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Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Complicated

H2O and I have what you might call a love/hate relationship.

As I mentioned before, I am a huge fan of showers. The deciding factor for me when choosing an apartment complex in college was whether or not I had to pay the water bill. When I was pregnant, I probably took an average of two showers and two baths every day to ease the pain in my back, hips and knees, and now, having gotten in the habit, it's hard not to just jump in the shower every few hours when I'm bored, or stressed, or covered in baby puke.

But when it comes to actually ingesting the substance, I am a pansy. I have never been a huge drinker of anything, and it wouldn't surprise me to find that I've spent the majority of my life dehydrated. When I was a kid, I drank a lot of milk, but when I finally came to terms with the fact that that extra calcium just wasn't adding to my puny 5'2'' frame and I would spend the rest of my life vertically challenged, I gave that up and moved on to Kool-Aid.

By the time I got to high school and Kool-Aid was no longer Kool, I just didn't drink much of anything, and if I did, it was probably caffeinated. So when I had my baby and I was told to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day, the conversation looked something like this:

Doctor: You need to be drinking a lot of water.

Me: ...Water?

Doctor: You know, that stuff that comes out of the faucet in your sink?

Me: Riiiight....

Doctor: You have been drinking plenty of fluids, right?

Me: Ha ha, of course!

I'm a pretty bad liar. So they gave me a 28 ounce bottle and made sure I drained it at least a few times a day while I was in the hospital. And you know what I discovered?

Water is gross. There are people out there who say water has a flavor, and there are even a few of them that actually believe that flavor is good. Well, let me tell you, my friends, those people are purveyors of trickery and lies. Water is disgusting for the pure fact that it has no flavor at all. Why would any sane person want to drink anything that has no flavor? You wouldn't eat anything that has no flavor. It'd be like eating styrofoam.  Imagine you and your friends are going camping, or to the beach, and you buy one of those styrofoam coolers to keep your beer or Coke or whatever you drink nice and cold. And you say "Hey, we should grab some snacks too," to which one of your friends replies "Nah dude, we can just eat the cooler when we're done with our beers!" Would you ever invite that friend to go anywhere with you ever again?

I didn't think so.

But, despite water's obvious flaws we were recently forced to form a truce of sorts, because Olivia is a picky eater. To be precise, she refuses to eat anything that does not look like a boob. She may be less than three months old, but I still can't seem to outsmart her. So I am stuck at home feeding her for twenty to thirty plus minutes, sometimes every hour, and this will probably go on for quite a while since I am, as I mentioned before, a pansy. Understandably, this requires a ****-ton of milk. Unfortunately, the production of such obscene quantities of milk requires an equally obscene amount of a certain deplorable substance.

I really thought I could get by without it, but last night, I was backed into a dark, panicky corner. My baby was hungry. She'd been hungry all day, way more than usual, and more often. And I just didn't have it. After she drained me in the morning, I remained almost on empty for most of the day. I'd read that your body will adjust milk production for your baby's needs, producing more if they try to eat more often, so I knew that the problem was with me, and my understandable distrust of water.

I had to give in. Water and I have not quite put aside our differences, but I will drink it, at least until Olivia's stubborn picky streak subsides. Because there comes a time in life when you have to stand up and be the better state of matter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Dignity

When I found myself in the backseat of my parents' car opening a bottle of Coke with my teeth, my hands occupied keeping Olivia nomming on my boob, hoping none of the other JC Penny shoppers happened to peer curiously through the car's tinted windows, I realized two things. One: I had lost what little was left of any dignity I might have had. And two: I did not care.

The reason for the first is simple. Pregnancy is arguably the least private event in a woman's life. As soon as that bump begins to show, you may as well add thirty minutes to your estimated time doing anything in public, because at least fifty percent of the other women in the world have something to tell you about pregnancy, childbirth, and/or children that you definitely have never heard before, ever.

But even before it becomes noticeable, pregnant women require more maintenance than a used Ford. Even if you have no risk factors or complications, there will at least be monthly check-ups for the entire pregnancy. But that's often not the case; for two-thirds of my pregnancy, I was going in once a week, and I had only one complication, and an otherwise relatively easy pregnancy. By the time everything was said and done, I had a baby, and about ten people I am not married to had what I'm sure is a nice mental image of an area of my body I don't particularly want to look closely at myself. After a few more days, enough people had seen my boobs I hardly thought twice about flashing the room when the baby started crying. Now, I have to really try to remember to warn people beforehand, and it's hard--I mean, what am I supposed to say? "Pardon me while I whip out my boobs?" I don't particularly care if anyone sees them at this point. My boobs have ceased being "sexy;" now, they're "functional."

I have significantly lowered the bar for myself when it comes to appearance. Before Olivia came along, I couldn't go anywhere without applying a bit of mascara, at the very least. Now I usually don't even realize I'm not wearing make-up until I've been out a few hours, and it doesn't bother me to look at myself in the mirror without any on. I do well just to make it out the door with enough clothing to evade arrest.

But I don't care. Because there's someone else who needs more than I do--more attention, more care, more food and sleep and love. And if those things come at the expense of my dignity, well, what goes around...

Monday, December 12, 2011


You'll never learn to fully appreciate poop until you have a baby.

During those first few days, especially, finding a poop-filled diaper is like discovering a gold mine. Poop is a unit of measurement; you set your clock by it, recording how many of those little treasures you find per day, and the time in between. There are charts detailing not only how many poops they should have per day, but the exact color and consistency based on age and food type.

The day after Olivia was born, I felt like poop. I hadn't slept more than 4 hours of the last 48, I could barely feel my legs, and the rest of me felt like one giant bruise. It's taken me months just to re-teach my knees how to use stairs, and no matter how many showers I take I feel like a layer of some unidentified grime still clings to my skin. I wouldn't call myself OCD, but I have always had a perhaps unhealthy obsession with cleanliness. If I could get away with taking three showers, and maybe a bath, every day, I would totally do it. When it came down to the nitty gritty--literally--the environment and water conservation were not even on my list. If I didn't have a shower first thing in the morning, the rest of my day was ruined. I've never had anyone complain about my attitude during a certain week of the month, but if I didn't have a shower, I could make Smaug look like a cuddly kitten.

But I've finally found the one thing in the world I care more about than cleanliness. If my little treasure leaves me a few more presents than I'd like--well, one baby's poop is a mom's peace of mind. I know by the number of poops she has per day how well she's eating and, therefore, how well she's growing. And, to me, that's more valuable than gold.