Monthly Archives: May 2014

Babies on a plane!

If I had to list in order the Top Five Most Annoying People, they would be:

  1. People who talk too loudly on their cell phones while in tiny, enclosed, public spaces. (It’s an elevator, buddy, not “The Real World” confessional booth. I’m just trying to get to the fifth floor without intimate knowledge of your weird armpit rash).
  2. People who squeal and throw their arms up when they see their old college roommate walking into the bar.
  3. People who don’t understand the flow of cart traffic at the grocery store.
  4. People who live tweet the TV show they are watching.
  5. People who are Taylor Swift.

You notice who is not on the list? People who take babies on planes. Because if anything, these people deserve our utmost compassion and if you see them, you should buy them one of those $9 airplane cocktails. Or five of them. Because people who take babies on planes are wonderful, nice people. And pretty. And smart.

With a great fashion sense.

OK, OK. The jig is up. I know that people who take babies on planes are just the worst. And three months ago, I would have gladly plotted with you the best way to permanently exterminate these idiots off the face of the planet. (My preferred method? Booking them all on the same flight until the sound of all the crying babies makes them go all “Hunger Games” on each other.).

But then three months ago, I had a baby. An adorable baby. An adorable baby whose maternal grandparents and 64 other close relatives live 850 miles away. Which means an adorable baby who now has 66 people who live REALLY far away that REALLY want to see him.

Which means next week I will officially go to the dark side and get on an airplane with…(shudder)…a baby.

And it’s going to be bad. Oh, so bad. You know how I know? Because I was always, ALWAYS, that person on an airplane who loudly groaned every time I saw someone bring a baby onboard. I was always that person who turned around and shot evil looks at the toddler kicking my seat. And I’m pretty sure that at one point in my writing career, I dedicated an entire column to how unfair it was that parents of small children got to board the plane before I did (which included a line that went something like this: “Just because you’re not smart enough to figure out birth control doesn’t mean you should be rewarded with getting to jump to the front of the line.”)

Oof.

Yeah. Hi, Karma. How you been?

Needless to say, I’m terrified. Granted, the flight is only two hours and 15 minutes, but have you ever heard a baby cry? That sound has the miraculous capability to make time virtually stop. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried comforting my screaming child, freaking out because he hasn’t stopped crying for three hours, only to look at my watch and realize it’s been 45 seconds.

And my baby’s recent behavior has done nothing to ease my fears. He’s become more flighty than a teenage girl. Yesterday, he loved Mr. Giraffe. Today? He hates him with the passion of a thousand witching hours. This morning, only his binkie could get him to stop crying. Tonight? Don’t you DARE put that vile thing in his mouth. Else he will cry ‘til he vomits. And then he’ll vomit some more, just to show his disgust.

But they say the key to winning any battle is preparation and so I’ve been spending the past few weeks coming up with my battle plan. Extra bottles of breast milk for when we ascend and descend? Check. Another extra bottle full of water as backup to try and trick him once all the breast milk is gone? Check. Mr. Giraffe? Check. A knife to kill Mr. Giraffe in case Junior still hates him and wants to see him die for his alleged crime? Check.

And just to be extra safe, I’ve been saving up these past few weeks so that I can afford to buy everyone on the plane one of those $9 cocktails.

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Here’s my excuse for my post-baby body

Here’s a fun fact you may not know. When you are in the hospital after having a C-section, you are issued several pairs of giant disposable netted hospital underwear. If you’re having trouble picturing that, let me help you out: They are incredibly unattractive. I mean, these things are hideous. And completely see-through, leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. (And trust me, immediately after having a baby, you want most, if not all, things left to the imagination).

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Now, I’m assuming these things have something to do with the giant gash you recently received on your lower abdomen. And since you did just undergo major surgery and infections are nothing to sneeze at (heh), you are in no position to argue when the doctor says you have to wear the giant netted hospital underwear.

Never being one to defy authority (or at least not the authority that is steadily supplying me with amazing weapons-grade pain-killers) I obediently followed my doctor’s orders. Although I can guarantee he probably wished that I hadn’t taken his words quite so literally.

I was in the hospital for four days. And for four days I wore those see-through granny panties. And only those see-through granny panties.

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It didn’t matter who was in the room, if the door was open or closed, or what I was doing, I was, for all practical purposes, buck naked. All. The. Time. With my body looking arguably the worst it ever had, I had it on display for all to see. Every stretch mark, every wobbly bit, every “hmm, that used to be much higher” body part.

It wasn’t that I had suddenly turned into an exhibitionist. Or that…pffft…I was actually happy with how my body looked. I just had a million other things that required my attention other than clothes, such as:

  1. The amazing human I just created.
  2. Getting up from the bed to go pee, which was a Herculean task that required six nurses, a crane and three, sometimes four, horse tranquilizers shot directly into me by an orderly standing a safe distance away.
  3. Debating what would hurt more, cutting my boobs off with a dull ax or continuing to breastfeed.
  4. Deciding continuing to breastfeed would probably hurt slightly less and then attempting to feed him again while 17 lactation specialists roughly squished together my boobs and his head.
  5. Trying to sleep during the 47 seconds I had in-between feedings, comforting my crying baby, nurses checking my vitals and eating an unhealthy amount of cheeseburgers from the hospital cafeteria.

So, being naked all the time just made everything so much easier. I was exhausted and sore and overwhelmed and screw wearing pants! Burn in hell, stupid bra! Even the hospital gown seemed too complicated, what with its TWO whole ties in the back.

Now, a woman choosing to be naked in the comfort of her own hospital room may not seem like a big deal to you, but for me, this was not only uncharacteristic, but downright unheard of.

Yes, I was one of those women who, like any good white girl raised in the Midwest, hated her body. I was never thin enough. Or hairless enough. Or shaped enough like a 12-year-old boy. So to hide my perfectly healthy and normal weight body, I mastered the art of changing clothes without flashing any actual skin. I wore overpriced bikini cover-ups to the beach, only taking them off once I was deep enough in the water to not let anything south of my chin show (and then flinging the cover-up back onto the beach). After a shower, I would race to my room while clinging to my towel for dear life (because God forbid I flash someone in my family my offensive upper thighs).

But now? Shoot. You’re lucky if you actually catch me with clothes on. I’m always walking around with my shirt hoisted up above my chest because I couldn’t be bothered to pull it back down after feeding Riker. After a shower, I walk around in my birthday suit because a towel is too rough on my chewed up nipples. And I’m still too exhausted and sore and overwhelmed to care about pants.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I am now completely comfortable with my body. I don’t know if that day will ever happen. But it does mean that I have a new appreciation for it. Because now it has a purpose other than looking good for other people. My breasts being perky matter less than the fact they are a food source for my son. My arms being toned matter less than them being strong enough to lift him and carry him around for hours on end. My hips being narrow matter less than me having a convenient perch to rest him on.

And let me tell you, it is completely freeing.

Because, quite frankly, my dear, I no longer give a damn.

Is motherhood really the toughest job?

I’ll never forget the moment I became a mother.

Unlike many women, it wasn’t when I realized I was pregnant; in fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t have one single maternal feeling during my entire pregnancy. I hated being pregnant.

Sure, it had its perks. Eating cheeseburgers in bed, for example. Or eating fried chicken in bed, for another. Or just having my husband bring the entire contents of our fridge into bed, laid out buffet-style.

But even when I felt my baby kick for the first time, or saw him on the ultrasound, I still didn’t feel like a mom. I didn’t know this kid. We may have been sharing the same body, but he was more like the weird roommate I never saw but knew hadn’t moved out yet because of the mess he left behind in our “apartment.” Our bloated, sweaty, gigantic “apartment” that was permanently carpeted in sweatpants and my husband’s old T-shirts.

It also wasn’t, like it is for many women, the first time I held him. By that point, I had already been a mom for a good hour. So finally getting to gaze upon his beautiful (and very red and angry) face didn’t magically transform me into some sort of Earth Mother Goddess. It just transformed me into a manically laughing/sobbing madwoman for the next 20 minutes.

No, the moment I became a mother was when the doctor left it up to me how to proceed after 33 hours of labor. Putting it plainly and without getting too deep into my lady-part details, the doctor explained that I had to decide either to keep going with labor even though I was still barely dilated (better for me but more dangerous for the baby, since his heart rate was beginning to drop), or to have a C-section (better for him but more dangerous for me since I’d be ripped open from my pelvis to my boobs while they poked at my intestines with sharp sticks…or whatever they do during a C-section…I don’t know, I’m not a doctor).

I told them I wanted to discuss it with my husband first but I already knew my answer. Or course I knew. If you’re a mom, you already know too.

“Let’s go with the C-section. I’d rather be the one in any kind of danger.”

And that’s when the nurse confirmed it.

“Spoken like a true mother.”

That’s when I became a mom.

Now, let me be clear, I don’t write this to try and make myself sound like some kind of selfless hero over here. My decision, in the halls of the maternity ward, was common, if not downright mundane. I was only ever in danger theoretically. Like, in worst case scenario terms. I mean, come on. “Woman Chooses To Have C-Section. Film at 11.” It was something the medical staff did not only every day, but multiple times every day, safely and efficiently.

(Not to mention, my other choice was to push a giant watermelon out of my hooha, so…yeah. No big damn heroes here, sir).

And it was the same decision millions of other moms have made given similar circumstances.

And that’s the point.

Being a mom, at least in my limited experience so far, means that it’s no longer about you. It means that every decision you will make from here on out will answer the question “what is best for my child?” And it means that from here on out you will make those decisions a thousand times a day without even noticing it because it becomes second nature to put their needs first.

So while everyone on the Internet is currently debating whether motherhood is the toughest job there is (a debate ignited by the video posted below that went viral), I can easily end it by definitively saying no, being a mom is not the toughest job there is.

And that’s because the question is wrong.

Being a mom isn’t a job. It’s who you are. And who you will always be.

It can’t be quantified.

So, sure, you can list all the things moms do on a daily basis and how much a mom would get paid if she collected wages for being a chef, a chauffeur, a coach, a teacher, an accountant, a boo-boo kisser, etc, etc.

But being a mom isn’t about keeping score.

It’s about being willing to have your body ripped open and all your insides exposed to the outside world, both literally and figuratively.

So to all my fellow moms out there, and especially to my own mom, Happy Mother’s Day.

P.S. Your heart is showing.

A closer look at the American family

The American family. A tradition dating back to the early 1600s. They can be found living among various habitats in North America, from teeming cities rich in natural resources, such as Chipotle, to the peaceful suburbs, where powerful tribes known by the moniker of “The Homeowners Association” roam the land, dictating grass length and the number of acceptable lawn gnomes. Utterly unique in the animal kingdom, these creatures can easily be identified by their colorful plumage, having decorated their bodies with various diaper bags, oversized purses and backpacks featuring a “Dora,” a small-statured explorer with a bowl haircut that is worshipped among the youngest of the herd.

The American family is among the most social of all the mammals (except when it involves the subject named “Debbie;” the female of the species isn’t talking to “Debbie” this week…further extensive research has concluded that “Debbie” knows what she did). They often gather for elaborate eating rituals, where animal flesh cooked on a primitive device known as a barbecue, usually by a male of the species named “Dave,” is consumed in large quantities and the young engage in playful romping that involves murderous screams.

Let us take a closer look at this fascinating species, focusing on a newly formed American family that recently had its first offspring.

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Like many American families, this one began with marriage, a tradition in which rings are exchanged and the technology known as “Netflix” replaces formerly vigorous mating rituals. After three years of this marriage, the male of the couple impregnated the female by seducing her with his elaborate mating call of “Hey…you wanna…you know?”

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The gestation of the pregnant female is nine months, during which both the female and the male eat copious amounts of food, a biological response to the upcoming months of starvation they will face once the offspring is born and they no longer have time to forage for food in the kitchen.

For this particular American family, the bulk of the child-rearing duties falls to the female, whose personal hygiene has taken a backseat to ensuring that the offspring survives.

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Her day is also spent guarding the child from dangerous predators, such as the family dog, who lurks on the periphery waiting for its chance to attack the child with never-ending licks directly inside the child’s mouth.

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The male of the species, after a long day of hunting for editorial approval and gathering fonts, arrives to the shared dwelling and is greeted by the female hurling the offspring directly at his face while she retreats to the bathroom, where she will curl up in the fetal position on the floor and call her best friend to engage in a ritual known as “venting.”

Left alone with the offspring, the male attempts to keep it entertained until he notices the female crawling across the floor army-style toward the front door, where the following conversation takes place:

Male: “Where are you going?”

Female: “To the grocery store.”

Male: “But we don’t need anything, do we?”

Female: “I don’t care!”

It is at this point that the clock strikes seven and the male is filled with trepidation. For it is at this time that a unique phenomenon known among the natives as “the witching hour” begins. Although no one knows why, some biological urge within the offspring’s DNA causes it to cry and scream nonstop at this time every night, often to the point of vomiting (it being a well-known fact that the young of the American family are nauseated by the sight of a nice button-up shirt). Note, if you will, how former techniques used during the day, such as the “bouncy-bounce” knee maneuver and the “Look! It’s Mr. Giraffe!” distraction method are now useless against the growing tide of cries.

Exhausted and confused, the male will often resort to trying to use logic with the child, but so strong is this biological urge to cry at heretofore unheard of decibels, the child ignores his pleas of “come on, buddy, no need to get that upset”. Eventually running out of ideas, the male will often resort to simply letting the offspring cry, often crying alongside him.

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It is at this point that the female generally returns, after first standing outside the front of the dwelling repeating the mantra “I can do this, I can do this” for five minutes. But the storm is over. Just as quickly as it began, the witching hour ends and soon the exhausted offspring is fast asleep.

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And the male and female celebrate another successful day of child-rearing by drinking fermented grapes and vowing to never have any more offspring until the first offspring has graduated college.