Archive | February, 2013

The X-Factor

22 Feb

Okay moms, I’ve decided.  All this stressing, worrying, consulting, reading, class-taking, and flash card purchasing is in vain.  For the first six months, you only have control over 10% of what your kid does well and doesn’t do well (sleep, eat, latch, take solids, sit up, roll over, laugh and crawl).  There will always be another kid that makes you wonder about your effectiveness as a mother.  Don’t let it erode your confidence.  Some kids just have it:  the X-Factor.

Beatrice was always a great sleeper.  By 8 weeks she had a schedule, slept 5-6 hours at a time and went back to sleep easily after waking to nurse.  Her brother Gus….not so much.

I started a new baby playgroup for Fussy Gus and we have met several other moms and babies (all of them first time moms).  I am sure they are sick of hearing me talk about how different Gus is from his sister and what a great sleeper she was.  Who am I trying to convince?  Maybe if I say it out loud enough, I’ll convince myself that I’m not doing anything wrong, or, rather there isn’t anything else I could or should be doing. I just have a fussy baby.

Then yesterday it hit me.  I hosted playgroup at my house.  While a few of us commiserated over interrupted nighttime sleep, babies that have to be held all the time and low milk supply, I was in awe of one mom and baby.  Not only did “J” sleep from 11-6 each night, and had been doing so for weeks, when we asked his mom about nursing, she said she produced 4-5 ounces… per side.

“PER SIDE!!!”  we all exclaimed.  She had 200 bags of frozen breast milk in her freezer.  Meanwhile I was happy to get 3 whole ounces when I pumped (way back when I still pumped).  They sell supplements, herbal teas, even a line of snacks to help with Mother’s Milk.  Old wives tales tell us to drink Guinness every day.  Our Pediatricians tell us to eat fatty foods.  And all of that stuff helps to an extent. Some women just produce a lot of milk and others don’t.

I think, among all of Bea’s friends, their moms and I have probably read just about every sleep book out there on the market:  Happiest Baby on the Block, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, the Sleep Lady, Ferber, etc.  So I’d consider us all pretty educated on the topic of sleep.  Why, then, did some babies cry from colic for three months and not sleep through the night until a year?  My expert answer is: Who the hell knows?  Some kids just have the X-Factor and some don’t.

We all started out feeding our eager six month olds healthy veggies and fruit.  Many of us reveled in making our own baby food.  There wasn’t a colored jar on the shelf that Bea wouldn’t heartily gobble up. So, why, then, does one little friend eagerly gobble up whatever vegan-friendly concoction his mom makes in the Vitamix, and Beatrice suddenly only likes chicken nuggets, rice and plain noodles?  On veggies, he’s got it. She doesn’t.

I nursed Bea for five months, so I was fully prepared to stick it out again with Gus (yeah, it hurt just as much as the first time.  Needles. In. My. Boob.)  But poor guy was losing weight.  We supplemented and he was still losing weight.  He was ravenous after a feeding because he wouldn’t stay on for more than 3 minutes.  So I stopped after two weeks.  Why?  Beatrice had the X-Factor on nursing.  Gus did not.

So, I am happy to say, let’s not stress anymore.  Do what you gotta do, moms. If your baby does not have the X-factor, its ok.  By six months, he will have caught up for the most part (and if he hasn’t, your ped will help you).   If you or your kid is lucky enough to have the X-Factor, be glad, but don’t get complacent.  Your next one may not.  🙂

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Remind you of anyone?

13 Feb

A good friend passed this onto me yesterday. Hilarious.

http://www.scarymommy.com/when-mother-knows-best-its-the-worst/

I’m OK, You’re OK

1 Feb

So I have to thank my friend Lisa Dvorak at Housewife Hon for inspiring me to write again. Well, maybe the competitive edge in me came out. Lisa stays home all day, every day with her 2 1/2 year old and 7 month old. Lisa is hands on in every sense of the word, and makes all of us fellow playgroup moms look bad by making fun crafts and then having time to blog about it. She has managed to post like 10 times already in January. Her most recent post is about cleaning toddler poop up from the carpet, on her hands and knees, WHILE SHE BREASTFED HER INFANT AT THE SAME TIME IN THE ERGO CARRIER. You read that correctly. I would have been sobbing in a corner on the phone to my mother or husband, baby screaming from hunger. But I digress….

Where to pick up? Seeing as how I have both my kids parked in front of Dora the Explorer, I estimate I have three minutes to write. So, uh, yeah I got pregnant, was sick for three months (If Kate Middleton was a 10, I was a 9), lost my job, moved to the suburbs in the middle of a Baltimore summer (AGAIN) and had my cutie pie Gus William on December 1st. Okay, so you’re caught up.

Well, I guess not quite. This blog started out as something to discuss fertility, and slowly walk you through my journey of having Beatrice. Then I got pregnant again (not through fertility… oops!) What many people don’t know is that I suffered Post Partum Depression very badly with Beatrice and somewhat again with Gus.

Maybe this is a post for another time, but if you’ve had PPD, or even a touch of baby blues, you and I are sympatico and we share the war wounds. If not, you are one of the lucky ones that my friends and I secretly make fun of, because newborns are like ZERO fun on a good day. Just kidding, hahaha, seriously though you were lucky and probably have a sunny outlook on life all the time. So I won’t get into how it felt, how I got help, etc. That’s an important story but, again, for another time.

When going back to my Doctor for a check up recently she asked me if I would accompany her on an upcoming psychiatry lecture to med students. She was going to be discussing Post Partum Depression and wanted someone who had experienced it to be there with her to talk to the group and answer questions. She said she knew I would be “brutally honest.” LOL. I was more than happy to do this! I feel like everything happens for a reason, and if I could possibly help one person who will eventually become a doctor go on to help another person, then it was worth it. I mean it was worth it to have my kids and all, but you know what I mean.

It was an auditorium full of med students and my doctor and I basically walked through my history… having Beatrice, taking her home and feeling full on as though my life was over as I knew it. Getting help, getting better, having another baby…

But I wish I had talked about one other thing.  As a doctor treating someone with PPD, I think its important for them to understand, contextually, what it means to be a parent today.  And that is, that we are wayyyyy too hard on ourselves.  From the minute a woman gets pregnant, she wants to do it better than her own mother and instantly starts making mental notes of what she knows she’ll NEVER do as a parent (wink, wink).  And when we give birth, we immediately feel we aren’t doing enough, should be doing something better, bigger, more spectacular.   We don’t spend enough time with them, they watch too much TV, we haven’t done the baby book yet,  they haven’t learned to swim or missed out on immersion Mandarin classes. Why do we do this to ourselves?   Where does all the guilt come from?

I couldn’t articulate this any better than the blogger, Pregnant Chicken.  She wrote about Why You’re Never Failing as a Mother and a good friend passed it along.   Honestly this article sums it up for me, and I want every pregnant woman to read it!

Its important, I believe, when trying to understand a new mom’s feeling of depression, to know that she has just been thrust into this new competitive world of parenting. She’s been preparing for motherhood her whole life, and now that she’s finding its terribly hard, she feels like a failure.  She sees all these other super moms around her (who are actually feeling the same insecurities, she’ll later go on to find).  The pressure to breastfeed (breastmilk is best!), feed organically, to co-sleep or not to co-sleep, to make sure your child doesn’t lay eyes on a television screen  more than 10 minutes a month…. this new mom feels the pressure, and feels guilt for not enjoying EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of her newborn child as everyone says she should.

They only make “Congratulations” cards for new moms, so that must mean I should be constantly feeling on cloud nine, right?  They don’t make cards that tell the truth: “You are about to fall in love like you never thought possible, but it may not happen for you right away and you are still a good mom if it doesn’t.  It is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, and you will not get much gratification for your efforts at first.  I am here if you need a hug.  Oh yeah, and you will sleep again, just not for a few months.”

Take it easy on yourself, Mom.  You are doing great.  And, what your child needs most–more than breastmilk, a natural birth, organic carrots or violin lessons– is a happy, healthy, semi well-rested mom.

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