10/28/08

Pregnancy Butt

9 mos.-plusSo last time I was pregnant, my idea of fun was faithfully documenting my growing belly on film. I had my husband take a photo at the same time, same place, and in the same clothes every month. But to my dismay, I soon realized the photos not only showed my burgeoning bump, but another part of me that was growing larger by the week as well—my butt. That was my ugly introduction to the dreaded Pregnancy Butt.

Now listen: Pregnancy Butt has nothing to do with a woman’s original size, shape, or weight. It doesn’t discriminate; it happens to EVERYONE.

I can say this with conviction because I witnessed this phenomenon occur even in one of the tiniest, fittest people I know, one of my fitness instructors. When you’re in class day after day, week after week, with nothing to look at but the instructor in front of you, you notice things. It’s not that I was TRYING to stare at her butt, mind you, it was just right there in front of me! And sure enough, even her tiny, perfect, muscled rear-end began to get a little “fuller” each week as her pregnancy progressed.

I’m not ashamed to admit that this gave me a certain satisfaction. It wasn’t that my junk in the trunk was a result of being lazy and indulging my doughnut cravings for 9 mos.; it was BIOLOGY. In a way, it’s simple physics: your butt HAS to get bigger in order to balance out all that weight in front. Right?

http://flickr.com/photos/seraphic/2468594514/So, anyway, now that I knew what to expect, I thought I wouldn’t care this time around. But Pregnancy Butt snuck up on me again. I was running around the mall one Saturday in my yoga pants, either coming from the gym or intending to go at some point between then and the following weekend, when I caught sight of my reflection in a store window. Oh my GOD! Was that MY butt? It was more puffed up than a baby’s in a diaper and tight pajamas! (Now THAT’S a cute look.)

I quickly tied my sweatshirt around my waist and vowed never to wear stretch pants in public again. I guess there’s a reason why most maternity tops are long enough to cover your rear.

But once again, I thought I’d made peace with the situation—mostly by sticking to one pair of flattering Motherhood Maternity jeans that I wear almost 24/7—until … I unsuspectingly walked past a Spinning class at the gym. I was feeling pretty good about myself for putting in 15 min. on the treadmill and 20 min. on the weights. So what if I was about to undo my efforts with a pumpkin spice latte and a muffin? At least I was making an effort, right?

And then I walked by this class, at the part where everyone stands up on their bikes, and spotted this woman with an inhumanly firm ass. I mean this thing looked like it was sculpted out of steel, people. It was shimmering in shiny black Spandex bike shorts, taunting me. It was a firm honeydew to my bowl of cottage cheese. It was a marble sculpture to my bag of wet cement. You get the picture.

Of course, Miss Buns of Steel wasn’t pregnant. I am. I must push past my unrealistic expectations and accept my burgeoning backside. But you won’t catch me capturing it on film this time. I don’t need to document this posterior for posterity!

RECIPE O’ THE WEEK: They won’t make your butt smaller, but these Pumpkin Butterscotch Muffins were a big hit at the school bake sale.

*ALERT* HALLOWEEN CANDY RECALLED: Sherwood brand Pirate’s Gold Milk Chocolate coins are being recalled due to the fact that they contain Melamine, the ingredient in milk product that has caused many infant (and dog) deaths in China. These candies are sold at Costco, as well as many bulk and dollar stores.

10/24/08

Just the Socks

I’m a little sad about the socks. They are miniature white cotton ones, with pale-green scalloped trim and a tiny pink flamingo on each ankle. I bought them last year at a fancy kids’ boutique when I was shopping for a gift. I’m not unusually one to buy things for a future, unborn baby, but these socks were so cute I couldn’t help it. I suppose they’re proof that part of me was hoping I might one day have a baby girl. But no. I know now that I won’t.

We found out recently that Baby #2 is another little boy, and two kids are it for us. We’re done after this one. I have to say, going into the sonogram I didn’t have a strong desire one way or the other. At least I didn’t think I did. If anything, I thought I wanted what I already had, the only thing I knew—an adorable, energetic, perfect baby boy. What would I do with a girl? I don’t even like pink.

Other people, however, made their desires known. “Oh, I hope you have a girl,” said one of our sitters. “I’m going to pray that this baby’s a girl.” Even my mom, who usually withholds her opinion unless asked, expressed a wish for us to have a daughter. Of course, that’s what she had, a boy and a girl. In fact, that seems to be the image for the perfect family in our society—mom, dad, son, daughter. One of my friends, a mom of two boys, got so sick of having people say, “Are you trying for a girl?” and when she became pregnant again, “Maybe this time you’ll get your girl!” As if another boy would be second-rate, ho-hum, a letdown.

Part of me just assumed we would have a girl this time. Almost everyone I know with two kids has a boy and a girl. You have a 50/50 chance, why wouldn’t it be a girl this time? Plus, my pregnancy has been different this time around. More morning sickness, fewer cravings for salty and sour foods. If I had to guess, I would’ve guessed girl.

We weren’t even sure we wanted to find out. We didn’t last time; we didn’t care. But when Miles started going around telling people he was getting “a new baby brother,” we thought we’d better manage his expectations. Plus, I wanted to know for all those boring practical reasons – would we need new crib bedding and clothing? Should we save Miles’ outgrown stuff or give it away? Should we repaint the nursery?

So it was kind of a shock to me when the lab technician said, “There’s your boy,” pointing to what she claimed was the undeniable proof. (It looked like a blurry little nub, if you ask me.) For a few moments—OK a few days—I actually felt a little disappointed. And then I got over it.

My husband, one of 5 kids, grew up with a younger brother close in age. It was great, he said, like having a built-in best friend. Most of my girlfriends who have sisters are closer to their siblings than those who have brothers. And my friends who do have two boys rave about them. They play together, look out for one another, and you can put the younger one in all those cute clothes the older one outgrew so fast!

Yes, I may be the odd girl out in our house, but I was never really a girly-girl anyway. I’m kind of relieved to avoid the whole princess obsession and the house full of pink sparkly stuff, to be honest. As my SIL pointed out, it may be somewhat easier to find cute girls’ clothes, but you still have to wade through all the inappropriate, mini Jon-Benet Ramsey outfits to find them. And trust C. to look on the bright side: “At least we won’t have to pay for a wedding!”

I’m hoping this next little boy shares all of his older brother’s best features, with maybe a tad less, uh, energy and speed. Maybe he’ll like to sit quietly and read, or listen to music and do craft projects. Whatever he’s like, he’s sure to have his own, distinct personality. I can’t wait to get to know him.

In the meantime, those socks will make a good gift for the next newborn girl. Or maybe I’ll just hang onto them a little longer.

QUOTE O’ THE WEEK: My friend S., a busy mom of 3, said something the other day that made me laugh: “I’m grasping for the energy to give a crap.”

10/21/08

Here Comes the Potty Trainer

The way I see it, potty training is a lot like wedding planning. You’re utterly consumed with it for awhile, and then you want nothing to do with it ever again. Plus, both situations are rife with judgment. (Wedding: “I can’t BELIEVE she’s doing a bouquet toss!” and “What is UP with that chapel-length veil?!” Potty training: “I can’t BELIEVE she bribes her kid with candy!” and “What is UP with that 3 ½-year-old still wearing Pull-Ups?!”)

Plus, there’s a ton of misinformation. I was told by someone to buy two wedding dresses in case something happened to one at the last minute. Yeah, right. And the potty training books/DVDs claim that sticker charts work. Yeah, right. Look, to each her own, but my kid could care less about stickers. Same with big-boy undies or a fancy new potty. They sparked mild curiosity, but they were hardly the catalyst for overnight success.

What DID work? Candy. I’m not proud of it, and all the books tell you to never, ever, under any circumstances use food as a reward. But the only thing that compelled Miles to sit his little butt down on the potty was the promise of a “special treat,” aka, candy. So he’s been going faithfully every night before bedtime for a couple months and being rewarded with a lollipop or a couple pieces of candy corn. I suspect the Childhood Obesity Police are hunting me down as we speak. And that the Eating Disorders Emergency Squad and American Society of Dentists are hot on their heels. I give up; you caught me.

At any other time except bedtime, however, Miles could care less about the potty or the treat. “Do you need to go to the potty, sweetie?” “No.” “Do you want to just try?” “No.” Don’t make it a power struggle, all the books caution, leave it up to your child. Listen: if I left everything up to my toddler, he’d still be using a bottle and pacifier and wearing pajamas and Crocs everywhere we go. He needs a little push or he’s going to be wearing Pull-Ups till he’s 12. (This random thought occurred to me yesterday: Anna Nicole Smith managed to potty train her son. Anna Nicole Smith, people!!)

So the consensus among my friends seems to be, once the kid’s going regularly, just do it. Just switch them to underwear and never look back. Let’s examine this philosophy. First, what exactly constitutes “regularly”? Once a day? Once an hour? And once they’re in underwear, what then? Do you, like one of my friends, not leave the house for 2 weeks straight until they really “get it”? Do you, like another mom I know, confine the child only to areas of your house with hardwood floors? Do you cover every upholstered or carpeted surface with plastic wrap? Run after your child with a bucket? The most the books will say is, “Expect some accidents.” Helpful.

And, oh, the stories you will hear. I met one mom at a cocktail party who said her daughter was trained in a day. I wanted to punch her. Another dad said he thought things were all good until one morning his daughter said, “Couch wet,” and it was. I’ve heard stories about feces-covered cribs, kids dropping trou in the middle of a picnic, accidents in Target, accidents at school, accidents in the car. It’s terrifying, people.

And if your child’s in daycare or school or does anything that involves leaving the house, it’s not just your own family and furniture you’re inflicting them on. My sitter visibly flinched and asked warily, “No more diapers?” when I told her Miles was making progress on the potty. But, no, I’m still firmly embracing the diapers for now. I keep waiting for a better time to go full-steam ahead, like after our in-laws visit, during a school holiday, or when we move to a nudist colony in the woods.

All I know is, if Anna Nicole Smith could do it, so can I. And as soon as this stage is over, I will forget about signs of readiness, sticker charts, and character undies as fast as I forgot about personalized napkins, petticoats, and cake fillings. At least until the next toddler comes along. Sigh…

KID ART O’ THE WEEK: It’s a birthday cake, can’t you tell? Although using Play-Doh and dried pasta for a “pretend” food item is asking a little much. Miles promptly took a bite out of his.

10/16/08

Anniversary Antics

Last weekend, my husband and I celebrated 5 years of marriage. And by “celebrated,” I mean we actually arranged childcare, dressed up, and left the house — at night! (More on that later.) I tell you, 5 years ago on that beautiful October day in Rhode Island, I could never have imagined the life we have today.

The day of my wedding, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. full of nervous excitement. Little did I know that 3 years later, I would become intimately familiar with that hour of day. I eagerly slipped into my gorgeous wedding dress, which I’d spent countless hours shopping for. I couldn’t conceive of a day when I might dress in shrunken, stained T-shirts, yet spend countless hours shopping for tiny seersucker blazer for my son to wear on Easter. I was obsessed with every detail of my wedding — the flowers on the ends of the church pews, the handmade programs and favors, the music, the photos. Fast-forward to today, when I have a single wedding photo on display, but about 50 zillion snapshots of a certain brown-eyed baby boy around the house.

Yep, times change. Now, a night out involves intricate planning. Which is probably why we decided to bag it this year. Who needs a fancy anniversary celebration, right? Well, I do. Otherwise it’s just another day. So I was thrilled when my husband announced that he’d planned a surprise getaway for us. We’d drive to Washington, D.C., drop off Miles at my brother and SIL’s house, then go out to dinner and spend the night at a nice hotel. Woo hoo!

I couldn’t believe my brother and his wife had agreed to take on another busy toddler in addition to their own. But as they say, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth! To make things as easy as possible on them, I packed up Miles’ clothes, PJs, books, stuffed animals, blankets, Pack & Play and potty seat, and wrote down his nightly routine. But I was plagued with doubt. Would he stay in the Pack & Play or jump out like he’d done the last time? Would he use the potty at someone else’s house, or did we risk derailing our progress so far? Would he keep my niece awake all night? Maybe it wasn’t worth the hassle.

Exasperated, C. huffed, “You’re making it more complicated than it needs to be! Let’s just GO. He’ll be fine.” And he was.

OK, so he didn’t go to bed until 9 p.m., after a drawn-out bedtime routine during which he roped my SIL into reading him book after book, claimed he needed to use the potty at the last minute, took his sweet ol’ time savoring his post-potty lollipop, insisted he needed a nightlight, and kept asking, “Where’s my family?” At the restaurant, we texted back and forth for updates. “Haven’t heard a peep in 15 min,” wrote my brother. Whew!

But what if he woke up at some ungodly hour, like 5:30 a.m.? Milk and PBS should buy you another hour or two, I assured them. Shockingly, Miles slept until 7:20 a.m. The kids got along great, the parents handled the two of them just fine, and everybody looked fairly happy and well-rested when we joined them the next morning.

As for C. and I, we enjoyed a fabulous, leisurely meal and clean, high-thread count sheets on a bed we didn’t have to make in the morning, as well as the rare experience of having entire conversations that weren’t interrupted to shout, “Two hands! Use two hands to drink your milk, please” and “Leave the dog alone!”

Maybe it’s a far cry from champagne and chocolates, but you know what? We appreciate life’s smaller luxuries now. And as fun as our wedding was, I doubt even one person noticed those damn pew bows! I’m happy to spend my time doing more important things, like hunting down Miles’ lost Lightning McQueen car.

LINK O’ THE WEEK: Why, Denis Leary, why? Why’d you have to go there? I mean, autism? Really? Now Jenny McCarthy’s going to kick your ass.

10/10/08

Baby Belly Bingo

I never thought it would happen to me, but it has: I have come down with a mild case of blogger’s block. Gasp! I have nothing profound or witty or even really mildly amusing to discuss. Except for an anecdote about Miles and his unborn baby sibling. This subject has become a bit of a comedy routine:

Me: Ouch! Miles, please be careful with your elbows. There’s a baby in Mommy’s belly.

Miles: No, I have a baby in MY belly.

Me: Really? Well, THIS baby is going to be your baby brother or sister.

Miles: Can I see it?

Me: Um, not yet. It’s still growing in there.

Miles: Then can I hold it?

Frankly, I would have put off the whole discussion until I had an actual newborn to present as evidence. But we knew the day had come to address it when we came home from a night out and asked the sitter how things went. “Fine. Miles told me he’s getting a new baby brother,” she said. Oh. This was news to us and to her. Guess our secret was out!

Sticking with the pregnancy theme, let’s move on to maternity fashions, shall we? Last time around, I was still squeezing myself into my regular clothes at this point. This time? No chance. Even with the purchase of the highly touted Bella Band, this stretchy piece of fabric you wear over the top of your unbuttoned pants to create a smooth line and keep your pants up. Except it does nothing for your thighs or butt, straining at the seams below that. Not pretty. And last time I mocked the Popper Stopper, but now that my belly button has already popped out again, it’s looking like a good idea.

I have this friend, S., who throughout 3 pregnancies managed to look sexy and voluptuous rather than fat and frumpy. Maybe this time I should borrow a page from her body-hugging maternity wear philosophy instead of masking my girth in enormous sweatshirts. So today I tried on a form-fitting mid-thigh length sweater dress over jeans, like I’ve seen on some of the celebrities. Only I looked like a giant cable-knit Teletubby. And the maxidress trend? Why would I want to hang yards of fabric from my outermost point (the belly), where it will drape down to my ankles, obscuring my perfectly OK-looking legs? Maybe Gwen and Angelina can pull it off, but not this lady.

Thank goodness for A-line and empire waist tops, flattering to prego and non-prego women alike. Those should get me through the next month or so, until they get too short and drafty, you know what I mean? As for the pants, I caved in to the elastic waist weeks ago. The Bella Band can only do so much.

Personally, I am looking forward to seeing how they camouflage Rebecca Romijn’s pregnancy (with TWINS!) on “Ugly Betty.” Since she’s supposed to be a transvestite, they can’t exactly easily work it into the script. This leads me to the …

LINK O’ THE WEEK: Jerry O’Connell Apologizes for Calling Wife Rebecca Romijn ‘Huge’

READ O’ THE WEEK: Thanks to fellow writer mom Kelli, for letting me know there’s a new David book out. Hooray! We’ll have to get our hands on this one. Kids adore these books and the used bookstore near us can’t keep them on the shelves.

10/3/08

“Just a Mom”

I read this interview with Sally Field recently where she talks about meeting women who say apologetically, “Oh, I’m just a mom.” When in fact, her Oscars and Emmys notwithstanding, Sally feels that being a mom is actually THE most important job in the world. Most of the time, I would agree. However, a couple things happened recently that shook my confidence.

First, I had an assignment to interview some doctors at one of the world’s top medical institutions. This one woman is working on a cure for a blinding eye disease that affects millions of people in Africa and worldwide. Several times a year she travels to remote villages and treats women and children who have to walk 4 hours to the medical clinic and don’t even have enough clean water to wash their faces daily. Damn. And I was feeling proud of organizing the toy box in the family room?!

And lest you think (as I wanted to), “Well, she probably doesn’t have a family of her own,” yes, she does. In fact, her daughter and her husband are working on AIDS and malaria research alongside her in Africa.

During the interview, I actually began to panic a little. What if I never get to go to Africa? What if I never have anything close to the amazing experiences this woman was describing? What if my biggest accomplishment is making homemade Play-Doh for my son’s preschool class? I have a friend who joined the Peace Corps after college—wisely, BEFORE she married and had kids. It’s too late for me!! I almost have 2 kids!

It had been a monumental feat just to arrange childcare, get dressed, prepare for the interviews, and drive downtown to conduct them in person. By the end of the day, I was exhausted from being “on” all day and trying to process loads of complex medical information. I wouldn’t last a day in Africa! Who am I kidding?

But maybe when the kids are grown. I mean, I might still have a chance to go to Africa someday, right? What I will never again be able to do, however, is go strawberry picking and hiking and sailing with my fiancé with carefree, child-free abandon. What? Did I lose you?


Let me explain: We got a save-the-date for a friend’s wedding the other day. It’s out of state and a month after I’m due to give birth, so the odds of me attending are slim. Yet I was still intrigued enough to check out the wedding web site. And there, people, is where I saw them: dozens of snapshots of the happy couple in full-on outdoorsy, in-love mode, hiking in the mountains, sailing, running marathons, going to baseball games and, yes, even picking strawberries. You know the last time my husband and I spent a romantic date picking strawberries? Let me see, that would be … NEVER.

This web site depressed me. Didn’t these people ever just sit around in their sweats watching TV? (Which is, in fact, what C. and I were doing at that very moment.) Did they ever argue about where to spend the holidays or whose turn it was to brush the dog? Did they ever get bored or irritated with each other? It sure didn’t look like it.

Well, duh, you’re saying. It’s their wedding web site. I know, I know, but it’s what it REPRESENTS. I am genuinely afraid that C. and I will never again experience such carefree enjoyment of life. Those photos were a rude reminder that we have missed our opportunity to live it up before we have kids. We will probably never again go to a baseball game together because it would involve hiring a sitter for 4+ hours and I don’t even like the sport that much anyway. I will probably never train for a triathlon (J.Lo be damned!) And I seriously doubt my husband and I would ever spend a rare afternoon away from Miles picking strawberries. (If our lovebird friends had had a toddler with them, I bet they wouldn’t be looking so relaxed and happy — and I GUARANTEE their clothes would not be so clean.)

Then I looked up from the computer and realized that for the first time all week the 2 guys I love most in the world, my husband and my son, were both in the same room with me. We were just hanging out, relaxing, laughing at Miles’ attempts to show off by dancing to The Gorillaz on top of the ottoman. And I realized, hey, it may not be Africa or a field of strawberries, but my life as “just a mom” is nothing to sneeze at.

READ O’ THE WEEK: This is Miles’ new favorite book: “I Love You, Stinky Face,” by Lisa McCourt and Cyd Moore. He seriously made me read it 6 times the day I gave it to him. I bought it at Daedalus Books, this bookstore in town that sells overstock books at huge discounts. I couldn’t find this book on their web site, though they do have lots of others.

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