Smile for Mommy = Food Supplier?

My husband is reading this book for father’s about the first year of their child’s life. He came across some interesting information about a child’s first smile and decided to share it with me. Of course, me still riding the somewhat emotional roller coaster I’ve been partaking in since becoming pregnant, took what he told me to a completely different realm from what was intended.

Apparently, it is possible for when a child smiles at mommy it can be because he associates mommy with food and when he smiles at daddy it’s because he associates daddy with playtime. Disappointing to say the least. I don’t want to think that my son is smiling at me because he sees me as a smorgasboard, an all you can eat buffet, his meal ticket. I want to know that he’s smiling at me because he loves me, that he sees my face and he just lights up with excitement. Yeah, I’m ok with knowing that he smiles at me because I’m his food supplier, but I also want to be seen as the “fun” parent. I want to be seen as playtime mommy too!

Needless to say, once my husband told me this, not intending for me to take it to the levels of extreme mommy paranoia that I did, I began to worry about my supply of breast milk drying up and my son no longer needing me which means he’ll no longer smile at me. Have I lost my mind? Of course I have! Do I overly exaggerate everything? You know it! But the thought really has me worried. What happens when my breast milk does dry up? Will I no longer be the recipient of his beautiful and infectious smiles?

I spoke with my sister-in-law about this and her first reaction was to be frustrated with her brother for reading too much and telling me what he reads. And of course her retort was for me to tell my husband that when Davey smiles at him, it’s because Davey has gas. I actually used that line tonight!

Anyways, the food supply or lack thereof has managed to dominate all of my thoughts over the past few days. How long does it take for milk supply to dry up? And what happens when Davey wants more than I can give him and his frustrations push him into a crying fit that I can’t soothe? He has been able to get everything he needs from me for over 9 months while in the womb, then BAM! he comes out into the world and mommy doesn’t satisfy all of his needs. The thought terrifies me and consumes me. What good will I be then? I worry about how I’ll feel at that point. Will I deal with feelings of failure and disappointment for not being what my son needs? Plus, breast-feeding is my special time with Davey. What happens when that “special time” vacates our lives?

All of these thoughts wrap up into a bundle of paranoia that is only further compounded when my husband (bless his heart) tells me that my son’s smile for me = food supplier. Argh! Sometimes there’s just things a mother doesn’t want to hear. Whoever wrote that book or whatever supposed doctor came up with the statement, “baby smiles for mommy because he sees her as the provider of food” deserves to be tarred and feathered! There’s a lot more to mommy than just food supplier!

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Will I Be Forgotten?

I have more than enjoyed my last 4 days at home with my son. It’s been a nice respite from the normally chaotic days of work and daycare only to come home to a few hours with my child before I put him to sleep. We have celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with my family, enjoyed a little Black Friday shopping, and even managed to finish decorating the house (inside & out) for Christmas.

In between all of this, Davey and I have managed to share a few laughs (he is smiling now), read a couple of books, even create a few stories of our own, and get in some much needed play time. I have worked hard this past weekend to squeeze in as much as possible with my child because I’m afraid that he will forget me.

My husband tells me I’m crazy, but the thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion that Davey will start forgetting who I am. After all, I’m not with him 24 hours a day. He spends a big portion of his day at day care now, with strange women to hold him, comfort him, feed him and change him, all things that mommy should be doing. It breaks my heart and literally scares me at the thought that I could be forgotten and replaced. I almost cried tonight telling my husband about it.

For now, the best I can do is try to cram in as much as possible into the limited time we have together at least until we (my husband and I) are to a point where I will be able to quit work and be a stay at home mom. Hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later. There’s already so much I feel like I’m missing out on.

To Hold or Not To Hold, That is the Question

There’s a lot of discussion amongst mothers of all generations about what’s best for a child. Most mothers will gladly tell another mother to not spoil the child as it will only make things so much more excruciating in the parenting department. A spoiled child = an ill-behaved child, or so the equation goes. Instilling good behavior in your child at an early age only proves to be beneficial to him or her as they get older. Unfortunately, NOT spoiling my child is a lot more difficult than spoiling him.

My Davey will be 8 weeks old tomorrow. He is my golden child, the apple of my eye, a complete Mama’s boy and I’m very proud of that. I’ve showered him with love, support, adoration and encouragement each day of his so short life. When he’s cried, I’ve fed him, I’ve held him, I’ve changed his diaper and he’s come to expect someone to pick him up when he cries. Unfortunately, I don’t think my husband really agrees with my incessant desire to immediately soothe and comfort our child. He believes (or so I think) that Davey is taking advantage of me, something I believe he’s much too young to do. The poor baby just wants his mother’s love and comfort around him, I inform my husband.

This past Sunday morning was our first day back to church since Davey’s birth. I must admit that I was nervous and anxious at the thought of introducing him into an environment that he may disrupt with his crying. I feared the dreaded evil eyes of so many people as they got frustrated with not hearing the preacher’s sermon because my “spoiled” child wanted to make his presence known. So, my husband and I decided to leave Davey in his car seat while in church. Most days he will fall asleep on the car ride and sleep easily another hour after we’ve reached our destination. This was my hope on Sunday, but alas my son was going to have no part in this.

Within a few minutes of our arrival and all the oohing and aahing of the ladies within our congregation, Davey’s chin began to tremble. He looked up at me and I watched painfully as he conveyed to me his fear and insecurity. I wasted no time with immediately releasing him from the confines of his baby carrier and quickly wrapping him in my arms. I can’t be sure, but I think we received a roll of the eyes from my husband at how quickly I was willing to hold him.

My mother tells me that I should let him cry it out sometimes, but I just can’t. It’s sheer torture to hear the cries of my child. At such an early stage in his life, this is his only way to communicate with me and to watch him lie in his crib, desperately seeking my affection, while I pitter patter along with whatever task I have before me, just makes me so heartsick. I can’t let him go. I can’t NOT hold him.

At dinner, we usually put him in his pack and play so that we can eat. I quickly scarf down my dinner, getting indigestion in the process just so I won’t have to listen to the torturous sounds of his cries. My husband tries to soothe me and our son at the same time. He tells me Davey is fine and that there is no need to pick him up. On the occasion that I don’t immediately hold him, he will eventually calm down within minutes, but listening to him feels like a lifetime of agony. After all, what is my son thinking about me as a mother and my parenting skills? I’m leaving him to his misery, forcing him to suffer only because he can’t tell me exactly what’s wrong or because I’m trying to play a game of “Hard Love”. I can only imagine how much of a push-over and schmuck I’ll be as he gets older. But right now, I can’t help but “spoil” him and hold him.

That’s My Cry!

It’s amazing the things that change when you become a mother. There is a new intuitive nature that seems to take over your entire body. Things that you never noticed before become so prominent they nearly slap you in the face.

When you’re away from your child, your intuitive nature kicks in and that feeling in the gut of your stomach that something is wrong or something is amiss becomes so overwhelming that it nearly knocks you out. If you breast feed, then your breasts will start to hurt when you’re away from your child for too long or they will attempt to signal you when your child needs to be fed. I’m even convinced that I know when my son is ill or has a tummy ache, even if I’m 15 miles away sitting in cubeville (aka my office) while he’s corralled within the confines of daycare. My husband seems to think this is a farce and an absolute anomaly and that I couldn’t possibly know my baby’s cry.

On my first day back to work, I called my son’s daycare at 9am (the day hardly underway) to check on him. This was to be his first full day without me around and as a matter of fact the longest amount of time he and I had been without each other was an hour and that was only because my husband refused to take him with us and he was left with my sister-in-law. As the phone rang, I became more and more antsy and sick at my stomach. Something was wrong, I just knew. I could sense an uneasiness with my son, or as Obi Wan would say…a disturbance with the force. His teacher answered the phone and at that moment I could hear nothing else except for my son’s crying in the background. I felt my throat close as the solid lump of emotions quickly formed. My heart skipped a beat and I clenched my teeth tightly as I tried to compose myself. After all, I had no desire to display my emotions as if on a newstand. Extra! Extra! Read out all about crazy mom sensing her son’s tears and emotionally collapsing at work. No thanks!

After a moment, but what really seemed like eternity, I said to his teacher, “that’s my son crying, isn’t it?”

His teacher replied that yes it was and he had just woken up and was getting a bottle. I sighed for a moment and told myself to relax and that my son was going to cry at some point.

That night after I got home, I told my husband about calling to check on Davey. I told him about knowing his cry and my husband laughed. It just wasn’t possible to know his cry because all babies sound the same! Spoken like a true father, I suppose, but a mother knows her baby and before becoming one myself I would have been on the same ticket with my husband. Not anymore. Not only do I know his cry, but each cry sounds different and I love each and every one of them.

And I’m so happy to know that my maternal instincts are so strong I can pick my son’s cry out from a room of caterwauling babies.

*Sigh*

Six Weeks….Substandard

I firmly believe that whoever decided that 6 weeks is/should be the standard amount of time for maternity leave was obviously a man. I find it hard to believe that a woman would agree that 6 weeks with your newborn is a substantial amount of time.

Wednesday was my first day back from maternity leave. To say that it was horrible, is an understatement. The only thing I looked forward to about work (or maybe it was just my job) was a reason to actually get out of my sweats and wear make-up. In an attempt to try to make myself feel better all the way around about going back to my life pre-baby, I set up an appointment to get a new haircut on Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately, that didn’t exactly work, nor did the fact that I was able to wear heels again and fit into some of my old clothes. All of that is superficial and it has become so secondary for me (something I never thought was possible).

My husband and I dropped our son off at day-care, the day he turned 6 weeks old, and I found myself sobbing uncontrollably in the car the entire way to work, at work, in the bathroom, and nearly in the restaurant with one of my friends at lunch. I berated myself for being a horrible mother and leaving my poor baby in the hands of strangers. The fact that a million women do this every day didn’t even console me. And to make matters worse, I called to check on my son only to hear him crying in the background. From that point forward, it was game over with me actually trying to get back into my work routine.

I spent the rest of the day doing nothing but thinking about the fact that someone else was rocking my child to sleep. I was sick at my stomach at the thought that he would wake from a nap only to see a strange face and not his mother’s. What would he think about me? Would he hate me? Would I scar him and give him a sense of abandonment? All of these scenarios played into my head and what I came to realize was that it shouldn’t be my son that I’m worried about, after all he’s much too young (which is part of MY problem) to really realize what’s going on, but it should be ME I’m concerned about.

Six weeks is almost cruel to a mother. As a mother, you get just enough time to develop an emotional attachment to your child, only to have the rug viciously jerked out from under you as you are forced back into working world. Ok, “forced” may be a strong term, but many mothers have to go back to work in order to continue to provide for their child. Six weeks could be the actual start of postpartum depression in mothers as they realize the fact that they are pulled in more directions than they ever thought possible. Why can’t society, or at least American society, extend out maternity leave to eight weeks, and then have the mother start back to work part-time for four weeks? It seems to me that this would be a good way to ease back into a routine after taking on the responsibility of another human being, the child. Four weeks of part-time allows for the mother to ease back into her career routine without the total jolt to her emotional state about leaving her child for 10 hours a day.

Fortunately for me, I may only have to survive this for a few months and perhaps I can enjoy the luxuries of being a stay-at-home mother, but for now I’m back to work. The pain I’ve felt all week has been unbearable. I’ve been unable to accomplish any substantial amount of work because basically I don’t care about my job right now. What matters to me is my child. Priorities change, money comes and goes, and right now I just have to grin and bear, but again six weeks is substandard in my book.

Wishing For Ill Health

Ok, I’m not wishing it on my child, instead I’m wishing it on myself. I know what many of you are thinking, I’ve lost my mind and trust me when I tell you that I have beaten myself up over this selfish idea.

This morning I went back to my doctor for my six-week post partdum check up. This was to be the doctor’s visit to clear me to go back to work, something I loathe to do. I sat in the office contemplating the fact that I could possible be experiencing side effects from my c-section. I silently prayed that something would be wrong somewhere. I wanted something minor, nothing that would incapacitate me or prevent me from being able to spend time with my son and take care of him. Instead I was looking for something that might buy me an extra week or two on maternity leave, which by the way whoever created the standard of 6 weeks for maternity leave had to be a man who was concerned about nothing more than the bottom line and making a buck. No way is 6 weeks enough time for a mother or the child. People claim that capital punishment is cruel and inhumane, well I would say that 6 weeks of maternity leave is the same. It affects the mental state of a mother perhaps more so than the child, but either way it’s cruel. Now, off of my soap box on that.

So, I make my way back to the nurse and find out my blood pressure is higher than usual for me, but still below average. My hemoglobin is a little low, but nothing to be concerned with and oh yeah, I have 13 more pounds to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I tell the nurse that I’m tired, that I still have pain from my incisions, and that I still have a little bleeding although it has gotten better. All of this, I’m hoping will raise a red flag, perhaps send up a warning flare that my body isn’t ready to go back to work. I’m informed that this is all normal and that I’m actually progressing along a lot better than some women. This of course made me feel bad about the fact that I was hoping for something to be wrong with me, when so many women out there do experience problems and complications and can only hope for the ability to feel better.

A few minutes later and I’m seeing the doctor. I give him the same information as I gave the nurse. He does his standard check of me and pronounces me extremely healthy and fit. I can start running today, I can lift weights, take bubble baths and even have sex. Fabulous (insert sarcastic tone here)! As much as I want to do all of the above and I’m extremely grateful for the fact that I am a healthy person, why couldn’t just this one time something be wrong with me for the sake of spending more time with my son?

I’m sure I’ll get berated by a lot of people and mothers out there for actually wishing something bad on myself, but the thought of taking my child to daycare while I return to work is so unbearable. I found myself blubbering the entire way to my husband’s office. I wasn’t able to look him in the face at lunch while he and I spoke, but instead stared at my son and thought about the fact that starting on Wednesday, I will be away from him for 10 hours! I know millions of moms do this every day, but it doesn’t make it easier for me. And I’m ashamed to say that I still wish the doctor had found something wrong with me. 😦

Nothing Lasts Forever

Getting a full night’s sleep is a thing of the past. Being able to just up and leave the house, having a sense of spontaneity is no more. Taking a shower or a bubble bath in peace….sayonara, my friends. These are all things that I used to take for granted, things that I always thought I would be able to take advantage of (and, well, I DID take advantage).

There are days when I feel so exhausted that I can’t even move, but I find a way to continue to move forward, one foot in front of the other. There are days when I feel disgusted with myself, as it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon and I’m still in my pajamas, hair pulled back in a ponytail. There are days when I just need to quickly run to the store, or even the post office, just to pick up one item, and it takes longer to pack up my son and the car than it does to actually accomplish the tasks at hand. I haven’t cried since the 2nd week he was born, well I cry about taking him to daycare and going back to work, not about any of the other superfluous stuff I mentioned before. And each day that he grows, I’m struck with the reality that is bittersweet….nothing lasts forever.

I won’t always be this tired. At some point, he will let me sleep through the night. I won’t always have an anxiety attack about taking a shower, as at some point he will be able to actually “tell” me when something’s wrong as opposed to crying all the time. I won’t always have to go through a big production when it comes to going to the store or post office, as at some point Davey will be able to put himself in the car when I say, “let’s go”. Everything that I once took for granted and desperately miss right now, will someday come back to me, but with that means my baby boy will no longer be a baby, hence the bittersweetness of it all.

There will come a day when I’ll treasure 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night, but then I’ll think back on the fact that I won’t be able to pick him up and place his little head on my shoulders and rock him back to sleep. There will come a day when I won’t have to stress about my milk being enough to satisfy him, as he’ll be able to eat solid foods and can tell me what he wants. Unfortunately that means I won’t be able to feel his hand wrap around my finger while he feeds, or the way he nuzzles up to my body when he’s hungry. I’ll miss the fact that he puts his hand up to my lips and lets me kiss his palm while he eats. There will come a day when I will no longer be able to kiss his cheeks, nose, forehead, toes, and fingers without him squirming away from me.

So, I continuously remind myself to enjoy the nights when Davey wakes me and I’m the only one to soothe him because while it may be exhausting now, it won’t last forever and in the end I think I’ll miss my sacrifices more than I’ll ever know.

Poopy Stained Pants

Last week, my husband and I took Davey out for his first official portraits. Olan Mills has this wonderful little promotion for babies 3 months and under…you get a free 8×10, 2 5x7s and 16 wallets for free. The catch of course, is that they are of the same pose, you can’t choose multiple poses, but where they make their money is by up selling you on additional sheets with additional poses as well as the rights to the pictures, by selling you the cd. Don’t worry, this blog isn’t about promoting Olan Mills, although I am a huge fan of sharing great deals especially with first time mothers.

So, back to the portraits…the pictures were only of Davey. My husband and I were not interested in having ourselves in the photos (will wait until the Christmas card picture for that). My responsibility was to help Stacy, the photographer, with positioning my son. The first few poses seemed to go pretty well. We placed him in a miniature cradle with blue pillows and a bear alongside him. The first few shots, my son became a ham, playing up the camera, doing a few little jigs (as if he were trying to dance) and even at one point attempted a smile.

After we moved him from that pose, the next was his first official “tummy time” on a bear rug, which totally excited my husband. I placed Davey on his tummy and turned his head so that it was resting on the head of the bear. He quickly latched on to the ears of the bear, and actually attempted yet another smile. A few shots here and we were ready to move on to the next one and I noticed that my son was started to get a little bit fussy. Our window of opportunity was slowly fading. Thank God I brought a bottle with me and was able to appease him for a few moments. The problem with this; however, is that as soon as my son starts eating, it’s pretty much a guarantee that he’s going to take a pretty ripe dump. Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly think about this scenario as I fed him.

A few minutes into his feeding, I heard the tell-tale sign of an extremely juicy fart (sorry for the graphics, but really these words don’t do it any justice). I didn’t put much thought into it other than the fact that the studio might smell for a few moments, but I knew as soon as the shots were over, I would immediately change his diaper and be done with it. What I wasn’t prepared for was another diaper blow-out.

As I lifted my son, off of my leg in order to position him into his next pose, I noticed the 2 silver dollar sized mustard stain on my khaki colored capri pants. My son had not only managed to take a poop all over himself, it had actually oozed out onto my pants leg! Now, the old Amy would have immediately panicked about being out in public in poopy stained pants, the new Amy, the mommy Amy, took it in stride. I laughed it off, asked my husband for a wipe for my son, and then instructed him to get a Shout wipe for me. I cleaned my son, Shouted out my pants and jumped back into the photo shoot without skipping a beat.

Looking back on this as well as all the other things that come along with being a mother, I can’t help but be totally amazed at how things about me have changed. What once was a priority, now becomes secondary. And I have to admit, I proudly walked around the department store with my poopy stained pants. It was almost my rite of passage into mommyhood. I didn’t care who saw or who said something, I’m a mother now and this comes along with the territory, and as odd as it may sound, I love it.