Saturday, August 30, 2008

Me, nostalgic? Ay, please

I've never really looked back.  When I'm ready to make a change, it's because I'm so done with what I'm currently doing or where I'm at that I close that door with no problem.  Didn't cry after high school or college gradution.  Left my old job almost tearless.  The only exception to the rule  is saying good bye to my family. Every time I leave Puerto Rico, I seem to cry harder and it's been 12 years since I first said goodbye. 

So I was very surprised when I found myself reminiscing about the apartment we just moved out of. Yes, I was sad to leave a very posh address in downtown Chicago. But it was what happened in that 2 bedroom, two bathroom apartment during the last two years that had me looking back today. 

That was the apartment I spent my pregnancy in, where I prepared myself (uselessly) to be the best Mom I could be. Also, some good naps were taken in that living room. That's where my water broke and where we left a family of 2 and came back a family of three.  The guest bathroom nursed my ass back to health after labor.  I had my Mom cooking in that kitchen for a month, as I she taught me how to be a mother myself.

But the best part about that apartment is that it was Amelia' first home. Her first bedroom, her first bathroom. Amelia and I spent a lot of time indoors during my maternity leave since Chicago's weather killed all possibilities of nice walks down Michigan Ave. (If you live anywhere where your local weather guy mentions Arctic Air every evening, during winter, avoid having a baby during those months. It adds to the baby blues, big time)

Even the hallway outside our apartment brings up memories. Not the best ones though. Plenty of nights when the newborn didn't want to fall asleep, I found myself pacing, more like sprinting up and down the 10th floor hallway, with her in the stroller to make her go to sleep.  Me in my pajamas and Amelia determined not to close her eyes until maybe the 20th lap. 

At ten months, it's obvious that Amelia had some major milestones at our old address. Learned to do everything from sitting up and crawling to going from baby food to solids. Needless to say, she hasn't been sleeping well in the new place.  Neither have I, and not just because she wakes me up in the middle of the night.

Our new address couldn't be better.  A bit more room, less rent and a gorgeous lake view in a residential area, a stone throw away from downtown.  We will be happy here and probably sad when it's time to leave. 

 I guess with motherhood I have to learn that, for the first time, I will look back at life and be happy to be nostalgic.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Happy freaking Birthday to me!

It's 3:48 AM on my 34th birthday. No, I'm not back from a night of partying or passionate love making. Nope, I'm sitting on my couch listening to my 10 month old scream her ass off in anger. For the last three nights, Amelia has been getting up in the middle of the night due to teething. I shouldn't say the middle of the night, it's more like, an hour before I have to get up for work. Talk about being physically connected to me.

The first 2 nights, I gave her Tylenol, teething cream for her gums (the homeopathic one, not the one you all sent an email about her choking to death if I will, even though I loved that cream), 4 oz of formula and rocked my baby to calmness. I would put her down awake and she would go back to sleep.  

But last night, it took 2 attempts to put her down and I realized that, more than pain, Amelia just wanted to be rocked to sleep.  I habit that took sleepless nights for the three of us to break.

So since my birthday is today, Steve was going to take care of the baby if she woke up.  But call me a first time mom,  I can't sleep through her crying.  I could when she was a newborn because I knew after the feeding, she would be out, and frankly the crying was a lot lower. Now, I just don't know what's wrong and the girl is as loud as her Mama.  Plus, we live in a 2 bedroom apartment so sound travels quicker. 

My husband followed his already flawed routine. Changed her diaper, which I swear wakes her up more.  She's wearing an overnight diaper that doubles her pipi capacity, why in God's name would you expose her bare butt to the cold night to changer her.  

I forgot to tell you we change her on our bed, so the kid immediately perked up when she saw me. So much for sleeping through it.  Even Steve called it a bad move.  But after that, he gave her Tylenol, gum cream and put her ass down.  I totally understand why he did that; she was sleepy and ready to go back down.

She on the other hand, was not happy about Daddy's move. So it's 4AM and we have been listening to her crying for about 3o minutes.  Before you call DCFS on me, read Dr. Wissebluth's books and the Baby Whisperer books.  That's what we have followed. 

We monitor her every move on the video monitor and have seen her ready to fall asleep twice.  But the girl is resilient.  Has been since the day she was born.  She hates falling asleep and had finally nailed it down right before three teeth decided to ruin her nights, and ours.

So here I am, watching Olympic diving on the sofa, next to my husband and praying the neighbors can't here her. Hoping we are doing the right thing and that the Tylenol kicks in soon. Ay Mama!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just tell me what's wrong

I love my pediatrician. I've said before that I would live at that office if I could.  But, when there is an emergency, or what a first time mother like me considers an emergency, let's just say some members of the staff seem to be less than sympathetic.

Case in point, when Amelia was a newborn, one evening, out of the blue, she cried for almost 2 hours in a row.  This after two weeks of being the quietest baby ever born into my side of the family.  She barely cried when she woke up and once you fed her she was fine.  This was 2 hours of solid, desperate crying.  So we called the physician on call. And after 20 minutes (long twenty minutes of excruciating crying), she called. The diagnosis was "I don't know" She didn't have a fever, no visible signs of problems. The doctor on call had the audasity to tell me that it is only considered an emergency if the kid is crying for three hours in a row.  My very wise mother said "show me the pediatrician that would allow their baby to cry inconsolably for three hours". 

As we say in PR "que cojones". How dare she suggest that I wasn't suppose to call her, to wait it out, when I was paying $25 to page her.  I have a friend who's a pediatrician who doesn't understand why downtown Chicago doctors charge money for this service.  Me neither, it's not my fault you picked to be a pediatrician.  Kids get sick on Saturdays at midnight, not on weekdays form 9 to 5.  You should have been a dermatologist if you wanted to have evenings free. 

By the way, Amelia was colicky and saved by the awesome drops called Little Tummies, given to me as a shower gift by mother of two and kick ass friend, Kelly.  She was the one who diagnosed Amelia that evening and made me feel like I was right for calling the doctor. I should mention that when I told the doctor, who was not my lovely Dr. but the one on call, that I had those drops she said "you could try  them , but we don't really think they do much".  Ay, please!

They also can't tell you that your baby has a fever because she's teething.  Every mom in the world will tell you it's a fact but not your doctors. That takes me to my other insensitive episode with the people I pay to take care of my child and my fears.  

Amelia had a fever since Friday afternoon. Not a low grade fever. 102.9, 103.5.  Sunday rolled around and I checked in the book and it said, call the doctor if it's been three days and the baby has no other symptoms. So I didn't call. Better save those 25 dollars for when her gutts are hanging out of her body. Instead, I took her into the walk in hours. 

For as much as I love Amelia's pediatrician and nurses, I don't like taking her to share in the germs of the other children.  No parent likes it.  Trust me, we were all under caffeneited and hoping the cough, the fever, were nothing more than our exaggerated worry. 

So they call us in and the first nurse we encounter asks how long has Amelia had a fever.  I answer with the truth.  To what she says in a very condescending tone, "oh so it hasn't even been 48 hours".  So my husband,  who will always have my back, even if he knows I'm exaggerated about our baby's health, lied to the woman. He said "no, I think it started Friday morning".

From then on, it was Steve who answered every question in what seemed to be  an interrogation to catch us in the act of unnecessarily bothering people who get paid to take care of us. I had no need to open a can of Puerto Rican whoop ass, I'm saving that one for the movers today.  Steve took care of the condescending lactation specialist.

Yes, that was also her title which makes me wonder about those poor, exhausted women who call her when the milk doesn't come in and their babies are starving . "It hasn't really  been 48 hours, squeeze harder".  Ay, Mama!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The bumper and the pacifier

At 4AM today (that's the time I get up for work, but don't pitty me, I was going to a Country Club for Golf lessons,  not to cover a murder), I checked on Amelia. There she was, face buried in the bumper, body almost spooning the fluffy cushion that surrounds her crib. If she wasn't ten months old, she would be a poster child of how  not to lay your baby down.  I go in to check on her breathing every time I see her through the video monitor (the best gadget ever!) in that position. I am afraid of SIDS, although she's not at risk anymore, but I don't dare mover her because I'm more afraid to wake her up.  That has proven to be the beginning of the end.

Ever since she learned how to self sooth that is how she finally  falls asleep. Some nights (more than I care to admit) she cries for about 30 minutes, throwing herself all over the crib like a defeated wrestler, and as soon as she finds her spot on the bumper. ZZZZZZZZZZ

So I've decided that if this is what she needs to fall asleep until she knows better, I'll leave that bumper on. Even if she's 15, I'll buy her a four post bed and tie the bumper to it.  I think I'm more attached than she is.

I'm also attached, well, addicted to the pacifier.  As soon as she was born, I gave to her and she took.  I don't know what I would've done without it. Really, how do you do it if your baby doesn't like it. My theory is that it will be easier to throw out the pacifier, than cut her finger if she would've gotten in the habit of sucking it. 

My friend Veronica, who always has good tips for me (usually from her Motherland Mexico) was ready with advice about how to break Amelia's habit. Before she could finish the sentence, I barked at her. "There is no need to break that habit. I'M NOT READY TO BREAK THE HABIT.
Like Cheerios, the pacifier is my go to solution. Amelia doesn't take it all the time, but when she wants it, the timing is perfect.  

The pacifier can be a toy or a snooze button. And here's an admission that many will hate, I put three of them in her crib at night to help her go to sleep. Actually, maybe I put them there to help ME go to sleep. Ay Mama. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Let's back track

It started with an email from my girlfriend Johanna three days after Amelia was born. It was very sweet and it had a warning: if you feel like you don't want to be anyone's mom or that there is a stranger in your house, don't worry, it's normal.

Then my mother's friend and neighbor called from Puerto Rico and said "don't expect to love your baby more than anything right away, it takes time". This is an educated woman with three children, in her sixties, admiting this to me.

Both Johanna and Doña Tere (that's how we call older people in Spanish, like saying Mrs. Tere) come from a culture that expects you to want to be a mom since the day you are born female. A culture where their admissions would be considered heresy. But six days later, when I still couldn't sit and I had been to the OBGYN and she told me I just had to manage the pain and sit in the bathtub three times a day, I understood both women.

And I hated myself for it. So, I cried every day, for about two or three weeks. I felt like shit, physically and emotionally. And I felt guilty for feeling that way. I looked at my beautiful baby and I thought, "what did I do to you" "I don't know how to take care of you". I was disappointed that the motherly feelings were not pouring out of me. I felt trapped. I looked at pictures of our travels and cried. I wanted my old life back and that wasn't hapenning.

I never thought of harming my child, I just had a bad case of the blues, thanks to my hormones and the fact that my labor was a pain in the ass, literally. A word to the wise pregnant women out there, those stool softeners they give you are worthless. Take milk of magnesia to the hospital and do not leave until you poop. If not you will be giving birth to your child's fecal twin without an epidural, a few days later.

I should've known when my doctor warned me that my labor was hard (i.e. forceps were needed and my hospital believes in letting you rip) and that I needed to take care of myself.
What followed after the drugs left my ravaged bottom were the worst six weeks of my life. I describe it as the closest a woman comes to feeling like a farm animal ,since there is no medicine for how you feel, just the passing of time helps you.

My wise Dr. Wise also said one more thing, that women like me who work until the day they give birth have a harder time with post labor. Boy, was she right on the money. We are physically beaten and, since we have been in control of our lives as we pursue our career goals, we are an emotional mess when the baby doesn't work like the book says.

So that is why I decided to start this blog, for type A, career oriented women who thought motherhood would be mastered with the same success and speed as our careers. How hard it is to let go to the unpredictability of motherhood and how wonderful it is to have a baby that goes wild when she sees you, even if you forgot to change her diaper for 4 hours and can't figure out why she's fussy.

Motherhood is the hardest job I've ever had. Yes, what I feel for my daughter is a love I can't describe but, I've also learned that I'm still me, and that being me is the only way Amelia and I will have the kind of relationship I have with my mom.

For all of you out there who are not feeling like the real deal, it's normal and there are more women out there who feel like you ,but will not admit it. I will. Motherhood threw me for a loop. I adore my daughter and I'm learning to love my new job. Ay Mama!

It hapenned faster than I thought

Yep, I'm there! Exactly where I said I would never be. After trying to squeeze the car seat, the baby and my six foot tall husband into a 2002 Jetta, I have sucumbed to the SUV. AHHHH! I am the typical mom driving the larger than life car and choosing it for it's gas efficiency

It's not a huge SUV but it's enough for a woman who has never driven anything bigger than a four door car. I think your car should match your size and according to my lovely husband, I'm a punny girl. I love him for that since back in Puerto Rico, I was not considered pettite at all. So I love punny!

So now that I'm driving the Mom Car, Amelia is getting used to my music. That is what I call compromise. I'll have the motherly car but I draw the line at the baby tunes...for now at least.

But I ask, if I had to let go of my sassy, sexy red Jetta, what is next? My city living??? Well, kind of, since we are trading our downtown digs for a more residential street close to a Target and a supermarket. I have a feeling one day... I'm going to want...a house...with... a yard. If you suggest the suburbs, I will hunt you down. Ay Mama!

Parenting magazines

Is it wrong that I don't find a lot to relate to in parent magazines? Even worse, that I rather read my Marie Claire, Newsweek, and yes, the ocassional US Magazine, rather than reading about how to get your kid to stop picking his/her nose? It started during my pregnancy. I thought magazines and baby books would get me ready for motherhood (ha,ha!). That for some reason they would be my guide and that my hormones would crave mommy information.

So I read my first parenting magazine and found myself checking out the cool stuff I could buy, rather than the insightful tips about how to eat healthy while your expecting. I guess my hormones were craving candy more than info.

Now, I've tried reading them so that I can be part of the Mommy Club at Gymboree, but I just don't see myself fingerpainting with whip cream with my 10 month old, unless a teacher makes me.

I thought when she was born, I would love the mommy literature. People told me I would become a whole different person. And I have, but my brain still likes the same stuff it used to. When she's asleep, I want to read a book, a novel, something that has nothing to do with her age appropriate development or baby proofing the house.

I want to check the fashions on skanky Hollywood starlets, rather than on toddlers. Actually, I think mom's like us deserve those 5 minutes of good reading before exhaustion takes over and we pass out for the night.

So if you are reading this and wish to share some good, non Mommy reading, by all means, feel free. It doesn't have to be Joyce, Hemingway or Kafka. I was a Cliff Note reader in high school so keep it simple.

Ay Mama!