Monday, April 21, 2014

Appreciating the Moment Isn't All it's Cracked Up to Be

Last week I found myself organizing photos.  I am old school when it comes to photos - I still have every single one printed out, and placed in a hard copy album.  I just don't like the idea of all of my memories floating around in cyberspace somewhere.  I like to be able to hold a tangible picture.

I've been a little busy lately, with a new baby and all, so I have been a bit delinquent with my photo upkeep.  Thus, last week's photo organization centered around last summer and early fall - eating lobster in Cape Cod, frolicking at the beach at the Jersey shore, being ridiculously pregnant at my sister's wedding, and then of course, the early days with baby Colin.

I generally do get sentimental when I go through pictures, but this picture his me like a ton of bricks and had me an emotional mess:

Please excuse my pale, decrepit appearance.  I had just pushed out an 8 pound baby and hadn't slept in two days.
I had to do a double take.

That baby in my lap there does not look like the baby sleeping in the room next to me right now. That baby in my lap there is a newborn, only two days old.   The baby in the next room is plump and filled out.  He started eating solids this weekend.  He rolls over and sleeps on his tummy (for 12 straight hours, I might add).  He smiles and laughs and even sits up by himself, for a few seconds at a time. The baby in the room next to me looks like this:



How did this happen?  In a mere five months?

Everyone talks about how time goes so fast.  When one has a baby, especially the first one, they are generally bombarded with the following advice:  Appreciate every moment - the time will fly! or Savor this time - it will be over before you know it! or It doesn't get any better than this!  Or some permutation.  Basically, this is the best time of your life and it will be over soon, so you better appreciate it every. single. second.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Still Not an Expert, the Third Time Around

I have found that since having my third child, I have been asked a lot of baby advice.  I am happy to share any expertise, but let me tell you, I don't remember much.  So when people ask me what a six month old's schedule should look like, my answer is usually:  "I have no idea.  Ask me when my baby turns six months!"

It's amazing how much we forget, and how little we know.

Case in point:  Our family recently took Colin on his first flight, to Disney World.  We packed all of the necessary items for our carry on (or so we thought).  Diapers?  Check.  Wipes?  Check. Pacifier?  Check.  That's really all we had.  I am breastfeeding, so the food is attached to me at all times.  I mean what else could we possibly need?

Note to all mothers with infants - never EVER leave the house without a spare set of baby clothes. And definitely, DEFINITELY don't get on an airplane without one.

He was sitting on my lap when I felt the explosive poop.  It immediately traveled north, up his back. I could feel the moisture on my hands as it spread onto his onesie.  I called for my husband, who brought over the wipes and a diaper cloth, which were no match for the spreading feces.  It was around that time we realized we had NO SPARE CLOTHES FOR THE BABY.  (We ended up keeping him in his soiled clothing, wrapping a diaper cloth around the outside so as not to cause those around us to gag at the sight, and buying him a Disney onesie immediately upon disembarking the plane).

Ahhh, the yellow poop stain.  This outfit was subsequently thrown in the trash.
All of this to say that even us experienced moms falter.  We certainly make mistakes, and we definitely don't have all of the answers.  In fact, we still have a lot of questions.

A recent article by OTC Safety highlights some of the most common questions parents ask pediatricians.  And I have to say, even with baby #3, I continue to ask these questions myself:

- In what circumstances should I give my child a pain reliever, and how can I make sure I administer the proper dose?  (Quick answer - Read the package label very carefully, base dosage on weight (not age), and if your child is younger than three months and has a fever of 100.5, consult a doctor).

- Should I give my child a daily multivitamin? (Quick answer - Yes, if your child is a picky eater, a vegetarian, or has allergies - but consult a physician first.)

- How should I treat my child's cut and how do I know if he needs stitches?  (Quick answer - apply direct pressure, clean the wound, and use an antibiotic ointment.  Do NOT use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or Mercurochrome on the wound.  If the cut is deep, have the cut evaluated by a doctor.  And if you end up in the ER, try not to nearly faint like I did.)

- What is the best way to treat diaper rash?  (Quick answer - use an ointment, change diapers frequently, put diapers on loosely, and consider changing diaper brands).

For more detailed answers, you can view the article by clicking here.

I'll add one additional question and answer of my own:

- What should one bring on the plane when flying with an infant?  (Quick answer - diapers, wipes, AND A SPARE SET OF BABY CLOTHES).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Getting to Know my Dad, Pre-me

When we were in Disney World a couple of weeks ago, my oldest son fell in love with the Peter Pan ride.  His favorite part was flying over the city of London in the pirate ship.  Thus began his obsession with London. 

"Is London real?  IT IS???  Where is it?  When can we go?"

I told him that we were probably going to go next year (true), and that I am very familiar with London, as I lived there for two years when I was in my early twenties.  

"You LIVED in London?  When?  Where was I?"

Trying to explain to a child that they did not exist is more difficult than I anticipated.  He seemed unable to comprehend that I had a life before him.  To him, life for everyone started when he joined it.  We all started existing when he started existing.  

I find the whole thing very cute, and I'm not surprised.  Because I feel the same way about my parents.
  
Whenever I see an old picture of my parents - a picture from their childhood, or their wedding day, or even my mom pregnant with me - it's hard to fathom that they had a life before me.  It's hard for me to imagine them in diapers, going to prom, or getting drunk in college.  Who were they then?  It's not something I think about often, but it is a weird feeling when I do.  

"Did you really exist without me?  Before me?"

I liken it to seeing a teacher in a grocery store.  It's just all kind of weird and wrong.  

Most of us never really get to know our parents -pre-us.  We hear stories, and we see pictures, but it's all abstract.  But last year, I got to know my dad a lot better.  The "pre-me" dad, that is.  

When my dad was in his twenties, in the 1960's, he joined the Peace Corps and was sent to rural India.  I have always known this, and in many ways my dad's passion for India was ingrained in my childhood.  I traveled there with him twice - once at the age of 4, and once at the age of 9.  I have heard many a story of his time there - of living in a rural Indian village with no electricity or toilets; of building latrines; of sleeping on a table; of eating spicier food than one could imagine, of learning how to play the sitar, of contracting elephantitis in order to avoid going to Vietnam (true story!), of flying back to America to see Washington, DC on fire in the view from his plane, in the wake of Martin Luther King's assignation - but these stories were always abstract and obscure.   

My dad had always though of writing a memoir of his time there, but he is a busy professor and therapist, and the demands of life and work got in the way.  But a few years ago, he finally did it.  It took him a couple of years, and many edits and rewrites, but he finished it.  When he did, I read it.  And I loved it.

My dad and I have always been very close, but of course, there is a "pre-me" person that was foreign to me.  But this book has helped me get to know that "pre-me" dad, and I have to say, I think he's a pretty cool guy.  The stories he has told me from the time I was a child are now vivid and clear, and he has quite a story to tell.  

I may be biased, but I think his book is amazing.  It's well written, and in fact, a page turner. Anyone who has traveled abroad (or wants to) will relate to it, and its historical context, in the shadows of the Vietnam War and the turbulent 1960s, is fascinating.  All of the profits from the sale of his book will be donated to the non-profit village school in Anavatti, India, where he lived as a Peace Corps volunteer.  

So without further adieu, here's a link to his book (click here) - you can buy it on your kindle, or in hard copy.  I highly recommend it!  



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Boobs and Breastfeeding at Disney World

We just got back from a four day trip to Disney World.  If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you'll know I'm a huge Disney fan.  We've been twice in one year.  Yes, we're those people.

It's fake and it's commercial and it's a complete rip off but I love it.  It holds great memories for me, is super kid friendly (obviously), and I have the whole fast pass, line bypassing thing down to a science.  (Perhaps a topic for another post, I seriously think I should start a business planning Magic Kingdom itineraries for tourists.  Not to toot my own horn, but I'm damn good at it).

Notwithstanding all of this, it pains me to say that I have some issues with Disney World on two fronts.

First, the boobs:

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pollen is (Almost) Upon Us

It's spring.  And it snowed yesterday.  (I'm going to leave it at that, as I have a contract with myself to never blog about the weather.)

But the fact is spring is coming (well, it's technically here).  And that means so are the allergies.  

I'm one of those allergy-free people who thought for a long time the whole allergy thing was a farce. I mean come on, runny nose?  Watery eyes?  It's a cold!  My husband is not one of those allergy-free people, and for years I have made fun of his "fake allergies" (to nuts and pollen and apples that have not been cooked).  

Now my son, Casey, has a severe peanut allergy.  And my other son, Braden has severe seasonal allergies.  

So apparently it's not a farce.  I've seen firsthand that my kids are definitely afflicted.  And I blame my husband completely.  (As an aside, my blame is well founded.  According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, if one parent has allergies (check), or if relatives on one side of the family have allergies (check), then the child has about a 50 percent chance of developing allergies).  

In any event, I am gearing up for April.  As an allergy novice, I had no idea that pollen could wreak such havoc.  Last spring my son walked around for the month of April with eyes that were nearly swollen shut.  And by the way, telling a four year old not to rub their itchy eyes DOES NOT WORK.  It got so bad that we even avoided going outside at times, but then that got way too depressing.  When spring finally does arrive, who wants to stay inside?  (Especially after this winter.  Must. get. out.)

In case any of you have little ones that are afflicted by allergies, here are some things that ultimately worked for us: 

- Change clothes immediately after playing outside
- Bathe after coming in from playing outside (I know this sounds excessive, but that pollen gets everywhere)
- Vacuum daily
- Wash the dog (okay, I didn't do this daily, but I probably should have). 
- Cold wash cloths over the eyes  
- Allergy medication - OTC Safety has a lot of useful information on over the counter medications and how to use them.  (Click here).  

For us, over the counter allergy medication worked wonders (in conjunction with the above).  If you do decide to go the medication route for your child, make sure to always read the label and follow the dosing instructions for children.  Also, note that diphenhydramine (a common ingredient in many allergy medications) should NEVER be used in children, and that allergy medication should never be used for the sole purpose of making a child sleepy.  

The graphic below from OTC Safety has a lot of helpful information regarding seasonal allergies.  With any luck, we'll all have a happy, WARM (snow-free), spring!




Disclosure: I received compensation for this post as part of the CHPA OTC Safety Ambassador Program.  All of the opinions reflected here are my own.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Two Steps Back

When I left my job and started this blog, I was in some ways very lost.  I knew I had made the right decision for my family, but I wondered if I would ever work again.  For money, that is.  I wondered if I was "worth" it anymore - whether anyone would want to pay me again, given that I wasn't willing to devote my life to a career.  Would anyone want to pay a stay at home mom, who wanted to continue to stay at home?  

Slowly but surely, I did find paid work.  And it felt GREAT.  It wasn't even about the money, really. It was about a sense of pride that I was forging my own path, and making things work for me.  The fact is, working at a law firm does tend to make you feel powerless - powerless over your time, your priorities, and your career trajectory.  This new sense of control over my life was refreshing and, for lack of a better word, empowering.  

I stated off tutoring.  Then I lucked into some fairly well paid freelance work for a law firm. Then I joined forces with Montage Legal Group and continued to freelance and head up the group's DC efforts.  Then I started teaching an online legal course at a local university.  At the same time, my blog was becoming somewhat successful.  My readership was increasing, I was making a little (emphasize little) bit of money from it, and I was even getting media opportunities, like appearing on Huffington Post Live.

Things were happening.  And I was feeling more confident than ever.  

Then things got a bit derailed, most specifically, by this: 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Potty Talk

As a mother of three under the age of six, my life is consumed by poop and pee in ways I never knew possible.  On a daily basis, I probably change at least 10 dirty diapers.  I wipe three different butts, at differing points in the day.  I take smelly diaper champ bags out to the garbage.  I clean urine off of the toilet seat and, on some unfortunate occasions, remove urine soiled clothing from a child.  I discuss it, I joke about it, and I obsess over it ("Are you sure you don't have to go to the bathroom before we go out?  ARE YOU SURE????").

I also mentally record it, or at least I try to.  Just last night, I said to my husband, "I don't think Colin has pooped in a few days. Come to think of it, has Casey?"  I then sat and pondered when I last cleaned a poopy butt. There are so many poopy butts, they all blend together.  Then I feel like a bad mom because I cannot recall the last time and date of my childrens' bowel movements.  

Because there's nothing worse than when a child is constipated.  I imagine all of the excess waste stuffed into their little tummies.  I will it to come out.  As they sit grunting on the potty, like a stage mom, I grunt too.  But alas, it's one thing as a mother, I cannot control.  The first of many.  (There's a reason Freud created an entire developmental stage in its honor - the anal stage, in case you were wondering.)

This issue is pretty common in kids.  According to an OTC Safety article, constipation accounts for 3-5% of all pediatrician visits.  I am guilty here - way back when, when I was potty training Braden, and he was withholding poop, I dragged his butt (no pun intended) into the pediatrician's office.  "Make him poop!" I demanded.  

Unsurprisingly, they couldn't do that. 

But, I have learned there are over the counter medicines that can be used, such as: 

1) Stool softeners - The active ingredient is docusate. 
2) Laxatives - There are four (osmotic, lubricant, stimulant, and bulk formers).  
3) Enemas and suppositories.  

(For all of the above, be sure to ask a doctor for advice about treatment in children.)  

Tummy problems aren't restricted to constipation of course.  There's also heartburn, reflux, indigestion, etc. - all of which children can experience.  We have luckily avoided most of these, but in case you or your child are suffering, below are some tips from OTC Safety, (also click on this helpful article here - and be sure to always read the medication labels!).  



Disclosure: I received compensation for this post as part of the CHPA OTC Safety Ambassador Program.  All of the opinions reflected here are my own.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why Can't Law Firms Retain Women?

It's no secret that in large law firms, men fare far better than women.  All one needs to do is review any website of any major law firm (or simply walk the halls) to see that most partners are men.
Still, I was shocked by an article published in the Washington Post last month, entitled "Large law firms are failing women," which conveyed some alarming statistics:

"Women are enrolled in half of law school classes and work alongside men in nearly equal numbers as associates.  And yet, women today are twice as likely as men to leave law firms for reasons like work-life balance.  What's more, in a survey of more than 17,000 law firm associates, women rated their firms' culture, their job satisfaction and their compensation (to name just a few) much lower than their male counterparts did.  This may provide some insight behind the statistic that only 4% of the 200 top U.S. law firms have female, firm-wide managing partners."  

FOUR PERCENT.  

We women go from making up 50% of a law school class, to 4% of managing partners.

There is clearly a problem here.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Redirected

I have a thousand things I want to write about.  Problem is, between illness and travel and various other things (like finishing House of Cards and gallivanting around Manhattan), I have yet to put pen to paper. Too bad you can't read what's in my head.  That would make things much easier.

Instead, I am going to redirect you to another article I found today which is absolutely PHENOMENAL, called "Mommy, Somebody Needs You".  It's one of those blog posts that people share on facebook and you never really click on unless you are waiting on a train or plane or in a carpool line.  None of those applied to me, but I read it anyway, and I ended up with tears streaming down my face by the end of it. It summarizes eloquently the highs and lows of being so "needed" by our children when they are young - how it's overwhelming, exhausting, unrelenting, and amazing all at the same time. Here's a little snippet: 

"One day [my] little boy will be a big man.  There will no longer be any sweet words whispered to me in the wee hours.  Just the whir of the sound machine and the snoring husband.  I will sleep peacefully through the night, never a worry of a sick child or a crying baby.  It will be but a memory.  These years of being needed are exhausting, yet fleeting.  I have to stop dreaming of 'one day' when things will be easier.  Because the truth is, it may get easier, but it will never be better than today.  Today, when I am covered in toddler snot and spit up.  Today, when I savor those chubby little arms around my neck.  Today is perfect.  'One day' I will get pedicures and shower alone.  'One day' I will get myself back.  But, today I give myself away, and I am tired, and dirty and loved SO much . . . ."

Amen.  

To read the full blog post, click here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Faked It

The past week has been hell.  It all began with a phone call from Braden's school last Tuesday afternoon:  Can you please come pick Braden up from school?  He just threw up.

Never mind that I was in the middle of nursing Colin, Casey was in the middle of a nap, and my husband was out of town for the evening.  I did what I had to do.  I picked him up, and over the course of the next few hours, he proceeded to throw up in the car, the bed, the floor, and miraculously, the toilet.

The days following involved a ton of bananas, bleach, laundry, movies, the infection of Casey, and, the icing on the cake, the call on Saturday night from the babysitter informing us that Braden's vomiting had recurred (after four days!).

My husband, who returned home on Wednesday, and I were both exhausted.  I began wishing that I would fall ill with the stomach flu, because that would mean my husband would have to take care of all three kids, and at least I would get a break.  Yesterday, he admitted to me he felt the same. Then it became a game of I want to get sick; No, I want to get sick!  We didn't discuss what would happen if we both got sick at the same time.  But since I birthed him three children and endured 27 months of pregnancy, I would argue that he would have to be the one to step it up. That's only fair.

Last night, both Braden and Casey were vomit-free, and were sleeping soundly in their beds.  I was ready to finally, FINALLY, have a night of peace, when baby Colin started crying an hour or so after I put him down to bed.


 
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