Reframing Christmas…Or Why I Suck at the Occasion This Year

I caught a little bit of the Diane Rehm show today as I was on my way home from the gym. The conversation was about the holidays–specifically about the breakdown of gender roles and the effects of the stress of this time of year on individuals, their partners and their children. It got me thinking more intentionally about what I want Christmas to look like at our house and what traditions I want to stick with, what I want to create, and how to find balance in the midst of it all.

So here’s what that looks like this year.

There is no Christmas tree. There is no nativity. There are no cookie tins (because plastic containers will do). We have not even opened the attic for Christmas decorations.

Christmas cards aren’t going out…again. But if you’re interested in a birth announcement, raise your hand. I’ll send you one as soon as I make it to the post office for more stamps.

There are presents only because interwebs.

There’s no Christmas Eve service because baby and because we lost our church community earlier this year and have yet to find another.

Most of our lack of Christmas is due to having a 4 ½ month old in the house. We love him to pieces. But this whole working full time and parenting when I’m not working or sleeping is hard. And though this baby is a good baby, he is not an easy baby. And parenting is hard. And exhausting. And I can’t even bring myself to ask someone to baby-sit because it’s exhausting and I can’t do that to anyone else.

I’m sure there are parents who have had babies this year who got their Christmas tree decorated (bonus points for the whole house), presents bought and wrapped, and goodies made well before Festivus. Hell, they may have even attended a party or two by now. I’m also pretty sure many of those folks are at least 5 years younger than me (which is damn near an eternity in baby mama years) and aren’t dealing with twice daily doses of compounded liquid Prilosec with conversations of potentially making an appointment for an ultrasound and barium swallow–on top of the burp cloth/beach towel/snuggie combo we’ve employed to protect at least some part of our wardrobe…and the couch.

I am thankful for a baby who is otherwise healthy and happy and sweet and cuddly and too cute for anyone’s good. I am thankful for the interwebs and how so much of what I need to buy can just come directly to me. I am thankful for people who will come and help me make at least one type of cookie–even while I’m still in my pajamas. I am thankful for Christmas incarnated on my TV in various forms. I am thankful for being able to live vicariously through the decorating of others and that I’m not hosting Christmas at my house.

And that’s how Christmas looks this year. That’s how I’ve been able to find balance. That’s how I’ve maintained my sanity. Because there is no margin for Christmas in the way we’ve done it in years past.

But I hope against hope that next Christmas won’t look anything like this one. In the mean time, I’m working to be OK with what this one is.

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Pro Tips from an Amateur Baby Pusher

I know at least half a dozen pregnant women currently. This post really is for those folks…partly because it is and partly because they may wish to stay away from the next couple of posts about Baby W’s birth…not that terrible things happened but because I know I tried to stay away from birth stories the closer I got to the end. Then again, you may wish to read about how things don’t always go as you plan for or envision and it turns out just fine.

But let’s be real, you people are going to do what you will and I’m going to be over here keeping it real like I always do.

Can’t say I didn’t warn you.

In the mean time, here’s my Top 10 Pro Tips.

  1. Food and drink during labor: If they let you have something, load up. BUT…consume things that are soft-ish and you don’t mind seeing again. Because chances are, you will. Maybe don’t pick your favorite flavor of Gatorade or a food that you absolutely LOVE. These things may be ruined for you in this process.
  2. Speaking of food, bake treats for your caregivers. I swear the Sarahs (midwife and day shift nurse) loved me more after we handed over a loaf of homemade banana bread.
  3. Clothes. Wear whatever the hell you want. If the hospital gown is your jam, go for it. I opted for a sports bra and yoga pants (because I didn’t want to feel like a patient). And then my water broke. After that it was the bra and those sexy fishnet underroos they give you until the main event. Before all that, though, I went on the futile hunt for long pajama bottoms. Well, futile unless you’re willing to cough up some change. But I decided it was worth it to have comfy bottoms to wear once I was home. I splurged on some victory pants that I kept in the closet until we got home…then I lived in those jokers for three solid days.
  4. If your mode of birth does not require a C-section, steal plenty of ice packs. And if your partner happens to walk by a cart in the hallway that has a big bag of them and offers to steal the whole lot, seriously consider this offer. The same applies to anything else they leave in your room…including the diapers. Seriously. Once that pack of diapers is opened, they can’t do anything else with it and they’ll chuck it. Might as well have extra at your house.
  5. Stop on the way home for Colace and Motrin. And probably Tucks pads.
  6. Take advantage of the sitz bath…or at least a really long shower with water running over the parts that hurt the most.
  7. Feeding your baby: stay away from Dr. Google. Period. Pick one or two trusted sites about feeding and just go there. If you are planning to breastfeed your baby, have the number to a really good (I mean REALLY good) lactation consultant programmed into your phone and call them as early and often as you need to. Seriously. I cannot emphasize this enough. Because getting started with–and even maintaining–breastfeeding can be tough. Also stock up on some type of nipple butter (or coconut oil). Trust me on this one especially. You may not need much of it, but chances are, you’ll need at least a little in the early days. If you’re planning to use formula right out of the gate, know that that mess smells awful. However, if you have an absurd addiction to Cheetos that you’d like to kick, let me recommend the Enfamil Nutramigen. Also, stock up on burp cloths. At least 45. In the short term, they’ll serve their purpose AND bulk up your laundry so you feel like you’re doing a full load. In the long term, they’ll make great rags for dusting or washing cars. And speaking of feeding, invest in The Blessed Nest pillow…screw the Boppy. This one is worth every penny.
  8. Whatever emotions you feel or however crazy you might think you are or whatever you thought you’d never do but now find yourself doing, just roll with it. And try to get some sleep. It gets better. Promise.
  9. In case no one has told you yet, the second night is hell. You just have to get through it. And high five your partner when dawn breaks because you did it. The same is true for any growth spurt (look for the first round of fun at the 2 week mark).
  10. Be ready for your plans to be 86’ed in a heartbeat. Things may not go as you envisioned or planned, but then, that’s parenting for you. This whole process requires courage–from pregnancy to emptying the nest and beyond. You can do it. You’re already doing it.

Honorable mentions:

You may want a doula. I did not use one as I felt supported throughout my pregnancy in terms of my medical care–and even more so in the birthing process. But there are women who love having that kind of support during labor and birth, and wouldn’t do it without.

Drugs. My plan was to go without. Whatever your plan, consider your options and do what works for you.

Confessions of a Still Pregnant Woman

Pregnancy can teach you many things. Things about your body, what’s important to you, your limits, your hopes, your psyche…

And the longer the pregnancy continues (and we all want a healthy full-term pregnancy), the more you learn about these things. So once again, I’m over here dropping some pregnancy truthiness.

1. Control is an illusion. I learned that from other life and work experiences. However, you may have thought you had at least a smidge, if not more. Pregnancy laughs in the face of your control needs, making you keenly aware that you really have little, if any, control whatsoever. You have control over how you care for your body as it grows new life, but that’s about it. You cannot control what is happening inside your body, how your baby will grow and develop, or the date and time at which your body and baby will work together on baby’s exit plan.

2. You will want to have on hand whatever your favorite hemorrhoid remedy happens to be. Apparently no pregnant woman escapes unscathed.

3. Be mindful of what you say to a pregnant woman. Especially as she nears–and even more so as she passes–her due date. For starters, due dates are a joke and essentially meaningless. Babies come when babies come. To that end, a woman is likely to hear from countless people asking about whether the baby is here yet. Each time she has to respond with a “no,” is a reminder that she’s still pregnant and might be forever. (We all know that being pregnant forever is not real, but when you’re in it, if feels like it.) If you’re going to ask about the baby, take care to ask about the mom, too.

4. Pregnancy is more than a physical and emotional experience. It’s a mental game, too. As a woman approaches her “due date,” she begins to get in the mindset of birthing the baby. Even more so if her plan is a natural birth. And every day the baby chooses to stay inside is another day of mental readiness then downgrading only to gear up again the next day. It’s exhausting. So if you’re going to ask anything of a woman past her due date, probably the best question is, “How are you holding up?”

5. Do a better job than I have of planning ways to fill your time while waiting for baby. Plans can be changed or broken. If they are, it’s because you’re having a baby. Who can argue or be upset by that?!

6. I still really really really really really really REALLY miss beer and working out beyond getting on the elliptical and doing a few sets of upper body exercises. And I’ll continue to wait for the day I can get back to both, just like I’m over here waiting for this baby to arrive.

 

37 Weeks…and Counting

I have officially crossed over into the home stretch of this pregnancy…the part where Baby W. could arrive really any time.

And I’m ready.

I’m ready to meet this little guy for sure. But I’m also ready for a few other things.

So in case you were wondering, here are the top 10 things I’ve missed while pregnant:

1. Working out like a boss. Running, swimming, Body Pump, spin class, P90Xwhatevernumberwe’reon, getting to do the new stuff I just ordered. You know how I do. I’m down to the elliptical and a some light lifting on the upper body. Unacceptable. Also, my core is completely shot to hell.

2. Snuggling with my husband. This kid’s already coming in between us.

3.  Beer.

4. Wearing real clothes. (There was a time around the end of the first trimester where I proclaimed the virtues and magic of maternity clothes. The only maternity wear of which I’m extolling the virtues this week: panties and bras. And I’m only expecting that to last about 3-4 weeks.)

5. Eating what I want when I want it. Like roast beef sammiches. And prosciutto. And goat cheese. And medium steak/burgers. And even a little sushi here and there.

6. Eating anything and NOT getting heartburn. Never in my life have I consumed so many Tums.

7. Lying on my stomach.

8. Lying on my back.

9. Energy and being able to stay awake later or get up early.

10. The ability to bend/roll over. The struggle is real, y’all.

They keep telling me that I will feel like a whole new person once this new person is outside of me. I’m looking forward to all of that.

But mostly to meeting our Little Buddy.

The Story Behind the Picture…Or the First Installment of Conversations with a Pregnant Lady

This past weekend, hubs and I left the adolescents at home–gave them some money and instructed them to not burn down the house–and headed to the ATL for the birthday party/baptism/dedication/blessing/christening.com of one SUPER adorable one year old. The party had a Southern theme to it complete with Mason jars for the drinks and BBQ and all the fixin’s for the food.

Y’all. I don’t like pork as a general rule. I realize that is blasphemy for the majority public, but it’s true.

I also opt out of mustard. Usually.

So when I remarked to Al that I had eaten two scoops of BBQ AND poured some mustard BBQ sauce on it, he looked at me stunned. And then asked if I was feeling OK.

That’s when I told him that I’d also craved a ham sammich earlier in the week.

His response was more immediate this time.

“Who ARE you?”

“Um. Apparently this is YOUR baby.”

Which prompted a huge grin.

So later, when we were batting around ideas for our Facebook baby reveal photo, the whole Dr. Evil/Mini Me thing came up. And Ashlee, our amateur photog in residence down there, was happy to oblige.

And we got this.

whitehouse prego 080 (1024x687) (1)

Pregnancy and Vegetarianism

So….guess who’s pregnant???

Not me.

My seester in love!!! I’m gonna be an aunt again.

We’re still a few weeks out from being able to determine the gender of Dillweed–yes, that is what we are all calling Baby Dos.

Also, you’d be amazed to learn what you can find on the interwebs these days. Everything from a honey badger and python in a death match to a onesie that SAYS Dillweed.

See:

I know some of you were pulling for a little Whitehouse to show up some time in the upcoming year. At this point, the only thing I’m gestating is a dissertation.However, I was starting to LOOK like I was pregnant. Apparently, I wasn’t getting enough protein in my body and so I was hungry all. the. time. And ate. all. the. time. So I’m back on the meat wagon….mostly because it takes too much extra time to think about and plan for plant based protein to make sure I get what I need not because I really wanted to eat meat again… (Helloooooo, steak.)Ironically enough, I’m still hungry. Because I’m eating less (even when you eat healthy stuff, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing) and my body is still adjusting. But it seems to be handling meat just fine. Most of the time.

So there you have it.

Dillweed’s ETA is April 9, 2012 (Seester is hatching a bunny).

I’m gestating a dissertation…and eating less…and running more…and getting ready for a 10-miler in VA Beach on my birthday.

Pro-Life = Pro-Baby

I started a post on abortion a couple of months ago…and didn’t finish it. But there are a few things I would like to say about the subject.

If you are pro-life, not only are you against abortion, you are also AGAINST capital punishment, nuclear proliferation, war, allowing government systems to continue to allow starvation, rape of the earth and her resources.

If you are pro-life, you are FOR providing resources for pre- and post-natal care for young, un-wed mothers, for providing parent education, for providing emotional support for young single mothers. You will work for having diapers included in WIC approved items ( you know, Women, INFANT, & Children, WIC?). You will work for better nutritional foods to be included in WIC approved items. You are for job training and life-skills training. 

If you are anti-abortion but are not concerned about all of life on this earth, chances are, you are pro-baby. And pro-baby is good. It’s just not enough in my mind.