The New Motherhood

Because I felt I didn’t have enough going on in my life, what with the new baby and my PhD and living in outer space super far from my family, I’ve started a new website/blog specifically for new moms (and dads) that will hopefully function like an online magazine. In my wild dreams, readers will submit posts about their own experiences, becoming writers, and creating a site where new parents can find support for the inevitable insanity that they’ve invited into their lives.

Currently, the site has nearly zero content on it, but here’s a link to my first post:

The Hardest Thing

If you’re interested in reading, DO! If you’re interested in writing and sharing your adventures in new parenting, PLEASE DO!

 

Advertisements

New Motherhood, Internet Thievery, and Other Panics

The Baby is now 12 weeks old and three days away from his three month birthday. (Yes, I am now a person who discusses her child’s age in both weeks and month-anniversaries. Deal with it.) This means that I’ve been a mother forrreeeeevvvveeeeer, and therefore have some feelings about it.

The most pressing of these feelings is the overwhelming need to tell all new moms and mothers-to-be in my life that is okay to feel bad. People revel in telling pregnant women to dread stretch marks and sagging boobs and to expect the worst during delivery. Other women delight in this, bizarrely. I wish I had had fewer moms tell me that my body would be ruined and more moms tell me that I’d have to reconstruct my self. That my life as I knew it was over. Because it was, and it is. I will never again be the person I was before I had The Baby, and as much as I love him, I had to grieve the end of my old life. I wish I’d known that would happen. Maybe it doesn’t happen to everyone, but it has happened to 100% of the mothers I’ve asked.

I love my son more than anything I could ever imagine, but it is a love that consumes me, in every sense of that word. It isn’t romantic love. It isn’t familial love. It’s a love that forces you awake at 2am, even while your newborn sleeps, so that you can stare into the face of the person you created with your own body and cry about how much responsibility it is, how innocent he is, how much you miss life before, and how you would rip someone apart with your bare hands if they dared to take him from you.

Most of the time, I’ve got this handled. I’ve got time off to be solely with The Baby, and I am grateful for that. I can follow his lead, feed him on demand, hold him every second he needs me. However, some of the time, I find myself furiously rocking The Baby in the glider after trying to get him to sleep for three hours, wondering when I’ll ever be able to use my own arms again to make food, fold laundry, or use my laptop. (I’ve spent so much time in the glider that my new non-existent mom ass has bored a hole in the foam of the seat, and now it looks like Homer Simpson’s couch).

In the last few weeks, it’s gotten markedly easier to be a mom, because The Baby interacts with toys now and loves sitting in his bouncer or laying on his playmat and punching things. For the first many, many weeks of his life, he wouldn’t tolerate being put down at all, and I am not exaggerating when I say that I carried this boy in my arms constantly for more than two full months. As I type this now, however, he’s happily attacking a dangling hippopotamus, which I am actively encouraging. You slap that hippo, Baby. GET HIM.

Being The Baby’s mom amazes me every day. It’s true what they say: seeing the world through the eyes of your child is incredible. I’ve watched The Baby discover that he loves warm baths, jingly noises, black and white illustrations, attempting to stand up, and Billy Joel. I know that he hates sleeping alone, being on his tummy, and pooping his pants, and that sudden changes in temperature confuse him. He is my favorite little person in the entire world.

I just wish that instead of smiling and gleefully telling me, “You’ll never sleep again,” people had told me, “You’ll never sleep again and you will feel crazy and everything will seem impossible and when it does, call me.”

In other news, I, like most new parents, think my child is the cutest, smartest, funniest, most interesting creature. I would love to document all his craziness here, but I recently made a discovery that has made me wary of posting any more photos of him to this blog. When he was one month and one day old, he broke out in what everyone assured me was baby acne, the product of swirling newborn hormones that would eventually resolve itself. It eventually got so bad that literally (I’m prone to hyperbole, but this was literally) every pore on his face was raised or red or covered in a fluid-filled bump. I became convinced it was a dairy intolerance, and within a week of cutting out all dairy, it started to improve and ultimately went away. (I snuck some dairy a few times in the last couple weeks and now his skin is reacting again, so take that, people who thought I was nuts!)

Annnnnyway, while investigating his mystery rash, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a Pinterest pin of a very familiar picture. The pin led to this website:
Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 7.34.53 AM

That’s a photo of ME, taken in a South Carolina hotel bathroom ten years ago, and posted on this, my personal blog, as an attempt to help other people who may be struggling with acne. I was immediately pissed to see that it had been lifted from here and used somewhere else not just because that’s a gross thing to do, but also because the reason I posted it was to offer potential help and support to other acne suffers and the way it’s being used by the person who stole it is disingenuous. It’s posted under the heading “How to get rid of cystic acne on chest during pregnancy,” which is shitty because: I wasn’t pregnant for the five years I had this problem, it wasn’t cystic acne, and I didn’t “get rid of it” in any of the ways listed below the photo. I haven’t pursued trying to get the photo removed because 1) I’ve been busy (see above) and 2) it’s being used by one of those aggregate content websites written in language that is just different enough from how actual people speak that it must be computer-generated (i.e. the site is called “Let’s Rid Of”), so I assume no one is really running it and no one is really reading it. However, it still upsets me.

And it’s also a clear example of how what I post on this blog I don’t think anyone actually reads can end up in places I not only didn’t expect, but also didn’t allow. I don’t want personal photos of my tiny little person to end up on some rando website that promises to “Cure Babies of Nighttime Farts” (although I would really like to know how to do that).

If you’re interested in seeing photos of the gremlin, you can request to follow me on Instagram (which has gone from a feed of various photos of travel and food to just photos of The Baby). Try not to look too much like a robot or someone trying to sell me baby weight loss products, because it’ll be a waste of everyone’s time.

Apalapucia.

I’m stealing this beautiful, devastating post from a friend from home, who has put into words all the things I feel. And have felt. And will continue to feel.

Change is brutal. It is relentless. It is gorgeous. It is freedom.

..and still not ginger

This is where something touching is supposed to go.

This is where I’m supposed to spill my heart and explain to my very small world how the most recent events in my life came to pass…What I have learned. It should be insightful… moving.

But as I sit here, staring at a blinking cursor and a blank page, I have quickly accepted that nothing I say will be satisfying… or rather, satisfying enough for each and every person who ventures upon these words. Moreover, the words that I myself write won’t even be what I would consider satisfying or remotely eloquent. Maybe this solves nothing and answers no one – but it helps.

And since we are talking about words, here are a few that have been thrown at me recently:

Selfish.
Careless.
Cold.

Being called selfish is a bizarre experience for me. It’s certainly something I am not used…

View original post 1,048 more words

The Doorway to Norway.

10296727_10103351366077336_6515497062767137094_n

Oh, Norway. The land of beautiful landscapes, gorgeous people, obscene expense, and I Farta nuts.

Thing I Loved About Norway:

It was, without a doubt, one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been. It’s on par with the Scottish Highlands and the west coast of Ireland – both insanely beautiful places. My friend Cold Mountain and I spent approximately ten bajillion dollars on an all-day fjord cruise and train ride, and it was worth every damn Norwegian Krone (1016 of them, to be exact). It was so, so, so spectacular.

The fjord, from our boat:

10294497_10103354312906866_5357656281591225576_n 10312407_10103354312632416_6885389792605632785_n 10369727_10103354301200326_4362994083116936852_n 10247499_10103354300117496_2523541089430693986_n 10269458_10103354300292146_427232590445860942_n 10294259_10103354312457766_8985429837626107720_n

The mountains, from our train:

1979848_10103354878513386_88842436532773229_n 10270806_10103354878164086_2440832451592670085_n 10289793_10103354877625166_512017366021686391_n 10329296_10103354876816786_8261353084085477031_n 10359219_10103354871936566_8549327545945711107_n

My crappy cell phone photos absolutely do not do it justice. The whole four-day trip was worth the five hours we spent cruising in the fjord. It was just. Awesome.

The city of Bergen wasn’t too bad either.

10313145_10103351550991766_7232818692447892127_n 10313760_10103357427076046_6998023247948220302_n 10325397_10103357423612986_5343440168931770510_n 10339663_10103357426821556_4245073407742208570_n

And I got a pastry (or three)!

10277760_10103357425194816_1073675372073970496_n

Thing I Did Not Love About Norway:

This.

Shocking News, Norway, and Toilet Fingers.

Things Of Note:

1) Filed Under “Shocker”: I bailed on the half marathon. And not even because I hate running so much (although not running crazy miles every other morning will certainly be appreciated). I’ve decided not to do it simply because I am poor, and the marathon is in Cork, Ireland, and flights from London to Cork the weekend I’d be going are upwards of £150, even on the cheapest sites. (I think it’s because it is a bank holiday, or three day weekend, in Ireland.) You’d think I would have considered this before I agreed to fly over for the weekend in the first place, but in my defense, I happen to be very close to someone who just booked a return flight between those two cities for £35, so I wasn’t expecting such a price hike. In addition, I’m saving all my pennies because this weekend

2) I’m going to Norway! One of my closest friends in all the land is in Scandinavia for a conference, and asked me to meet him in Norway for a few days. I have known this person, whom I affectionately call Cold Mountain because he is giant and also very icy, since my very first night as an undergrad in the dorms at UCLA, and it seems pretty fitting that he’ll be the first person I see from home in several months. We have absolutely no plans – the idea is to get there and find some fjords and eat a lot and take photos. I pride myself on discovering, locating, and consuming local pastries in every city I visit, so my plans for this trip are basically: hike a fjord and eat some goodies. I’m so excited. I AM SO EXCITED.

3) People tend to give me a hard time because I am a totally neurotic hypochondriac. I can’t even tell you how many times friends have tried to cajole me into doing things like walking around barefoot in a city or playing beer pong and drinking out of the same cups twenty other people just used. My answer is always, always and forever, no. No, never. I will bring my shower shoes on all the vacations. I own my craziness. It has kept me safe.

And in addition, you know what? I’m right. I’m proven right all the time. Recently, I posted about the public restroom horror that is the inside door handle. Today, I was in a bathroom at work, thoroughly scrubbing my paws, when a woman left a stall and walked proudly out of the bathroom without washing her hands, grabbing the inside door handle with her filthy toilet fingers. And she did that with me as an audience. Most of the time, I think people who normally wouldn’t care about hygiene might be shamed into it by the other people around them. This woman was unfazed.

Just imagine what people do when they are alone, and then tell me you don’t want to advocate for bathroom doors that swing out.

It’s important to have causes you believe in.

The More You Know.

Dear everyone: prepare yourselves. Today is your lucky day.

Why, you ask? Am I about to reveal the secrets of the universe? Do I have some winning lotto numbers? Are you going to suddenly realize that this blog contains the answers to every single trying, soul-wrenching question that haunts you?

Well, probably. Later. When I feel like it.

Right now, I’m mostly referring to the fact that I’m about to participate in a Liebster nomination for the second time. You know, the Liebster, in which the nominee provides eleven factoids about herself and then answers eleven questions posed by her nominator.

The reason this is so great for all of you is that I did this already, about a year and a half ago, right here, so really, you’re all getting  twenty-two factoids for the price of ten minutes of your life you’ll never get back. Small price to pay, if you ask me.

This time, I was nominated for the Liebster by a very stylish, totally gorgeous blogger I started stalking when I first began googling acne supplements. Her name is Brittany Jo and she writes over at Knee Deep In Lovely. You should go to there. Like, right now. Let me break from character for a moment and in absolute sincerity just say that I’m genuinely thrilled that she thought to tag me in her Liebster. Sometimes, I am still in awe of the connective power of the internet. Thank you, thank you, Brittany Jo!

Eleven Things You Don’t Already Know About Me:

1) I’ve been living in England for four months and I still don’t understand the coinage. When faced with having to use coins to pay for things, I literally just hold open a palm full of change and helplessly beg cashiers to handle it. And because the English are really kind and wonderful, every single person does. They handle it for me.

2) I am 27 and I still have to run up the stairs to safety when I turn off all the lights downstairs at night.

3) I am vehemently anti-sharing foods and cups. I watched five people drink from the same straw the other night and almost had a panic attack by proxy. No.

4) I used to have a list of things I had never done, and it made me feel really puritanical and high and mighty and proud of myself. Now, I keep a list of all the things I have done and my life is really rich and awesome.

5) I am incredibly blessed with some remarkably sane, wonderful friends at home in the US. I constantly reconsider my move across the world because it just doesn’t feel right to be so far away from them.

6) I could eat a bean and rice burrito for every meal for the rest of my life and never once miss other food.

7) I wear a cardigan almost every day. I LOVE CARDIGANS. So versatile. So cozy. So totally justified because: English weather.

8) As much as I hate to admit this, I’m a little judgey when children are out of control in public places. I know, I know, I don’t have them and I should shut up. But I taught twenty of them at a time for eight hours a day for years, and I know there are ways of handling crises without giving into tantrums or using force. I’ll make sure to eat lots of humble pie when my children make a habit of throwing cans of soup across grocery stores, okay?

9) I. love. Mindy. Kaling.

10) When I was 11, I won a bicycle in a phone contest through Nickelodeon, and then panicked and hung up the phone when the woman asked me for my zip code, because I didn’t know it. I never got my bike.

11) I have always handled pressure really well.

Eleven Questions I Was Asked:

1) What do you eat for breakfast?

Plain organic oatmeal with diced apple, cinnamon, and a spoonful or two of ground flaxseed. Every morning. I am nothing if not boring and gross.

2) Do you prefer emotional or physical risks?

Definitely emotional risks. I am too freaked out about bodily harm to take physical risks.

3) What are your biggest blogging challenges?

Writing about things people care about. It’s very rare that I have any real knowledge or information to share with the world. No tips, no tricks, no tutorials. Sometimes, I feel guilty subjecting people to what is just essentially a glorified diary.

4) What do you order at coffee shops?

Five months ago, the answer would have been a soy latte with an extra shot – regardless of size, always an extra shot. However, now that I’m off the juice, it’s always green tea, when I can summon up the desire to pay as much for one tea bag in a coffee shop as I’d pay for 25 at the grocery store. (Glass half empty over here.)

5) If you won the lottery, would you still work a 9-5?

Not at first. I’d get all the traveling and eating out of the way, and then probably get desperate for structure again.

 

6) If you could have either unlimited time or unlimited money, which would you pick?

Unlimited time, I think. I’m learning you don’t need a ton of money to do the things you love. What you always, always need more of, though, is time.

7) What is the purchase you regret the most?

Pretty much everything I buy, just after I buy it. I always feel like I shouldn’t be spending money, even if it’s on things like food to keep me alive.

8) Which trendy food have you gotten WAY into?

I think my trendy food of choice right now absolutely has to be specialty teas. I am all about them these days. Green tea with ginseng and raspberry. AMAZING.

9) Have you ever wanted to change your name? If so, to what?

I forced my third grade teacher to call me “Zoey” for six months. She loved it.

10) What is your favorite way to spend money?

Travel, absolutely. I’m getting really good at living on a budget all month in order to finance regular major trips. I want to get the most of living in Europe.

11) What is the most bizarre dream you’ve ever had?

When I was kid, I had a recurring dream that King Kong was juggling TVs in our garage. Please, someone, interpret that for me.

 

Photo Phriday.

I’m not particularly fired up about anything that happened in my own life this week. I did, however, find out some exceptionally awesome news about a new, life changing development for one of my closest friends in the world. This person kept me from completely losing my mind last year, and I am (quite seriously) forever indebted to her. I am so, so thrilled for her. I am also conveniently making it all about me. Getting huge news from home is bittersweet – I am so excited that it’s happening and also a little bit devastated by how much I’m giving up to be here. There is enormous, wonderful life happening for my people and I am too far away to participate in it.

Nothing earth shattering here (other than battling some pretty epic homesickness). I’ve been super busy with work and have managed to keep up with the running, gradually adding mileage, still terrible at pacing myself, still feel like my bones are grinding into dust. I realized while out yesterday that I’d run 4.5 miles in about 30 minutes, which put me at around 7-minute miles. That most certainly does not need to be happening. I’m hoping, come race day, I’ll be forced into a pace by the pack of other idiots running this thing with me.

And there will now officially be a race day, as I just registered yesterday. I think I was secretly hoping to get out of having to do this. Unfortunately, that plan did not go well.

Last weekend, I went to the southern coast and hiked and ate and meandered with some new friends (yes: friends!). It was a gorgeous day. England has its moments.

unnamed-2 unnamed-3 unnamed-1

Last night, I went to a fancy gala fundraiser for a department at the university, and did my own eye makeup. Forgive me. I am so proud of myself.

unnamed-5

And, in case you all thought I was some classy, make-up doing success now, here’s a text I sent this week:

unnamed-4It’s the little things.

<3.

I’m not sure if you could tell, but I’ve been a bit of a downer lately. This is about 100% due to the fact that I am an adult woman in a holding pattern. I could, at any time Monday through Friday 9am-5pm Eastern time, find out that I’m cleared to move halfway across the world and start a brand new life. I sit in that anxiety every day I know the visa office is open, just waaaaiting for an email from them. I’ve tried not thinking about it, but when the wait stretches across four weeks, it’s hard to keep finding ways to distract myself. Luckily, I’ve got some pretty adorable tiny crazy people within walking distance, which makes all of this much, much easier. See? It’s not all doom and gloom around here!

IMG_2026IMG_3486IMG_3483 IMG_3482 IMG_3481 IMG_3480IMG_2977IMG_2890

I’ve got to soak up as much time with Fiece #1 and #2 before I go, because I will miss them SO MUCH when they’re not just around the corner.

My resolution for the new year? Be as grateful as humanly possible for all the incredible support and love I’ve received from all the wonderful friends (the grown up and the still very small) I’m so lucky to have in my life.

I quite literally could not have done this without them.

Weighty Matter.

Long, long ago, one whole lifetime ago, pre-Ireland, back when I was married and trying to have a baby and before I was divorced and waiting for a visa and living with my parents, I wrote a post called “Bikini Body,” which was Freshly Pressed and got me a lot of attention. (“A lot” being relative here.) It was about how aggravating it is to be a woman with a body in the world. I wrote it on a whim and certainly did not expect a lot of attention for it, so it was short and sweet and didn’t outline all the ways it is difficult to be a woman with a body in the world. The post was specifically concerned with the public’s laser focus on a woman’s desire to eat food (you know, that stuff that keeps humans alive), but what it really was about was this bizarre and often hugely gross universal that a woman’s body is for other people. This universal makes it okay for people to holler things out at women who are just walking on the street, because if they didn’t want sexual attention from men, they wouldn’t be out there, taking their vaginas out for walks, right? This universal makes it acceptable for tabloids to post unflattering photos of women enjoying themselves privately at the beach, with giant red circles around their cellulite, because how dare those women leave the house looking like actual human beings.

This universal also opens up a woman’s body as a topic of discussion for everyone around her. Every single woman I know has gotten unsolicited commentary on her body both from people she knows and from strangers. This has happened to me since I was eight years old, when my little brothers, who were “growing boys,” got to eat their bowls of ice cream in peace, while I was once told to “cool it with the sugar,” by someone I’ve already made to feel really badly about it for twenty years, and therefore won’t name here.

As a girl, this feeling that my physical body exists for the enjoyment (or horror) of people who are not me has followed me my whole life. I’m particularly fired up about it right now because the last four months have been a total free-for-all in terms of commentary on what I look like, with very little attention paid to what I feel like.

Since June, when I left for Ireland, I have lost twenty-five pounds. I haven’t weighed this little since I was fourteen years old. This weight loss has not been intentional nor has it been the result of healthy eating. Apparently, coming home from a major life-changing trip and looking at every aspect of your life and thinking, “Nope. Needs to change,” makes all food taste like dust. When you upend the table of your life – your job, your relationship, your house, your life goals – and you sit in the middle of all the pieces, you can’t even want to try to eat a cookie. This is the first time in my life I haven’t been able to eat my feelings. In fact, my feelings have been so hard and brutal and tragic that they’ve made even food seem useless. So, after walking around in an anxiety cloud for months, working full time and writing a Master’s thesis and commuting for hours a day and processing a divorce and getting a new job and worrying about moving across the world and handling some other things I’m still not brave enough to discuss here, I’ve lost a ton of weight.

Because I have not been well. I have not been happy or healthy or a joy to be around. I’ve been miserable and stressed out and without an appetite.

And you know what I’ve heard, from everyone? “You look so great! What are you doing?”

Most Women Never Do.

Why hello there. I’ve been intentionally avoiding posting, because I’ve got some pretty enormous irons in the fire and I wanted to wait to discuss them until I had solid answers so I could fully celebrate the end of the most emotionally traumatic autumn of my life. However, it’s been months now and I’m tired of Miss Havisham-ing my existence, just waiting for news, too paralyzed by anxiety to move forward in any direction. So, here’s what’s been up:

1) I finished my thesis! And had it approved by the university library! For many frustratingly bureaucratic reasons, I have to wait until next quarter to officially “graduate,” but I have a Master’s degree now! I’m also now planning on starting a PhD – eventually.

2) I applied for, interviewed for, and was offered a university research position in the UK! This is huge. HA-UGE. It is exactly what I want to do with my life and I’ll be working with a professor who studies exactly what I attempted to in my thesis. I am both insanely excited about this development and also terrified, as I’m still waiting for my visa application to be approved and it’s been nearly four weeks. It’s been a little more complicated than I anticipated, and now it’s the holidays so offices are closed. I am so hoping I get good news next week. Has anyone else applied for a work visa? I don’t think I have ever been more stressed out about anything before – and I just got divorced, people.

3) I’m proud of myself. Like, genuinely proud. I’ve met people who have negative opinions about what I’ve done for myself personally in the last few months, but ultimately, I don’t care. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life treading water, too scared to make any moves or to really pursue what I loved. For some reason, I decided that a big, bold, fulfilled life wasn’t in the cards for me. And now, in a matter of months, I am making it happen.

4) I saw my paternal grandmother yesterday. I haven’t been incredibly close to her as an adult, and I hadn’t told her about ending my marriage or moving out of the country, because I don’t see her often and I wasn’t sure she’d understand. She’s the kind of woman who was raised to grin and bear it, and I didn’t think she’d be super open-minded about my deciding to divorce. Honestly, I was convinced she would think I was gross. And so, we went the whole day with no mention of any of it, until we were saying goodbye. I don’t know why I thought no one else would tell her, but apparently a story like mine is too insane not to have made it through the grapevine. She’d known for months. And the only thing she had to say about it was that being happy is the most important thing. Following happiness and making damn sure you do everything you want to before you aren’t able to do it anymore. And when I told her that I feel like I’m finally living my own life, she said, “I’m so proud of you, Sarah. Most of us women never do.”

il_570xN.283837587