Looking Good: Pregnant and Pospartum Bellies

Why, oh why, is it such a big deal when a pregnant woman poses nude?

Although I don’t have time for reading magazines (unless I need a distraction in a waiting room), I check out the cover to know all that I need to know about which celebrities are getting a divorce, which celebrities I have never heard of, and which celebrities made a million dollars selling their baby’s first photo. Although I am a prude about being sexy, magazine covers are not shy about selling what sells; sex. If it’s not a celebrity baby’s first photo on the cover, you can bet it is a sexy celebrity showing some skin. Combine the two and you get a pregnant celebrity posing nude.

I was 11 years old when Demi Moore posed on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991. Let me do the math for you, I’m gonna be 32 this year. I didn’t understand ‘pregnancy’ back then and thought it was gross. I hoped that when I had children, there would be another way to do it that wouldn’t involve a big round belly. Big round bellies were for Santa Clause.

During the first 7 months of my pregnancy, I looked bloated like I usually do. I was relieved when my belly got bigger and I no longer had to endure stares from people trying to determine if I was pregnant or not. If you’ve got an Etsy shop, perhaps you could make a t-shirt that takes the guess work out of it; This isn’t a belly full of Doritos, I have a person growing inside of me.

I gained 35 pounds during pregnancy and it was all belly. Big belly. BIG belly. It was like an uneven shelf and I used it as such. When I was sitting behind by desk, I had to slide my chair back further as pregnancy progressed. I realized something wonderful was happening.

I DON’T HAVE TO SUCK MY STOMACH IN!

Whenever I posed for pictures, I could turn to the side and let my belly stick out. Whenever I wore a form fitting fabrics, I didn’t need to wear a jacket to cover my belly. Whenever I wore pants my belly could just hang over the top. Oh, glory! There was no more pretending to be a smaller size I wasn’t. I was pregnant and proud!

My boobs went from big to biggerer and I have no idea what my legs looked like down there. Also big I think. I eventually lost track of my belly button too. Gone! Things were just big. This was my body and I was growing a baby! YAY!

Dramatic re-enactment of what my cover might have looked like. Does my face look model-moody or just moody?

Alas, magazines did not offer me compensation for posing nude during my pregnancy. If they had, I would have enthusiastically accepted. I have never in my life been so proud of my body. So confident in my shape. The ‘pregnancy glow’ must be caused by confidence and comfort in the curvy shape that results from growing people.

It is a shame that only hours after giving birth, I was wondering why my stomach didn’t look much smaller than it was when there was still a baby in there. It made me sad that when I left the hospital my shirt was tighter and my maternity pants were still very necessary.

A postpartum celebrity posing nude before the personal trainers and chefs get them back into shape would be a nice reality to show on a magazine cover. Pregnant bellies are wonderful, but what happens to our bodies after babies are born is equally as dramatic. But ‘reality’ means something very different when a celebrity is marketing or exploiting themselves. It would be nice to see a celebrity stepping forward to showcase a sagging belly, swollen breasts, and a sleep deprived facial expression. They would have the enthusiastic support of this mommy!

Please vote for Mommy Huh daily… and from your smart phones too!

When Something Scary Happened to My Son

This topic is a little more serious than usual. I learn so much from my experiences, and wanted to share this one.

The sun slept in on Saturday and got a later start than usual. Unfortunately, the same was not true for me. I had a list of errands to do before a bridal shower at noon. Although motherhood has taught me efficiency, it has not taught me patience. I was in foul mood until my to-do list was completed and we made it to the bridal shower.

My mother and I were greeted at the bridal shower by family we don’t see as often as we would like and some new friends. For them, it was their first time meeting my son. He didn’t mind the attention, but was staying cautiously close to me. When the bride-to-be opened her gifts in the living room, I stood just outside the empty kitchen. Releasing my son was like opening a birdcage. After pacing through the kitchen several times, he was at my side and playing with a pair of balloons.When he sat on the floor beside me, I gave him a snack.

I took advantage of the opportunity to be sociable, and directed my attention back to the bridal shower for a moment as I stood just beside my son. When I looked down at him seconds later, I noticed something was very wrong.

“HE’S CHOKING!’ I shouted immediately. The words were there before I understood what was happening. Suddenly, time stopped.

I grabbed my son and began hitting him on the back. When that didn’t work and he continued gasping for air, I used my fingers in his mouth. I had CPR and First Aid training years ago, but I was too busy reacting to what was happening to ponder if I should be doing something differently. My mother was beside me now and while I continued to use my pinky in his mouth, she was hitting him on the back with the heel of her hand.

He gagged and spit up a little. Then he did it again. Finally, he vomited and his airway was cleared. After he got some air, his scream was one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard.

While I took care of him, the other moms at the bridal shower were taking care of me. I couldn’t truly comprehend what they were saying. When my son was choking, I didn’t have the time to freak out. Now that he was in my arms and enjoying a bottle, I replayed the moment over and over again in my head.

Even now, it upsets me to think of that first moment when I realized something was wrong. But in the seconds, minutes, hours, and days that followed, I have learned a few things that I wanted to share.

I have been spinning my tires in the mud worrying about what I did wrong. What mom doesn’t blame herself when something happens regardless of whether or not she has control over it? Sure I could have NOT given my son a cracker, but he’s had them so many times before. Should I never-ever give him a cracker again? After the incapacitating shock wore off, one of the moms gave me a pat on the back and told me this incident would just be the first of many ‘scary’ incidents. As our children grow, develop, and try new things, they take risks. Although we can not, and should not, shelter our children (young or old) from life, we can do our part to TRY to keep them safe. But keeping them safe, no matter how hard we try, is no guarantee.

This was one of those ‘special’ moments when I felt instinct controlling me. Sure I had the CPR and First Aid training years ago, but it is much easier to sit here now and remember it than it was while my son was choking. I am sure there was a better technique I could have used, but the cracker needed to not-be-stuck-in-my-son’s-throat and that was all that mattered. Even now, that is still all that matters.

There was a small part of me that I can not deny was a little embarrassed afterwards. I had given a room full of women (most of them moms) a scare during what should have been a fun and happy moment for the bride. Their laughter became anxious silence when I shouted out. They all approached me afterwards (some several times) to check on my son and I. It was natural for me to feel embarrassed for being the center of attention for a few minutes, but wrong of me to think that others might feel annoyed that I had given them a scare. Nothing mattered to them more than my son being ok.

What impressed me most was that I realized my son is tougher than I am. He moved on from the incident very quickly; unfazed and behaving as though nothing had happen. I monitored him closely through out the day, but he wasn’t bothered. I needn’t be afraid of him loving me less (or even loving crackers less). It happened and he’s over it. This mom, however, is still working on it.

I started my day with a to-do list, but there is no way of predicting or controlling things from happening. My son wasn’t choking for more than a couple of seconds, but it has certainly affected me since then. The only thing predictable about life, is that it is so unpredictable.

In case you didn’t know, I am not a medical expert. I’m just a mom who wanted to share her experience. This was an opportunity for me to sort my thoughts and the what-ifs that have been bothering me.

Moms, what have you learned from similar experiences? How did you feel? What did you do? Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts.

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Childbirth

Childbirth.

No doubt, a clever description of childbirth is not necessary. I’m sure you are thinking the same thing I am. PAIN!

Despite the fact that I have always wanted to have children of my own, I always considered childbirth to be an unfortunate obstacle; a very unfortunate and painful obstacle. After the doctor confirmed I was pregnant, my second thought was childbirth. I was scared, very scared, and had to deal with the reality that I would soon endure unimaginable pain.

We have phones that we call smart, but science has not yet discovered a way to safely teleport babies from the womb to mother’s arms. You can see my solve to the discomfort women experience during childbirth is totally realistic and do-able. I heard other mothers talking about how wonderful childbirth was, but I certainly didn’t believe them. I was told childbirth was supposed to be beautiful, but if the pain wasn’t scary enough, how about vaginal tears or bowel movements to worry about.

Mothers I talked to never expressed the details of their childbirth experiences. They would simply smile and talk about all the wonderful things that had happened after. I thought of myself as weak for being so afraid of childbirth. Other moms didn’t seem to be concerned about it. Get an epidural, they’d say to ease my worries. Sometimes I wondered if they realized epidurals involved terrifyingly long needles and a gamble that it was done accurately.

Let me do for expecting moms what I wish someone had done for me…

It is ok to be afraid.

There is no superhero more powerful than a mom, but moms really are human. Humans feel pain and fear and that is perfectly OK. We all know moms experience a lot of emotions before, during, and after childbirth; some of them super good feelings, and some of them not so good.

The reality is, the fearless moms were right. Despite my own fears about childbirth, it is not one of the moments I most recall from the day my son was born. Like the other moms, I think of the result instead of the process. The result is of course, a wonderful baby.

What I wish someone would have told me about childbirth

  • Hospital staff is on Team Mom. Their goal: to make mom as comfortable as possible during labor and delivery. I was totally unprepared to have a c-section and emotionally I was having a very difficult time understanding and accepting it. My nurse was absolutely wonderful in answering each and every nervous question I had, talked me through the entire procedure as it happened, and even held my hand and wiped my tears.
  • Hospital staff has seen it all. I think by the time the time childbirth happens, most moms have lost all modesty. Let’s face it, after being poked, prodded and examined for nine months, there is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of when baby is on its way.
  • Don’t think it only happens YOU. Although each pregnancy and delivery is uniquely different, the process is pretty much the same.
  • It’s not exactly like the movies. If you believe everything you see in movies, like I obviously do, then childbirth is absolute chaos! The reality is, hospitals and staff know what they are doing and it’s unlikely that moms scream out in pain for two days.
  • You are not alone. Whether it is daddy, another relative, a friend, a doula, or hospital staff you are not going through the childbirth process alone.
  • BONUS: Still not convinced you can do it? Talk to the daddies if you need a morale booster. They will be the first to admit that it is amazing what women do during childbirth.

Blog-Baby-Book: Walking

For some time now, my son has been disinterested in sitting and laying. Although he would rather stand than sit when he plays, he hadn’t realized that you don’t have to be hold onto the wall to walk around. On Monday evening, he let go.

Why the sudden walking? Because my husband reached across the room and offered his cell phone to our son if he walked to get it. If you need to know anything about my son; if it DOESN’T look like a baby toy, he wants it. Really bad.

Within minutes our son was less interested in the cell phone than he was in all the cheers and attention he was getting. Amazing what positive reinforcement and encouragement can do for a child.

And to be clear, he IS walking like you and I although it does seem as if he is much less clumsy than I am. He’s not cheating in any way and I’m not exaggerating (I think we all know moms who stretch the truth).

Within 30 minutes, he was running in circles and shouting gleefully. My house hasn’t been this noisy since I had a newborn and a grumpy husband. Pretty sure this was what all the moms were warning me about when they said, ‘Oh, boy. Just you wait.’

As a working mom, one of my biggest fears is missing these moments in my son’s development. I am thankful to have witnessed and share this milestone with my son, husband, and mother. Quite obviously, I am very proud.

Blog-Baby-Book highlights baby’s firsts and developmental milestones.

How I Met Your Father

My husband will hate that I’ve shared our story. I love him, but mostly I don’t care if this bothers him or not. It’s my story too. It’s the story of how we met.

When you are in high school, everyone wants to know when you will get your driver’s license.  When you are in college, everyone wants to know what you are majoring in. When you finish college, everyone wants to know where you are working. When you are working, everyone wants to know if you are dating anyone. When you are dating someone, everyone wants to know when you will get married. When you get married, everyone wants to know when you will start making babies. After you make babies, nobody cares about you anymore and their attention rightfully focuses on said babies.

After I finished college I started graduate school and was working full time. So what that means is, I got stuck on the ‘are you dating anyone’ question for a long time.

Eventually, I had heard it enough.

Most 20-something acquaintances were meeting their significant others in bars. I had hoped to meet my significant other in a library. Yes, nerdy but I assumed a library is the type of place where I might increase my odds of meeting a sober and intelligent person. Yeah, no.

Eventually, I looked on-line. Take a moment to gasp as you ponder explaining on-line dating to your grandmother. But after 2 days of searching profiles, I saw a picture that I liked. Yes I know, you don’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s how I picked my husband.

In a day we were chatting on-line for hours, in a week we were talking on the phone until the early morning, and in two weeks we were making plans to meet. But the scary thought of meeting him was almost enough to make me say no.

He called me on a Saturday night and told me he really wanted to see if our connection was what we thought it was. Despite the distance between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, we knew it was something special. Don’t get any ideas of a dramatic meet-up on top of the Empire State Building. That stuff is for Tom Hanks (le sigh)!

My husband and I met the following day, September 12, 2004, at the airport. He splurged on a ticket, endured questioning from airport security as to why he was flying on such short notice, and our first date consisted of five hours together (and a supreme pizza from Pizza Hut) before he returned home.

This is where my story does sound like a Tom Hanks movie. The romantic-comedy kind, not the Academy Award winning kind. After my husband left that day, I immediately told my mother that I had met the man I was going to marry. As your roll your eyes at my absolute lovey nonsense, now ponder explaining that to your grandmother. Did I mention she’s feisty?

Finally on July 26, 2008, my husband and I were married. I don’t know what it will be like someday explaining to my children how I met their father. Will on-line dating be a norm or a thing of the past? But most importantly, we did meet.

Life Labeled as a ‘Working Mom’

Hi, it’s me standing on my soap box. Yes… again.

Moms make difficult decisions every day: Should I buy the generic diapers on sale or should I splurge on name brand? Breast or bottle? Is my child crying because he really needs something or is he crying because he’s a little fussy? Despite the unsolicited advice and lectures I have endured regarding my family’s ‘controversial’ decision to co-sleep, the toughest parenting decision I have made is little more complicated and selfish; my decision to be a ‘working mom.’

Being a mom is a super-duper important job! It is both challenging and rewarding. Moms don’t earn a paycheck for their hard-work, but they raise curious babies who become intrigued children who become responsible adults. Moms are responsible for nourishing their children, keeping them safe, and totally loving them! If it sounds difficult and complicated, that’s because it is.

You have my deepest apology for using the clichéd term, ‘working mom’ as you read on (if you kindly choose to do so). Labels should be for jars of baby food, not moms!

Being a working mom has been a difficult experience for me that I underestimated and was not prepared for. Sure I’m always struggling to find time, but what mom isn’t? The issue has been an emotional one that I can no longer blame on hormones.

After 6 weeks of maternity leave, I was back to work in March of 2011. Was I ready? Not at all! Although six weeks sounded like a vacation before maternity leave began, when you actually have a newborn, six weeks is no time at all. I have since encouraged other working moms to take extended leave if possible, unpaid or not. Yes, where maternity leave is concerned I offer my unsolicited opinion to other moms.

So why be a working mom? For some, it’s not a choice. As a first time mom, this was one of the first decisions I had to make in which I had to put my own feelings second to doing what was best for my family. I’ll be honest, it was a tough lesson to learn. I was, and still am, very selfish about my child. I want to spend every possible moment with him (and what mom doesn’t).

But there were other reasons for returning to work as well and I only have myself to blame. I have worked very hard to get where I am today (shout out to the working girls!). Opportunities in my field are limited and highly competitive; leaving meant the likelihood that I would never be able to return to the position I am in today. I had to ask myself if I was ok with that, and my honest answer was no.

You may have noticed I seem to be contradicting myself. Yes I am. But I did say this was difficult. Honestly, after nearly a year of being a working mom, it hasn’t really gotten any easier and I still struggle with the same emotions. I can’t possibly describe how much it hurts when another mom says something like, “Oh, I can’t imagine being away from my children all day.’ Yeah, pretty much sucks as much as the guilt you just dumped on me.

So why do it?

It’s a combination of doing it for the good of the family and doing it for myself professionally. So far, being a working mom has been the right thing to do, despite the challenges.

When my son is not with me, he has been exclusively in the care of family members who devote 115% of their time, attention, and love to him.  Not only do I save a small fortune in child care (we’re talking more than $1000 a month per child in the DC area) but my son is with the same people who raised me. Mostly, I think I turned out ok and my son will too.

His reaction each evening when I get home from work also dispels my irrational fear that my baby will forget who I am and love me less because I am not with him 24/7. Babies understand families and love a lot better than we give them credit for. Added bonus that perhaps me being a working mom can someday be a teachable moment for him.

Emotionally, it is fortunate for me that my husband and I commute together and meet for lunch each day. Most people don’t think of traffic as quality time together, but we make the most of it. It’s also nice to talk about the stressful parts of our day before we take our stress home with us. We leave our stress stuck somewhere in traffic and give our son the better parts of our days.

I have no immediate plans for leaving work. Things are good and we like ‘good.’ Although my family intends to remain on its present course for the time being, we are open to re-evaluating things when the situation warrants other consideration. If I have learned anything about how quickly children grow and develop, it has prepared me for the very real reality that I will begin homeschooling soon enough and the label of ‘working mom’ will someday have a different meaning for me.

Freaking Out About Co-Sleeping

In case you’re wondering why I look a little taller today, it’s because I’m standing on my mommy soap box. Check out Mommy DIY if you don’t want to read my statement, otherwise, read on.

I want to be a good mom, I really do, but I have no idea what I am doing! While I was pregnant I studied parenting literature, questioned other moms, and prepared myself for baby. Lately, people just tell me what to do when I’m doing something wrong… and by wrong I mean ‘different.’

My husband and I have made a lot of decision other moms, dads, and grandparents haven’t agreed with. But seeing as how it is OUR baby, that makes it OUR decision to make.

One of our most controversial decisions is also the decision I am most confident about; I enjoy co-sleeping.

Co-sleeping started out of nursing convenience. I didn’t even have to open my eyes for those night time feedings every two hours. Baby was beside me and my boobs were where I’ve always kept them. But we stopped nursing in December, so why are we still co-sleeping?

As a mom with a full-time job, my son and I don’t get to enjoy diaper changes, messy meals, and playtime together during the day. The greetings he and I share each evening say it all; Wow! I really missed you! We smile, share a tight hug and a hundred kisses to make up for lost time, and get into our evening routine of playtime, dinner, bath, and bedtime. Absent from that list are snuggles which we both really enjoy.

Every evening I put my son to bed in his room. Some nights he stays there, some nights he does not. Some nights I like sleeping without him, some nights I don’t. I do have one co-sleeping rule I follow to prevent abuse of the co-sleep privilege by mom, baby, or dad. Co-sleeping is for SLEEPING!

Co-sleeping (emphasis on the sleeping).

My son sleeps like a champ. No fussing, crying, or inappropriate activities (and by inappropriate activities, I mean lets-play-with-mom’s-hair-at-3am). He sleeps at night and I think that is a good thing. I thought that was what babies should be doing. So what’s the problem with where he does it? It’s just my bed, not an alligator pit. It’s a mattress, not a box of broken glass. I may not be the mom who knows it all, but I know alligator pits and boxes of broken glass are no-nos. Yes?

Please don’t tell me that children need to learn how to be independent. If that were the case, the first thing I want my independent 1 year old to do is change his own diaper. Self-soothing is less important to me than the smelly mess he can make in his diapers. I also wouldn’t mind if my independent son could learn how to buckle himself in to his car seat (save this thought for another day).

Do YOUR children a favor and worry about being the best parent you can possibly be for THEM. You don’t need to worry about mine. Our alligator pit has a child-safety lock on it.

As I step down from my soap box, I leave you with this thought in closing:

I don’t think I’m a better mom because I co-sleep, but I do think I’m a better mom because I don’t judge other moms for co-sleeping or not. -Me

Ponder.