Thursday, February 24, 2011

Never Judge a Mama until You've Walked a Mile in her Slippers.

Never judge a Mama until you walk a mile in her slippers.
I’ve heard a lot of comments about how stay at home moms are lazy or have no ambition.
Not true!!! (and rude!)
Moms work harder than anyone else on the planet. We have a job that requires our attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most of us don’t have time to ourselves… ever, and when we do, we spend that time cleaning up the house while there are no children underfoot, or in my case doing homework that never ends. We don’t get to come home at the end of the day and stop thinking about our job.  Our job is everywhere.
I thought I’d walk you through a day with me. These things don’t happen EVERY day, but I can honestly say they happen most days.
First I wake up to Mads crawling into bed with me around 4 am. This actually doesn’t bother me, because she brings her blankie with me and we share it. This blanket was mine until my little darling decided she needed it for herself. Eventually Roo decided that she needed it to, and now the blanket has been cut in half and re-edged in silky fabric. Princess silky edging for Mads and Nemo for Roo. I love Mads’ half, but Roo’s always smells sort of like dried spit so I keep it in her crib.
Finally we get out of bed, much later and I go get Roo out of her crib. This is always like entering enemy territory. I open the door as slowly as I can, and then take a quick look around the room to see if anything is out of place, and sniff the air to see if it is fresh or if I’m going to be inhaling toxic fumes.
I have 2 pairs of pajamas that I know Roo can’t escape from. When she wears them I know that I won’t find a naked child in the crib come morning. However she can’t wear these every time she is supposed to be sleeping….
This leads me to tell you about the grosses mom job I’ve had so far.
When I went in to wake Roo from her nap yesterday, I noticed that she had taken off her pants and her shirt was around her neck, but her arms were out of the sleeves. As I walked closer and saw that she was covered in dirt… wait that’s not dirt. Ugh. I woke her up and brought her directly to the tub. The poor thing was still half asleep while I cleaned her up and was fussing the whole time. Once she was clean, I sat her on the toilet, and had to trim her nails and clean under them with a toothpick. *shudder*
Here’s what I do in a day.
Laundry that never ends. Literally. Because at any given moment there is at least three pairs of clothes being worn.
Dishes (sometimes). I’m not going to lie, the dishes don’t get done every day. I hate them. But they get done… frequently. By hand.
Feed the kids. Sometimes easy food like bagels and cream cheese, sometimes pot roast.
Wipe their bottoms.
Dress them, over and over because they usually get messy (mostly Roo) or they want to be a princess and they can’t get their dress on. (mostly Mads)
Brush their hair and teeth. Hair usually gets done more than once.
Save Roo from falling off of whatever thing she climbed on top of.
Comfort Roo when she falls before I can save her.
Tell Roo to stop pulling Mads hair, stop hitting her, stop bugging her in general.
Tell Mads to be nice to her sister!
Find something that Mads has colored on and shouldn’t have.
Hang up Mads artwork on the refrigerator.
Watch Mads change her clothes 5 different times.
Put away the clothes that Mads has discarded.
Do homework.
Run whatever errand needs to be run that day. We need milk, bread, pudding...
Do more homework.
Wash Roo’s bedding, because she has inevitably gotten it messy somehow.
Drive Mads to school and pick her up.
Watch my girls argue over a toy, book or seat.
Break up the argument when I get tired of “letting them figure it out themselves” or when one of them starts crying.
Kiss the top of Roo’s head.
Give Mads a squeeze when she’s sitting on my lap.
Sing along to the radio, dancing around like maniacs. (For you that read this who aren’t yet parents, parenthood turns you into the weirdest human being. You do things to make your kids smile that you never thought you would do… for example: you dance like a maniac while completely sober.)
Get them ready for bed, if I’m lucky Roo is wearing her babyproof pajamas.
Tuck Mads in and give her a kiss.
Tell her no she may not have another snack, a drink of water, or a puppy.
Sing Roo a song, or four songs.
Tell her to have a good sleep.
Go into the living room and enjoy the quiet.
Tell Mads to “GET BACK IN BED!”
Start on more homework.
Stress out because there is still so much to do.
By bed time, I am exhausted, not only physically but emotionally.  But it is a good exhausted, because in the morning, I get to snuggle with Mads and share our blankie. Then I go to Roo’s room and sneak in to find a stinky, messy, mostly naked SMILING baby, and she’s waiting just for me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday to the Girl who changed my life.

Mads was born on February 16, 2006. I would like to say that I was patiently awaiting her arrival, with a calm Mona Lisa smile on my face. Truth? She was 12 days late. I was ready for her to COME OUT of there.
We had everything planned. My mom would be there for Mad’s birth, then a week later my husband’s mother would come down, and a week after that my sister would come to visit. This way everyone would have their own time with us and the baby.
Wait a second, let me backtrack. My family is from Oregon, but my husband was stationed in California, so we were living down there. (I flew home a lot.) So when it came time for the baby to be born, we made a lot of plans for my family to visit.
Back to Mads’ story.
So we had made this elaborate plan, with all of the family taking their turns to visit. This way, after I got out of the hospital, I would have a couple weeks of company and help with the baby. Except…it didn't work out quite the way we had planned.
My mom arrived around the time I was due, and we waited. (Keep in mind that my mom works full time, and had to take the time off work) No baby. Then a week later my mother in law came…still no baby. A week after that, my sister came, and there was still no Mads! I was…losing my patience to say the least.
When we would go grocery shopping, people would ask when I was due. My reply? “3 (or 4 or 5 or 6) days ago!!”… then the person asking would quickly take a step back. I don’t know why this always happened. Perhaps they saw me as a ticking time bomb. Back away from the pregnant lady, her water may break and get you! Or maybe they thought I would go into labor and THEY would have to deliver my baby in the Costco bread isle. It was pretty funny now that I look back, but at the time it was a little mortifying.
Finally the day my sister arrived, we went out to dinner. I had contractions all day, but it wasn’t until about 8pm that they started getting good. We ate at this place with hard wood booths, and I was extremely uncomfortable. The service was the worst I’ve ever experienced to this day, and it took them an hour to get our check back to us.  By the time we left I was exhausted and in a nasty mood. We finally got home, and I asked my mom and sister not to go back to their hotel, because I thought I might need them. We went to bed, and less than an hour later my water broke.
I turned into a blubbering, crying, scared mess.
I took a shower…cause eeeewww. Then I had my sister braid my hair like she used to when I was little. We finally headed off to the hospital to get checked in.
I won’t go through every single detail, because I was in labor for about 22 hours after I got to the hospital. I also won’t complain about their ridiculous policies (I couldn’t get out of bed to walk!). Finally after all that time in labor, the head of the maternity ward talked me into having a c-section.
I was really scared. It was terrifying. Especially to a girl that had never even had stitches before. I had given myself a pep talk daily about giving birth naturally. People have been doing this since the dawn of time etc. But now they were changing everything! Umm, no thank you, I really don’t want you to strap me to a table and cut me open while I’m awake. I’ll just keep this baby in here forever…
It turned out ok. The doctor ended up giving me some sort of tranquilizer, so I wasn’t aware of anything for a while. However I knew exactly when she was born. It’s like I snapped out of a trance the minute I heard her cry. The most beautiful sound I had ever heard was her screaming at the injustice of being pulled from her cozy little nest into that freezing cold 76 degree room. They brought her over to me so that I could kiss her, and then they whisked her away to the nursery.
I had told my husband that I wanted him to stay with me in the operating room, so we asked my mom to stay with Mads in the nursery so she wouldn’t be all alone in there.
Here’s the story about Mad’s birth that makes me emotional every time.
When the nurse came out into the little room my mom was waiting in, she had Mads in her little incubator bed and she said, “Here’s your baby!” Instead of feeling relieved, my mom said, “No, I want to see MY baby.” That nurse brought my mom over to the operating room doors and opened them so my mom could wave at me, and see that I was ok. I saw her, barely, but I didn’t have my glasses on so I couldn’t tell who it was. But my mom got to see that I was ok, and that was what mattered.
The rest of my stay was… horrid. Truly. I had this crazy Ukrainian nurse that acted like I was starving my daughter because I was breastfeeding, and Mads had to have her little stomach suctioned out (which happens with c-section babies sometimes), I pretty much got walked all over for the rest of my stay. I was too young to know better, I felt like the doctors and nurses were in charge. Big mistake. (no worries though, by the time daughter #2 came along, I wasn’t taking any crap from anyone!)
And you know if you’ve ever read one of my stories before, that there is always one last thing that goes wrong. So here it is. By the time I got out of the hospital, all of my family was gone except for my parents. They had to leave the night I got home. My mom was so upset about that, but she had taken 2 weeks off of work already and HAD to get home. So it was just me, the husband and Mads.
Every single minute of those horrible doctors and nurses, every time I was scared, every minute I waited, every little pain (and big pain) I had was completely and totally worth it. I would do it all again, and smile. I’d kiss those doctors that cut me open, right on the mouth. I’d punch that Ukrainian nurse in the face… but then I’d help her up and give her a hug as I ordered her out of my room.
In short, it wasn’t so bad after all, because look at the present I got to take home. Lucky lucky me.
So now for the pictures! My favorite part!

Here's the first picture of Mads. That's my mom's well manicured hand in the picture. She didn't even hold her while she waited, she just held her hand and talked to her. My mom wanted me to be the first one to hold her. I think that hour they spent together must have imprinted Mads somehow, because she is extremely close to my mom... sort of like those baby ducks that see a dog when they hatch and end up following it around.

Here's the first time I held Mads. (outside my belly) Please cut me a little slack for the greasy hair... I had just spent over 24 hours in labor... you sweat a little.

Here she is at 6 months old. Where did all that black hair go?!  Look at those blue eyes. Lovely.

1 year old.
 She wasn't walking yet, but she was talking. She never said just one word, It was always these long sentences that no one could understand, with one or two words that were recognizable.

2 years old.
She loved getting her picture taken. She would pose and smile every single time she saw a camera come out.

3 years old.
She seemed so big to me then, because Roo had just been born,and she seemed so much older when compared to a newborn. Now when I see this picture she looks so little! My baby.

And here is her this fall. Almost 5 years old. My beautiful girl.

I'm lucky.
Not everyone gets perfection on their first try.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Baby Root Canals and Warrior Moms

Today was one of those days as a mom, where one has to hike up her pants, put on her deodorant, and survive on pure bravado.
I try not to toot my own horn on here… but I totally rock on those days.
I have an ability to get stuff done.  I can be nonchalant, and act like something is no big deal, even when I am having a panic attack inside. I would like to say that all mothers have this, but I don’t think that’s true. Some moms are total patsies… and some moms are warriors. The patsy moms are of course, willing to fight fire for their children, but sometimes balk at the thought of joining them in a hospital room, or dentist chair.
I am blessed to know one of the warrior moms actually. Attilla the Hun would run from her. Her name is Janis Keller, and she is the mother of my best friend Johni who grew up with Cystic Fibrosis.  A more formidable mom I have yet to meet.  I would like to think that I am a warrior, but nothing quite drastic enough has ever put my battle skills to the test, and hopefully never will. However, I am quite possibly a novice warrior… yeah I think that fits.
Today, my almost 5 year old Mads had to get two pulpotomies on her back bottom molars. This is when a dentist… eh I wont bore you. Think of them as baby root canals.
Here’s the scoop.
Today we woke up at *ahem* 7am.  It I got up and got Mads dressed, rolled my 2 year old out of her crib, and we left at about 8am. My cousin was planning on watching Roo at her house, so I didn’t bother to dress her. Big mistake. I didn’t give us enough time to bring Roo to my cousin’s before the appointment, so she had to meet us at the office. So we show up bleary eyed, with Mads and I dressed like normal people and Roo…not. She has started taking her clothes off in the mornings before she wakes me up, so I have had to improvise. Today she was wearing a backwards pair of sleeper pajamas, the ones that zip up the front. In order to get them to fit properly, I’ve had to cut the feet off, and cut a little notch in the front  (back) so they don’t choke her.  Then I added some socks, no shoes and a sweater that didn’t even vaguely match. The poor thing looked like a ragamuffin, and was totally oblivious to the fact. Plus, she was running around the office in her socks. *shudder*
When we got there, I found out that our insurance doesn’t kick in until March 1st. A whole month away. Ok, then I will pay for this first visit out of pocket, and ask the dentist if perhaps we can wait a month before doing any procedures. Unfortunately, the previous dentist of doom we visited took bad x-rays, so there is another $50 dollars for today. I can handle that…barely.
We went back to see the dentist and Mads was an angel. She sat quietly while they did x-rays again, and while they checked out her teeth.
Me: "Is there any way we could wait until the insurance starts on March 1st, before doing any of the procedures?"
Dentist: "blah blah blah… she may lose the teeth if we wait that long… or she could be fine."
Me (thinking in my head): well that sure clears things up.
This next part I will try to speed through, as it was the most annoying.
I went to the front desk, and was told they could do a partial fix, and then we could come back later and finish them up. Ok, I say, lets do that.
The partial fix was $450 with no insurance. Time to call Mad’s dad. I have to admit, for all the complaints I have with the guy, he certainly pulled through. While I am trying to get it figured out with him, and giving him the number to the dentist while he tries to call his insurance and see WHY THE HECK ITS NOT WORKING YET… my phone goes dead. Completely dead. No juice.
Lovely timing… piece of junk phone.
We finally got it all figured out, with the dentist considerably richer in the process. And it was time to take Mads back for her procedure.
I really did not want to do it. Really, really did not want to do it.
The dentist assured me that I could be in the room if I wanted to, but that most children did considerable better if a parent wasn’t present. And I totally trusted the dude.
Before I go any farther, let me describe Mad’s dentist.
When I first saw him, he was wearing jeans, lace up boots and a sweatshirt. Not a sweater, a sweatshirt with some sort of writing on the front. Bless you normal dentist, you just put my mind at ease with your inappropriate work attire. He is in his 60’s I would guess, and built like Santa without the beard and unruly hair. When we first met he told me he had 5 children. If you are a mother, you know why this would make me even more comfortable with the guy. He asked Mad’s about her ratty old blankie, and told us about how his son would use his tie as a lovey while they were at church. Could you please come home with us Mr. Dentist? Because you are adorable.
Moving on…
I took Mads back, and got her situated on the chair.
Me: “Ok, I’m going to go out to the front now so I’m not in the dentist’s way. They might have to put the nose thing on (laughing gas) like we talked about, no big deal right?”
Mads: “Ok mom.”
Me: “Give me a smooch, I’ll see you in a little bit”
Mads: “Ok.”
And I was out of there, but I didn’t go far.
I quickly walked out to the waiting room to let my mom know that Mads was doing just fine. Then I sat down for… about 23 seconds, and I was on my way back to where Mads was.
 Well that’s not true. I had myself a quick freak out, because I left my tiny baby back there on a huge dentist chair without me. Then I went back totally dry eyed to check on her.
 I expected the office ladies to shoo me away, but I actually ran into one while trying to sneak back, and she gave me a big smile. Okie dokie, guess this dentist office isn’t worried about crazy parents checking on their kids. What a relief.
It was awful. Not Mads, she was fabulous, the situation was awful. She just lay there, quietly letting the dentist do his thing. I was so impressed. The dental assistant put Taylor Swift on the radio especially for Mads. I got teary eyed again, and sniffed it back. I could see that she was fine without me, but I just stood there around the corner watching them work.
And here’s where my warrior came in.
She started whimpering. And her legs started fidgeting. And I knew that she was upset, but the rest of her body lay completely still while they finished fixing her mouth. I KNEW that if I went in to comfort her, she would lose it. And I knew that they had to finish what they were doing. But it was one of the hardest things ever, watching my baby be upset, and very brave, and knowing that I would make it worse if I went to save her. My heart was breaking, right there in the dentist’s office. And I continued to sit there and watch, even though she didn’t know I was there.  That is strength. Doing something for your kids that they don't understand, something that may be painful or scary, and never letting them know that you are just as scared as they are.
When they sat her up, she just looked at the floor and sat with her arms hunched in, not talking. I swept into that room like a hurricane and picked her up as quick as I could. The moment I held her she put her face in my neck and started to sob. My poor baby. She was freaked out about her face being numb, but I calmed that fear down, and then she started to cry when she told me it hurt. Have you ever felt so horrible that your chest actually ached, physically ached? I knew I was doing what was best for her, but I still felt horrible for doing it. (a mother’s prerogative)
I told her how brave she was, how good she did, and that I was just outside the room the whole time. I never left her. She says that she wasn’t brave because she cried. I told her that bravery is when you do something because you know you have to, even though you are scared. I figure we were both pretty brave today, but I didn’t tell her that. As far as she knows, I still think it was no big deal.
Here’s the coolest thing about today:
My four year old got baby root canals with no sedation. She was not strapped down. She didn’t even need laughing gas because she was so brave. .. and she’s not even scared to go back next month.
Maybe my baby is going to be a warrior too.