Category Archives: post-pregnancy

Baby Daddy Drama

Over the past week I’ve found myself watching a lot of crap TV. I guess that’s what happens when you combine a new mommy with hungry baby and cable television. You see all sorts of stuff at all hours of the day, from documentaries on Benjamin Franklin to reality series like Basketball Wives.

I’ve been particularly obsessed with this show on Vh1 called Dad Camp. The premise of the show is that six soon-to-be baby daddies (and their pregnant teen partners) go through an intense parenting course to learn to become respectable fathers. As part of the coursework, they not only get graded on how well they complete child care exercises (installing a car seat or comforting a crying baby, for example) but they also have to go through therapy with their baby mommas (and sometimes baby mommas’ mommas).

Part of the entertainment of the show is that these dads-to-be are complete disasters. Immature, irresponsible, angry, clueless, and most often jobless, it’s surprising that any of these miscreants would even show up to a show like this, where they are expected to submit to a behavioral overhaul. Point in case is the guy who calls his girlfriend that she’s a “stage five clinger” (bad). Or the guy who makes out with another girl the first night the couple is at Dad Camp (worse).

But for all the daddy drama on the show, the whole idea of dad camp is completely intriguing to me.

For as excited as my husband was about the idea of us having a crumb cruncher to call our own, there were times in my pregnancy where I had to wonder if my husband had any idea of what bringing up baby actually meant.

Part of the disconnect I trace to my husband’s personality. He’s a natural-born extrovert with a sharp wit, a combination that often makes it seem like he doesn’t take much seriously. The other part is that he has been wrapped up in some intense training for the past 14 months, which has kept him a little out of the loop in terms of the day-to-day stuff at home. And then there’s the fact that he’s an only child, so he hasn’t gotten much , if any, practice with babies. (Not that I really know what the hell I’m doing either.)

So, thinking that we (but really more him) needed a crash course in all things babies (I was the one reading the baby books, after all), I signed us up for the birthing class taught by Juliana Parker of Birth-n-Babies. Then on second thought, I also signed us up for her breastfeeding class.

But for as much as we felt like we got our money’s worth out of the classes, I still felt like sometimes he didn’t “get” it. He was definitely excited, but it was like he had no concrete idea of what life was going to be like when our wee one arrived. And it was freaking me out.

Here’s an example: We were invited to a wedding in Hawaii in December. My husband really wanted to go (so did I), especially since I’d never been there. Plus, we had airline vouchers that we could use to book the flight, which was a bonus. But I was stressing over what to do with the baby. We couldn’t drop him off with the grandparents, so what to do? Do we try to upgrade our seats to business class and keep the baby on our lap? Or do I just book a third seat in coach for the bambino?

These are the things that stress mommies like me out, but dad had nothing to say other than to roll his eyes when I told him how expensive flights to Hawaii were (it is Hawaii, after all, it wasn’t going to be cheap). And then he made the fatal mistake of saying, “Does the baby really need his own seat?” (The flight from D.C. to Honolulu is how long?) I won’t share with you my reaction to that.

There were a few other moments like that in the later part of my pregnancy where it was clear that he had no idea how life was going to change. And if I had known about a sleep-away daddy camp, I would’ve had him on the first bus.

Unsure if what I was seeing in my husband was an anomaly or not, I’ve asked a few friends if their husbands were similarly as infuriatingly clueless the first baby around. I’m sure that there are exceptions, but my conclusion is that it’s totally a guy thing.

I talked to a therapist friend of mine about this phenomenon. Her professional take on it was that while mommies-to-be and newbie mommies are so acutely aware of baby–baby is top of mind 24/7–for many newbie daddies, it continues to sort of be “all about them” for awhile even as mommies are doing the hard work of carrying the next generation. And when it’s not, they can sort of act out. They get frustrated, irritated, annoyed, pouty, and sulky about all the things that they suddenly can’t do (or, alternatively, all the things that they now have to do that they don’t want to do) now that baby is in full focus.

So, I asked my therapist friend how long this sort of alternate reality lasts. When do the daddy instincts kick in in full, putting them on the same page as mommies?

Month four. That was her professional opinion as to when men, in general, really start to bond with baby and grow fully into the daddy role. Why month four? She says it’s because by month four baby has started to really respond and interact. Baby smiles, giggles, recognizes the ‘rents, etc.–and dads really connect with that. Those outward expressions serve almost as mini validations of their role and importance in the life of the wee one.

Her theory makes a lot of sense to me, but I wish, as mommies, we didn’t have to wait so long sometimes. And even though I realize that this is part of a natural progression, I still wish there was a baby boot camp that normal first-time dads could go off to for some pre-baby training. I’m talking not only car seat installation and crib construction, but diapering, burping, swaddling, and round-the-clock feedings. If nothing more, it would hopefully give newbie dads a little perspective on everything moms have been stressing about for months while hardly any of it has been more than a fleeting thought in dads’ minds.

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Filed under birthing, daddy care, daily life, education, mommy care, nesting, newbie parents, post-partum, post-pregnancy, pregnancy, Uncategorized

Hip Hope Hooray!

A few days ago I was taking stock of my post-pregnancy body, wondering when I was going to feel and look like the real me. Every day I seem to be getting closer to what I once was, although I was noticing that my mommy hips didn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. (You can read the full post here.)

The remedy I was looking for didn’t seem to be a postpartum wrap or even a girdle. I needed something that would somehow coax my hips back into their pre-pregnancy position rather than just hold in the flabby front section.

I thought my search was going to be long and perhaps even fruitless. But as I was cruising the aisles at Target a day or so ago, I came across what appeared to be my perfect solution. Check it out:

Official Hipster Uniform

These bad boys are sort of like spandex workout shorts with an extra elastic band at the waist. According to the tag, this Hanes brand “sculpting band thigh slimmer” garment (in “firm shaping” strength) offers the following:

  • wide band provides tummy control & rear definition
  • firm control for maximum shaping
  • sleek silhouette that sculpts & contours all over

Again, the focus seems to be on taming an incorrigible midsection, but I think this garment’s biggest selling point is that the super-strength elastic band is wide enough so it comes down over your hips. So, it keeps the mid-drift pulled in while applying some elastic pressure to the hips–it’s a veritable two-in-one. Almost as versatile as a reversible jacket. (Just kidding.)

I’m sure other people wouldn’t mind wearing them under their clothes during the day, but I am a little uncomfortable with all those layers, so I’m only wriggling into these things under the cover of night. My new “pajamas” aren’t exactly sexy, but they pair nicely with the oversized, ratty t-shirt that I’ve been wearing. (Can you tell my husband’s not home?)

It’s too early to tell if they’re working as I so want them to, but I’m on the case. Stay tuned to find out if these magical mystery pants give my hips hope that they’ll return to their natural state.

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Filed under birthing, mommy care, moms, post-partum, post-pregnancy, shopping

To Hell with the Hormones

One of my dearest friends was kind enough to give me a call the other day to find out how I was doing. The hubster had gone back into the field and my mom and other house guests had returned to their homes and normal lives. My house was finally empty and I was alone with baby, so she thought I might be feeling rather down in the dumps.

It was pretty good timing on her part because I had been thinking a lot about the so-called “baby blues” that I had heard so much about during my stay in the hospital. (The nurses had even sent me home with an informational pamphlet.) I was wondering if I was going to get them, what was it going to feel like, and would I recognize that I was in fact enduring my very own blue period.

So, when my friend asked me how I was doing, I really didn’t know how to answer. I mean, did I miss my husband? Of course. It was definitely heartbreaking to see him leave; he only got five days with his newborn son before he had to go back for training. Was I sad to see my mom go home? Absolutely. I can’t hardly put words to how much she did for me and baby during her time with us.

To me, that didn’t really sound like baby blues kind of stuff. That just sounded like life. Who doesn’t miss her mom or her husband when they aren’t near–new baby or otherwise? But even if I wasn’t technically suffering from the big, bad baby blues, I definitely wasn’t feel exactly emotionally stable.

I held a pretty even keel during my pregnancy. I was definitely more emotional every time my husband came home and then had to leave again; it can be sometimes overwhelming to be managing your family’s life–from your career to the house to the finances to the construction work we were having done to the dog–by yourself. Fortunately, I had a plain vanilla type of pregnancy, so I felt good and had few issues, so dealing with all that other stuff on my own was actually possible, even if less than desirable.

But in the days following baby’s arrival, I found myself getting super emotional at random times.

One night I was sitting on my front porch, enjoying a beautiful evening and a nice glass of wine and I totally got weepy just thinking about how amazing the stars were and how much I enjoyed my life.

Guaranteed Tear Jerker

Another evening, I got the waterworks flowing after I stupidly started leafing through the nursery staple, Guess How Much I Love You. (I strongly advise new mommies to hold off on reading that childhood favorite for awhile. I’ve opened the damn book three times and dissolved into soggy mess every time, so I’m thinking I need to wait until the hormones even out before I try that again.)

And then just the other night, I was watching Grey’s Anatomy and one of the doctor’s had to put another doctor’s dog down. I was a total mess watching the episode. I just kept thinking about how sick my own pup had been just a few weeks before–five days in doggy ICU was stressful to say the least–and how scared I had been that we were going to lose him.

So, I start telling my friend that what I was getting emotional about was not really baby-related stuff. I was finding myself getting worked up over bigger, darker thoughts. For example, I kept thinking about the fact that one day I was going to lose my mom. That thought would just pop up unexpectedly in my head and even if I didn’t spend much time entertaining it, it would have me so upset.

I was sort of embarrassed to be saying any of this out loud, even if it was to my best friend, but I felt betterĀ  when she told me she totally understood. “You’re literally just in awe of the miracle of life,” she said.

I have always hated that term–“miracle of life”–but I think she may have hit on something very real. Suddenly you have this perfect little baby in your arms and your sort of have these feelings of amazement and wonder colliding with a crushing sense of responsibility. And you also realize that your mom felt this way about you and you feel grateful to have her as your mom and guilty that you weren’t less of a pain in the ass. It’s a perfect storm of emotions.

But I think the thing that really “gets” to me is coming to grips with a basic fact of life: Nothing lasts forever. As exciting as it is to watch, anticipate, and enjoy the baby growing and changing, there’s no getting around the reality that every day is one less day we have. We’re all getting older and eventually our time will be up. Our mom’s won’t be with us forever and we’re not going to be with our kids forever, either. That sort of face-to-face with mortality is proving rather hard to digest for this newbie mommy.

“You probably don’t want to hear this,” said my friend. “But that feeling takes awhile to go away.”

Her daughter is two and she says she’s just feeling like she’s getting past that whole we’re-all-going-to-die-someday realization now.

Great. So much to look forward to.

So, knowing that all these feelings are (1) normal and (2) not going anywhere soon, even if their rapid onset and intensity calm down as my hormones get back in line, I’ve decided to ban certain tear-jerking items from my life until my hormones gone on hiatus:

  • Sentimental children’s books. I’ve moved books such as the classic Guess How Much I Love You or Billy Crystal’s I Already Know I Love You to the bottom of the pile of books in my nursery.
  • High drama TV shows. No medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy or House or any of the other rip off shows and no crime or mystery shows, particularly (and sadly) Law and Order SVU.
  • Anything with animals. I basically do everything I can to avoid Animal Planet in general and any shows in particular that showcase authorities removing animals from disgusting homes.
  • Sappy movies. Chick flicks definitely got me through my pregnancy, but I’m not even going near anything with any sad undertones. Topping my list of do-not-sees for fear of flooding are P.S. I Love You, Family Stone, Steel Magnolias, My Sister’s Keeper, My Life, The Notebook… you get the idea.

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Filed under baby blues, birthing, depression, emotions, mommy care, post-partum, post-pregnancy, pregnancy

These Hips Don’t Lie

Figuring out your post-baby body takes patience, something I generally run short on. So, for the past three weeks, every day I take a look at myself to find out what, if anything, has changed while I was sleeping–well, maybe not sleeping but rather napping. I guess that’s a more appropriate term for the two- to three-hour bouts of rest that I get.

So, as best as I can tell, there’s little that has totally gone back to normal. Bladder control has resumed, which is definitely something to be really excited about. I’m no longer sprinting to the restroom at the first inkling of the thought that I might have to pee.

But there’s still a lot that’s a work in progress.

For example, the random, red, itchy bumps that sometimes graced my cheeks during pregnancy still make an occasional appearance. My hair continues to fall out, even though I continue to take my vitamins and fish oil pills. I thought for sure the vitamins would prevent the big shed, but apparently not. I have no idea when that might subside, but I’m hoping the shedding doesn’t develop into a bald spot like my hair dresser told me she developed after her son was born. (Ironic, isn’t it?)

My boobs still have a mind of their own post baby, but it seems like they might be close to finding an equilibrium, which no doubt will mean less engorgement and, therefore, less tightness and pain. (Literally, your boobs get so full sometimes that they are hard to the touch. Yet another thing I hadn’t realized would happen.) And the patch job that I got post birth is still an issue. There’s still some bleeding and slight discomfort, but I will say that I don’t need ice pack maxi pads anymore and my ibuprofen intake is way down. I don’t need either daily anymore, so I’m taking that as a sign that I’m definitely on the mend. (Thank, god.)

So, it’s my mid-section that I’m obsessing about most these days. I was really worried when I first came home from the hospital because I had this jiggly paunch for a belly. The rest of me was normal, but my tummy was definitely puffy. The puffiness has gone down–it’s true what they say about breastfeeding helping the body contract–so now I’m left with a belly that just looks like it’s never seen a sit-up. It’s not big or round, really, it’s just, well, flabby looking.

Describing your middle as flabby doesn’t sound all that good, but in a way, I can deal with that because theĀ  way my tummy looks and feels, it seems like it’s something that a few thousand sit-ups could fix. I feel like I could almost start doing a few–and I stress a few because literally I have no core strength right now–now, but the doctors recommended no exercise for six weeks post birth, so I guess I should probably hold off for at least a little bit longer before attempting my first sit up. It will no doubt be a major feat. Maybe I should video it for kicks.

But what I find most depressing about the post-birth bod is my hips. Everything else seems to be shrinking, even if it’s at a pace that’s at odds with my impatience, but these haunches seem perfectly content to remain as open as the day Baby Aleksi was born. So, for as much as I thought I had nothing to wear when I was nine-months preggers, I have even less now. I am not exaggerating when I say I have three pairs of pants–well, technically a pair of khaki pants, a pair of khaki capris, and a pair of khaki shorts–that fit. Now that the belly is fading, my maternity clothes are falling off me, but none of my un-pregger pants fit.

And I’m so not exaggerating when I say none of my normal pants fit. (I’m sorry, but yoga pants don’t count. For as much as I love them, I can’t wear yoga pants to dinner.( Even my slouchy jeans or cargo capris, which used to be my “comfortable” clothes–you know, the pants you put on when you’re going for cute rather than sexy–won’t button.

So, my big worry is that I’m going to have to chuck all the pants in my closet and start over–as a bigger person.

My best friend assures me that the body will go back to normal. She said she had put all her pants into a garbage bag for the Goodwill after her daughter was born. But she forgot about them and about six months later found the bag and tried on all the pants again, only to find that everything was now loose.

I’d love to believe this is true, but I also think my friend might be a freak of nature. Another good friend of mine sort of confirmed my fears, telling me that although the body gets closer to normal, it’s never really the same.

With that not being the answer I really wanted to hear, I’m now considering my options. My mom keeps telling me that it’s only been three weeks and I need to give it some time, blah, blah, blah. But it seems as though there’s got to be something I can do to help things move in the direction–smaller–that I want them to move.

Last weekend I was at a baby shower and I mentioned the hip issue to a woman who had a baby boy about a year ago. She looks amazing–like so un-mom like. If she didn’t have a wee one climbing up and down her side like a little monkey, I would’ve never thought that she had had a kid about a year ago. And that’s what I’m talking about. I’m not planning on getting a mini van or high-waisted jeans any time soon, so I’d rather go without the wide hips as well as I foray into mommyhood.

So, I asked what her secret was and she said she wore a post-partum belly wrap and then a girdle in the months following her son’s birth. And she swore that both helped her return to her pre-pregnancy size. (Alternatively, she said her mom used to wrap herself in Vaseline and Saran wrap following the birth of her kids and that seemed to work.)

I don’t know that I’m about to try the Vaseline and Saran combo–I’m still not sure if you’re supposed to put clothes on top of that–but I’m very intrigued by the post-partum wrap and girdle concepts. So, I’ve been looking at some online to see if I think getting back to what I was is worth the amount of money that these contraptions cost.

Honestly, I love the promise. Basically, both of these items hold you in. The wrap basically goes around your belly and velcros shut while the girdle you pull on like underoos. The idea is to train your body to hold itself tighter, making you smaller.

But my reservation, particularly when you look at enough $70 price tags, is that these items seem to target the belly area when I’m in need of some hip repair. I’m fairly confident that I can tighten my belly up with some basic ab exercises. So, am I going to feel ripped off if I buy one of these things?

My gut–no pun intended–says yes. So, the question is whether there are products on the market that can essentially pull my hips back together?

For now, I can’t come up with anything better than just buying a really good pair of spandex shorts or one of those Bella bands, you know, those elastic bands that pregnant women in denial use to get a few more miles out of their regular jeans before they officially graduate to maternity clothes. But I’m not sure that either one of those solution is going to fit the bill, so I’m on the hunt for an alternative solution, one that will save my pants. I really don’t want to have to throw them all away. That would be a very sad day.

So, for the moment, I’m just rocking out to Shakira until I find a solution. Have a listen and enjoy! Hips Don’t Lie by Shakira feat. Wycleff Jean

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Filed under birthing, maternity, maternity fashions, mommy care, moms, newborns, post-pregnancy