First Love

My brother used to date this girl, April. He was going to school at Central Michigan and so was she, and they seemed to have all the ups and downs that you have when you’re a freshman in college and off on your own for the first time.

April and Trevor dated on and off for, well, I don’t even know how long. She was around on random weekends and stayed at my parents’ house when Trevor was there, too.

I tried really hard (ok, not THAT hard, but pretty hard) to make friends. I wanted her to like me and think I was funny. I don’t think she did. Trevor wanted me to like her, too.

And I watched how toxic they became, after awhile, for each other.

But honestly, it was drama that I’d had myself and I think more than anything I just was trying to save my little brother from going through the same heartaches that I had gone through.

Alas, friends, you cannot stop heartache any more than I could stop a train by standing in its tracks.

April and Trevor stopped officially dating a long time ago. They’d see each other every now and then, meet for a drink, meet for lunch. It always bothered me, quite honestly, when Trevor would sheepishly admit he’d been ‘to Novi’ (where April was) or when he wouldn’t tell me who he was spending time with. I always knew it was April.

A few years ago, Trevor began dating Ashley and they’ve been on and off for awhile now. April has remained a looming remembrance in Trevor’s life – if for no other reason than she is, looking back, his first real love.

I tell you all of this because…

Well, because April died on Thursday. She had a brain aneurysm at the age of 23 and died.

My brother told me she was in the hospital after having a brain aneurysm. Now, I am not a doctor, but I knew enough to know that there are a miraculous few who may have an aneurysm in their brain and survive. I also knew enough by the look on the face and the slouch of his shoulders that she was not the miracle we look for.

I won’t pretend now that this tragedy has hit her family and friends that she was the top of my Christmas card list — but my heart aches for her family. My heart aches for the people that knew her — truly knew her. But more than all of that, my heart aches for my brother.

My Mom’s comment to me was, “There’s something with my children and losing their first loves.”

Unfortunately, there is.

So, I told Trevor what I’d been told.

This is something you will get around, you will not ever get over this. This will remain a huge boulder in your life.

Deal with this in inches, not in miles.

April’s memorial service is tomorrow and I’m unable to go. Quite honestly, I don’t know how her parents can handle this. I’ve not wrapped my mind around the enormity of it all…the fragility of life. The fact that her mother could not have done anything to stop her death, even if she’d tried.

That terrifies me.

Like I said, you can’t stop heartache, no matter how hard you try.

Muffin Top

It’s not like I was an uber-skinny before I got pregnant. I wasn’t even in that great of shape. I would say that prior to peeing on that stick, I wasn’t feeling that great about the condition I had allowed my body to get itself into. I was pushing the boundaries of my size-12 jeans…but I could find a way to loving my body when I needed to.

But then, I got pregnant. I stopped drinking and ate a little bit better than normal. And I swear, I lost weight that first two months. And then, as cataloged here, I gained weight but not much. And as we know, I don’t make a habit of weighing myself. But, I’d guess I’m pretty close to pre-baby weight and if I’d eat just a smidge better, I’d probably be able to drop below that mark. I’ve been doing some running and more walking, but not much in the way of a dedicated workout program.

But today, I put on my size 12 jeans, buttoned them (sweet relief) and could still breathe. Success, right?

Wrong.

Why was so MUCH of my mid-section finding its way over the edge of my jeans? Ick. Ok, so I am not in a position to wear too-clingy shirts. Fine, I’m only verging on five weeks post-baby so that’s ok. Right? But…still. I am only briefly looking at my body in the mirror when I get out of the shower or after I’ve dressed myself. I’m just not loving my body right now.

Which brings me to…I need to get there. I need to get to a place where I feel better about myself and my body. I want to do that not only as a mother, but also for me. I don’t think it’s good to not feel positive about your body – and I want to set an example…for Elle, for who knows who else. And, I also don’t want to go out and wonder if people are thinking ‘wow, she really let herself go’ (don’t deny it, we all think that about people who, well, frankly HAVE let themselves go, especially after a baby).

Why do we women do this to ourselves? For me, it’s about how I feel about myself. I’m obviously not an uber-skinny in my size 12’s – I’m thisclose to plus-size and if I were a model, I WOULD be plus size (six sizes ago). But, I want to be proud of myself, my brain and my body. I want Jon to find me attractive still and not be put off by any ick I pick up along the way.

And yet, sitting at home all day long makes it hard to not raid the cupboards for a sweet treat or to just continue to fill my mouth with food. I’m trying and I hope to catalog here my sweet success in getting below my size 12 pants and gaining just a LITTLE more confidence in the way I look in my jeans.

So, down with the muffins…and the muffin top!

 

Month One of Motherhood

Elle is one month old today (which brings up my confusion over 1 month versus four weeks old…but as I told a friend, if you have only four weeks in a month, times 12 months, you only end up with 48 weeks, and we all know there’s 52 weeks in a year…).

Anyway, I digress already. My baby is one month old!! How crazy is that?! It’s crazy, people. I’m a MOM to a ONE MONTH OLD baby girl!!

In the first month of motherhood, I’ve learned:

…greater respect for my friends who have been parents for years before me.

…greater respect for my mother, especially last night when it struck me that there will be times when I try so hard to do the best/right/fun thing for Elle and she’ll hate it (or me, by proxy).

…not to be grossed out when baby poop ends up in random spots on my person.

…that you really can keep yourself up listening for breathing.

…bucking the system (I lay Elle to sleep on her stomach sometimes!!) is frightening.

…SIDS was invented to do nothing more than increase the guilt felt by normal, well-adjusted mothers and fathers everywhere.

…my baby’s coos and grunts are funny and lovely and one of my favorite parts of the days these days.

…it’s one of the great treats of timing and fate to have girlfriends who are in the same proverbial ‘boat’ with infants of their own.

…Huggies are better diapers for us than Pampers – they fit around her legs better than the Pampers do.

…Amazon.com orders of diapers and other essentials are all I need.

…I thought I needed to have EVERY thing for baby and that I’d be some type of invalid after I had the baby…I’m glad to get out of the house and look for those ‘excuse purchases’ to get out of the house and see what’s going on in the world.

…I have a vested interest in my local community now and I really am enjoying the path I’m starting down to positively impact my daughter’s life in the community in which she’ll (likely) grow up.

…Having a committed partner in the parenting trip is essential and I’m grateful for the way Jon just steps up and into hanging out with his baby girl.

…Other people and things, while remaining important, don’t hold a candle to devoting time and energy to my baby.

…Online blogs, facebook, and sites like snapfish and shutterfly are life savers. And amazon. I can do most things from my desk at home, which rocks (except for that need of human contact that I have).

~~~~~~~~

In four weeks, I’ve learned that Elle is a gassy baby (she’ll be glad I’m capturing this for all the world to know, some day). I’ve learned that she has come to like baths, that she likes pressure on her belly, that she dislikes burping (though this leads to the need for pressure on her belly), that she is a lazy-ass eater, falling asleep through every feeding, then waking up shortly after she realizes you’ve been fooled into putting her into her bassinet and being PISSED OFF that she’s not still eating. She forgets she’s eating a lot of the time, which leads to her leaking formula EVERYWHERE.

Most recently, she’s getting better at knowing that it’s day when it’s day and night when it’s night. She is more alert and likes looking around at things, likes her activity mat (though I think there’s not enough entertaining toys on the thing, personally, but that’s just my revelation).

I find it difficult, trying to capture pictures of her every day or close to it.

And it’s incredible how much she’s changed and how I thought she looked JUST like Jon at first and now, as I get to know her, how she looks, well, like HER.

And while it’s early yet in this journey and it’s contrary to what you hear, I feel like Jon and I’s relationship has grown better and stronger since she came into the world.

Anyway, it’s just crazy that it’s been a month with her in our lives. I just feel like she was meant to be here and that I was born to do this Mom thing. Loving it.

Happy Birthday, Elle!

Well, That Was Weird

Yesterday was sort of a hectic day around here, for me, for us.

I got up and ready and looked moderately presentable for the local Rotary meeting. I participated in the Leadership Academy in September and October and was asked if I would be interested in joining Rotary at the last of the leadership events. I was! It’s always been my intent to be more involved in my community and this provided the best way to start. You have to start somewhere, right?

So, I was at the Rotary meeting while Jon hung out at home with Elle. I did sneak in a quick coffee stop at Molly’s to see her and Nolan before coming home.

I had some errands to run (see yesterday’s “Call of Duty” post) and did that before coming home, baking cupcakes as a sweet treat to take to a new group of Under40s/GenXY’ers that was put together to try to become more engaged with the local community as well, specifically to engage people my own age, in the same relatively place in their lives as me.

It was a great meeting, the cupcakes were a success and I met some great people (which is secretly why I wanted to pursue this group – it’s not easy to make friends as a grown up, and I thought this would be a great way to put myself out there and meet some new people!).

Anyway, the weird part was when we went around and introduced ourselves and gave a quick five minute bio/introduction. Well, I started off by saying that indeed I was a Mom, that my daughter, Elle, was three and a half weeks old and home with her Dad. And while I feel like I was born to do this Mom thing, it was weird to say ‘my daughter’, ‘Elle’ and ‘I’m a Mom’ out loud to a room of folks I did not know, and that it was the first thing I wanted them to know about me. It felt natural to introduce myself that way, but completely foreign to HEAR it in my voice.

I liked it, but it was still weird.

Can’t wait to do it again!

Just Write: Tuesday Morning

{This post is inspired by The Extraordinary Ordinary at the Just Write project. I hope you explore and enjoy!}

It’s been three weeks and three days and one hour and three minutes since my world changed incredibly.

She was born three weeks, three days, one hour and three minutes ago. I do the math quickly as I press my phone into action, wondering how long I’ve been laying in bed with her cuddled to my chest. Thirty minutes. Ok, this isn’t working.

But I’m in bed.

Dad – her Dad. Text him downstairs.

Will you come get her?

He’s there, quickly, takes her lovingly.

It makes my heart bigger watching the way that he loves her.

And then, I’m asleep.

I need sleep.

Forget the guilt of stopping/quitting/ending breastfeeding.

Forget the way her warm little head feels cuddled to my chest – for now.

Sleep.

 

I wake startled and it’s 4:01 a.m.

Six hours? Six hours. Six hours!

My mind races – is Jon upset that I slept so long? Has my baby needed her Mom and I’ve slept through it? Why has Jon let me sleep so long?

Downstairs and they’re both awake, having a 4 a.m. snack.

Aren’t you coming to bed? Have you slept? Do you want me to take her? You let me sleep for six hours straight…that hasn’t happened for me since before October 13.

Stare.

Thank you.

Walking back to bed, I smell her forehead, and touch her ears. I hold her close to me and cuddle my girl. I have to be awake in two hours and today, this moment, this morning, I love 4 a.m. in a way I haven’t before in my life.

Call of Duty…

Jon is a video gamer. That’s his hobby. While mine might be considering shopping, crocheting, photography, golf (not so much, really) or a variety of other things, Jon’s is video games.

Today, I needed to run some errands at Babies R Us (exchanging some items, getting some more nipples for the Playtex bottles we’re using, etc.), needed to run by the post office, stop to pick up a much-delayed gift (excited to give it ASAP!) and stop at Sam’s Club to evaluate the cost of the Similac formula we’ve gone with thus far.

I was going to go quickly…and asked Jon if he wanted to go, too…and to my surprise, he said ‘yes’.

We were on our way to the stores and Jon mentioned he’d like to stop by Best Buy…hmmmm…that’s weird.

Ah ha!

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare came out today.

So, our first stop was Best Buy for Jon to pick up his video game.

As a disclaimer, he hasn’t been enamored with the XBOX for awhile now. It’s been almost 8 months since he last played, if I had to guess. But, this weekend our friends were over with Devyn, their 8 year old son (and Jon’s little buddy) and they got the XBox hooked up online, and set up in the upstairs dining room. Jon mentioned that night that I was probably going to not like the fact that he’d set it all up…

And, as I sit here updating my blog, Jon is playing his video game…with Elle sleeping in the bouncy chair next to him. As much as I hate the video game time, I love that he wanted her to hang out with him while he’s playing his dumb games.

I also found it incredibly humorous that Jon came back to the car after running into Best Buy for his game and mentioned, “You know this game’s popular when the guy with the little girl that walked in ahead of me, and the guy that walked in behind me, all walked straight to the Call of Duty display and to the register.”

I had noticed the guy with the little girl and had wondered if Jon had – just kind of thinking of what it could be like in a few years when Elle is older (so weird to think about – I like her little!!). Obviously, he had (though probably hadn’t given it the thoughts I have here). But I thought it was cute/funny/neat that he had contemplated the men around him doing what he was doing. Made me wonder if he had been harboring his own guilt for video gaming as a Dad…not sure, but it was fun to contemplate 🙂

Anyway, we ran our errands and got back home…just in time for an explosive poop incident. I had Elle dressed in a too-cute-for-words turtleneck and leggings…and she shit all over it. I’m losing 2-0 for Mom-thinks-it’s-a-super-cute-outfit to Elle’s bowel movements (Halloween night being the first).

So, between Call of Duty and explosive poop, the morning and early afternoon have really been something for this Mom!! But I wouldn’t have it any other way…

 

L

Things They Should Tell You in Books

There are a few things they should tell you in the books and websites you read about birthing a baby and bringing it home.

There have been a few moments where my friends who have also just had babies and I have said “you know, someone should really mention that to you”.

For example:

Pushing your baby out is going to feel like taking the biggest, most massive poop that you have ever taken. If you opt for the epidural (which I highly encourage everyone to think seriously about) it’ll still feel like you’re pooping.

If you end up having a vaginal delivery and tearing (like me) then you’re going to not be able to wipe your private areas for weeks on end. You’re going to have to utilize the makeshirt bidet (a squeeze bottle of water) to clean your bits, then dab gently. You’re going to have to remember not to use a washcloth or sponge in the shower to wash yourself or you’ll jeopardize the stitches.

The days and weeks following delivery will odds-on be worse feeling than the actual delivery.

Your body will be trying to recover itself – and it will feel like the flu. And if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself sitting and wondering ‘am I getting sick, what if I am getting the flu and now I have this newborn to care for?!’ until finally, a girlfriend says ‘yeah, doesn’t it feel like the flu?’ and you’ll find sweet relief that this is just part of the recovery process.

Someone should tell you to plan out a menu for yourself with lots of ruffage for the first few weeks that you’re home. The hemorrhoids will nearly kill you — or will at least leave you sitting on a toilet the middle of some afternoon making primitive animal noises, wondering how you’re going to make it to the hospital and explain yourself.

So, my suggestion to avoid that: plan on a diet of Ensure or something like it, that’s easy for your system to digest and give yourself a large window of time to spend on the toilet. The bathroom moments of the last three weeks have been far worse than anything I could describe labor and delivery as.

Someone should tell you that you will feel guilt about every EVERY thing, and you may as well just become accustomed to it rather than accept the guilt you’re feeling. Just know that it’s a feeling and it’s inane in most scenarios, so just stop worrying about all of it.

Another thing that’s tough is listening to the well-meaning family and friends. Some will feel passionately — one way. And their sisters or brothers will feel passionately — the other way. You name it – Pampers vs. Huggies vs. Luvs. Breast vs. bottle feeding. Pumping vs. not pumping. Day care vs. nanny vs. staying at home. Work vs. not work. Out in public with baby vs. stay in for six weeks. Everyone will have an opinion. The thing I’m trying to keep in mind is this: If my child is put up against a child whose mother stayed at home and someone is asked to guess which child’s mother stayed home and which child’s mother worked beyond the home — could they guess my child had a working-outside-the-home mother? Would a stranger or a neutral third party guess that my child was ONLY breastfed for three weeks (yes, we’ve ended that exciting venture in our lives)? Truly, have you ever thought to ask your friends ‘were you breastfed? oh, no? well, that explains it then.” or vice versa.

Anyway, don’t let the guilt get you down.

I had felt badly before Elle arrived that Jon didn’t get a diaper party. He insisted he’d buy diapers for his child, he didn’t need a party to stock up. Well, here’s the thing, we’ve probably gone through one jumbo package of diapers that we bought ourselves. We’ve just ventured into our second package. Granted, we lifted some from the hospital (another good tip, every time you see a package of diapers on the baby cart in the room, put them in your bag. You’re paying for them regardless, so take them home. They expect you to do this…or so I’m told).

Oh, another thing to know – ask for extra of any medicines they might give you to use in the hospital. I got a few extra of a couple of things and that was totally worth it to have at home and not have to run to the store to try to find or make a call to the doctor to try to get a prescription.

Another one that was pretty cool was to use the diaper as an ice pack. The nurses rip an end of the diaper open, fill it with crushed ice, and then tape the end shut with medical tape. That made a great ice pack and the water gets absorbed by the diaper. That provided sweet relief in the recovery process for me.

You will over-do it at some point (like I feel like I may have done yesterday). Keep in mind that childbirth is no joke and it does take awhile to recover. Keep walking and doing exercise if you can help it, but know that you’re going to think you are capable of more than you really are for a few weeks.

Oh, and accept the help. Graciously and with a stack of thank you notes ready to be written out some day – but when people offer to bring over food, or to come and love on your baby. Let them. Even if it’s just for a minute or two, it’s sweet relief to be able to fold the laundry without feeling like you need to be there for the baby. It’s nice to know there’s home-cooked food in the fridge. It’s nice to know people are thinking of you and you haven’t fallen into a baby abyss.

Ok, those are some of the things I wished I’d been told — or maybe that I wish I’d heard (because some of them I’m certain I read) prior to official Motherhood.

L