Saturday, June 30, 2012

first to go

Week one of being a working mother completed. I must say - it is exhausting. I wake up at 6am now. I shower, feed the baby, bathe and clothe him, groom and dress myself, eat breakfast, then drop him off at daycare. I go to work where I am frantically trying to learn my new job. I drive back, pick up Brandon if Steve can't, go home, eat dinner. By this time, it's 6:30 or 7:00pm. This is when I would normally work out. But I am so exhausted, I don't. This is the only time I have with my baby while he's awake. So I tickle him, giggle at him, feed him, then put him to bed. I read a few pages, but I drift off to sleep before I can even finish a chapter.

People I work with have asked if it's hard being a working mother. "It's exhausting," I reply. And inevitably, working mothers tell me the house is the first thing to go. Dust thickens, dishes stack up, laundry piles up. So today, a rare day when I get more than 30 minutes to myself, I cleaned. I cleaned because the house may usually be the first thing to go, but with me, it's the second. Exercising is the first thing to go. I think I'd rather be fat in a clean house than skinny in a filthy one. I have quickly learned that myself comes last when there is a family. The whole family shares the house, but only I will be miserable in ten extra pounds. Cleaning it is. You're welcome, thunder thighs - you get to stay a little while longer.

Friday, June 29, 2012

stigma of adopted children

Allow me to take a break from my incessant Brandon updates and hop atop a soap box for an evening.

Tonight's topic: how much I hate the negative stigma adoption is given socially or in the media.

I first remember adoption having a negative connotation from the Baby-Sitters Club book, Claudia and the Great Search. In a nutshell, Claudia feels inferior to her older sister who is a child genius, so she deduces maybe she's adopted and that's why her parents love her less than they love her older sister.

That is certainly not the only example - there are countless other books (some undoubtedly more credible than the Baby-Sitters Club), TV shows, and movies that depict adopted children as inferior - unwanted, and treated unfairly in comparison to their siblings. Whenever a parent seems to be favoring one child over another or one sibling looks different than the others, the plot steers towards I must be adopted! What a horrible tragedy. No wonder my parents have never told me about it! 

I googled "social stigma adoption" because I'm what you would call a professional. No, I don't get paid for blogging, but I do research as if I really am a professional. That, and because I own more than one blazer. Any way, I digress.

What I discovered from my googling was that the reason adoption bears this stigma is because it has been associated in the popular mind with illegitimacy, orphanhood, and premarital or extramarital sex. Adoption records were sealed to protect the identities of the parents, who would undoubtedly be shamed if anyone were to find out later about this child.

However, despite the stigma, what I have seen is that adopted children are often the most lavished with attention. Adoptive parents are required back ground checks, a home study, legal hoops and additional financial burden that biological parents bypass. No one ever says, "whoops, we adopted a child!" it's always, "whoops, we're pregnant."

Adopted children are not unwanted. They're desperately wanted. Their parents have been checked out and have proven themselves as capable, willing, and able to raise children. I've often wondered why all parents aren't required the same checks. Just earlier tonight, on Judge Mathis, a woman said, "I wish I would have had an abortion while I still had the chance," after fighting about their child in court. People like that are having children just because they had unprotected sex. But people who desperately want children aren't.

I disagree with the social stigma given to adopted children - that they are in anyway inferior to children being raised by their biological parents. I understand the stigma attached to the parents who place their children up for adoption. I've felt it myself. I know that often times adoption occurs because of all those reasons that are associated with it. But what I don't understand is how that somehow morphs into a negative stigma attaching itself to the children who were adopted.

If only we were all so lucky as to be raised by adoptive parents or people who could be. If only we were all wanted, loved, and appreciated. If only there weren't mothers saying on TV that they wish they would have aborted their child while they had a chance, all the while, being a mother. If only the titles of "mother" and "father" were always accompanied by people who are trying their best to do that job the best they can. If only.

Monday, June 25, 2012

daycare day

Brandon and I right before heading to daycare. 

I wasn't as much of a mess as I thought. I mean, of course I teared up. The daycare ladies were prepared with a "first day survival kit," containing, most importantly, kleenex.

My tears had dried by the time I made it to work. I brought in a picture of Brandon to place on my desk so I could look at his chubby face even though he wasn't with me.

It's a bit different returning to work for me, because although I'm returning to the same company, I'm in a different role in a different location. So I didn't even know half of the people at work today. They probably thought I was a freak. If I could have worn my sunglasses indoors, I would have, but I think that would have made a worse impression than a blotchy red face (which I already had anyway due to a sunburn, so maybe it wasn't that noticeable).

I called during my lunch break to check on Brandon. And you know what? He slept and ate and played on the floor and sat in a vibrating chair just like he would have done if I were watching him. Daycare isn't the end of the world as I know it.

The moment I picked him up, I almost didn't recognize him, save for his outfit. He looked so different from me, being away so long. It's as if I forgot what his face looked like, not looking at it every hour. But the second I saw him, the two of us smiled at each other. Reunited again. And will be again, and again, and again, every day when I pick him up. I think that daycare will make me cherish my time with him even more. There's something to look forward to: rushing out of work to see my darling boy again. He makes life worth living and work worth working.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

flip flops, dimple, new cousin

Summer is here! Well, it's been here for quite awhile now, really since before Brandon was born. He has a lot of summer clothes, but I really don't understand why they even make shorts and flip flops for babies because they're always cold and bundled up. Probably just because they're cute. I put Brandon in some seersucker shorts the other day because they were staring at me from his closet, begging to be worn.
 Brandon's features are lightening. Well, really I can't tell if he's turning blonde or if he's just losing so much dark hair that it seems that way. Either way, he's still cute. It can't be helped. Even when he's scowling at me, I can't help but smile at his serious little baby face. His tan is gone. He's looking more and more like his pasty momma every day. We even caught glimpse of an elusive dimple the other day, just like I have (very elusive. Sometimes I don't see it for a year).
This week Brandon got a new cousin. She will be his closest cousin in age, and hopefully they will be great friends. Mila is just 11 weeks younger than him. I know you can't really see her in this picture, but at least you can see his other cute cousin on mommy's side. I am blogging about anything other than Brandon's first day of daycare which is tomorrow. I'm trying to stop thinking about it since it brings tears to my eyes, but I can't. I will blog about it tomorrow and let you know if it is as terrible as I imagine it will be - being away from him.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

dress up

There are hardships that accompany motherhood that prior to having children, no one tells you about. It's as if all mothers have taken an oath of secrecy: to not to disclose the unpleasantries to potential parents in an effort to keep the earth populated. The only unpleasantry allowed to be discussed is sleepless nights. We all hear about that. But no one tells you all the other dirty secrets.

Like breast feeding: why couldn't anyone tell me about children that don't latch and mastitis and bloody, cracked nipples and the staple gun pain of a breast pump prior to me giving it a try myself? The worst five days of my life were the five days I breastfed. Why couldn't anyone have warned me? After I had finished and my milk had dried up, every mother had sympathies to offer: how terrible it was for them, too. This is when I heard of lumps and blood and discomfort. No shit, I had it myself. I'm well aware now. Thanks for nothing.

Is parenting some fucked-up game of Taboo? Once the word is said, all bets are off, but until a new parent goes through it, the topic is forbidden? That's, well, like I already said: fucked-up. Or maybe parents already know that potential parents don't give a shit what they have to say and always tell themselves, "oh, it'll be different for me," as if they somehow, without any experience, have cracked the code on colicy babies and losing baby weight and still paying attention to their spouse once a little one rules the roost.

The surprising struggle for me is what I always figured would be easy: dressing a baby. When Brandon was the size of a peanut, he already had a closet full of jeans and polos and track jackets. I looked forward to him being born so I could dress him like a little stud.

Little girls are programmed to think of dressing people as simple. We're given paper dolls where you just fold some tabs over her shoulders and one second later, she has changed out of her sweaty soccer outfit into an Easter dress. We're given dolls that don't have pesky elbows and whose arms rotate 360 degrees. Dolls' heads are small - the size of an orange, rather than a head of lettuce. Barbies always have straight legs so pants just shimmy right up them.

But a living, breathing baby is a whole different story.  They have these annoying joints - elbows and knees. Somehow, these creatures can't see twelve inches in front of their faces, but they know how to use the elbows and knees like no one's business. Then their heads are massive. The only shirt I would be able to pull over Brandon's head without pulling his ear down with it would be a J. Lo V-neck. This kid's head is nearly as big as mine.

All of those cute polos and jeans were purchased before he was born. Afterwards, it has all been one-pieces that zip up. That's all he wears, day and night around the house. Even those damn snaps that are on nearly all baby clothes are too pesky to mess with. If it doesn't have a zipper, it's too much hassle.

But now that he's going to daycare on Monday, the ONLY part of that that I'm looking forward to is dressing him in the adorable, hard-to-put-on clothes. Because I just have to put them on once. Then some poor daycare worker is going to have to struggle changing his diaper ten times. At least she'll have something cute to look at. And as soon as he gets home, I'll change him back into a zip-up.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

fun with baby

Being a mom isn't just a drag like some parents make it out to be. I've had some fun with this kid - watching him grow and learn has been my entertainment - it has to be: daytime TV sucks. Here are some of my favorite things so far:

1. Brandon is the dirtiest between his fingers. He constantly has blue lint between them. When I give him a bath, lint floats on top of the water.
2. This is probably because he already has clammy hands, just like his momma. Sorry kid, I hoped you would get your dad's genes in the perspiration department.
3. Tucker has grown pretty comfortable around our new addition. So comfortable, in fact, that sometimes he doesn't notice Brandon is there. He dropped his bone on Brandon's head the other day.
4. Brandon discovered his own reflection and can not get enough of it. He is constantly showing off for himself in the mirror. Or just admiring how handsome he is. Either way - he's pretty egotistical.
5. Brandon farts as loud as an adult. Multiple times I have asked Steve, "was that you or him?"
6. A woman said to me, "he must be a breastfed baby!" to which I simply replied, "no, he's not." I'm not sure if she was insinuating he was fat, but whatever her message, she ended up looking like the moron. What a weird thing to say to a stranger.
7. If it weren't for pacifiers and diapers, Brandon would be an adult. I think he's ready to skip the baby phase and get straight to college. He accompanied me to a work lunch at a bar, he went with Steve and I to the liquor store, and he has watched most of the last season of Breaking Bad with us. Thank God he isn't to the stage where he repeats things he hears yet. I've got a few more months to clean it up.
8. Brandon dresses like a pimp. In the figurative way, of course - I'm not dressing him in furs. He has to be the best dressed baby I've ever seen. Except when it's just him and me lounging around the house - then we both look like slobs.
9. Brandon is a manly boy. Only once has anyone asked if he was a boy or girl. It's a given to everyone else. And the woman who asked was OLD and senile. She probably doesn't even remember if she's a boy or a girl.
10. Brandon seems to prefer the company of women to men. And beware - if you hold him, he just might root around for your nipple. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

ten weeks

 Can you believe how much he's changed in ten weeks? It's hard to believe how quickly he's grown.
(I didn't pose either of these pictures - he just likes putting his fist on his chin)
My baby is a little man. More about that tomorrow. Steve and I just got season 4 of Breaking Bad and watching that is a priority over blogging tonight.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

mama's boy

Brandon is becoming a mama's boy. I think it's adorable. Steve doesn't. I went out for drinks with my friend last night, and checked my phone halfway through. There were texts from Steve:

"Won't stop crying"

...and 15 minutes later:


The same thing happened when I went for a run (my first run in a year - it was 2.5 exhausting miles) on Sunday. I was gone for 27 minutes (yes, I had to stop and walk) and came home to Brandon screaming bloody murder.

The second I pick him up, his tears subside and there are just little tear droplets left in the corners of his eyes.

Sometimes a baby just wants his mama. And it makes Monday the 25th that much harder for me to imagine - daycare day: letting Brandon go gracefully. I'm not sure which of us will cry harder.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

pieces of me

Anyone who has known me the last seven years might have worried about my emotional state after having a baby; worried that I would be plagued with post-partum depression. I myself worried that. I compiled a list of books to get if that were to happen. I mentally prepared myself for baby blues. For the last seven years, I have been overly emotional - depressed at times, with an overwhelming feeling of loneliness that washes over me unexpectedly, even though I have a loving husband who should make me feel anything but lonely.

There is a piece of me that I lost after Gracie was born. That critical piece being gone has turned me fragile. Before I thought I could handle everything. Now I realize that I can't. And when I can't, I become depressed, lonely. A lump forms in my throat and I sink into solitude, whether or not people surround me. So you can imagine why I prepared for depression. Becoming a mother for the first time might be one of those situations I can not handle.

And although I don't deny parts have been difficult and that I have learned a hell of a lot, many things the hard way in these last ten weeks, I am pleased to report that depression has not reared its ugly head. In fact, I'm happier now than I have ever been. I do cry sometimes, but it's because I feel so lucky. A tear rolls down my cheek when I stare at Brandon's sweet face for too long. I didn't know I could love someone I've only known for ten weeks this much. Although the piece is still missing, I've got a new piece added to me as well. And although the new will never replace the old, at least I feel complete again.

Friday, June 8, 2012

two more weeks of only mommy

 When did my little baby get so big? He doesn't look like a newborn anymore. He's a hefty 15 pounds and thinks he's independent. He plays on his piano gym while I do pilates. He tries to hold his bottle himself. He even almost sleeps through the night (midnight-6am). He doesn't fit into the crook of my arm anymore. He doesn't fit into his 0-3 months clothes any more. There are littler babies than him now. He's becoming a boy.
I don't know when this happened. It feels like it was overnight. When I came back from Seattle, Steve marveled at how much bigger Brandon was. Maybe that's when I noticed it, too. I feel like I missed a stage, but I didn't - the newborn phase really went that fast. I see now how people get baby fever when their kids grow up. Is it too early to get baby fever again when my son is only 9 weeks old?
In two short weeks I am returning to work. And Brandon will be going to daycare. I'm afraid of missing another phase of his life. I will still be there for him - every evening, night, and early morning. Every weekend. But those forty hours that I am not with him might destroy me. I have found joy in his every smile and coo. I have been the one who is always with him. I won't be able to say that much longer. So these next two weeks, I will spend even more time than usual kissing his slightly-sweaty forehead. These are the last two weeks before there is someone else who will comfort him when he cries. Now I'm getting teary.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Washington family

The trip wasn't all bad. The parts when we weren't traveling were good. Like meeting his extended family:
 My brothers were already competing to become Brandon's favorite uncle. All of us kids had a favorite uncle when we were little.
We went to my favorite restaurant - the Old Spaghetti Factory. One day I'll take Brandon there when he is old enough to eat the spumoni ice cream. This time, he just stared at all the lights and fans on the ceiling.
His cousin Saryn loved helping him. She put his pacifier back in his mouth for him, and petted his head while exclaiming, "he likes it!" She also drew him some pictures. She will have a little baby sister of her own any day now. She will be a great helper.
My dad offered to feed him before a game of croquet. I told him it isn't just a quick task - it takes about 20 minutes. My dad said that was fine and fed him for about four minutes and said, "he's done," when there was still 4 ounces left. "Now who's up for that game of croquet?"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Brandon's first trip

Excuse my absence - Brandon and I were on our first travel excursion together. It sounds much more thrilling than it was. Actually, I have nothing to complain about as far as the trip to Seattle goes. Steve and I got to the ticket counter and there a very helpful woman gave him a paper that allowed him through security to help me with the baby and all his belongings. Steve saw me onto the airplane and Brandon slept the whole way save for the bottles he drank. He was even nice enough to save his pooping for our layover. He was the perfect baby and people were helpful and things went smoothly.
Then came the return trip.  It started off with rows and rows of full parking spaces. I love Eppley compared to everywhere else. Everywhere else sucks. After quite some time and a couple floors of full parking spaces, we found a parking spot. Then my 38-weeks-pregnant sister-in-law and my 4-year-old niece accompanied me and Brandon to the ticket counter with my hefty suitcase. It was there that the ticket agent told me to put my stroller up on the scale. "Why?" I asked, "I am going to use it through the airport and gate check it."
"I need to make sure it's not overweight," she snapped back.
Now is it just me or does either way - ticket counter checked or gate checked - that stroller end up in the cargo hold? Regardless of the weight, it's going to the same place. But what could I do? I was at the mercy of this cold-hearted, hateful, and I'm sure childless and bitter middle-aged woman. So of course the stroller was overweight. Even if it was a feather, I'm sure she would have told me it was overweight. She told me to take it to oversize baggage to check it. "This is my nightmare," I said to my sister-in-law.
Then came time to heft my suitcase onto the scale. I'm holding a two-month old baby, my sister-in-law is about to give birth any second (not to mention she had been having contractions all night already), and our only other person to help is a four-year-old. You would think this is a time when someone would offer to help. Obviously not the witch from Hansel and Gretel behind the counter, but maybe another American Airlines employee, someone behind us in line, a person with a soul. No. No one like that was around. Just a bunch of mean-spirited hurried coastal-attitude travelers who tap their feet with impatience.
So my sister-in-law hefted the 51-pound suitcase onto the scale. No sooner had she done that that she heard a pop. And separated her pelvic bone, she later found out from her doctor. We had to go our separate ways, so I carried Brandon through the airport. I had both my hands and shoulders full. I felt like a mule. I couldn't eat or anything because there was no place to put Brandon. Then on the plane, I had to change his diaper in my lap because there was no where else to do it.
Our layover was in Dallas/Ft. Worth, which I'm convinced is the world's largest airport. I carried Brandon and salivated over food. By the time I made it to my connecting flight's gate, it was already boarding. When we finally made it to Omaha and I was able to change the poopy diaper I had been smelling on Brandon for the last thirty minutes, I was so exhausted and hungry that I barely was able to feel relief. But then the second we saw Stephen waiting for us, I felt it. I am so happy that I have a partner for all the other days and that I don't always have to do this alone. There is no place like home.