Friday, September 28, 2007

My New Hobby

In a state of slight panic, I spent Tuesday afternoon cleaning and organizing the house because I had guests coming over on Wednesday. Not just any guests, but Realtor guests. My husband and I are starting to think about the possibility of buying something in the DC area. While our intention is not to necessarily make this city our permanent home, we are finding that our sweet row house is quickly filling up with baby-related items. Housing prices seem to be cooperating these days, so it is at least worth knowing what our options are. It was time I had a new hobby anyway.

It's not as if I was trying to impress my new Realtor friends to sell our current home. We are renters. It's just that they were the first non-family, non-friend, non-baby related people coming over in a million years (if ever). In addition to my clean things up project, I actually thought about what I was going to wear (black Banana Republic capris and brown Liz Claiborne splitneck t-shirt), I put on my standard eyeliner, and made sure my hair was brushed and teeth were clean (the tuna sandwich I had for lunch may not have not been the best decsion). I had some classical music playing in the background, and believe it or not, was nervous as I waited for them to arrive. I am such a dork.

We covered a nice amount of ground during our 40 minute meeting (including a tour of our house in which they indicated we have a very nice amount of space for our neighborhood). At one point, they asked me what I used to do. I'll admit I was a bit taken aback. I haven't been asked that question in a very long time. They seemed quite interested in how I became a stay at home mommy and were wondering what my plans were. It was nice to be seen as someone who was actually recently part of the paid workforce. It was even nicer to talk about things like housing prices, mortgage lenders, and interest rates. I realized after they left how rarely I get the chance to talk about things that don't involve babies. I didn't know what I was talking about, but I enjoyed it immensely.

Luckily we're not under any pressure to buy right now. We are satisfied with our current situation but see some room for improvement. Even if this new hobby doesn't go anywhere, eventually we will have to make the very overwhelming and grown-up decision to go from renters to owners. Because eventually we will get sick of having two car seats (long story that involves a car accident), a snap and go, a jumperoo, and a swing in our dining room.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Saying Goodbye

I always cry like a baby when she leaves. This past Friday my mom boarded the shuttle bus to Dulles airport after a 5 day visit. One minute she was playing with her only grandchild and the next minute she was gone. It always happens that way. The time she spends with us goes by so quickly and all of a sudden the babe and I are alone again. I must admit I felt extremely lonely as I waited for my husband to come home from work that night.

It's tough when you don't live in the same city as your loved ones. It never used to be a real issue for me, but now that I have a baby, I am really missing having family (especially my mom) close by. I'm glad they are willing to make the trek to DC and I'm grateful the babe and I have survived a few successful trips up North ourselves. It's just not the same as being able to drop by for Sunday brunch or to have a trusted babysitter available when you need one.

I've now realized the babe may one day feel the way I did as I watched the shuttle bus drive away. The mother-daughter bond is pretty intense. Much has been written about it, and for good reason. It is a complex yet simple love thick with layers of strong emotion.

My husband will frequently comment on how much the babe loves me. He will remind me that I am pretty much everything to her. On most days that will give me the warm fuzzies. I love being her sun and moon and stars. She is certainly these things to me.

Just as I am a new mother, my own mother is a new grandmother. My mom says she can't really describe how wonderful it is. Her time with the babe is precious. I guess that's why it breaks my heart when the babe and I have to say goodbye to her. There's just something special about having three generations of mother-daughter love together, if only for a short while.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I'm Just Not the Same Anymore

Last week my husband told me I smell. He said it in a nice way, like "honey, I know you've been working hard all day and it's hot outside, but you kinda smell." But really, there's no nice way of saying that. I could have laughed and agreed, but I took it personally and was a bit crappy about it for a while. I knew I needed to take a shower, but I just hadn't had the chance to.

I have been meaning to write about hygiene and looks for a long time. It's certainly not a big ticket item, but it's been on my mind all the same. There are days when I look at myself and wonder where the old me went. My idea of what is acceptable has certainly changed over the past 9 months. Many women return to the level of cleanliness and style they had before pregnancy, but at the rate I'm going, I wonder if I'll ever get back to what I used to be?

I used to shower and brush my teeth every morning and wash my hair every other day. I generally felt like a clean person. My current schedule is to brush my teeth by noon when I usually leave the house, wash my hair every 5 or so days (gross), and shower at night after the babe has gone to bed. It means I go to bed with that lovely fresh feeling, but by the early afternoon of the next day, that fresh feeling isn't so fresh anymore (especially with the summer we've just had). I know I could buck up and leave the babe in her pack n play if I need to shower in the day, but I really only do that if there is a dirty emergency (like having poo all over me, which has happened).

I used to think a bit about what I wore each day. I realize now I have worn sneakers and flip flops since the babe was born. I really don't go anywhere that would warrant anything different. Being a stay at home mom has led me to an existence of casual wear heaven. I have never been one who cares too much about these things, but part of me misses those days where I would wear a suit or put on heels (not big ones).

I also used to wear eye liner and mascara every day. It was just part of my face and I wouldn't think about leaving the house without it. It made me feel normal. Now I feel like an impostor when I put make up on. After 15 years of use, I don't recognize myself with it on anymore.

Perhaps when I eventually go back to the paid work force things will come rushing back to me, but for now, I guess I will just have to live with my smelly, casual self.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Nine Months Later

Nine months ago today, I gave birth to my first child at 11:33 am. Let me tell you how happy I am it's September 7th, 2007 and not December 7th, 2006. After waiting for labor to start naturally for almost 2 weeks, I had to be induced. I left for the hospital on a Wednesday night knowing I would be coming home with a baby by Sunday. I didn't know what I was in for.

Giving birth to a 9 pound 6 ounce face-up baby was a painful, scary and overall extremely difficult experience. It involved a lot of medical staff, drugs and "procedures" to get her out. I admit it could have been worse, but it certainly was not ideal.

They tell you how hard it's going to be in advance. But I guess you just don't understand until you have to go through it yourself. I'd heard about those women who openly curse their husbands for getting them in the position in the first place. I have to tell you I never would have made it without my husband's support. He was the best partner I could have asked for and kept a soothing poker face when all hell was breaking loose (after the long awaited epidural, the babe's heart rate dropped dramatically causing every medical professional in the maternity ward to run into our room). He got me ice chips (which were a little piece of heaven) and used all his strength to keep a wooden massager jammed into my back for hours on end (the babe was face-up, or occiput posterior, which causes serious back pain as well as a host of other problems). Making it through all that, plus three hours of pushing and a last minute episiotomy while having the babe vacuumed out was pretty hard core. But no one had really explained how difficult it would be to leave the hospital and go home.

It sounds harsh, but the first month of the babe's life was the worst month of my life. I never got that new mother glow thing I had heard so much about. I couldn't sit (episiotomies will do that), could barely walk, and couldn't carry her up and down the stairs. I was trying to learn how to breastfeed (tough when you can't sit down), got no sleep, was constipated beyond belief (all those drugs will do that), and was a hormonal, emotional mess (God bless my mother and husband for putting up with me). After filling out a questionnaire at the babe's 5 week doctor appointment, I was diagnosed with mild postpartum depression and was told I may want to seek some support. I didn't end up getting help as I felt I was just exhausted and needed more rest (plus, January is depressing even if you haven't just had a baby). It slowly got better over the months that followed until it actually started to get fun. I just wish I had known then that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

I am now so happy to be home with her. She has become this beautiful little person whom I adore. She has a great personality and cracks me up numerous times a day. She is the light of my life and I am honored to be able to take care of her and assist her in her growth. I never thought I'd make it, but here I am. Now I understand why being a Mom is so awesome and I thank my lucky stars. Happy nine months!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Fear and Love

My husband and I started watching Heroes this weekend. I must admit I'm enjoying it, although last night it brought out a strong reaction in me. It got me to thinking about how much I love my daughter and how I want to protect her from this crazy world. There are so many bad people and bad things that can enter your life when you least expect it. I went to bed with a million scary thoughts swirling in my head. Irrational? Yes, I must admit I was being a bit dramatic. But honestly, what can we do as parents to protect our little ones?

I am so consumed with my love for the babe and, like most parents, want to do everything possible to ensure her life is filled with true happiness. I know she will have to face her challenges and go through tough times, but how can I reduce the amount of distress that she will no doubt encounter in her life?

Last night I started to worry about everything from strangers to terrorist attacks. After going over crime reports in our area on the Washington Post's web site yesterday, I realized that we're not as safe in our groovy little neighborhood as I thought. Thinking more about it, I suppose we live in a city that has already been hit by terrorists once. Does that mean we're putting the babe at risk by living in Washington, DC? Should we move to a safer and smaller city? I was living in NYC in September 2001, and I really don't want to be any place where that kind of attack could happen again.

How much of this fear is rational and how much is me just being ridiculous? I mentioned my concerns to my husband last night as I crawled into bed. He said that we can't live in fear. I agree. I have honestly tried to live my life that way (especially since 9/11). But what practical things can I do to keep my precious little family safe? How can I minimize the chance of ugliness entering our lives? As a new mother, I'm quickly realizing that these many worries are part of the job and that I am going to have to learn to live with for the rest of my life.