My First Mother’s Day

The best thing about my first Mother’s Day is that I get to be a mommy to the sweetest little girl in the world. I feel so lucky to have her – to have this sacred privilege.

I had envisioned my first Mother’s Day to be a quiet, family only affair. I got to experience that for at least half the day…. I had told my husband that I didn’t want to go out for brunch, and I wanted to spend the day at home, relaxing with him and our daughter. He was excited about making brunch for me and spent at least a day planning the menu and gathering things he needed. As always, he went overboard, buying me 6 different bouquets of flowers (so sweet, I know) and spending four and a half hours making my brunch (did I mention what a slow cook he is?) Regardless, it was delicious and he put his heart and soul into it. I knew how much he wanted to make my first Mother’s Day special… which is partly why it hurts so much that my own mother successfully poisoned the last half of my special day.

It’s not the first time, but I keep hoping each time is the last. I stand at the end of a trail of ruined birthday parties, Christmases, graduations, and various special occasions that my mother has (intentionally?) brought to ruin. I should have known better, perhaps, but when it’s been a while I let my guard down. And that is always, always when she strikes.

It started earlier in the day when I called to wish her a happy Mother’s Day and she said, “Thank you,” which wasn’t immediately followed by “And Happy Mother’s Day to you, too!” In fact, those words never came. About five minutes into our conversation, she said, “This is your first Mother’s Day.” Yes… yes, I know… I clued into that fact, too. Still, no happy wishes for me, almost as if there was yet another invisible hurdle I had to pass to deserve that honor.

I knew then that there would be no card for me. No flowers. No gift. Nary an acknowledgment from Mommy Dearest.

She was supposed to come over at 3 pm, but called at 1:30 pm and said she wanted to come then. Surprisingly, and showing what might have been my only true insight of the day, I said she couldn’t come that early because we hadn’t had a chance to have our brunch yet. She was upset and nearly threatened not to come at all, but then thought better of it and said she’d be over after 3. Oh, how I wish she hadn’t come at all.

From the moment she showed up, she was complaining — about her life, her week, her day — how everything had been going badly for her and she’d been fighting with everyone from repair men to her loser boyfriend. There were a string of stories about her hanging up the phone on various people. Clearly, she hadn’t been getting along with anyone and I so desperately wanted to shout, “Can’t you see the problem is YOU?!” but I didn’t. I listened, even if half-heartedly, and tried to offer some solace.

I had gotten her a gorgeous card, written in it sweet nothings, and purchased a pewter frame with a flattering picture of her with my baby girl. She seemed to like it, but also noted that, “…it isn’t a Mother’s Day without flowers.” So, I told her she was welcome to take any of the flowers from my bouquets. That’s rich, isn’t it? She comes to my home empty-handed and complains about the gift I got her.

After nearly three hours of all this negativity (and me silently fuming that my first Mother’s Day wasn’t going to be acknowledged by her), something happened that was for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had my daughter on my lap and she “fell” backwards onto my legs as she is prone to do. I’m used to it and I always “catch” her (since she lands basically right in my lap). Both my husband and my mom thought she was going to tumble to the ground and reached for her. My daughter, startled, started crying hysterically at the commotion. At least, I thought it was because she was startled… until I saw two bright red, deep scratches on her little cheek. My mother’s long fingernails had lacerated her face. Internally, I completely lost it. Externally, I was pissed off but biting my tongue.

The thing that upset me even more was that she didn’t really seem appropriately remorseful or apologetic. She said she hadn’t done it on purpose, that she thought my baby was going to fall. I know that’s true… but I don’t know… she just didn’t seem sorry enough! Finally, I said to her, “See? Your negativity affects other people.” I know I shouldn’t have said it. I know that I was really upset about a lot of other things I’d been repressing, but hey, it came out how it came out. And I meant it. She got very upset and immediately grabbed her things to go. My husband tried to get her to stay (I don’t think he’d heard what I said at that point). I said, “don’t forget your gift,” and handed her her things and she said, “But I still want my flower!” And she grabbed a red rose from the vase on the dinner table and fled our home.

So, this afternoon, she calls me and says, “So, are you ready to apologize to me?” I laughed — because it genuinely caught me off guard. I said, “No, I don’t think so.” She tried to start arguing with me, but I said I was feeding my baby and didn’t want to talk right then. She informed me that she would be coming over to my house tomorrow. I told her I wasn’t ready to see her yet. She said, “You can’t keep my granddaughter away from me!” I explained that I wasn’t doing anything of the sort. “I’m coming over whether you like it or not!” she threatened. “That’s not how this works!” I said, feeling my anger rising. Then she said, “I’m coming over whether you like it or not, and if you don’t like it, you can call the police!”

I’m still in shock.
What. A. Fucking. Psycho.

I’m not sure what I’ll do if she really shows up and tries to bully her way into my home. The one thing I do know is that she no longer has the key. I called a locksmith as soon as I hung up the phone with her and our front door lock has already been changed. That was certainly $257 that I didn’t want to spend right now, but my peace of mind is worth so much more.

Why I don’t write more

Someday, I will no doubt look back on this blog and wish that I had written more – documented more about what my experiences in early motherhood were like. The present Me would like to remind the future Me that there simply is/was no time and that I was either torturously sleep deprived and/or preferred to spend precious waking moments paying attention to and interacting with my sweet baby.

Having said that, I am intentionally trying to ignore her now… as it is almost an hour past her bed time and she has had a screaming fit – for no discernible reason – for the better part of this time. Maybe if I hadn’t already been deprived of several nights’ sleep, I could think of a better, more creative, more compassionate plan of attack. However, that is simply asking too much of me right now.

Last night went something like this: I gave her her “last feed” at 8:25 pm and she was asleep by 8:50 pm, then she woke up at 9:10 pm. I rocked her to sleep. I tried to go to bed at 10 pm. She woke up again at 10:45 pm and 11:45 pm and I rocked her back to sleep each time. She woke up again at 1:20 am and would not be consoled, so I fed her (my admittedly misguided attempt to cheat & put her to bed the “easy way” as she tends to fall asleep after feeding). The joke was on me last night as she decided to sever our tacit understanding by crying, screaming, and generally making a nuisance of herself until 3:30 am. At this point, I was sobbing in the kitchen, on my husband’s shoulder (a rarity at that time of night) out of sheer exhaustion. I fed her again and she drifted off to sleep for somewhere close to an hour – I think. My memory starts to get a little fuzzy here. She may have gone to sleep for longer, and it just took me until 4:30 am to get to bed. At any rate, she was up again at 6:30 am, and I fed her again. Again, she showed no signs of going to sleep, and started her (cute, when I’m not tired) babbling. I tried to ignore her, but it was impossible since she still sleeps in our bedroom. Eventually, I had to wake up the hubby on his day off, even though he’d only gotten a few hours of sleep himself. He could see I was in bad shape, so he watched her for a couple of hours so I could get some much needed sleep.

What I really don’t understand is how she went from sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night without waking up – which is what she was doing at 2 months old – to THIS?!?! I’ve read all kinds of things about sleep regressions and 4 months seems to be a typical time for the first regression but this is horrible and I cannot go on like this. I walk around like a zombie all day, trying my best to be present and have fun with my precious baby – but I’m exhausted and am actually starting to dread nighttime. I can’t take all the screaming and crying. I can’t stand the lack of sleep. I completely understand why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture.

To top things off, tonight, I felt some tenderness near my c-section incision and when I felt the area with my hand, I noticed a sizable lump on the right side. It felt very strange and I’ve never experienced anything like this. Google seems to think it’s a hernia… which would be really bad news, as that can only be treated surgically, and I wouldn’t be able to lift anything weighing over 15 lbs. (which basically means, no lifting my daughter). I really hope that’s not what it is, but I have a sinking feeling that my hoping is in vain.

I know this post isn’t particularly clever, funny, or entertaining… I just needed to jot a few things down for me. Take a little time for myself. Sometimes it just helps to take pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, as the case may be.

House guests and fish…

You know that old 16th century saying about house guests and fish having something in common? They both start to stink after three days.

Well, I just need to let off a little steam before I go mad here! My in-laws have been here for 5 days and nights so far and my husband has been at work (working super long hours) for three out of the five days, which means I’ve been left to care for and tend to his parents. And, I’ve officially had it today. I’m tired. And for the second time this week, my incisions scars are really sore – which always puts me in a bad mood – and, incidentally, is a sign that I’ve been too active. I want my peaceful home back!

Every single dish in the sink or used glass left wherever anyone feels like it is just irritating me more and more now. Last night, I made dinner from scratch even though we had a refrigerator full of leftovers. Why? Because my father-in-law won’t eat leftovers as a rule. Wow, that must be really nice considering he can’t even make himself a sandwich and depends on others to feed him! Tonight was just the worst. I asked my husband to take care of dinner (which I knew would mean ordering out). I figured that would be simple enough. We suggested several options. His dad decided he wanted pizza and his mother decided she wanted Indian food and, get this, neither one of them budged. So we had to get pizza for him and Indian food for her, all on my dime, mind you! I was so annoyed that I could hardly eat anything.

Also, I’m now so very tired of hearing the same exaggerated stories about my husband for the twentieth time. No, Lady, he’s not a “genius” with an IQ that leaves the rest of us in the dust no matter how many times you tell me the same phony story, I’m not buying it. (Neither does my hubby, just for the record.) To hear her tell it, he was reciting Shakespeare at 6 months old and winning every music competition they ever entered him in. These stories were somewhat endearing the first ten times I heard them, but I’m simply over it now.

Then there’s the weird, bad grammar talk. They say things like, “Her so pretty.” “Her is tired.” “Her is a fussy baby.” It’s nails on a chalkboard to me. I asked my husband about it and he said it’s their idea of being cute or funny or whatever. I say, let’s teach our daughter how to speak correctly before we fuck it all up.

They bought her a toy monkey which they named “Willie” after a toy monkey my husband had when he was a kid. (I thought kids were supposed to name their own toys, but I guess not.) Anyway, our daughter does really like playing with the monkey and we sometimes call her “Monkey” because she’s so silly and cute. So, when we went Christmas shopping last week, my husband bought her another stuffed animal monkey — this one wears a pink dress and cannot possibly be referred to as “Willie” unless it’s short for Willemina. It’s a harmless thing, right? I mean, the monkeys aren’t in some kind of competition. Or maybe I have it all wrong? So, his mother takes the monkey we bought and holds it up to my daughter and says, “Oh, look… here’s another monkey. Hmm. This monkey’s cute I guess, but not nearly as cute as Willie! You love Willie, don’t you, honey?” Seriously? I mean, really?!

***

Okay, so that post got interrupted, too. And my in-laws actually left this morning after seven long days & nights at our house. Yay!

Last night was the worst. I asked my husband to pick up a couple of frozen burritos and enchiladas, since we had guacamole, salsa, and tortilla chips here. I figured we could make it a Mexican night. When he got home, he asked me to prepare everything while he got changed into is PJs. I did… with no help from anyone. I set the table and prepared the food. Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal. When we were done eating, his father thanked my husband for the meal and then his mother chimed in thanking him as well, with no sense of irony whatsoever. My husband, to his credit, told them they should be thanking me because I prepared the food (yeah, and paid for it and waited on them hand and foot for the last week, too!) They looked surprised, but perfunctorily thanked me, too. So rude!

I’m going to cut this post short now so that I can move on to something a lot more positive… like how 2012 has really been the best year of my life!

My kingdom for… SLEEP!

I was going to start this entry by writing, “I’m a bad blogger, but a good mom,” and then, right on cue, Samantha started screaming that inconsolable wail that infants produce when there’s nothing really wrong, but they’re tired and frustrated and have no idea what they really want. It’s exhausting… even more so than usual because I really haven’t slept much at all at night. My husband, who has a day off today is napping, after a full evening of sleep. Yep, I said NAPPING! I am in turns jealous and really pissed off. Why does everyone but me get to sleep?!

Times like these, I can feel the frustration welling up into tears. There are moments when my complete exhaustion feels too heavy a burden to bear. I hate letting her “cry it out” but sometimes I need to take a five to ten minute break. I am not a machine. Yet, I’m pretty much the only one there to console her when she gets super-fussy. My husband’s patience as a father hasn’t developed yet and he doesn’t like holding her when she screams (yeah, and I just love it, right?) Ok. I’m going to check on her now and see if I ever get back to finishing this post.

Oooh… I delayed by less than a minute, and judging by the monitor, the screaming has stopped! Oh, blessed miracle! I’ve achieved the elusive “crying herself to sleep” win! Here’s the dilemma. If I were smart (and a little less wound up at the moment) I would scurry under the covers myself and try that whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” golden standard of new parenthood… but that would mean that my somewhat lengthy list of things to do today (which include paying bills, sending out thank you notes, dying my badly-in-need-of-dying hair, and starting on sending out the birth announcements) would all have to be postponed to yet another probably unproductive day.

What the hell. I’m going to leave my freshly brewed cup of afternoon coffee (decaf) and my trusty laptop and give this whole sleep thing another shot. I need it sooooo badly today.

My Belly as a Magic 8-Ball

Two posts in one day? Within just hours of one another?! What gives? Well, mommy dearest made an appearance today (ostensibly for me to give her my opinion on which outfit she should wear to a wedding tonight) but then she stayed for 90 minutes, which felt like 4 hours to me. God help me, that woman exhausts me!

Mind you, I am huge now and not feeling energetic as it is. As soon as I opened the door, I knew she was upset. (Is she ever anything else?) I asked what was wrong and could tell that it was going to be a long, drawn-out answer, so I quickly followed up with, “Wait, let me go to the bathroom first so that I can actually listen to you.” On the toilet, I prayed for patience and for God to be merciful and not let this visit last too long. I swear, I just don’t have the strength.

I came back into the living room two minutes later, and she was sitting on the love-seat, sobbing into her first Kleenex. “What’s going on?” I asked, trying to sound sympathetic, “Does this have to do with that guy you were seeing?” My mother is the queen of bad internet romances – among other things – and this latest loser was probably (to the best of our guessing abilities) married or otherwise unavailable and just toying with her poor, badgered heart. The rehashed details of their 3-month courtship came tumbling out as I tried to hurry the story-line along. I’ve heard it all before… and not just once or twice.

One of the first things she said was that she couldn’t take it anymore and that life was not worth living. The specifics of my consoling her – trying every angle I could think of – are largely unimportant. Although, at one point, I did say, “You know, it’s very hard for me to see you like this, especially at nearly eight months pregnant when I have a lot of stress of my own.” (This was something my husband had urged me to convey to my mother in the hopes that she would not be so selfish as to burden me with her nonsense. Oh, how he underestimates the power of pure narcissism!) She got visibly upset and said, “You’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have opened my mouth.” And she said it in a melodramatic, “I’m about to jump off a bridge now” kind of tone of voice and I knew I had even more repair work in front of me.

I honestly can’t even recall the words I used or even what message I tried to impart… but somehow, at some point, I got through. I convinced her to be angry rather than sad and not let some meaningless loser affect her passion for life and dictate her emotions, blah, blah, blah. It seemed to strike a cord, and that was all I was trying to do – just get her out of that funk for a minute. I think I even had her laughing a little through her tears.

After about an hour of all that crap, she turned her attention to me and the baby (not necessarily something I wanted either). She sat next to me on the sofa and put her hands on my belly. It happened to be at a time when the baby was moving, so she delighted in that. She lifted up my shirt and kissed my belly – something I absolutely cannot stand – so I told her she could talk to the baby over my shirt. She seemed annoyed. That made two of us.

And then, she turned my belly into a Magic 8-Ball. My mother, who is ever-obsessed with any form of divination to the point of utter ridiculousness, informed me that my baby was sending her “messages” through her movements. I rolled my eyes and briefly reveled in how much fun recounting this story to my husband would be! So, mommy dearest would whisper secret questions in her unique pseudo-dialogue with my daughter. My daughter would move. And my mother would smile, knowingly, and nod her head – in a display that was designed to show me that they had a special connection I simply could not understand. (I know this is how she feels, especially since she’s said asinine things to me like, “The psychic told me you’ve only had 3 past lives with the baby, but I’ve had 5!”)

Before she left, she made me give her a fortune card reading, saying that she absolutely needed it, that it was like a drug to her. That, I believe! So, I reluctantly pulled out an old pack of reading cards my friends and I used to play with as teenagers and gave her the best reading I could. She seemed satisfied and I was finally able to send her along her merry way.

Now, I’m even more tired, hungry, and I have a headache! Thanks, Mom! (Can you believe this woman wants to be in the delivery room with me?!) Thankfully, both my birth plan and my doula have been given strict instructions to keep her out!

 

 

More “odds” than “ends”

Sometimes there’s a lot I want to talk about, but it doesn’t all go together. This is one of those posts!

So, I just read a snippet of Jesica’s blog “Just Smile and Blog” and I can 100% relate! She writes:

Normally I wouldn’t be one to put pictures of myself in my underwear up anywhere on the internet…or even a bikini… would never happen, but there’s something about this pregnant belly that makes your body feel like it’s not really YOUR body… and apparently that makes it ok.  Like it’s ok because I’m just this walking incubator right now NOT a real person.  This is not my real stomach, these are not my real boobs, IT ALL BELONGS TO BABY.  Hahaha, anyone else feel like this?  I know some people feel terribly unattractive and fat while they’re pregnant and I fully agree that in certain clothes I’m like UGH, am I really THAT wide?  But walking around in my underwear?  I feel really pretty and sexy and love my bump.

It’s only when I’m in clothing… and worse, have to go into the outside world that I start to feel big, fat, even unattractive at times. Like I’m supposed to look like a supermodel with a baby bump! But when I’m at home, or in my underwear, or naked walking into the shower… I feel beautiful! I just look at my belly and can’t stop smiling. I love the way it looks.

Just today, I thought… I should wear a bikini when I go swimming. (I haven’t worn a bikini since I was 15, mind you.) But there really is something about being pregnant – and maybe it is that it doesn’t completely feel like it’s my belly, that makes me love my body in a way I never did before. You know what? I’m not going to over think this. I’m just going to embrace it!

***

Next on the list of things to update is my mother-in-law. Remember about a month ago when she suggested we name our daughter Rhonda? And I was worried that calling the name “old-fashioned” might have offended her? Well… it looks like I can add her to the list of sensitive mothers. (So far, only my step-mother has succeeded in avoiding the list.)

My hubby calls his mom every Sunday on his way to work. Yesterday, she asked if we’d come up with a baby name yet. [I’ve decided that our pat answer to this should now be, “No, we’re waiting until she’s born.” Since that will probably be what happens anyway.]

He said we hadn’t and she went on to tell him just how much she still loves the name Rhonda…. “I know, Mom,” he says, and she proceeds to explain how it was such a shame that I didn’t like the name. “She said it was old!” his mother scoffs, and adds, “But I just think it’s so beautiful! Rhonda Lee.” (As if we needed to be reminded!) “Don’t worry, Mom, we’ll come up with something,” he tells her as he rushes to get off the phone.

I guess I need to learn how to lie a little more proficiently. Direct questions have always been my Achilles heel. Had she not asked, “Do you like the name?” I might have been able to swerve around the topic somehow. My husband is full of suggestions about what I could have said, but when lying (even white lies) is not in your nature, these glib retorts don’t roll off your tongue so easily.

He says she’s not offended, but I secretly think that when she’s not talking to us, she’s thinking, “I could have had a granddaughter named Rhonda if not for my meddling daughter-in-law!” Hahaha.

***

In other dramatic mother news…. I could call this “Crazy Mother part 3” but what’s the point? My mother, who is the craziest of them all, and the only person who can suck up all my energy in 2 seconds flat, is causing more problems and stress for me. So, what else is new?

Her new complaint is a doozy. I was talking to her last week (by which I mean that I was on the other end of the phone while she rattled off a long list of life-related complaints and chronicles of depression) when she said, “I’ve been meditating and I know now why I’m depressed.” “Why?” I asked partly out of boredom and partly out of duty. “We’ll talk about it another time,” she said, which – in my experience with her  signals a major red-flag warning – and I know I’ll be at the receiving end of said shit-storm. I groan. “Why? Is it something I did?” I reluctantly ask.

Finally, she gives in and says, “I feel that {insert step-mother’s name here} has replaced me as your mother!” I should have said, “Are you fucking kidding me, psycho?” But I actually said, “What?! What are you talking about?” And of course, I knew what was coming next. She’s the one who helped me plan the baby shower; she’s the one I turn to for advice on the party; she’s the one whose involved while my mother sits on the sidelines – blah, blah, blah.

This… coming from the woman who should be the one planning my baby shower, the woman to whom I gave every opportunity to help in even the smallest details and who categorically refused! I was livid and, in truth, ready for a fight. I reminded her that I had asked for her help and she had said, and I quote, “Can’t someone else do that?” And, so, someone else did! “But you didn’t even ask me if it was okay to go with her to pick out the things for the party rental,” she retorted, weakly. “I’m supposed to ask you for permission?” I said in a high-pitched, really getting pissed-off voice.

And a few minutes later, my agitated husband grabbed the phone and went to another room to have a word with my mother. Whatever else anyone can say about my husband, there’s no denying that he’s a diplomat of the highest order and a great, no, really GREAT bullshitter. And I mean that in the best possible way!

I really wanted a fight. I did. I was looking for an excuse to not talk to her for a long time (hell, any amount of time!) just so I could get some peace. But my husband was intent on putting out the flames. He explained to her that I was under a lot of stress and that whatever I feel, the baby feels (so, he does listen to me) and that keeping me calm was the most important thing for everyone to focus on right now. He did a lot of schmoozing for about 20 minutes before my mom finally calmed down. I was grateful… but still kind of regretted not getting that break I was looking forward to!

***

Well, that’s about it for my mad-cap adventures this week. Someday I will hopefully internalize the truism that you can’t make everyone happy. It is verifiably impossible. Maybe someday I’ll also learn not to let it all stress me out so much!

Mini-meltdowns & Pregnancy Socials

So, today would be the first day of my pregnancy where I had a complete hormonal melt-down. I swear, I’ve been mostly even-keel (more so than in my non-pregnant days) and actually jovial for the majority of this pregnancy. Not so today. My husband made an off-the-cuff comment that bothered me this morning. We were talking about how expensive everything is… and how we really need help covering the costs. He pointed out that I’m unemployed and he only makes $17/hr. And that really upset me – because it seemed like he was belittling me somehow. Even being unemployed, I bring more money into our household than he does – ahem – in case we’re keeping score!

He saw that I was upset and was super quick to make it all better, saying that he was just stating facts and that it wasn’t meant as a slight. I could tell he meant it, but the comment kind of stung. Almost like saying, “Yeah… and we obviously shouldn’t be having children!” (Okay, I know I’m adding that in, but that’s how it felt!)

Anyway, after he left for work, I started looking up things online: questions to ask a midwife, a birthing center, or your hospital, to make sure you know their policies and if it’s a good fit for you. Let me just say that this whole “where to have your baby” thing is driving me nuts and causing me more stress and sleepless nights than it could possibly be worth! I hate it. But I am compelled to find out as much as I can about all my options so that I can make the best choice. Having said that, this morning it was just too much for me – too overwhelming – and I crumbled.

By myself. On the sofa, with the dog we’re dog-sitting (who is such a cutie) I started sobbing and the tears kept coming in waves. It was the kind of crying that feels endless, like it’s pulling from some deep well. And it struck me, that I have nobody to talk to about any of this. (Yes, I have people who will listen, but no one whom I trust to give me competent feedback.) I don’t have any friends that are new mothers, which was a blessing during my struggles with infertility, but now is a definite problem.

There is one woman with whom I’m friends – we’re not exactly close – but she’s very open and gregarious and we have known each other for years. She has a soon-t0-be four year old girl and is, hands down, one of the coolest moms I know. I sent her a text message in a desperate attempt to reach out to somebody. I told her I was freaking out and really needed someone to talk to and that I valued her advice. Luckily, she responded. We’re supposed to meet up tomorrow night, which makes me feel a bit better.

I didn’t realize that I would actually need pregnant friends!  Just like going through infertility, nobody quite understands unless they’re there or have been there recently. I need a support system that consists of more than just my husband and pregnancy books! I also went online and found a local maternity store that hosts a “Pregnancy Social” for doulas, midwives, and pregnant women. If you’d told me a few months ago that I would be going to something like this, let alone looking forward to it, I would have told you you were nuts! But, yeah. That’s where I am now. Hey, at least I haven’t resorted to Craigslist ads “Looking for Pregnant Friend” – hahaha! How creepy would that be?!

Previous Older Entries