Apr 272012
 

After two weeks of having family here… all together…in our house…in every single bed and pretty much any surface that would support a body… and after two months of planning my daughter’s first birthday party which culminated in 75 people partying in our already overstuffed house, the dust is finally beginning to settle and I am finally beginning to breathe.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and my in-laws, and I really do enjoy having them here.  I love seeing how much they love my daughter and seeing how much my daughter loves them.  Truly, nothing gives me more joy than to be with my family… except when I take NyQuil and have those very vivid and quite graphic dreams about Ryan Gosling.

That being said, with a house full of people it was a bit hard to relax.  It’s tough to find the alone time I so desperately need when there is always someone everywhere you go.  Plus, I spent the past two weeks on my very best behavior… shopping, cooking, entertaining, smiling, laughing and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning…  I swear that dirty dishes have been breeding in my sink.  But even more exhausting than the constant cleaning is the constant role-playing.  There is nothing more tiring to me than pretending to be someone I am not.  Even if it is just a slightly better version of myself.

Even though I know that my family loves and respects me, for some reason I feel the need to prove how good of a wife, friend, host, entertainer, and most importantly mother I am.  And man, am I tired.  I spent nearly two weeks treading lightly for fear of offending someone.  I scurried around in a whirlwind of activity for fear of someone discovering the truth… that I am not as clean, organized, friendly, together (ha) or constantly happy as I pretend to be.  I scuttled around following orders to get my daughter more clothes, less clothes, different clothes, and to retrieve more water to stave off dehydration or more food to stave off starvation.  I alternated between letting her cry it out so I don’t seen weak, and picking her up at first wail so I don’t seem cold.  I bit my tongue at unsolicited advice, and nodded my head at tips that I don’t intend to follow.  But really,  who am I trying to fool?  Surely no one who knows me thinks that I am anything close to perfect, so why try to keep up an appearance that mostly exists in my own mind?

After having 24 hours to clear my head, some things have become begrudgingly apparent.  While advice is sometimes (ok often) annoying, it is given to help… not to hurt.  It is not given to question my judgement and certainly not to imply that I don’t know what the hell I am doing.  And even if it does imply that I don’t always know what I am doing, the truth is… I don’t.  Mostly I am just muddling through, figuring things out through trial and error, and error, and error.  And, yes, I spend a lot of time pretending that I know what I am doing.  So actually, I could use some advice… even if I don’t want to hear it. Maybe if I stop spending so much energy pretending to be perfect, I could spend a bit more time on really trying to be better.

So, my beloved family and friends (and not so beloved random strangers who feel it’s your duty to share your opinions despite wearing dirty, fuzzy slippers in public.  true story.) while I can’t promise that I will always take your advice, I promise that I will try to accept it in the loving spirit it was intended.  I promise to try to listen to the wisdom you have to share, but also to question you when I don’t agree with what you have to say, instead of just nodding politely.   And at the end of the day, I promise that my husband and I will raise our daughter the best way we know how… because that’s exactly the example that our parents set for us.  Most of all, thank you all for loving us and our daughter.  Thanks for your advice, even if I don’t always take it.  And thanks for your presence in our lives… although maybe we all don’t have to be present at once for a little while.  At least until next year…

Apr 232012
 

For my daughter’s birthday she received lots of “toys”, like a changing table for her baby doll complete with safety strap, wipes and diapers; a toy stove and other cooking utensils, boxes that you put things into etc.  She also loves to play with the broom, dustbuster, laundry basket etc.  Her favorite toys all just happen to be things I dread… cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, laundry… basically any kind of household chores.  At what point do toys become chores?  Am I missing the fun here?  Do these activities become chores simply because we must do them?  I stared to think that  if I approached chores with a childlike sense of fun and adventure perhaps they could be fun again.  So began to dance around as I swept the floor and to fold clothes with whimsical abandon.  I literally began to whistle as I worked… then I remembered that I don’t know how to whistle and that my daughter also enjoys eating rocks, ripping up toilet paper, and spinning around until she falls down.  Ok, back to the laundry.  Sigh…

Apr 222012
 

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”

-Dr Seuss

Oh man, I love me some Dr Seuss.  He just gets it…

Apr 172012
 

Exactly one year ago… and precisely one week late… my life changed forever.  Ok, well it actually changed forever exactly 41 weeks + 52 weeks ago…what is that… 93? I’m tired.  And why do people with babies insist on counting time in weeks?  But  then again, exactly 93 weeks ago, I didn’t know that it had changed yet, so does it count?  So maybe it was 93 – 4.5 weeks (that’s math I can’t do right now) ago, when I found out I was pregnant that my life changed forever.  Hmmmm…  Is it the moment of conception, of realization or of admission into the world that changes your life?

Anyway, I digress…

I had a fairly easy labor and delivery… considering that it was labor and delivery (for those of you who have not had the opportunity to squeeze a human being through your body, past your internal organs and out a hole that somehow is just never big enough… I’ll spare you the grisly details.  I’ll tell you when you are older, or perhaps when I am drunk.) Then the magic moment came when my daughter sprung forth… actually she sort of oozed forth… from my loins.  The nurse immediately placed this sweet, tiny (albeit screaming) baby on my chest and I finally stared into her beautiful blue eyes and felt… really fucking tired.  I was expecting to feel fireworks, or a sparkly magical connection, or at least somewhat like a mother.  I didn’t.  What I felt was definitely joy, but it was tempered with disbelief and pure exhaustion.

I felt as though I were outside of my body, looking down at myself.  Looking down at a mom who had an ecstatic husband and the most beautiful baby in the world, but who didn’t know what to do with it all.  I felt numb.  And because I felt numb, I felt fear.  What if I didn’t love my baby as much as I should?  What if I wasn’t cut out to be a mom? What if I had postpartum depression? What if this whole thing was a mistake? And because I felt fear, I also felt guilt.  I guess that was when I should have known that I was truly a mom.

For those of you who are judging me right now, try to give me a break.  God knows I didn’t give myself one. But let’s take an honest look at the situation.  When you give birth to a baby, you top off the most tiring and uncomfortable ten months of your life  (TEN MONTHS, NOT NINE. 40 weeks. Do the math) with the final month of total discomfort and pure exhaustion (it’s really hard to sleep when you have to pee all the time, every appendage is swollen to 3 times its normal size, and you have a baby doing zumba in your belly all night, every night).  The good news is that all of this leads up to the most physically demanding thing you have ever done, which, besides being a marathon of huffing, puffing, pushing and tearing (sorry),  almost always involves not sleeping for at least 24 hours.  Then, right away you get to start the toughest job you’ll ever have, working for the most demanding boss in the world.  I mean, if any other job required working around the clock, sleeping for only single hour stretches, and taking care of every single solitary need for a thankless boss prone to total meltdowns… the unions would be all over that shit.  I mean, I was up all night without sleeping, going through a very painful as well as physically and mentally demanding journey,  when suddenly this creature who has been in my belly for 10 months is laying on my chest, greedily searching for my boob as I lay there helpless as a rag doll.  So yes, I was tired.  And no, I didn’t have the immediate and earth-shattering connection I expected.

For those of you still judging me… go ahead.  I truly hope that you had or will have an immediate connection with your son or daughter.  Some people do.  But not everyone.  And not me.

What I can say is that as the day wore on, I started to come down from the high induced by extreme exhaustion, physical pain, drugs for that pain, the euphoria of finally seeing my baby, and the intense fear that comes from knowing that you are now 100% responsible for someone’s life… and that someone happens to be the most important person in the world.  And as I started to emerge from my fog, I started to submerge into my daughter.  The less I thought about the birth itself, the more I started to appreciate the miracle of it. I spent a lot of time examining the tiny little girl who was now semi-attached to my breast.  I studied her tiny hands… so much like mine but so very, very small.  The detail that went into making those hands in miniature was insane.  The tiny white crescent on her fingernails, no bigger than a swipe of a pencil.  The wrinkly little fingers, with a fingerprint 100% her own.  Her perfect little mouth.  Her teeny little nose.  Her big eyes, staring up at me as if they could see directly into my soul. And most amazing of all was her personality… even at birth, already more individual than her fingerprint.

From those moments in the hospital, when I should have been resting but couldn’t for the fear and excitement I felt, and from every moment afterward, my love has grown.  So my daughter and I might not have had fireworks right away, but as I have come to find out, we had something better.  We had a spark, just enough to catch fire.  Every single day it burns brighter than the last.  And this fiery love and my daughter herself have illuminated my life in ways I never thought possible.

Thank you my darling Lyla for not giving up on me that day.  And thank you for filling my life with more joy, more laughter and more poop… than I ever imagined.

Apr 122012
 

This coming week marks a few VERY special occasions:

1) My daughter turns 1 on the 17th. (Holy Shit)

2)  America’s Best Dance Crew is back on MTV (Randy Jackson.  Mediocre Dancing.  Music I am too old for.  What’s not to love?)

3)  One of my best friends is getting married.  Sure, that’s a momentous occasion (yay marriage.) but the real occasion is that my husband and I are going away together.  Alone. For the First Time.  (simultaneous “Gulp!” and “Yay!”)

While the biggest occasion (besides the return of ABC, obvi) is my daughter’s first birthday, I am still in denial of the fact that my baby is no longer a baby, so I am going to ignore this for at least another week until I am forced to deal with this because 60 people, including both sets of Grandparents, will be at my house to celebrate said occasion.  But for now, denial all the way.  So, what I am going to talk about today is our impending trip sans baby.

I have been away from my daughter for a girls weekend or two, and my husband has also been away a few times.  We  have left her with a baby-sitter more than a few times, and she goes to daycare twice a week.  After all this, we are just now finally starting to be able to leave Lyla without tearful goodbyes, incessant crying, and guilt-ridden angst.  (If only my husband could stop his weeping!  Jeez!) But this weekend marks the first time that my husband and I will BOTH be away from Lyla at the same time for longer than a few hours.  In fact, we will both be away from her for a whole weekend. Cue the guilt, weeping and angst (of my husband of course).

While I am beyond excited at the thought of an adults-only weekend and some quality couple time with my husband (which I truly think is important) I am having a tough time getting over my fears at the thought of leaving my daughter.  My wonderful parents have been tricked agreed to come to LA to stay with Lyla while we are away, so I know she will be in good hands.  Hell, my parents raised me and I still have all my limbs and teeth and most of my dignity and self-respect.  My mom, while not of the typical pie-baking, holiday-sweater-wearing, round-cuddly-bosomed variety of grandmother, couldn’t be sweeter with her, and Lyla adores her loud laugh and funny dances.  My dad has the patience of a Buddhist monk on Valium –  an important trait to have when dealing with a one-year-old, but one that he unfortunately did not pass down to me.  No, when it comes to leaving my baby, it is not my parents that I am worried about… it’s my parents’ daughter.

If you have ever met me, have ever read my blog, or have even made it this far into this particular post… you may have started to suspect that I am a worrier.  I make no claims to the contrary.  In fact, I wear my particular brand of crazy  like a badge of honor (Well, at least THIS particular brand of crazy.  There are a lot of crazy things that I keep secret… like the fact that I keep a small pair of scissors next to my computer so I can trim individual split ends while writing. What?)  So that being said, I am going to go ahead and put my fears about leaving my daughter out there for the world to see.  Deep breath…

– I am afraid that my daughter will miss me and my husband, and cry for us the whole time until we come back, thus driving my parents to thoughts of suicide… or worse… to thoughts of never wanting to babysit her again.

– I am afraid that my daughter will not miss me and my husband and not cry for us at all.

– I am afraid that I will miss her and worry so much that I can’t even enjoy the weekend away.

– I am afraid that I will not miss her and not worry, but instead have so much fun that I don’t want to come home.

– I am slightly worried that she will choke on a piece of food;  eat something poisonous; get sunburned; eat a coin that has fallen on the floor and choke; slam her fingers in the door; open up the baby-proofed toilet and drown; open up the baby-proofed cabinets and drink dishwasher detergent; pull down a glass of hot coffee onto herself; fall down and poke her eye out on the corner of something sharp; fall down on something sharp and disfigure herself; somehow eat a peanut and have a severe allergic reaction; get hit by a drunk driver that has driven his car through our front window, while she plays innocently in front of it.

– I am also a little bit worried that my parents will drink all my good wine. (Just kidding Mom and Dad, you are welcome to all the wine you want. ) (Except for the really good stuff hidden in the cabinet… I mean, hidden somewhere you will never find.)

I have spent the past few days and, frankly, the past year worrying about these things, as well as stressing about packing, cleaning, preparing copious notes for my parents etc.  Then last night, in the middle of my stress, my daughter once again proved why she is the parent and I am the one-year-old.  As I was racing around the house like a bat out of hell with its head cut off (have you ever seen one of those?  They’re crazy) my daughter was watching a dvd of nursery rhymes.  She looked so cute dancing there by herself, with her fat little diapered butt going up and down and her chubby starfish hands waving, that I had to stop what I was doing and pick her up to dance with her.  Then she laid her head on my chest and we swayed together for a bit.  Getting tired but not wanting to break the spell (my crazy little toddler rarely sits still for longer that 2.2 seconds, let alone lets me snuggle her for that long) I laid down on the couch with her still on the my chest.  We watched the dvd together… well she watched the dvd and I watched her.  But the best part was that every few minutes she would look up at me and smile, like she too realized how special this moment was.  Like she understood that I was going away for a few days and she wanted to spend this extra bit of time with me too.  As I sat there stroking her head, I realized that just as I had to take the time to live in this moment with my daughter, I had to do the same this weekend without her.  Life goes by so fast that we have to enjoy every second of it.

So, as I spend the day preparing to leave for the weekend and readying to leave my baby, I am trying not to worry and not to stress.  I am going to enjoy the weekend alone with my husband, and let my parents enjoy the weekend alone with Lyla… and possibly alone with my good wine.

Apr 052012
 

I was going through some of my old writing the other day and I found this short list of “Ironies of Pregnancy” that I constantly added to throughout my pregnancy.  Re-reading it made me laugh… then I remembered that at some point in time we will try to have another baby and I will have to deal with most of this again, and I STOPPED LAUGHING.

But hopefully it makes you laugh, whether it reminds you of your own pregnancy, or you are currently pregnant and going through some of this now.  If you are not pregnant, have never been pregnant, or happen to have a penis – which, lucky for you, makes you exempt from these symptoms… then read on anyway and gloat about the fact that you don’t have to deal with this… for now.

THE IRONIES OF PREGNANCY

1) I can’t drink, yet I constantly feel hung-over.

2) My boobs are suddenly stripper-big, yet they hurt so bad that no one – including my husband – is allowed to come within 7 1/2 feet of them.

3) I am completely exhausted but not allowed to drink coffee.

4) I have a constant headache but cannot take ibuprofen.

5) I am consistently nauseous but also ravenously hungry.  

6) Suddenly I have acne, but I am not allowed to use any kind of acne medication.  The only thing worse than having acne is having acne AND wrinkles.  And a giant belly.  And swollen hands and feet.  And a fat ass.

7) Pregnancy misconception:  That pregnant “glow” is actually a sheen of sweat on my face after vomiting violently.

8) When I got my bellybutton pierced at 18, my mom said I would regret it.  For nearly 15 years, I laughed at that.  Now, every time I look in the mirror, the stretched-out gaping hole of my piercing appears to be laughing at me.  Well… either laughing, yawning or screaming.

9) I was prepared to change diapers. I wasn’t prepared to have to wear them.

10) There are so many things that I need to do to prepare for the baby, yet I just can’t seem to remember what they are right now… wait… what was I saying?  Where are my keys?

11) At nine months preggers, the hardest thing to do is get out of bed, yet I have to pee every hour.  I spend 5 minutes hoisting myself out of bed (crane anyone?); 3.5 minues waddling to the bathroom; 2 minutes lowering myself down onto the toilet seat; 3 seconds actually peeing; 2 minutes cursing my bladder for constantly tricking me into thinking I have to pee, then only squeezing out a few drops; 3 minutes hoisting myself back up from toilet seat; 3.5 min waddling back to bed; 5 more min to lower myself back down into bed (seriously, Crane.  anyone?); 1 min realizing that this entire sequence will repeat itself in 35 minutes.

12) I spent my entire pregnancy eating all the right things so that my baby would grow, grow, grow.  Now, I realize that this baby has to somehow come out of my vagina … um… any recipes to get my baby to shrink, shrink, shrink?

13) A baby the size of a watermelon is about to come out of a hole the size of a grape (well now a lemon – can’t. think. about. that.) yet my biggest fear is that I am going to poop on the table.  (editor’s note:  I did NOT)

14) I haven’t even met my daughter yet – in fact, most of her interactions with me thus far have been in the form of painful kicks and jabs and an irritating push on the bladder or two – but somehow I love her more than I have loved anything.  More than I even thought possible.

Rereading this list reminds me of all of the things I hated about being pregnant… the physical discomforts, the embarrassing side effects, the frustrating lists of dos and don’ts. The truth is that I really didn’t like being pregnant at all.  But I think the most interesting part of the list is that last one. It is strange to love someone so much when you haven’t even met them yet.  That kind of love never happens except when you are waiting to meet your child (and also with Ryan Gosling.  I don’t need to meet him to love him. My husband is just lucky he met me first!)  What I couldn’t have known then was that the love I felt was just the tip of the iceberg – my love would continue to grow exponentially every single day.   That kind of love is worth every inconvenience, heartburn and heartache.  It is worth not drinking for 10 months (If you know me, you know that means a lot.)  It is even worth pooping on the delivery table in front of a room full of strangers (which, I repeat, I did NOT).  That kind of love is worth anything.

Apr 042012
 

“O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my sense in forgetfulness?”

-William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I

I am pretty sure that this the elegant way of saying, “C’mon Sleep!  What the fuck!?”

Mar 292012
 

You know the saying, “You can’t turn a ho into a housewife”? Well, besides being totally derogatory, it’s also completely untrue.  I know many a former “ho”  (at least by some people’s standards) who have turned into great housewives and amazing mothers.  So that myth is debunked (you’re welcome) but what I discovered to be true while in Las Vegas a couple of weekends ago, is that you can’t turn a housewife into a ho.

The occasion was a bachelorette party.  I prepared for the trip by getting my hair cut and highlighted for the first time in 6 months, ordering a new dress (see  No Longer 21), getting a neon pink mani/pedi and a brazilian bikini wax – which had also been a while and is not something you want to wait too long on. Yeowch! (btw… NEVER again).  I took off to Las Vegas with a suitcase full of my “sluttiest” clothes and all the high-heels and make-up I never wear, a trashy magazine to read, and very high expectations of finding my former “young, fun, party-girl”self.

I did get to wear my make-up and high heels (The first night. The second night my poor feet were aching so bad that I opted for function over fashion and chose my sensible shoes.)  I did get to wear my “slutty” dresses, although my tightest dress was dubbed “classy and elegant” by my girlfriends.  I even got to read my trashy magazine on the plane (which anyone who is used to traveling with a baby knows is a huge luxury).  What I did not get to do was to recapture the “glory days” of my young, fun self.  I guess that once you are mom, you are always a mom… no matter how many shots you take or male strippers you grope.

Here are the top 6 reasons why I am too old and momish for Las Vegas:

6) I call it ” Las Vegas”.  Apparently like P.Diddy,  Las Vegas has now become just Vegas.

5) I alternated between dancing on the banquette, and watching my friends dance on the banquette while freaking out to anyone who would listen about how dangerous it is to dance on the banquette.

4) I spent most of the night talking about my baby, showing pictures of my baby, and singling out other people at the bars who had babies and were pathetic enough to talk about them with me all night.

3) I chased everyone around before bed (at 5 am, my baby’s current wake-up time), force-feeding them Advil to prevent hangovers.  (ps. it did NOT work)

2) I drunk dialed my husband at 4 am. (wisely he had turned his ringer off)

1) And the number one reason why I am too old for Las Vegas:  When I returned home on Sunday night –  exhausted, shaky, nauseous, and with a major headache – My daughter decided that it was the night to sprout a new tooth and was up almost every hour before waking up for good at 5 am.  The truth is that even if I was successful in recapturing the past, eventually I have to return to the present.  And the present with a hangover is no gift at all.

I don’t blame Las Vegas.  It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than it is. (Except for that time when it masqueraded as a place where you take your kids…. I’m looking at you Treasure Island.)  I blame myself for thinking that a tight dress and a few tequila shots would transport me back to a time before I had a husband and kids.  Before I had responsibilities bigger than making sure that my friends’ dresses weren’t tucked into their underwear.  While I do blame myself for my naivety, I am also pleasantly surprised to discover that while the past was amazing, like Las Vegas, it’s somewhere I  no longer want to be.