Life before little person

Now that my life has turned into servitude to an 8-month-old, I can’t quite remember what my life was like before the little GingerGuppy sprung forth into my life.

That’s not even a little true. I totally remember what my life was like. The word that comes to mind is FREE.

Free to come and go without an entourage of diapers, bottles, miniature clothes, loveys, pacifiers.

Free to to go to sleep when I want without the risk of waking to the howling in the next room.

Free to leave chocking hazards where ever they may land.

Free to spend all the money on me, me, me, my cat, and me.

Free to go to the movies, go to dinner, go get tipsy, without having to find a sitter or tote along an ornery passenger.

Free to live wherever and however I deemed wondrous.

There are moments where I miss my freedom—where I remember how easy life was a self-involved city girl who only had ME to worry about. More and more each day, though, I start to pity the younger, freer me and be happier with the little man who has the fattest, adorable-ist thighs that ever squirmed this earth and has seized my existence and made it his own.

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D’awww. How sweet and grown up we are.

The focus is on the poop

My baby decided not only to be conceived despite preventative measures, but also decided to be born a month early—a week before the conference I spend all year planning for that serves as the main role of my career. This Gingerguppy is going to be trouble.

I’m happy to say that along with his mother, Gingermermaid, little Gingerguppy is also a ginger. After he got stuck, in an uncomfortable position for both he and I, one of the only things the doctors could tell was that he was, indeed, a redhead. So three hours after the discovery, he entered the world with a most bruised face and a fine set of lungs.

Through his nine weeks, this little guy has been quite a feat. He was underweight, blue from bruising, yellow from jaundice, and just a difficult monster. After a week in the hospital, numerous pediatric visits (I saw my pediatrician more than my husband, at one point), we finally seem (cross fingers) to have him sorted out. And how do I track his progress? Why, the poop!

I have never been so excited about poop, pee, and farts, or all other possible bodily functions. If my husband changes Gingerguppy’s diaper, I ask for a report on the remnants:

“Did he pee or poop? How much? Compare it to a handful of change. What color was it? How heavy was the diaper?”

Each feeding:

“Did he spit up? How much? Compare it to a handful of change. What color was it? Was it projectile?”

We were given a chart of images of what to expect in his diaper, and I studied and compared. Prior to motherhood I was squeamish about such items, but the overprotective, anxiety-ridden lady I am has reared it’s head and I find that I have a hawk-eyed focus for the disgusting.

Now that I’m focused on what’s important, I hope I can get this little guy focused on a normal awake/asleep schedule. This isn’t as fun or easy to manage as poop.

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Sleeping like a baby is a statement made by people who don’t have babies.

Exercising with a bun in the oven

I’ve always been active, playing sports or exercising a la gym. I’m one of those incredibly annoying, hyperactive, morning people who get up at 5am to go for a run—and am happy to do it.

Yeah, I’m the girl you pass in the office hallway and am like, “Good morning!” even before you have had your first cup of coffee. You secretly curse me and keep a tranquilizer dart in your desk in case it becomes necessary (as if that would bring me down…).

Well, my energy levels have been humbled by the fact that being pregnant is quite tiring. Who knew generating a mini skeleton, heart, lungs, and all that other gross stuff that makes up the human body would be so damn exhausting? I shouldn’t even complain, I had no idea for 5 months that I was even pregnant, I just thought my workouts were getting harder due to me no longer being a spry 20-year-old.

Well, now that I’m 25 weeks in, I can feel the pregnancy pulling me down. My belly is popping out a bit more, I get dizzy, incredibly thirsty, and I pee almost always.

Exercising while pregnant is important. Setting world records in marathons and weightlifting while pregnant is not. I believe that part of the reason my symptoms stayed at bay for so long and why I was in the dark about my own pregnant nature, was because I maintained a regular exercise regime—or genetics (my sister and mother lacked typical symptoms too). There is no clear control in this experiment since, with pregnancy, all ladies react differently, but I hypothesize the same.

Me and my 25-week-old fetus getting ready to lightly pound the pavement in a pregnant jog.

Me and my 25-week-old fetus getting ready to lightly pound the pavement in a pregnant jog.

It’s key to chat with a doctor prior to starting, or even continuing, an exercise routine with a partner in utero. Since I’ve been active since I was pretty much out of the womb myself, my heart is conditioned for aerobic and cardiovascular exercise. This essentially means that if I did it before I was pregnant, I can likely do it through most of the pregnancy (with the exception of jousting and other contact sports). If I had never been active, or my activity was low, this wouldn’t be the time to start training for an Iron Man, but light exercise would certainly be appropriate, such as walking or swimming.

Still, even if I ran 7 miles a day prior to baby, I’m going to need to edit this habit. While exercising enough is good for mother and child, exercising too much can be dangerous for mother and child, especially if I deplete too many nutrients, dehydrate myself, or don’t gain enough weight. Exercising intelligently is the key.

So much is happening in a pregnant woman’s body (it’s really too disturbing to think about) and too high a heart rate could result in diverted blood flow as the blood rushes to muscles, heart, lungs rather than baby.

Blood volume increases by 50% in pregnancy and vessels relax to navigate around obstacles and to all the right places (hello, placenta!), dropping blood pressure, which can make one woozy and light-headed falling “conk!” on the floor, ground, hard surface. It’s almost happened to me just grocery shopping, so I reckon I’m more vulnerable while burning some carbs.

My joints, ligaments and other things that connect me to myself are loose, swollen, borderline useless at times. This means clumsiness. Oh yes, so much clumsiness. I don’t know how I manage to trip over perfectly placid, flat surfaces, but I do so with epic vigor. It seem so easy to just grab my keys and go, except that they keep flying from my hands onto the floor as if possessed by some demonic key hating spirit (perhaps the same spirit that takes my keys from EXACTLY where I had put them and hides them under a pile of unopened mail?).

Because my joints are all wonky, I am far more prone to injury and the more time I spend pounding pavement in a run, the more likely my feet are too spread into a larger size. Oh, pregnancy, you’ve been around since people learned to copulate! You crazy thing, you.

The key when exercising, pregnant or not, is to listen to your body. Understand when tiredness isn’t just because you are exercising and it is exhausting, but because you are being run down. Some days, exercise is harder than others, but when pregnant, it is more important to be aware of this and not just “work through” the pain. Again, no pregnant woman should be prepping herself for an Olympic level marathon in their second to third trimester.

Something key I read was that if you feel completely exhausted after working out and not more energized, you likely overdid it. So if I come home after a trip to the gym and the only thing I can do is sprawl out on the floor while my cat pokes me to see if I’m all right, then it was probably a bit too much and I’m not only tired, but now I have cat claw marks to add to my changing body.

Some benefits of exercising whilst with child:

  1. Boost in energy
  2. Sleep better
  3. Reduction in pregnancy discomfort
  4. Preparation for childbirth (not sure which exercises these are…)
  5. Reduce stress and improve mood
  6. Improve self-image
  7. Get body back into shape faster after the baby is born

Smart exercise notes for you and your buddy:

  1. Warm up/Cool Down
  2. Talk to the Doc before starting/continuing a regime
  3. Eat enough because, remember, it’s not a time to diet!
  4. Don’t join an ice hokey league, contact sports are a no-no
  5. Watch overheating – wear breathable clothes, and hydrate
  6. Don’t lie on your back, there is this vein there that restricts blood flow to baby and mommy
  7. Keep moving, standing in place can make blood pool (yuck) and make a momma-to-be dizzy
  8. Don’t exercise to point of exhaustion, maintain a pace in which conversation could be carried out

Obviously I’m no expert on the matter, but combining what I’ve read with what my doctor said and discrediting anything I didn’t like to hear (just kidding) it’s really just common sense and understanding that a little is better than nothing (eating potato chips all day because “I’m pregnant”) and knowing that too much is bad (lamenting “my clothes are fitting…slow down weight gain!”).

Goldilocks had it right when sought what was juuuuuuuuuuust right. It worked out well that the bed that she enjoyed the most was closest to the emergency exit too.

So go out their and run, dance, walk, and yogi it up!

Also, if bed rest is recommended, well then, rest and screw all the information out there and take care of you and your guppie!

The American dream is to have it all…and mind you, no complaining!

Because my life has been turned upside down due to the recent turn of events, I have been forced to come to terms with an issue that used to be only theoretical to me and is now integral to me: fucking daycare.

I always believed daycare was expensive and that the quality is disproportionate to the person’s wealth class. If you make too little money, your are likely covered and may be in an adequate, subsidized program. Or, you are recommended not to work and stay on the government welfare system as this is the only way to ensure care for your children and a somewhat steady flow of income.

If you make lots of money, you can afford and decide upon whatever you want.

If you fall into that purgatory that is the middle class, well, you are SOL. See, I make too much money to get any assistance for daycare, too little to afford decent care in which the caretakers aren’t playing on their phones all day and keeping my kid strapped in a carseat for hours on end. So my options are to sacrifice nearly all my pay for daycare or stop my blossoming career, of which I may never get on track again.

The daycare center I am most interested in is over $2000 per month. This leaves me a negligible profit in salary.  Not to mention, there is a year to year-and-a-half waiting list to get my infant into the institution. I looked around, and anything that is remotely adequate for an infant is about that cost and about that long a wait.

Ok, so I’m giving over $24,000 of my pay to childcare a year. Wouldn’t it be better to stay at home with the kid to have quality mommy-baby bonding time?

Well society tells me that if I take off a few years in my career, I’ll never be able to catch up again. Society also tells me, that although I need to give up a large part of my salary, in this day I need to have all the excess income possible.

If I don’t work, I hear the roar of working moms. If I choose to work, I hear the roar of stay-at-home moms.

The bottom line? I want to work. I like working even when I don’t like working. I want to be there for my child, but I know I need adult interactions. I just really started my career going, and getting off the career merry-go-round now means certain career suicide, especially in a city like DC where you have to have it all in order to have any sort of success. For the future of my child, I know I will need to work. For the future of potential more accidental children, I know I need to keep at it for as long as I am able.

Our society prides itself on family values and hard work. What they fail to take into account is that values don’t pay the bills and hard work doesn’t lend itself to perfect nuclear families.

I realize this debate may never have an adequate solution in America. We are a society that doesn’t care if everyone is health insured, because those people deserve to be sick and die, unless they meet below salary standards or have enough money to pay for all the examinations they like. It’s that middle group that seems to be the one destined to get ill and suffer more from the medical bills than the disease itself.

Look, I have no idea what my life decisions will be or where my life will go (obviously, given unexpected recent circumstances…) but I know when faced with the tough choices, I will make one or the other and live with that. I get one shot at my life, and I’m determined to be happy and I’m determined to make the most of it.

My priorities have changed, but I am who I am, and me, my man, and my baby will find our way, mistakes, extravagant costs and all.

For further depressing reading on childcare, check out this recent blog post by The New York Times.

Oops…smack

I don’t know whether it’s because when one is pregnant they lose all dexterity, but I’m noticing that the little coordination I once executed through life is flitting away. I always think I can rise above these things, that I won’t succumb to the stereotypical symptoms that plague so many moms-to-be, but the increase in the level of bruises on my body seems to suggest that this is, indeed, a preggers feature afflicting me.

The bruises were the first call to attention that something was amiss. I misjudge the distances of massive, inanimate objects and plow right into them. Corners are the worst. Even granting myself a wide berth (bedumchhh!) knowing that it’s likely I’ll ram my hip or elbow into one, I still manage to connect to the obstacle as if magnetised to its destructive edges.

Last weekend, I was sitting on the bed, arranging the covers in a cozy fashion when I fell head over heals off the bed. My boyfriend watched in terror as my feet flew into the air and no rescue was possible. There was a loud thud and a mix of laughter and crying. I somehow managed to get a bright blue bruise on my foot, but otherwise, appeared mostly preserved.

Around 6am one morning, this could have equally been fatigue compounded by baby growing, I was riding my bike to the gym and I saw green, but the light was red. The intersection lights are a bit askew, so I could easily just have glanced and mixed it up, and my brain wasn’t moving as fast as my pedalling, but I avoided the car and stopped when I realized I was being the dickhead on the bike, the person I so much despise.

Perhaps the most frightening incident yet was when I arrived home from a day at the office and was changing out of my work clothes when I saw what appeared to be dried blood in and around my belly button. I immediately began the freaking out process and the Google doctoring. I thought something was wrong with me and the baby. Tears started to pool in my eyes as I read through the list of terrible symptoms my belly button represented. Then, as if by chance, I smelled the gunky stuff and realized it smelled like chocolate. I had eaten a brownie earlier that day and I remember a crumb falling down my shirt in which I was unable to retrieve tactfully in an office environment. It had camped out and melted in my belly button, forgotten until a near case of mistaken identity.

Items slip through my hands (no handling of Tiffany vases any time soon for this lady) and I trip over my flip-flops whereas before, flippy-floppies were never a problem. That near face-plant into the middle of the road had me retiring that summer favorite shoe. Nothing is as elegant as a pregnant girl nearly falling face first but catching herself through the flailing of arms, and by elegant, I really mean not elegant at all.

I’ve decided high heels are from now on to be saved for special occasions, especially when sitting is the main form of activity. Extra tread to accompany my walk to work, so no more ballet flats or wedges to cover great distances. No texting and walking, as I am bound to run into a tree, bus, or manhole. And finally, a suit of armor: helmet, knee and elbow pads, complete with a body pillow (to cover my body).

This way, I can ensure that my baby is safe and I won’t have the bluish appearance of a smurf due to full body surface area bruises. Only 16 weeks of clumsiness to go! But, oh my freaking god, that means there is a baby and I really have no idea how that is supposed to come out and what to do with it when it does.