Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mother: Protector/Caretaker/Ghost Hunter

Thank you to Christine from All About Momsense and Nadine from Musings...By Light of the Moon for setting up the lovely, engrossing May Mom Blog Tour.  It has been a joy reading all the submissions and a true honor to be a part of the cool club called motherhood.   

I barely got to hang out with Darla the day she was born.  Our hospital room was overwhelmed by visitors, nurses, first pees, adrenaline, hearing tests and even a stray delivery man (who bounded into the room without knocking while I was getting a catheter put in).

Once everyone had gone home, all I wanted to do was sit in the glider and stare at Darla.  Since I was in the hospital, uninterrupted child-adoration wasn't allowed.  Two minutes after everyone left, a nurse came in.

"I have to draw blood," she said.

 I moaned.  "I can't take another needle. I'm so tired of feeling pain."

The nurse shook her head.  "This one's for the baby."

With relief, I replied, "Thank God."

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to punch myself in the face.

"Why the hell would I prefer my baby to go through pain than myself?" I asked Greg.

He shrugged, too preoccupied by Darla's screams.  She had just been pricked with a needle and the nurse was drawing out blood from her foot.  All I could think about was how that was the exact wrong thing to say.

That was the first and last time that the fear of Darla feeling pain didn't faze me.  What a good ole carefree day that was.   Since that day, I have become a mom and been on constant "Is Darla in pain, sad or hurt" watch.  Her pain hurts more than my own to me.  I touch her head and imagine she has torticolis because I think I feel a flat spot.  She cries, and I think that she is in tremendous amount of pain. She gets her vaccines and I'm shaking even though she barely cried for a minute.  (Once they gave her the sweet, oral medicine, she was very calm).

I'm so worried about her all the time that I can barely sleep.  For weeks, I lay awake at night, staring into her bedside bassinet.  I watch her stomach move up and down with each breath.  I touch her cheeks to make sure they were warm.  I secure her swaddle frequently so it wouldn't end up over her face.  I do this to make sure she's OK, but also to protect my own heart.  Every time I think her world is anything but perfect, my heart breaks a little.  If anything serious were to happen to her, my world would completely fall apart.

Three months into motherhood and gone are the days of holding vigil at her bassinet.  She's outgrown it and punches the sides of it with her chubby little fists whenever I put her in.  She's like a fat man in a Miada.

Now, I watch and listen to Darla through a gray screened monitor.  This is a nightmare and has brought a whole new level of fear into my life.  The eerie creeks and far off barking dogs that the microphone picks up coupled with the dark shadows and lonely looking baby resting in a huge crib have a horror movie quality to them.  I hear a whistling howl and I think of The Ring.  I see her hand move slowly and I think of The Ring.  Basically, everything about the monitor makes me think of The Ring.   I look at the screen both to see if she's breathing and to ensure that ghosts aren't whisking her away.

If I'm going to be honest, I could very well shut off the monitor and still be able to hear her very clearly in the next room over.  (I can even hear her sigh.  Our house is that small). But, I'm just not going to do that.  Especially now that I've recently come to believe that "ghost hunter" has been added to the motherhood job description.  I'll be damned if I'm not watching the monitor when the bogey man spirits off my daughter.  I want to be able to catch it in the act and recite some incantations that will send it out of the house.

Hopefully, I'll capture the ghosts or else get enough sleep so I can get over this fear before she's old enough to say, "mom, I'm afraid.  I think there's a ghost in my closet."

I don't want my reply to have to be, "I think there's one in there, too."

Don't forget to hop over to read Allana's submission at Blog and Vlog Musings tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today's Top 5 "I Feel Guilty Because..."

1. After a long night of crying every time the pacifier fell out of her mouth, Darla is having a very calm day.

2. I forewent the mommy and me group experience for some solitary mommy and me time.

3. I should be doing something more productive with her nap time.

4. I bought her a dress with money that might have been used to pay the gas bill.

5. Darla is the only person I've talked to today.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Smiling Self-Esteem Booster

Ever since I was in kindergarten, I've had incredibly low self-esteem. I spent most of my high school years asking every person I met or knew, "do you hate me?"  This was quickly followed by an, "I'm sorry."  I'm amazed that I even had friends given that I literally didn't know any words beyond those six.  If I could curl myself up like a rollie-pollie, I would've. 

Over the years, I've slowly acquired further reaching verbal skills, poise and self-love.  Externally, I've been on the up and up.  In the back of my mind, however, I've endured a nagging doubt about my worth.  Every social interaction has been peppered with self-doubt and flagellation.  In private, I analyze every part of myself.  Am I a good enough writer?  Does my hair look alright?  How long before everyone finds out I'm a total fraud? 

All that doubt goes away when I see this face:

How could I feel bad about myself when she looks at me like that?  I'm raised up from the mire of self-doubt and become the funniest, most intelligent, beautiful and important human being in the world.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Today's Top 5 "I Feel Guilty Because..."

1. Baby Darla is sleeping for longer stretches at night.  I shouldn't be allowed to have 6 (albeit non-consecutive) hours of sleep.

2. Sometimes, Darla sleeps until 9:00 AM after a prolonged 6:30 feeding and I sleep with her.

3. I'm not playing with Darla right now.

4. The house doesn't look very clean right now and I'm on the computer rather than fixing that.

5. I put Darla in a vibrating chair and allow that to calm her from time to time.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Just Give Us a Reason

My sister once saw a middle aged man making lewd gestures at two young girls while she was stopped at a red light.  She yelled for the girls to look away and honked her horn to get the pervert to stop.  He was too absorbed to even hear her.  Once the light turned green, she pulled up right next to him and got out of the car.

"I'm coming for you," she yelled at him.

He took one look at her and ran.  She chased after him.  She was ready to beat him up real good.  Unfortunately, he got away.

I understand where she's coming from.

In a fifteen minute drive, my imagination goes wild and I think of twenty different horrible scenarios (none of which I want to repeat because it makes me too upset to even think about) in which I have to save Darla.  I wish I didn't have these thoughts, but I have to live with them.  I just call them my security guard boot camp ; a mental obstacle course so I can best protect my cub.  Nothing will catch me off guard.

I envision myself jumping out of the car, my fists turning into knives and saving my baby.  I see myself picking up a full grown man and throwing him into a dumpster.  I watch as I tackle a line backer.    

If there were ever a tie that binds between myself and my seven sisters (pictured above) together, it's the desire to want to beat up anyone who messes with kids (any kids).  I've always had this strong desire to take down such men or women, but it's only intensified now that I'm a mother.  Before, I would have equal measures sadness and anger.  Now, I only see red.  I walk around with my claws out, ready to pounce on anyone who looks at me funny.  I think in my head, "give me a reason" over and over again.  This, to me, is what makes me a true mom.  This is motherhood.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The More the Merrier

I spent much of my adoloscence, young adult life and mid 20's actively struggling with an eating disorder.  With poundage varying within a 25 lb radius of the weight I've maintained since being in recovery, I'd wax between over-eating, starving and over-exercising.  The end result was that I lived a life of chaos as I ran away from life's problems at top speed and a steep incline on the gym's tredmill.  In an attempt to make sense of my troubled life (from childhood on) I developed an unhealthy obsession with my weight. If the scale went up, I was a failure.  If the scale went down, I wasn't as big of a shithead as I thought I was.  I believed my weight was an appropriate barometer by which I could gauge my success.

As a mother, I have found I still adhere to this belief.  Now, however, tipping the scales is the object of the game and the focal point of my obsession is my baby.  My own body is let off the hook for awhile.  

During her first visit to the pediatrician, Doctor Chan told me that she was still 3 ounces under birth weight.  He gave me a goal to work towards.  She needed to be at least 8 ounces heavier by the following week, which was when I was to bring her in to be weighed.

I left the doctor's office a wreck, worried that I had been slowly starving my baby.  There I was, thinking everything was hunky dory, shoving my boob in her mouth and imagining she was getting stuffed.  My inadequacy was more than I could handle, which was unnacceptable for my perfectionist brain.  I vowed to remedy the situaton quickly and made it my sole mission to turn Darla into the fattest baby on the block.

Her bi-hourly feedings were amped up to hourly feedings.  Darla was more than happy to oblige by eating whenever I offered food to her, so she quickly accepted the new feeding regiment.

By the following week, I was certain she had lost another pound.  I showed up at the doctor's office twenty minutes early and nervously tapped the toe of my oxfords on the tile in the hallway.

All my worry was for nothing.  When the nurse weighed her, she was up 19 ounces from the week before.  My chest puffed up with pride.  I began to acknowledge the rolls on her arms and thighs.  I applauded myself.  I had a thriving baby.

In the weeks that followed, I daily texted pictures to my family to show of a new chin she'd developed or the fat that puffed up on her wrists, which made it appear as if she were wearing a too-tight bracelet.  There was something so primal about these acts.  It's such a basic maternal instinct, spanning centuries, to fatten up your child in order to brave the wild.  Although the invention of contained heating units and refrigeration has done away with the need to accumilate fat stores to survive sub zero weather, the tradition remains.

Yet, I have found that some women don't want to adhere to the seemingly natural inclination to fatten up one's offspring.  Rather, they want their children to follow in the footsteps of heroin chic models and liposuctioned reality stars.  They envision a future for their children in which they carry the torch of their mother's neurosis.  Not me, I would never wish that ever tightening spiral of shame and self-loathing on my sweet Baby D.

In one mom support group, I heard a woman worrying over the rolls on her childs thighs. "I really hope I'm not over-feeding her."

In my book, there is no such thing.  A baby can eat as much as she wants whenever she wants and it still isn't enough.  When it comes to fat rolls, my mantra is "the more the merrier."  As far as Darla's concerned, her body is a veritable gala of chunkiness.

I watched with pride (and sadness/melancholy) as Darla grew out of newborn clothes and into 0 to 3 month attire.  I knew we were making progress.

This was all confirmed at our two month visit.  I speculated, before walking in, that Darla weighed a little over 11 lbs.  Needless to say, I was elated when she weighed in at 12 lbs 8oz.  I was even more excited when I found out she was in the 90th percentile.

A perectionist at heart, I rejoiced at my stellar performance.  But I can't leave well enough alone.  A 90 is an A-, which I can't consider an A.  I won't rest until Darla achieves that 100% or, in other words, she achieves an A+ in the weight division.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Evolution of a Darla Nursery

When I envisioned her nursery, my mind went blank.  So, I just started collecting pieces.

Our landlord had all the floors in the house painted green.  They horrified me at first, but they grew on me as time went on.

Blank mind and canvas
Although I was falling for the green, I knew I needed to hunt down a large rug to tone it down a bit.  I found the perfect one at Ikea.  I began to wonder if Beatle Juice was an appropriate design inspiration for a nursery.

Ikea rug, Target table, Restoration Hardware lamp
I ransacked our house.  Anything that was good, went into her room.  Our room may have been sparse and ugly, but Darla's was starting to look a little chic.  

Chair and dresser are thrift store finds and curtains are Target
I found the perfect crib at Restoration Hardware.  It took my breath away and I knew that baby Darla needed this heirloom piece.  My mom and dad were going to buy the crib together, but my dad cancelled his credit card after my mom had already placed the order for it.  She had to put down her card to pay for it.  This happened after she already sent him a check for half of the crib.  My dad, somehow, had made a profit. The crib ended up being a gift from Darla's grandmas.

Restoration Hardware crib and bedding

I had everything I needed to make her nursery perfect, but I didn't have the eye to piece it all together.  So, after Darla was born, my sisters Kathy and Bridget came in and worked their magic.  The finished product is a unique, colorful, precious room fit for a Darla.  

Warm, comfortable and inspiring
Unfortunately, since I can barely sleep when Darla is right in front of me, this room has become a fancy changing and feeding room.  She sleeps in our sparse, unchic room where I can keep an eye on her.