child without being judge by the general population.

So breastfeed, or don’t. I really don’t care and I won’t judge when the food (whatever the source) comes out in the community. Baby’s need to eat when they need to eat. I just wanted to share my experience with breastfeeding so far. Who knows, maybe on the third baby I will finally meet with success?

Frozen (the Disney movie, not the current weather)

I am a little bit of a musical fan. All musicals really, but especially musicals I can BELT. So when I saw Frozen I IMMEDIATELY fell in love. I mean really: Ida Menzel. Enough said for you Wicked, Rent, and Glee fans. (plus fantastic performance by Kristen Bell and Josh Gad [whom i love])

In addition to being a fan of musicals, I am a glutton for Disney movies. I mean in one breath I will vomit over the gender stereotypes and the expectation of women to be seen and not heard (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid… I mean really), and, after the crazy rant is over, I will watch a Disney movie over and over and over. Granted I am not a fan of Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, but Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast (also, isn’t the Beast way hotter than the Prince?), Lion King… those are my wheel house.

For those of you who don’t know the story is loosely based on the Snow Queen story which is fairly intense. And when I say loosely, I mean loosely. The movie is really a tale of two sisters facing the world after the loss of their beloved parent’s. Throw in a Disney romance, some dancing trolls, a talking snowman, and pet reindeer…well you get the idea. The movie does have it’s serious moments which scared my niece. Twice she asked to leave because the movie was too scary for her. She made it through and enjoyed the movie overall.

I am usually pretty on-top of upcoming Disney movies… especially once they started making musicals again. Of course I saw Princess and the Frog and Tangled in theaters. (please don’t get me started on the extreme contrast between the two movies) But this movie blindsided me. I didn’t know it was coming out until it was out. So I didn’t get it researched before taking my niece. AND IT BLEW ME OUT OF THE WATER. The music was fantastic, the characters were great, and the animation of the scenes was breathtaking. I might be overselling it, but I was hooked.

I want to go see it again. in theaters. which is obviously a waste of money. but i can’t get enough of it. and i am sure it won’t come out on DVD in a timely manner. So who’s coming with me?

Here is a teaser: Fixer Upper (sung by the Trolls)

baking momma

Every now and then I get a crazy impulse to bake. It is so infrequent but really comes out strong in the winter. Last night the baking spirit over took me and I felt like it was a big win that I had all the ingredients in my kitchen to whip out some homemade chocolate chip cookies. They taste even better than they look; just ask my husband!

what foundation line?

Spoiler alert: I am talking about make up.

I learned how to wear foundation. I am not sure if this is a confession a 24-year-old woman should make but hey there it is. The thing is, I actually knew how to wear foundation before now but gosh I just couldn’t wear it if you know what I mean.

See I have freckles. Prominent lovely freckles. I love my freckles but they cause a problem with foundation. I mean maybe if I wore foundation from the start it wouldn’t be a problem but I didn’t. So now when I wear foundation I look like a weirdo. It’s like “hey, where’d your face go?” I look odd.

So I never bothered. I mean really I am the person who plans her life around how late I can sleep in and still get to work on time. I’ve got my morning routine down to thirty minutes which includes my husband taking a shower, me making our lunches, getting our son packed for daycare, and getting myself and my son ready to go. It is an art really. So I never really cared that I couldn’t rock foundation. And I still don’t.

But it is nice to know I can if I want to now. My secret? Surprise: powder foundation. Not a big secret but for all I care about make up this is revolutionary. Where have we been keeping this stuff?

In addition to discovering powder foundation, I also had someone match foundation to my skin tone. I know its wild right. They actually make different toned foundation to match different skin pigmentation. Who knew?

Yes this really is my blog post. It’s mostly satirical and just to mock myself…but imagine if I wear serious. I have the right to vote, drive, drink, own a gun, etc. Frightening.

Resolved

I am not much of a resolutioner. I don’t like setting myself up for failure and most resolutions are fail focused.  Like losing weight or managing finances or saving more or finishing a bucket list. I know me. Those are not me. Changes will be slow and incremental for me in those areas. And my resolutions need to be slow and incremental. That being said… this year I did make a resolution.

 

My husband and I made a resolution for ourselves. Not to make ourselves better or more fit or more fincially stable but rather to become better parents. My sons are amazing. I love them so much. I am in awe of them. 

 

I want to be better for them. I want to be more intentional for them. I want to be present in their every waking moment. And so I am resolved to be so present. 

 

Matt and I are starting off small with something simple and easy. We are going to leave the TV off from the time we get home until the time the boys go to bed. It is so obvious and simple, right? I hope so. It’s been such a habit to come home and flip on the TV for background noise. But it is SO distracting and takes away from good quality time with my sons. 

 

So I am resolved to be more intentional with my sons. My first action step is to turn off the TV. Easy peasy. 

 

…wish me luck…