If the clothes make the man, what do they do for the woman?
I'm not much of a hoarder. My momma is worried about passing certain family things to me because I will clean out every now and then and get rid of things that she might consider too sentimental to lose.
However, when it comes to clothes, I'm a terrible hoarder.
I have skirts and blouses from 10 years ago. Classic pieces that were budget breakers at the time. I have jeans in size 10 to 16. I have dresses that haven't been worn in 8 years. I have high heels that have never ever been worn but were a good sale on a 9 1/2 AAAA, so I bought them to have when I needed them.
I keep these things, stuffing my closet, afraid to get rid of any of it. You never know when I might need it again.
This past week, I purged. Three garbage bags full of clothes were taken to Goodwill. Not only don't I need them, it was just way time to clean out and start fresh.
I don't work in an office anymore. I don't have to give grant presentations. I don't have to be interviewed on TV. I don't have to convince people to part with their money for a good cause. And I am quite sure I will never be back in the White House again, accepting an award from the First Lady (although it was quite cool at the time).
I don't need clothes for any of that, and I don't need to keep the ones I had just because they cost me a lot of money at the time.
My first marriage was all about how I needed to hold onto what I had because I didn't know if I would be able to replace it.
And that is the point. Without carrying on and beating around the literary bush, that is the point.
It was freeing, taking those clothes to Goodwill, knowing that I don't have to hold onto to them. Knowing that sometimes, when you let go of the only thing you think you have, it just makes room for something better.
P.S. I got rid of the size 16 jeans and kept the 10's. I was feeling rather positive that day. We'll see if I regret that decision later!
Saturday, March 29, 2008
If the clothes make the man, what do they do for the woman?
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Yesterday Christopher turned two months old. In a way it seems like he has been here forever. In another way it seems as though I still have no idea what to do with him.
There are still days that I do nothing that doesn't involve him. Nurse him. Change him. Hold him. Stare at him while he sleeps. The miraculousness of it all has certainly not worn off yet.
Then there are days that I relish in the time the nanny is here. If I'm not teaching while she is here, it becomes a delightful challenge to see just how much I can get done in the moments that she is looking after Bird. Dinner is down to a science, and loading the dishwasher takes all of about 45 seconds now. It's a game.
At his two month checkup yesterday, the PA said he was gaining weight just beautifully. He's growing just fine she said. She also said that she didn't think I needed to be using formula. She thinks I need to cut the dairy out to help his gas, and that way, he will be able to stay at the breast long enough to get full without thrashing about and mutilating my nipples.
I cannot describe to you how much dairy I eat. Cheese and I are best friends, as is the big glass of milk I drink before dinner every night.
However, I chose this PA because she is also a lactation consultant, and I'm choosing to listen to her. Besides, I really should cut out the ice cream and it certainly won't hurt my waistline to cut the cheese and milk.
We went ahead and got his two month vaccinations on schedule. With the traveling we expect to be doing for Guy's job, it is important that Christopher be vaccinated on schedule.
I knew that I would cry when they gave him his shots. I just didn't know I would cry before they gave him his shots.
The needles were so big, and he was so happy before she stuck his little leg with them. He was having a great time kickypantsing on the table, making the paper rattle. His eyes were wide and he was all grins.
Then she stuck him.
He looked stunned. Then she stuck him again. He looked up into my eyes, turned purple, jutted out his bottom lip, and began to scream.
I was already crying by then, so when the nurse was done, Bird and I just held onto each other and cried.
Yesterday and today he has had a low grade fever, tons of gas, and been generally feeling miserable. Somehow he still manages to smile at me some. I can tell he feels badly, but he still is cracking a grin or two every now and then. Tonight, he gave his Papa big full face grins for the first time. You could see a little puddle on the floor where Papa's heart had just melted.
Two months and it's all starting to feel real finally. I don't feel like I'm just getting through minute by minute or hour by hour anymore. This feels like my life. I'm not sure if that makes sense or not. What I mean is that at the beginning, it felt like I was just going through the motions, trying to make it from one moment to the next. Now, though, it feels more a little more comfortable. More normal.
I have a hard time remembering life without Guy and Christopher. I know it happened. I know there was another life before then. Another marriage. Another possible ending. That otherness is what doesn't feel real anymore.
I was made to be Bird's mom and Guy's wife. I think I've known that for longer than two months, but these past two months have certainly solidified it for me.
Monday, March 24, 2008
We just got back from Savannah. The whole family got to go down, see the city, and meet some of my relatives. The ones where Christopher's middle name came from.
They are my mom's family. My grandmother's sister is still alive and just turned 90. She and her late husband were like parents to my mother. Her red velvet cake is a legend in our family, as is her strength and grace.
They are what you would call country folks. That doesn't mean that they are backwards or uneducated, it means, quite literally, they live in the country.
My great aunt's land looked very different on this trip. The cow barn that was a stone's throw from the house is gone. As is the chicken coop. There is nowhere for pigs right across the road, and I couldn't see where there was a fishing pond now. There is no more farm.
Her oldest daughter is like a sister to my momma, and so even though we are cousins, I have always called her "Aunt." She takes in family like her momma did for my momma. My cousin J always had a home there when he needed one, and Uncle C was like a father to him.
Extended family in the very literal sense.
Although I've always loved them, I haven't been very close to them. Mainly because of the distance, but I think also because some of my cousins expect me to be snooty like my grandmother was to them. They expect me to look down my nose at them.
Funny thing is, the opposite is true. I look up to them - especially the women - more than any other family I have.
I spent a good deal of the visit it seemed, with my shirt pulled up and a little bird attached. This opened the conversation about nursing with my aunts. It turns out that the doctors told both of them, my great aunt and my Aunt J, that their milk was "too weak" and wasn't enough nourishment for their babies.
My great aunt fed her babies with glass bottles filled with boiled water, Carnation evaporated milk, and Karo syrup. There was commercial formula around for Aunt J's babies.
It made me wonder though, what exactly the doctors meant by "too weak." Was there too much foremilk? Were the babies just not gaining weight fast enough? Did they never seem to get full?
Whatever it was, my aunts determined that it was passed through the family, and I was the same. My milk just isn't strong enough. Aunt J was so relieved when I whipped out 2 ounces of formula on Sunday afternoon when Bird just wasn't going to nurse but was obviously still hungry.
She told him it was about time his momma gave him some real food.
Guy held his breath. He thought I would lose it.
But I didn't. I just smiled. Who am I to say? Maybe she knows something I don't. Well, she certainly knows plenty I don't about a lot of things. It was funny, what she said, and she wasn't judging me, she was just teasing me. They are a family of teasers. Hard teasers.
So there it is. Apparently, it's a Carter thing. Weak milk.
I could care less if there is science behind it. I could care less if it's even true.
I just thought it was cool to be included in the lineage. I liked them considering me to be one of "their women." I was proud to be another generation for whatever reason.
It is, however, too bad that I didn't get the hair gene. My grandmother, my great aunt, and my Aunt J didn't and haven't grayed. My grandmother's hair was a beautiful chestnut brown until the day she died at 97. My aunts' hair is lighter, but none more gray.
They are beautiful women, and I'm proud to be one of them now. And thank God for Enfamil, because the whole Karo syrup thing just sort of freaked me out.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Today I nursed my child in the waiting room at the car dealership. There were exactly four men, one woman, and one toddler in the room with me. Two of the men had just separately asked me how old Bird was and commented on what a good baby he was. That is because he had been asleep for almost an hour while we waited on the Jeep to be serviced.
Then he woke up. He wasn't supposed to do that. We were supposed to be in and out of there in time for me to get back home, collect my 83 pillows and lay down to nurse him. Unfortunately, there were more things that needed to be done than just the oil change I expected, and we were stuck there almost 2 hours.
Bird needed to eat.
So I fed him. I slouched down in my chair, getting as prone as I could without falling out of it. I put a blanket over my shoulder, which really was more a polite gesture than a shield, since I haven't yet mastered the trick of getting him latched on without both hands and staring down, waiting for the biggest open mouth he makes.
It wasn't the most comfortable thing I've ever done, but it worked alright. He fussed a little bit until I found a good spot for him, but then he did his bit. And when he was done, he came out from under his blanket and smiled at me. I felt like we had really accomplished something.
It seemed silly at the time - for me to be so proud of myself and Christopher for being able to nurse in the waiting room. However, tonight, as I read over the comments on the J&J post (Thank God some people still know where their caps lock button is. I was beginning to think no one knew how to use it anymore in this overly polite blogworld. I LOVE ME SOME CAPS LOCK), it occurred to me that it's not silly at all.
Bird and I have worked our butts off to even still be breastfeeding. Yes, STILL, at 8 weeks. I've been pretty tied to the house due to my insecurities of nursing and more recently, the need to be prone while doing so. I think that has something to do with how pissed I am at the audacity of suggesting a mother could just leave her 8 week old at home for a few days and pump. Or just don't go. JUST STAY HOME where you belong.
Today though, Bird and I joined the ranks of all the moms and babies before us WHO WILL NOT just stay home because they are nursing. We didn't go sit in the john to do it. We didn't move to the corner of the room to do it. We didn't blush. We didn't apologize. We just did it, and honestly? It wasn't that big of a deal. No one really cared.
It was only a big deal for me. It means that I'm one step closer to being able to get out more. I need that. All moms need that.
That, and the freedom to scratch that itchy CAPS LOCK pinky when you can't think of the right words, only some capitalized ones, to use.
Late to the game again. I stay about a day or two behind in blogland these days. But if you haven't heard, Johnson & Johnson is holding a little getaway called "Camp Baby" for the influential mommybloggers. People you read probably got invited and will have a lovely time at some sessions on how to braid hair and parallel park their minivans. Whatever.
Aside from the carcinogens that Johnson & Johnson likes to use in their products, I now have another reason to hate them.
Julie, over at Mothergoosemouse, was dis-invited from this little soire once they found out she was planning to bring her baby. To Camp Baby. Go figure.
Oliver was born just a few days before Christopher and is breastfed.
So no Camp Baby for Julie.
I do not understand though, all of the remaining willing participants. Sitting around and writing about how uncool it is that they dis-invited a nursing mom from Camp Baby is one thing. Everyone still showing up and having a lovely time at hair braiding and minivan parking? That shows them nothing. That shows them that they can totally get away with this.
We are so quick to boycott Myspace and Facebook when they censor pictures of breastfeeding mothers. What about now?
Julie is very polite and states that she understands that J&J is hosting and setting the rules, so she will play by them. Well, the same thing can be said of Facebook. It's their website, so play by their rules and don't post breastfeeding pictures.
I really hope that at least a few of Julie's friends and moms who care about breastfeeding reconsider Camp Baby. And while you're at it, be sure to read some of the ingredients of the J&J stuff you might be slathering all over your baby. J&J and their products are all full of crap.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Nursing. Today we nursed. All weekend we practiced getting into new positions. We worked on relieving Bird's gas better. We nursed whenever and however long he wanted to do so.
And things are better.
The poor little dude is such a gulper though. He fills up with gas before he's full of milk, so a few good burps and 20 minutes later, he's hungry again. That works on the weekend, but not so much when I have to work during the week.
So we'll do what we can.
Guy finished his cradle and the mattress finally came in. It's really beautiful. He refinished it to match our bedroom furniture and we bought some bedding that also matches the room. Now if we could only get him to sleep there.
He will sleep there for his first stint of the night, but after he wakes up and nurses, I'm not about to try and put him back down. Besides, I really love spooning with my little man.
Guy was finally made an official employee today. It only took 13 months, but hey, that's the state for you. He'll be working for the university, and it might just be that I have to root for a team besides Mississippi State from now on. Unless of course the university plays Mississippi State in something, in which case all bets are off. Go Dawgs.
The only part I hate is that Christopher is so much more interactive now. He's actually gotten to the point where he's fun. Smiling, laughing, cooing, and playing - he is more like a little person now, and I find myself wanting him to wake up and spend some time with me. It's okay though. We still have the mornings.
I miss leaving comments even though I'm still reading. I miss the ladies on my mom's board. I just miss "talking" to people. But I'm doing what I have to do for the moment. Things will change again. Like Susan said the other day, change is the only constant from now on. So true.
Lo and behold, it was an episode about supermoms, and who was on it but the lovely Liz of Mom 101?
Even though I missed officially meeting her at Blogher, she has long long been in my feed reader, and I was so proud of her today.
I only wish I could have watched more than the first 15 minutes. I'm sure she was great all the way through.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Today Bird and I went to our first Music Together class. I had registered for an infants' class that was to be held in Chapel Hill; not close to the house. However, it was the only infant class I could find. It didn't make.
The woman in charge suggested I try out the mixed age class and just see how it went. So we did.
He loved it.
So far, I've been doubtful as to whether or not Christopher is smiling on reflexes or because of stimuli. Today, it was clear that he was having a good time.
He lasted about 25 minutes of the 30 minute class before I had to put him up on my shoulder and "shush" out some of the other noises. He got a little overstimulated.
But man, he had fun. His eyes were open wide and he kicked along to all of the music. We had a blast.
I'm liking this mom thing more and more already.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Remember when I posted this on Props and Pans? No? Well go read it and come right back. I'll wait.
Last week, I was catching up on some Dooce and she had posted this video:
Now you can all enjoy the magic of Liam Finn. You really have to watch this and see him work one guitar, some pedals, and a drum kit all on his own. Ignore the chick with the cowbell. I don't know what she's doing there.
If I were a much younger woman, I would be in love. With Liam. Not cowbell girl.
It's 11:00 AM. I'm still sitting in the bed. I have had someone or something attached to my boobs since 9:00. Bird has some gas issues. Possibly reflux. Might explain the thrashing and crying during feeding. The doctor said I just had to be patient and keep holding him to the breast. Let him work out the gas.
It's a new doctor. He's miles better already. Although, it's not like the old doctor made that a challenge of some kind.
My boobs are crying "uncle," and Bird has finally drifted off after an ounce from a bottle.
It's going to come down to time I bet. I just won't have all morning long forever. New doctor says though, that very soon, he should be outgrowing some of that gas and I should notice nursing getting significantly easier.
I like him. He offers hope along with his analysis. I hope he's right.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I have to start teaching again next week. It's time. I'm more ready now than I was a couple of weeks ago, but there's part of me that's still a little sad.
We hired a nanny for Bird for the afternoons. She is a senior in high school and started with us yesterday. I wanted a week with her when I wasn't teaching to get to know her better and be available to answer questions or what not.
Yesterday? Bird didn't cry at all. Until Nanny handed him back to me right before she left.
I've got to learn how to not take things like that personally.
Today, he did cry with her some. And I felt better. Because he cries with me a lot. I know that I try to get too much done when it's just me and him, but I can't help it. Sometimes, I have to put him down to pump. It's just time to do it, and I don't have a choice. Sometimes, I have to fix myself some lunch, and I have to put him down if I'm at the stove or oven. Sometimes, I have to pee, and I have to put him down to wash my hands. It happens.
Nanny's sole responsibility is Christopher though. He has one person in his life that when she is with him, the only thing she has to do is take care of him.
And I find myself wondering how I missed that the first 6 weeks of his life.
Every thank you note I wrote. Every meal I cooked. Every load of laundry I did. Every shower I took. Every blog I read. Time away from Bird. What was I doing?
I had these 6 weeks with Bird where no one expected anything of me except to take care of him, and I'm so damn restless that I found 100 other things to do. So typical.
The nanny is lucky. She is lucky to just get to focus on him. To watch him so carefully that she feeds him before he cries. She has time to sit and rock him and then let him just sleep in her lap.
I'm jealous of the nanny. I will miss the naps and the playtime and the dancing whenever we felt like it. I'm a little jealous.
However, at the end of the day, Nanny has to go home, and Christopher stays right here with me. Because I am his mom.
Stepping back, I think that makes me the lucky one.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Saturday, March 08, 2008
I had my 6 week postpartum check up this week. It went just fine. Green lights all the way around.
I texted Guy before I left the parking lot with a simple "Bow chicka bow wow."
He responded, "That's mean to do while I'm in a meeting."
That evening, we got Bird settled in for a nap and climbed into bed. A couple of kisses and a cuddle later, we realize that 3 hours has passed and our son is waking up. And so were we.
We had fallen asleep. Slept right through the window of nookie.
I hear this is what it is like to be parents.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Future and current bloggers. On the family blogging bed. With the blogging bear. And the blogging Boppy. My blogging boys. Wow. I need sleep.
Thank you so much for all of your comments. I actually pulled them up on my Blackjack early this morning when I was nursing Bird, and I read them all over again.
If you don't think your one little comment matters? I'm here to tell you differently. Thank you so much - each and every little word matters very much.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
The truth is, it still hurts.
The truth is, I don't love it yet.
The truth is that I wrote this post to remind myself that there was at least that one time that Bird was able to satiate himself to the point of bliss at my breast. Because it rarely happens.
I pump, trying to store away breastmilk for when I start working again in a week or so. I do this after I nurse him, but inevitably, he will wake up right after I'm done pumping and be hungry again. So I give him what I just pumped in a bottle and in turn, have nothing stored for him.
He and I aren't gelling. Our schedules are off somehow. I feel my biggest letdowns when we are out on a walk, or when he is sound asleep. When he is nursing, he gets fussy. He claws at my breast. He thrashes his head about. He pops on and off uncontrollably until my nipple feels as though it's been run through a cheese grater and I have to give up and go get a bottle.
Fixing those bottles makes me feel like the widow that Elijah visited. Her oil never ran out, remember? That's what my milk feels like. I always have just enough to give him, but no more. No extra for when I start teaching. And that has me stressed, unlike the widow who just took it as an opportunity to trust. Not me.
I wanted to be a mom who loved to breastfeed. And I refuse to quit until I've had a more positive experience, but damn. I need some positive reinforcement here.
I keep hearing different time frames.
"Just give it two weeks."
"At a month, you'll see a turn around."
"After six weeks, the two of you will have the hang of it."
"It took six months for my little one to finally get his latch right."
The thing is, I don't know if any of these will be our timetable. If I just knew that there really would be a time when he wouldn't seem to hate it, and I wouldn't be in constant pain, then it would be easier to tough it out. Not knowing though, is driving me crazy.
Days like yesterday and today have me beat. He cries, and so I cry. I cry because he's not happy. I cry because it hurts like hell. He cries because, well, I don't exactly know why.
Don't tell me anymore that "if you do it right, it doesn't hurt." I know that a bad latch will hurt, and I know how to get a good one. What I don't know is how to help Bird understand that if he rolls his tongue all around in his mouth and clamps down with his gums??? That it hurts me very badly.
This is why I haven't been blogging. Because this is all I think about. And it's got to be a boring read by now. But then again, I write because I need to. I need to get it all out.
One thing I didn't know before Bird was that a lot of moms combo feed. That means that they breastfeed and they use formula. I see this as where we are headed, and I'm trying to reassure myself that it's alright. I know that it is - there are women who have been hugely inspirational to me to keep going, and they are combo feeders.
But the stigma. I won't feel like I can put a little ticker under my signature that says how long I've been breastfeeding. I won't feel like I have a "Booby Baby." I wanted a "Booby Baby" so badly.
So we keep trying. And tonight when he is ravenous and I'm exhausted and the milk blister on my right nipple is bleeding again and my left one is as flat as a pancake still? Well, tonight just may be the night I join the ranks of the combo feeders. Giving my child as much breast milk as I possibly can, and then unashamedly giving him the formula he needs to break out of the 10% of weight.
Little skinny 10th percentile Bird. He's a cute little skinny Bird.
Man. I didn't think it would all be this hard.
And for the record? I'm wearing the same clothes now that I put on 48 hours ago to sleep in. Two nights and two days.
Monday, March 03, 2008
My buddy Tara over at Two Lines on a Stick is an Avon lady. Because I like her so, I'm giving a little shout out for you to get your Avon stuff from her. She ships it to you fast, and you in turn are getting good stuff from a SAHM. I love that.
If you don't want to buy make up, you can always buy her really cool cards at her Etsy shop. She can do custom cards or announcements or calligraphy for you. A WAHM really.
Here's my loot from the Avon shop. I adore new makeup. I'm such a girl. Which is a huge change from when I was eight. I mean, I was a girl then too, but I was a girl who hated dresses and wanted to be the first female player in Major League Baseball. Which probably wouldn't have required that I wear any of this:
For the record, I wanted to play third base for the Phillies. Just like Mike Schmidt.
The Volvo is gone. Sold. Taken away. No more.
My Volvo was the first thing I did to step away from my ex-husband. He didn't want me to buy it. I did anyway, telling him that I didn't ask to discuss it with him. He was driving a rental car, a new Maxima, being paid for by insurance, and loved it. He wanted to buy a new Maxima. Not a 12 year old Volvo. I refused to take out another car loan for him.
I got $4000 from the insurance company when some jackass totaled my car while it was parked in front of my house. It was my grandfather's car. My family had given it to me after he died because my ex had wrecked his car and not had it repaired. We needed a second car.
It was a Ford Contour. Not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, but it was paid for. It was 7 years old, and only had 11,000 miles on it. Granddaddy didn't go very far in it.
When it was totaled, I received far less money than the car was actually worth to me. That's the way it was though, and no amount of fighting with the insurance company could change that.
I had asked the Ex not to park it on the street. He did anyway. Some jackass plowed into it. And just like that, it was gone.
The smell of my granddaddy? Gone. The little pieces of him I would find in the glovebox or between the seats? Gone. My granddaddy's car was gone.
I was beyond livid. The Ex had already wrecked his Golf. For which I held the car loan and title. Now, the Contour was wrecked. In about a month from then, he would also wreck the Jetta, which I had just paid off about 4 months prior to that.
I was not about to get a new Maxima for a man who couldn't afford it and couldn't be trusted not to wreck it.
So I bought an old Volvo. Paid cash. Drove it with pride because it was paid for. I loved that car. It was more than a car. It was a turning point.
Buying that Volvo was the first step in my decision not to put up with the crap anymore.
In December of 2006, Guy bought me a new car. Something that I could fit my gear in and still close all the windows. Something that my keyboard could ride in and still be in its case. Something that we could take Lovely and Papa along in to gigs and still be able to haul my stuff. I accepted it begrudgingly.
It felt like I was giving up this independent streak. This piece of "piss on you, world" that had allowed me to come up for air in a drowning marriage. I was sad to give up driving my Volvo.
So I didn't. Not at first. I would still take her out for errands and such. But the more I drove the new Jeep, the less I needed to drive the Volvo. It was enough to just have it in the driveway.
But this week, I knew it was time. It was time to see her off to a new home. Guy wanted to salvage it, but that made me too sad. So I posted it on Craig's List (I know, I know, will I ever learn?), and asked for someone to come and save it from the salvage yard. I had people lined up around the block.
$350 later? My Volvo has a new home, and I have a new outlook.
Giving up that car to me signifies that I have given myself over completely to this new life. To me, it shows that I am 100% comfortable now being completely connected with Guy. Still an individual, but not completely independent.
It's like I finally understand what my mom told me so many times.
She wouldn't buy a piece of clothing if she thought my dad wouldn't like it. I thought when I was younger that it was because she didn't think for herself. Didn't stand up on her own two very un-feminist feet.
Now I know how wrong I was. She didn't wear something he wouldn't like because she loves him. It made her happy to make him happy. She liked the things that he liked. She trusted his opinions. And she valued what he thought of her. I get that now. I love Guy like that.
So goodbye, Volvo. You were a good car. You were a good move for me, but I don't need you anymore. I'm part of a team now.
And I'm desperately happy about that.