Surreal Family Planning

Harken yourselves back to my four week post partum appointment where my OBGYN asked if I wanted birth control and I laughed in his face politely declined his generous offer and he warned me that stranger things have happened than an infertile getting pregnant unexpectedly.

No, stop panicking, I’m not pregnant. I have not had a real scare. Put the torches away.

But three women in my birth club are pregnant already. Which I’m not going to comment on any further than that.

I do not want to be pregnant right now. I have a lot of reasons for it, which I’m happy to list:

1. It’s better for your body to have 12-18 months after delivery to recover.

2. I am invested in having Charlie’s first year be just hers, and not have her sharing that with a pregnancy that could be anywhere from perfectly fine to absolutely debilitating

3. I don’t feel like I am the person who could care for two kids under two. I mean I’m sure I’d figure it out, but it’s not my dream scenario.

4. I know that a pregnancy can affect breastfeeding your current child, and I’m committed to breastfeeding Charlie for 12-18 months, less if she self-weans.

5. My house, while it seemed big before I had one baby, is definitely not big enough for two.

So yeah. For the first time in….a while, I do not want to be pregnant. I do not want an accidental pregnancy. And at the time saying no to birth control seemed like the right thing because I’M INFERTILE. And breastfeeding for goodness sakes.

So we just haven’t been worrying about it. And last Saturday night we didn’t worry about it.

And then Monday I had EWCM and cramps.

Now I, of ALL people, know that hormones are a tricky, tricky beast, and you can have all manner of signs without actually ovulating. God how many times has that happened to me before? Also, Saturday to Monday? That’s quite a gap. Only in the fertile world would that be a viable pregnancy window. But it didn’t matter. I panicked a little bit.

And yet it didn’t keep me from, ahem, not worrying about it again this past Saturday night (apparently that’s our new night).

What is wrong with me? I DO NOT WANT TO BE PREGNANT. I feel like there is something psychological about this. Like I do NOT WANT TO TAKE THE PILL. And buying condoms just seems wrong. But, see above re: I DO NOT WANT TO BE PREGNANT.

All I can figure is that after trying to get pregnant for so hard and so long, I have a mental aversion to birth control. And I also feel stupid for even worrying about it because I have a hormonal imbalance (PCOS) that has prevented me from getting pregnant. And endometriosis. It feels like the height of huberus to assume that that’s just fixed now. The deal is that I realize it’s NOT. I just also realize that….it could be. That story of the unicorn woman who went through fertility treatment to get pregnant and finally have a baby ONLY TO THEN GET PREGNANT THREE MONTHS LATER is too prevalent to not be true occasionally.

So, huberus or not, I think I’m going to have to reopen the discussion of birth control before I get myself into a situation that is not in the better interest of my family. I want another baby, and obviously if we did have an accident we would embrace it and it would be a blessing, but I would mourn Charlie’s first year, which feels like OUR first year.

I welcome comments on this post as with any post, but I do want to say that I know we all have different ideas of what is best in regards to child spacing. Please keep in mind that this post is what is best for me and my husband and child, and is not a reflection on my thoughts towards any of you.

 

Misconceptions about being a SAHM

Since becoming a SAHM I’ve discovered that people have some real misconceptions about the gig. I was some of those people!

1.My house will always be clean! Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. And some of it could be that I am a SAHM who also works, so I’m spending the four hours a day that Charlie is either napping or playing or swinging on her own chained to my computer. I’m also not ashamed to say that if I’m done with my work by the afternoon nap then I will often nap with her because I’m doing a lot of night parenting (sleep training just isn’t for me I’ve decided) so an extra nap can really help. So my house is a bit messy, but it’s still cleaner than it has any right to be because when I do clean I bust my tail at it.

2. I will NOT be one of those moms who wears PJ’s all day. Uh, as I type this, I’m wearing a towel. Before that it was a nightgown. And I don’t even sleep in nightgowns because I prefer easy access for night breastfeeding, so, uh, I don’t sleep in much. I literally get up and put on a night gown as my work uniform of the day.

3. Please don’t ask me to sell anything. Since becoming a mother I’ve been offered gigs selling: Jamberry, Rodan and Fields, Usborne Books (the most tempting) and Plexus. Please don’t. Please please please. And please don’t give the illusion of wanting to “check in and see how you’re doing with the baby!” and make me actually call you on the phone WHICH I HATE, to then find out that you’re doing a sales pitch. Being a SAHM does not make me a sales person. Every. Single. Person. who has pitched a product to me to sell has said “I thought of you FIRST because you’re a SAHM!” I don’t judge people who are selling this stuff-I’m wearing Jamberry on my toes right now, but if I want to sell it I’ll ask you. I know how these things work.

And if I here “It sells itself! You get a lexus!” one more time….

4. I won’t need much from my husband in regards to housework. This has been the most disappointing for me personally. I really thought I could handle all the housework. And before I was actually WAH, I was handling it, but like I said above, it’s really hard to fit it all in, so I’ve had to ask Chief for more help than I expected, and I hate asking. I want him to just see that I’m drowning in laundry and pitch in, but he’s not that type. He never minds helping, but he isn’t a self-starter on these things because he doesn’t care if our dining room is full of towels and baby clothes and underwear. I, on the other hand, do, so I’ve had to have a few chats about this issue. He always agrees immediately that he knows I need more help, I just need it to have some sticking power.

5. I will read at least three books to Charlie a day! I wish I could say that this was happening. And I do read to her a lot. We’ve done over 200 books since she’s been born, so that’s not nothing. But it’s not every day. And sometimes it’s not three books. Sometimes it’s five books! Sometimes it’s only one. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. And I stress about this more than anything else actually, because I KNOW the benefits to reading to her every day. So I need to be better.

6. I will never let Charlie sit in her swing because I’m too busy. The kid only likes her playmat so much, and she can’t stay in the jumperoo more than 25 minutes a day, so sometimes she just has to go in the swing when I have thirty minutes or work left to do, or when I need to freeze the three days of pumped breast milk in the freezer, or move the laundry. Sometimes I just have to let her swing, and luckily we’re in a serious and loving relationship with our swings. She is seriously digging them. So I’m taking advantage.

7. We will go out and do stuff all the time! We do go out some. I try to go to baby storytime every Thursday (but my battery was dead in my car yesterday, so I missed it and I was really bummed). But honestly it is so much easier if I wait until Chief is home to run errands. Doing everything by yourself with a baby is hard. Major props to single mommas out there.

8. I won’t miss my job. Most of the time this is true, but there are aspects of it that I miss. Sometimes an adult conversation would be nice, but I think the thing that upsets me the most sometimes is that there is no system of evaluation or appreciation. My house may look like a small scale disaster, but the only reason it doesn’t look like a disaster of epic proportions is because I work really hard. I do dishes every night, I cook almost every night, I do all of the laundry except Chiefs, and I vacuum/sweep three times a week because of pet hair. But at the end of the day it’s still a mess because BABY. There is no task completion because the task is never complete. I don’t get a yearly evaluation with a raise anymore, and that bit of validation is missed.

I still wouldn’t change my decision to be a STAHM, because my kiddo is the best job there is. But man, she is a lot of work!

I could talk about…

How aggravating my family is in so many regards. How I’m tired of being criticized for not letting my baby cry enough. How OUTRAGEOUS it was that my sister not only posted pictures of my baby today without my permission, but made them her profile picture which is  A PUBLIC PHOTO. I could also talk about how my dad took her side and then denied it.

But instead, I’m just going to share these family pictures we had done, because my girl makes my heart sing. I never understood that phrase before, but I do now.

I have another post in me about birth control soon, so that’s coming up.

I need to tap into the hive

Okay, I’m not sure, but it’s possible I’ve already ruined my child.

A few months ago you probably remember me posting about Charlie getting fussy with Chief. This has mostly improved. She doesn’t instantly fuss when he comes home and he can really get her giggles going. Sometimes she just wants me but we figure that’s normal because I am with her constantly.

However, at night I am the only one Charlie wants, and it may be a problem. Just to give you an idea of our evenings, here’s how it goes:

At around 7:00 give or take we get started with bath time. We take turns with this and she enjoys it equally with both of us (maybe more with Chief honestly). Then we get her out and the crying starts-she really loves the tub and never wants to leave. She gets diapered and lotioned and dried off and stuff. Then I take her into our room (where she still sleeps) and put her in her sleepsuit. She cries through all of this. Then I lay down with her and nurse her. She either falls asleep or gets really sleepy. Either way I put her in the pack n play and she 99% of the time does fine for a while.

Since the four month regression it’s hard to tell what comes next. Sometimes she’s up and crying in 45 minutes. Sometimes it’s 6 hours. More often it falls in the middle, and she wakes up around 11:00 ish. Tonight it was 9:45. She didn’t wake up straight up crying. She fussed in her pack n play for about ten minutes off and on. We carefully watched. Then when she started to cry Chief went back there. He tried for about 20 minutes of holding and walking and shushing, but she sobbed the whole time.

This is very typical. I know because we’ve tried a lot. She sobs until I can’t take it anymore and I come back and nurse her back down. We are not CIO people, and we don’t like this. We feel like even though she’s being held, it’s still a form of CIO. I’m not criticizing CIO, but it doesn’t feel right for us.

Tonight after I got her back down I talked with Chief. We both think this stems back to a few decisions we made early on:

1. When I got breastfeeding going when she was a week old, the LC told us to try and withhold bottles until she was at least a month old. But even at this point I didn’t give her one because I was afraid she would stop breastfeeding. She didn’t take a bottle really until 12 weeks when she started staying with my cousin once a week-but that’s all it was, once a week. And it was a battle most of the time. Now my cousin has a full time job and so she stays with chief one afternoon a week while I go to the firm, and she flat out won’t take a bottle. She basically goes on a hunger strike until we’re back together. It’s only a few hours at a time so it’s not harming her, but it would be easier on everyone if she would just take even a few ounces from a bottle.

2. I decided not to go back to work (with my husband of course-it was a joint decision), so now she spends 97% of her time with me (I did actually calculate it) every week and my husband is only present for probably 40% (I didn’t take the time to calculate that). They are only alone for 3% of her time. This is probably a problem.

3. When I decided not to go back I felt like I needed to prove that it was going to make Chief’s life so much easier by taking care of her any time she woke up in the night. So now for the past four months she’s only been taken care of in the night wake ups by me, and that is what she wants always.

All of these choices that I made early on I believe are leading to the situation now. What this means is that basically I can never go anywhere at night. Not until she’s weaned at least. That’s what it feels like now.

I’ve done some research and there are two schools of thought:

  1. Attachment parenting says that if I let her cry when Chief holds her it will lead to negative associations with Chief, which we do not want, and that we should always let her be with me when that’s what she wants.
  2. Conventional approaches say that if we keep trying eventually it will get better, but we can’t give in, meaning Chief has to tough it out and hold her through the sobbing. And I’m not just talking some tears, I’m talking full out sobbing, running out of breath, choking and spluttering.

We really don’t ascribe to one type of parenting, but we do feel like we’ve ended up leaning towards attachment styles inadvertently, just because it’s what has felt right. I talked to Chief tonight and just straight up asked him what he wants to do. He said he doesn’t want to let her cry in his arms for more than five minutes or so. I agreed. We both feel like past that point, the heavy crying is doing more harm than good. But this means that we really can’t go out at night until she’s weaned or we find some other way to resolve this. She’ll be five months old next week and we have still not been away from her for an evening. Neither of us is just hankering to get out, but we’re only five months in and that could change. And probably we need to be doing more to take care of our husband-wife relationship than we are.

I’m hopeful that when we start solids at 6 months I can let him take the lead on putting the food in front of her and helping her (although we’re doing BLW and it highly encourages independent eating-meaning not a lot of help from parents) so that when she starts to realize that food is nourishment, she’ll realize that her dad can help too.

I’m also thinking maybe I should try giving her a bottle once during the day so she gets used to it, and then maybe Chief could try at night. We tried a while back having him give her one at night before bed and it led to hardcore tears. So i think we need to lead up to it.

Does anyone have any advice? I’m a bit at a loss. Not letting our baby cry is what feels right, but I also don’t want to permanently stunt her relationship with her dad. Or my relationship with her dad. So I’m tapping into the hive for help.

So…help?

Sleep when the baby sleeps, cry when the baby cries?

Yesterday I hit my mothering low.

As I’ve mentioned on here, we’re pretty sure that Charlie is teething. It’s hard to tell for sure because it can go on forever without actually seeing a tooth, even under the gums, but she’ is super irritable and drooly. Her moods can switch on a dime from deliriously happy to furiously mad or sad.

Except yesterday she just woke up mad. This was coming off of the day before where I was bone tired because she had hardly slept the night before, so I hardly slept the night before. So yesterday she started out the day fussy, and no matter what I did it just went into a downward spiral. By noon she was full on sobbing, and sobbed for about an hour. I bounced, I swung, I sang, I nursed, I did gas drops and gripe water, I tried a breastmilk popsicle-I tried everything in our wheelhouse. I tried to take her on a walk but she wouldn’t stop flailing for me to put clothes on her. At one point I laid her down very carefully on the couch next to me and sat and sobbed with her. That made her stop long enough to look at me in confusion, and then start up again. I was frantically texting Chief because I didn’t know what to do. I was panicked. I finally decided I was just going to swaddle her, put her in our room in her swing in the dark, and lay in bed and see what happened. She cried for another five minutes and then stopped to watch the mobile above her and listen to the music. She slept for an hour which was the longest nap she’s had in about a week.

By the time Chief got home I was past my limit. I know that seems crazy, but she has NEVER cried like this. Ever. Not for this long, or this hard. Even when she woke up she was still fussy. And then last night it took two hours to get her into bed, and it also took a lot of crying. Again on her part, and mine.

I cried more yesterday than I have any day of her life.

And I went to bed feeling ashamed and weak. I’m supposed to be the strong one. I’m the mom-I’m supposed to just handle it.

But I woke up this morning thinking that I’m also human, and i had a very human day yesterday. Exhaustion and frustration finally found their way into my motherhood. And when I got to the point of feeling like I was going to burst, i did the only thing I could think of at the moment and put the baby down and cried to let out some of the pressure. Maybe that’s not so wrong. Maybe I don’t have to be a supermom. Maybe I am allowed to have a bad day, even though I have a kid now.

Today is better so far. I’m trying to force her to take more naps since she isn’t napping very long right now, so she’s had three already today and it’s only noon. I’m trying to just stay calm and happy when she cries and realize that if the laundry doesn’t get folded today literally no one will die. And I guess the good thing about hitting my low point was that there was no place to go but up today.

Let’s Get Real About the Mommy Wars

I’m sorry, this post has been brewing under my surface for a while and I really have to speak my truth on something.

The mommy wars are true to a certain extent. I do believe that. I do believe it’s overhyped, but that’s another post.

But here’s the thing: If you feel attacked for some decision you’ve made regarding your child (cosleeping, formula feeding, sleep training-really anything) and then as a way to “combat” the mommy wars you then go and tear down what the OTHER PERSON is doing, then you’re not combating the mommy wars. You’re BEING a combatant in the mommy wars.

I understand how much it sucks to feel like someone is judging you for a choice you’ve made that you genuinely feel is right for your family, but if the way you deal with that is then ripping apart the other side of it? That doesn’t make you the bigger person.

Here are some of the choices I’ve made for my daughter:

Exclusive breast feeding
SAHM
Cosleeping
BLW
Babywearing as much as possible
No sleep training
Disposable diapers

I could be judged for all of these. There is another side to all of these choices-and that side is fine. There’s nothing wrong with formula feeding, or being a working mom, or sleep training, or purees, or cloth diapers, or any of it. Nothing at all. My choices are not better than anyone else’s (except the people genuinely abusing their kids. My choices ARE better than those peoples). They are just better for MY family. And that’s okay. My family is not your family. We are allowed to be different.

So don’t be that person. That’s all I’m saying, because it doesn’t do you or anyone else any favors.

Editing

Did any of you ever watch Everybody Loves Raymond? I’m seeing a few hands go up in the back.

I’ve seen every episode. If you watched the series, you probably remember the ridiculous (ly funny) episodes surrounding Robert and Amy’s wedding (spoiler alert, Robert and Amy got married. Like ten years ago). Anyway, there are a lot of things that go wrong. Amy’s brother intentionally doesn’t pick up the priest to try and ruin the wedding. Marie stands up and gives a speech about how maybe they shouldn’t get married DURING THE CEREMONY. Frank was Frank.

By the time Robert and Amy make it to their reception they walk in like two shell-shocked scarecrows. Basically the whole thing was a disaster (as sitcom weddings are wont to be).

When it comes time for Ray to give his best man toast he talks about how the best thing Amy and Robert can do is employ some editing when they’re saving the memories of the day. Maybe forget about Marie interrupting the ceremony and Frank complaining about the lack of a free bar.

Ray finishes his toast with:

I remember my wedding day as the day that I got to kiss the most beautiful girl in the world. I think she remembers it. At least I hope she does. It was a good day. The start of a lot of good memories. We completely blotted out the part where Mom was hangin’ onto my pants leg yelling “Don’t go! don’t go!” Yeah. We didn’t save those pictures. Just the good ones. Just the good ones.”

Last night I was incredibly melancholy. Charlie is really officially seriously teething, so she spends a lot of the day yelling at me and just generally unhappy, and it’s the first thing that I can’t fix with a tight swaddle or a boob, or a nap. Teething just sucks. Cold stuff works for a minute or two. Then it doesn’t work. Teethers are the same. We’re not napping well, sleeping well, eating well. None of it.

And yesterday we spent literally the whole afternoon hanging baby pictures. I now have a wall of Charlie. And the pictures are all from our newborn shoot, when she was so tiny. And last night as I sat and stared at the wall of Charlie, I begin to miss that feeling in an visceral sort of way. I don’t want her to teeth, because I don’t want to lose that tiny baby gummy smile. Every moment and milestone is just a step away from the happiest second of my life, which is when she was put in my arms.

Here’s the thing-I miss my newborn. I don’t want ANOTHER newborn (at least not right now), I just want to go back 4.5 months and hold mine again. I don’t want a new baby, I want new baby Charlie.

And this probably sounds awful because I don’t want to trade 4.5 month old Charlie in for newborn Charlie, I just want to have magical time traveling power so that I can go back and hold her when she was that small again. I love 4.5 month old Charlie. I love her giggles and her smiles, and her cuddles and even her trickiness.

And I know that I have edited out so much about those early days. I’ve edited out the bathroom struggles, the breastfeeding heartache, the literal shaking that would occur when someone else held my baby too long. I’ve edited out the few nights we had where I didn’t know how to make her happy and I’d wake Chief up crying. i’ve edited out how scared I was. It’s all fuzzy. It’s on the cutting room floor. In a few more months I may not remember it at all.

Editing means that in a few months I probably won’t remember these early days of teething that are so hard on all of us. I won’t remember crying in the front seat of the car tonight because I can’t seem to make my girl happy right now. I won’t remember sitting melancholy on the couch desperate to feel newborn Charlie in my arms again. Editing means I’ll hold onto the good ones.

Just the good ones.