Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Whole30: the halfway point

Or at least it would have been, had I not dove headfirst into a seemingly endless stream of margaritas which doth flow like water in Austin. The very best one was had at the Iron Cactus on 6th street, but the $13 version on the roof of the Omni was, surprisingly, a close second, plastic cup notwithstanding.

So the Whole30 rests on the premise of total and complete abstinence from the forbidden categories: dairy, grains, sugar and, alas, alcohol. Since I consumed every one of those items in Texas last weekend, I am technically aaaaaaaall the way back at the starting point. Think of it as a culinary game of chutes and ladders...

Anyway, I feel awful from the cheats, and not in a guilty sort of way, but in a physically uggggggh sort of way. Two-and-a-half weeks without sugar makes reentry very, very painful. And if anything, the cravings are worse following a clean diet, but only for the first 24 hours or so. Does that make sense?

This morning is the first morning since last Thursday (the beginning of my sugar bender) that I haven't woken up feeling more dead than alive. This morning, it was about 50/50.

Here's what's been on the menu today:

Breakfast: black Americano, 4 banana 'pancakes' (I whip mine up in the blender and add a little liquid stevia, some cinnamon and some vanilla extract), and a handful of raspberries and blueberries. Waaaaaaay too much sugar (even the "legit" variety) for a true Whole30 breakfast, but I'm telling you these cravings are fierce.

Lunch: half a cucumber, handful of cherries, homemade guacamole, 6 slices of "clean" salami (is that even a thing?) and a bizarrely hued white carrot. Oh gosh, and the Pellegrino. I've been using at least a bottle per day; it's an expensive hydration option. Cheaper than wine, though.

I'll probably walk 3 miles on the treadmill tonight after the kiddos are abed. I've found that regular conscious effort in the activity department + 3 miles of walking add up to 10,000 steps, so that has been my default number to hit when I do have to do the kind of walking that takes place indoors.

So there's my update. Technically I have to start over counting from this past Monday, and seeing as how incredible the preliminary results were, I think I just may. August 27th, I'm looking at you...


Monday, July 28, 2014

Can't take the heat? Stay out of Texas

Oh my goodness, what a weekend.

I can safely say that nobody - and I mean nobody at that hotel - had ever seen anything like our assembly of women in varying stages and ages of motherhood + one very talented and very patient gentleman photographer who was capturing it all for posterity's sake. Oh the things that poor man must have seen....

Anyway, we came, we sweated (holy sultry steaming sidewalks, Austin) and we conquered what I am fairly confident is a premier party destination for bachelorette parties and spring breakers (summer breakers?) across the Lonestar state. Our hotel staff was top notch, and the venue could not have been prettier, but let's just say our fellow patrons were 100% drunker and 100% angrier between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am then most of our group. (I can't speak for the babies who may or may not have been angry and awake some of those hours.) Turns out 6th street is like the bourbon street of Texas, from what I observed. But hot damn, you people know how to make a good margarita.

Speaking of margaritas, one of my absolute favorite moments from the weekend was sharing a steaming rooftop table with Haley, Bonnie, Sarah, Adrienne and Christy as we sipped tequila and laughed like old friends. Evie was there too, but she was not imbibing. Directly.

The whole weekend was such a success. There was such a feeling of camaraderie and of sisterhood, even. Not a trace of cattiness, no cliquish dynamic, and, from what I could tell, everybody felt completely welcome. And they were. Oh, how very welcome each one of you were. Hallie perfectly captured the spirit of the weekend with her opening remarks -- "it is good that you are here."

 Marion and Haley's talks were so perfectly attuned to the spiritual climate of the audience. And then Jen...gorgeous, 6-foot-something supermodel Jen took the house down with her keynote address on Saturday night. What a party we had, ladies.

Let's do it again! Next year in __________ !

(I vote Denver.)

p.s. My darling Genevieve is BALDING after her stint in the humidity. Coincidence (she's 7 months old) or were her delicate hair follicles simply destroyed by the heat and stress of being worn against my chest, Ergo style, for 36 hours straight? I mourn. I weep. I need a better hobby...

Just call me John Paul 2.0

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Giddyup

Headed out to the lonestar state in the morning to meet up with my e-friends? E-cohorts? I don't really know, but I do know that after I told my chiropractor today during a pre-flight tune-up that I was headed to a 'mommy blogger conference' I wanted to curl up on the adjustment table and die, so maybe I should figure out a more professional or legitimate sounding handle? He chuckled and asked me if that was a little business I was starting, and then he told me my pelvis was out of alignment, so then I did actually die.

Oh, and another thing, any prayers for my sweet little John Paul Francis during his absence from mother dearest would be much appreciated. Homeboy woke up with a 101 degree forehead and no appetite to speak of, so after a day of roller coaster temps and mucho tylenol, we swung by urgent care en route to grandma's house where he was diagnosed with - wait for it - teething pain. And received for his trouble a $50 Otter Pop and a print out for his floundering imbecile of a mother on how best to attend to the dental woes of small humans. Amateur hour at casa del Uebbing this weekend fur sure. He and Joey are really really sad I'm leaving them behind, but then Uncle Packy waved a half gallon of chocolate chip ice cream under their noses and never mind, they forgot.

Right now I'm packing, drinking some delicious Spanish wine (cheat cheat cheat) and watching the latest episode of this show with earbuds shoved firmly in place, lest Evie doll be awakened from her pre-boarding slumber. Can I just shout to the virtual world how freaking excited I am to be traveling with one small baby? The freedom! The bonding time! The long, uninterrupted hotel showers! The sunbathing!

Can't wait to see you all tomorrow night. And while I'm completely not into shoes, I am completely going to walk away with the grand prize in the "preppy casual" category. Nailed down tight, just you wait.

For those of you about to take to the air wearing a baby, I salute you. I'll be the happy lady with the pretty baby on the aisle reading the latest Real Simple, sensibly pre-purchased at the supermarket.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer high

We've been basking in the unexpected joy of a house full of some of our very favorite people this week, imported all the way from Rome and stationed in our downstairs area for a few days, much to the delight of Joey and his bf+f Isabel. She and he are just the cutest little people of the age of 3 that you'll ever see. Totally worth rhyming about. So we've been touristing in our own city, drinking the most incredible wine I've ever tasted (see: cheated on my Whole30, but man was it worth it), and generally doing more than just library, petting farm, splash park, repeat.

Living it up.

No filter, and also no energy for the return hike in those 2-year old legs on the left...
In between social events I've been walking, doing laundry, thinking about maybe packing for this weekend, and trying to gather some notes together in my brain so that I don't cause Hallie and Jen to look at each other over their cocktails and confess in furtive whispers, "Wow, she's a lot better on (digital) paper."

So who all is going to be there in that vast, faceless crowd, anyway? And who can I count on to meet me on the rooftop for some serious quality time by the pool? I have a sensible black Speedo I picked up at Costco last summer and I'm not afraid to nurse in it, so I can almost guarantee that if you stick with me we will command the full and undivided attention of the rooftop bar staff. 

If you read this little blog and you're going, drop me a note and I'll look for you when I'm nervously scanning the crowd, wondering how best to use the baby in my arms as a prop. Also maybe I'm looking for someone to sing female vocals on this track when the karaoke mic drops. Just something to pray about.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

How hating eggs is healing my relationship with food

(To be clear, I understand that food is an inanimate object and, as such, is not capable of sustaining the  aforementioned relationship. Bear with me, this goes somewhere, I promise.)

Just sitting around the homestead this afternoon pounding hardboiled egg and cucumbers for the least-satisfying lunch you could possibly imagine.

We're on day 11 of our latest venture down Paleo row and I have to confess: it's wearing on me. What I'm wearing, however, is falling off me, so I feel I have no choice but to continue this bold adventure into the land of previously unpronounceable vegetables and mineral water. And eggs. Oh so many eggs.

Here's a word to the wiser; if you're going to adopt thee most expensive nutritional lifestyle du jour, be sure you check out your bank account and then cross-reference it with the going rate for grass fed beef in your neck of the notfarmland, because if you don't have a 4 digit grocery budget, you are going to be dwelling for the next month in a special place I'd like to call poultry purgatory. Do you like eggs? You do? That's nice. I bet you like scrambled eggs with a little cheese on top and a side of buttery toast with a nice foamy latte on the side. And maybe even jam.  Now take away the butter, the toast, the jam, and the milk in that latte, and you have a perfectly Paleo breakfast! You could even add some banana-flavored eggs on the side.

Do you get the sense of desperation in my menu? Do you have a good sense for the quiet dread I feel when I step into the grocery store, knowing that for an additional 19 days I'll be circling the perimeter  loading up on meat, raw nuts, coconut milk, green things, and dozens upon dozens of eggs? Let me be clear: Trader Joe's is not any fun right now. Not any fun at all. But just as I was gearing up to write this whiney whine of a post about how much I wanted to chuck this whole experiment and drown my sorrows in a giant glass of prosecco, I decided I'd better do a quick weight and measurement check, just for posterity's sake, you know?

My clothes are definitely fitting looser and I have decidedly more energy in the mornings, which is a nice change from silently begging to be knocked unconscious when Joey busts in at o'dark thirty demanding cereal and cold milk. Always with the cold milk. Never lukewarm. So I hopped on the scale to sneak a peak at what all this paleo-ing and walking has accomplished thus far, and my eyes almost popped out of their sockets.

Because 6.5 lbs. In 11 days. Eating entire fistfuls of guacamole and sides of cows and more almonds and eggs and glugs of olive oil than you could shake a strip of bacon at. (And plenty of that too, by the way) And yet there it was, the irrefutable proof on the digital readout that this is working, and that, hard as it is to admit on a 90-degree day which just begs for a Corona with lime, this is so worth it.

I busted out the tape measure just to see if there was any movement on those numbers too, and behold, my wasted waistline is an entire inch and a half trimmer. In less than 2 weeks. I feel like I could have visibly observed the shrinkage if I had been paying close enough attention. I'm shocked.  Happy shocked, for sure. But also kind of appalled by how simple it really was to finally get that number moving in the right direction. Because for as much of my life as I can remember, I've struggled with my weight.

When I was 120 lbs and swimming competitively in high school, I struggled with my weight. When I was 50 lbs heavier and battling a severe eating disorder and binge drinking every night of the week in college, I struggled with my weight. When I was a healthy 135 and walking down the aisle in my beautiful wedding dress, I struggled with my weight. And when I was a first-time mom riding a desk full-time and pounding cheezits to keep the nausea at bay while close to 60 lbs packed themselves onto my petite frame, I struggled with my weight.

It's been a lifelong struggle, but for me, the real battle hasn't been with my own body or how I happened to be naturally shaped, but with food itself. Food has never been simply a nourishment and a gift, it has always felt more like a curse, like an abusive friendship that offers false comfort and momentary happiness but then talks about you behind your back and maybe steals your boyfriend. I am, and have been, I can now say pretty confidently, addicted to the use of food as a coping mechanism or comforter. I hesitate to say addicted to food itself because, well, it's kind of necessary to survival and intrinsically good. But have I been treating it right? Have I been using it as God designed and intended?

Decidedly, no.

So I'm putting this out there for a couple reasons. Accountability, sure, but also because I want to be able to look back and pinpoint where and when it was that I finally in some infinitesimally small way began to see the light about this. I also don't think I'm alone in this. And while I don't think that the world is populated exclusively by chubby young mothers who bury their feelings of angst and stress in a box of sea-salt almonds and red wine, (disclaimer, I do not drink boxed wine. Only boxed almonds) I do think that there are lots of different people who struggle similarly in their relationship with the inanimate objects in their refrigerators.

I think that there are probably plenty of skinny people who have the same struggle and perhaps just don't wear it as apparently around their waistline. And I think there are lots of perfectly average-sized people who would love to feel control around a buffet table at a party or on a date at a Mexican restaurant while facing down a bottomless chip basket, feeling like that thing in the middle of the table has way more control over them then it should (and, coincidentally, way more of their attention than the person sitting across the table from them.

This Whole30 has been my most successful "diet" attempt in years, and I'm not sure why that is, but I'm so grateful. I'm grateful for the space that has cleared in my head (and yes, around my love handles) and for the growing sense of detachment I'm experimenting at meal times and in-between times, because the only thing more exhausting than chasing around 3 little kids all day while trying to make room for prayer, work, exercise and all else that life demands is to do all that while thinking constantly of the next thing you're going to eat (or not eat) or what you're going to treat yourself with once bedtime rolls around because it was a hard day and you earned it and you ran 3 miles, after all.

With the exception of the mileage logged, none of those circumstances actually have any bearing on what one ought to put in one's mouth next, and yet I've lived for years going from "treat" to "reward" to "indulgence" in a vicious cycle of craving and resisting and giving in, handing over a part of my autonomy and, with it, my dignity for the momentary comfort of a feeling of satiation.

No more.

I'm not pledging my allegiance to a lifelong regimen of hard-boiled eggs because oh my gosh they are sick, cage-free or no.

But I am planting my flag here in this soil and claiming this little bit of peace as mine. And as much as I love the taste of salt and vinegar kettle chips after a long day of teething babies and missed deadlines, the happiness is fleeting and the sense of comfort is short lived, followed by a much deeper sense of shame and regret.

Food is good, and celebrating with food and drink is natural and healthy. Making food the source of goodness, however, and going to it for reward and comfort and distraction, feels more like slavery.

While the self-imposed rules of this month of eating a certain way are constricting, I feel more free within the framework of this Whole30 than I've felt in a very long time, culinarily speaking. Maybe the absence of sugar has killed the strongest of the cravings, or maybe I'm just getting a long-overdue look at what life without food as comforter and reward looks like. And it feels liberating.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

You're my best friend, internet

Well, maybe not the internet per se in its vast, personless impersonality, but you all, gentle readers, are absolutely top notch.

Thank you thank you thank you to to the moon and back for all the comments you left on yesterday's only a little bit pathetic post. Truly made a mother's day. I think yesterday afternoon through tonight were the very finest hours we've spent nursing, Evie and I, because for the first time since she got here, I wasn't worrying about her size and how much she was consuming. It was nice. So thank you for that.

Thank you especially for the side-by-side comparisons of different sized kids from the same families and for kids who switched between breast and formula and didn't cause a blip on the 'ol growth chart. I really didn't want to stop nursing her, but I was starting to wonder if I was causing her to suffer or endangering her future development or compromising her chances of making a good match later in life or...well you get the picture.

Love letter, over and out.

Oh! But I just remembered, I have another reason to smooch the web, and it's because thanks to your savvy suggestions, I asked for and have indeed received promise of a shiny new FitBit. It will be here tomorrow. Much excitement. Many pounds displaced. So technology.

Finally, now that I can be sure it's going to stick, I'm on day 7 of another Whole 30. Remember how the last one ended up? Yeah, we named her Genevieve. (Note: I'm not insinuating that the Whole 30 program leads to pregnancy, only that I happened to discover we were pregnant on about day 11 of our last attempt, and thus crashed and burned in savory flames of Nutella and Italian sour cream and onion Pringles.)

But anyway, day 7. One week in. And it isn't terrible! I mean how can bacon wrapped dates ever be terrible? Okay, the no booze part is kind of terrible, but on the plus side (hopefully not the plus size) I'm so very clear headed and chipper in the mornings now. Do you know how much damage a single (ahem, healthy) glass of red wine in the evening does to a 31-year-old body upon waking the next morning? Lots, it turns out. But I digress.

My goal for this Whole 30 is simple: I want a healthier relationship with food. I want to lose the rest of my "baby weight," and I don't want to wake up every morning wishing to be knocked unconscious.  Also, I may have been tremendously inspired by Heather's transformative efforts in the health and wellness department. Also, I bought some million dollar vitamins from a friend last month and am hoping to boost their magical powers.

With that I'll bid you all a fond adieu and be off to the basement to my newly-relocated treadmill of delight. With this on my Kindle (it's less than $5 right now!), because Jen said so.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Crowd-sourcing a well baby check

Dearest mother bloggers,

I have this little baby girl. And by little, I mean absolutely petite beyond all imagining.

Don't let the food face fool you, she's teeny. Look at those nowhere-near-squeezed-by-the-Bumbo legs.
See? She's a wee little mite of a girl. And yeah yeah, though she be but little, she is fierce, there's just something off-putting to me, her mother, about how very wee she is.

My other two boys are not big kids by any means. I think they're in the 35-50% range for weight and height, and always have been. But Evie Doll, as she is usually called around these parts, is very much the likeness and scale of a living baby doll. Which is of course adorable, but when you're breastfeeding, is a little anxiety-producing as well.
Evie Doll, meet baby doll
Dave thinks I may be barking needlessly up the worry tree when we are, in fact, in a verdant alpine meadow above treeline, but I want a second opinion nevertheless. Of the internet variety. (Please note: her doctor who delivered her and has cared for her since birth has absolutely zero concerns and reassures me at every check up that she is growing perfectly on her own little curve.) And so I turn to you, gentle readership: have any of you had tiny babies? Were they exclusively breastfed? Did you try supplementing with formula to put weight on? Did they simply grow into healthy, petite toddlers and kids?

Here are Evie's stats:
  • Born at 38 weeks 4 days (I'm a lucky girl - 6 lbs, 6 oz and 19 inches long - my smallest by more than 2 lbs and my shortest by 3 inches!
  • Dropped to 5 13 after birth, regained birth weight by one week old
  • 8 lbs, 11 oz at 2 month well baby
  • 11 lbs even at 4 month well baby
  • 13 lbs even at 6 month well baby
  • 13 lbs 6 oz today, on the eve of her 7 month birthday
  • 3% for weight and 5% for height on WHO chart, from birth until today; no change in percentile
  • repeat ultrasounds during pregnancy because she was measuring small (that makes one of us) and for "short femurs" (I didn't even know that was a thing to worry about but, you betcha I got my google on hardcore that night after the tech let that little gem slip from her lips)
Is this normal? Am I crazy? Should I take her to reverse weight watchers and see if they can inject her with some of the fat she left behind in my torso region?

Some other factors which may contribute to her slimness are the presence of a 5 foot tall aunt, her godmother actually, on her paternal side, and the fact that Her Ladyship sleeps 11 hours a night (don't hate me, I earned this one) without a feed. She nurses 6-8 times per day with occasional table food offered as she shows interest. I know breast milk is denser calorically so I'm hesitant to load her up on too much crappy rice cereal, though I have been known to mix some with avocado oil and an avocado, much to her disgust and horror.

An anxious, first time  veteran mother thanks you kindly.

And so does this girl.

Friday, July 11, 2014

7QT: Unaccompanied minors, amazing customer service, and why my hideous redecoration of our little-used living room has me smiling so big

1. You know who's awesome lately? The customer service industry. Or rather, two particular companies (FitBit and Timi & Leslie) which have been completely and utterly surprising in their responsiveness and kindness to a poor customer in need of service.

Exhibit A:
My beautiful diaper bag, purchased in a fit of hormonal indulgence at 37 weeks with Evie. I get compliments on its beauty at least twice a week, and nobody ever suspects it's a diaper bag. But the material is pulling at this one teeny corner of the notleather and I was saddened and surprised. My last T&L bag lasted me 2 years, including one spent trotting back and forth to Italy, with no such signs of stress. I emailed the company, the asked for my receipt and a picture of the offending corner, and bada bing, a brand new bag is coming my way and I get to keep the "old" one. Sadly they have discontinued the color I loved and purchased it for, so it turns out my lucky little sister is probably the one getting a new diaper bag out of this situation, because none of these really struck my fancy. Shhhh.

2. I've also got an email in to the good peeps at FitBit, thanks to your lovely suggestions, and I'm feeling pretty optimistic about that whole situation, too. The week of retail redemption is at hand!

3. I'm getting so excited to meet all my Edel girls in just 2 short weeks! I'm also kind of in denial that I'm going to be getting a weekend "off," albeit with a baby in hand and a mic in the other, but hey, one can't accurately call any sort of trip a vacation once offspring have sprung, am I right?

4. I have gone ballistic decorating and rearranging my house ever since the Nesting Place burned up my Kindle a few weeks back, thanks to Jen's recommendation. Steph says it well when she identified it as a shot of decorating heroin to the vein, or something along those lines.

Anywho, I've got a happy new edition resting comfortably in our living room that goes absolutely not at all with anything decor related, and yet when I behold its ugliness I smile to myself and whisper inaudibly It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. But what about the opposing corollary, it doesn't have to be beautiful to be perfect? Copyrighting it.
Definitely not feng shui. And yet, perfect...
5. So yeah, I finally pulled my itching trigger finger on a Craigslist treadmill at long last after walking into the feral kid's club at our gym Tuesday morning to retrieve my rat pack and had a few moments during which I could not locate the youngest member. Not in the stroller I'd wheeled in, not in the caretaker's arms...oh, there she is... sitting on the bottom level of the soft play structure IN THE ARMS OF A RANDOM 5-YEAR-OLD GIRL. Just to clarify, my 6 month old daughter, who cannot sit up, was being held by a strange child. The daycare worker happily fetched the baby along with her accompanying brothers while my normally confrontational self stared dumbly, accepted the compromised baby without a word. (Don't worry, I picked my jaw up off the floor and called the front desk after I got home. But still.) Needless to stay, Evie's kid's club days are over until she turns 4 or gains 20 lbs, whichever happens first.

6. I just finished reading C.S. Lewis' Perelandra for perhaps the seventh time, but definitely the first time in several years, and I had forgotten how utterly astonishing it is, how deeply spiritual and how moving, and how very good fiction is for the soul. I'm all about memoirs, DIY manifestos and self-helping manuals, but once it a while it's just so good to get lost in another world. (Thus far in my literary life, only C.S. Lewis and Michael O'Brien have the capacity to move me on a deep spiritual level, but I'm always open to suggestions.) Perelandra is the kind of book that will, quite unassumingly, cause you to set it down and momentarily lose yourself in contemplation of the nature of God. And it is most definitely not what one would traditionally call spiritual reading. It's beautiful, captivating and engaging prose of the first degree.

7. I have a problem with terrible music. The problem is, I like it. The corollary problem is that my 3-year-old son sometimes asks me to sing "every word to the airplane song for me, Mommy." and then I can't. Because adult themes and language. At least he's not into Ke$ha. Yet.

See you at Jen's place?




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Walk-a-thon: Crushed it

That is, my husband crushed it, dark horse that he is. He knocked me out of the top spot by about 11,000 steps, which is basically an entire day's worth of walking.

How he did it is another matter entirely.

It turns out my sneaky co-competitior was in the habit of, ahem, checking up on me and my step totals for the day, gleaned from a quick glance at my phone on his way out the door to the gym after bedtimes and dishes and the like.  He wasn't technically cheating since lots of days I'd text him my count to mock/motivate him whilst he sat, desk bound, almost powerless to answer my numbers, but it sure was nice for him to have a goal to shoot for and then exceed every day.

So he beat me. But you know what? He felt kind of bad for being kind of unethical in his techniques...so he suggested we split the prize. $50 bucks instead of a hundred? Sounds okay to me. Because the hot pink FitBit Zip was also around $50...and I'd been eyeing it up since about week two when the glamor of sweating all over my iPhone had worn off and I was pretty sure I'd be contracting breast/hip/ovarian cancer in no time from the various places I like to stash the thing.

So thanks to a magnanimous spouse and Amazon prime, this little cutie was in my paws in 2 short days. And then, for another glorious 2 short days, it was mine...and how wonderful those days were! The first day I wore it I got 14,000 steps easily, so motivated was I. The second day was in the 11K range, but still respectable. And then on the third day, well...on the third day, we went to the "beach" at a nearby reservoir and I took it off my waistband and stowed it in the stroller pocket for safekeeping. And then we played, and then we de-sanded, and then we marched back to the car and loaded everything/one up, and then...

well...

Something else got crushed:

Womp, womp.

Not the best way to blow $50.

Now I'm debating replacing it or just leveling up a couple more fifties for a sweet Craigslist treadmill. I love the gym near our house and the price can't be beat...but I don't love putting dainty princess Genevieve in the sometimes Lord of the Flies-esque kids's club. I literally spend my entire workout having mini panic attacks about someone knocking her out of her stroller or an exersaucer ...(crazycrazywho'dbelieveI'mnotafirsttimemom?) so, I think I'd get a better workout in our basement with minions circling me like attention-seeking piraƱas. Yes? No?

And I haven't really lost any more weight since committing to the daily 10K steps, but committed I am, and I think I'm going to see long term results over the coming months because walking 5.5 miles per day is a lot, and I'm a lot more motivated to complete a 'work out' that requires neither immense exertion or specific 60 minute chunks of time. It just works, for now. Plus, my legs look great.

How about you walkers out there? And all you runners who emailed/commented with the secret of the century, which is that walking = weight loss while running only = running. Mind blown. How long have you kept up your routine? And how long before you saw results in the mirror?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New Baby, New Mom

(Not a pregnancy announcement. I don't know why I feel such a need to issue that disclaimer, aside from the small voice in my head screaming "stop traumatizing people who are considering NFP." Which, by the way, works, and by that I mean it makes you aware of your fertility as a couple, causes you to have serious conversations with your spouse regularly, along the lines of are we ready for another baby? Have you slept in the last 3 weeks and can I gingerly stroke your arm? And my personal favorite Are you sure you should have that third margarita, darling, since we're seeking to avoid?) all while in no way minimizing the enormous responsibility and gift of being co-creative with the Creator. End disclaimer.)


Whew. Exhaustive PSA aside, as I was sipping a piping hot espresso shoving scrambled eggs into my 6-month-old's mouth this morning whilst she perched on my lap at breakfast, I got to thinking. I thought to myself, self, you don't really mother this third born the way you mothered your first.

And thank God for that, amiright?

I have thee most vivid memory of leaping across my parent's kitchen table and slapping a spoonful of Death by Chocolate trifle out of my mother's hand as she hovered dangerously near Sir Joseph's tiny, 9-month-old lips. MOTHER! I screamed, WHAT IF HE HAS A TREE NUT ALLERGY?! THERE ARE WALNUTS IN THAT!!!!!

And not to minimize the real and horrifying dangers of life-threatening allergies in the slightest, neither my family nor Dave's has any history of food allergies, the likeliness that my baby was going to swell up and immediately stop breathing were relatively slim. Still, I quite literally slapped my mother's hand away as if she were spooning rat poison into his mouth, leaving her a little stunned but primarily amused (I presume, mother) because she, the mother of 7 healthy children, had no apparent business trying to sneak her grandson a bite of chocolate deliciousness.

Fast forward nearly 4 years and I'm the one exposing my precious to highly-allergic table foods well before the 12 month safety threshold, because I think I read somewhere that the sooner the better in terms of preventing some food allergies, and also because I'm sitting at the breakfast table in my pajamas, coffee in one hand and laptop opened nearby and I'm giving instructions to the 3 year old about proper table etiquette and somebody pooped and the baby would like some food and okay, here you go, open wide sweetheart!

I was chatting with a friend yesterday about how differently we mother our third born children, and how much we wish we could go back and tell our freshly-minted momselves: it's going to be okay. This is going to get so much easier. and most especially: you're going to be a totally different mom in just a few short years. 

We each of us have in our possession a third baby who sleeps and eats like a dream. Never fussy for no reason, never protesting naps or bedtimes, happy just to be included in the day-to-day of busy family life.

I wondered aloud whether we'd both been blessed with supernaturally calm children for our third go-round, as kind of a cosmic consolation for our, ahem, spirited first-borns and HIIIIIIGH needs second borns, and then I wondered if maybe it was we who had calmed down.

I've been doing this professionally for close to 5 years now, counting pregnancy, and while I'm by no means an expert in my field, I have learned a thing or two about what constitutes grounds for freaking the freak out and what is simply another speed bump on the long and winding road of parenthood. So while my kids are regularly presenting me with new and challenging scenarios, especially the highly mobile pair, I'm a little less prone to panicky google sessions and frantic phone calls to my husband about a weird rash, a strangely pitched cry or an afternoon of nap-strking organized by the local (and highly entitled) toddler union.

These days I'm more likely to shrug my metaphorical shoulders, load 'erybody up in the mini and drive aimlessly to a neutral location to attempt to reset everybody's moods and salvage the remains of the day. Super Target anyone? Or just a new-to-us park where the novelty might defuse the rivalry running rampant in my ranks that afternoon.

So new moms? Take heart. You're going to get better at this. And things that struck you as horrifying and overwhelming and devastating? They'll still be there. And while there will always be x-factors of an unknown varietal, particularly with your oldest guinea pig, you will so get a handle on this baby thing. If anything you'll become stupidly confident in your ability to make more babies, and thereby find yourself perpetually behind the procreative eight ball and honestly, the stuff of life and living will wear you down and wear you out and make you more yourself, purified by the experiences and the hardships and the heartaches and yes, the good stuff too.

And one day you'll find yourself absentmindedly rubbing anti-aging moisturizing cream onto somebody's diaper rash and the only thing that will stop and give you pause will be the price tag of what you're slathering on the baby bottom at hand, and not whether it's organic or hypoallergenic or tested for use on infants under the age of 2. And then you'll shrug and keep rubbing it in, mentally high-fiving yourself for remembering to put anything at all on that poor little butt.

Babies don't really get any easier the more you have. It's you who grows in confidence, experience, and, frankly, indifference to what you formerly perceived as ALL THE THINGS that mattered so very much when offspring were just a hazy concept and your expanding waistline was all you had to show for your parenting experience.

So, to all my inquisitive fellow grocery getters, imma let you in on a little secret: Yes, I do in fact have my hands full. But let me assure you, when there was only one in the cart, he was perched in an organic bamboo-cotton card cover pulled from the massive depths of my plastic-coated diaper bag, retrieved and installed only after a healthy slathering of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer had been applied to every square inch of cart surface. I also had a baby carrier stuffed in there, lest he become dissatisfied and prefer to ride upon my bosom for the duration of our stressful foray into the store.

My hands were just as full when my car held only one car seat. It's my heart and my brain that have enlarged now, and there's more room for error, more room for fun, and more room for patience to manage the additional children you see.