Archive for May, 2010
Although I haven’t had morning sickness during this pregnancy — except once, and I think that may have been more of a virus — I still haven’t had the energy to do much, and I have been bored. The kids have been bored as well, and I am getting tired of my standard answer, which I stole from Wii: “It’s not my job to entertain you.”
I decided to take the kids to visit my online friend Heather, who has a 7yo boy, an almost 6yo boy, 4yo identical twin girls, and almost-2yo identical twin boys. And no husband — he’s deployed for the next six months.
My friend Nice-Nice — welcome Nice-Nice to the Ingredient List! She’s awesome and wonderful and just moved very close to me! — helped me cook a bunch of meals to bring to Heather’s, because I felt like bringing four kids plus a tired, pregnant me wasn’t going to be very helpful. So, like the former Jew I am, I brought food. Because food = love. (But be careful you don’t get too much love, or you may end up needing weight loss surgery like I did.)
Heather’s life really blew me away — it reminded me of how glad I am that Animal and Mineral are a little older now. They’re still twins, still mischievous, but they’re kind of over the whole let’s-use-our-joint-power-for-evil-rather-than-good. That lasts until about age three, in my experience. When I told her that, she said, “Oh, wow, that’s so soon!” Um, her youngest boys aren’t even two yet!
The kids played together really beautifully, and Heather and I bonded. (Yes, we’d never met before in real life.) She’s had c-diff bacteria, so she understood my bathroom issues better than most. That is always a concern for me when I travel. I need a toilet — and travel companions who get what I may do to it. Of course, she’s also crunchy like granola — her kids have NEVER been in disposables, all six of them — and she homeschools, homebirths, extended breastfeeds, cosleeps, and generally practices attachment parenting. She even gave Num-Nums to My Masterpiece, who was completely shocked when milk came out. I’m dry, but she still likes to suck.
I had a great time, the kids had a great time, Heather had a great time — I gave her an opportunity to get some errands done, as well as a chance to have a pedicure — and I plan to go back sometime in July, after we get back from the beach.
Y’all, I am freaked out.
For about a month, I’ve known that I’m pregnant and due in December, and I just cannot freaking believe it. I am still in shock, and I’m still not at the point of happiness.
It’s not about the baby, himself or herself. I’m sure he or she is lovely — I’ll find out in six months or so.
I’m just freaked out about having FIVE kids. Five.
The truth is, I’m overwhelmed by four. I don’t think I’m very good at this; I yell more than I should, I don’t give any of them enough individual attention, I’m short with them, I spend too much time online, they’re growing up in SQUALLOR. This parenting gig is hard — I totally GET why people only have one or two. (Well, as an only child, I would have preferred a sibling, but I get it from the parent’s point of view.)
Basically, I feel like with each kid I have, I have become less effective as a parent. I certainly become less “gentle” as a mother, which is what I strive for in my parenting. (Although I give myself some credit for breastfeeding my fourth child for a year; for cloth diapering #3 and #4 and this one will be in cloth; for switching to organic; for being a better nighttime parent as I’ve gone along. I’ve gotten better at some things. But I’m still not even close to hitting the target on many many things that pain me as a mother.)
Yes, this is mommy guilt talking, as well as tiredness and of course the old standby: pregnancy hormones. And I think that in real life, it sounds like its about the baby — but it’s really not. It’s about me, of course (isn’t everything?)
I visited my friend Heather this week for a few days. She blogs at It’s Twinsanity. She has two older boys, and then two sets of identical twins. Her husband is deployed. For those counting, we had, between us, a total of ten kids ages seven and under — seven kids ages five and under! Anyway, she totally LOVES her life with her crazy amount of children — and actually wants more! I felt bad because I found it very overwhelming — and I find my own life overwhelming — and I can’t bring myself to enjoy something when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Is that normal? Maybe I need to just act and not think — which is what I saw Heather doing. She just did the 3252532532 things that needed doing every single day without taking the time to think, “wow, I am really feeling overwhelmed at this moment.”
I need to do SOMETHING about these feelings I’m having — they’re causing a kind of psychological inertia about both my current life and my future life with five kids. I’m distracted. I’m filled with a lot of thoughts and feelings.
Dear Dr. Gagner,
It’s me again, the girl who had OBAMA written on her arm in permanent black marker on the day you performed my surgery. In my defense, it was election day, and I was a proud absentee voter. I’m sure you remember how the anesthesiologists whined about my arm being “unsterile” (their word) and threatened to leave me awake while you rearranged my intestines. In fact, that’s probably why my recovery was so freaking painful that I had to all but pay the nurses to score me some dope on a street corner since mor*phine is clearly a total waste of time. Why not just some tylen*ol? UGH.
Anyway, Gagner, I just found out I’m pregnant. I’m 11 weeks. This will be #5 for me and I’m planning a homebirth.
I assume that as a non-American doctor, you are enlightened enough to realize that homebirth is just as safe as hospital birth for low-risk pregnancies. I realize I’m not quite low-risk, but my labs look good and I’m continuing my supplements and eating every ounce of protein that isn’t physically nailed to the ground. I’m even back to drinking those absolutely disgusting protein shakes. SHUDDER.
I’m seeing an OB along with a homebirth midwife, and having growth ultrasounds done every eight weeks to make sure Tax Deduction (due in December) is growing properly despite my malabsorption. If he or she is a little smaller than the four older ones — or at least has a slightly smaller head — I won’t complain. Honest.
Any other suggestions? – Skinny pregnant Mommy Soup
Dear My Chemical Romance,
I love you. Clearly even after four kids we can still find time for each other, since I’m pregnant and all. I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but I think sometime between January and when I took the kids to Disney World and ended up needing ass surgery, and you had to come rescue the kids and me and drive us home and I took too many painkillers and threw up in a paper bag in the car and the bag tore open and the dog licked up all the vomit and you and the kids gagged and insisted we drive with the windows down despite the fact that it was 45 degrees outside. I’m feeling much better now — and I still love you!
I’m very sorry that the health department wants to shut down our kitchen because it’s “toxic levels of nast.” I’m also sorry that you had to go commando to work twice this week because the laundry isn’t done. (Next time try borrowing a pair of my underwear!) Thank you for coming home from work early because I was having afternoon sickness — and bringing Kris*py Kre*me! Thank you for yelling at the kids when I was too tired to do so and could only wave my arm weakly at them while narrowing my eyes and trying to give THE LOOK.
I hope that in a few weeks, when I’m in my second trimester, I will have some energy back. Until then, I will buy you more boxers this weekend.
xoxox Mommy Soup
Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have waxed poetic about how their parenting has inspired others, or how others have inspired them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
It’s not often I feel like an expert. In fact, despite the fact that I have a bachelor’s degree from a relatively prestigious university, I’ve read Sartre in his native language, and I can juggle bowling pins – most of the time I feel like a moron.
If not a moron, at least someone who only does things correctly after bumbling my way through the first nineteen attempts — while most people figure it out instantly.
I try. I talk to the experts. I consult books and use Google – I have been known to watch a YouTube video on the proper way to crack an egg. During college, I learned to chug beer after reading an article in Mens Health magazine on how to practice using full glasses of water. It was a very helpful skill for attending fraternity parties.
So, when I sat down for dinner with my step-sister’s half sister (got that?) also known as “The Girl From Outer Space,” by The Informant (because she works for NASA), and she looked to me for parenting advice, I nearly fell off my chair. I would have fallen off my chair, except that I had My Masterpiece in the ergo and I was too bottom-heavy to move.
The Girl From Outer Space is pregnant with her first child. She is considering homebirth, and plans to follow attachment parenting. She’d heard from her half-sister that I was “crunchy” – I cloth-diaper, I’ve homebirthed, I unschool my mostly-unvaccinated children, I can quote “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen,” and I’m a birth doula and student midwife – and wanted some advice.
Advice! From me! Someone wanted advice from me! The eighth wonder of the world had appeared – at a soul food restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina, no less.
I prefaced my parenting advice with the usual: “I’m not an expert.” I said this just in case she missed the fact that Animal and Mineral were running circles around the inner perimeter of the restaurant, The Informant had just used permanent marker to tag her menu, and I was leaning over the table, half standing up, because My Masterpiece shrieked every time I sat down with her in the Ergo. The mom of those children you hate sitting near in a restaurant wanted to make sure you know she’s not a parenting expert.
However, once you’ve got four kids, you’ve seen almost everything. The gross, the grosser, the grossest: I’ve been there, done that, and paid the bill to have it removed and/or cleaned.
I once purchased a car because while test-driving it, I experienced a bout of morning sickness and threw up all over the car’s interior. And the salesman.
More importantly, I’ve parented badly before I parented better. I’ve done things in the name of parenting that didn’t traumatize my kids – but in retrospect, traumatized me.
So, I wanted to help The Girl From Outer Space avoid my mistakes and get a good start to this whole “parenting” thing, a job that goes 24/7 for at least 18 years. (And honestly, my oldest kids are only seven, but I can’t see that it just ends at 18.)
I can sum it up with one word, I told her: kindness. Parent with kindness and you’ll never go wrong.
Kindness is different in every situation, so I can say more easily what it isn’t: Kindness is not blind permissiveness. Kindness is not letting the inmates run the asylum.
Kindness is giving them the benefit of the doubt, believing in them, and supporting them.
In a newborn, I think its kind to respond to baby’s needs. Even if it’s 3am and I’m exhausted and my nipples are sore and why doesn’t my baby sleep through the night yet when every other baby on planet earth sleeps through the night already what am I doing wrong here? – the kind thing to do is comfort my baby. Probably by breastfeeding. For the hundredth time that day. While internally assuming that I’m going to be breastfeeding on demand for the next nineteen thousand years and I’ll never catch up on sleep.
Kindness is giving my five year old the tools to make good decisions. This means that I don’t solve every problem for her. Sometimes I let her struggle for a while, because I believe she can do it. And even if she can’t, I still don’t want to fix it for her; I want to help her figure out how she can fix it.
It sounds clear as mud, right? Actually, it probably sounds really rosy and picture-perfect, like I’m depositing flowers and pearls and puppies alongside my well-behaved children who accept these gifts with grace. It’s not usually like that. (Reality: it’s nothing like that.)
The reality is, it’s more like fertilizing your backyard in the hopes that it will grow into beautiful grass – the kind on which you want to walk barefoot (avoiding deposits of dog poop) and have a picnic using a red checkered tablecloth and a charming little wooden basket.
Sometimes the grass doesn’t react well to the fertilizer. Especially if all you’ve been doing for years is simply watering and hoping for the best; the grass seems to sneer, “Yeah, right. I’m not changing,” while you cross your fingers and hope for the best. The grass may even get yellow and stringy and start to look pissed off. You keep fertilizing. Well-meaning friends and family shake their heads; they don’t fertilize their grass and it’s just fine thank you very much. But you believe in the fertilizer and hope that in the end, you’ll have a really nice backyard.
That’s parenting with kindness.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Woman Seeking Inspiration — Seeking Mother’s struggles and joys to find her own path in motherhood have inspired others — to her surprise! (@seekingmother )
- Paving the Way — Jessica at This is Worthwhile makes a conscious effort every day to be a role model. (@tisworthwhile )
- No Rules Without Reason — The Recovering Procrastinator wants to inspire her husband to discipline their children gently. (@jenwestpfahl)
- Creating a Culture of Positive Parenting Role Models — Michelle at The Parent Vortex shows parents at the playground how to do a front wrap cross carry and tells nurses about her successful home births, as a way of modeling natural parenting in public. (@TheParentVortex)
- Making A Difference for Mamas — Shana at Tales of Minor Interest took an embarrassing pumping incident at work and turned it into an opportunity for all the employees who breastfeed.
- Inspiring Snowflakes — Joni Rae at Tales of Kitchen Witch Momma is a role model for the most important people: her children. (@kitchenwitch)
- Paying it Forward — Amber at Strocel.com inspires new (and often scared) mamas with these simple words: “It will be OK.” (@AmberStrocel)
- A SAHD’s View on Parenting Role Models — Chris at Stay At Home Dad in Lansing doesn’t have many role models as a SAHD — but hopes to be one to his daughter. (@tessasdad)
- Am I a Role Model? A Review — Deb at Science@home brings attachment parenting out of the baby age and shows how it applies (with science fun!) to parenting through all of childhood. (@ScienceMum)
- Say Something Good — Arwyn at Raising My Boychick reminds women that it is within our right to be proud of ourselves without apology. (@RaisingBoychick)
- Try, Try Again — Thomasin at Propson Palingenesis wants to inspire like the Little Engine that Could.
- I’m a Parenting Inspiration, Who Knew? — Sarah at OneStarryNight has received several beautiful comments about just what an inspiration she has been, if not in real life then definitely online. (@starrymom)
- That Little Thing — NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing demonstrates the ripple effect, one status update at a time. (@BlkWmnDoBF)
- How Has Your Day Been? — mrs green @ littlegreenblog inspired her friend to be an active listener for her children. (@myzerowaste)
- No, Thank You! — If you are reading Maman A Droit’s post, you’ve probably inspired her. (@MamanADroit)
- My Top 3 Natural Parenting Principles — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now describes how her family’s natural and Montessori principles inspired others. (@DebChitwood)
- My Hope for a Better Life — Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children hopes her choices inspire her children toward a better life.
- Natural Parenting Felt Natural — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes didn’t plan on natural parenting — but her son led her there. (@sheryljesin)
- Rest. Is it even possible? — Janet at where birth and feminism intersect has found that even role models need rest — and that there are ways to fit it into everyday parenting life. (@feministbirther)
- May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model — Lauren at Hobo Mama was the fortunate recipient of a seed of inspiration, and has been privileged to plant some of those seeds herself, though she didn’t know it at the time. (@Hobo_Mama)
- crunchspiration — the grumbles at grumbles and grunts wants to inspire others to parent from their heart. (@thegrumbles)
- No Extra Inspiration Required — Zoey at Good Goog doesn’t think she inspires anyone and wasn’t inspired by anyone in return — except by her daughter. (@zoeyspeak)
- Upstream Parenting — Luschka at Diary of a First Child blogs for that one mother in one hundred who will find her words helpful. (@diaryfirstchild)
- Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup)
- Natural Parenting Carnival — Role Model — Sarah at Consider Eden feels the pressure at trying — and failing — to live up to her role models. (@ConsiderEden)
- May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role Model — Dionna at Code Name: Mama encourages natural parenting mamas to take joy in the fact that they are touching lives and making a difference to children every day. (@CodeNameMama)
- Inspiration Goes Both Ways — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! is flustered that people consider her a breastfeeding role model — but the lovely comments she’s received prove it’s so. (@bfmom)
- My Seven — Danielle at born.in.japan has identified seven role models in her life who brought her to natural parenting. Who are your seven? (@borninjp)
- A Quiet Example — Alison at BluebirdMama was one of the first parents in her group of friends — and has come to see almost all those friends follow in her natural birthing footsteps, whether intentionally or not.
- Gentle Discipline Warrior — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries has inspired a gentle discipline movement — join her! (@babydust)
- Change The World… One Parent At A Time — Mamapoekie is more comfortable inspiring parents online than she is in real life. (@mamapoekie)
- Inspirational Parenting — pchanner at A Mom’s Fresh Start has intentionally tried to be a role model but was unprepared for how soon someone would take notice. (@pchanner)
- My Inspiration — Erin at A Beatnik’s Beat on Life has written thank-you letters to everyone who’s inspired her to become the lactivist and natural parenting advocate she is today. (@babybeatnik)
I love old movies. When Animal and Mineral were about 18 months old, and we went through that phase with twins were you can’t.go.anywhere (twin moms know what I’m talking about) we watched old movies every day. Mostly musicals, like Sound of Music, Singin’ in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and The Music Man. We watched them over and over. (Years later, when my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s son was a few years old, we asked what we could get him for a holiday or birthday gift. My sister-in-law said he’d like some videos — but she specified not to get any musicals.)
My children consider me old fashioned because I will not get them a Wi*i, DS, Ninte*ndo, etc. We only have two TVs — one downstairs, and one in our guest room. We eat dinner together every night that we’re all home. While I cook, I wear a really cute paisley apron I got online.
I let my kids run all over the neighborhood with their friends, which is not very au current. It hearkens back to my own childhood, when I did the same thing. (Nowadays, I could probably be arrested for it.)
I found out I was pregnant with #5 in much the same old fashioned manner: I went to the doctor because I felt sick, and he told me.
Overall, I felt exhausted and unmotivated. I didn’t want to take the kids out. I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t want to blog — obviously, since I didn’t for a few weeks. I actually told My Chemical Romance that I thought I might be having a depression; I didn’t feel sad but I just wanted to sleep.
My first step was seeing the hematologist. I was certain that my general exhaustion and lethargy was due to low iron. I don’t know who was more surprised when my hemoglobin came back at 12.1 — nice and high — him or me. He asked me a few other questions, but we didn’t determine anything, and I left with a shrug and a promise to come back if I didn’t feel better in a few weeks.
Next I called an endocrinologist. I told the nurse my symptoms, and talked about my thyroid issues post weight loss surgery, and she said it sounded like an endocrine issue, but I needed a referral from my primary care provider first.
I saw him the next day. I said, “I’m so tired I can’t keep my eyes open.” I said that after I sat up, from laying down on the examination table with my arm over my eyes, trying to catch a few minutes of sleep. He had me pee in a cup and give a blood sample. Then he came back in and told me I was pregnant.
Yes, I was shocked. Yes, I was surprised. No, I wasn’t planning on being pregnant, and being pregnant after weight loss surgery. No, when I was eating vico*din sandwiches after my recent surgery, I didn’t realize I was pregnant. My cycles have been messed up — forget it, I don’t need to share that much info. I’m pregnant. That’s really all you need to know.
I’m due in mid-December. I’m having a homebirth, although I’m also seeing a homebirth-tolerant OB because of my weight loss surgery. I’m going to have growth scans every two months, which grates my “ultrasound is dangerous” belief, but they are medically prudent. I am going to wear a sleep mask during the scans so I don’t find out the sex.
I’m not quite “excited” yet, but I’m kind of looking forward to doing the things I haven’t done before: not finding out the sex; extended breast-feeding; elimination communication; cosleeping. I’m trying to focus on those exciting things. And, other than the tiredness, I feel fantastic. No sickness, no nausea, no heartburn or indigestion. I feel great.
(Sorry for the absence — hopefully your heart is growing fonder!)
I had no idea what a “midwife” was, although when I was about 10 I learned that I had a very distant relative in Hawaii who was married to a midwife.
My dad was very good friends with an OB, so I went to him for all of my needs until I went to college. (And then, I think University Health Services took care of me for four years, including one ear infection that I got at the ripe old age of 20. Misery.)
But then I got pregnant, unplann-edly, with Animal and Mineral. I had just graduated from college — with a degree in Psychology and Creative Writing, so the job offers were not pouring in — and I had no insurance. I was working as a server at a ribs restaurant. I had a black labrador named Oakley. I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with a teal-green bathroom.
I was pregnant. I didn’t want to have an abortion — or give the baby up for adoption. I called Plann*ed Parent*hood to ask about low-cost obstetric care; they had Certified Nurse Midwives on staff who provided free care.
Although I have a friend who swears that they have an abortion quota (SNORT), I never heard the word when I was there for prenatal appointments. The Nurse Midwives were very kind. As the reactions of my family members ran the gamut from shocked (on the positive end) to appalled (on the negative end), the Nurse Midwives seemed particularly kind.
They asked about my “situation;” they gave me referrals to programs that helped single moms with no money; they made suggestions for improving my eating habits; they didn’t mind when I would cry during my appointments. I was freaked out. It was not the best time in my life.
However, one day I went to an appointment and the midwife started grilling me about my due date. Was I sure I was only 16 weeks? I was very very pregnant looking. In fact, when I was out in public and would see women who looked comparably pregnant to me, they were always around seven months, while I was four.
She scheduled me for an ultrasound, because she had a hunch I was having twins. (Hunch is overstating it; I had several friends who were absolutely certain, just by looking at me. You haven’t lived til you’ve seen someone pregnant with twins. The sheer size of my belly was astounding.)
I called my mom. I said, “I think I’m pregnant with twins.”
She said, “Don’t be ridiculous. Everyone thinks they’re pregnant with twins. Nobody ever is.” (She is about 66% right. Most pregnant women secretly harbor a wish for twins. Given all pregnancies, about 33% are twins, a number that includes reproductive assistance. The chance of having monozygotic or “identical” twins is 1 in 285.)
But, of course I was.
I was more distraught about leaving Plann*ed Parent*hood than I was about having twins. The Nurse Midwives there couldn’t continue to provide my care. Most legal midwives are unable to attend a twin birth. On top of that, Animal and Mineral were a little more complicated because they also had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome.
So, I was sent to a high risk OB and a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist. I was in clinic with other moms of twins, triplets; drug users; and women with previous medical conditions.
The clinic wasn’t nearly as nice as the midwives had been. It was a typical medical clinical. The doctors were nice, but aloof. They really didn’t give a shit that I was a single mom of twins. They were focused on the TTTS, keeping me pregnant as long as possible, and making sure that Mineral was doing okay. I was focused on having a vaginal birth. Most women with twins give birth by cesarean surgery. As I was about to be a single mom of twins, I didn’t want to be a single mom of twins recovering from major abdominal surgery. I wasn’t as crunchy then as I am now. I didn’t really care about having an amazing birth experience — I just wanted an easy recovery.
I was induced with Cerv*adil at 34 weeks, when Mineral needed to come out. I had a fairly short labor and a relatively easy delivery — I was upright during my labor, thanks to my awesome doula, Gretchen Humphries, who gets most of the credit. As I mention often, Mineral came out first, and then my water broke with Animal, and his foot slid out. He came out a foot-first breech. It really was an important moment in my life — knowing that I can vaginally deliver a breech baby makes me believe I can do almost anything.
Of course, I went on to have The Informant at a Birth Center, and become a birth doula. I had My Masterpiece at home, in a birth pool in our bedroom, and then I became a childbirth educator, and a child passenger safety tech. And then — briefly — a student midwife and apprentice.
I support midwifery care. I love midwifery care. I believe midwifery care is superior to obstetric care — and the research backs me up.
I am very grateful to the midwives at Plann*ed Parent*hood for getting me started on that path.