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I’ve been writing all these letters to Owen over during his first year, talking about what he does and what he’s learned. But when I thought about it, there is so much I learned too. I thought it only fitting that I put it in the form of a letter…only to myself.
Congratulations! You have made it through your first year of motherhood. It’s been quite the journey. You’ve come a long way from the delivery room, that’s for sure. Becoming a parent has taught you a lot. About life, about yourself…about bodily functions. Never before would you have cared so much about them, let alone the bodily funtions of someone other than yourself. But you DO.
You have learned patience. To breathe, to take a step back, to realize that “this too shall pass”. To appreciate the quiet moments as much as the loud ones, because they are all fleeting.
You have learned to pause — to look into your child’s eyes and take a mental picture of the wrinkles in his forehead, the dimple on his chin and how long his lashes are. Next time you look at them, they will be similar, yet different. He will get bigger every day, and somehow with you knowing it, he is a toddler with words and demands and the best personality in the world.
You have learned that you can survive on very little sleep. Some days you don’t think you will make it. You will cry; you will be crabby. But you will get up, start the day, and do it all over again. And just when you think you can’t take it anymore, when sleep deprivation threatens to convert you in not just a zombie, but an irrational, crazed zombie, the baby will grant you a reprieve and sleep through the night. At least for a few weeks.
You have learned a new language. Parent-ese. You’ve become fluent so quickly you will wonder why you can’t remember exactly how to conjugate verbs in French after years of classes, yet could teach a course in Parent-ese after just one year. Parent-ese ranges from discussions on things like breast pumps and sleep regressions, to deciphering seemingly incoherent babble. Even when no one else understands, you know exactly what your child wants when he yells out “Wah-Bah!” (For the record, he wants a waffle.)
You have discovered a strength you didn’t know existed. It will start before he entered the world. You have experienced physical pain — gut-wrenching physical pain — and channeled that energy into a force only a woman could posses. You used that force to push a child out of your body and then? Then you had to heal from it — both physically, and emotionally. You were bruised and battered, but you came out unscathed and even after all that, you will forget what it was like just enough to want to do it all over again.
You learned that love has no limits; that the heart can grow to accommodate more than you ever thought possible. You have discovered a new level of love for your husband watching him as a father. Your relationship has grown, changed, together. When you look at him now, you will see so much more than you ever have before.
You have learned the fine art of stain removal. From diaper blow-outs to ground-in strawberries, you are a laundry pro.
You have found that your body is amazing. That it can grow a child, push him into the world, then feed him with your chest. You will watch it change, shrink, shift, over time. You have decided to accept what it has become — almost the same, yet slightly…different. It’s no longer just a vessel, it is now a life raft for your little boy.
Molly, you have learned that this life is a special one. You are a very lucky woman, you know that? Here’s to the next year, the next lesson.
Since it’s been just over year since Owen was born, I figured it was time to touch on the reality of what happens to the body after having a baby. One of the most common questions I get from new moms is “when will I get my body back?”, so I decided to share my personal story of the road back to pre-baby bodyville.
Immediately after giving birth, I still looked about six months pregnant, was puffy and gross from fluids and exhaustion, and my stomach felt like a big ball of bread dough. It was a really strange feeling.
I wore maternity clothes for a few weeks, and while it didn’t take long to start dropping weight (once the placenta is out, you’re losing all that extra fluid and oh yeah, you’ve had the baby, a significant amount of the weight is gone), but my body just wasn’t the same. My breasts were HUGE, my stomach was flabby, and my hips were wider. Even when I could put on pre-pregnancy pants, I couldn’t even come close to closing them because suddenly where I had never really had hips before, was this wide expanse of space that I couldn’t put a waist band around if you paid me to. They finally did receded, but it was really strange for a while.
Around eight weeks postpartum, I stopped feeling disgusting and was back in most of my clothes. But they fit differently. The larger breasts paired with the still wider hips gave me this weird situation where all my shirts were suddenly too short. Like, barely coming to the top of my pants. Do you know how annoying this is? Rather than buy a whole new wardrobe, I started layering a tank top under basically every top. Not always cute, but necessary.
Time went on, the weight continued to drop. I attribute this almost 100 percent to breastfeeding and power-walking a couple times a day. Now that my weight loss has tapered off, it’s time to start toning up again, but I was lucky I guess to not have to do much for the actual pounds to come off. It took probably about 5-6 months for me to reach my pre-pregnancy weight, give or take a month.
I know. Oh POOR YOU. It only took a few months for you to lose the weight. Yeah, boo hoo. Yes, while the weight came off, let me assure you, I did not escape pregnancy unscathed. Actually, I ended up losing too much weight, and while people will generally roll their eyes at you when you say that, it wasn’t something I was happy about. Lack of sleep and not replenishing enough of my calories lost to breastfeeding left me pounds below my weight in high school, permanently exhausted, irritable and gaunt. I didn’t look sexy-skinny. I looked gross. After the people I love tiptoed around it for a while, my mom finally convinced me that it was time to look into it. A physical, and a high-potency vitamin regiment got me back on track and I feel much better now.
On top of that, there’s the boobs.
I know this doesn’t happen to everyone, but here’s the truth: my breasts will never, ever be the same again. Ever.
The girls used to be one of my favorite body parts. I was proud of them! Full, perky, nicely sized. They certainly grew while I was pregnant, but nothing prepared me for what happened after Owen was born. On the third night my milk came in, and they doubled — no, tripled — in size almost immediately. The result of that was mean, ugly, red stretch marks that burst onto the scene on the underside of both breasts. And I thought I had escaped stretch marks my whole pregnancy. HA.
Oh man, were those ugly. And they hurt! I guess the skin was stretched very quickly and very thin. Ugh. I can’t remember how long it took for them to fade, but they are colorless now. In their place is what looks like permanently dry skin, in my opinion. It’s wrinkly. Ew. To look at me, you’d never know they were there since the top of my breasts didn’t get them. (Maybe next time? I HOPE NOT!) But I know they are there. And while sure, they’re a badge of honor, I’d still rather them NOT be there. I have the kid, after all, and he’s a pretty good daily reminder of the journey to motherhood.
As for size, since I’m still nursing they haven’t totally deflated, but I can tell when I stop breastfeeding they will be smaller. And sadder. I think the only way to perk them back up will be to get pregnant again, and when we’re done having babies? Invest in some really good push-up bras.
Here I am, the morning before Owen was born…
…and today, almost 13-months postpartum.
No, my stomach isn’t totally flat, but it’s ok. I even feel (mostly) confident in a two-piece bikini. I have no idea what my body will do after future pregnancies. This will probably be as good as it’s going to get! Ha!
The one bonus? My arms are ripped. Like, seriously. Perk of having a big kid, for sure. He’s the best free weight I’ve ever used.
– Being a parent makes me both love and hate the internet. Especially when it comes to comparisons of children. On one hand, it’s fun to talk to people with kids around the same age as you. You can share excitement over milestones, or commiserate over the hardships. But as one friend and I recently discussed, you’ll also want to reach into the screen and throttle people, no matter how lovely they are. Case in point: people whose children have been fabulous sleepers since they emerged from the womb.
I really, truly dislike those people.
No, that’s not true. I’m actually just really jealous of them. Some of my favorite internet people have babies that just love to sleep.
Owen took a long time to become a decent sleeper, but when the known sleep regressions hit, he takes to them very, very hard. Four months. Nine-ish months. Looking back, I remember a bleary haze of sleepless nights, but I guess my brain’s way of coping with it is to make me (mostly) forget how bad it was. Which is probably why I didn’t even think that could be the culprit when all of the sudden, Owen is awake at least twice a night, usually for at least an hour. And — of course — always between like 3-4. IN THE A.M.
It wasn’t until fellow mother Candice reminded me of the pesky R-word and lo and behold, it made sense. Another sleep regression. Caused most likely by new developments like learning how to walk. Added to the pain (literally) of having giant teeth push through his gums. I headed over to my favorite mom-advice site, and the dear Ask Moxie of course had a whole post about the 13-month sleep regression. While it offered no solutions, only an “I’ve been there” shoulder to lean on, it least it gave me hope that there is a light at the end of this long, sleepy tunnel, and we will emerge from it virtually unscathed as we have in the past.
In the meantime, I need an I.V. of caffeine immediately. Hell, stick it in my eyeball, maybe it will get into my system faster. (Have you heard about kids putting vodka in their eyeballs to get drunk quicker? Seriously? This part of parenting gives me anxiety. Am I really going to have to sit Owen down and say, “Now son, putting vodka INTO YOUR EYEBALLS is probably not a smart idea.”????)
– I’m thinking of taking my first outfit photo today. If I do, you have to promise not to laugh at the giant circles under my eyes. I mean it.
– I need a good book to read. Suggest one, will you?
– Bullet points are fun. Especially when you don’t have much to say.
– Owen just woke up from his nap. When I went upstairs he was pointing at his butt, letting me know he had pooped. Quite handy. Now if only he would surprise me and just sit on the toilet. At one year old, that would be REALLY surprising.
Thanks for making me feel better about the whole blogging thing. It’s like having a really good friend tell you you’re being stupid. Sometimes you just need to hear it from the outside, you know? I adore you guys. And I won’t be writing any more posts like that in the future. I heard you, loud and clear. Write on!
A Day in the Life
4:00 a.m. – Owen wakes up. I stumbled out of bed into his room. He is standing in the crib, reaching for me and asking to “nuh, nuh, nuh!” (Nurse). We’ve been working on night weaning, but he’s cutting four giant molars all at once and I know the nursing feels good. I also know if will get him back to sleep much faster than any other method, so until those teeth pop through, I’ve put the night weaning on hold. We nurse. When he’s almost asleep I move him to my shoulder for some back patting, then back into the crib. I tip toe out.
4:20ish – Back in bed. Cross my fingers that he will sleep for a few more hours.
5:45 – Owen is awake. Again. Did not sleep a few more hours. Damn teeth. Stumble out of bed, change his diaper. Bring him back to bed with us. “Dada!” he yells, while bopping Michael on the face. “Mmmmm” he says, while leaning in to give Michael a kiss. It’s super cute, but even cuter at seven. I tuck him in between us, pull up my shirt and let him nurse while I try to catch a few more zzz’s. Today is a good day, and he falls back asleep, instead of the days where he prefers to kick me in the stomach and pull the sheet up and down.
7:00ish – He’s awake again; this time for good. I turn on PBS and as Michael and I ease into morning, Owen watches some Sesame Street. Before long, we are all watching Sesame Street. Funny how that happens.
7:30 – Owen is done being in bed and wants to play. I get up with him and we go downstairs. I stand him up in the living room in front of the window and hand him a sippy cup of water. I let Kodiak out, put breakfast in his dog bowl and check my phone for various emails/social media updates on the couch while Owen begins his morning routine of pointing out all the cars and trucks that go by, while shouting “Doh!” at the window.
7:30-8ish – Owen plays with various blocks and toys while I start the morning. Today that means unloading the dishwasher (while simultaneously keeping Owen from climbing into the dishwasher), wiping down the counters, then pouring myself a bowl of cereal. I usually eat first, as Owen has a belly full of milk and is far too interested in exploring the house first thing to eat anyway.
8:00-8:25 – Ask Owen if he wants to eat. He smacks his lips and makes a lip-smacking sound, his sign for “eat/hungry”. He crawls over to his high chair, I plop him in and hand him a spoon; spoon one of two. He likes to have his own spoon now, thank you very much. I make him some oatmeal and feed it to him with spoon #2, and he alternates between banging spoon #1 on his tray, and shoving it in his mouth full of oatmeal. I make him a flaxseed waffle (I didn’t mean to buy the flaxseed waffles. I meant to buy the blueberry waffles. The packaging confused me because I had just glanced at it quickly and although it said flaxseed, it had pictures of blueberries. Regardless, they taste good.), and cut up some blueberries. He feeds himself while I sit and talk to him.
8:25-8:30 – I clean up his tray and hand him his cup. While he drinks, I vacuum the downstairs to clean up any dog hair/biscuit crumbs that Kodiak has left behind. Owen watches me and points out the vacuum every time I pass by him.
8:33 – Owen is playing again. I start calling up the stairs for Michael to come down and join us. (He’s not a morning person.) After some persisting, he gets up and we follow him around as he does his morning things. We want to go to the beach so we (I) hurry him along.
8:35 – 9 – I change and dress Owen, throw on some clothes myself and make myself an iced chai to go. We load up the car (Kodiak too!) and go to the local bagel shop. Cinnamon raison toasted with cream cheese for Michael; garlic not toasted with veggie cream cheese for me. (Yes, I already had cereal. I’m still hungry!) I eat my bagel on the way to the beach. We park by the water, I take Owen out of the car seat and show him the ocean. Michael finishes his breakfast and joins us on a big rock. I love starting the day this way.
9:35 – We drive a quick loop to give Kodiak some out of the house time, but return before Owen gets too tired. Don’t want him to fall asleep in the car or the whole morning nap will be a lost cause.
9:45 – Back home. Michael gets ready and goes to work. Owen and I read a few books on the couch, but before long he’s resting his head on my shoulder. Upstairs we go!
9:50-11 – Nap routine leads to nap time. I clean up the trail left by Hurricane Owen. Sometimes I use this time to blog or catch up on some freelance work. Today I do neither. Instead, I take a shower and catch up on some shows that I watch when Michael isn’t home. (Drop Dead Diva, The Next Food Network Star), and make my grocery shopping list.
11ish- Owen is awake. I find him sitting his is crib not totally awake yet, doing that half-fuss, half-cry thing. I open the shades, turn off the sound machine and scoop him up into a big kiss. I stand him back in the crib and he turns on his mobile and spends the next 10 minutes playing in the crib while I fold and put away some of his laundry. He gets a clean diaper, and we head downstairs for a snack.
11:15 – I give Owen a cup of milk. He’s taken to it like a frat boy to beer, so I limit it to one cup a day. He chugs it, head thrown back. While he drinks I prepare a snack for him: banana, zucchini, watermelon. It sounds like a weird combo, but he likes whatever I put in front of him.
11:35 – 12:15 – After snack we play. We stack blocks, throw a ball. I chase him around the house while he crawls as fast as he can. He pulls all his books off the shelf, all my magazines off the table, all his magnets off the fridge. He opens the Tupperware cabinet and pulls them onto the floor. Once he’s bored of all this and starts to fuss, I scoop him up and we head to the store.
12:25 – 1 – We shop. Owen waves to everyone and tries to pull things off shelves. I give him a toy to keep him occupied, but he’d rather have my shopping list. I dig in my purse until I find an empty envelope. This appeases him and lets me pick out cucumbers without him grabbing at them. He charms all the cashiers and it makes me happy seeing him give others joy. We head home.
This was actually taken about a month or two ago. It’s far too hot for jeans and a sweater now!
1:10 – I turn out Sprout, knowing that Sesame Street airs again at one and will give me a small window of him not getting into trouble. He loves music and dances while I unload the groceries. Today they show a segment with the Dixie Chicks and he is enthralled. The show only entertains him for a bit, though, and before I am done he is beelining it for the garbage can (of course). I catch him before he tries to give it a kiss and give him a plastic container and a spoon to bang on it with. This does the trick long enough for me to finish with the groceries.
1:20 – I rub sunscreen on him, tie on his hat and grab his beach toys. I lay a big round tablecloth I bought for cheap out in the back yard and we spend the next half hour or so outside. Before we go back in, we sit in the patio chairs and rock. He likes to rock himself, and gets mad if I do it for him.
2:00 – Lunch time! Grilled cheese, peas and mango. We work on him NOT throwing food on the floor. He hangs his hand over the side of the tray and says “no, no, no!” because he knows I do not want him to throw it. “On your tray,” I tell him. When he puts the food back on the tray I make a big deal of it and he claps and smiles, knowing he’s done a good job. Then he throws some peas on the floor anyway, because, of course.
2:30 – I change him, and we read a few books in the glider. He nurses, then into the crib. Afternoon naps are met with more of a fight lately, and it takes a little longer — and lots of back patting — for him to go to sleep.
2:50-4:00 – I clean up after Hurricane Owen again. While he naps, I go on the computer, read a magazine and eat my own grilled cheese.
4ish – Owen wakes up. He’s cranky, so I waste no time popping him in the stroller. We walk around town and on the bike path.
4:35 – Back home. I talk to my sister on the phone and feed Kodiak while Owen plays with his toys again. I marvel at how he can be so happy playing with the same things over and over again. Am thankful for that.
5:10 – Dinner time. Egg and spinach quiche, more zucchini and squash. He mmm’s the whole time and makes me laugh. I talk to my mom on the phone and she marvels at how loud he is.
5:35 – I give Owen his bath and get him in his pajamas. While we’re upstairs, Michael comes home. “Who’s home?” I ask him. “DADA!!!!!”
5:40 – 7:00 – Owen plays with Michael. I get into comfy clothes and relax with my family. Owen winds down and we begin bedtime routine.
7:20 -10:45- Owen is asleep. I make dinner and spend time with Michael. We watch some TV and catch up on the day.
11- BED. I am old. And tired.
Is anyone still reading this? I’m only asking because a) I hardly ever get around to posting and b) when I do, not a lot of people comment. I’m not asking as a ploy for comments, I’m just asking because I’d like to keep writing AND I’d like you to keep reading. Only, I want to write a little differently.
Sometimes I go on these extended blog hiatuses because I’m super busy, or because I don’t really feel like I have anything to write about, or because I have a ton to write about, but can’t share it yet. (This is not the case this time. No bun in the oven!)
This past break has been because of reasons one and two. We are neck-deep in the process of selling our house. I’ve always heard it was stressful, but never realized how true that is until I was involved. We’re still in the “pending” part, which means the sale could still fall through any day. If it doesn’t fall through and the sale becomes real (oh please, oh please), then we have to continue the stress of finding another place to live by the closing date on this house. We still won’t know for sure for about another week, but that doesn’t keep me from having anxiety about it.
Reason two is that like in the past, I’m struggling with how to keep the readers I love and cherish, while evolving the blog in tandem with my life. I’ve felt this way before, and suspect I will again as my life continues to change shape. Like, I still love shoes (looooove shoes), but am buying far less than before because now we have on income and a family to provide for. So writing about all my shoe purchases doesn’t really work. I’m still a 20-something, (albeit, a very-close-to-30-something), but the humorous stories I used to share are now, while still funny to me, centered more about my child, or being a mother.
Things like budgets and recipes now interest me as much as Things That Smell Bad (see: fart post below), and I want to bring these topics all together in a nice These Little Moments package. I realize that motherhood, the state of my boobs, funny things my kid does and how much I spend on food each month might not interest the same readers that arrived while I was planning my wedding, and that’s ok. I get wanting to read blogs that you can relate to.
But my question is, if I start incorporating some more of the Every Day Molly, will you still read? I’ve been wanting to do a Day in the Life series, and after getting some good feedback about in on Twitter, am going to do a What I Wore-type post every now and then about how I (sort of) pull my wardrobe together my mixing affordable pieces with some nicer ones in an attempt to rock the Mom-On-The-Go look.
I don’t want to lose you guys. I want to read and laugh at your comments as I always have. I want to continue to begin email relationships and discover new blogs from the links you leave to your own.
All while telling you about budgets, boobs and babies.
What do you think? Yay, or nay?
Friends of ours got married Saturday, and the reception was held at a venue overlooking the water, spanning enough distance that we could watch not one, but two town’s fireworks displays when we took a dancing break on the patio. It was the perfect night out — wine, appetizers, good friends, a yummy candy bar.
But sometime in between Shout and Get Low (sadly, I forgot my boots with the fuuurrr), it hit me.
Like, literally, hit me.
The stench. The smell. The omigodsomeonetotallyFARTEDonthedancefloor smell that seems to always happens at weddings.
I don’t know if it’s because people are drinking and eating rich food that causes it, or because the offender thinks, “Well, hey. I’m in a large group. No one will know it’s me!” and just lets it rip, but people, UGHHHH.
Here’s what happens when someone farts on a crowded dance floor: It’s true. No one knows who did it. But everyone is hot and the air is heavy and the smell just stays there. And if you’re anywhere under 5’8″ then you’re pretty much screwed, because the smell will get trapped in between shoulders and suit jackets and no matter what you do, you won’t be able to escape it.
Throw in the cocktails you’ve already had and the three (ok, four) bacon-wrapped scallops you just ate and you’ll be dragging yourself off the dance floor in a gag-induced stupor.
Because of course it’s not your average, run-of-the-mill, every day fart. No. It’s like, the mothership of all farts. The fart that birthed baby farts, who spawned grand-baby farts, who all decided to get together for a grand old family reunion right there in the middle of the dance floor FARTS. Mr. and Mrs. Farty Fart Fart.
It’s not just weddings. I feel like this happens at any place a large group exists. I remember it happening in college at parties or clubs. In bars, at concerts. Under the cloak of secrecy, these farters are living the high life.
I call foul.
FOUL! (Ha. Get it? Foul? Hahaha.)
Here’s my PSA for all those farters: if you wouldn’t rip one if you would be caught, don’t rip one when you won’t be caught. Just move aside to the edge of the dance floor. Pretend you’re doing some cool new move or something. Or step out for some “fresh air” and come back relieved and non-toxic.
Please. OH PLEASE.
My singed nose hairs beg you.