Posted in CG, Uncategorized

Not Anyone’s Princess

Baby CG and I are enjoying an easy Sunday morning, watching Disney’s Aladdin on cable, no doubt the effect of dear Robin William’s death last Monday. Well, I am watching Aladdin, and CG is sleeping in her swing. 

I was ten years old when Disney’s Little Mermaid came out, and oh, how I loved Ariel and her undersea adventures. I learned all of her songs and tried to sound just like her. Aladdin was the first movie I watched in theatre more than once. The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas–it didn’t matter that I was getting older. The magic of the Disney movie didn’t fade for me. I loved the colorful animation and the songs… Never once in my memory do I remember wanting to be a princess. My parents never called me their princess, either. Brat, yes. Princess, no. 

On my first visit to Downtown Disney in 2008, I noticed their little “princess factory” shop, or whatever it is called. A little girl sat in a salon chair near the shop window, waiting as she was transformed into one of the Disney princesses. Her hair was being slicked back into a high bun and sprinkled with glitter. I wondered to myself what that indulgence was costing her parents and thanked the stars that I had a son. I greet numerous princesses at my door every Halloween. It is not difficult to find clothing screen-printed with “princess” across the rear end or the chest. If I wanted, I could have a license plate cover bejeweled and adorned with the word Princess. It seems that everyone wants to be a princess these days.

I cringed when someone commented under one of my daughter’s pictures on Facebook that she was her “daddy’s princess.” I made it clear to my husband before she was born that she would not under any circumstances be referred to as a princess. I let the comment go because my friends don’t know that we don’t have a princess. Yes, she is beautiful. Yes, she is special to us. Yes, she is loved. Adored, even. But she is not our princess. We call her our little lady. We call her our sweetheart. Our sweet, little, cupcake. We never call her a princess. And that’s the thing. She is special… to us. She is our gift. 

I cannot buy-in to this princess concept that seems to have caught such great momentum since I became an adult. Seemingly everyone is a princess now. And what are princesses like in these movies? Ariel disobeys her father–the king–because she is 16 and “not a child.” Typical teenager. Great role model there. Cinderella was abused by her step-mother, so it’s no wonder she was so willing to run away with a man she barely knew. Not such a smart move there, Cinderelly. Sleeping Beauty–another one waiting for a man to save her. Entitled much? 

I know I say now I will not have a princess living in my house. Those will be my famous last words until my daughter wants to be a princess. And of course since I’ve said this, now I have sealed her fate and she will most definitely want her tiara and princess costumes. But I do not want my daughter growing up thinking she will be catered to like a little princess. I don’t want her waiting on a man to rescue her or do anything for her. I want to teach her how to check her oil and change a tire on her car. I want her to be able to identify the different tools in the toolbox and know how to use them. I don’t want her waiting for the gentleman to put his coat down over a puddle so she can cross the street. Hell no. Your pretty little feet are getting muddy and wet, sweetheart! Your shoes are just shoes. Get ’em wet. 

I am sure she will dance on her daddy’s feet. I am sure I will lace her braids with ribbons if she likes that sort of thing. We can have tea parties and paint our toenails with glittery polishes. We can have tea parties and pretend for a little while that we are princesses. But I will not refer to her as my little princess. I will not buy her a tee-shirt, or pencils, or lunch boxes labeling her as such. At the end of the day, she is a little girl like all the others. She is special to me, but not to the world. There will be other little girls who feel they are God’s gift to humanity and deserve a princess’ treatment and entourage, and whose parents support this. My daughter will not learn to have those expectations. At least she won’t learn those expectations from me. 

 

Posted in CG

Two Months

Dear CG,

You are two months old today. You have made these past two months more memorable than you will ever realize. Unexpectedly, you were whisked off to another hospital on the morning we were supposed to be bringing you home. Your daddy and I watched helplessly as the transport team drew blood from your tiny veins and strung you up like a guitar with tubes. This was not the beautiful entrance into the world that we were hoping to give you. You accepted every poke and every prod with very little complaint. I cried more than you did.

Your grandparents, my mother and father, were our saving grace while you were in the NICU. They were the reason we could spend as much time by your bedside as we did. Your brothers were still in school and your grandfather made sure they got there and back when we were with you. Your grandfather made sure the boys were fed so I could make sure I was with you to feed you.

You were such a tiny girl to me, less than 7 lbs. Your little face was covered with tape to hold the oxygen tubes in your nostrils. It would be a couple more weeks before we saw your beautiful cheeks without tape. You always liked having your hands up by your face–we saw that in the many ultrasounds we had before you were born. You would bring your little hands up to your face and hold on to those tubes, threatening to pull them out. Sometimes you did pull them out. I was alright with that, hoping that you would show the staff that you didn’t need them.

You got worse before you got better. Your tiny lungs resisted the seven long days of antibiotics. You required more oxygen assistance than when you first arrived. I cried as I sung to you, holding your little body against mine, desperately trying to nurse you. The nurses needed to know how long you would nurse and I never really knew. You would get so tired. I tried so hard to help you drink, knowing that the threat of a feeding tube loomed if we were unsuccessful. I didn’t want you attached to another tube. It didn’t matter. They said you were too tired to drink properly and they would need to assist you, and the nurse put a tube in your nose through to your stomach.

It wouldn’t be long before you pulled it out. And another nurse came on shift and let me feed you again.

I practically lived at that NICU with you. Cuddling you. Expressing my milk into bottles for you so your daddy could feed you when I went home. Oh, your daddy is so in love with you. He worried about you. He held you and held you, hoping to bring you comfort in his safe arms. Listening to the doctors talk about you twice a day, hoping to convince them to spring you from your little hospital jail.

Almost two weeks passed like this. Your dad and I were there with you more than any other NICU parents that we noticed. Your direct neighbors were micro-preemies who would be in there for months. We remembered how blessed we were to have a full term baby as those babies monitors beeped endlessly and their mothers wept beside the isolettes.

Your first month was filled with lots of tubes and nurses and appointments, and ultimately so much love and compassion. You came home when you were fourteen days old. It was one of the best days of my life besides the days that you and your brother, J, were born.

Your second month, your dad and I decided to be a little… adventurous. We tested out how well you would breathe on your own. The doctor had cautioned us to keep you on oxygen at night, but the doctor didn’t understand how difficult it would be to keep the cannula in your nose when you would keep pulling it out.

The night we let you sleep without it was the best night of sleep you had until that day. Maybe it was time to let your body take control of itself and heal itself. We nervously left the oxygen tube off your face, bringing the oxygen canister with us, just in case you needed it. Soon enough, we were comfortable with letting you breathe on your own. Without oxygen being pumped into your lungs, you spit up less, proving that it wasn’t necessarily reflux making you gag and spit. It was the very thing the doctors were giving you to make you better that was causing you to cough up milk.

Unfortunately, we learned today on your two-month pulmonology follow-up that you still require oxygen at night for apnea. We are heart-broken, but will be more compliant. The oxygen may not heal you, but it will doubtlessly keep you breathing until your little body can do it on its own.

Just before you turned seven weeks old, we took you on your first vacation to Florida. You loved the beach and the gulf water. You got to meet your paternal grandmother who you were named after (you were named after both of your grandmothers, actually), your aunt and uncle and great-grandparents, too. Everyone loved you. Of course they did.

Your father and I decided to tie the knot on that vacation, too. I think you convinced him it was time. It was time to outwardly promise our commitment to one another and become one family instead of a mixed bag of a pseudo-family. I knew when I met your father I wasn’t ever going to let go of him. He is a good man, CG, and I know how lucky I am to have somehow earned his heart. I hope one day you find yourself in love with someone at least as good as he is. Our hope is that we give you a good example of what a healthy relationship looks like. What real love looks like.

Every day I look at your beautiful face and wonder how in the world your dad and I created something so beautiful. You are starting to smile now. I love your smile maybe more than I have ever loved anything else before. You smile with your whole face and it is magic. You love to be held more than anything else. We are trying to get you used to not being held as sadly, I have to return to work in a few weeks. Trust me, baby girl. I would never put you down if I didn’t have to. I wish I didn’t have to go back to work. I was blessed to be able to stay home with your brother J for more than two years. I wish I had the same opportunity, but unfortunately life is much different today. But I love you just as much!

CG, without even trying, you have changed all of our lives in an amazing way. You brought us together. You brought us closer. We all work together for you. You reminded us of the beauty of life. You have given us more to look forward to in the years to come. We all love you so much, sweet girl. I am sorry for the rough start you experienced, and I hope you have nothing but smooth sailing from here on out.

I love you,

Mama

 

Posted in CG, lists

Sh*t People Say When You’ve Had a Baby

Firstly, before I start making a list, let’s talk about double talk. Ever since little CG was born, I’ve noticed it. When people talk to my baby, they repeat everything they say.  For example, and imagine this being said in a higher-than-normal voice register: “You’re a cute baby. Yes. You’re  a cute baby.”Orrrr, “Do you want your mama? You want your mama?” Almost everything that is said to baby, is said in double.

I brought this up to my boyfriend, CG’s father, when I heard him doing it, too.  I think I’ve given him a complex about it because now he speaks to our baby in triplicate or more… I think because he realized ‘shit she’s right’ and he isn’t going to be one of them. To be fair, I catch myself doing it, too.
Why do we do this?

1. She looks just like…

You think? I think people see what they want to see. If she hadn’t not left my sight from the moment of birth, I wouldn’t be completely convinced they handed me the right baby before we left the hospital. She shares features with no one. Boyfriend thinks she may have his family’s ears, but… We had to resort to her ears before we found any similarities. From a distance, she looks like she belongs in my family, but she is most definitely herself. Lucky duck. She’ll have a fighting chance at vanity.

2. Is she a good baby?

Huh?

How do I even measure this? Well, she doesn’t use swear words yet, but give her time, she’s only a few weeks old. I mean, she is a member of this family.
What does this question even mean? And what if I said ‘No she’s a little rascal.’ What do people expect me to say?
Of course she’s a good baby! She is the best baby! Every baby is.

3. Is she sleeping through the night?

Seriously? She was just born. No. Should she be?

4. Did you have her naturally?

People “love” it when I attempt to clarify the meaning of this question by asking, “Do you mean vaginally?” Yeah I went ahead and used the word ‘vagina’ for you. You are welcome. Yep, she came out the same way she went in since you were wondering. No, that’s not too personal, thanks! This question comes from women, so I can only assume they ask it so we can maybe compare birth notes or caesarian scars.

5. What’s it like having a girl?

I’m surprised to have been asked this as much as I have. I’ve had an only boy for 11 years now, and a baby girl for almost 5 weeks. She really isn’t any different than the average baby boy, except when it comes to cleaning the diaper area. Is it weird that I don’t find the different gender a big deal? Should I be more like, “Baby girls these days! It’s all makeup and tea parties!” Also, this question has come from parents of girls… Shouldn’t they know what it’s like having a girl? Or is this just small-talk, because I really don’t like small-talk.

 

I’m sure there will be more baby questions to answer as time goes on. My little one is only 5 weeks old and hasn’t even been visited by everyone yet.

But before I end, I want to bring up one more thing that parents do that I refuse to. Ever notice how some parents answer questions through their babies or small children? An example. Say someone asks me how old my baby is. I would respond “She is 5 weeks this Thursday.” Some other parents would respond in a higher register voice saying, “Say I’ll be 5 weeks this Thursday.”
This annoys the crap out of me. Just answer the question yourself. If I wanted your child to answer, I would have asked him or her… But I didn’t because I can see they’re too young to talk. And even if the kid is old enough to answer but too shy to answer… Just answer the question without telling your child what to say. We can see little Parker isn’t going to tell me himself, but don’t answer me by telling him what to say. I guarantee you aren’t helping your child learn how to converse with others by doing this.

Okay, I’m done ranting and raving!

-fin-

Posted in breastfeeding, CG, J

Heart, Lung, Belly, and Milk

Four weeks ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl I’ll call “CG.” CG isn’t my first baby, but it’s been 11 years since my last baby, so I’m practically starting over. My first baby, “J,” was a sensitive child who had a hard time adjusting to life outside the womb. I spent most of the beginning of his life trying to soothe him, and to a degree, still do. Well, my little CG is starting out life a bit sensitively also, though in a different way.

In the weeks leading up to her birth, I had numerous medical appointments for her to monitor her heart arrhythmia. I was at one hospital or another 3 or more times a week between the heart appointments and my normal weekly maternity visits. Her condition cleared up about three weeks prior to her birth and we thought we were clear.

Then she was born.

And she aspirated meconium.

And her lungs are more sensitive than average so she had a longer than average NICU stay.

So we’re still working through the lungs issue, and I’m still visiting the doctors all the time, and all of these other issues are coming up. She has reflux. Her brain is too immature to tell her lungs to keep breathing all the time. Now they’re telling me her digestive system is too immature to process cow milk protein and soy.

I can’t wait for the day when the medical community will agree that my baby girl is perfect just the way she is and stop making follow-up appointments. It kind of sucks that I have this beautiful baby in my arms and she looks like an angel. She is tiny and new and pink and lovely.

And the doctors keep finding things wrong with her. So depressing.

And on top of all of that, I have been having problems breastfeeding her. The first two weeks in the NICU were a nightmare. I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed her all the time. I got told “she is too tired to nurse.” They put feeding tubes down her throat through her mouth and her nose and fed her that way. They threatened me with formula if I couldn’t nurse her in time when they did let me feed her because they had to keep her on schedule. You can imagine how well that turned out. I spent the first two weeks of her life driving back and forth from the hospital, sitting at her crib side, expressing breast milk, and trying my best to nurse her. I got to the point where when they did offer to let me nurse her, I declined and gave her my bottled breast milk because I didn’t want to tire her out, cause her to aspirate milk through improper nursing, or not get enough milk into her if I couldn’t get a good latch.

We’re four weeks in now. Little CG is home so I don’t have to fight off any well-meaning NICU nurses. I am trying my best to breastfeed her. I also express milk as much as I can to keep my supply up, though it’s probably not enough. I have been experiencing painful latching, so I visited a lactation consultant at the hospital where I gave birth. It’s getting better–the pain goes away a few moments after the initial latch. I’m reading a lot about breastfeeding online and watching videos on YouTube to help me out. I still feel like we’re having difficulty getting a deep latch, but we’re working on it.

Now I have to deal with the allergy, so I’m cutting dairy out of my diet. Talk about a miserable thing to have to cut. When the pediatrician told me to cut dairy I said “Done.” This was no problem. So for a week I cut out anything with milk in it… Or so I thought. A week later, the pediatrician asked me if I knew milk was in bread.
Zoinks!
Why no. No I didn’t.
So now I’m stressing over every label to keep milk out of my breast milk. She told me even trace amounts will affect the baby, so that’s even more stressful. I had no idea milk was in so many foods that I eat.

This idealistic image of parenting this new baby girl as an experienced parent has gone out the window. I’m lucky to just hold it together.