The Chop That Was Part II

When I started trying to get pregnant, I stopped dying my hair. At that point in my life I was becoming a mom and as such, I would worry about anything and everything from that point out. I used to love dying my hair. I had been doing it since I was 16. I have had every color from orange to purple to deep reds to black. Today, it is my natural dirty blonde and no longer hanging down my back but stopping at my shoulders:

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In college, when I was living in Paris, I had a girl I was living with embarrass me by pointing out the beginning of the gray hair that I already had. It was just a few strands at the time, but when she was loudly going off about in as we stood on a street corner surrounded by a bunch of people, it was just humiliating for me at 20 years old. It was also the first time I had noticed it.

By the time I was done with my masters program and was set up as a tenured teacher, the few strands had become a full on strip. Now, once that I had the baby, my slim strip was a full blown patch. When I went back to work my students even asked me if I had done it on purpose or if it was a birth mark. Instead of being embarrassed though, I have embraced my natural hair color and my big, white strip. I feel as though it is just part of this new season in my life.

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I never knew hair could be so liberating. Looking back at all the times I changed it though, they often coincided with hard parts of growing up: changes in jobs, ups and downs (and breakups) of relationships, moves, etc. This season in my life also marks one of the most settled ones of my life.

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Are Moms and Dads that Different?

My son has reached a point in his development where he knows that I leave in the morning and he does not like it. He has the most heartbreaking yet oddly adorable cry face too which just means he knows how to pull it out to get me to cave in .1 seconds.

He needs me to hold him. All the time. From the moment I get home at night, I am holding him and carrying him around with everything that I do. This was much easier when he was smaller and less mobile and therefore, easily wearable and between that and my body heat, would spend much of his time napping. Now, not so much.

This morning I was running late for work because my son had woken up and immediately wanted to nurse. I have IMMENSE guilt when I turn him down from nursing, so I will always nurse him when he asks for it. He nurses and then once he’s more awake he wants to cuddle and be held, only I REALLY have to pee and shower and get ready to go. I attempt to put him into his pack and play which is just explosive tears the moment he realizes that he’s headed for it.

Quickly, I hold onto him and run to the bathroom. And yes, I pee while I am holding him and he’s happy and chatting as he plays with my necklace. It is 100% true: you lose all privacy once you become a mom and as a mom, your kid will be in the bathroom with you.

Enter my husband.

He just starts shaking his head when it finds us there and takes our son from me.

“We have to get on the same page,” he tells me. I roll my eyes. My mom never let us cry needlessly or for anything when we were my son’s age. You can not spoil someone with love. You can spoil them with things, but that’s something for when he’s older to be worried about.

“Why do you think he’s so different and calm when I’m home? He’s secure. He knows I will be there when he cries.” Then my husband rolls his eyes.

“You’re going to turn him into a mama’s boy.”

And here’s where I zing him good. “Well, apple…tree.” I wink. My husband is further not amused. “And, he’s already a mama’s boy. He’s making little mmm and momom sounds when he cries now because he knows I will be there. We’re working on the official, mama.”

“Go to work.”

The irony in all of it though is that while I am teaching today, our son will be sitting on the couch with my husband as my husband does work for school and my son watches wrestling or cartoons and takes his nap. Then I’ll be home and we’ll switch to Murder, She Wrote and Little House on the Prairie and we’ll sit cuddling and sharing my evening yogurt that he has become obsessed with and the night will go on.

As different as moms and dads are, I think they’re also a lot more alike than they are different. Moms just have more patience and are more open to giving up personal freedoms such as peeing without a small audience.

 

Baby Led Weaning is a Life Saver

It is a fact that my son did not want to be born.

I did EVERYTHING I possibly could to start labor.

I walked, ate hot food, bounced on a ball, did all kinds of stretches…everything, but I would not dilate and the moment the doctor said they were willing to induce, I jumped on it because being 42 weeks pregnant with a nearly 10 pound baby is life’s slowest form of torture.

Only once he was born, all our Logan wants to do is grow up. Physically, he is ahead of every benchmark. He was already trying to roll over in the hospital and was picking his head up. By 6 months old, he was using his play stroller and taking steps. There is no stopping him.

Baby-Led Feeding

I started him on home made purees at 4 1/2 months by almost 6 months, he was grabbing the spoon from my hand to feed himself. I did pre-loaded spoons for awhile that he would take and eat from, but then we reached a point where even that was frustrating for him so, I began to research baby led weaning.

It really freaked me out at first because I was terrified that he would choke. However, it has been such a life saver. He is so much happier when he has strips of food in front of him and he tries so much more food now. This morning he ate more than half of his breakfast.

It’s also teaching me more about foods. It makes me have to cook for my family even on nights when I am exhausted from work and school. I know what’s in food now and I have finally shifted over to a almost completely organic food list. We replaced cow’s milk with fortified almond milk. Even the cleaners I have used have gone from whatever name brand my mom used to get to plant based products. Logan continues to change us everyday and it’s almost fun to see what new challenge he’s going to give me and how quick I can figure out how I’m going to be the best mom for him.

French Scenes & Mommy Life

I was 20 years old and riding a train to either Versailles or Fontainebleau. At that time in my life, I was a devoted student of art history who waffled between going to graduate school for art history or maybe doing something entirely different and going for something like nursing because as passionate as I have always been about art, I have also always loved taking care of people too.

I sat chatting with my professor about what I wanted to do and it was to my shock that he flat out told me that I was not cut out for a doctorate in art history. A woman who was older and had come with us as a graduate student overheard the entire exchange and later pulled me aside and gave me the best advice: follow your heart no matter what other people tell you.

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20 year old me in Paris, France. 

And in the end I did. I turned down 3 graduate school acceptances for the museum side of art history and went into teaching. In the end I found a way to integrate my background in art with my passion for education and literature. I had no idea I would ever hit that point had you asked me as a 20-something on a train to a former royal residence, however, I think it’s pretty cool that in the end I became that person.

I don’t know what made me think of that little piece of my life today, but I did. I loved that part of my life. I loved living in the art library and taking days filled with art history classes and memorizing a million slides. Some times like today when I am thinking of that time in my life, I really do miss it.

I miss the c’est la vie of it all.

Then I look at my almost completed doctoral dissertation…began writing my final chapter today and I watch my son carry on his living room expeditions and I know I am right where I am supposed to be even though I do wish I was able to take more museum trips and I wouldn’t mind another afternoon researching in the art library, but maybe that will be my life in a future season.

I’m a Reformed Anti-Breastfeeding Mom

I admit it.

Before I had my son, I thought breast feeding was the strangest thing. My boobs were supposed to do what? I was supposed to allow my kid to put his mouth where? It all just seemed strange to me.

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However, I am a reader.

I will read anything. I am also a researcher. And whenever I am looking into something new in my life like how to raise a tiny human, for example, I begin reading and researching everything that I can about the very big decisions that were coming up in my life.

As uncomfortable as I felt with breastfeeding, I also knew that it was what was best for Logan and as his mom it was my job to at least try to give him the best start I could in life regardless of how weird I thought breastfeeding was.

I am not entirely sure what it was about breastfeeding that was so off putting at first. I was an art history major at Rutgers, I had studied a lot of boobie art. I have traveled and lived in different places. I have seen other women breast feed in public, but when it came to me, it just felt all so weird.

But then, my momming kicked in and I realized that I had to try. So I did, but I did it to my terms. I set out with a small goal, I would breast feed him until he was 6 months old and I would only do it when I felt comfortable with it. I have never breast fed in public and I will give him bottles when I am out. I nurse him on demand at home and at night he nurses himself to sleep. In the early days I pumped a huge freezer collection that I use to make his puree’s with now. I am really glad that I have breast fed him up until the point, I do feel that it has helped us bond and is such a comfort for him.

I am also giving him an immune system and so far (knock on ALL the wood) he has only had a little cold that I nursed him through and he was over in two days. My new goal is to nurse him until he is a year old and then see where we both are at. Since I have introduced food, I have noticed that he asks for it less and less, but still wants his nightly session to fall asleep to.

I definitely do not regret choosing to take myself out of my comfort zone and provide my son with what he needed.  This was also my first lesson of motherhood: sometimes you will do things that might make you feel weird, but are in the best interest of your baby. And if you can do that when you need to? Then you’re doing this momming thing right.

 

My New Favorite Phrase

I don’t know why some people take it upon themselves when they learn that a woman is pregnant or is a new mom to vomit all over them unsolicited parenting advice.

I have always found it to be one of the most annoying things about people who choose to do that.

They are a close second to the kinds of people who see you parenting one way and feel the need to comment about how they would do it or how you should do it. They are the absolute worst.

The great big reality of it all is that there are a million ways to parent and be successful at raising kids. And everyone is going to do it differently. When my mom took my son and I home from the hospital since my husband had to go back to work and I was abruptly discharged after almost dying, my mom tucked me into my house and waited for my husband to get home. Then she said to me, “you’ll figure it out. Call me when you want to talk and if not, I’ll call you in a couple days.”

And that was it. And she left me and my husband to figure out our son.

It was the best thing my mom could have done for us. She gave us room to figure out our son and the kinds of parents we were going to be. The truth is, I have taken some things from my mom that I remember growing up and I have added a lot of my own. I also became the kind of mom I never thought I would be: the co-sleeping, breast feeding, holistic kind of mom who believes her son is best at home with either myself or his dad or on the best days, both of us.

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And for our son, I think that is just what he needs. He is almost 6 1/2 months now. He loves food. He loves to cuddle. He loves to crawl and explore, everything. He sits and pulls himself up. He’s figured out how to transfer to other objects when he’s standing to move through the living room. He’s taken a few practice steps with his play stroller. He smiles all the time and loves to interact with the dogs and people. He screams and chatters up a storm. He belly laughs when he watches Behr do Behr things. He’s happy and healthy and secure. Which is exactly what I want him to be at 6 1/2 months old.

As a mother though, I will always get the commentary on what I should do  or how they would do it. However, I have also learned my new favorite response to people who think they have some sort of right to tell me how I raise my kid. And that is the following, very simple phrase:

“That is not how I am choosing to raise my son.”

Unfortunately, there will always be people who feel that they have some right to interject their thoughts or wants onto your child and your approach to parenting. They don’t, but they will continue to do it. So, I just learned to shut it down and keep on being the best mom I am being to my wonderful little boy who amazes me every single day.

My Baby is Turning Me Into a Nut Job

Today my pregnancy app told me that I would probably feel kicks soon and that this may make me feel more attached to my baby.

I’ve been feeling the butterflies from him for a couple weeks now and I saw his little face that looks like a baby already just two weeks ago. We’ve named him and began a room for him, so Ovia, I think attachment comes way before feeling a kick.

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I can trace it back to even first finding out I was pregnant. I hadn’t even been to a doctor yet and my husband pretty much told the world we were pregnant. I remember sitting across from someone and listening them talk about miscarriage and it was even then, before I even saw his little heartbeat or evidence of his little blobby fetal pole– I wanted to claw her eyes out. You want to talk about MY KID er, fetal blob, being miscarried? It’s scary how quick that becomes a new facet to your personality.

The worst so far has been when we shared that we planned to name him Logan. Wooo chiillddd, some of the comments from friends and even family, again made my mom claws begin to bulge. I am amazed with how much commentary people want to give you on things that are about your kid.

I fear when the time comes and I push him out of my body and into the world, because I think then, I am really going to be like full-on mom-clawing. I already cringe at the idea of a smoker even looking at him let alone touching him, I don’t want people other then me or his dad watching him, especially for overnights that will not happen for years. He’ll probably be like 10 before he’s free to have that. I hold my breath when I’m forced to walk by people that are smoking and I distance myself from anyone that even smells like smoke, because, did you know that 3rd hand smoke can heighten the chance of SIDS (and probably fetal death) significantly? Looking back at my 20’s now, I really don’t know how I ever smoked. But the worst for me is,  the idea of someone kissing my kid, after I read an entire article about adults making babies deathly ill from kissing them before vaccines, makes me want to punch anyone that even gets close enough to my kid to remotely even look like their lips may touch his perfect little baby body.

My new level of neurosis has made me begun to question how I am going to go back to work after having Logan. I planned to be back in September as of now, but the more I think about it the more I just want to be home making sure evil smoking kissing people are nowhere near my kid.

It’s definitely begun.