Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Motherhood : A World of Pain

Look what I made!*

10 months of blood, sweat and tears all wrapped up into one cute bundle! (no that's not a typo, they are lying to you
it's 10 months, not 9)

It's true, I've officially spawned and popped out a brown half Bangladeshi-half Salvadoran baby boy!* Zakir Aristides Alvarado was born on Sunday, March 29 at 1:44 am after 24 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing. All I have to say is thank all that is holy in this world for epidurals because I really feel like my contractions would have sent me spiraling into madness before it was all over. I had no contractions before that, none of that Braxton Hicks stuff, nothing, just suddenly early Saturday morning BOOM they rolled in and kicked labor into high gear.

So let me be clear, pregnancy sucked pain-wise, especially at the end. For me, dragging an extra 38 pounds of weight almost exclusively on my belly, especially on my 5'2 frame was a non stop world of severe discomfort. My lower abs felt swollen. It hurt so much that I would actually feel dizzy. At night, I could hardly turn over in bed. My feet went missing. It wasn't fun to say the least. Sure the moving baby was cool, but that sort of got overshadowed by the fact that my entire body felt like a massive liability. Plus I couldn't even power-waddle anymore.

And I KNEW labor would be bad, hell everyone knows that. Funny enough though because of the epidural, labor wasn't that bad. Contractions (before the epidural) felt like that scene from The Return of Jedi where the evil Emperor tried to murder Luke Skywalker via writhing convulsions with jets of electricity from the dark side of the force while Darth Vader looked on. I was Luke Skywalker, labor was Emperor Palpatine

See: Labor
Funny enough though, labor and pregnancy weren't even the worst parts. Oh no, no, no. Post pardum made labor and pregnancy look like fun memories. For example, my kid split me in half. It's quite alright. You see, women are complete bad asses and have been split in half or straight up killed by pregnancy from the beginning of time, so it's really no big deal. You just need to get stitched back together, that's all. Oh yea, and you can't sit for a week...or go to the bathroom too successfully. Also the day after labor, the pain of the stitches, plus the trauma of labor on my body gave me uncontrollable shakes. Did I mention that I had to take care of a newborn whose sole sustenance and needs can really be addressed by his mom? Oh yes, in this state I was breastfeeding. Now let me tell you something about breastfeeding....

Oh how precious!
So in movies and in photos breastfeeding looks like a wonderful and beautiful bonding experience where the mother gazes upon her beautiful pride and joy and they join in mother/baby nursing bliss.
They need to revise this image to show a mother shrieking in horror and pain as a baby piranha chomps towards her helpless chest.

If you have nursed and that has not been your experience then congratulations, I hate and envy you. But my beautiful bouncing Bangladoran baby basically went slaughterhouse buffet on my chest. How come no one tells you these things? My guess is so that the human race continues to perpetuate itself based on the willful ignorance we throw at unsuspecting mothers to be.

Seriously, breastfeeding has been the most painful experience of them all. It has been worse than labor for me. WORSE THAN LABOR. Let that sink in.

When my kid whines one day that I don't love him because I won't let him borrow the car, I will simply start shouting "BLOODY NIPPLES!!!" at him. Because, seriously, what the hell. Isn't breastfeeding supposed to be natural? The best and perfect choice for your growing love bug? Why is it a hellish descent into non stop nipple torture? In the middle of the night, when both Zakir and I were wailing, him because he was hungry and me because my bloody chest couldn't take anymore piranha like sucking, I swear I half expected Pinhead from Hellraiser to make an appearance and gloat at my punishment for all my sins. My biggest question is seriously, when the hell does all the hurting stop?

Never, it never stops MWAHAHAHAHA
From what I can gather, never really. Because though it's hard to be sleep deprived when your kid is a baby, at least then they are cuddled up on your chest being all cute and chubby. When they are teenagers and you just had a blow out fight, I'm sure all you can think is why can't they be that chubby little innocent baby again. Nipple torture and all. Or when they are in their 20's and they haven't returned your phone call and you are convinced they're dead, starving, passed out in a gutter somewhere, the thought of that baby curled up in your arms may seem like the best time ever. 

But to put things into perspective, mother octopuses eat their own arms for sustenance as they incubate their eggs, and are so tired from the ordeal that as soon as they leave their lair after birth they get promptly eaten by predators since they are unable to defend themselves.

So I guess it's not so bad, I haven't had to eat my arms yet. Breastfeeding still hurts, but Zakir has already gained 1 pound since birth and it's only been 2 weeks. Oh yea and I have a kid that's my kid and my favorite person in the world forever and he's here because of me.*

I have that.

MINE...ALL MINE (for now)

* After my husband's protestations upon me reading the article to him, I am obliged to say that he had something to do with making the baby too. He got to do the fun parts.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pre-Daddy Blog: Lessons in Hormones and Crazy Town

Some words on pre-daddydom by Tate H.
Are you getting EXCITED!  This is the typical female greeting these days for all of the females in my life that are associates of my wife Hannah and our baby boy Steven due on May 31.  My response is the obligatory smile and YEAH! That goes along with these types of generally casual exchanges regarding a monumental change in life.  The fact is that there is a good deal more than excitement involved with the unknown mission that is to come.  Currently I have found a new appreciation for the absence and emptiness that will be soon be filled by a new person in my life.  Parents that have already embarked on this adventure often offer a good deal of variety in their accounts of these days and the fact that the hard part is yet to come is a truth they rarely spare.  As a man who operates in a very logical and methodical way I am optimistic and ultimately feeling strong that this kid will find a solid home to rest and grow.  The kid is not what I worry about.
Living with a pregnant woman in the last couple of months of the baby making process is something that is not taught in school or amongst peers in any useful way.  I have leaned on a couple of old dads that gave me some words of wisdom that have helped to carry me.  One thing that I have surrendered to is that Hannah is at this point doing the large majority of the work and bearing more of a burden than washing clothes, cleaning dishes and running errands could ever match.  With this approach, the simple rules of roommate etiquette are effectively awarded a pass for my wife while at the same time my efforts to comfort and clean are generally regarded as the bear minimum of my contribution.  The second item of wisdom is that my wife’s roller coaster emotions are not personal even though they may be directed at me.  In large part having a woman rely on me as their primary beacon of sanity can at times be overwhelming depending on my own emotional state.  Reframing this as an honor and sacred duty helps me to get through what would otherwise simply be a nightmare.  It is a relief to know that it is normal for a pregnant woman to go from cartoonish joy to rage in a period of an hour or so.  It is also a relief to invariably hear that I will get my more stable wife back after her body has allowed the baby to be born.
Making a phone call and venting my mental process to another vetted ‘dad’ makes all the difference and usually renews my approach.  It always improves on what I have come up with on my own.
So as of now Hannah and I are enjoying the last little stupid spoiling that a person without a drooling poop goblin can enjoy.  Dinner at Whole foods throwing the trash away and strolling out the door hands free into the Atlanta spring evening.  Spontaneous plans to go and have coffee with a friend and not have to schedule a sitter.  Staring at the wall and embracing the sheer boredom of the emptiness that I have for so long took for granted.  Looking forward to a person who will soon be more than a figment of my imagination.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Poop by the Trimester

I’m full of shit. No seriously. Today I’m literally full of shit. Welcome to the wonderful world of pregnancy in which your pooping habits completely change and you have no idea what’s normal. Don’t poop for days on end? Kinda normal. Have to make runs to the bathroom because you’re pooping too much just a few days later? Kinda normal. Your poop becoming bright orange, green or even blue? Kinda Normal.

This is this shit they don’t tell you about. Again. Literally.

Your first trimester you’re lucky if you can poop at all and if you are pooping its probably because of your vitamins and its coming out way too suddenly for anyone’s enjoyment. On top of this your diet changes and your new intake of fresh veggies and fruits means a color change in your poop. This can be drastic and weird and (if you’re me at least) you’ll really want to take a picture to send to someone and like… is this normal?! Answer: Yup, kinda normal.

Then you hit the second trimester and all of a sudden you can eat with impunity because the nausea has worn off and you find yourself gorging on an entire box of fruit loops in one weekend (yes, I totally did this). Come Monday, your poop has turned a nuclear green and you might be wondering if you need to go to the hospital… or is this something normal? I’m not sure if its normal but it’s certainly not unexpected. Apparently when you eat a shit ton (not literally this time) of dyes you’re poop will turn a weird shade of green.

Then you get chastised by your midwife for gaining 13 pounds in 6 weeks and you cut out the fruit loops and the breads and all the sugar and you eat loads of veggies and stuff with fiber and the shit that comes out of you is just… well.. black. Its as if you colon hasn’t been cleaned out in months and the forthcoming sludge is hard as a brick, FEELS like a brick as it comes out of your anus and has the color (and the smell) of death. Don’t even get me started on farts…

I am capable of stinking my husband out of a room these days. Beyond that, I am capable of stinking MYSELF out of a room these days. My own farts don’t even smell right to me! Is this normal?! Yup, kinda normal.

Now I’ve entered into the third trimester and my little in utero man has decided to hang out on my intestines. I can now eat with impunity, am eating healthy but my poop can only come out when he’s not got his wee little feet wrapped up in my colon. What does that mean? Oh that means when I do poop I have to flush at least twice because I’m afraid my own logs will clog the toilet. I had no idea that my little body could make such girthy logs.. is that normal? Apparently it’s not completely unheard of and it’s certainly kinda normal.

Pretty much anything that comes out… as long as it comes out eventually.. is relatively normal. Black and yellow, green or slightly putrid white? Yup kinda normal.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Not your "Mommy" kind of Mom

I'm not going to lie, everyone told me not to Google, they told me to throw all advice out the window, to not read any of those crazy mom blogs because frankly...they will drive you crazy.

So what did I do? I Googled everything, every person in the universe who told me to throw out advice is giving it to me(which is helpful yet also somewhat overwhelming since everyone says something TOTALLY different), and I read random mom blogs. Why? Apparently I'm a glutton for punishment. 

I also wanted to point out that this is also a random mom blog so...irony.

Anyway, what I have noticed is that a LOT of these blogs go along the theme of how a woman wanted to be a "mommy" ever since she was a little girl. How she held dolls and wished that one day she could find her Prince Charming and settle down with her brood. And now that she WAS a real mommy of 2-5 kids, her life was complete and her dreams had come true.

That's wonderful. As a feminist, I am all about choice, if being a mommy was someone's lifelong ambition then awesome, totally awesome.

A dream come true?

But that is so not me.

Like at all.


Actually as a young girl, the idea of being a mother terrified me, being married terrified me, the prospect of even liking a boy in a non-friend way made me want to puke all over my light up sneakers. I love my parents, but I'm sure part of this was watching their very difficult marriage, completely overrun by my fathers severe mental illness. Seeing their fights, my mothers tears, all of that instability and chaos just made me believe that if you were a woman that fell in love and married a man that you were setting yourself up for a lifetime of pain. And seriously, who would want that?

Not four year old Nadia. Four year old Nadia didn't want that. Four year old Nadia wanted to become a knight and save kingdoms. She was going to be a leader of men and women! She wasn't going to wait around for some loser prince to sweep her off her feet. Heck the prince might have a debilitating mental illness and rage issues, so I'd rather just stick with the dragon, dragons were cooler anyway and less likely to send you to a domestic violence shelter.

I did have dolls, and barbies, but I was always "Auntie" to my dolls. Whenever I played house, I was Aunt Nadia, never EVER Mom. If someone said I should be the mom I would literally freak out at them and go on about "never ever wanting to get married or have kids". I told people everyone I would be by myself forever with cats and get a job. That was my kindergarten dream, a career and a lifetime as a cat lady.

my inner mantra growing up

As I grew older, that attitude hardly changed, whenever any relatives made fun of me saying I would change my mind and get married, I would give them a stern talking to that I never wanted to get married or have a family. That was me at age 7, age 11, aged 14 and then....

Okay so I thought boys were totally gross till I was 14, yea I was a late bloomer. It was in high school that part of me considered that maybe I may not want to be alone forever and maybe that COULD mean a kid, but still the thought was terrifying and proceeded to spend most of my college and teen years totally and utterly and single (but sadly with no cats, since my parents nor dorm would allow them).

dreams deferred
As I grew a bit older, I realized that maybe I did want to get married and have that serious relationship that could potentially last a lifetime despite the divorce statistics. I started seeing cute, pudgy babies and had the strong urge to steal them, which I didn't do because it's illegal. Yet when I saw a mother frantically chasing a toddler, or grappling with two babies I started to break into cold sweats. It looked terrifying. To me it looked like someones personality getting sucked out by a mini alien pod people and then replaced by a mom whose only job in life was to rear kids, get puked on, throw her dreams out the window and never care about what she looked like again. Sorry, that's just the paranoia I had (okay...still have).

Come play with us Mommy, forever...and ever
And now...here I am! 8 months pregnant! I got married and got cats at the same time, and actually ended up marrying a cat person. Now that I'm about to embark on the journey of being a MOM, I have to confront and work through these uncertainties. Actually I'll probably be too busy to think about it once the kid pops out BUT I have to say...I don't know what being a "Mommy" is supposed to feel like or be.

It it supposed to be getting utterly thrilled about cutting off the crust on PB and J sandwiches that I lovingly pack into my spawn's lunch? Is it getting more joy out of them winning "Nice Try" at their science fair then I would feel at any career recognition I may ever get? Is it watching the same kids movie for the 236th time and clasping my hands in gratitude for the joy that has come forth from my loins?

YAY! We get to watch Madagascar again...and...again...and again...
I don't know, maybe. I'm not a mom yet. Just a pregnant crazy person. But maybe I am already a mom and this is what it's supposed to feel like? Guess not all of us are the kinds of "Mommies" whose lifelong dream has been to bear multiple children and take cloyingly adorable photos of them for their cute maternal blogs, but you know what, that's fine, I'll just share pictures of my kid surrounded by lots of cats.


See, dreams can come true.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Lesson 3: Empathy is Necessary

I realize that having a kid will probably be harder than the making of one; in that, raising a kid will be an 18-year thing (if not longer) and the making of one takes nine months. I also realize that after I pop the kid out my life will drastically change- there will be another human thing crying at me all the time and it will probably kinda suck at communication seeing all it can do is yell at me when he’s uncomfortable…

But please, for the love of all things holy, do not invalidate my pregnancy pain, crazy or changes by saying it is only going to get worse. That does not help me, it’s rude and it makes me want to punch you in the face a little. Are you confused? Let me give you a couple of examples:

When complaining to a colleague the other day about my inability to get comfortable in bed and therefore not get much sleep they replied, “you think it’s bad now, wait until you have that kid!” …. Long pause of silence while I look at the person with hateful eyes then ensues. Another example: once I was talking about how I just wanted to go home and have some alone time with my husband and the response was “better get all that in now because it’s gonna be impossible once you have that baby.” …. Again, long pause ensues while I secretly want to hit them in face. Then there was that one time when walking into a room I hear the words, “Oh man, you have put on some weight!”

Let me tell you guys something- making a kid is hard. When you’ve never done it before it is full of a lot of uncertainty and fear and wondering if what you felt and feel is normal or crazy or if you’re already killing a kid that hasn’t even made it out yet. I have NO idea what I’m doing. In fact, I’ve lost two kids in utero before this one so the fear of doing this whole “pregnancy thing” wrong is pretty real for me.

I’ve never been so tired in my life. My boobs are changing and I’m hormonal. SO hormonal in fact that last week my husband held me while I sobbed and told me I was still pretty and people did actually like me. I haven’t had this much emotional crazy since pre-medication days and that is scary. SCARY. Sometimes, the need for a milkshake has been so overwhelming that I sobbed on the way home after denying myself one. It is intense. So instead of telling me that its only going to get worse, for god sake, just tell me it’s okay to feel this way and tell me I’m doing a good job.

It’s so easy in our lack of communal culture to resist empathy and separate ourselves by reminding those that hurt that “it could always be worse.” That mentality is not helpful- at least it isn’t for me. It lacks empathy and it’s the easy way out. I implore the audience at large to remain present through the discomfort and blubbering of weird pregnancy symptoms and validate the current feelings of fear and pain and weirdness. Encourage the pregnant, the sick or those just having a bad day and create a community, even if in passing, that is based in empathy and compassion instead of separation and annoying comparisons. Kthanksbye.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lesson 2: A Story of Baby Stuff

Hey corporate America, baby for sale!
Apparently, my baby is a totally pro-Capitalism and he hasn’t even officially joined us on this planet yet. That’s the thought that ran through my head when I first walked into the huge baby stuff store. I mean, I’ve been to stores like this before when I bought things for other pregnant people. But this was my first time here being knocked up myself. Knocked up, lost and totally confused as I stumbled into the terrifying world of babydom. 

My vision of what babydom looks like

Luckily I had a wonderful family member who had two kids of her own who guided my way. The worker behind the counter handed me a coupon book and a gun scanner thing, where you go around shooting every baby thing your consumer heart desires to put onto a baby registry. With my baby stuff-buying gun I was off, setting off section by section to get my baby as much crap as possible.

Now I need to point out that I have never been a girl who enjoys shopping. Maybe it's because I’ve always been broke, so high prices made me want to break into hives.  Still, running around a store makes me get hot flashes, there is SO much STUFF out there, and companies want to make sure that I make it MY stuff, because stuff man, we need to have as much stuff as possible. Comedian George Carlin has a great piece on this that sums up my thoughts perfectly.

Back to the Baby Store, the hot flashes and sweaty pits were already starting as I looked on at the endless array of bottle choices. This one is shaped exactly like that one, but it prevents your baby from being gassy. This other bottle is a preferred brand but it had like 5 pieces that needs to be washed separately every single time you use it so that baby accidentally doesn’t get a bacterial infection from you neglecting to disinfect everything perfectly. Way to go you terrible mother, I’m calling child services.
Why does everybody gotta be so judge-y though
Aisle after aisle, so many options. So many things I never even fathomed existed, baby wipe warmers, weird squiggly shaped block stuff your baby can lie on that’ll help them stop crying, strollers with 2692761 features, parts and pieces. Shields to stick on your baby's private parts to guard you from urine attacks (I was going to use a chemists face shield myself, sort of like the kind they had in Breaking Bad, but Babies R Us didn’t have any).

As my gun beeped away I kept thinking, who the hell needs all this?  Women have been raising babies successfully since before the Ice Age, and they didn’t have ergonomic chew toys (unless a Sabretooth tiger bone counts). Does baby really need an ergonomic chew toy? Well the kid may come up to me one day and say “Mom I’m in therapy and I have a massive overbite, all because you didn’t get me an ergonomic chew toy, thanks mom”. 

sorry kid
This consumer culture is insane. Seriously, the baby does not need all this shit. I don’t need all this shit. Babies need hugs, kisses, tons of diapers, food and attention. Obviously I don’t know what I’m talking about because I haven’t given birth yet, so once the kid comes out I will be drowning in regret for not getting those baby butt warmers.  But I didn’t have all that stuff as a baby, neither did my sister. And I personally think my mom did an amazing job raising us to survive into adulthood  (go Mom!).  Honestly, my baby would be happy sleeping in a box, like they do in Finland, and frankly it would have a lower chance of dying of SIDs if I did that instead (seriously, Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world and their babies sleep in boxes).

So in conclusion, yes I have a baby registry, I agree with getting a high chair and obviously a car seat, and tons of books because I want my kid to be literate and smarter than everyone else’s kids.  Ha, that’s not gonna happen because I didn’t buy it a multifaceted baby mobile that blinks in scientifically selected colors that costs $500 and will stimulate them to become an Einstein one day. Coz you know, Einstein totally had one of those. 

His Theory of Relativity had nothing to do with overpriced baby stimulation
Oh well, I’m just trying my best here, I guess baby will just have to be happy with his box and tons of hugs. Ergonomic chew toys be damned.

-S. Nadia Hussain

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lesson 1: Boob Ownership Crisis

Lets talk about boobs. Not those crazy over-sexualized boobs you see on Tv but real boobs. You know, those boobs that will feed kids one day? Okay, that was mean, over sexualized boobs are real boobs too but those aren’t the kind of boobs I’m talking about. I’m talking about lady boobs that (at least in my case.. certainly not everyone goes through such dramatic boob-mutations) take on a personality of their own. My boobs are nearly their own sentient being at this point. I shit you not.

Within 6 weeks of pregnancy my boobs had increased a full cup size. A solid C to a D. Then by 20 weeks (where I am now) they were at DD status. These honkers are heavy and my back muscles were just not able to build fast enough to compensate. Back pain ensues. It’s pretty incredible. At first, I thought maybe they weren’t so big, maybe I was just being silly… until I was undressing one night and caught my husband staring at me like I was some kind of stripper. In many ways it’s nice to be stared like that well into marriage but I realized… it wasn’t ME he was staring at. It was the ladies on my chest. Suddenly I felt like one of those pairs of over-sexualized boobies for a minute.

<side rant> I want to talk about the over sexualized boobs though because they get a bad rap. It’s easy for me to look down on those boob-a-licious women who rock them out on commercials and TV and make us soon to be moms annoyed at their glowing presence. But for me its not that I’m annoyed that you have sexy boobies its that you get sexy boobies and it’s totally culturally acceptable but if I breast feed in public (which I plan on doing once I pop this mongrel out) then I’m scandalous. I mean if women can have those things so exposed why is breast-feeding such a big deal in public?? Probably because it’s not sexy. Seriously people, stop being lame. If you’re going to accept super sexy boobies you might as well take the milk producing ones for heavens sake. </end side rant>

Anyway, I digress, back to my boob conundrum.  Not only did my boobs grow in size my nipples did too. They do NOT talk about this in the What to Expect when Expecting book let me tell you. The size of my areola went from cute and pink on my nicely proportioned ta-tas (I have to say I was blessed with some great tits) to large-sized porn nips that went from a lovely shade of pink to “holy shit your tits are now 50 shades of dark brown and spotty weirdness”. 

You read that right.

My nipples steadily progressed from pink to dark dark dark brown. Beyond this they are now also slightly spotted in the areola and this slow progression to dark-dom doesn’t seem to be stopping. For a pale ass white chick this is slightly disconcerting. I mean, what do I even DO with that? My boobs, my entire life, have been steadily the same. Slightly increasing with menstrual cycle at times and such but overall the same. And they were mine. Now they are not mine, they are changing and growing to suit the needs of a little person I have not yet met and they will be taken up much of the time by said little person.

And there it is folks. It’s not so much that they are changing that is weirding me out (although it definitely is). It is that they are changing because they are no longer exclusively mine. They will be, in part, someone else’s for the foreseeable future and that’s kinda weird. I mean, even married, they aren’t my husbands (though I dare say he enjoys them on occasion) but this little person thing baby child is going to be taking over the parts of me that made me feel womanly. These are the things that help me feel sexual and lovely and hot and now they’re going to be sucked on a by a kid in all their porn star huge ass spotted nipple glory.

It takes some getting used to realizing that not only do your boobs have a mind of their own they don’t even belong to you anymore or at least, they will be hosting someone else. That is not in any of those books I’ve been reading. Not a single thing about boob ownership crisis appears anywhere. So lesson number one in this primer of knowing nothing? Your boobs aren’t solely yours anymore man.

--Hannah Hill