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Happy Mom = Happy Baby

7 Jun

My girlfriend just called.  She is a new mom.  Her little girl is two weeks old.  She is not calling to glow and share love stories, she is calling to cry because she has mastitis.  

Ugh.  I had mastitis.  Four @#$&ing times.  It was awful.  I had it with my first child; my beautiful daughter who had a high arch.  As luck would have it, I was able to match her high arch; I produced enough milk for  small village and my nipples went flat.  

On my first visit to the Lactation consultant, I was given an industrial breast pump and was told to “pump for comfort.”  Because this was my first round of breast feeding, I had no clue that my body would replenish what I pumped.  But because 12 ounces (no that was not a typo) per breast was far more than what my daughter needed, the excess milk hardened in my breasts.  My breasts were beyond engorged; they sat like immovable boulders on my chest.  Mastitis.  Cold Compresses, hot compresses, and fevers.  This was not how I imagined the glory of breast feeding.

Four times I returned to the hospital to receive antibiotics to fight an infection that seemed to be neverending.  So after 8 weeks I finally stopped breast feeding and pumping.

I adored breastfeeding, when it worked.  But, if I am honest the next happiest day was the day I stopped breastfeeding.  The day I retired my chaffed nipples, switched off the breast pump and started feeding my beautiful daughter liquid gold from a can!  It was not only my happiest day, it was my daughter’s happiest day.  

I went to my pediatircian like I was entering a confessional,” I must tell you that I have stopped breastfeeding.”  I breathed in slow and steady waiting for the reprimand; waiting for the claws of the La Leche League to find their ways through the walls 

“Well, that’s okay, it doesn’t work for everyone.  Great job giving it a shot, though.  The stuff they are making now is just as good as breastmilk, don’t let anyone tell you any different.”

…and that was the end of my mastitis and my breast feeding and the beginning of bonding between my beatutiful baby and I.

So I sat in a chair when my dear friend called listened as she cried, as she felt guilty, and as she worked through every emotion.  Once she had exhausted her thoughts, reminded her that the best gift we can give our children is the gift of a Happy Mom. Happy Moms make Happy Babies, and as luck would have it, Happy Moms aren’t necessarily breast feeding moms.

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Label Whore

3 Jun

It is absolutely not intentional.  I promise.  But, as it turns out I am a bit of a label whore.

I was recently given a gift; well actually my son was given a gift, a blue plaid, seersucker, romper.  First of all, I stopped putting my son in rompers when he was 6 months old.  Second, my son has never worn, nor will he ever wear, seeksucker.  Three, I like plaid, just not that bold or intentional of a print.  The gift came with no receipt but I recognized the “house” label of a department store in our area so I set out to make a return.

Because I didn’t have a receipt, I was told I would only be given store credit for the current price of the item, which I applied towards a pair of Converse for the munchkin. As I made the new purchase, I thought to myself, am I a bad mom?  Am I wrong to dress my children in certain labels and styles as opposed to simpler, less expensive “paraphenalia.”

I have decided, No.  

If I can make a trip to Nordstroms Rack and purchase Quicksilver, Billabong, and Hurley clothing, for the same price as department store plaid, seersucker rompers I will.  I know that our world is vicisous.  I wish that we didn’t live in a label conscious world and I wish I were the type of person to stop the pandering, but I am not.  I am the mom who recognizes that whether or not I like it, the world does pay attention to these labels.  I am aware that kids are mean and fiesty.  They will  make fun of those that don’t fit in, like kids that wear seersucker rompers past toddlerhood.  

I would like to think that I am a good mom, because I am choosing my battles.  If something as simple as clothing can help my kids transition into the formidable, school years that much easier, then i will do everything I can to help.  Please don’t get me wrong – I am not degrading those who can’t afford “labels,” so hold tight.  I am simply saying if given the choice between no-name brand, department store boredom or hip, trendy, name brand surf and skate clothes that fit our lifestyle,  I will opt to be the Label Whore every time.

Honesty on a First Date

30 May

It was blazing hot today so I decided to take the kids to the beach.  Well, it’s not really a beach, it’s more like an inlet on a harbor, but it’s fairly peaceful and self-contained and it’s perfect when I don’t feel like charging after my kids into the surf.  Here I can simply pop on the life vests and let the kids float, make sandcastles and enjoy the beach as much as they do.

On this particular morning, I am on the beach with the kids and one other mom.  She is with her two girls.   I am relatively new to the area and I don’t know that many people.  Every park, beach, library encounter is like a date to find a new friend.  Truth be told I just miss my Hometown girls.

“I’m so glad there is someone else here, I thought the beach was closed.”  the young mom made her way over to where we were sitting.  Our kids played well together, which was breath of fresh air.  

I soon found out that this woman was a stay at home mom.  After a successful career as an RN, she decided to take a couple of years to be at home with her daughters.  I told her that I had just returned to work after two years at home (damn economy).  We sat in silence for a moment.

“Are you enjoying yourself?”  I asked.

“Of course I am enjoying it, it’s just that it’s a lot of work.  More than I thought.  At least at work I had breaks.  Some times my husband comes home at the end of the day and I just talk his ear off.  I mean there are many days that he’s the first adult I talk too.”  I laughed out loud.

” Oh I hear you.  It’s rough.  I mean it’s great and it’s wonderful, but I think moms feel guilty whether they work or not.  If we work, we feel guilty because we are missing out on our kids lives.  We struggle knowing that someone else is raising them.  But, when we’re home there is the guilt of being exhausted and not enjoying every moment.  We stress if the day isn’t filled with education, stimulation and fun, because if it’s not then the the TV goes on…again.”   My new friend nodded in agreement and smiled.

“You know what’s awful,” I continued, “I don’t necessarily want to work and I don’t want to be a stay at home mom either.  I guess that sounds pretty bad.”

“Not at all.”  said my new friend. “I would love to be a stay at home mom with a nanny at my side.”

“Totally,” I butted in. ” So I could take a break when needed, so I could leave and get a pedicure, a massage, or go to lunch.”

“Oh, amen sister.” 

She and I continued our confessional for the next hour and swapped numbers at the end of the afternoon.  What a joy to make a new friend who appreciates my honesty.  I certainly hope this first meeting was not our only date.  I could use much more of that refreshing, real, honesty in my life.

Toasting the Trials of Motherhood

28 May

My girlfriends and I watched Sex and the City.  Not later.  Not after. Not when it became cool.  We watched religiously.  Like the cult followings of  Dallas, the original Beverly Hills 90210 and Friends.  We would watch every Sunday with our jammies while sipping Cosmos.  I remember the days before kids when we would have Sex and the City marathons just for the heck of it, because we could.  And in all those times, I was like most young woman, I wanted to be “seen” as the Carrie.  I mentally assigned each girl in our group to role.  Because I was the aspiring writer and I talked about sex, I determined that I was like Carrie with a splash of Samantha.  But, because I was an executive and a stubborn debater, I had a pinch of Miranda as well.

Even now I  sit back and reflect on the foursome and recognize that Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda are relatable personas for most women.  Each character  represents a classic, emotionally charged, passionate, sophisticated, fighting aspect of womanhood.

But never once did I  relate to Charlotte.

Until tonight.

Spoiler alert, ladies.  The second Sex and the City movie is even better than the first!

Of course the movie captures extravagant fun, food, and fashion.  But within the escape there were several hidden gems; brief relatable moments, meltdowns of Charlotte, aka the struggling mom.  A mom who loses it and locks herself in a closet to cry, trying to gain composure.  A mom who sits with her girlfriend over cocktails and admits that motherhood is not easy.  A mom who admits that life is not complete simply because she has children.  A mom who struggles to find  joy in screams and crying, who longs for a moment of sanity in an otherwise hectic day of selfless giving.

In the midst of the fashion, writing, marriage and shoes, I toasted dear sweet Charlotte.  Cheers Mama.  For the first time, I know exactly how you feel.

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