Why being a bad mom, isn’t bad

I’m a bad mom…but I’m damn good at it!

“Don’t let your baby sleep on his stomach!”…”Just do what you have to to get him to sleep!”…”Are you back at work already? Take more time to bond!”…”It’s been six weeks, when are you going back to work?”…”Oh, you’re a working mom?”…”Oh, you’re a stay at home mom?”… “So you’ve decided to breastfeed?”…” You’re not breastfeeding?”…

It’s enough to make your head spin and make you doubt yourself on a daily basis. I know I have. My seven-week-old son has been a joy to have. He is goofy and loves to smile at you. He loves nothing more than when he sees it’s time to eat and I’m taking out a boob for him or my husband is making him a bottle. If I am completely honest, becoming a mom has been the hardest transition of my life. Going from doing what I wanted, when I wanted to know that about every two hours I would have to feed my son, that I have another human being that fully depends on me and my husband for its life right now has been difficult, but we are getting the hang of it and our son is thriving.

It seems that no matter what decision I make for my son, there is someone who has something to say about it and it started before he was even born! When my due date was approaching and I was becoming extremely uncomfortable, I told a few close people that I had discussed inducing on my due date with my doctor. I was either met with positive affirmations that if I thought that was best for me and my doctor was okay with it, then it was great. There were also those who lashed back at me, telling me how I would regret it, that my body would decide when it was ready, that I would end up hating my birth experience if I went that route. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on how I was going to give birth, even my doctors! When the topic of pain management came up in an appointment, I told them I wasn’t sure, that I’d see how I felt when I went into labor; I wasn’t ready to commit to an epidural just yet (spoiler alert: I got an epidural). I was told that I was being a martyr and that I didn’t get bonus points for feeling all the pain. It wasn’t about that, though, it was about the fact that if I didn’t feel it was necessary, why would I have a needle stuck into my spine?

Who would I want at the hospital, or who would be told I was in the hospital would also be called into question. A co-worker had decided she had the right to tell the entire office every time I felt a twinge and even told everyone when I went to the hospital because I was having bad contractions that turned out to be false labor. She also decided that she had the right to be one of the first to know when I went into the hospital. Long before I was even thinking about giving birth, I decided that my father would be the only one to know when I was admitted. I didn’t want the pressure or people checking on me every ten seconds. I wanted to lay there and focus on what was happening and have that moment be private between my husband and I. This was, of course, met with criticism about how I would want others there with me, how I wouldn’t care who visited, that it wouldn’t matter. No, it did matter to me. Let’s be real, birth is messy. I was a wreck. I hadn’t showered, I was pretty much topless the whole time with how much my son wanted to eat and don’t even get me started on how many times I had to change the giant pad they gave me with how much blood there was. I didn’t want a parade of visitors while dealing with all that. I wanted that time for my husband and for myself to start our adjustment to parenthood.

Breastfeeding was another giant controversy. After my son was born, a nurse literally ripped my shirt down and started showing my son where my breast was, only after he had latched the first time did she think to ask if I wanted to breastfeed. Of course, I was all for it as it is best for the baby, it helps the mother a lot as well (and let’s be real, it’s free!) but, ask me before you grab my damn boob! Breastfeeding was easy for us. Other than the excruciating pain that comes along with it until you adjust to each other, my son had no problems latching and sucking and when the lactation consultant come in, she was perfectly happy with how we were doing and that was that. About two days after we took our son home, though, the cluster feeding began. For those of you who don’t know, cluster feeding is a baby’s way of upping his mother’s milk supply. It can last for HOURS…my son would be on my breast for six straight hours. My husband would sit up with me at night while this was happening trying to comfort me as I cried and cried from exhaustion and not understanding what was happening. That is when the discussion about a bottle began. at first, I didn’t want to give him one so soon. It was after my first big meltdown that we decided I would pump and my husband would take over one or two feedings at night.

The bottle brought on a whole new round of judgment, so much that I actually changed pediatrician TWICE. I am all for breastfeeding my son, it is a bond that I would not trade for anything in the world. But, when your body is giving out because it’s so exhausting and you’re mentally breaking down because you have to get up every hour and a half, it becomes extremely difficult. Once we told the pediatricians about this, we instantly got the lecture about how being on my breast was best for him and blah blah blah… I am surprised with how sleep deprived I was that I didn’t lash out at them for the judgment. My son was gaining weight like crazy after having dropped over 5% of is birth weight. He was still getting breastmilk, just from a different source and he was still on my breast about 85% of the time. Instead of letting them make me feel worse than I already did, I changed doctors. When the next one did the same thing, adding to the lecture how easy breastfeeding was once you got the hang of it, I again, said, nope, and changed doctors. Our third doctor has been very supportive, he has as baby about the same age as our son and seems to understand more the pressure and stress of breastfeeding and he didn’t even blink an eye when I told him we started giving our son formula a night because it meant he slept for 5+ hours instead of 2 hours.

Guilt has been a big thing for me. Mom guilt is REAL. I felt terrible when I would have breakdowns, I felt defeated when he would cry and I didn’t know what was wrong, I cried the first time he had a bottle and I put off giving him formula to help him sleep longer stretches for an extra three days because of how bad I felt. What I realized, though, there is no reason to feel guilty about it and in the end I realized, that everyone has an opinion on how I should raise my son, how I should feed him, who should watch him, when I should go back to work, if I should go back to work, how many vaccines he should get, what vaccines he should get…that list could go on for DAYS. In the end, I realized that the only people who had any say in how my son was raised were myself and my husband. If we want to give him formula to help sleep, I will, because we function better with more sleep, we are more alert, more attentive and less stressed out and I am a happier mom when I sleep. If I want my husband to take over a few feedings so I can run some errands on my own or get an extra few hours of sleep in, there is nothing wrong with that.

In the end, I came to a conclusion. I am a bad mom, but I am damn good at it.

Apparently alcohol is more important…

In my last post, I wrote about how ungodly terrible pregnancy has been, but I also wrote about how amazingly grateful I am that my little one is alive, healthy and is perfectly on track development wise. What else could any woman ask for?

When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately stopped consuming anything and everything that I even thought could be dangerous until I met with my doctor at eight weeks. Prior to confirming I was pregnant, since we had decided to start trying, I stopped drinking, besides the occasional drink at dinner, and I cut way back on my coffee consumption. So when I found out I was pregnant, it wasn’t hard for me to give up these things. No more alcohol, no more coffee, no more medications that weren’t safe, no more deli meat. Nothing. It was probably the deli meat that was hardest for me, because, well, who doesn’t LOVE sandwiches??? Don’t get me wrong though, there are times where I really wish I could have a drink, or a cup of coffee (really I am allowed a cup of coffee a day, but decided it would be healthier to just cut it out completely). There are also things that I love that I can’t have because of the danger to baby, poke for example, I love poke, it’s about the only raw fish I eat, but that isn’t in my diet currently and it kills me! Especially since all these new poke restaurants are opening up everywhere. Brie, I love brie, but soft cheeses aren’t safe, so no brie, no ricotta, no feta, no queso fresco. No caesar salad dressing, no salad dressing at all really because you never know which brand or restaurant uses raw egg yolks. That also cuts out any type of mayonnaise (not huge, replaced it with avocado!). This list of things I am not allowed to have could really go on forever.

For twenty weeks now, I’ve been without things I love to eat, either for baby’s health and safety or because of an aversion. Even through cravings, I have never once caved, I found ways to cope. Deli meat is only dangerous because of the way it is packed and how long it can sit around, it has a bacterial risk, so you heat it well, or you go to Subway and have it toasted (both ways my doctor approved), same with cheeses. When I first found out, I would give in occasionally and have a small cup of regularly brewed coffee until it no longer phased me to not have it. As far as alcohol goes, I have not touched it. Same goes for the medications I know I can’t have.

What kills me, is how some of the women in this world find it so terrible that they have to give up things because they are pregnant. The number of postings about people asking for advice on if they can have a glass of wine if they want… or a cigarette occasionally is just mind blowing. Then the debate begins (I stay out of it, just tend to read through them) on whether or not one glass of wine every few days could cause problems, whether fetal alcohol syndrome disorders can be caused by the occasional drink.

All I can think while reading these is, is it really worth it? I know some of these women’s pregnancies are unplanned, but the majority seem to be planned and to knowingly risk your baby’s health is just so beyond my comprehension. There is obviously some leeway here if you had a drink or two before you found out, but after you know, why risk it? Is alcohol really more important than the baby you are solely responsible for taking care of?

The part that really kills me, is the insensitivity these women have. For the first twelve weeks, it seemed there were one or two posts of women who lost their babies. It has dwindled down, but there are still posts every so often of women whose baby’s heart stopped beating. It just makes me think, is that one glass of alcohol really worth it? When so many women are left devastated and you are worried about having a glass of wine with dinner? Or a cigarette every now and then… I can understand slipping when it comes to food, having a sandwich, or having salad dressing…

…but is alcohol really more important than your baby?

Does anyone ever really tell the truth about pregnancy??

This has been a growing question of mine over the last few months as I am about to wrap up the first half of my first pregnancy. Now, I know the old saying, every pregnancy is different… but, can we be really honest and just examine the fact that almost everyone has the same symptoms, just varying degrees, some may have another symptom more often, or someone may skip one altogether, but when it comes down to it, there is a finite amount of symptoms that come along with pregnancy.

My first ten weeks were absolute hell. I will never try to hide that, I will never be one of those women who talk about how amazing pregnancy is. Yes, pregnancy is a gift, it is a miracle. There are thousands of women who struggle to have children naturally and I understand that and am very grateful for my baby. But, holy shit, no one told me how terrible those first ten weeks would be. I knew about morning sickness. I also knew that it was not limited to just the morning, but really, did it have to last 24/7 for ten weeks?? I really wish I was also exaggerating there also… it was dizzy spells, I would be looking at my computer at work and all of a sudden the screens would shift, or the words would start to do a wave pattern and I would find myself in the bathroom, trying to cool down and stop sweating. Best part? Never actually threw up. Just sat there, bent over a toilet wishing I would just get it over with, that I would just vomit and be done with the nausea for at least a few minutes hopefully, but that relief never came.

Non-stop nausea also led to a complete lack of eating. I just stopped eating. The smell of food cooking was terrible to me. If I did eat, it was cereal or raw vegetables that did have any smell to them. I actually lost ten pounds in the first ten weeks because I couldn’t force myself to eat anything. One night my fiance wanted to make me one of my favorite meals he does, simple sausage and peppers. As he started to cook, all I could smell was cinnamon french toast. Needless to say I did not eat that night. I haven’t had chicken breast since I got pregnantThere were nightly breakdowns, where my fiance would listen to me cry about how I couldn’t handle it and how I was a terrible person because all I wanted to do was cry and sleep all the time.

Next was the constipation. I’ve never experienced this before, pain that just radiated through my pelvis. I tried every over the counter remedy I could find that would hopefully help and absolutely nothing helped. Stomach pain, back pain, cramps… all wonderful side effects of constipation. The back pain was the worst, I would curl up in a warm bath (which in May, in Las Vegas is NOT so pleasant…thank you 100+ degree temperatures) and just do my best to not cry as my muscles as pulled and contracted and loosened in the most painful rhythm I have ever felt in my life. I was also so bloated that I couldn’t even fit into my normal clothes, even though I had lost weight, I was so bloated that the button on my pants actually broke at work and I had to go home during lunch to change. So. Much. Fun.

Just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, like I was going to break and never find a way to fix it, I woke up one morning and didn’t feel like throwing up. Bliss spread through me as it became easier to walk and function like a real person again. Then terror flooded through me as I started to wonder if something happened, there was just nothing as I came to twelve weeks. Impatiently I waited for my 12 week doctor’s appointment and the ultrasound that would confirm that my fear was nothing but that, fear. Thankfully it was just fear, I had just hit what so many call the “honeymoon” phase of the pregnancy.

“Honeymoon” was definitely an exaggeration though.  Yes, the nausea was gone, but the back pain doubled as I started to gain a bit of weight back. Whereas in my first few weeks I wanted nothing but more sleep, I find that most nights I need a Tylenol PM (cleared by my doctor of course) to get myself to sleep comfortably, and even then I found myself tossing and turning. I am attempting to use these body pillows, but find that I need to change sides too often and just get tangled and stuck and find myself more frustrated and irritated.

The “honeymoon” has also included terrible heartburn, headaches, runny nose, swollen feet and ankles, slightly blurry vision and shortness of breath. Oh, did I mention I cry over stupid things? I cried the other day because we went to a late dinner ( I worked late that night) and cried on the drive home because I was tired. Even though we were heading home for the night, just started crying because I wanted to go home and go to bed. Yeah, that’s normal (insert giant eye roll please).

What I just wrote was a giant list of terrible things about pregnancy. On my 12 week ultrasound I saw it’s heart fluttering away. Four weeks ago, at my 16 week appointment, I heard my baby’s heart beat for the first time. My fiance couldn’t be there for the 16 week appointment, so I ordered a doppler to use at home, surprising him with the sound of our baby’s heart. It brought him to tears. It still brings me to tears when I hear it. It really has to be my favorite sound in the entire world right now.

As I am writing this, I felt the little jerk kick me so hard it actually made my stomach move, the first time there has been strong enough movement for it to be possible to feel it from the outside. Which made me laugh so hard and I just wished my fiance was home to see/feel it.

Friday I go for my anatomy scan, which will measure all the organs, make sure the little one is developing correctly, make sure the placenta is in the correct position, and what I am sure will be my favorite moment, we will finally find out if it is a boy or girl. So many people I know went for elective ultrasounds around 14 weeks and I have been the one to stay strong (and want to save money) and wait it out for the scan at 20 weeks. With all my heart I feel that it is a girl, even my fiance wants a little girl. I think we both will die of laughter if it turns out to be a boy (there will be no disappointment either way!).

The day I found out….

We were in San Diego for a quick getaway as well as my fiancé was testing for the Police Department. For weeks I had been feeling weird, never having been pregnant before, I had no idea that what I was starting to think was going on was true. I had been carrying a pregnancy test in my purse for days, hesitant to use it because what if I was wrong? It would be a waste of money and just another heartbreak if my period started. There I was, the morning after we had arrived, just waking up and no period, two days late. Two days may not sound like much, but since I went off birth control six months ago, I have had an absolutely regular schedule of 28 days, never early and never late, but I was on day 30, and there were no signs of my period. Of course, I had basic symptoms, I was a little bloated, my breasts were super tender, but it didn’t feel right, something about my body was beginning to feel extremely foreign to me. My bloating worse than I had ever had and suddenly I found myself to be extremely gassy as well. All of it added up to one thing, and as I woke up that morning, I knew it was time.

While my fiancé was nervously getting ready in the room, I slid the bathroom door shut and as quietly as I could I unwrapped the foil around the test. Now, of course, this was one of the hotels that just had a sliding barn door instead of a traditional door with a lock. All I could do was pray that he didn’t walk in while I was peeing on the test. As I finished, I hid the test in my purse which I had stashed in the bathroom the night before under some ridiculous lie and washed my hands. A few minutes passed, and I checked on him, he was busy watching TV waiting for room service breakfast to arrive. Nervously I grabbed the test and nearly collapsed as in digital words it read “PREGNANT.” My hands shook, and I could barely breathe as I tried to pull myself together enough not to blurt it out. He had a big day ahead of him, and I did not want to distract him from his big test. So I bit my tongue. When I came out of the bathroom, I hugged him and gave him a kiss, telling him good luck and that no matter what it was going to be a good day (little did he know!).

I dropped him off for his test and set to work waiting for the shops I needed to open to get the perfect items needed to tell him the good news. Out of pure disbelief, I found myself purchasing another test, which again read “PREGNANT.” My heart nearly stopped seeing it. For six months we had been trying to conceive with no luck at all. I know it’s not long, but we were becoming anxious about if there were medical issues or if we were completely incompetent at calculating ovulation, but there it was, in perfect digital letters on two different tests, taken hours apart. I was completely shocked and also excited to start my shopping adventure. Now, if you know San Diego, you know Seaport Village, one of our favorite places. Three years ago, we took our first vacation together to this very place, so it only seemed appropriate that I found the perfect gifts to tell him that we were expecting.

My first stop was a sock store, this may sound weird, but we have a thing for fun socks, so it seemed perfect. Wandering around I found the perfect pair, black with gray block lettering that said “Dad’s sock.” on one and “Dad’s other sock” on the other. Casually I purchased them and made my way to the next store, a mug shop. Again, odd, but it’s one of our things. I found the section that has those “Greatest Dad Ever” mugs and browsed through them, finding one that specifically said, “New Dad,” and had a stick figure of a stressed looking man on it with some perfect quotes. Again, I had found another great component and purchased it. Then it was time for my last stop, the stop that was most important, a year-round Christmas store. One of our favorite things is decorating for Christmas, we have so many ornaments that it is ridiculous. My original goal was to find one of those “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments without it saying boy or girl on it. When I discovered they were out of those, I was sad because more than anything I wanted an ornament (little did I know that my due date would be December 22nd).

I kept looking around, just seeing what they had when I saw it, two snowmen with their hands locked in front of them with the words, “We’re Expecting” painted across it. It was perfection. I purchased it and headed back to the hotel knowing I only had another hour or so before my fiancé was ready. Back in the room I pulled my purchases out and began to arrange them. I stuffed the socks into the mug with the lettering sticking out and then secured the ornament on top. I didn’t have anything to wrap them in so I settled for just putting them in a bag and figuring I would think of something.

Impatiently I waited for his call, and my heart raced when it was finally time to pick him up. It had been almost seven hours since I had found out and keeping it a secret was killing me. As I drove to get him, I was close to tears and was overly anxious to get to him. I waited in the car as he awkwardly changed his clothes in a parking lot and then got in the car and said hi to me with a kiss. I told him I had bought him a present and told him to close his eyes. He assumed I had gotten him one of the metal puzzles that he loved, but instead I handed him the mug. He opened his eyes and just stared for a second as realization dawned on him. He just looked at me and gasped, “Babe, are you?” As I just nodded and started to cry, holding two pregnancy tests in my hand.

He started crying then and lunged over to hug me. After six months of trying, we had finally done it. I was pregnant 🙂