Dear Sweet Baby Boy,
Today is my first Mama’s Day with you. Yes, I celebrated this day last year but it was different because I hadn’t yet seen your face. You were still growing and moving in my belly. This year though, I celebrate with you! I thought I had a happy and full life before God blessed us with you but I can honestly say it pales in comparison to what I have now. Sweet baby boy, you are my blessing.
I will never forget the sound of your first cry. Your Daddy and I looked at each other behind that big blue sheet in the operating room with tears in our eyes. 19 months of trying, 9 months of growing, 27 hours of labor, 2 hours of pushing and more prayers than you will ever know, you arrived! You took the world that your Daddy and I spent 14 years creating together and flipped it on its head. Everyday since your World Debut has been an adventure. There has been more laughing, joy and excitement than I can fathom sometimes. If we are being totally honest, there have also been tears and more “WTF am I doing” moments than I should probably admit. What can I say kid, Mommyhood isn’t always sunshine and roses… Thank God for His grace.
Baby Boy, the moment they laid you on my chest I looked at your alert little eyes looking back at mine and I made some promises to you, Mommy to her Baby Boy:
I promised you that I will be far from perfect, but I will always give my everything to be the best Mama you could ask for.
I promised I will make a million mistakes, but I will do my hardest to get it right.
I promised that I may not always like choices you make in your life, but my love will never waver and it will be given to you without conditions.
I promised that Daddy and I would raise you guided by 3 things: Jesus, Rules and Grace. Jesus because he is our everything. Rules because though I have spent most of my life thinking they were made to be broken, turns out they are a helpful boundary for being a good human. Grace because we are all imperfect, make a lot of mistakes and at the end of the day, in dire need of it.
Sweet boy of mine, while I know Mother’s Day is about celebrating being a Mommy, I can’t help but celebrate you. My joyful, inquisitive,
little very large bundle of love. You made me a Mommy and my life will never, ever be the same. I praise our Jesus for the incredible gift of Mommyhood. You, my son, have changed my life forever and it is the Best. Thing. Ever.
Dear Pretty Girl Ahead of Me In Line at Target,
You probably don’t remember me. I pulled my carts up behind you in line at Target. Yep that’s right, I said carts as in plural, as in I had two. They were stacked to the brim, literally overflowing with diapers, formula and baby gates for the new house. Child-rearing necessities for this season in our life. I had the Cartwheel app opened and coupons in hand… It’s possible to say that Hubbz loves me extra when I save ridiculous amounts of money. I looked at you with your oh-so-cute sandals and pedicured toes. I made a mental note that I really need a pedicure… And at least a quick coat of polish on my nails. I hear myself breath deep and sigh because, uhh, I haven’t even showered yet today. I watch you as you unload your cart. Don’t worry, not in a creepy way, but definitely kinda staring (sorry, not sorry). Your purchases looked glorious. A big floppy straw hat, some makeup that looked uber fun, a cute welcome mat with a pineapple on it… Giiiiirl! I like your style. Maybe in another life we can be besties because well, floppy straw hats, makeup and welcome mats with pineapples. ::Swoon::
I adjusted my baseball cap and looked back down at my two carts full of necessities. I laughed to myself because I used to be you, Pretty Target Girl. Never leaving the house without primping and makeup. Buying fun hats and cute welcome mats because, duh, why not! I watched as you gathered your things and imagined the amazing day you were off to have with your floppy hat and pineapple mat. I wanted to yell after you “Have so much fun with your floppy hat!!! It’s glorious!” but I didn’t because let’s be honest, that would make me a friggen’ weirdo.
I got home to find Hubbz and our little boy having Gigglefest 2017 on the living room couch. I laughed to myself as I remembered you and your put together appearance and how my life has COMPLETELY morphed into Mommyhood. I wouldn’t change not one thing about this life of mine and I would never go back to life before Mommyhood, but Pretty Target Girl, I do have some unsolicited advice to share:
Enjoy the solitude. I would give up eating sushi for the rest of my life for some solitude. While that seems a little dramatic, I can assure you that it’s not. I don’t want a lifetime of solitude… Just an hour. Being able to sit and enjoy a DVR without being interrupted 73,942 times would be the raddest thing that’s ever happened to me. I lust over an aimless afternoon laying in my hammock reading a book with zero cares given. Also, I miss pooping without being interrupted. While this may seem like TMI, I have birthed a child. Zero things are TMI anymore. I digress. Pretty Target Girl, wholeheartedly enjoy every moment of solitude.
Take vacations. Hubbz is trying to talk me into some insanely romantic fancy vacation for our ten year anniversary this year. I keep telling him I am unsure because I am a Mommy now and worrying is my pastime. “What if’s” get the best of me sometimes and I just can’t even fathom being far away from my son. What if we are gone and he gets sick? What if we are gone and he does some amazing milestone like walks or talks? What if we are gone and the End of Days happens and we get stranded in Bali and can’t get home. THEN WHAT!? See Pretty Target Girl, when you and your eventual Hubbz have a +1, your priorities shift and though you desperately need to be skinny dipping in an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, Mommy Guilt kicks in. So for the love of all that is glorious, any chance you get, grab a slightly too strong Pina Colada and get all toes in the water, ass in the sand. If not for you, do it for all the Mommy’s who need that right now.
Relish your sleep. Sleep is the most glorious and beautiful thing on the whole planet. I am unsure the last time I slept for 8 hours straight but I can assure you it was amazing. Right now in my life there is nothing on Earth sexier than getting a glimpse at the inside of my eyelids for a good 6 hours. Pre-Baby, sleep was like basically my favorite thing ever. From post-work naps to long weekend slumbers. The dark circles under my eyes were non-existent. Now, are they there or do I just have an amazing cover-up technique? You will never ever know! Pretty Target Girl, enjoy your 8-10 hours of uninterrupted shut eye. More than enjoy it, relish it, because before you know it you will be soothing a crying bundle of love at 3am wondering if you will ever sleep 8 hours at a time again.
Pretty Target Girl, I have a million more tidbits of advice to share but for now, these three are the most important. I love this role of Mommy but there are things about LBM (Life Before Mommyhood) that I miss sometimes. Missing those things used to make me feel like an awful human but sweet Hubbz assured me that it’s totally normal, plus there are things he misses too. We decided the most important thing to do is to work together to keep the things that we loved before still on the radar. I am glad I saw you today, Pretty Target Girl. You sparked great conversation and mindfulness plus you did inspire me to dig out my big floppy straw hat for our walks this spring and summer so thanks for that!
This one is for the mommy’s. For you ladies holding it down. The jobs, the weight loss, the food prep, the yoga, the heavy lifting, the poopy diapers. The child-rearing from the home or from the road. For you holding down the marriages and the happy husbands while making dinner, making the beds, doing the laundry and doing your hair. The Mommy’s rocking their career while rocking their babies… This is for you.
I’m sitting on the exam table again. Oh this table. This table that I have this love-hate relationship with. This table that comes with pain and purpose. I feel the paper crinkle under my butt and I offer up a little thanks that there are pantalones happily on my bum for this visit. (For a girl who makes her life choices based on if she has to show up wearing pants or not, the gratitude makes me laugh a little.) My doctor walks in and offers the biggest hug. I love and adore this woman. She pulls up her chair and gives me the results to a recent test. All is great and I breath a sigh of relief. God is good! Then it happens. She looks me dead in the eye and asks how I am. It’s the kind of how are you that you can’t lie to. You can’t give it the same canned response you offer to most of the world on any given day… Though I give it a valiant effort. I say a confident “I’m ok!” with the best “no, really, I am ok” smile I can offer…
Then I feel it.
My eyeholes well up and before I could blink away the tears, I feel them streaming down my cheeks. She looks at me and smiles and offers me the tissue box. I tell her I have no idea why I am crying (still trying to keep the “I’ve got it under control” gig going). Then she says “Ok, what’s going on?” I can’t smile my way out of this… I take a deep breath and I blurt out the truth… “My husband said I needed to start wearing lipstick!”
Rewind to the night before.
I had put our little guy to sleep and was cuddled on the couch with Hubbz, talking and catching up on our day. He did one of his pauses when he is thinking thoughtfully about something and he started to twist his beard. When Hubbs is beard twisting two things happen. One, it’s super hot. Two, he is waist deep in some serious thought. I watched him for a minute until he turned and faced me and said he needed to talk to me. He then, in the sweetest, gentlest, most loving way possible dropped a bomb on my cabeza “Babe, I think you should start wearing lipstick again.”
I stared at him.
Billy Madison piped up and started talking in my head, “I see your lips moving, but I can’t make out the words.”
Start. Wearing. Lipstick. Again.
The words began to mesh together to make a complete sentence.
I think you should start wearing lipstick again.
I sat there motionless staring at him and then I felt my expression soften and my eyes get super surprised. OH. MY. GOD. THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE MOMENT I GET TO MEET ASHTON KUTCHER BECAUSE I AM TOTALLY GETTING PUNKED RIGHT NOW!!! I looked over my shoulder at the front door, half waiting for Ashton Kutcher to open it all swagtastic and be like “Ahhhh!!! You just got punked!” I sat there until it became kinda uncomfortable and realized Ashton wasn’t busting through the door. The room was silent and I turned to look back at Hubbz who was sitting there looking back at me, now kind of wide-eyed, because no words had come out of my mouth for entirely too long.
I felt a lump forming in my throat but I managed to ask him what he meant- clearly trying to buy time to formulate the best excuse known to mankind as to why I had let myself become frumptastic. He tried to explain what he meant but I was already a mess of uncontrollable tears. Completely mortified at the conversation, I mumbled something about putting forth more effort to wear lipstick.
I laid in bed that night, wide awake and unable to sleep. My mortification slowly transformed into anger. I mulled over the things I really wanted to say to him but didn’t… Wear lipstick? I don’t even have time to shave my legs most days and you want me to wear lipstick? Is this a joke? When should I wear lipstick? When I am feeding our baby at 2am or when I collapse on the couch at 8pm? Should I wear lipstick while I am meal prepping so I can try and lose this baby weight or when I am trying to cram in workouts between child rearing and having a career? Should I wear it when I am making our protein shakes in the morning or when I am folding laundry at night? I went on and on in my head for longer than I care to admit. I may or may not have placed a little-too-large 1 a.m. Sephora order because, well, if he wants me to wear lipstick… Oh I will wear lipstick! And while I am at it, treat myself to some makeup! And I might as well buy a new perfume too! Ahem… Not one of my Wifey-of-the-Year moments, I know.
Fast forward back to the exam table. “How am I supposed to wear lipstick when I am Frumperella!? My clothes don’t fit but I can’t even begin to find the time to workout on the regular because work, baby, life, wash, rinse, repeat! And let’s just be super honest, it’s hard enough remembering to eat let alone eat healthy!” My doctor looked me dead in the eye and said “MMM MMM Oh girl! Go buy yourself a new black dress.” I looked at her dumbfounded. A dress? She said “Honey, why do you keep trying to fit into your old black dress? It’s not for you to wear right now. Don’t get rid of it. Save it and put it in the back of your closet. You will get back there and wear it again, but right now, embrace this role and go buy yourself a new black dress. For our men, when we wear lipstick, earrings, and look like the put together women they married they know we are thriving. They get worried when they see us not our usual self. Don’t stress yourself out trying to fit into the old black dress. For the time being, get a new one.” I took a deep breath. I let that wisdom sink in. The most perfect advice for my unsettled heart. I felt the stress start to melt away a little.
Hubbz wasn’t saying he wanted some glamified Diva raising his baby, he just wanted to make sure his cute, funky wifey was still there and thriving in her new roles. I got so wrapped up in learning how to navigate this new role of Wifey meets Career Mommy that I kinda gave up on taking care of me. I became obsessed with keeping it all together (or at least appearing to!) I became afraid of doing it wrong because then what would people say!? Newsflash… A) People are going to say things regardless of what you do and B) Most people are too worried about what others are going to say about them, that they aren’t even paying attention to you!
I got home from work that night and I didn’t change into sweatpants and an oversized hoodie per usual. Instead, I picked out my cutest yoga pants and a fitted tee. It was a little snugariffic but like the stress, the fat will melt away too- it just takes a little more time. I pulled out my MAC Train Case that holds all my makeup (that really did have a little too much dust on it for my liking). I picked out the prettiest subtle nude liner, lipstick and gloss combo and finished the look with a spritz of my favorite perfume. It wasn’t a special occasion, it was a random Monday night, and I had a very special Hubbz that I still want to impress.
As I stood in the kitchen that night sautéing veggies, I watched Hubbz feed our baby boy in his highchair. He looked at me and gave me a smile and told me I looked pretty darn cute. I took a deep breath knowing that it’s not always going to be perfect but with a little bit of effort and some lipstick it can be our version of perfect. I guess sometimes you just need to hang up the old idea of how it all should be in the back of the closet- or if the time is right, get rid of it completely- and start creating the new version of you to fit into that new (slightly curvier for the moment) black dress.
P.S. It’s better late than never, I suppose. I am a little behind on the blogging but I hope you enjoyed this #TBT from two months ago. Massimo was four months old and I was newly back in the swing of things getting back to work, phasing out the breast feeding and trying to figure out how to successfully be Wifey and Career Mommy. Let’s not pretend that I have it figured out yet, but we’re getting there and enjoying the journey! #praise
I am prefacing this post with a disclaimer to keep the peace and good vibes flowing around here… I know the topic of breastfeeding is an emotional one and can evoke some pretty strong opinions. I am asking that you be kind in your thoughts, judgements and feedback. I realize that by living my life out loud, I also live with a door wide open to harsh feedback and criticisms. In an effort to live my most authentic life out loud and to help others, I am sharing my story…
I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been a little busy with my tiny human and his super hunky Daddy, Hubbz. I’ve jotted down snippets of Mommyhood in my phone’s note section along the way, promising myself I will expand on the fleeting thought. 4 months into Mommyhood and I finally feel like I am coming up for air. Seriously, I’m like a whale that is breaching the water’s surface, showering water in every direction and not really giving a turd because #Motherhood (I just compared myself to a whale. It’s horrible, self-deprecating humor, I know, I know.)
I have so much to talk about. From the 27 hour, dilated to 10, pushed for 2 hours, ended in a c-section, because he was sunny-side-up birth, to the awe of that first poopy diaper (It was nothing if not thrilling… I kid you not.) The utter, amazing, sexiness of marriage that got kicked up a notch with a baby, to the first time you see your naked post-baby body in the mirror and just sob because WHO. THE. EFFING. EFF. IS. THAT!? The incredible feeling when your son looks into your eyes and giggles, to the not so incredible OH. EM. GEE. WHAT. THE. EVERLIVING. FROCK. ARE. WE. DOING!? moments.
Like I said, I have so much to talk about! I will get to it all… Eventually.
So I will begin the boob talk by saying, Hi, my name is Dez and breastfeeding is not my favorite thing. If I had to make a list of all my most favorite things, breastfeeding would not be on that list. If I had to make another list of my second most favorite things breastfeeding would not be on that list either. These lists could go on for a really, really long time and I promise, you would never see breastfeeding on those lists. For me, breastfeeding didn’t make me feel uber-connected to my sweet son. If we’re being honest it made me feel like kind of a failure because I disliked it so much and then I beat myself up for thinking something was wrong with me. What kind of woman doesn’t like breastfeeding!? Well, turns out, me. It’s taken me 4 months to come to peace with these feelings and it’s kind of terrifying to me that I just admitted out loud that I didn’t like breastfeeding. Almost terrifying enough to make me want to close the laptop and pretend like these feelings aren’t there. Alas, I vowed when I started my blog it was my life, out loud, so… We press on. I have a village around me that consists of Mama’s many times over and quite a few medical professionals. My village was there every step of the way with the soundest advice for our situation. I am putting our story out there and writing this for the struggling Mama’s who felt like I did except maybe they don’t have a village to talk to.
For you Mama’s who, for whatever reason, are doing the formula thing… Take a seat, order up a glass of wine with me and let’s chat.
I was fortunate to have a kid that latched. I know for most women this is half of the battle. Right from the recovery room, our tiny human latched right on the boob. I was thrilled because we all know the mantra… #BreastIsBest. I was supposed to be breastfeeding whether I liked it or not so… Breastfeeding I did. My milk didn’t come in until day 4 because of the c-section so day 3 I pumped and we supplemented with formula. Then, the floodgates opened and my milk came in. Lord have mercy, my milk came in. And so it began. Feed, pump, repeat, over and over and over and over and over. Massimo loved falling into a milk coma mid-feed because when you are a tiny human, eating is hard. I’d wake him with zero luck. When he did wake up, he’d wake up hangry as all get out and so we’d begin again. (I pause to note that hangry is not a typo. He was hangry as in hungry and pissed that he was hungry all rolled into one… He got that from his Mama.) The cycle continued with me never knowing how much he was getting, and him being in a constant state of not sleeping sound because he was hungry, and not eating enough because he was sleepy.
Society has done this thing where it makes women feel less than if they aren’t feeding their kid liquid gold for the first year of life. I know it because I felt the pressure of it. Along the way I have had friends open up to me about their struggles and it dawned on me that if I am feeling this way and they are feeling this way, I bet there are a lot of other women feeling this way too. Don’t get me wrong, the benefits of breastmilk are incredible and I am so thankful I breastfed (via boob or bottle) for the better part of 4 months. In the same breath, I am so thankful I am done. I am a wife, a Mommy and I have a career that I love. My baby boy is happier when he is fully fed and fully rested. I am a better Mommy and wife when I am not tied to a breast pump. I am more accomplished in my career when I am not pausing every few hours to pump. The way I look at it, while breast may be best, a content Mommy and baby are better. For us that meant adding in formula at 3 months and packing up the pump for good at 4 months. Do I still get cases of Mommy Guilt and wonder if we made the right choice? Absolutely! Then I look over at my son. He is healthy, he is growing like crazy and he is peaceful and content. I offer up a prayer of thanks to God that I was able to provide the nourishment for our son for as long as I did. And then I give thanks for formula that can nourish and sustain our son too.
There are a million ways to raise a tiny human. At the end of the day, what matters is the peace in your heart about the way you are raising yours.
It’s 3:45 am and I find myself feeding my baby boy while scrolling the news. I lay here safe and sound, snuggled up and cozy despite the freezing temps outside. The necessities of living go more than met 100 times over. I live in an abundance of food, shelter and clothing. I can honestly say I want for nothing in my life.
All the while, in a place that seems to be a world away, morning is breaking- with it, horrible heartbreak. Devastation is happening that I will never in my lifetime know about. Bloodied bodies fill the streets while screaming, crying, gut-wrenching mourning and terror fill the air. Horrors a human should never have to endure.
I look down at my sweet son and feel so many emotions. I don’t want to be another uninformed American so wrapped up in my life that I fail to see the horrors of humanity… Yet sadly, I am. The Twittersphere is so full of information from all sides- it’s hard to know where to begin to look to understand the truth of what is happening. I seek to understand, yet fall short of knowing if I am getting all the information. I feel at a loss and helpless.
I look at my sweet son now fast asleep in my arms with a full belly. His chest rising and falling with each breath. Selfishly, I pray over him that he will never know the horrors of this world. My mind flashes back to the image of Aylan Kurdi’s little body being picked up off a Turkish beach. A cold shiver runs down my spine and I am reminded that we saw this coming.
I close my eyes and I bow my head. I am at a loss when it comes to the horrors of humanity so I do what I know how to do… I pray. I encourage you, my sweet friends, to do the same. Even if you are like me and don’t quite have all the answers. Even if you are like me and don’t necessarily understand it all.
Pray for Aleppo.
Pray for humanity.
Pray for our country.
Pray for our world.
If there is one thing I can stand boldly in and know for sure it’s that God hears prayers. It sounds cliche, I get it, but I also know to the gut of my soul that it’s not.
Will you join me?
Will you pray with me?