Love ~ Hate ~ Summer

It’s no secret that summer is my favorite holiday. Summer means trips to the beach, but it also means flip-flops and tank tops. Now that I’m 6 months pregnant, I’m getting a lot of sympathetic comments like, “Oh, I’m so sorry that you’re pregnant all summer!” I usually laugh and respond that I have handled the heat well, mostly because I can walk around in leggings, tanks and flip-flops and not be judged. I actually sympathize with those who are pregnant all winter, because their life consists of long pants, sweaters, coats (*shudders*) and closed-toed “real” shoes.

Bonus ~ only in summer can you can dress like a giant blueberry and accent it with a white cardigan and white pants!

Because, let’s be honest! I’m going to be sleep deprived, and if you’ve ever met me, you realize just how scary the beginning of this sentence really is.

Plus, my handsome Fred is definitely done with the itchies. As much as I love the warm weather, this dry season has made him quite miserable. I already spoil him rotten, but the added maternal instincts and hormones make me want to shake my fist at what causes his pain. Unfortunately that means summer has to leave us eventually.

 

“Nooooooo more itchies!”

For now, I’m going to enjoy the end of summer but actually look forward to the changing seasons. The end of summer, which usually brings sadness, is bringing the hope of something new…

Teehee!

…the joy of finishing a baby room…

…and the anticipation for our own little monkey.

And my husband is ready for football.

He’s a Redskins fan, shhhh….

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Breezes, Beaches and Baby H

One of the advantages to getting married in the summer is you have a fantastic excuse to be at the beach for your anniversary. We were married on the Chesapeake Bay June 20th, 2009 and quickly jetted off to Turks & Caicos for our honeymoon. Every summer since then, we were in Bethany Beach, DE over our anniversary.

This summer, we had a nine-day adventure planned, and the husband kept saying, “This is our last summer to go nuts before the baby is here!”

Hmph. Perhaps he can go nuts, but I can’t drink, go in the water if it’s too rocky, or manage to stay up past 9pm.

Our first few days were very windy and chilly. I sat in my almost-too-low-to-get-out-of beach chair, wrapped in two towels and shivering, and thought about how I would still rather spend a cold day on the beach than a nice day anywhere else. It has always been my happy place.

Still better than being at work!

Once the weather started to get nicer, I was excited to go in the water. It’s not a complete beach day if I haven’t been in the ocean. But I quickly realized, being at the beach pregnant is a very different experience (along with the rest of life).

  • Your balance is compromised, and one strong wave can knock you on your butt, or worse, your belly! Paranoia won most days over the desire to get wet.
  • Tanning = dry, blotchy, gross skin. You need 100x more sunscreen, you burn in splotches, and you can develop brown spots anywhere. Sexy.
  • Everything is exhausting! You’re supposed to drink a ton of water, but when you are already peeing every half hour, the very thought of schlepping to the bathroom means you end up dehydrated.
  • Sitting under an umbrella for most of the day made me feel like a sell-out. But when the 100-degree-day hit, I was thankful for that shade. (And when I finally made it into the water, it was AMAZING!)
  • When all else fails, eat. Everything always tastes better at the beach, and despite feeling tired, sweaty, huge and hot (and not the good kind of hot), I did not shy away from stuffing my face.

Oh, the food! We ate at our favorite joints in Bethany, had our anniversary dinner at our favorite restaurant, Blue Coast, and managed to make two trips to Rehoboth Beach for Louie’s subs and Royal Treat ice cream. Salt air + beach days + Baby H = Yummy in the Tummy.

Alex even made a new friend on the boardwalk!

His name is Rex

And speaking of Baby H, right before we headed to the beach, we found out that it’s a . . .

GIRL!

Only the finest monkeys for our little monkey

I spent a chunk of vacation time dreaming about what color to finally paint her room. Nine paint samples later, we had a very blotchy wall but no decision. Think, think, think.

Alex had chosen a beautiful blue, but I only wanted it if Baby was a boy. I have never been a fan of all-pink rooms, and blue is my favorite color. I knew we could do blue, but felt limited with shades. We chose a few light, elegant, girly blues, but the last few days at the beach, I couldn’t get that original blue out of my head. After deciding to compromise with bright pink curtains (I don’t want this child thinking “Man, my parents wanted a boy”) we bought the paint, the job was done, and voila!

Pretty colors for a pretty little girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a more-than-successful vacation under my belt, I’m starting to get really stoked about finishing her room. We are picking up the glider and ottoman soon, and hopefully the rest of the furniture will be in any day. My goal is to have this room done before our final weekend at the beach in August, if not much sooner.

And this time next year, I’ll hopefully have my new baby daughter on the beach, celebrating her parents’ anniversary, and getting her first taste of the Atlantic.

Life is good.

 

Preggers-n-Pits

Fred and Angel joined me for our normal around-the-block walk this morning. I noticed a few people out and about, and passed a woman on the sidewalk. Now that I’m finally showing, I wondered if I was imagining her funny look or if it was really there.

I wondered if she was confused as to how I was walking these big, mean, vicious dogs, while pregnant, all by myself. I wondered if she was thinking the same thing people have flat-out said to me, “I hope you don’t have any children around those dogs!” I wondered if I was imagining her thoughts because I instantly take a defensive stance when I encounter other people while with my dogs. If someone smiles or (shock!) wants to pet them, I literally feel myself unclench and let that guard down.

It made me think of Lennox, a pit-bull-looking-dog in Northern Ireland. He was seized from his family two years ago. I imagine you are thinking, “Did he attack someone?” He didn’t. He didn’t lunge, growl, bite or pounce on anyone. He was seized because he looks like a pit bull.

Photo courtesy of “The Patrick Miracle”

He has been living, for two years, in a less-than-adequate shelter, surrounded by his own feces, while his family launched appeal after appeal. Their little girl wrote a letter to Santa, saying the only thing she wanted was for her best friend to come home.

Photo courtesy of Lennox’s family

But every judge ordered the same thing: that Lennox be put to death. For looking like a pit bull.

The best part? Lennox is not a pit bull. He is part American bulldog, part Lab. Do you know who else is part American bulldog?

“Lennox is my brother. :-(“

That’s right, our own handsome Fred. I shudder when I think of what I would be capable of if someone took him from me because of the way he looks. And I pray every day that no one has to find out.

If I could leave this world with one thing, it would be the image of me, pregnant, walking my two big, mean, vicious dogs. I want people to wonder how I can even do it, and then hopefully that small voice of logic will creep into their brains, telling them, “Because they are just dogs.”

The best dogs in the world.

Lennox as a puppy, in happier times. His sweet smile makes me cry.

Weird, Wonderful and Mostly Weird

 

Fact: Women’s bodies were made to have children. Lesser-known-fact: Some bodies are just more “made” than others.

You know who I’m talking about. That pregnant friend you had, the one who glowed, smiled, laughed and giggled for the entire 9 months. Maybe she had morning sickness, but in the midst of wiping the vomit from her chin, declared things like “Even though I feel like crap, this is a miracle and I’m enjoying every minute. I wouldn’t change a thing and life is frickin’ amazing.”

Pregnancy is all about weird stuff happening to your body while amazing things are happening to your body. It’s awesome, strange, confusing and pretty cool. But mostly, in the beginning, it’s just weird.

I’m currently in the four-month-funk. Otherwise known as “constantly wondering if people know  you are pregnant or just think you had too much fun at Chipotle over the weekend.” I don’t really feel pregnant, except for all the yucky stuff. I feel sick every day, walking up stairs is equivalent to a 5K, and I just want to know if it’s a boy or a girl, darn it!

I know when I start showing for real, can finally paint the baby’s room and settle into the “everyone is going to touch my stomach” phase, I’ll probably feel a lot better. For now, at least I can have some fun with all the weird.

Every woman is different, so I’m sure there are some who have never experienced what I have, and there are so many factors I will never experience. But somewhere, I know there is another woman who can say “YES!” about one of my weirdnesses (I am fully aware that is not a word, but I like it) .

Eyebrows

What the crap happened to them? This isn’t an entirely new issue, since my eyebrows started rebelling around the age of 28 (I’m currently 31). However, hormones have turned them into a full-blown-experimental teenager. Some of them want to go up while others want to go down, and they never seem to want these things at the same time. I use my Revlon-eyebrow-wax-stick thing every day, but still find myself running to a mirror to check them out. Who runs to a mirror to check their eyebrows?

Pains

I read that you can feel the baby move extremely early, but most women aren’t aware unless it’s at least their second pregnancy. The closest thing I have felt to movement has been pain. The problem is, when the body feels pain, the brain immediately thinks “Something is wrong!” Since I have fibromyalgia, I have tried to distinguish between “normal” pain and “call the doctor” pain. When you’re pregnant, every pain is the latter. In order to not get blacklisted by your ob/gyn, learn to become BFF’s with Google and Babycenter.com.

Hair

I’d like to file a formal complaint on this one. I have said before that God gave me good hair because He knew how hopeless I would be at styling. Maybe my unborn child is testing my skills, because what was once easy peasy hair is now “Where’s my husband’s razor, because it’s all coming off!”
*Note* DO NOT do anything drastic to your hair while pregnant. You. Will. Regret. It. Thankfully I heard this advice before I hit the second trimester, and my hair remains ugly yet unscathed.

Face

I’m one of those strange women who longs for the complexion of her teenage years. Right around the time my eyebrows went on strike, my face started to become difficult. Again, the hormones have jumped the weirdness into high gear. But, it’s nothing that an expensive online “professional” skin care purchase didn’t fix. Who needs a college savings fund? *sobs*

Nails

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the good weird stuff! My nails are amazing. They are strong, grow like weeds and cling to nail polish like never before. Downside? I feel the “need” to take advantage and keep them looking their best at all times, but I royally suck when it comes to at-home-manicures. My nail salon couldn’t be happier.

All these fun weirdnesses have left me feeling rather abnormal. I know that the happy pregnant girls probably experienced something similar, but somehow managed to continue strumming their harps while they braided wigs for children with cancer. They never would have complained non-stop via blog.

The truth is, I’ve never been normal. But normal is boring, right? (That’s what weird people tell themselves to avoid crying into a pint of Phish Food.)

Mmmmmmmm. . .

Overall, I may not be the best pregnant chick, or have the best attitude about pregnancy, but I know I’ll be a good mom. Anyone who stresses, agonizes and obsesses over all this crap has to be good at the final product, right?

Don’t answer that.

I Just Can’t Resist!

This has been an eventful week. President Obama gave his two thumbs up in support for gay marriage while the entire state of North Carolina gave all gays the middle finger. (Interesting tidbit, courtesy of my smarty-pants husband: You can marry your cousin in North Carolina. But not if you and your cousin are gay!)

While this was happening, there were other fascinating events going on across the country, like breast-feeding. Since I am somewhat newly pregnant, anything regarding pregnancy, child-birth or kids in general has piqued my interest, at least more than it did before. You would have to be living under a rock to miss this story in Time Magazine.

I have only been aware of attachment parenting for the past year or so, but I didn’t know it had an official name until this week. I also found that if you want to create a black hole of chaos amongst women, start a conversation about breast-feeding, co-sleeping, vaccinations or “baby-wearing.”

And since it’s hard for me to stay quiet about controversial subjects, here’s my two cents (or maybe a few dollars worth . . .) on the topics at hand.

Breast Feeding

I am hoping breast-feeding works for me. I know it is best for the baby, it’s a great way to lose weight and it’s much cheaper than formula. However, if it doesn’t work, my child isn’t getting proper nutrition and I’m crying myself to sleep every night, I’m going to stop trying. I don’t think you are a bad mom if you don’t breast feed. I don’t think you’re a bad mom if you breast feed until your child is 6. I do, however, disagree with breast-feeding past the age of 1 or 2. Do you need my approval to let your child unbutton your blouse and suckle away? No, you don’t. Just like I don’t need your approval to have my opinions. I can disagree with something without thinking you are a horrible person (it’s a rare gift).

I feel that once my child is a certain age, it’s time to start weaning. Here’s why:

  • There are plenty of healthy ways to provide a child with nutrition.
  • I wonder what extended breast-feeding does to the psychology or personality of a child over the age of 2 (I said wonder, not assume, but I would prefer to not find out).
  • It is a serious commitment that will be difficult to keep up with while working full-time.
  • I only want to abuse my body for so long. (Yup, I said it! Go ahead and judge!)

That is how I feel, but I do not judge women who feel the opposite way. All I ask is for you to not judge me for the way I feel, and hopefully we can all get along.

Baby-wearing

I have zero problem with this concept, except when it gets to the point where the child is never put down. My concern is a developmental issue with walking or crawling at a later age. But if you want to hold your baby all the live long day, go for it!

I don’t feel like I can say, with authority, how I will handle the “cry it out” method. I would love to say “I’m strong! Cry, baby, cry!” But I’m a huge softie.

However, I crate my dogs, and there were many days I cried the entire way to work because they were crying in their crates. I hope this helps me be strong with a human child. Only time will tell!

Co-sleeping

I may appear slightly judgmental with this one, but I promise, that is not my intention. I think my problem is I just don’t understand it. This is coming from someone who sleeps with two 50-pound dogs. So believe me, I know there are millions of you who don’t understand what I do, and probably think I’m slightly crazy. That’s okay!

My reasoning behind the “Dogs-in-the-bed-is-okay, kids-in-the-bed-is-not” theory:

  • My dogs are not going to grow up and one day leave the nest. They will not be going off to college, or buying their own homes, or bringing little granddoggies home for me to meet.
  • My child, however, will eventually leave the nest and become an independent person (dear Lord, let’s hope so). I would like to start the independence early, like the first day (just with sleeping, I don’t plan on abandoning the poor kid).
  • I am too scared about rolling over onto the baby (they say you won’t, but I am Kaptain Klutz).
  • I need sleep, darn it.

I have several friends and acquaintances who swear by co-sleeping, and if it works for you, more power to you! You aren’t sleeping in my house, affecting my ZZZ’s, so I really don’t care. I will say, however, that not one of them had a husband 100% on board with the idea. In my life, in my marriage, I would consider that a problem that needed to be solved.

They say “Happy Wife, Happy Life,” and that statement is true. But if my husband isn’t happy, my house isn’t happy either. I spoke with my boss, and asked him, as a doctor, what he thought about all these things. The only solid medical evidence is this: Breast feeding is good for mother and child. Everything else is about what works for you and your family.

He had good advice, and it reminded me of the card he included with his wedding gift: “Keep doing all the things you did when you were falling in love, and you will stay in love.”

I loved that line so much! I thought it was wise, completely reasonable and perfectly attainable. Basically, the same thing applies when you have a child.

Wives, keep your husbands happy. Continue to take care of him, even after a child comes. He needs you.

Husbands, keep your wives happy. Give her a break, especially in the beginning, when she is sleep-deprived, self-conscious and wonderfully hormonal. She needs you.

And kids? If you have two parents (gay, straight, alien or purple-people-eaters included) who love each other that much, that they continue to always put each other first, you will have a happy, loving life, with a security that money can never buy.

Be confident in your decisions! There will always be someone who disagrees or judges. Aren’t we glad Breyers puts three whole flavors in the same container?

The Weight Debate

One of the first things you notice when you tell people you’re pregnant is how fascinating your eating habits become. I’ve heard everything:

“Eat whatever you want! It’s the only time you can do it!”

“Does everything taste better?”

“Don’t gain too much weight!”

“What are you craving? Anything good?”

“What are your favorites?”

“Is there anything you can’t stand?”

“I craved ‘fill in the blank with every food imaginable.’”

 

In the beginning, eating was a challenge. I learned at my first ob appointment that I had lost 5 pounds, and was actually the thinnest I had ever been. Imagine that! The skinniest version of me, and preggers nonetheless.

So when the doctor told me that a healthy weight gain was about 25-30 pounds, I thought, “Pshhh! Bring it on, Doc.” Then he said they expect you to gain 10 pounds in the first TWENTY weeks. That made me gulp a little. But since food and I were still on a hate/hate basis, no sweat!

When I hit the 12 week mark and noticed I had gained 6 pounds, the sweat began to pour. Buckets! 8 weeks to go with only a 4 pound gain?

In case it wasn’t blatantly obvious, that “Don’t gain too much weight!” I threw in there was from my boss, the plastic surgeon. We had a pretty decent talk about health, weight, pregnancy, etc. He did follow his comment with stating he didn’t judge women who gained a lot of weight, and he understood how hard it must be.

What he said next really sunk in. He said, “Most women, in my experience, feel a bit of a sense of loss after the baby comes. Maybe it’s ‘I don’t feel as sexy now, but I’m a mom, so that’s okay.’ But I will tell you, adding 50 pounds that you can’t lose will contribute to that feeling and leave you depressed. And it’s really hard to lose.”

Darn those doctors for always being so smart! I must admit, part of me wondered if this was a threat in disguise. “Don’t come back to work looking fat and gross!” Gulp, again.

The moment of insanity passed and I knew he was right, and even further, he was just looking out for me. We’ve worked together for over 3 years, and he knows I try to eat healthy (mostly) and I am pretty active with my husband and two dogs.

See? Look how active we are!

But a few weeks ago, my eating habits were just bad. Exercise had become too much of a chore, and I justified my choices because at least I was eating. However, I was choosing to eat more chocolate and less veggies, instead of finding the healthy balance.

Balance. *shakes-fist* I hate that word. I think I’ve always hated it, because I’ve always struggled with it. The cup is either all full or all empty, the sun is either shining brightly or hiding, depressed.

I met with a therapist for a few weeks, and she helped with the concept of balance. I was struggling with family relationships, and she taught me to look at the situation like a car window. You can roll it down just a little, in order to let someone in, but you don’t have to completely roll it down and let them manipulate or take over.

Eating while pregnant is like that car window. When I want chocolate, darn it, I’m going to have it. But a Snickers bar every day is probably not the best idea. Or, if it’s another “Give me a Snickers now if you value your life” situation, I need to make sure I eat a few cucumbers (yes, whole – whole cucumbers) to help make up for it. Last night, I went for a long walk with Hubs and Dogs, chopped up a bunch of veggies for snacks, made myself a big salad for lunch, and took one more bite of the brownie I hadn’t been able to resist.

The truth of the matter is, some women are just naturals at being pregnant. They glow, they feel great the entire time, they radiate with happiness, and their life revolves around the growing child. I am clearly not one of those women. While I want my child to have the best life possible and I will strive to be the best parent possible, I do worry that I will feel that sense of loss. The least I can do (for me and the baby) is not let myself get to a place of being overweight, unhealthy and depressed.

Whether you’re pregnant or not, a balanced life applies. So raise a glass of milk with me (while I pretend there’s Kahlua mixed in) and let’s all stop beating ourselves up. That’s the baby’s job!