As of today (Google searching never disappoints) there are 1.19 BILLION monthly active users on Facebook. Facebook has become a wonderful outlet for family and friends to connect all over the globe. You can video chat, send pictures, share information and even send money (although I wonder who is doing that…). You know what else you can do on Facebook? You can judge the shit out of other people. You can judge them and shame them all from the comforts of your own home. I won’t lie and be a hypocrite, I’ve done it. Just the other day I shamed the shit out of that Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion. I don’t know anything about his life, his family, his hunting practices, but I shamed him and I judged him nonetheless. But what I’ve really come to realize is that the worst offenders are mothers judging other mothers. There is a constant barrage of statuses and tweets and instagrams of mothers judging other mothers choices and decisions. And you know what? I think it’s time we put an end to it. News flash – I am not the greatest mother in the world. And neither are you. There isn’t a single person out there who is the perfect mother, even if you think are you. I have made mistakes (and Lord knows will continue to make mistakes), you have made mistakes, and that’s FINE. Mothering is just like any other aspect of our lives. We fuck up, learn a lesson and try again. Yes, there are truly awful mothers out there. Mothers who do terrible things to their children and should be punished for their crimes. But in today’s day and age when the social media brigade engages faster than the actual news story, I find that women are using this as an opportunity to say how they would never do this or never do that. What is that saying? People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Unless you have a crystal ball and a knack for seeing the future (and if you do, come be my friend and help me win the lottery) then how the fuck do you know what choices you’re going to make down the road? How do you know that something won’t happen to you later on in life for which you and your children are on the news? I pray nothing ever happens, but the point is YOU. DON’T. KNOW. And I think that if something did happen to you, the last thing you would want is to see 500 mothers on social media blasting you for being a horrible mother, because that doesn’t fucking help anyone. My point is, stop being so quick to judge. You literally have no idea what it is to walk in someone else’s shoes. You have no idea why they made the choices they made or what has led them to do what you deem to be horrible. Perhaps the mother who did the unspeakable act which you would never do did so because she was an all around shitty ass person, or perhaps she did it because she is sleep deprived or dealing with family issues or aliens have invaded her body and are planning to take over the world. No matter what though, you don’t know the reason, and perhaps you never will. But I think the world would be a little bit of a better place if we stopped attacking each other all the fucking time. At least I know I’m going to try.
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I’ve thought about writing this post for a while, but every time I try it feels like the words get stuck in my head and never quite make it to the page. I want to write it all down though because writing has always been a release for me, whether or not anyone ever reads the words I put out there. I’ve always found I can articulate myself best when I write down my thoughts instead of just speaking.
Every month milestone that Charlotte hits is a big deal for me. She’s growing up faster than I imagined and I love seeing her monthly progress, but with that progress is a deep sadness that never goes away. Most of you know that my grandpa passed away 13 days before my daughter was born. He suffered a heart attack on February 5 and he never recovered, and he died on Valentines Day. I don’t think there are words that can adequately express how difficult that time was for me and my family. We were in the final weeks of my pregnancy, the first grandchild for my parents, the first great grandchild for my grandparents. How luck was I to welcome my baby into a world where all four of my grandparents were here to see it? The week before I found out I was pregnant, I told my mom how when I had a baby I wanted a photo in the hospital of me holding the baby with all four of them surrounding me. Once February arrived I was sure I would get that photo. I can see it in my head. I can picture the picture that never was. It haunts me every day.
Every month Charlotte does something new. She smiles, she laughs, she grabs her toes and tries to roll her chubby body over without much success so far. She does all of these things and my grandpa never sees it. There are days when I look at her and think to myself, how is it fair that my grandpa never met you? I try not to be angry with God, but some days I feel like the only way I was ever going to get blessed with my beautiful baby girl is if he took something away from me. I know that sounds terrible, but I have to be honest. The phrase death is a part of life never meant anything to me until all of this happened. If I’m really honest, when my mom called me to tell me that my grandpa was in the hospital, deep down I knew he was never coming home. He had health problems for so many years, and he had recovered so many times and we were blessed beyond words to have him with us for as long as we did. My grandpa was 82 years old, so it wasn’t like he was a young, spring chicken, but what a cruel twist of fate. To this day I feel like it is the most unfair thing I have ever had to experience, and I think it’s bullshit.
Grief is a strange thing. I think about my grandpa every single day, that’s a given. Some days I think about him and don’t shed a single tear, I just am reminded of him and I smile and I move on with my day. Some days, and for some reason this is usually when I am driving, the grief hits me in the chest like a sledge hammer. I think of those final days in the hospital where I sat there with my swollen body, my baby’s little body moving around inside of me, and the life leaving his. I look at his watch on my wrist and I think to myself, why couldn’t we get another week? Another month? Why did this have to happen at all? Why couldn’t science have a break through where people could take a pill and live forever?
I truly believe that my grandpa is Charlotte’s special angel. While I was in the hospital visiting him I was having regular contractions. The early signs of labor began when my mucus plug decided to pop out, and I was petrified I would be having the baby while he was in the hospital. When it became clear that he was not going to make it, I was petrified I would have the baby and miss his funeral. When he died, all of my contractions stopped. The signs of labor went away entirely, and I think that’s because the second my grandpa entered Heaven he decided he was going to spend some time with Charlotte and I think they had the best time ever. I had 27 years with him and there isn’t a single memory I look back on where we did not have the best time. He would have moved Heaven and Earth for me if I asked him to, and I know he would have treated Charlie girl the same way.
Whenever I am having a particularly bad day, I just think of how I imagine him to be now. Young, healthy, handsome, having the time of his life. I believe he is with me and my family every single day. He sees us laugh, he sees us cry, he knows how much we love him and miss him. But I think he is happy and at peace. I see him in my daughter’s eyes and hear him in my daughter’s laugh. If death is a part of life, he is a part of her. He is my first great loss and she is my first great miracle.
I miss you grandpa. Every day.
How is it possible that my baby is five months old? It feels like just yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital, but it also feels like she’s been here with us forever. I know that sounds confusing – it feels confusing too. It’s like I forgot what my life was like without her, but it’s only been five short months. In such a small amount of time I’ve gone from the crazy blubbering mess who was afraid to dress my baby for fear of breaking her arms, to pulling a onesie over her screaming head yelling right back at her to “calm down NOBODY IS ALLOWED TO BE NAKED ALL THE TIME YOU NEED TO GET DRESSED.” It feels so surreal and yet every day I love her more and more. What a privilege it is to be a mother!
Charlotte has such a personality. She also has a temper. I love watching her face as she discovers new things for the first time. Last night she came to the Burrito Bar restaurant on Staten Island with my family, and she was absolutely fascinated with the colored flags on the ceiling blowing in the air conditioning. She was just staring at them and making so much noise, like she approved. She smiles at pretty much everyone who looks at her, and she is starting to laugh at a lot more. She also does the most adorable thing when I am holding her and someone tries to make her laugh. She acts all shy and smiles and then puts her face into my neck. I can’t even take it!
This past weekend she also started solids (!!). Saturday night we gave her oatmeal cereal, and while I was prepared for her to spit it out at us or refuse it, she opened her mouth for the spoon and never stopped. She actually started to whine if Eric didn’t get it in her mouth fast enough. I was really hoping the oatmeal would help her sleep longer, but it’s not doing anything of the sort. It’s only been two days though, so I’m holding out hope.
She has yet to roll over, but last night in the crib was the first time she moved to sleep on her side, and ALL NIGHT LONG she kept moving like she was trying to get on her stomach. She also woke up every two damn hours wailing, so I don’t know if her mind was in overdrive to roll or if she was just actually starving (I find that hard to believe, because I GAVE HER OATMEAL), but I had to nurse her or rock her and put her back down and then she would twist her body again. It was a nightmare of a night for me, but I swear when I hold her at night when it’s quiet and she grabs onto my shirt and calms down, it is such a peaceful moment. How can I ever be annoyed that I’m awake when I’m looking down at that face? If she wants her mother or to have a marathon buffet eating session for the whole night, who am I to refuse her? (Let me write a note to remind myself of this when she pulls this stunt again, because I am fucking exhausted.)
She is starting to pull herself up! I think she is going to sit up before she rolls. Part of me thinks she’s never going to roll, and I don’t blame her. Who the hell wants to roll around when you can sit up all by yourself? Rolling takes too much effort if you ask me. I like to prop her up with pillows or put her in her activity jumper and have her look around. I also like doing this because I feel like her head is getting flat and I don’t want her to wear a helmet.
Aside from waking up to eat STILL (beast baby) she has slept in her crib, the crib at my grandma’s house and the pack and play at my mom’s house without any problems. The crib at my grandma’s house was completely foreign to her, and she slept in it from 9 pm to 3 am straight. Yet in her own friggin’ bedroom she wakes up. WHAT IS HAPPENING. She used to scream bloody murder in the pack and play at my mom’s house but last Thursday she went right in after I fed her and she slept just fine. I’m not going to say thank goodness that we jumped over that hurdle because she may decide the crib is the devil’s den tonight and refuse to go in it. You never know with this one. This upcoming Saturday she is having her first overnight sleepover away from me and sleeping at her nonna’s house and I CAN’T WAIT TO HAVE A NIGHT OF UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP (except my boobs will probably wake me up, so who am I kidding).
There is honestly nothing better than being a mother. It’s difficult to put into words how much I love this tiny little human. I look at her and I am just in complete awe that she’s mine. Even the days where I am a zombie and exhausted and need an IV drip of caffeine while at work, I miss her and I can’t wait to get home and hold her close to me and kiss her cheeks. I can’t wait to see what the next month brings.
Well, we did it. We’ve got two nights under our belt in the crib. We have not slept through both nights, but at no point did we bring her back into our room to sleep, so I see that as a win. Saturday night was glorious because Charlotte fell asleep, on her own, at 8:45. Eric and I then went to sleep at 9:00. This is our life now. She kept on sleeping until 1 AM, because HEAVEN FORBID she goes 5 hours anymore. I am impatiently waiting for the day when she sleeps longer stretches again. PLEASE COME FASTER. Anyway, she woke up at 1 and then decided to stay up and scream at us until 3:30. So that was fun. We tried the “pick up/put down method” where we would pick her up when she cried and then put her back down right when she stopped. She did not like this one bit. I think she figured out what we were doing so she just decided to scream the entire time, but oh well. Eric finally managed to get her to go back to sleep by sitting in the rocking chair with her, which is not a part of the pick up/put down method and most likely frowned upon in all of the sleep books in America and the world. BUT she then slept until 6 so WHATEVER. I now have full fledged bedtime anxiety because I don’t know how she’s going to be or react, so that’s a fun side of motherhood.
Last night she would not go to sleep on her own so I nursed her until she was asleep in my bed. This is also not recommended in any of the sleep books in America and the world, but I am just not the type of person who can listen to her cry in the crib with the hopes that she will get the picture and pass out. I wish I could do that, but I don’t have it in me. She went to sleep at 9, and woke up again at 1. THIS IS NOT DAY TIME CHARLOTTE. However, I did get her to go back to sleep after feeding her pretty much within 10 minutes. But then she decided that 2:45 would be the perfect time to start practicing her screams so I sent Eric in there, but she didn’t want Eric because he doesn’t have milk flowing from his nipples so I had to go feed her again. She acts like she’s fucking starving when I know she isn’t. I then put her down awake but drowsy (all the sleep books in America and the world say this, but it’s bullshit, because when you put them down they go from drowsy to GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF THIS CRIB awake real fast) but then I held her hand and she fell asleep. Which would be the cutest thing ever, except I don’t want to be awake at 3 AM holding her hand. At least I was back in my own bed by 3:10, so she already did better than Saturday night! Now I have anxiety already for later, and it’s only 9:22 in the morning.
The problem with Charlotte sleeping in her crib is the baby monitor. I have a love/hate relationship with this baby monitor. I love it because I can still see her while she’s sleeping, even though that is honestly the creepiest damn thing in the world. Can you imagine if adults were watched on video monitors while they slept? It’s like what serial killers do to their kidnapped prisoners before they cut their skin off and wear it. It’s creepy! But yes, I love that I can still see her and make sure she is alive and breathing and all of that. I hate it for the exact same reason, because now when she is sleeping I am staring at this fucking monitor making sure her chest is moving and her eyes are closed. I’m half awake because I am listening for sounds of her being up and ready to rumble. I am more exhausted now than ever. Lord above, send me some sleep. Or free coffee. One or the other would be just fine.
Sophie the Giraffe, or as it is known in its country of origin, Sophie la Girafe, has been an excellent tool for me as a new mother. This little French rubber piece of shit has taught me that there will be many times I spend a ridiculous amount of money on something for my child that she will have no damn interest in.
This fucking toy is ranked pretty much number 1 in toys for babies. Every baby loves her. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article on this teething toy. She is the Queen B of baby toys. There is some wild statistic out there that there are more Sophie’s sold than babies born. And here’s the kicker. Sophie costs $24.99. WHAT. At first, I didn’t register for Sophie or keep it on my radar at all. Then I saw my neighbor’s son with Sophie, and he loved her. I heard from countless people how Sophie was a game changer. I needed to get my hands on this French giraffe ASAP. This is how I justified spending $25 on a fucking teething toy, because it is the holy grail of teething toys. EVERYONE LOVES SOPHIE. So I went to Babies R Us and used one of my many gift cards to purchase the most expensive teether in the free world. I was SO excited to take her out of the box, wash her down and hand her to Charlotte. I had visions of Charlotte grasping her, working on her fine motor skills, putting her into her mouth and gnawing away. Sophie was here to become her best friend. Sophie was here to save the day.
Charlotte does not give ONE SINGLE FUCK about Sophie. I don’t even think she picked her up the first time I handed her the damn thing. I’m pretty sure she flicked it away with her hand and completely ignored it. I chalked it up to Charlotte being shy. It was like she was on a first date with the thing that would change her little baby life. She was just waiting for the right time to embrace Sophie and get to know her. We’ve now had Sophie for 4 fucking weeks and she STILL doesn’t care. I’ve put the giraffe into her hands myself, she knocks it away. I’ve stuck the legs and head into her mouth like I’ve seen all the Sophie loving babies do, she ignores me. So the reality hit me. I spent $24.99 on a fucking RUBBER GIRAFFE. Pre-mom me would have scoffed at this. “Oh, no” I’d say. “I’d never spend that kind of money on a silly toy.” Well, I did. I spent that much money on a toy that every baby in the fucking world loves, except my child. I bet it won’t be the last time either. Charlotte prefers to shove her hands into her mouth, and that shit is free.
The worst part about being a working mom right now is the pumping. Oh, how I hate the pumping. Three times a day, like clockwork, I have to take off my top (or, if it’s a dress I strip down to my underwear, so that’s great), hook on a strapless bra that has legit holes over my nipples, and attach myself to a machine that sucks the milk out of me for 15-20 minutes. The sound of the machine haunts my dreams. Woosha, woosha, drip, drip, drip. I have pumping anxiety where I am petrified I won’t produce enough, so now I even take herbal supplements that make my pee smell like maple syrup. Fenugreek, what up! Pumping is a straight up nightmare. I can’t even imagine having to do it in a job that wouldn’t give me the privacy or the convenience of doing this three times a day. How on earth do waitresses pump? I mean it takes 10 fucking minutes just to set up all the damn parts and another 10 minutes to dismantle the thing and clean it. It’s exhausting! And HEAVEN FORBID I spill a single droplet of milk. I have never been so protective over liquid in my life. The entire train ride home consists of me obsessively checking the cooler to make sure the lids are on correctly so nothing is spilling. I think if a bottle spilled on the way home I would drop to my knees on the F train and cry. NO DROP LEFT BEHIND.
I know this is the part where some moms decide to supplement with formula, and I totally understand why. I don’t judge you at all, I never would. For me, because I am a stubborn mule more than anything, I am determined to make this work. I love nursing my daughter too much to let the annoyance of the pump get in the way of that. When I get home and she smiles at me and nuzzles into my chest is just the greatest feeling in the world. After a busy day of working and commuting, just laying there with her is so relaxing and worth it, which is why I become Bessie the cow hooked up to the machine on a daily basis. And the fact that I’m back in my pre pregnancy jeans thanks to nursing obviously doesn’t hurt either.
I’ve hit the point in new motherhood where I am questioning whether or not I am doing ANYTHING right. My lovely child just doesn’t sleep at night like she used to. I can’t even remember when the problems started, so I don’t know if it’s the dreaded 4 month sleep regression that Google shoves in my face, the fact that I’ve gone back to work, or if I’ve somehow managed to fuck her up and this is my life now. I remember when she used to sleep from 8-4. WHY OH WHY WON’T YOU DO THIS CHARLOTTE?! She’s starting to outgrow the rock and play thing she’s been sleeping in, she screamed her damn head off when I tried to let her sleep in the pack and play in our room, and last night when I attempted her bedtime routine with the crib she would fall asleep, wake up, fall asleep, wake up, until I finally gave up and had her asleep after nursing her around 9 PM, way too late for a baby to be going to sleep. She then proceeded to wake up MULTIPLE times whining/crying. Luckily, I rolled over and stuck the pacifier in her mouth every time, and I didn’t have to take her out to feed her until 3 AM, but WHAT. THE. FUCK. I’m so tired. I don’t know how to get her to sleep better. I don’t know where to put her to sleep. I don’t know anything. I mean I’m at the point where I may as well just lay her on the floor because nothing I’m doing is working anyway. Like in the game The Sims, when you didn’t know what to do with the baby you just had to have so you just placed it on the floor and went about your business. I’m going to just place her on the floor and go about my business.
Can any of you out there give me some advice? Like, when the hell do I even attempt the crib again? How did you get your children to sleep? Will anything EVER GET EASIER?! Someone just tell me what to do so I don’t have to feel like such a failing mess. Send help. And vodka.
I was worried about not finding the time or energy to exercise once I came back to work, and even though it’s only been three days, I WAS RIGHT. The past two nights Charlotte has been awake as if she’s a newborn again, and I am exhausted. HOWEVER, my commute is making up for the lack of Jillian Michaels DVD’s in a fantastic way. You see, I am so excited to get home to her at night, that I legitimately sprint through my evening commute. I park my car on the street in Forest Hills and then walk to the subway, where I take two express trains to get to work. I leisurely stroll for the morning commute. The evening is a different story. I run out of the building, I hop on the first train and then I TEAR ASS to the second train. Once I’m off that train I run the entire way to my car. It took me 14 minutes to walk from my car to the train yesterday morning. Coming home? It took me 8. I was sweaty and near fainting, but I got home at 5:11! WIN.
Now here is where I think I’ve lost my damn mind. When I’m at work I am distracted and fine. I am relishing the fact that I can wear nice necklaces that would otherwise be a weapon to Charlotte’s face, and the fact that I can eat a hot breakfast and lunch. Then I get home and for some reason I become super emotional. Last night I ripped my dress off after the evening sprint, so here I am standing in my bra and underwear clutching onto my smiling baby. But the kicker is that this song my mom found has now become my theme song for when I arrive home:
I can’t stop singing it. So here I am, wearing no clothes, holding my baby and singing through tears MY MOMMY COMES BACK, SHE ALWAYS COMES BACK, over and over again. Perhaps I am a little nuts.
I’m sitting at my desk at work as I type this. I’ve been out of the house since 6:45 AM on very little sleep (because I was an anxious and neurotic mess, not because Charlotte was up at all hours). Yesterday I was a wreck. Yesterday I cried so many tears and had so many fears about coming back to work today. This morning as I kissed my baby girl goodbye while she slept I cried even more. Then I left the house and began a commute I’ve done hundreds of times. And now? Now I’m fine. It’s strange how fine I am. Part of me now worries and feels guilty about being fine. I miss my baby and am continuously thinking about her, of course, but I feel like I never left my job. I started organizing, I caught up with coworkers, I answered the phones, I opened the mail. I did all of this and Charlotte is at home with her daddy, smiling and being the happy girl she was yesterday when I was home with her. I’m not naive enough to think that every day will be like this. I know to take it one day at a time. I know that tomorrow could be worse than today, or maybe even better. But the fact that right now, in this moment, I am perfectly okay makes me feel like I can do this for the long haul. I know I have no choice, but I feel like instead of feeling like a prisoner because I have to work, that maybe this will make me a better me and a better mom. I already pumped once and it wasn’t a disaster. I had privacy, I video chatted with Eric and Charlotte, I ate my breakfast without it getting cold and having to reheat it. I may have a headache and counting down the hours until I can leave at 4 PM, but I’m not staring at my screen holding back tears. I feel a lot stronger than I did yesterday, and this to me, is a win.
The cafeteria lady also told me how skinny I looked and gave me my coffee for free, so you know, that may have helped a bit.
Thank you to everyone who reads these posts. To all of you that take the time to comment and encourage me. Mothers are the most beautiful souls on the planet. Your words and thoughts mean more to me than you’ll ever know. The world is a better and easier place when we build each other up instead of tearing each other down. Thank you for building me up.