Benefits to Having Just Squeezed Out A Baby

Parenting is hard.  Especially during the newborn phase.  Just ask your stay at home mom friends or take a scan through your social media news feed if you need a refresher about how difficult life is for new parents.

The good news is there is always a silver lining.  Other than the more serious and sappy list – the best things about being the parent of a newborn, this list highlights the hidden perks that reside parallel to the stretch marks and saggy skin and unwashed hair of a new mom.

1.  You don’t have to get dolled up for company.  In fact, it’s expected that you will look atrocious, which is even better.  If you do manage to brush your hair or slap on some rouge, people will fawn over how marvelous you look.  It doesn’t matter if that mascara you applied makes you look less like a Maybelline model and more like the old hag offering Snow White the apple.  If you enjoy fishing for compliments, this is a classic no-brainer.

2.  You don’t have to be skinny.  In fact, it’s impossible to be.  If you don’t look any worse than Jabba the Hutt, people will rave about how quickly your body is bouncing back.  Even though your back hurts because your core abdominal muscles are now located next to your vagina (flopped over on top of it, to be exact) you might even feel sort of amazing, in a disheveled, lumpy sort of way.  You’ll appreciate that you no longer have teeny tiny elbows poking you in the ribs or a bobbly baby head crushing your bladder  You might enjoy, even more disgustingly, that you can feel the gallons of water you’ve been retaining steadily seeping out through the bottoms of your feet, thus relieving the pressure from your bulbous cankles.

3.  You can get out of doing crap you don’t want to do.  In fact, I’m quite sure this one is required.  You can get out of bridal showers and dinner dates with your husband’s boss (and his alcoholic wife) and, if you’re lucky, your nephew’s 4th birthday party at Chucky Cheese.  You can blame it on being too tired from staying up with the baby, or having to feed the baby or not wanting to screw up the baby’s schedule.  Bonus:  You can use this excuse for a looooong time to come.

4.  You don’t have to go to work.  At least for a little while, and this has it’s  perks.  I never acted more like a domestic goddess than during those 12 weeks of maternity leave.  My house was relatively sparkly and I cooked so much my husband actually told me I needed to not cook so often, something I never thought I’d hear him say.  I SWEAR it was not because everything I made tasted like broasted feet, but had more to do with the fact that he didn’t want to gain 20 pounds.  I manically cooked enough for a family of 6 every day.  He shouldn’t have feared though – once I returned to work I went back to my usual routine of eating popcorn and string cheese for dinner and he was sent back into starvation mode.  Oh, and you also don’t have to worry about WORKING.

5.  You don’t have to work out.  In fact, you’re explicitly instructed not to.  At least for awhile.  Enjoy the lapse in the training schedule.  Don’t worry, you will be back in the saddle in no time, happily getting screamed at by your trainer, Hans, telling you not be such a wimp and keep doing those reps.

6.  You get drugs.  Even if you don’t need them, you will get the prescription filled.  You never know when those suckers might come in handy.  Especially washed down with a glass of red.  You c-section mamas might even be able to sell your hardcore shit and make a buck (this is of added bonus if you are one of those SAHMs who could use the extra cash).

Any brand-new-mom perks I missed?

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Mom-with-baby

Mom-with-baby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Best Things About Being The Parent Of An Infant

1.  The sheer beauty.  Being able to behold the smooth skin, big eyes, and oversized head on a bitty frame is a luxury.  Unselfconscious and unaware of just how perfectly formed they are makes them even more delicious.

2.  The absolute happiness.  It is impossible to not smile when your child is smiling, to not laugh when she is laughing, to not play, when she is playing.  Everything is new and exciting.  Happiness is contagious and your child is the most infectious.

3.  It makes you become a better person.  You want your child to be kind and caring and happy. You want her to exhibit strength and grace.  There are no shortcuts for making this happen – so you work on calmness and patient feedback and love with limits.  You work to demonstrate kindness and strength and grace to your child, your spouse, your friends and family, and yourself. (Note that I didn’t say you would actually achieve this each and every time).  It is somewhat shocking when you realize raising a child really means having to grow up yourself.

4.  It makes you want to remain healthy.  They see what you’re eating and see what you’re doing and no one wants their child to imitate them sitting on the couch eating vats of orange chicken and wontons day after day.  No matter how delicious that may be.  You want to be around for the long haul.  As a result, you might just find that even though you’re sleep deprived and lacking in core strength, you’re paradoxically the most fit you’ve been in years and you feel better than ever.   It will not mean, however, that you ever lose your intense cravings for orange chicken and wontons or wine paired with Doritos.

5.  The physical affection.  I think we underestimate the healing power of physical touch.  Snuggles and cuddles and hugs and kisses.   Even though you might get the occasional headbutt or scratched cornea from a tiny finger, the positive aspects far outweigh the dangerous ones. The beautiful weight of a child on your lap, leaning their back into your chest or the feel of a small hand resting on yours, is the ultimate comfort.

6.  The hahahahhas.  You laugh all the time.  You see your face in photographs that were taken without you knowing and are shocked by the person who is smiling in the image.  That person looks so cheerful!  And you realize you weren’t ever this joyful before.  Babies are silly and kooky and hilarious. You are constantly har-de-haring at their goofy faces and snorty sounds and primitive dance moves.

7.  It makes you appreciate your hobbies.  No matter what they may be.  As adorable and amazing as your child is, you still need a little bit of alone time.  You will never again take for granted a half an hour of jogging, an hour of crafting or a quiet evening spent sipping wine and watching trashy television.  A happy parent makes for a happy child.

8. It makes you feel complete. You realize you don’t need to stay up late and go to the bars.  You don’t need to go out after work every day for coffee with friends.  You still might do these things sometimes, but 90% of the time you don’t want to do anything else but hang out with your family because a hole you didn’t know existed in your heart has been filled.  It’s a little startling to discover that a wounded, gaping hole you weren’t even aware resided in your chest before, is now stuffed to the gills.

What do you think the best thing about being the parent of an infant is?

Parenting

Parenting (Photo credit: Leonid Mamchenkov)

Parenting: Reasons to Panic #2: The Sleeping Newborn

I have vivid memories of Mr. Grouch, in his college apartment, during muggy summer months.  I can picture him, stripped down to his whitie tighties, sprawled across his twin bed, with the oscillating fan one centimeter from his toes, the soggy air leaving him too lethargic to move. A sexy, sweaty, beast.  The two of us are different in so many ways but in this way we are oh so much the same.  Wait, not in the sweaty beast way.  Well, actually, yes, in the sweaty beast kind of way.  What I mean is, neither one of our bodies can adequately handle the oppressive heat of July, August, September.  Our air conditioning runs on high all summer long and we keep our home chilled enough to be able to walk around the house in jeans and hoodies.  We do not like to be sweaty beasts.

So, when Baby Grouch was born, in the fierceness that is August, as ridiculous as it seems, we felt the need to put a little heater in her bedroom.  You turn on the heater, and then set it to the appropriate temperature, which, in our case, was around 71 degrees, and it has it’s own internal thermostat.  At the time of this episode, Baby Grouch was a couple of months old and was sleeping 3-4 hours at a stretch.

The first night she slept for 6 hours, I woke up, in a panic.  I got that surge of adrenaline that I had become so accustomed to, every time she woke me with her squeaks and squawks, but this time it was because she was quiet.

IS SHE OKAY?

Shrouded with the fear of sudden infant death syndrome, I hurried to her room, and opened the door and a wave of heat hit me in the face.

Then the REAL panic started.

OMG OMG OMG IT’S TOO HOT OMG OMG OMG I COOKED MY BABY OMG OMG GREATER RISK FOR SIDS WHEN IT’S TOO HOT OMG OMG I COOKED MY BABY “HUN! GET UP! THE BABY’S TOO HOT. TOOO HOOOOTTT!”

I was screaming and yelling and flipped on all the lights; I opened the windows and took Baby Grouch from her crib and removed her from the sweltering room and laid her in the hallway all the while still yelling panicked nonsense at my husband.  I unswaddled her and took her teeny tiny body out of the sack.  My heart was pounding out of my ears.  Just because she feels warm right now, doesn’t mean she’s okay.

She opened her eyes.

OMG OMG OMG “SHE’S OKAY!  SHE’S OKAY!”  I’m still screaming. Out loud, not just in my head.

This all happened within a matter of seconds and Mr. Grouch wasn’t even out of bed yet.  Er…he may or may not have been laying in bed, watching me silently while giving me the, you’re-such-a-freaking-crazy-hormonal-wife-I-don’t-even-know-what-to-do-with-you-right-now look.  He said calmly, “I think you forgot to set the thermostat on the heater”.  Indeed, I did.  It was over 80 degrees in that bedroom (probably 20 degrees warmer than the rest of the house) and for weeks I was sick about it.

Looking back, I think about that college apartment in the summer and how we didn’t have central air.  I realize that many people, in summer months, allow their houses to reach heinously high temperatures (and some even enjoy it.  What??).  Some of them probably even have babies that sleep there with them, that are okay.

What panicky sleep stories do you have of your newborn?

Still Sleeping

3 a.m. Feedings

3 a.m. feedings

are more than feedings.

They are snuggles and safety and softly sung songs.

They are cozy and comfortable and contented.

 

Or discontented.

 

They are waffle printed and lavender scented.

They are sniveling and sweating and shushing,

and are viewed through puffy eyes, crusted with sleep.

They are restless and fatiguing and short.

 

Or long.

 

And they are beautiful.

It feels good to be needed

and good to be comforted.

And this won’t last forever.

 

It won’t be long until I drive you crazy

and you drive me mad

and you’re old enough to drive away.

 

It won’t be long until you aren’t so joyful.

So transparent.

So dependent.

Or free.

 

But for now, you are.

And bellies and hearts are full. 

English: A sleeping male baby with his arm ext...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • A Song (velvetnovels.wordpress.com)

Parenting: Reasons To Panic #1 – Jogging With Baby

So, I’m trying to get back into shape.  Pre-baby shape.  Which I’m quite sure is a fairy tale notion.  My core is a disaster.  My pelvis is broken.  (Full disclosure: It’s really NOT.  It’s just offset enough to FEEL like it’s broken and there’s nothing that can be done except steroid injections, which I haven’t yet tried, but am quite sure I will have to if the pain gets any worse.  Inhale. Exhale.  Complaining completed.

Bah.

But, I figure I should do what I can before Baby Number 2 starts cooking, if we are to be so lucky, because if things are this bad NOW, I can only imagine how I might feel after 9 additional months of swelling and enlarging and hormoning.

So, I decided to get off my ass and go jogging.  In the heat of May.  Something I don’t typically do because I overheat in anything above 55 degrees.  My running season is October to April.  My aerobic activity of choice is running outside, whilst catching snowflakes in my eyelashes.  Once it hits 50 degrees, I’m stripped down to a t-shirt by mile 4.  But, I figured I just ran a marathon 3 weeks ago, I should be able to go for a short, 6 mile trot.

English: Female Jogger on Coleman Avenue in Mo...

Of course, I had the baby with me.  “No problem, I have a stroller/jogger!  I’ll just bring her!” I thought this was a grand idea until I started to panic about the following:

The baby is going to overheat!  I was ROASTING.  Granted, I always overheat when I run, but mid-way through I started to panic that Baby Grouch would combust.  How much do babies sweat?  How much of a breeze was she getting?  How hot IS IT out here?  How long does baby sunscreen last?  When you run you usually feel about 20 degrees hotter, right?!  It’s not really as hot as I FEEL, right?!!!  I started sprinkling her with ice water out of her sippy cup.

The baby is going to get Malaria!  There were approximately 83 billion mosquitos out.  I don’t want my child to get infected with Malaria or West Nile or Yellow Fever.   I had to walk a few times and dump water on my head and gasp for breath, and each time I panicked because the mosquitoes were swarming my child.  I flailed my arms and batted away.  An ungraceful, maternal, totemic dance.

The baby is going to get fussy!   I started to panic about mile 2.5.  How on Earth did I think a LOOP made sense?  There was no shortcut home.  I’m dying of heat exhaustion and this run is going to take me for-ev-er!  Of course at this point, Baby Grouch was sleeping.  But, still.  What is she woke up screaming?  Around mile 4.5 she DID start throwing her hat/toy/burp cloth out the edge of the stroller.  I ran over her doll once.  At one point I was jogging while holding all three items in my hands.  NO TIME TO STOP.

The baby is going to get sunburned!  Her arms are showing! She keeps pulling off her hat – her head is showing!  The canopy isn’t QUITE long enough – her face might get burnt!  The canopy is too long – I can’t see the baby!  The baby needs to be covered with a blanket to protect her from the Sun! The baby is overheating, I need to take the blanket off! I figure all the bending over and rearranging, though panic-driven, was probably good core work.

The Baby Is Going to Get Hungry/Thirsty!  I was worried about overheating so I offered Baby Grouch the sippy cup with water once every mile or so.  This may or may not have been a good idea, seeing as she puked up water and strained squash out her nose about 14 minutes after we got home.  My eyes burned as sweat poured into them while giving her a bath, and were still doing so while I cleaned the carpet.

OMG, Running is SO HARD.  I hadn’t ran in 3 weeks, and I could feel it.  My legs felt great, but my head felt fuzzy and lightheaded and horrible.  My face was abraisive to the touch, gritty with salt.  I tried to just focus on my legs. I had thoughts like, “Once you stop running, you have to start completely over again” and, “What the hell was I thinking?” and “I’m so not cut out for running”. And, “You can’t stop running because you have the BABY”.  Also, I got a blister on my hand, which was a first for me, as far as running injuries go.

I hope I don’t see anyone I know! The temperature outside was ovenlike.  I had to take off my shirt, despite the jiggly pouch.  And the early 90’s tribal tattoos on my back.  I had to roll my capris into bootie shorts, despite the expansive thighs.  You know how you look at someone and McJudgingly think, “Why are they wearing THAT?” This was exactly what people were thinking of ME as I was undulating down the sidewalk, pushing the stroller.  I crossed my fingers and hoped I didn’t see any students or parents I knew, but I took the risk because if I didn’t cool my chubby body off enough to keep moving, my child my overheat and get Dangue Fever and starve to death.  

Whew.

Ever had a jaunt with baby that scared you to pieces?

A Comprehensive Pre-Pregnancy To-Do List

A pregnant woman

A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pregnancy preparedness: Things you’ll want to do before you get knocked up – in no particular order.

1.  Start telling strangers in line at the grocery store and strangers you’re connected with on social media that you are pregnant and that you are  planning to formula feed.  Take notes when they give you loads of valuable advice about infant feeding.

2.  Stare at your naked self in the mirror and pinch the flabbiest part of your belly.  Sneer at it in disgust. Then, try to imagine that your flabby belly will never again be this toned.  Pat your (soon to be thought of as toned) flab and tell it you’ll miss it.

3.  Google childbirth worst-case scenarios.  Develop extreme anxiety.  PANIC.

4.  Stock up on your favorite seasonal treats, since you don’t know what will be available when you crave it most.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT eat your Thin Mints.  You will need them later.  TRUST ME. Scavange boxes from your friends and family if you can.

5.  Drink copious amounts of vino.  You’re really gonna miss this stuff.

6.  Attend a natural childbirthing class and ask questions like, “What is the herbal equivalent to an epidural?” and, “How many six packs do I need to drink to help my milk come in?”

7.  Keep a box of tissues in your purse at all times.  When you want to be pregnant, everyone else around you will become pregnant. Teenagers, nuns, your eccentric uncle.  EVERYONE.

8.  Go to yoga.  You’ll need the core strength to sustain a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and recovery.  You’ll need the breathing exercises to offset the breast-feeding advice, childbirth horror stories and immaculate conceptions going on all around you.

9.  Kegels.  Yes, you need to do them.  Start ’em now.  Do them in the car, do them at work, do them when you empty the dishwasher. You’d better get used to multi-tasking.

10.  Drink more wine.  Relish it.

11.  Research baby products and read each and every review.  Buy fifteen books reviewing the products and then buy three more books reviewing the reviews. Create an elaborate wish list.  Go register for products and get so annoyed with the process that you just scan the first two items on each shelf. (*Note – those choices will work out just fine).  Pass along books along to the nearest pregnant sap.

12.  Sex it up.  If you’re struggling with conception, sex will quickly turn into a chore you have to complete in between laundry and online banking.  Once you get pregnant, your husband will worry about poking the baby.  Right after having the baby, you’ll worry about breaking your pelvis.  When the baby is older, you’ll both choose sleep over sex.  It’ll be a couple years before you’re both in the mood (and that’s when you’ll start trying for your next baby).

13.  Read up on the importance of infant schedules and sleep training.  Try to do 100 pull ups, walk across hot coals, and hold your breath for 4 minutes under water.  These three tasks will better prepare you for the inevitable realization that carefully planned schedules and techniques won’t work out for you in any way, shape or form.

14.  Start slathering on the cocoa butter.  If it doesn’t prevent stretch marks, it’ll at least smell like coconuts and make you think of the beach.  Once you’re pregnant, keep using it but know that you’ll feel less like a Hawaiian Tropics girl and more like a beached whale.

15.  Start spending time with other people’s kids.  Their whining, incessant chatter, tantrum throwing and disgusting drooling will prepare you for what is to come.  Let me remind you that evolution has programmed us to love our own so much more than our neighbor’s.  Don’t be afraid, your own will be amazing.  A science refresher is always valuable.

16.  Relax.  Because we all know that unlike ovulation, balanced hormones or healthy uterine linings, this is the true key to conceiving.

Any other advice for those who want to be parents?