Archive for the Motherhood Category

Two Years Ago Tonight: The Birth of Baby B

Posted in Motherhood with tags , , on July 26, 2009 by Ms. Ex

Two years ago, in my one hundred year old house with no air conditioning, I was waddling around nine months pregnant and thankful that the summer’s humid heatwave had broken a bit and we could use the whole-house fan to draw in the cooler air. It was still damp, but not hot.

I had just gotten my little guy Ethan down to sleep, nursing him and holding him and wondering how much longer he would be my only son, how much longer before this new person would enter our lives. While nursing him, I’d felt the twinges of Braxton-Hicks contractions that were the norm now, but I had gotten past hope that it was labor starting. I just assumed it was more practice.

I lay down next to my sleeping husband sometime after eleven, around the same time it is right now as I write this. I tried settling in on first one aching hip, then the other, and felt something not like a contraction, but more like an ache in my cervix. It was odd, different than what I’d experienced with my prior two labors.

Unable to get comfortable, I got up and walked around. I just wandered from room to room, restless, not sure if this was the beginning of something or just the groanings of a woman tired of carrying around extra people all the time. I took a bath and tried to be quiet.

My husband had to leave for work at 1:30 a.m. and I didn’t want to wake him unnecessarily, but after a while I realized this was probably labor starting. When he finally awoke, I told him I thought this was it, but to go ahead to work, since my last labor had been so long and slow.  Though I was torn about it, I watched him leave, thinking I would be calling him in a few hours.

I got back into the bath and decided I should call my midwife just to tell her things were happening. My contractions were difficult but not overwhelming, and they were growing rapidly closer together, but because of our last seventeen hour experience together, she told me I should see how things go for an hour and then call her back. This was around 1:45 a.m.

I called her back at 2:00, beginning to panic a little bit and feeling like things were happening so fast.  There was a moment in which I felt my fear rising at being alone with this difficult task, and I remember telling myself that I could do it by myself. That this would prove I was strong. I called my husband to turn around and come home.

I don’t even know who got there first, but I was so relieved to see my “team” I think I plunged right into transition. I don’t remember much of the beginning. My husband filled the birth tub, and I got in as soon as I could because I was using all my energy to cope with the powerful contractions.

Not long after Leslie (the midwife), Mary Frances (her assistant), and my husband got settled around me, I was in the tub and feeling very much like pushing. I remember saying, “I feel like pushing and it’s too soon! Why do I feel like pushing?”

Mary Frances asked if it would make me feel better if she checked me, and I said, “Yes!” with what I’m sure sounded like huge relief and hope.

When she said I was complete, I got really excited about how fast it had been. Really only an hour and a half or so, which for me was amazing! But the hard work was only beginning.

I have big babies. Not like, super huge or anything, but when you consider my size, they are big. Ethan weighed eight pounds, eight ounces, and I pushed for five hours with him. That’s nearly unheard of, and it’s likely that if I’d been in a hospital, I would have been bullied into a C-section.

So I was geared up for the pushing this time, but also afraid. Afraid of getting stuck, afraid of having to last for hours.  I was determined to be effective and strong.

And boy did I try, but this nine pound, six ounce baby took a lot of work to get into the world. Leslie had to ask me to change positions a few times to help bring him down, and finally, squatting and gripping the edge of the birth tub, I was able to do it. It took everything I had to give.  Every time a contraction came I looked desperately for Randal and held his hand. Mary Frances kept cool cloths on me, and I just worked. I worked hard. And finally, when Leslie told me to reach down and catch him, I couldn’t even let go of the edge to do it!

But then he was here, and I was holding him, and he was mine. And he was beautiful, and still is.

And Beckett, sweet pea, I wanted to write your story first because I fear I’ve given you too little of everything so far. I fear you’ll remember in some part of your heart that the worst year of my life was supposed to be the best and easiest of yours.

I want to tell you that when I held you tonight and watched you fall asleep, my heart ached with all the mistakes I’ve made. Tonight, I’m making you cupcakes and telling your story. Tomorrow, you will open presents and blow out candles.

And for the rest of our lives, I will love you the best I can, and hope that it’s enough.


Becket, a few minutes old.


Will Work For Just Long Enough to Demonstrate My Ineptness

Posted in Mental Stability, Motherhood, Why you should maybe rethink the whole reproducing thing with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I have had many, many jobs.

I have been a gas station attendant, a dish washer, a car washer, a book store clerk, an art store clerk, an environmental department cubicle dweller, an analytical lab tech chemist type person, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker. But the last three I don’t get paid for, since they’re part of my wifely duties.

The thing is, I keep convincing people they should hire me, and these people continue paying me to work for them even after I demonstrate my total lack of common sense or normalcy.

I’m pretty sure if my husband wasn’t financially too invested in me he would upgrade, but I don’t know where else he’d find someone with such diverse experience.

Not only can I pump gas and wash dishes, but I can formulate scathing tongue lashings for the customer service reps that have screwed up our accounts, all while I’m on hold and playing Memory with the kids.  I can analyze our drinking water for lead and also sew buttons back onto pants. I can write copy so hilarious and captivating that it sells a cheap, fake engagement ring on ebay.  I can create truck routing schedules for hazardous waste pick-ups, a task that may seem irrelevant for a mother but believe me…it is not.  I can count minuscule dead minnows in the bottom of a beaker. I can breed actual sea monkeys successfully, and then feed them to the minnows that did not die.  I can fix Gas Cromatograph Mass Spectrometers that cost more than $100,000 each.

But now, my jobs seem so mundane. Wash dishes. Do laundry. Make appointments. Cook supper.

Where’s the glamor?  The money, the glitz? I was destined for greatness, and now I’m…what?

Now I’m a model. A famous woman who is clamored over and stalked and hears my name shouted from everywhere, over and over and over:

“Mommy? Mommy? Mommeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”

Love Them

Posted in Motherhood with tags , , , , , , on June 24, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I’m referencing a post by my bloggie friend Betty, who inspired this response.

We all feel inept and bumbling when it comes to parenting, but most people are afraid to say it. We pretend we know “the answer” or “the way,” so that we can put our minds at ease that we will turn out people who follow our advice  but really we are all just floundering around here creating people who will one day do things that make us cry, or laugh, or tear our hair out, or wail inside with almost unendurable pain.

You have to create a way of living that will work for your family. I’m not saying it’s okay to treat children any old way, either. As the product of a destructive home environment and the survivor of some horrible events, I am know the mess that can make.

Yes, there are some absolutes: Don’t teach racism. Don’t beat your children, with belts OR words. Don’t leave them alone in the bathtub. That sort of thing. And yes, there’s even empirical evidence that breastfeeding is best, and attachment parenting can be really good psychologically. But that doesn’t mean it will all work out perfectly. I have almost never yelled at my daughter. I fed her organic, I wore her everywhere, I breastfed her and tried to do everything I thought was right, which is to say, everything I was capable of doing at the moment.  But she is nearly an adult, and she makes some choices that are unhealthy and self-destructive.

I like to quip to my friends that we all mess up our children. The trick is to give them good stories to tell their shrinks.

We could do this to ourselves forever, this throwing ourselves up against the wall of condemnation and inadequacy.  We can damage ourselves and ruin any chance of being even a remotely good parent if we aren’t careful.

What all of it comes down to is this:

Love them.

Validate them.

Love them.

Hug them.

Love them.

Let go.

Let go.

Let go.

Kidz Bop Can Suck It

Posted in Mental Stability, Motherhood with tags , , , , on June 18, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I used to be one of those people who would drive around blasting Public Enemy, or D.R.I. from speakers that were never built to handle such bringing on of the kickass.

I sang Nine Inch Nails “Closer” as loud as possible with the windows down and did not care one whit about the people staring at me.  I smiled and waved at them while mouthing the chorus.

But now, when I pull up beside you at a light, you are more likely to hear Kidz Bop from my minivan.

Oh the Huge Manatee!

My kids all love music, and thanks to McDonald’s happy meals, we now have a small collection of tripe music from Kidz Bop. Basically, they take mediocre songs and force 279 children to sing them. If one of my children puts one into the CD player, it starts playing automatically and if I don’t go all quick-draw McGraw on it, it’s too late.

“Mommy! Was that Kidz Bop?? Put it back on!”

My question is: why? Why take songs that are okay if you like that sort of thing, and make them into the stuff nightmares are made of?

How about this: they took Nickelback’s “Photograph,” which already sucked, and had these kids sing it. A song about reminiscing about being stoned, or something like that.  They changed the simply shocking word “hell” to “heck.” Perfect.

I’d like to see them add Beyonce’s “Check Up on It,” which is relatively tame, or 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.”  Maybe even a nice cover of “Shake That” by Eminem with Nate Dogg. I’m wondering how they’d fix the obvious lyrical problems in those songs.

Believe it or not, Kidz Bop is one of the best selling CD series ever produced.

If this isn’t a sign of the apocalypse, my name is Flava Flav.

It Takes a Village But Why’s It Gotta Be My Village?

Posted in Motherhood, People Are Idiots, Uncategorized, Why you should maybe rethink the whole reproducing thing with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. This idea was popularized by Hillary Clinton when she named her world domination plan book after the idea, ostensibly an African proverb. While there is some argument about the origin of the phrase, it is in close keeping with many cultural ideas about raising children and as such not worth quibbling over.

The idea is generally that a child’s upbringing should be the responsibility of the entire community, not just the family.  Interestingly, I’m sure most of the people calling for such child-rearing would only have a neighbor influence their child’s development if she was nineteen and came with a foreign accent and references.

I understand the thinking: communities are important to us, our sociological identities are formed within the boundaries of our “villages” and many parents at some time or another need the support of their neighbors or friends.

The problems occur when people refuse to take care of their children and somehow some magic fairy parent in the sky (that would be me) has to swoop in and supervise, referee, and otherwise manage a child not her own.

I live in a neighborhood with issues, and I don’t mean the neighborhood of my brain (this time) for those of you who might make assumptions about such things.

No, this is my legit ‘hood, the place I lay my hat and hang my laundry.  And stuff.

And now that Ethan is old enough to play outside a bit without me, I love it that we have kids around.

Except for this one; I’ll call him, uh…”The Tattler,” or “TT” for short.  He has absolutely no supervision whatsoever.  For a while, in fact, he was escorting his baby sister around.  She’s like eighteen months old, and he just turned five! They would wander the street, often in the street, all day long.

Until now.

Now, he just comes to our house.  All. Day. Long.

At least he leaves his baby sis at home, but he’s a bit of a trouble maker, as anyone who has no guidance in his life is prone to be.  And whenever anything goes wrong he immediately points fingers at the nearest kid. I’m not so naive as to think my kid is never to blame, but I’m equally sure it’s not his fault every time.  So far, we have had glue on the dog, rocks on our porch (lots and lots of rocks), toys broken, and a missing Ethan for a minute because TT convinced him it was okay to cross the street and visit his house.  Heart attack material, I tell you.

I don’t have a problem helping people out when they need it.  It’s great for Ethan to have someone to play with outside.  But a child who is this neglected is so desperately needy. He needs interaction, attention, and a massive amount of guidance on what is considered acceptable behavior.

When I was young and childless, I befriended kids like this. I invited them over, fed them, played with them, read to them.

But the truth is, with my own challenging child to deal with I’m already in over my head.

I’m sure many of you will respond with ideas and advice about how to handle it by giving more of myself.  I’m familiar with this routine. But I’m not willing to sacrifice the little energy I have to raise someone else’s child.

And aside from what I believe should happen (forced sterilization or licensing requirements for reproducing come to mind), I have no idea what to do about this.

Except maybe transport myself back to frontier days. There’s always that.

Fiber Friday: End of An Era

Posted in Cloth Diapering, Fiber Friday, Motherhood with tags , , , , , , on May 22, 2009 by Ms. Ex

I have been purging lately.  Not the good kind, wherein you lose a lot of weight but still get to enjoy the foods you love.  The other, messier kind.  The house purge.

We have so much stuff, and I have been so crazy (no, really – like bats in the belfry, toys in the attic, though in our house it’s rats in the attic and toys all over the damn place), that there is nothing but chaos all around us.

I might have mentioned my little pet OCD project.  I stumbled into it quite by accident, but we love each other and I think it’s for keeps.  Coupled with my ADD it’s like a torrid romance, without the sex, though sex is in the running for the next object of my affection.  I jump from obssession to obssession, and before I know it I have enough supplies to keep an army in yarn, fabric, paper crafting, recycled sweaters, rock climbing gear or cigarrettes for at least a decade.  

My major hesitation is the baby stuff.  I’m parting with the clothes in a fairly light-hearted manner, with only a few tears and gut-wrenching sob sessions,  and a mere two huge boxes of  “must keep” items.  Because, you know, they’ll never make such adorable clothing for babies again and I might someday have grandchildren.

No, the real problem is cloth diapers.

As I said in an earlier post, I love them.  I covet, crave, and fondle them.  I have truckloads of fabric out of which I sew them.  My last five years has been spent accumulating, experimenting and creating.  Most of my knitting has been longies and shorties for – you guessed it – diaper covers.

As I pack away the rarely-used items and try to figure out what to do with all the raw material, I find myself wondering who I will be when we move out of this stage.  Since no more babies are in the works (do you HEAR ME UTERUS??) what will I do with the fabric?  Will I continue to make and sell on Etsy for other people’s babies?  Or is it really time to find some other obssession?

I am so sad to be done.  So sad that some day my baby boys will not kiss me squishily on the mouth.  Sad that the snuggles in bed in the morning will pass away.  Sad that there will be no more toothless smiles in my future, except perhaps my own.  I want to want to be done – but I will always ache just a little in my heart that who I am, what I do, is constantly being redefined.  Soon, I will no longer be the mother of toddlers.  In no time at all, I will be the mother of men and a woman.

For whatever reason, this cloth diapering thing has been the symbol of this season of my life.  As I fold them and decide where they should go, I think of all the work, all the washing and care that goes into parenting.  The drudgery, the cuteness,  the raw need a baby has for his mother.

Part of me feel ready for whatever is ahead, ready to let the babies grow up and not need me quite so much, or at least not in the same ways.

And part of me wants to always have a baby to love and to love me right back, in that simple, sweet way babies have.

P.S.  Wanna buy some diaper fabric?

Elimination Communication Breakdown

Posted in Embarrassing Moments, Going Green, Homemaking Made Easy, Motherhood with tags , , , , on May 18, 2009 by Ms. Ex

Made by Mommy.  The "Flaming Wreckage" diaper.

Made by Mommy. The "Flaming Wreckage" diaper.

I love cloth diapers.

I know.  What a ridiculous thing to love, right?  But if you ask any mama who does it nowadays, she’ll probably tell you the same thing. 

Not only are they easy to use (no, really – they are), but they are ridiculously cute!  Crazy cute.  And who can resist an already adorable tushie that is covered with soft goodness in your favorite colors?  Makes the Charmin look unappealing at best.

Yes, the cult of the cloth is firmly entrenched in even the mildest of crunchy families.  But a new cult is forming.

It’s called “Elimination Communication,” or EC for short.

Basically, it means that you pay attention to your baby’s signals and learn when they need to eliminate, then you take them to the potty and let the potty begin.  There are also cues you develop to let baby know it’s okay to shake the dew from her lily or let loose the bowels of hell.

I’m all for being close to your babies, listening to them and trying to understand what they need.  I think it’s absolutely necessary in fact.

But maybe there are just too many distractions in modern life for this to be really workable for me.

I ask my friends who do this if there are accidents, and the answer is always, “Sometimes,” but she will sort of look at the floor, or her eyes will suddenly start darting around as if the woman is contemplating chewing her arm off to get away. 

Because she doesn’t want you to know the truth.

In my house, within seconds of taking off the diaper, there is poop on my floor, or I get urinated on, and not in a good way.*  I just figure some airing out does a body good now and again, but dammit, every time I let him go commando I have a mess to clean up.

There.  If I can admit it, anyone can.  Except I guess not everyone has that whole  “lack of shame” thing going on like I do.  So unless I can get some serious help up in here and have time to do absolutely nothing but stare into my baby’s eyes all day…well.  I know not what others may choose but, as for me, give me diapers…

or give me a maid.



*I’m kidding! About there being a good way to be peed on, I mean.  Like I really had to tell you.