Tuesday, May 7, 2013

And Through the Chaos Shines the Light

Over the past few weeks, I've started several blog posts only to abandon them to my recently acquired ADD. Couple it with my OCD, PMS and mild PPD and I am a giant H-O-T mess of alphabet soup.

I am, however, consistent.

One day while fretting about my physical condition, I started the following post:
In recent months I've lost my hair, boobs, sleep and free time. And in return I've gained a lot of weight and guilt. Something about this exchange doesn't seem right. Instead of complaining about it I decided to harness the power I have to change the things I can. So we bought a treadmill. $200 on Craigslist -- well, $220 because my husband accidentally gave the guy too much and it was a pain in the ass to drive back and get it -- and it's in perfect, fat-burning, working order.

And another day I started musing about working from home:
I love working from home. And not because I get to see my kid. That's fleeting, minutes at time here and there. It's because with the hour I save in not showering and commuting, I get to spend 2 hours with my kid, work out, walk the dog, eat breakfast and be ready to sit down and work by 8:45.

Yet another day I was particularly frazzled and inspired by the Beastie Boys "Get it Together":

Between learning to go with the flow, managing a big job and a little baby, my ever-changing emotions, a household and some semblance of a social existence, I often feel my life (and head) meandering in random directions. Like a Beastie Boys song.

Everything feels so scattered, and I spend the majority of my time trying to make sense of it all. Often, I come home and go straight for Oliver's schedule to see how he did during the day. And my husband always stops me with, "hi, how are you doing, how was your day, love you too." You could say I'm so focused on figuring it all out that I forget the simple things. Like saying hello to my family.

In an upside down world that I can't control, I doubt everything. My ability to get my job done. Whether or not my husband loves me. If my child recognizes me. If I'll ever see the triangle of light between my thighs again.

In re-reading these would be posts I find that I am consistent is my quest to control things (and complaining about the fact that I can't). Every one of these posts is about taking back a life that was once so finely managed.

Which brings me to a conclusion. This, my friends, is the new normal. Buckle up.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

God is Good (the church is not)

When I became pregnant I started praying regularly each night before bed, and occasionally before big doctor's appointments and significant events (like labor). What is it about carrying another human being and subsequently bringing him into the world that forces one to find God again? In my case, fear and worry.

I was raised a Catholic. Loosely. I went to Catholic school (until 5th grade), I had all my sacraments (except marriage in a church), and went to mass (occasionally). My parents didn't really instill a strong sense of religion or God in me, although I often heard "so help me God", "Goddamn it, Courtney" and "oh my God" around my house.

The only other time I can recall praying this consistently and formally was in my late teen years, when my father gave me a Prayer to Mary imploring her for help. He would be horrified to know that I used it to pray for boys to like me, and that I didn't get AIDS or pregnant. And so you understand why I am elated that I had a boy.

That aside, now that I'm a Mommy, I find myself saying his prayers and mine each night. And having him baptized is of the utmost importance despite my loose faith. I believe in God, maybe not like the Catholic church says I should, but you'd be crazy not to think there isn't some sort of higher power. I mean, how else do you explain conception? Or bacon? I've done a lot of bargaining with God in my day, and he/she/heshe has always been a source of comfort.

So I decided to have my child baptized in Pennsylvania because his Godparents are there, and it's significantly easier for us to get to them than vice-versa. In order to have your baby baptized in a visiting parish, you need a letter from your parish allowing the baby to be baptized somewhere else. I take issue with that in itself, but it isn't the worst of it. My parish apparently didn't think I contributed enough money to write me a letter allowing the baptism. No, I'm not kidding.

They had listed me as an "inactive member".  They've seen too few offertory envelopes in my name come through. Now it's true, I don't go to church as often as I should. Ok, almost never. But it's where I would go if I did go, and I've thrown them some dough out of guilt over the years. And I don't need to go to church to believe, be grateful, or worship in my own way.

$50 and a preparation class later, we'll be having our baptism.

Damn Catholics.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Not So Skinny Bitch

When I look in the mirror I often wonder, who is that person with the flabby tummy and gargantuan back staring at me like I should know her? That bitch should put down the wine glass and find a treadmill.

For the first time in my life, I am in the unacceptable range of body flab. I feel that I've reached that point where some people decide they're ok with their new-found roundness and suddenly three years later they put biggest loser contestants to shame. I can see how it happens. Lord knows I love my bread, and how and when to exercise is an enigma wrapped in a mystery thrown into a black hole. I know, I just had a baby. And people tell me all the time how good I look. Blind people, that is. Because I didn't "just" have a baby and while that excuse is nice and all, I don't feel very good about the sound of my fat jeans ripping as I jump up and down to get into them.

And here I was just a few months ago, pregnant and proud that I only gained 35 pounds eating whatever the hell I felt like (mostly pizza and chicken fingers) and never swelled like a whale until my final weeks. I was also proud when I lost 25 of those pounds in the first four weeks after delivery.

What I didn't know is the last 10 (ok, call it 15 because let's be honest I was chubs when I got knocked up) would hold on for dear life. And that my entire body would be different. Honestly, even if I do lose this weight (correction: when) I'm not so sure I'll be happy with the results.

Tube socks toting tennis balls for tits, and jiggles where I didn't know they were possible. Not to mention my unrecognizable thighs. They used to never touch but now they're up close and personal. You know my husband is psyched to hit this. It's a good thing we're too damn tired for sex.

This not so skinny bitch needs to find a way to lose this poundage fast so my beach vacations don't suffer. That, or I'll just get pregnant again. Um, not. Now where did I put that discipline...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mommy Fail

As I sit here staring at my fancy night vision monitor, watching my baby boy sleep two hours after I arrived home (on his belly - failure #1, and an hour earlier than he should be - failure #2), the only thing that comes to mind as exhaustion takes over is this: being a working mom blows. Hard. Like a porn star.

Sure, sure. I am a strong, empowered woman who is taking care of her family. Hear me roar! I keep telling myself I appreciate my adult life and time away. I keep telling myself. But hear me cry as I pull out of the driveway, leaving this perfect little specimen I brought into the world just 90 days (90 days!) ago, behind. The guilt is overwhelming.

As a child, I had to make sure all of my stuffed animals had a friend before I went to bed each night. You know, so they wouldn't get lonely. I might have done this with Oliver's too. So...you can only imagine what I'm going through with a ridonculously adorable baby boy that stares back at me with my own eyes (when his head isn't turned to the left - failure #3). He needs a Mommy by nature, and I'm not there (failure #4).

I want to work. And I have to work. As much as I enjoy what I do most days, I don't feel that I'm doing the right thing. I'm certainly not the first mom to go back to work. Women do it every day, and under much more difficult circumstances than mine. And I'm sure I should be grateful to those who fought for our equality in the workplace, but right about now I'm wishing the only option I had was what color apron to wear while I cook dinner.

My entire adult life my career has defined me. Ask anyone who Courtney is and I guarantee the first thing out of their mouth is related to my success in the workplace. Or that I'm an intimidating bitch, take your pick, they are one in the same in this world. What might surprise you is that I don't see myself this way. At all.  I'm proud of what I've accomplished, but the truth is it came relatively easy to me. I'm driven, dedicated and want to make a difference, but it's what I've been doing until what I'm really supposed to be doing comes along, and I just happen to be really good at it.

Now, motherhood? That, my friends, is a whole different story. It's the hardest fucking thing I've ever done, and I work my ass off only to be what I would consider average. God how I hate that word. Every single day I feel like a failure. Is he eating enough, what am I doing that's preventing him from sleeping, am I using the right baby products, is his head the right shape? And there's no backspace button on my kid, people! I realize this is the ultimate challenge, one I so desperately want to be good at, and you got it, the one I want to define me. Didn't see that coming.

Conundrum. So, I want to work despite feeling guilty and need to work but don't want it to define me because now I'm a marginal mommy who wants to be a super mommy but can't because I work.

Got it? Neither do I.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Didn't I Tell You

I spent some time re-reading my blog this weekend. I do this every couple of months because it's kind of like reading past diary entries to assess your mental state. Who am I kidding. It's a narcissistic indulgence that leaves me thinking I might actually be able to make a career out of this some day. Tangent -- back to my point.

There were three posts that struck me, posts where I had commented about life after baby, and I'd just like to share that I was correct in my assumptions. Which only goes to show that I am not delusional and have a clue. What a relief.

The first is the smell of Dead Animals. It's baaacckk. Which means it was not, in fact, my crazy pregnant nose. There is something in the walls. Or the drains. It's subtle. You might not notice it at first, but even my husband has caught a whiff and he can't smell anything. It's going to make me crazy, so the source must be found and destroyed. And in the meantime I'll once again be burning the candles and La Tee Da lamps.

The second is my son's name. Yes, we named him Oliver, which I allude to in House of Destiny. What I didn't know is that he would actually be born on December 20, which I suppose makes it even more apropos. But the name didn't come easy. We waffled, and continued to waffle into his third month of life. Hell, we're still waffling, because we can't seem to find a nickname that doesn't make my husband cringe. The obvious, Olly or Ollie, doesn't do it for us and you are guaranteed to have people calling him by this shortened version of the name. It's as natural as Mike for Michael. Is it crazy to change your child's name after 3 months? Opinions welcome.

And finally, there's my efficiency. It hasn't left the building. I am more than happy to report my house is still clean and will remain that way thanks to Daisy and her team, and I'm still cooking (it's what got me through weeks 1-8), and putting checks in household boxes. I cannot and will not compromise my environment. It's the only thing that keeps me sane. And, I'm happy to report that in one day back to the office I've already made great strides in tidying up the ship.  I told you not to Underestimate me.

Onward and upward. 

Friday, March 15, 2013


Writer's are supposed to write, right? Well I do. It's just been in my head where no one can read it for the past 90 days. Yes, folks, our trial period is over. Even though. I hear white baby boys sell for about $40k these days, we've decided to keep him. And all that he brings with him.

There's the giggles, cuddles, coos and endless hours of staring at him wondering how I could have possibly done something so right. And there's also the 10 extra pounds I still have, the daily headaches, continued baby brain (it got worse) and the perpetual voice telling me not to screw this up. And to stop using the f-word.

Being a Mom is the hardest thing I've ever done. Not hard in the sense of the daily routine. In fact, now that I know being a SAHM is all about operations it's rather appealing to me, it's something I could master. No, it's hard in the sense of the expectations I place upon myself for raising him right. And my new obsessive compulsive disorder that focuses on figuring out what's wrong with him each day (answer = nothing). I've re-read my baby books multiple times, swearing I missed the part that fixes [INSERT RANDOM BABY CONCERN HERE]. Babies aren't logical. That's the downfall of a logician like me (you like that word, don't you). Raising a kid is a giant science experiment that relies on magic, and every day I feel like I'm blowing up the beakers while the rabbit escapes my hat. Poof.

With so much child rearing to think about, it leaves little room for much else. Which brings me to Monday's return to work. For his sake, it's probably better that cray-cray Mommy is off to the mines. Bodes well for his long term mental stability. And I'm at peace with leaving my child. After all, he'll be with his Daddy and a truly wonderful nanny we were blessed to find.

While I am excited to start "having it all" (Step 1: figure out what "all" is), in my current state of mind I am fearful of what I am returning to with all that has, or more appropriately hasn't, transpired while I've been gone. Not to mention the impact of the very short fuse that is my sleep-deprived patience right now. The clean-up promises to be challenging, to put it mildly, thus I'm hoping to find balance, perspective, and a filter before Monday.

Balance. Ha. I'm still figuring out how to shower by 10am, let alone working in the 9-5. I know, I know, everybody does it. And Marissa Mayer, well isn't she the quintessential working mother. Thanks for killing maternity leave for the rest of us. Oh, and telecommuting.

And so Life 2.0 begins. Where did I leave my wand....

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Birth Story (and then some)

A year ago, we were considering starting a family. I was mentally preparing myself for a difficult time conceiving and the possibility of not at all, worrying about my heart condition, and coming to terms with delivering via c-section should we actually get pregnant.

Which only goes to show God laughs at your plans.

I think I'm still in a little bit of shock that there is a 9-day old human, mine, asleep in his nursery dreaming of his next feeding. I could not have imagined this to be a reality as quickly as it became one, nor the way in which it did.

After getting pregnant immediately and having an easy pregnancy at that, I figured the rest would be a bit more complicated. When he was diagnosed with his heart condition, I felt vindicated, as I'm perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop. And then we determined it was simply something to watch, and knowing I've lived a full life with the same thing, there was suddenly less to worry about.

So therefore delivery would most certainly be on the grueling end of the spectrum you hear about so often (e.g. 20 hours of labor followed by an emergency c-section).  And then it wasn't. Induction, roughly 6 hours of contractions felt simply as pressure (thanks to that epidural), four strong pushes, and voila -- baby.


And now were home, finding our way in our new world and getting to know one another. It's, in a word, surreal. Exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, rewarding...every possible emotion on the spectrum.  And it's only just begun.

I've learned a few lessons, and there are a few things I wish I'd known:

  1. Get a brazilian before labor. You will be spread eagle and exposed most of the day in front of nine of your closest medical professional friends. And your husband. All humility is lost. 
  2. The "every three hour" feeding is actually every 2-3 hours, which equals about 1 1/2 - 2 hours sleep for you, max. Feedings are counted from the time they START, not end. Devastating. 
  3. Baby Blues affect everyone. In some way shape or form. Mine manifests in anxiety starting at 7pm each night, like clockwork, until my 11pm feeding. Crying has become a full time hobby, be they tears of joy or pain. Hormones are awesome.
I've also had a few unexpected realizations:
  1. Having a baby has evolved and deepened the love I have for my husband. Seeing him embrace and enjoy the role of Daddy makes an already amazing man absolutely incredible. 
  2. It's true - you can't describe the feelings you have for your child when placed in your arms for the first time. It's a whole new level of love, and an entirely different emotion. It changes you forever.
  3. Your body is superhuman. You will find a way to exist on 3 hours of sleep over 4 days, and manage to socialize. And you won't need caffeine (or blow) to do it. 
  4. I will never, ever, for a single second, consider delivering naturally. The 5 minutes of contractions I felt were enough for one lifetime. 
And now it's time for nap.