Thursday, February 26, 2009

Three Little Pigs - 2009

Lately Cohen has been so into stories from our childhoods that I was caught of guard tonight when she asked for the "Three Little Pigs". I began telling her this story when she was 1 year old, because I believe in teaching children fiscal responsibility, and also I have always loved a story where someone dies at the end.

Once upon a time there were 3 little pigs who lived at home with their mom and their dad and their Aunt Jeanette. One day the mom and dad took the 3 little pigs aside for a talk.

Look little pigs, you've got to get out of our house and get lives of your own. You are in your 30's and it is time to take your savings get out on your own. You can't live with your parents forever, YOU KNOW.

The first little pig took the bulk of his savings and bought a sports car. With the little bit he had left he filled the tank with premium fuel, and with the tiny bit he had left after that he bought hay and built himself a house made from straw.

The second little pig was only a tad more conservative. He bought himself an extravagant entertainment center complete with HD TV and surround sound. With the money he had left over he bought random pieces of scrap wood and tree branches and built himself a house of sticks.

The third little pig was smart. He took all of his money and bought brick and stone with which to build his home. And it was gorgeous.

One day, when the first little pig was out driving his sports car, it ran out of gas. On his walk, with his gas can in tow, who did he see but the big bad wolf.

The little pig gasped and ran as fast as he could all the way home, but the big bad wolf was fast behind him.

The little pig got through the front door just in time to lock it and the big bad wolf pounded and yelled... "Little pig little pig, let me in, or I will huff and I will puff and I will blow your house in!"

The little pig (raised right despite his frivolous purchases) replied, "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!"

So the wolf huffed... and puffed... and he blew the house in.

The little pig ran as fast as he could to his brothers house made of sticks. Once inside he hid away but there was the wolf pounding at the door.

"Little pigs little pigs, let me in, or I will huff and I will puff and I will blow your house in!"

The little pigs replied, "Not by the hair of our chinny chin chins!"

So the wolf huffed... and puffed... and he blew the house in.

The pigs ran. Fast. All the way to the good neighborhood where pigs who save their money for their homes can afford to build. They reached their brother's home, ran inside and locked the door behind them. By now they were terrified. The two brothers stood trembling at the door as the wolf approached, hollering...

"Little pigs little pigs, let me in, or I will huff and I will puff and I will blow your house in!"

But the third little pig sat relaxed in his chair. He read the paper.

He replied to the wolf, "Not by the hair of our chinny chin chins!"

So the big bad wolf huffed... and he puffed... and he blew...

But the house did not move.

This made the wolf very angry. He began again.

He HUFFED... and he PUFFED.. and he BLEW!!!

Still the house did not move.

By now all of the little pigs had relaxed. The third little pig went to kitchen to get crackers and juice for his brothers.

The big bad wolf had all but walked away when as he turned something caught his eye. There, on the roof of the house, was a chimney. The big bad wolf had an idea.

Surely no pig would expect him to slither down the chimney, at which point he could jump out into the room and eat all those little pigs. But just as the wolf scaled the side of the house one of the piggies caught sight of the wolf's tail as it swished past the window.

"Quick," called the pig to his brothers, "Light the fire and throw a pot on the flame!"

The little pigs stood, waiting at the fire. When the big bad wolf slid down the chimney he landed right int the pot and the pigs slammed down the lid.

That night three little pigs ate that big bad wolf for dinner and as they ate they sang this song...

"Who's afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf... we're not afraid of the big bad wolf anymore."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rabbit Hole

I have always treated my depression as an addiction. It is something I fall into when the world is too much. It is something I turn to. I identify as a person who struggles with depression. I openly acknowledge the postpartum depression I had with Cohen, first right after I had her and then again when I stopped breastfeeding 18 months later. I recognize traces of postpartum now with Merrick, only this time I better understand what is happening.

The hormones involved in pregnancy and nursing have taken my depression to a new level. Before children my depression would weigh on me like a wet wool blanket and beneath it I could do nothing but wait for it to dry so that I could move again. The hormones make depression more like someone sneaking up behind me with a blanket, throwing it over my head, spinning me, dousing me, and then making sure that I know this is my fault as it never would have happened had I not left that blanket and a near by bucket of water lying around.

I don't care to share these things. Not because you are reading it but because it is hard to write down.

I don't know what I expected from motherhood the second time around. I don't know why I thought I knew what I was doing when all I really mastered was going through the motions. I know how to breastfeed, to nurture, to cook a square meal and get a toddler down for a nap. I know how to get to the library, the good parks. I not only know which equipment my kid can play on without getting hurt but I know how to get her to want to only play on that stuff. I know how to stay calm at 2 a.m. when I haven't had a good night's sleep in 6 weeks. I know how to go through the motions so that I am a loving wife who empathizes with my husband even on the days I really feel completely alone and isolated. I am skilled.

I told Dan last night that the longer I am home the more I feel my confidence slipping away. Having these children has set back my "plan" by exactly 5 years. I remember thinking that I would be okay with being old in law school because I wouldn't be done until I was 30. Now I am 31 and a year out from starting grad school. But I am skilled. My children and my husband did not just happen to me. I needed them, sought them out and brought them each into my life. Now I struggle to identify myself by no fault of theirs.

My aunt told me while we went for a walk last week, "It took me a long time to realize I was more than just the things I did. I was more than a mother, I was more than a job, and it has taken me a long time to see that."

All the struggling we have had to go through with money because I decided to stay home and raise the children. All the weight that Dan has carried to care for our family when he knows as well as I do that I could return to work and double our income. Still he has never said a word. We talked about this last night, about how "having children" means different things to different people. To me it meant being home, being the one that wakes them, feeds them, soothes them. I do all of these things. I am skilled at this.

But being a mother is only a compartment to a woman. Time is cruel to a mother. It runs out and your children leave you and you have no skills, no babies, and nothing but stories to tell about who you were before you were a mother. I am transitioning. Preparing for school, a career, looking to get back to work earlier with Merrick than I did with Cohen.

I am struggling to identify with something I prefer. This part of motherhood, the part with a newborn is like falling down a rabbit hole. I know there is another side and I know I am going to come out on it, possibly even land on my feet, but I am falling none the less. The trick seems to be to let go, to relax, to have enough faith in myself to know that where ever I end up I will be fine.

I just don't have words for what this is. I can't write today and yet I try to keep this blog for my record and for my readers. I try to be honest so that if any of you ever feel this way you can see you are not alone. Because right now the alone part is the worst. I just need a success story. I just need to pull through to the other side. I just need to remember that the sleep will come back and I will be able to take my test and I will pass and I will be a student again. In the world again. Valued for something other than breast milk and story time again. Because being a mother to my children is forever demanding more of me. While now they need stories and diaper changes, soon it will be cell phones and clothes not from Wal Mart, cars and college. And I will provide those things. That is my job. That is my gift to give.

All of this I struggle with, this is my drug. My choices have led me to my options and despite what frustrates me I know that I am lucky to feel safe and loved while I press on. Thanks for that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Pinch/Pull Situation

In my preparation to raise a child whose gender would differ from my own I had focused on the difficulty of discussing why he could not take 45 minute showers at 11 years of age. How the rest of the family would need hot water and he could masturbate in his closet during normal business hours like a regular person.

I worried about the women he would date, and the woman he might marry. I obsessed over whether or not there was any way to avoid becoming the type of mother who seems to secretly wish she could marry her own son.

So while I spent my time consumed with these existential worries you can imagine my unpreparedness when he shit his pants for the first time and I had to figure out how to wipe sticky meconium off of the tiniest balls I have ever seen.

Turns out baby balls are a catchall for shit. In the beginning, every time I opened one of his tiny diapers I was relieved to see he has pooped such a small amount, but then I lifted his tiny testicles and BAM - poop jackpot.

I turned to Dan.

L: How do you do this?

D: What? Wipe shit off of my balls?

L: Come on. You have these I don't, what is the best way to do this?

D: I have balls, they don't get shit all over them. Don't look at shit all over balls and think, "This is an issue with which Dan would be familiar."

L: I am serious. You have balls and I don't. So just tell me how you would like your balls to be handled in this situation.

D: You want me to describe to you how I would like you to wipe shit off of my balls for me?

Our marriage is such that a conversation like this could have gone on forever. When Dan finally relented and offered his help, he pushed me aside to show me how its done. I was using a thumb to gently lift his baby nuggets and wipe the shit away. Oh no, said Dan. Pinch the skin to lift the baby nuggets then clean.

L: Are you kidding me? Pinching the baby nuggets can never be the answer.

D: I am not pinching...

L: Let them go, that looks awful!

D: (wiping away poop) This technique is for maximum efficiency.

L: Am I really the one advocating for maximum comfort here?!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tiny Little Tears

Me: Cohen, get out from behind the table and stop putting VISINE on the dog's butt. I...AM...SERIOUS!

Coco: I have to hide here (From under the table).

Me: Why?!

Coco: Because I am so scared of you.

Me: What do you have to be afraid of? That's ridiculous.

Coco: I am so scared of you because you yell at me all the time so I have to hide under the chair and cry tiny little tears.

Me: I hope you never have the occasion to speak to a social services worker because what we have going here could go down hill...quick.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From 9 Months to 9 1/2 Weeks

Recently, a few readers have expressed that they are tired of looking at my last post... that they long for something new.

Readers, does it occur to you that perhaps I have unfulfilled desires too. I am selfish, I admit. In the two hours (broken up throughout the day) that the new kid allows me the freedom to do anything without him attached to one of my massively engorged breasts do I blog? No, I do not. I go to the bathroom, or shower, or eat. Obviously this can only reinforce that I am a selfish beast who has never really cared for any of you.

To make it up to you readers I will now write a blog while the new kid sits at my side and screams bloody neglected murder. Who feels selfish now?

I have noticed how my nursing bras - when seen through the neck line of whatever shirt I am wearing at the time of bending over to pick up something - look like bondage gear. I wondered if this was an intentional design to give allure to a woman whom, at this phase of mothering, has had every bit of her hotness extinguished by rouge baby pee and leaking breastmilk.

With the bondage style nursing bra, when I do venture out into the grocery store at 10 p.m. with my hair a mess and my legs unshaven - inevitably dropping something due to exhaustion - passers by can think I am some secret bondage freak instead of the boring truth of being a new mother coated in baby vomit and milk.

Yes, fellow aisle 6 patron, I had to use the safe word to get my husband to unchain me so that I could run to the store for some whole milk because all we have is nonfat milk and if I use nonfat he will spank and gag me so that I will be forced to go another 2 days satisfying his sexual demands instead of showering. That is exactly what is going on here.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Liquid Gold

I am pumping for Merrick so that Dan can feed him. We made this decision so that the two of them could bond early on and also so that I could possibly have 5 seconds to myself. The latter has yet to happen.

I had forgotten how crazy I get about my breast milk. The only thing harder than sitting still to nurse a newborn when you have things you need to get done is sitting down to attach yourself to a whining breast pump. A breast pump has all of the function with none of the sentiment, and honestly, at this point I am composed of 90% sentiment. So when I sit down for 20 minutes and let this whiny machine tug 3 hard earned ounces out of me and give that bottle to Dan I expect that every ounce will be savored by that baby. I expect that every second of feeding him will be utter bonding bliss for my husband. Most importantly, I expect that bottle to be sucked bone dry at the end of that feeding.

Dan refers to my breast milk as liquid gold. Would you believe that he calls it this because it is the amazing life source for our beautiful new child? If you would, you need to go back to day one of this blog and get to know us a little better. Dan calls it liquid gold because I go absolutely ape shit if I find a drop of it anywhere. The first bottle he gave to baby Merrick he left over an ounce in the bottle. This was only two weeks after Merrick was born. Do you have any idea how hard it is to negotiate 3 ounces of breast milk out of my body via pump on week 2?!

It's like negotiating a fucking hostage situation.

The immediate area in which I am pumping should be evacuated. The first time I tried to involve Cohen in the pumping process she had a Spinal Tap moment, reached over and turned the suction on my breast pump up to 11. Also, forget about Merrick being in the room. If the new kid smells me eating he has to eat, if he smells my breast milk and is not simultaneously sucking down every last drop of it he will proceed to melt his face off with the heat of his own blood curdling screams. Evacuation is mandatory.

Cover all points of entry/exit.The nipple must be completely surrounded. This will define the difference between a slightly uncomfortable task and torture by way of pin pricks to the nipple and tiny fires being ignited on the areola.

Demands must be assessed and met. If the milk is going to come out the pump placement must be perfect. Otherwise perfectly good and valuable milk cannot be expressed. Adjust and reassess. Repeat. The pumper cannot be thirsty. I must remember to have water with me when pumping. To have to detach at this point and pour a glass of water is not an option.

When the milk is fully expressed it must then be transported from the bottle to the freezer bag. If a drop spills negotiations have been for naught. Lives lost. Doom. Minutes of my free time wasted. So you can imagine that I don't spill often. The milk is then frozen. At this point I have been successful and negotiations resolve in peace. Pick up the megaphone. The milk has been released from the breast folks, you can all go home!

So you can imagine my reaction when I get home from class and ask how Merrick ate. "Great, he ate it all," Dan says. Then I find Merrick's bottle sitting with a full ounce of milk left over. Left overs? Merrick doesn't leave leftovers. Dan asks what the big deal is and I recount for him my hostage situation analogy.

Only I am not making it funny for him. For him I am crying. For him I will bring up that ounce of left over milk two days later. I will be using that ounce of left over milk as concrete proof that Dan does not value what I do as a mother. I will convince myself that if he could waste something I worked so hard to produce he could not possibly love me or value me as a person. At this point it might be fair to say that Dan has entered a hostage negotiation of his own. "Crazy lady, can you please release my wife - I know she's in there and I am going to need some proof of life!"