Monday, April 9, 2012

Baby Fat

Before pregnancy, I had been the same weight for years with little variance. I rarely worked out because I rode my bike everywhere and my profession, it seemed, was to run around a brewery, lifting beer all day. So when I gained forty-five pounds during my forty-one weeks of blissful (notable sarcasm) pregnancy, I was shocked. Every time I weighed in at my OB visits, I just gasped at the tiny digital numbers and let out a hushed, “Oh, God.” That is until I couldn’t see the numbers anymore due to my monumental baby protrusion. I just stopped looking down altogether.

Gaining weight, I found, especially while pregnant, was tremendously easy. Not that I ate whatever I wanted, but I was more interested in food than I had ever been before. Food was a new world of flavors and textures where I was delighted to imbibe. And imbibe I did.

For some mystical reason, after Liam was born and I lost 9lbs, 4oz of baby, I thought the collateral weight would just magically melt off. I assumed my body would resiliently spring back to its original size and shape. I was wrong. In fact, after I lost about 20 pounds, it stopped. My weight-loss plateaued and my body looked nothing like it did before. Yes, I had the general Melinda shape, but with all this auxiliary squidgy mommy flesh. Not good. Not good at all.

Because I am not much of a believer in diets, exercise was my only viable option. I needed a gym that had a pool, childcare, and reasonable monthly dues. Luckily I found just such a place in the Raintree Athletic Club. From the moment I stepped into the well-manicured lobby that smelled like treadmills, free weights, and skinniness, I knew that this was the place to lose my muffin top. Later that day after I signed up and paid for my entire year in advance, I celebrated with a beer. Made sense.

Upon arriving at the gym for the first time, I stepped onto an elliptical machine and almost had a panic attack. How the heck do you set this thing up? After a few unnerved and fumbling minutes, I had programmed my workout. 20 minutes later, after almost falling off, I tried out the circuit of weight machines, which all looked like torture devices. I am forever grateful to the designers of said machines for including illustrations of how to maneuver the various arms, pulls, and levers, without which I might have found myself forever entangled. I ventured into the pool for the end of my workout, which was like dipping into my past. During our warm-ups my high school swim coach, with a sadistic grin pasted across his face, would simply utter, “Swim a mile.” Now I consider it a good workout if I can flounder through a thousand meters.

I’ve been going for three weeks now and I already feel so much better. The increase in energy and confidence is well worth the sore muscles and how awkward I feel in workout clothes. I’ve set a goal to lose 30 pounds by Liam’s first birthday. I’m not sure if I can do it, but holy crap, I’m going to try. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Just Blend It

I never thought that I’d be one of those moms who would actually make her own baby food. The finer points of cuisine often elude me and the idea of crafting something so mundane sounded not only tiresome but way too labor intensive. In my mind, the types of moms who carefully select premium organic fruits and vegetables, lovingly steam and bake them, then chop and blend them to perfection, seemed like complete yuppie nuts with nothing better to do. And then, before I realized, I became one. Fart.

It began as a mere inkling in my heart to try something new, a foray into the unknown landscape of the produce department, a conference with my blender and ice cube trays. I was also looking into ways to cull our budget and buying fresh produce, blending it, and then freezing it is monumentally cheaper than buying mountains of baby food jars. I then uttered the inevitable phrase, “How hard could it be? It’s just blending a bunch of stuff.” And that was my downfall.

Once at the grocery store, I marveled at the inclined stacks of wet leaves, rounded waxy peppers, and earthen piles of potatoes. I bee-lined for the foods that I had researched as good starters for babies: sweet potatoes and pears. I saw that the sign said, “Yams” so, of course, I had to break out my iPhone and look up the difference between yams and sweet potatoes. For our purposes here, there is no difference. Great. I headed to the pear section in which there were about seven different varieties. I chose the ones that looked the most like the ones I ate as a child. Logical, right?

I will now confess that I had to look up how to bake a potato. Let me reiterate, I’m no cook. After finally figuring it out, I baked them and set them aside to cool. Now, a kitchen whiz would have checked to see if the blender base and bowl were properly screwed together, but, as aforementioned, I’m no whiz. I promptly added the sweet potatoes to the blender, added my water and blended. After the mixture achieved the perfect level of smoothness, I picked up the blender bowl, only to discover that I had permanently infused the base of my blender with a sticky, sugary, orange mess. Crap.  

Now, a lesser mom would have hung up her apron and called it quits, or perhaps a smarter mom, I’m not sure which. But, oh no, not this mom, I wasn’t finished ruining my kitchen yet. My next attempt was carrots, which I thought were perfectly innocent, beautiful vegetables, the humblest of roots. I decided to steam them on the stove in a steamer basket in a pot of boiling water. I left them there to steam only to forget to turn down the stove once the water had reached a boil. I was on the couch when I smelled something like burnt sugar. Oh crap. I raced over to the stove only to realize that all of the water had boiled off and I was now melting the coating of my non-stick pan, which is not very eco-friendly by the way. Upon checking the carrots, there were pieces of blackened coating all over them, a cesspool of charred perfluorooctanoic acid. I had made carcinogen carrots. Not exactly the best thing to feed to a baby. I quickly removed the toxic pot from my house and opened up all the doors and windows, broke out the box fan and aerated the whole place. Holy eff.

Since then I have cleaned out and learned how to properly assemble my blender. I’ve even learned how to steam carrots using the microwave! I might not be the best cook, but I’m trying my hardest to be the best mom I can be. Liam loves his homemade food and I’m happy to make it for him. As long as I don’t burn whole the house down. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lettin' It All Hang Out

This past Thanksgiving, I travelled with Josh and my dad to Illinois to visit family on our farm, a time honored tradition for the Gibb family. We were very excited to bring Liam and show him off to my relatives who had yet to meet the wee one. We were flying into Chicago, which meant that a day’s worth of baby feeding had to be undertaken while on the move. Great, just great. With my nursing pillow in tow, I had the pleasure of breastfeeding at DIA, on the plane, and at the lovely Midway Airport in Chicago in which the only private place I could find was a booth at a bar. Surprisingly, this worked out quite well because after I fed Liam, I had a beer. Perfecto. The next day I had the pleasure of feeding him in the ladies room at Macy’s on Michigan Avenue, and in the parking lot of a Steak ‘n Shake. Nice.

My personal preference for public nursing is with a cover because I don’t like freaking out my male friends and I didn’t particularly want my dad to feel uncomfortable. However, my incredibly active young lad likes to wave his arm around while he eats which makes keeping the cover on rather difficult. He wants the whole world to see what he can do, I suppose.

It’s silly to think that something as simple as how you feed your baby can be so hotly debated among mothers and non-parents alike. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the appropriateness of public nursing. Some think that breastfeeding is totally gross and should never be socially practiced while others believe that it’s the most natural thing in the world and they “let it all hang out.” I can understand both lines of thought, really, but we must remember, in no other context would it be socially appropriate to show people your boob. Just because there is a baby attached to it, does that make it ok for the world to see what you’re packing under that nursing bra? I’m not so sure.

Granted, this is just my opinion, and you don’t have to agree with it. There are plenty of my friends who could give a rat’s behind what others thought about their breastfeeding habits. And that’s ok too. At the end of the day, you’ve got to do what’s right for you and your baby. I think, however, that you can be considerate of others who might be shocked if you plop out your bare breast at the dinner table. Yes, it’s how babies eat, but remember, not everyone wants to see your boobs. Well, mostly. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Schlepping With Baby

Before I became a mom, I scoffed at the idea of pushing around a stroller and carrying a giant ugly diaper bag. When I worked retail at a gift boutique downtown, I'd see these poor women lugging baby gear and getting the wheels of their enormous strollers caught on everything in the store. I'd just roll my eyes, pitying their struggle and follow behind them, picking up items they knocked off the displays.

Ugh, I'm never going to have a stroller when I'm a mom.” I told my co-worker with an elitist tone.

Hey, pre-parent Melinda, “You're an IDIOT!”

I have come to my senses since then and bought a very modest yet completely impressive stroller that I use almost every day. It's small and easy to maneuver as there are just some things a modern mother needs. Also, the bottom basket easily holds two six packs of beer which makes shopping at the liquor store, or walking home from New Belgium a little easier.

Recently, I have taken a few overnight trips with Liam. The monumental task before leaving was to assemble all of the baby gear and wrangle it all into a reasonably sized suitcase. My first attempt at preparing myself, a baby, and a dog to go to Grandma and Grandpa's for a few days took me 5 hours, half of which Liam screamed through because the one day I needed to get something done, he decided to cry instead of nap. Ugh. By the time I arrived at my parents house, I was out of juice, luckily, grandparents tend to like their grandchildren and they gleefully took him off my hands for a little while. Since that trip, I've curtailed my prep time to a mere one hour. Now that I know what I'll actually need, it goes much faster. (i.e. leave the portable bath at home but bring extra diaper wipes!)

Another item that was indispensable when Liam was a newborn was the self-bouncing baby seat. He was pleased with that for some time and even napped in it for his first 6 weeks. Then suddenly our family began amassing baby seats. At one point in our living room alone were 4 places for Liam to place his little baby butt. He has since outgrown the infant seat, preferring the gigantic, obnoxious, hideously unfashionable baby entertainer with a jumper seat. This is another item I swore I would never own, yet here I am, eating crow.

I have to thank my mother for the final item that I'll mention here, my diaper bag. She bought me the Cadillac of diaper bags. It's artfully constructed from laminated canvas with a tasteful pattern on the front in a messenger bag style with a zip out diapering station. Super sweet. I am the envy of all my friends . . . not really . . . maybe just the ones who change a lot of diapers. It's simple and functional enough that even my engineering husband commented on the ease of use. Neat.

So, to all of you moms out there, the next time you fold up that stroller and swing it into the back of your SUV, know that I'm there too, straining my back alongside you as as we haul around all that kid crap we thought we'd never need. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

You know you're a new parent if:

  • you've ever uttered the phrase, “It's only a little baby pee.”

  • going to the grocery store is the highlight of your day.

  • you've wondered if it's appropriate to bring your baby to a bar.

  • naptime isn't just for kids anymore.
  • you can't remember what life was like when you were fully rested.
  • experiencing the world outside of your house is like walking on the moon.
  • you buy both Red Bull and Pampers in bulk.
  • taking the dog for a walk seems like too much of a hassle.
  • your major accomplishment for the day was taking a shower.
  • the only thing in the entire world that you have ever imagined wanting is sleep.
  • you find bits of baby poo stuck to your favorite shoes.
  • tiny little smiles melt your heart in a big way.
  • you've ever had to coordinate drinking a beer with feeding a child.
  • at the end of a very difficult day, coos and smiles make it all better.
  • you can change a diaper while asleep, literally.
  • things like percentiles begin to make sense.
  • you begin clipping, saving and actually using coupons.
  • most of what comes out of your mouth is baby gibberish.
  • you are constantly doing laundry. (I mean it, constantly.)
  • you worry about things like rashes, allergy bumps and dry skin. (Gross.)
  • your baby isn't the only one who is crying these days.
  • you'd give your pinky toe for your baby to sleep through the night. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

For Whom the Dinner Bell Tolls

Feeding a baby seemed like a pretty simple task before I became a parent. Baby cries = baby hungry = feed the baby. As I was soon to discover, there are many facets to this seemingly natural task. First, let's discuss nursing.

That's right, breastfeeding. I had heard tales of failed attempts, extreme pain, inability to latch, something called “nipple confusion”, low milk production and skin left cracked and bleeding. Sounds great. Sign me up. My hopes were high but my expectations were realistic. Luckily, my son could suck the copper off a penny if he tried, so latching wasn't an issue. After a few days we got the hang of it, and to my surprise, nursing was going very well! Liam was back up to his birth weight in one week. Soon though, the routine set in and the reality of becoming a milk machine substantiated itself. Having a baby attached to you every three hours is quite draining. Literally.

So there's nursing during the day, when you are marginally alert, and there's nursing during the middle of the night, when you feel as though someone has replaced your brain with mushrooms and swapped your reality for the vacuum of space. To be awoken at 3am by the sounds of your sweet baby wailing is something akin to waking up to a barrage of artillery shells going off around your bed. I usually stagger to my son's room, assess his crying, (hungry, tired, grumpy, gassy etc.) and if hunger is the culprit, it's time to nurse. After a few of these nocturnal feedings, by sunrise, I feel a little inhuman.

Burping is another activity I thought little of until I spent a good portion of my day doing it. Burping is equally as important as feeding because you don't want gas bubbles causing pain in your little one's delicate system. Liam is an expert burper (and farter in case you were wondering.) After each side, I hoist him on to my shoulder and vigorously pat his back. Josh is so good at burping Liam, in fact, that sometimes I just hand him over and he burps the moment he enters his daddy's arms. At first these burps were nothing more than that, clamorous escapes of air. Recently, however, they have been accompanied by excesses of mucus and milk. That's right, spit-up. He can heave it down his front, smear it across his face, and catapult it over my back, dripping the milky remnants onto the carpet. He's truly an artist. A Jackson Pollock of regurgitation.

But beyond the episodes of my petite gourmand there lies the incredible satisfaction of nourishing my child. To look down and see his little milk mouth brings a smile to my face. I've been richly blessed by my nursing experience and I can't thank God enough for how rewarding it has been. Through the fog of late night feedings, the monotony of burping, and the crossfire of spit-up, I know that it's all worth it. Even when he splatters his breakfast all over himself, me, his clothes, the burp cloth, the couch cushions, the pillows, the floor, the dog . . .  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just Like Riding a Diaper

Last week I literally got back in the saddle, the saddle of my bike that is. Just a short pedal to the mailboxes at the end of the road, it was exhilarating nonetheless. It had been about ten months since I stalwartly climbed into the seat of a bike, and regardless of my misgivings, it was just like riding a bike.

This is quite unlike changing diapers. Now that my son, Liam, is over a month old, he is filling diapers like a champ and I've been changing them like it was my job. Before he arrived, I hadn't changed a diaper since I was a babysitter eighteen years ago. The idea of diapering was not a daunting concept, just a foreign one. I thought, “How bad could it be, really?”

It was bad.

The propensity of pee and poop that comes out of my child is nothing short of monumental. How such a small, sweet boy could produce such a foul and heavy diaper is beyond understanding. Additionally, I had little clue as to the amount of fluids that would make their way outside of the confines of his diaper. In the movies you see little boys streaming out geysers of urine; it happily splashing all over them. I thought that this was a dramatization.

It was not.

My son is a pee fountain. He christened both Josh and I on his first night home. If you're not in there with a wipe the moment the diaper is lifted and the cool air wafts against his body, he will pee on you, or more likely himself, dousing his face with its gummy smile. Then, from nowhere, he'll gaseously launch poo all over the changing table and secretly onto the only dress that fits me right now. About an hour after this happened, while getting into the car bound for the grocery store, I looked down only to discover my son's deposit. Gross.

While learning the art of diapering has been quite the enterprise, I know that one day this too will be routine. And while my ride to the mailbox was seemingly unadventurous, it was one step towards finding my way back to normalcy. That is if normalcy is ducking streams of baby pee.