21 March 2013

Farewell to the Land of the Gypsies

I put it off for SO LONG. I didn't want to do it. I kicked and screamed and cried. But the longer I stayed, the harder it was to leave.

So I got in my car and forced pedal to the metal, leaving the Land of the Gypsies behind me.

Looking back, I feel almost silly at how I reacted to the news we were moving to West Virginia. We had just moved from Maryland to Wisconsin three months earlier (don't worry, there was a plan) and I wasn't looking forward to being back in the area. Or, at least, if we could be in Maryland again maybe I'd survive.

But WEST VIRGINIA? I happen to LIKE my teeth, thankyouverymuch.

Early in our stay I still remember tuning into "My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding" - a show I had so been looking forward to watching. Ray was at work on night shift, so I was alone.

Snuggled on the couch, it was late at night as I tuned into TLC. The first image appeared on and I thought "weird, that looks like the sign up the road." Spitting out my drink, I was HORRIFIED to see the words "Martinsburg, West Virginia" appear on my screen!

Rushing to facebook, I immediately sought solace from anyone who was up at that hour. My new friend, Kristin (from Maryland), commented on my post that she, too, was awake and tuning in now. We continued to watch the show "together" on facebook in total shock. I believe at one point I even had real tears.* My husband did not live this down for a long time.

You want to know a secret, though?

Turns out I kind of like West Virginia.

Or at least I like my friends, my church, my stores, my restaurants and my house (kind of).

So, it is with great sadness, West Virginia, that I must bid adieu. At least for now.

Before I go, I would like to say thank you. Because of you I went to hell and back again and survived. Because of you I learned how to stand on my own without school creating a natural connection with others. Because of you I leaned on God and my husband for support and not an external source. Because of you I had to become a better mother.

So thank you. Thank you for solidifying my marriage; for healing me of my postpartum depression; for strengthening our faith through our INCREDIBLE church; for growing my daughter into the girl she is today; for teaching my daughter to love God.

Most importantly, thank you for giving my new baby girl. In fact, this area (Maryland and West Virginia) has given me BOTH my beautiful, incredible daughters. This area has doubled my heart.

As for the gypsies? Well, turns out they're kind of a hoot. Not to mention the fact I kind of enjoy watching the show and recognizing all of the places they have gone, including my favorite town of Shepherdstown, WV (as frequented in the spinoff series - Gypsy Sisters).

A certain song that has followed me through life from high school, to college, law school, Africa, and beyond, comes to mind.

"Save Tonight
Fight the Break of Dawn
Come tomorrow
Tomorrow I'll be gone
Save Tonight

Tomorrow comes with one desire
To take me away it's true
It ain't easy to say goodbye
Darling please don't start to cry"

Till we meet again, Wild and Wonderful. Till we meet again.... Now here's to all the friends I haven't met yet.

*I find it important to note that at that time Kristin falsely believed I lived in Hagerstown, MD, with the rest of the crew. So when the show showed Hagerstown we were also appalled but it wasn't until she was cutting my hair later that she said (and I quote) "You don't actually LIVE in West Virginia, though, right?... OH HONEY NO!"

18 March 2013

I *Should* be Packing, So...

...instead I will blog about having two kids.

I've heard it said a million times before, in one form or another: "you will do everything different with the second one, trust me."

I'm only 1 month in to my re-mommyhood (1 month, exactly! Happy Birth Anniversary, Little C!) but I've noticed some glaring differences. And some, not so differences.

Child 1: DO NOT put ANY article of clothing on said child until it has been appropriately washed in Dreft.
Child 2: I don't own Dreft - so just rip the tags off that sucker and let's go to church!

Child 1: Video Camera is on at all times while said child is sleeping. Parents are up multiple times a night "just to check."
Child 2: Video Camera IS really bright, after all....

Child 1: Must. Be. Swaddled. Seriously, until about 8 months. Honestly, we'd still be swaddling her if we could.
Child 2: Falls asleep on the couch, floor, wherever. Anywhere but a photo shoot.

Child 1: Cries. Parents shoot over to the room - "We're COMING!! Don't DIE! Don't CRY! What do we do!?!?!?!" Parents then join in crying.
Child 2: Cries. "Yea, yea, I'm coming kid. Let me pee first." (ok I'm not THAT bad, but you get the idea)

Child 1: Mom rests for full 6 weeks. People dote on her. She doesn't leave the house during that time except for important doctor visits.
Child 2: I wanted to go leave the hospital minutes after giving birth. I still got doted on, but by Day 2 I was talking about my new dream of running a marathon. Day after birth we were driving 3 hours to NICU and I haven't sat down since.

Child 1: Mom refuses to leave the house looking anything other than pristinely put together.
Child 2: These yoga pants don't have THAT much breastmilk on them...*

Child 1: Gets sprayed off with the sink sprayer for a bath.
Child 2: Ditto.**

Child 1: MY daughter will NEVER wear tutus and ridiculous hair bows. Honestly. The Nerve.
Child 1 & 2: Tinker Bell has spewed all over my house.

I'm sure I'll be noticing more and more differences and similarities, but one thing is for sure: I seriously and for real LOVE my girls.

*I still shower and put makeup on, though. Most of the time. When I leave the house.
**Ok total "Dad move" right there - Mamas and Mamies use washcloths and gently make sure infant is warm at all times.

11 March 2013

If you would just let me do your hair, you wouldn't have butter in it...

Imagine, I found myself saying those actual words to my daughter at dinner one night as she had a chunk (a CHUNK) of butter swinging from a curl.*

Alas, having an almost 3 year old with crazy hair like mine leads to many a frustration when she won't allow it to be combed/pony tailed/ect.. In an effort to encourage her to expect her body to be respected, however, I refuse to force her to do something with her hair she doesn't want to do, even if it drives me nuts. Occasionally she will allow "dancey hair" so she can swing it around like a go-go dancer, but that is only for dancing time and only for a minute. You would think with her princess obsession she would want her hair done just like a princess. Nope. Wrong.

Even if I have spent a gajillion dollars on hair ties, headbands, ribbons, and bows adorned in minnie mouse, princesses, sparkles, and jewels. Even if her cute little face is so much better showcased with her hair out of her eyes.

Even if, at the end of a meal, we find her missing straw wrapped up in another curl.**

*doesn't help that this came about from her eating butter with her fingers. gag.
**true story

06 March 2013

What Really Happened...

...to the blog? You might ask. Yea, well, that, too.

But, really, I am talking about Little C and our stay in the NICU. So many of you offered prayers and well wishes during our crazy stay and I promised an update of what actually happened.

My labor and delivery with Little C was great. For those of you who love a good birth story, I will be writing up both of mine in the next few days so I won't elaborate here. However, when Little C came out the doctors noticed a sack attached to her umbilical cord. They had heard of such sacks, but because they are extremely rare they were not entirely sure what to make of it and I was told we would find out more when the pediatrician visited her in the morning. All of the doctors proceeded to take photos of the sack (with my permission) in order to document it, if needed.

My OB came to see me the next morning and assumed I was antsy to be discharged (he knows me all too well). He assured me we'd leave that afternoon as long as Little C was cleared by the pediatrician.

That is when everything started to go wrong. The ped came in (and goodness I love her but she's a bit hectic) and said she had some concerns and was sending the photo off to WVU Children's Hospital in Morgantown. Her many explanations left me feeling a little confused and unsure how to process exactly what was happening. Honestly, I assumed we'd have to take Little C to the hospital *at some point* in the future.


Within hours they were calling for an ambulance to come and I was told she needed to be transferred to the NICU 3 HOURS AWAY from us. I couldn't even cry. What was supposed to be a funny little sack was now being referred to as an abnormal umbilical cord cyst and I started to hear the words "surgery," "organs," "IV" being thrown around like candy. Now, as an exclusively breastfeeding mom my first concern was whether I'd be able to nurse her during the 3 hour ride. Ok, listen, I get that should NOT have been my main concern, but that was the ONLY thing I had any control over at that moment. I was told no, that I could choose to give the ambulance personnel formula or they could hook her up to an IV. The thought of an 8 hour old infant on IV made me sick, so we packed formula. I was also told I couldn't ride in the ambulance with her, so I went into crazy mode - calling my mom to pack bags for us so we could just swing by, pick up the bags, give O a kiss, and head to Morgantown.

When the personnel arrived they did offer me a seat.

I turned it down.

No, I don't know why I did that. I will struggle with that until the day I die. I just couldn't sit by and watch all this unfold - I couldn't watch them give her formula when I was right there; I couldn't watch them give her an IV if she needed. I needed Ray beside me. I just...failed.

Fast forward a few hours and we're on our way to Morgantown. For those who don't know the area, there is a black hole of a place in the mountains called "Frostburg" whose name could not be a better fit. I left the hospital in yoga pants, a short sleeve shirt and sneakers. Less than 90 minutes later we were stuck in the pitch black darkness in a BLIZZARD. Going down windy roads, covered in pure ice, at 35 miles per hour behind the only truck on the road. I exaggerate not.

Cue hysteria.

Of course, as a mother, I could only think about the ambulance ahead of us carrying my hours old daughter in this terrible blizzard.

And how I chose not to go with her.

Calling the hospital, I prayed they had already made it - but, no, they weren't there. We continued on.

Eventually we did make it to the NICU (God blessed my husband's hands as he steered the car), shortly behind the ambulance. A doctor came out to talk to us, finally explaining why the need for the emergency transfer - they believed the sack could be omphalocele or a bladder extrophy. The moment I heard my baby's organs could be on the outside of her body the blood started pumping in my ears and I am completely shocked I held it together. At this point she turned exactly 24 hours old.

Basically the sack was 1 of two things - harmless Wharton's jelly, or her bowels/intestines. The surgery would either removed the sack easily and we would call it a day; OR the surgeon would have to go in, reconstruct her organs (sewing them back together) and then would later have to check out her heart and brain, which consequently may not have developed properly based on the timing of the development in the fetus in utero.

Choosing to focus on all the wrong things, I immediately asked how I could have access to a pump (the one thing I forgot to pack) and they said they would work with me (all the while thinking I was overreacting to the breastfeeding thing, I'm sure). They took us back to see her and I saw she was, in fact, hooked up to an IV. They explained that they needed her to be ready at a moment's notice for surgery. 24 hours old and she'd eaten maybe 4 times. Ray found our carseat (they used it to transport her on the gurney) and inside was the bag of supplies - including unopened formula. I hated that she was on an IV, but the fact that they did not give her formula was a weird comfort to me. I would have hated for her to have both.

That night we slept on cots in the hospital while I woke up every 2 hours to pump.

Lots of blurry things happened the next 24 hours. The staff was phenomenal - they made sure we had full access to her and that we knew everything that was going on every minute. The most heartbreaking thing for us was the other babies. Here was our full term, 7 pound baby in a room with all of these preemies who were struggling for their lives. Ray and I had a really hard time processing all of it.

At some point my dad showed up. Then she was ready for surgery. The anesthesiologist and his nurse made sure we knew every detail of what they were going to do. They allowed us to walk to the prep room with her, before taking her through the doors.

Less than an hour later we received the call: her surgery was done. I finally sobbed. They allowed us to see her even though she was still asleep. She was SO CUTE. The surgeon spoke with Ray and explained that the sack and the skin around it were removed easily and THEY WERE NOT CONNECTED TO HER INTERNAL ORGANS. He simply removed the umbilical cord and the sack, made her a cute little belly button (which he joked we won't know for 15 years or so whether his work is satisfactory to her) and all is done.

The next morning we were released, drove through another terrible ice storm on the way home, an collapsed as soon as we entered our house. Finally, a mere 4 days after giving birth, my family was all together.

Ray reminded me more than once that I wanted a good birth story to tell people. Be careful what you wish for!

04 March 2013

Finally! An opinion on the breastfeeding doll...

I want to start off by saying - I don't know how to feed a baby using a bottle! The NICU nurses all had a good laugh at that when they handed me my breastmilk in a bottle to feed Little C and I sat there in a totally confused state. Here I have an almost 3 year old and haven't the slightest clue how to give a baby a bottle. But why would I? Bottles were for DH or my mom to use when I wasn't available to feed. If I was there, I didn't need a bottle.

That being said, when the drama over the breastfeeding doll first hit the internet waves, I really had no opinion. (Shocking, I know) I guess I really didn't see why we needed a doll specific for breastfeeding since a girl could just mock breastfeed any doll, but I also though people who were infuriated by it had too much time on their hands. I really didn't think anything had to be said - the doll was what it was.

That has all changed since having my second daughter.

You see, traditional baby dolls all come with bottles. You can even buy extra bottles on their own as accessories. I have never pitched a fit or marched on my high horse about people buying Miss O bottles to go with her baby dolls. As someone who never played with baby dolls myself, I simply accepted it as part of the business.

Once Little C came along, however, I found myself at odds with Miss O over feeding time. The poor kid could not understand why I wouldn't feed the baby. The baby was going to starve. Why couldn't she, Miss O, help feed the baby? I was a TERRIBLE mother. Hence, I ended up in the middle of a largely one-sided conversation about breastfeeding with a rather irrational 2 year old. Thankfully, Miss O is quite wise and, upon close observation, finally accepted I was, in fact, feeding the baby and the baby would not starve due to my lack of parenting skills.

Suddenly, I realized why a breastfeeding doll wasn't all that bad an idea. In fact, if I have to accept society's passive aggressive attempts at showing my daughter how "natural" bottle feeding is, then I think the rest of society should have to accept a doll that encourages something MORE natural. I now appreciate that there is a product out there that demonstrates the other side of the feeding-fence and would eliminate the need for me to explain away the bottle. Why am I explaining away a bottle anyway? Why am I forced to explain to my daughter why I don't use bottles? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't we have to explain the situations for using a bottle? Or, at the very least, live in an equal-opportunity world?

For those who think a breastfeeding doll is sexualizing young girls, I challenge them to consider how they feel about bikinis for babies. Heck, they should consider how they feel about giving young girls dolls with bottles. If the act of caring for a baby doll is not sexualizing a little girl (and I think most rational people would agree it is not) then the act of feeding a baby is not sexualizing either. Pardon me, but I firmly believe if you support baby dolls with bottles you MUST support baby dolls who breastfeed, especially if, as a nursing mother, I am to support your right to choose bottles.

Basically, what this all boils down to is that we've now included our daughters in our "mommy wars." Don't we have anything better to do?

As a proud mama, I would like to add that this morning, Miss O nursed her baby C doll, "just like mama." Well done, kid, well done.