Category Archives: Life Before Baby

Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Pregnant (Part Deux)

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1. Kiss whatever’s left of your modesty goodbye. The night I was admitted for my induction, every time I got out of bed, I’d hold my hospital gown closed in the back so the nurses wouldn’t see my butt. Ha! Isn’t that adorable? Less than 24 hours later, it was lady-part central up in that delivery room and I couldn’t have cared less if the pope himself had walked in.

You see, in the movies and on TV, women are always covered up when they’re giving birth, and the baby daddy is beside her, holding her hand, completely and blissfully unexposed to what’s going down beneath the sheet. In my very limited experience, this common depiction of childbirth is a load of crap. We had planned for Jonathan to stay far, far away from “that area” during the actual pushing part. He was to remain above my shoulders at all times. It was going to go something like this: I grit my teeth and push while squeezing Jonathan’s hand and cursing him for “doing this to me” (cue laugh track). Baby comes out. Proud daddy cuts cord. End scene.

My doctor and nurse had an entirely different plan.

“You’re going to hold her leg up like this,” they instructed him.

I’m sorry, what’s that now? Who’s holding what and my leg is going where?

53 minutes later, Jonathan may or may not have been scarred for life. The jury is still out.

2. You are not Heidi Klum. Duh. Why am I dragging Heidi into this? Many of you might remember that Heidi famously strutted down the catwalk just five weeks after giving birth. To her FOURTH child. At age 36. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. 

Now, I wasn’t planning on walking the runway in front of a national audience. However, I was positive that by the time my maternity leave was over, I would be back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. Sadly, I was mistaken. It didn’t help that I was so ravenous from breastfeeding that I routinely stuffed my face with graham crackers and once ate an entire sleeve full of Oreo cookies in under five minutes (true story). It took me a good eight months to squeeze back into my old jeans, and if we’re being totally honest, there are still a couple of pairs I don’t dare to wear (oh, super-duper skinny Seven jeans, I WILL conquer you someday soon).

This isn’t the case for everyone. My dear friend (who shall remain nameless to avoid incurring the wrath of women across the land) was back down to pre-pregnancy weight by her six-week follow-up visit.

I’m officially down to my pre-prego weight, but things just don’t fit the same. Well, they fit, but it ain’t pretty.

3. Mommy brain is a real thing. I used to roll my eyes at this notion of mommy brain. I thought it was a myth. An excuse created by The Mommy Club to forgive forgetfulness, habitual tardiness and general brain farts. But, people, let me tell you. That ish is real. Truth be told, I suffered from an undiagnosed variation of mommy brain before I even had kids. I’ve always had a tendency to misplace things (Jonathan has found my cell phone in the fridge more than once) and I’m always late (to be fair, I am Puerto Rican). But ever since C.J. screamed his way into the world, my random acts of idiocracy have reached new levels of WTF.

I’ve shared several memorable “momnesia” moments with you before (see Pajama Thursday and This Morning Is Bananas), but lucky for you, I suffer from daily episodes, so here are a few fresh ones. Just this past Monday morning, I came thisclose to getting on the 5-mile-long bridge to work before I realized C.J. was still in the backseat. I had completely forgotten about the whole “dropping my baby off at daycare” thing. Oops.

Last week, I was minding my own business, checking email at the kitchen counter when I noticed the room was suddenly filling with smoke. Turns out, I’d left oil heating on the stove for just a tad too long. Also, in addition to mismatched socks, mismatched earrings are inadvertently kind of “my thing” now.

4. Time will seem to fly even faster. And before you know it, your baby will be two months away from turning 1. (Refer to Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Pregnant Part 1, item #5)

 

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The Forgotten Children

Artie and C.J., Seeing Eye to Eye

The crying little bundle in my arms was making Artie anxious.

“It’s OK, buddy,” I said, as he frantically whimpered and jumped up to see what it was.

“Down,” I scolded, gently, but firmly. He followed me throughout the house, stopping when I stopped and rearing up on his little hind legs to try and catch a glimpse. Clyde, though nearly deaf, was curious as to what I was holding and stayed close behind.

“Try sitting on the couch,” Jonathan said.

I settled into the sofa and immediately, both dogs put their paws up on it, begging to be let up and sneak a peek at this mysterious little thing I was carrying around and handling with such care.

“Be sweet,” we said. “This is your baby brother,” we informed them.

Artie was the one we were worried about. We were certain that Clyde would, for the most part, ignore C.J. But Artie? There was no telling how his curiosity and jealousy would manifest themselves.

“Ok,” I said, tired. “I think that’s good for today.”

I turned off the crying baby app, unwrapped the bundle and removed the stuffed lion from inside the blue blanket, setting it down on the coffee table.

“Don’t let them see that it’s a stuffed animal,” Jonathan scolded, grabbing the lion and hiding it.

“They don’t know the difference,” I said, 30-something weeks pregnant and exhausted.

“Of course they do,” he said. “They’ve seen a stuffed animal before,” he said, pointing at their stuffed squeaking duck on the living room floor.

Oh, right. Guess he had a point.

If you’re wondering what the meaning of this absurdity is, let me enlighten you. This was our carefully concocted strategy for getting our beloved furry children used to A) The sound and presence of a crying baby, and B) The loss of our undivided attention.

We were determined to make this an easy, painless transition for them.

You see, I used to be obsessed with my dogs. Like really obsessed with them.

I never even wanted an engagement ring; instead, I wanted Jonathan to propose to me by offering me a puppy. (I ended up getting both — yep, he pretty much wins the Best Husband Ever award.)

When we left them behind for vacations, I’d request photo updates from the sitter several times a day and leave behind typed, detailed notes with emergency phone numbers and instructions to fill their water bowl with filtered water and ice cubes.

I was head over heels for Artie. Every night, we cuddled on the couch and stared deeply into each other’s eyes. True story. It creeped Jonathan out.

At dinner, friends would go on about their kids. “He gets so upset when I’m on the phone, not paying attention to him,” they might say. “He just starts acting out.”

I’d nod. “Oh my god, I know!” I would tell them, totally identifying. “Artie does the SAME thing!”

On the way home, Jonathan would tell me that I should probably stop comparing our dogs to other people’s kids.

“Whatever, they ARE our kids,” I’d say. We even had little steps leading up to our bed.

People warned us things would change when the baby came. “No way,” we thought. How could it? No one loved their dogs more than we did.

CJ and Clyde

Enter C.J.

Dog barks.

“I swear to God, if that dog barks one more time, I’m going to look into getting his voice box removed.”

Yeah. I’d say things have changed, alright.

It sort of happens without you even realizing it. This tiny human demands your body and your attention 24/7 and you don’t even realize there’s a sweet little Yorkie begging for your attention, or a sleepy little peekapoo who’s too old and grumpy to ask, but would love a pat on the head. When I was on maternity leave, there were days I forgot the dogs even existed unless they barked, in which case I became infuriated. There just didn’t seem to be enough energy or love inside me for all of them. Thank God Jonathan still loved them. And fed them. And took them outside.

Now that C.J. is 9 months old, we’ve come out of the fog a bit, and I make more of an effort to show both dogs a little love each night.

But every now and then, there are moments when we can’t believe how things have changed. Just the other night, Jonathan awoke to Clyde whimpering, laying beside his food bowl.

“Oh my god,” Jonathan said. “We are the Worst. Dog Owners. Ever.”

Turned out, we hadn’t filled their food bowls in about 24 hours. I thought he might cry from the guilt. Clyde was his baby, long before I even came along.

Things are slowly working toward Back To Normal. Artie and Clyde are getting used to C.J. We think they may even be starting to love him (either that, or they’re tasting him to see if he would make a good meal).

We hope that soon, when C.J. is running around, playing with them, his unconditional love and energy will make up for the changes they’ve experienced this past year. That they’ll grow to see him as part of our family, rather than a disruption to it.

 

Related Content: Welcoming Furry Friends To Your Home

 

A New Mom’s Belated New Year’s Resolution

WindowI don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. Well … I don’t usually keep New Year’s resolutions. But this year will be different. I know: EVERYONE says that. But perhaps announcing it on a blog for millions of readers to see (hey, a blogger can dream) will make it seem more real.

From the moment I learned I was pregnant, C.J. has consumed my life. Since before he was even a he, before he was a C.J., back when he was still a Samuel or an Emilia or a Jack or a Nora, this little being has found a way to infiltrate nearly every waking moment of my life, and on several occasions, even my dreams.

C.J. is now 7 months old. He’s been sleeping in his crib since he was eight weeks old. Yet, I still jerk awake several times a night to look at our video monitor. Still tiptoe into his room and put my finger to his nose to make sure he’s breathing. I examine his swaddle to make sure it’s not too tight, that no loose fabric has crept up over his perfect little nose, a miniature replica of his father’s. My weekends revolve around his feeding schedule. My non-existent gym going revolves around his feeding schedule. When and whether I enjoy a beer or glass of wine revolves around his feeding schedule. We have yet to leave him with someone other than a friend or family member, and even then, I have a nervous tick that compels me to check in every hour. (Let me just call and make sure we didn’t leave the doggie door open, I’ll tell Jonathan.)

I know it’s only been seven months. And I know this is normal behavior for new moms. At least, I hope it’s normal. But I’m ready for it to stop. I need it to stop. Or at least ease up a bit.

Don’t get me wrong; I like Erika the Mom. I really do. I’m actually pretty proud of her. But truth be told, she’s a little crazy and, frankly, a little boring. OK, so maybe I was already a little crazy. But no one ever accused me of being boring. Pre-Mom Erika used to do stuff. Like go to the gym and go out to dinner and speak in a language other than Baby Talk. I was capable of holding entire conversations that didn’t revolve around babies. I used to pay attention to my dogs and read for fun (I was almost finished with Mockingjay, the last installment of The Hunger Games, when I found out I was pregnant. I’m still working on it.).

Even as I write this, little waves of guilt wash over me. But then I remind myself that C.J. needs a mom who’s more than just his mom, and my husband needs a wife who’s more than a mother to his son.

So, this year, my New Year’s resolution (better late than never, right?) is not to lose weight (though given the fact that I can’t get my pre-pregnancy jeans halfway up my thighs, maybe it should be). It is to regain some semblance of Life Before Baby. To be a little less “mom” crazy and a little more “let’s get out of town this weekend” crazy. To finish Mockingjay once and for all. To find a good babysitter (or two). To go to the gym after work and let Jonathan handle C.J.’s dinner. To find a little more balance between Erika the Mom and just plain old Erika.