Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Color Blind Spots

So I'm possibly the least-equipped person you've ever met when it comes to political debate, but a friend shared this article (…/repetitive-motion-disorder-black-…/) with me and I wish my friends and family would read it. I've always assumed I'm not racist, and some of the "reflexes" mentioned in this article are not things that I personally identify with. HOWEVER. I'm slowly starting to learn that I am raising my baby boy in a very different world than my friend's baby boy. Same city, same economic class, vastly different realities. 

I don't pretend to know much about Ferguson, or Grand Juries, or what it's like to be a police officer. (I'm grateful for law enforcement officers who protect our rights and keep our communities safe!) But I do know that some of the things I'm reading on facebook make me uncomfortable these days. If you find friends and family saying disparaging things at get-togethers this week, please be prepared to at least mention that:

1. We all have a right to act in self-defense. But self-defense is very different from pre-emptively acting out of fear/misinformation/stereotype.

2. Marijuana use is roughly equal among whites and blacks, yet blacks are almost 4 times as likely to be arrested for possession. (…/war-marijuana-black-and-white-report)

3. "Can we perhaps, just this once, admit our collective blind spot? Admit that there are things going on, and that have been going on a very long time, about which we know nothing? Might we suspend our disbelief, just long enough to gain some much needed insights about the society we share? One wonders what it will take for us to not merely listen but actually to hear the voices of black parents, fearful that the next time their child walks out the door may be the last, and all because someone—an officer or a self-appointed vigilante—sees them as dangerous, as disrespectful, as reaching for their gun? Might we be able to hear that without deftly pivoting to the much more comfortable (for us) topic of black crime or single-parent homes?"

I already struggle with a lot of fears now that I have a baby. I cannot image adding more to the list simply because my baby has a darker skin color.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

If I Could Tell Myself

I think those first few months of new-parent-hood were clouded by hormones and fatigue, yes, but also by pain. Until a few weeks ago, I truly thought I was never going to physically recover from childbirth. Thank GOD for modern medicine and the fact that I'm finally, slowly, on the mend.

I don't think you can outsmart those early hormones, but wow, those early days were so hard, and I was only dealing with mostly run-of-the-mill baby issues! I didn't have any perspective and I think I just thought things would be that hard forever. If I could just look back at myself at 8 weeks, I'd tell that poor girl so much:

1.) Go to physical therapy NOW. If 8 weeks postpartum feels a whole lot like 8 days postpartum, don't wait for the pain to get better! It obviously isn't improving on its own.

2.) Go to the pain management OBGYN NOW. See above.

3.) Someday, sooner than you think, you will be able to eat dinner with your husband again instead of one of you holding a screaming baby while the other one inhales whatever food you managed to scrounge out of the cabinet.

4.) Cloth diapers aren't that big of a deal. Don't stress about them so much. Just do it. (And I wish I'd known about Fluff Love University sooner!)

5.) Trust your instincts. If you feel like you still have thrush, it's thrush. If you think your baby has reflux, he has reflux. (Spoiler alert: both of them will eventually improve, I promise!)

6.) Just buy some non-maternity clothes a size up. Actually, I'd go back and tell my first-trimester self this one, when I was in between my normal clothes and my maternity clothes. I'm actually comfortable at the weight I'm at, but I do NOT fit into my old winter clothes yet.

7.) Take more pictures with your nice camera and fewer with your iPhone. Babies move too fast and half of your pictures are blurry!

8.) Don't compare yourself to your mom friends, and don't compare your baby to your friends' babies. You will either feel inordinately proud over something you can't take credit for or, more likely, completely awful because you feel like you're doing it all wrong. See: 6 Things New Parents Need to Stop Doing.

9.) In fact, don't even shame yourself about your feelings. They're not uncommon. Exhibit A. Exhibit B.

10.) Your baby's sleep schedule will at best make you tired and grumpy, and at worse expose your selfishness and control issues. Reinforce good habits, take what sleep you can get, and then just roll with it. Love him through it. His sleep will eventually sloooowly improve. You'll start to notice that his weeks of bad sleep will correspond with huge developmental leaps, and it will start to make sense. Reading this helps a lot:
“Infant/toddler sleep is erratic, unpredictable and doesn’t conform to our expectations. Children’s sleep habits have evolved to best serve the child, even if they don’t make sense to the parent. Adjust your expectations, not your child’s sleep habits (within reason)."

11.) CTFD and laugh a little. If you can't reach this point on your own, talk with your spouse, with other mom friends, or with a counselor until you can.

12.) Endorphins are still so very real. Work out if you can muster up even an ounce of energy, because it WILL give you more energy. Swimming, Body Pump, Piyo, hot yoga, and sometimes Zumba are your friends. HIIT, running, and plyometrics are not.

13.) Ross is a pretty awesome dad. Don't deprive him of opportunities to shine.

14.) Not only does breastfeeding get better, but should you be so lucky as to be able to continue this relationship, you'll start to notice how sanctifying it is:
Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind for the Eucharist. Through the breaking of the bread, God invites us into the nursing relationship: the meeting of all our needs.
I think about the cracked nipples and the itchy thrush, the aches and fevers of mastitis, the midnight trek across the house to feed a crying baby, fatigued to the point of nausea: "This is my body, broken for you."
I think about the times I missed out because of the chore it was keeping (my baby) fed, the chained-up feeling of pumping at work, the moments when I wish desperately for a break: "Poured out for you and for many…"
I think about God, who has given me these children and the means to sustain them, who is present in the Eucharist and in my nursing chair, who by these rituals invites me to participate in His life-giving power: "Do this, in remembrance of Me."

15.) Sleeping baby faces will always make your heart melt. That gummy smile will never fail to make your heart explode. Sometimes, instead of trying to capture the sweetness with the millionth picture, close your eyes and memorize it instead.

16.) You love your baby. You're doing a good job.

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Still Miss Being Pregnant

When I first had Noah, I just wasn't ready for him to come. Are you ever ready to go from two to three? Probably not. But I really wasn't physically and emotionally ready for him to enter the world a week and a half before his due date. (Although, mother's intuition for the win. I was anxious all along that he was going to come early. Not premature early, thank God, but just early. Like I was. Like my brothers were. But I clung fast and hard and desperately to all those statistics saying first time moms usually go past their due date.)

Then here he was, plain as day. He needed me every moment and I needed to be with him every moment. I physically missed being pregnant, though, so much so that I cried about it often. I missed his kicks and rolls and hiccups. I missed the fact that we were inseperable. For the first 2-3 months of his life, it was almost painful not to be in the same room as him. I would have extreme anxiety when people took him from my arms.

Now, I miss pregnancy for different reasons. Shopping for maternity clothes is much more fun than shopping for post-partum clothes. Pregnancy aches and pains were nothing compared to the postpartum aches and pains I'm still struggling with. But more than anything? Being pregnant with that first baby is magical, even if you are fixing up a P.O.S. house and working two jobs. It's all of the anticipation and excitement and dreams, and none of the reality of how your life is going to change forever-- in good ways and bad!

I'm grateful every day that I had a healthy pregnancy with Noah. I've seen loss personally and professionally and it never gets easier. In fact, now that I know this kind of love, the thought of loss is even harder to wrap my head around, and impossible to wrap my heart around.

I have a health baby. This is a miracle. If thrush and reflux and hearing impairment and lip and tongue ties are our biggest issues, well that's just fine by me.

But you know what makes me feel like an awful mom? My kid doesn't nap. It sounds so silly when I type it out, but it's the source of extreme anxiety on my end.

Nothing. NOTHING. Has brought out my neuroses and anxiety and selfishness and control issues like motherhood has. I mean, I love it. I truly do love this little human. He is such a delight and I desperately want the best for him. I want him to be happy and healthy. And when he's not, it crushes me.

Why can't I provide the best for him? Why can't I get him to sleep when he's telling me he's tired? Does this ever get easier?