Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tell Me Something Good!

This morning while finishing-up my whole grain Cream of Wheat and blueberry bran muffin (yep, no constipation with this pregnant lady) a Huggies' commercial came across my television screen.  A female actress comes running out of what I presume is the bathroom holding a white stick in her hand waving it crazily in the air while screaming to her actor husband who is standing outside of the house, "Honey, we're pregnant."  The man comes running into the house hastily grabbing his wife while they shriek with excitement about the new addition coming to their family.  I just laughed at the commercial.  That was SO not me when I found out I was pregnant.

I spent the first fourteen weeks sulking in agony over the all-day sickness I was having and wallowing in self-pity over every aspect of the life I knew and loved that was going to end when this child I was carrying arrived into the world.  I made a decision I would not share our news over any social media site...EVER!  My growing belly and expanding waistline, my anger over the pregnancy and the fear of potential miscarriage all lead to a life of misery for the first trimester.  In addition, I decided I would not read one blog about becoming a Mom and would absolutely NOT buy "What to Expect When You're Expecting" or any other pregnancy book for that matter.  I'm old now, which by default means many women have gone before me on this journey, so I decided to rely on my friends to give me the information I wanted to know once the pregnancy sunk in.

In mid-September I had a meeting in Beaver Creek, CO, where one of my favorite customers told me she read "What To Expect..." front to back and had the whole book memorized by the time her son was born and highly recommended it.  That's about the time I felt the baby move for the first time and was able to accept we were going to be parents and truth be known, was actually very excited.  At that point I decided to rethink my first trimester boycott on pregnancy materials and devoured everything I could get my hands on...Mommy blogs, Jenny McCarthy's books, Vicki Iovine's "The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy," “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” and I asked every mom I knew what she thought I should know about pregnancy and motherhood.  Perhaps this is where I went wrong...

By in large, everything I've read or have been told are horror stories of being pregnant, giving birth and how incredibly "awful" the first part of motherhood really is.  What people will say either in conversation or put into writing always begins with, "Let me tell you how it really is..." or “I wish someone would have told me…” If I had a dollar for how many times I've read or heard how someone's husband is a complete "asshole" I would be a millionaire.  REALLY?  I wouldn't call my husband that name even in our worst argument (after all he is the father of my child and the man I chose to spend my life with).  I'm sure some men are unhelpful, especially during the first weeks postpartum, but isn't he trying to adjust to the new life with the child like I am?  I would hate to think Gayland is with his friends or typing blogs calling me a “bitch” all the time. 

I also keep reading or being told, "Your life will never be the same" or "Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life" and "The sleep deprivation will just about kill you"...OK!  I get it!  My life is about to be absolute hell on earth! My bosoms are going to hurt like hell when the milk comes in, sleeping in two hour increments is torturous, the baby is going to cry all the time, etc., etc, etc...shall I continue?

Imagine if, while we were preparing for our trip to New York, all I heard from those that had gone before us was horror stories about the city like.... everything is so expensive, the tables in restaurants are on top of each other, public transportation is scary, the weather is unpredictable, lines at tourist locations are long and unreasonable, New Yorkers are rude and obnoxious, everyone smokes and OH, by the way, you're going to go into labor while you're there, your child will almost die, you will spend the majority of your savings on a 2.5 month extended vacation and be forced to go on bed rest...Yea, we would have really looked forward to that trip!  In some cases, ignorance is bliss.  

I've spent the last three weeks in my counseling sessions agonizing about all of the negativity I've read and am being told about what is coming our way in the next few weeks!  I want to SCREAM from the rooftops, "Can someone PLEASE just tell me what is good about not only childbirth but also this little life that is about to be part of our family?"  For those that have paved the path before us on the journey to parenthood, my gosh, tread lightly with all the stories!  It's good to tell pregnant women some of the challenges facing us but it's equally important to relay all of the great things that you've encountered with your child/children as well.  We (first-time pregos) will read all about how it "really is" in books, blogs, birthing/lactations classes and through our medical professionals.  Dang, if it’s that bad why on earth would any body want to have a family?  I can hear the naysayers now, “Man, she is so naïve.”  GOOD!  There’s nothing wrong with a little naivety if things are truly as bad as everyone says they will be. 

May I make a recommendation, please?  As friends, let the pregos asking the questions know that yes, things will be hard a first but the joy you see when looking into your child's eyes far out weighs all the trials and tribulations you faced.  Your kind words might just make this journey a little more enjoyable for those of us still going through it.  And for those few women that have told me how great it is to be a Mom, THANK YOU…your kind words are what I hold on to while the rest of the world tells me my life is about to end.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Just Like My Husband

Having a baby, especially for the first time, is exciting/scary/emotional/intimidating/humbling and every other emotion in between.  For us, we have the added element of surprise since we don't know the baby's gender.  We made a conscious decision to not find out the baby's sex based on our doctor's recommendation and never looked back.  When all hell broke lose in October we became even more adamant about not finding out the sex the more sonograms we had and the longer the added stress existed.  If the baby would have been born at 24, 28, 30 weeks we would have had an uphill battle to fight but at least we would have had a moment of happiness finding out if Baby P was a he or she.

Now that we are approaching 37 weeks, we feel fairly confident the Sweet P will be healthy and are still excited to find out the sex.  Having this element of surprise left keeps me secretly praying we have a boy.  I love letting people guess what they think the baby is going to be and the reasons why they "know" it's either a boy or much fun!

Regardless of the gender, I pray loudly and openly this child comes out and is my husband made over.  As I've watched and loved him over the past (almost) four years, there are so many qualities about this man that I wish I possessed myself.  Less is about his looks, though I think he is hotter than a Texas habanero, and more is about his approach to life.  

1.)    He is a consummate optimist.  Never a negative thought enters his mind that something bad might come from an obstacle we face. I, on the other hand, only see the worst possible scenario that could ever come even if that scenario is so far from statistically possible from really occurring.  
2.)    He is calm and I am anxious and high-strung.  If we were going off to war and on the front lines of a battlefield I would want him leading the charge.  He never gets his feathers ruffled even when doomsday seems to be upon us.  
3.)    He has a small but very tight-knit group of friends that he is dedicated and loyal to.  Most of these men have been in his life for 15+ years and stand by each other through thick and thin.  My circle of friends at times is probably too large and I expect more than most are able to give which leaves me feeling hurt and angry.  
4.)    He is the master at a work-life balance.  He works incredibly hard during the day but when the day is done, he is focused on family.  Not me!  I have my computer, phone and any other device that gives me internet access going all the time and do whatever it takes to make sure I'm on top of my game...even when I'm on medical leave.  Yes, ambition is good but not when it gets in the way of what's most important, family.  

There is one trait we both share and that is undying and unconditional love for each other.  I do hope Baby P gets that gene and then some as this is one asset I wouldn’t mind sharing with my child.

But, what is most likely to happen is that karma is a bitch and I will end-up with a girl that will be just like her mother.  I will spend the rest of my days looking at myself through the eyes of my daughter and hoping and praying she ends-up just like her father who is a better person than I will ever be on my best day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Changing Perspective

Question:  Has your perspective on one or many topics recently wavered due to a life event:  marriage, divorce, parenthood, death of a loved one, negativity on TV, etc.?  I'm not sure if my hormones are to blame or if everyone goes through the changes I'm experiencing when they are a month or less away from becoming a parent!  

Over the past week, the same blog post title kept entering my conscience though the actual subject matter has morphed into something other than what I intended to originally write about.  The entire post was going to be about a woman I met last week and what she has gone through being a single mom of a 10-month old little boy who has two holes in his heart.  Having a child with health concerns is enough to make anyone crazy but where her story inspired me is that she is a single Mom by choice and made the decision to not take any sort of assistance from either the government or Good Samaritan type organizations that often help those with financial restraints.  She works in the nail salon where I get manicures and pedicures and is on commission.  I can only assume she doesn't make much money but has chosen to save what she does make and take care of her son.  It was amazing to hear her story, told in such a manner that she was not looking for praise or sympathy but rather very "matter-of-fact" about how she lives her life.  The only "help" she does receive is through a local church in the form of emotional support.  This church has a mentor program that pairs people with certain "needs" together with a member of the congregation.  She and her mentor meet on a monthly or bi-weekly basis for lunch to talk through her concerns as being a young, single mom.  

"So, she's a single parent and doesn't get welfare, who cares," some of you may ask?  I grew up in a part of Texas where people fall into a cycle of abusing services provided by government, etc. because that's all they know.  We also live in a society where the majority of people live beyond their means so when something happens in their lives where they lose financial ability to support not only themselves but their families, they rely on others to pull them through.  I was simply inspired by the fact this woman lives her life the way she does and it gave me a new perspective about our situation with Baby P.  Just about the time you think you're going through a difficult time, inevitably you will meet someone that has it ten times worse than you could imagine on your worst day.

Now, back to my "changing perspective" theme for this post.  I can't help but find myself feeling a wide array of emotions and having very definitive thoughts about things that used to not bother me at all...Using generalities here, I don't understand how people can get so caught up in being for or against a specific side of a subject that they let their “views” get in the way of what could potentially be best for most Americans.  When did our society become so incredibly divided and either super right-winged or super left-winged?  And why do athletes lie, cheat, bully and hurt others for the sake of fame and fortune?  And as fans, why are we not mad as hell that they do it and so quickly continue supporting them after the media hype has settled down?  Is this what our kids should aspire to...To have a life built on lies, violence, cheating & bullying others to get their way and "win"?  And how can thousands of people get murdered every day and we can't have an open discussion about not only mental health issues, video game violence but ALSO some sort of gun control?  *And for the record here, I grew up shooting guns and am a current gun owner so I'm NOT against guns or the 2nd Amendment. *  I have so many questions that rattle around in this 'ole brain of mine and make me crazy!  For whatever reason, I can’t seem to find a pleasing answer to any of them!

Maybe all of these feelings are now because these are subjects we are about to address for the first time in our own lives so I'm feeling more passionately about them or perhaps, it's just the state of the world we live in with constant access to information.  The only thing I know for sure is I try my hardest to give everyone a chance to speak their mind and earnestly try to appreciate where they are coming from even if their views differ from my own.  As the old saying goes, God gave us two ears and one mouth for a listen more and talk less.  I'm still a work in progress but I feel like it allows so many great, new conversations and people into my life living this way.  Believe me, my perspective on most of these topics has drastically changed over the past year or so.  I’m beginning to wonder, am I crazy or what?  What are your thoughts and did you or have you experienced a shift in thinking recently?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Leslie Paffe, the next National Geographic Cover Model

I've been told by many reputable sources once this child is born I won't have time to shower, much less blog about my experience as a new Mom so while I still have idle hands I'd like to share what my feelings, emotions and thoughts are at the juncture of our ongoing journey to parenthood.

Today I'm 35 weeks pregnant and while we're thrilled the "P" has not made an entrance yet, I am completely over the whole pregnancy thing at this point.  In the words of my doctor, "I cannot believe you are still pregnant!" Well, that makes three of us sister and if I had to guess, a whole slew of other folks feel the same way.  It is a miracle I'm thankful to have but my gosh, what in the hell is happening to my body?

I remember fondly while in New York taking my hand-held mirror and looking at myself from behind in a full-length mirror and noticed my legs (which have not had a work out in close to three months now) did not have any cellulite on them.  Having constant and nagging weight concerns during this pregnancy, I commented to Gayland what a pleasant surprise that was.  Being the smart and kind man that he is, a gentle smile and kind nod smiled back at my comment.  OK, At least that's what I thought at the time!  When we got back to Austin and I was in the privacy of my own bathroom with natural and fluorescent lighting streaming through the window and out of the ceiling, I completed the same exercise and damn near hit the tile floor in disbelief of what I saw!  NO CELLULITE??  Yea right!  That stuff is large and in charge on this pregnant body!  How flippin' gross!  Damn lighting and damn cervix for failing me in my time of need!  Good gracious!

Then yesterday while dressing for our first "Birthing Class" I was standing in the same natural light with a stream of fluorescents beaming down on my large, round body and had a revelation...I could be the next cover model for National Geographic!  You know those women they feature periodically from remote parts of the Brazilian rainforest that belong to a tribe of people anthropologists thought were extinct off the planet hundreds of years ago?  You know who they are...the tribal women wear a scrap of leather around their waists held up with a string of tree trunk (except they have pretty legs because they haven't been sitting on their fat asses for the last three months) and due to a lack of breast support have bosoms that hang to the middle of their stomachs and look like Chiquita bananas?  Yea, I'm that girl right now!  So, if your the National Geographic photo editor and are in need of a model for the February issue, I'm you're girl and you don't have to endure the bugs and heat of the rainforest to find me!

I hesitate to post the positives for fear the one thing I have that is keeping me going will mysteriously appear in the next few weeks so I'll quickly type with my fingers crossed behind my back...I'm thankful the stretch marks have stayed strategically placed on my hips where they have been for many, many years and have not moved to other parts of my body!  *Knock on wood!

To add insult to injury, last night was our first "Birthing Class" and I knew we would walk in to the room and I'd see that stupid pregnant lady that I'd want to punch and yep, there she was!  Tall, blonde, skinny legs, skinny hips, perfectly round bump placed upon her mid-section like a Pea In The Pod model, wearing a cute little black skirt with her thongs placed perfectly in the crack of her rear where the rest of us could see how small her butt also was (and I'm not kidding here) and a skin-toned top that only accentuated the fact she was gorgeous.  Barf!  On the contrary, here I come waddling in (and yes folks, the waddle in New York wasn't anything compared to my waddle in Austin) with my black long-sleeved shirt with multi-color scarf over my bosoms to hide the fact the only thing comfortable to wear now is a nursing bra that doesn't have padding or support (use your imagination to figure out what that looks like if I get the slightest bit cold), dark brown corduroy pants that rub together so hard when I walk that my thighs could start a fire that would warm up all of Queens, NY.  I just wanted to cry!  Granted, most of the people in our class our about six months pregnant and I'm allowing the fact next week I'll be nine months pregnant to excuse all of the weight I've gained.  

I won't bore you with the gory details of what my back now looks like, heat rash ever present under my arms or the fact my face is so round I don't recognize myself most of the time!  I guess this is all part of the privilege of being beats the alternative we were facing two months ago...

To sum it up, pregnancy has not agreed with me in any shape, form or fashion!  I have much more to say about the birthing class and my feelings as we sat through three hours of learning what is about to go down in the ATX when this child is born but…I digress…I’m holding on to the hope that once they put they baby up on my chest and Gayland and I get to see what we thought we were going to lose, all of this won’t matter any more!